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The Private Club 3

By:J. S. Cooper and Helen Cooper

Chapter 1

Meg

Present Day





Brandon Hastings stood in the doorway, looking tired and insistent as he spoke. I watched him talking, yet I felt like I was hearing his voice from some sort of distant speaker. His words were tinny and vacant-sounding. It was as if I were having another out-of-body experience. I looked over at Greyson and was surprised to see that he was staring at me and not at Brandon. He had a look of worry and concern in his eyes. And he looked scared.

“Mind your own business, Brandon.” Greyson finally turned to look at his friend, and I could see his gorgeous features turn into a grimace as he glared.

“This is my business. It’s always been my business.” Brandon stepped into the room and sighed. “We shouldn’t have let it—”

“Be quiet.” Greyson’s voice rose and I froze.

“It’s over, Greyson.” Brandon looked taller and bigger than I remembered as he took a step toward Greyson. I could see Greyson’s fists clench, and I felt my heart stop for one brief second. Where they about to fight? “Remember what we said, Greyson? When we first started the club?”

Greyson stood as still as a statue, and silence fell in the room as they stared at each other.

“We said we wouldn’t harm anyone.” Brandon’s voice cracked. “And we failed in that mission.”

“Things changed,” Greyson finally said. “Life changed.”

“Because of us.”

“No, because of you.”

I looked back and forth at them, wondering if I was finally going to hear the truth. Part of me wanted to know the secrets behind the private club, but another part of me was afraid. What if I heard something that broke me inside? I was falling for Greyson—slowly but surely. My heart had already carved a spot for him. I knew that I wanted more from him than what we had. I wanted to believe in him, more than anything, but I was scared.

“If you really believe that it’s because of me, then you’re more of a fool than I thought,” Brandon sighed and ran his hands through his hair.

“I’ve always known you were a fool.” Greyson turned towards me. “Meg, now you can see why I don’t listen to Brandon Hastings.”

“I told you not to hire her.” Brandon looked angry as he spoke. “Meg, you need to leave now.”

“Tell me why,” I said softly, daring to go against Greyson’s wishes. “I want to know why you were insistent that I don’t work here.”

“I’m sure you’ve realized by now that this isn’t a bar.” Brandon gave me a wry smile.

“I’m sure you’ve realized that Meg is an adult. An adult who can make her own decisions.” Greyson walked over to me and put his arm around my shoulder. At first I felt protected, but then I realized that his act was more one of possession. His action wasn’t to provide me comfort, but to tell Brandon to back off.

“Yes, I can.” I shrugged my shoulders and stepped away from him. “I want to know what’s going on here.” My voice cracked as I looked back and forth at the two men. They both looked obstinate and angry. Where one was dark, the other was light, but they both emanated the same energy. I could feel it in the air, the slight buzz of electricity that alerted everyone to the fact that anything could happen in the next few moments.

“We didn’t start the club to hurt anyone.” Brandon looked at me with pained eyes. “That was never the intention. It was just a bit of fun. A way for us to live the lives we wanted to. We wanted everything to be on our terms. We wanted women on our terms, yes. But we didn’t want to use them. We didn’t want to gain anything from them.”

“What did you gain?” I whispered, barely breathing.

“Nothing.” Brandon shook his head. “We gained nothing.”

“I suppose it’s all my fault.” Greyson looked at me with bleak eyes.

“Do you know what grief is, Meg?” Brandon turned towards me. “Do you know what it’s like to have your heart snatched out of your body? To have your tears shed tears for your tears? To feel like your life will never be the same again?”

“No.” I shook my head and bit my lip. And that was the problem. I’d never really felt. My life had always been so safe. So unfeeling. My parents were just there. My friends were just there. I’d had no great loves. No great heartbreaks. And I felt like I was just coasting in life. I felt like I was just there, barely existing.

“When everything went wrong here…” Brandon sighed. “I felt awful. I felt guilty. I felt uneasy. But I never really felt heartbroken. Not the way I should have. Not the way a human being should. But I realized that was because I’d lost a part of myself. Somewhere along the way, life had become too easy. Women had become too easy. I was coasting on the edge and I didn’t care. It wasn’t just me. I had Greyson, and if there was anyone more fucked up than me, it was Greyson.”

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