Merri was looking in the refrigerator when her brother rushed into the kitchen. He tossed his backpack on the table. “Where did you spend the night? I called you and it went straight to voicemail.”
“Claire picked me up from work and I went to her house. I didn’t have my charger.”
“You couldn’t use her phone to call me? I was fucking worried.”
“Sorry. We were drinking and I didn’t think.” Her stomach was grumbling as she set a plastic container on the counter “Did you eat at school? Are you hungry?”
“I ate. I have to do some homework before cram school. Next time you need to call.”
Merri hugged him, “I’m sorry I worried you, I will next time.”
“Good. You know I didn’t agree with you working at that Wine Bar. It is full of stupid rich pricks and you get off so late.”
She let go of him and walked over to the counter. She hesitated as to whether she should tell him she was fired. But, then he will insist on dropping out of cram school. “ I’m careful and it is only until the Competition.”
“I saw the list of participants on the table by the front door. Blair Pennington is competing too? How can that be after what she did in the last Competition to you.”
Merri lifted an eyebrow, “With her family’s backing of course what she did got swept under the rug and forgotten. I’m lucky her brother had some conscience anyway or her scheme to implicate me would have destroyed my chances to ever compete again.”
“I don’t get it. Why does she have a grudge with you?”
“Well…” She laughed, “I am prettier than her…smarter and more talented…haha. Our rivalry goes back to Middle School, I don’t think she will ever let go of the fact at the time Zachary Colton liked me and not her. Even though they eventually started dating…she won’t let it go.”
“She is such a bitch.”
“True. I won’t argue that fact. It’s funny every time I see her she likes to show off her incredibly huge diamond engagement ring he gave her last year.”
“Does it bother you that after Dad died we ended up in this situation?”
“I just miss Dad. The rest I don’t care about.”
“Yeah…I miss him too.”
“Well, we need to strive for a better future to make him proud. I will be a famous pianist and with your ability you will become a giant in the Business world!”
Myles smiled and flicked her forehead, “I have a long way to go but I will do my best to recover what we lost.”
Merri turned on the stove, “Are you sure you aren’t hungry?”
“Not hungry. Are you going to the University to practice before you go to work?”
“No. You can take the car. I have today off I am just going to relax and catch up on some reading.” She walked over and opened her purse. Taking out a wallet she handed him credit card, “For gas.”
Myles reluctantly took the card, “Sis, I will make it up to you when I get a job.”
“Of course I expect you too…haha..for now study hard so you can attend University next year.”
After he left the kitchen Merri sighed remembering when her father died four years ago. After his car accident she rushed to the hospital and he could barely speak. He held her hand and mumbled something about a safety deposit box then whispered, “Don’t tell anyone”, and pressed a key into her hand. He fell unconscious before he told her what bank and never woke up again.
When she went home the house was ransacked and the safe was emptied so she had no clue. The police said the creditors were within their rights to confiscate the property and her Uncles refused to help. Luckily, Myles was in boarding school and didn’t need to witness the chaos after their father passed away. He came home for the funeral and Merri explained the situation leaving out the depressing details.
Stirring the leftover vegetables Merri thought about possibly searching again for some clue about the safety deposit nox. She was able to leave the mansion with a few boxes of her father’s papers, all the family photographs and some memorabilia.
The boxes are stacked in the hall closet of the apartment. Anything worth money was seized after the bankruptcy of the company. If there was anything in the safety deposit box it could be used to finance Myles education. Oh Merri..another pipe dream…didn’t you give up on that a while ago.
Merri poured a glass of orange juice and then scooped up the fried vegetables with some brown rice onto a plate.
After she ate she felt drowsy and went to her bedroom to take a nap. She took some medicine for her aches and pains then fell asleep.
She was awakened by her phone ringing. She rolled over and grabbed it from the nightstand. Her voice sounded low and hoarse, “Hmm.”
It was the night manager of the Black Swan Club, “Merri! Why aren’t you here? It is a half hour past your scheduled shift.”
Merri’s throat was dry and she licked her lips as she sat up. She drank a sip of water, “I was fired.”
“What do you mean fired? Niko didn’t mention it to me.”
“Well..his friend fired me.”
“Merri Winslow! What are you talking about! Get over here now.”
“Check with Mr. Ninski. I am not going to the club and embarrassing myself.”
“What was the man’s name?”
“I don’t know. He was tall…very domineering.” She drank more water, “ He was the man whose bodyguard broke Silvia’s hand. I am not taking a chance. I can’t risk being injured.”
The woman angrily threw the glass she was holding and it smashed into the wall of her office. “That bastard! He has no right to fire anyone!”
“You know who I am referring to?”
“Come to work. I will take care of it.”
“I don’t want to be difficult but my hands are very precious to me. Can’t you see if Katrina can cover the shift. If Mr. Ninski calls me I will return to work…to be honest I am afraid of that man.”
“Fine. I will have Niko call you.”
Nadia Ninski stomped her heels and looked around the club for her brother Niko. When she saw him by the bar she pursed her lips and weaved her way through the crowd. She puffed out her cheeks and roared, “Niko! That prick fired the little pianist! I have several wealthy customers that come to the bar just for her! They spend thousands!”
Niko stopped talking to the bartender and furrowed his eyebrows, “What?”
“Brother! Your lunatic friend Alexi fired Merri Winslow. How am I going to replace her? She is beautiful and very talented.”
Niko laughed because he thought Alexi fired Merri after sleeping with her. He can’t risk annoying him so he said, “I will see what is going on.”
“Well you better hurry. I don’t want to have to deal with irate customers.”
He went to his office and called Alexi, “If you were unsatisfied with the woman’s service I will compensate you but you can’t fire her. My sister is throwing a fit because she didn’t come to work.”
Alexi was having dinner with a beautiful woman and set down the fork in his hand. He smirked, “I have no problem with the woman working at your club as a pianist but she can’t take clients. She will be exclusively mine to use.”
Niko readily agreed, “As you say.” She isn’t a hostess to begin with haha…
“Good. Is she working now?”
“She will be.”
“I have business and will be over later. Have my private room prepared.”
Alexi hung up the phone and had a complicated expression as he cut the piece of steak on his plate.
The woman sitting across from him frowned, “Alexi, you said you would accompany me to the ballet after dinner.”
“Did I? I don’t remember.”
Her hands on her lap tightened into fists, “I already told my father.”
He had a dangerous glint in his eyes, “So. I thought you understood our relationship.”
She twisted the napkin in her hand. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I was looking forward to tonight.”
“After dinner we are going to the Black Swan Club.”
Bella Fremont sipped her wine and didn’t reveal her anger. She had several paparazzi ready to photograph them together at the ballet. How am I going to explain when we don’t attend tonight’s performance?. Damn him! He will never bend…not even a little. If he wasn’t so unbelievably handsome and rich I would walk away. My father is the Mayor and my mother is the only heiress of the Scott family! Alexi Baranov is the only man who dares to reject me! One day I will have him begging under my skirt!