I scanned the room again until my eyes fell on a group of men in the corner. Normally I wouldn’t give a shit who Papa had invited to these things. This group I hadn’t seen before. Four of them. All equally striking in their own right. One had dirty blonde hair with a scar running across his right eyebrow. Another had chestnut hair with dark eyes the colour of an evergreen forest. The third slouched against a bookcase with a whisky tumbler in his hand, his auburn hair glinting under the lights and his blue eyes piercing. It was the last man who caught my attention. He had dark hair and eyes as black as night. He looked like he’d walked right out of hell, wearing all black with a single red handkerchief in his suit pocket. The look in those dark eyes as he scanned the room with a sneer on his face sent a chill down my spine.
If I was the superstitious type, I’d say these men were a bad omen. Something about them made me want to shrink into the background so they couldn’t see me. Especially the dark-haired one. He could gut a woman with a single glance. I decided then and there, I never wanted to make their acquaintance.
“Who are they?”
“I advise you not to ask that question, Ashleigh.”
I turned to her, my eyes wide.
“Forget you saw them. They’re not men you want to know.”
My mother’s eyes were narrowed. She gripped her glass of champagne tighter. Her reaction only confirmed my suspicions. They were not good men. Why were they at my father’s party? How had they gained entry?
“Don’t. Stay far away from them. Promise me you won’t go looking for trouble.”
As if. I knew what type of men graced this world. Growing up with hardened criminals changes a person’s perception. You’d think Papa might have shielded his own daughter from the horrific nature of his business. No such luck there.
She eyed me for a moment longer before nodding and sauntering off towards the games room where my father was gambling. I decided I’d seen enough. Papa expected me to make an appearance tonight, and that was it. I’d done his bidding, now it was my time to escape.
Glancing around one last time, my eyes lingered on the man from hell. His eyes were fixed on the open doors of the gaming room where my father could be seen laughing. The rage and hatred in his eyes were unmistakable. Whatever problem he had with Papa, it was no concern of mine.
I slipped from the room into the hallway and walked towards the stairs. That’s the last thing I remember of that night. My foot landing on the first stair before a hand slammed over my mouth and the sharp sting of a needle slicing through my flesh. I never got a chance to scream. Darkness overtook me, dragging me down as my body slumped against a solid chest and all my senses faded to black.