In the dark, In the darkness you will find
Dirty little secrets we all hide
‘Cause we all have a darker side
A place we keep where no one else will find
‘Cause everybody wants to hide their secrets away
Nobody wants to stand up to the pain
But I will stand up to the pain
Wake up and fight again
If you could dance with me through this rain
And we will fight, we’ll fight again, fight again
-Secrets – Good Charlotte
Being a man who can never take a break from work, Sam has set up his office away from home in a small study of the main living area. There is no surprise when I request this conversation. Julie and Kate excuse themselves and head upstairs for an early night. Ethan is meeting some new paragliding buddies at a local bar. Sam and I settle into easy chairs with a glass of scotch each.
“I am almost hesitant to ask what you know.”
“I am almost hesitant to show you.” A wry grin flickers over his face as he hands me an iPad. “These started arriving in my email about three months ago.”
Glancing at the older man’s outstretched hand with the offending technology, I would like to say that I am looking forward to getting to the bottom of this so called mystery but the thought of what I might be about to see has my stomach churning. Holding the screen I study a grainy picture of a car park I recognize.
“Sirens.” My eyes shift to Sam’s and he nods grimly.
“Recognize the car?” I peer at the screen again and notice five cars parked in front of the building. One of them is Christian’s Audi R8.
“My brother’s car.” While this is an interesting photograph it is hardly damning evidence of anything. Sirens is an adult club that has some unique spatial elements including three public entertainment venues. Odyssey is the main bar and night club that separates Eros, a male strip club on one side of the building and Aphrodite‘s the burlesque club on the other side. Open for the last fifteen years it is a favorite venue for hen and buck’s nights. However, the nightclub itself doesn’t have any adult shows. It is strictly for dancing and is an extremely popular public night spot.
I flick to the next picture. This one is more of a shock and I recognize it instantly. It is a page from the guest book of the Sirens’ best kept secret. An invitation only subterranean club called Orpheus that caters to a fairly unique clientele. While many of the signatures have been pixelated in the photo, there are two that are clear and easy for me to recognize. Elena Lincoln and Christian Grey. Shit.
Moving on, the next photograph is of Elena in what appears like a leather dominatrix outfit whipping a naked male ass. The next is Elena and Christian leaving the Esclava salon in downtown Seattle, arm in arm. Then a copy of my staff id badge from Sirens. The next is a hospital record, I look up at Sam questioning.
“Elena’s?” I ask. Sam nods.
“What you are looking at now is a file is a copy of a police report on an assault on Linc Lincoln.” I swallow, trying not to show what that means to me.
There are several more photos of Christian, Elena or I outside Sirens at various times. Then a photo that is another surprise for me. My father, escorting a very injured and heavily bandaged Elena from the hospital, his arm firmly around her waist as he assists her into his car. Finally there are a series of photos outside the Heathman. Kate and I looking into each others eyes, Christian escorting a slightly disheveled and very drunk Ana from his car into the hotel foyer.
“Damn. Were there any messages with these?”
“Most of the time none. As I say, I started getting a photo every week about three months ago. We tried to trace the origin but haven’t had much luck. They all seem to be sent from a generic hotmail address on public computers in internet cafes. A couple of times we were encouraged to dig for further information and given leads to financial records like your purchase of Lincoln Timber shares recently.”
“Shit. So all of this is pointing at Linc Lincoln.” That riles me. Lincoln is an unethical prick and much as I might dislike Elena no woman deserves to be subjected to the kind of beating that bastard gave her. He is an arrogant thug who deserves everything he gets.
“You tell me.”
“Elena is one of my mother’s oldest friends. When she and Linc were still married they were both very much part of our lives. What he did to her is unforgivable but I am not sure how we are implicated in that other than being there for her when she got out of the hospital. That photo of my Dad is hardly damning given he pretty much handled her divorce.” I am hedging my bets here, hoping like hell that he doesn’t know too much about the connection between Elena and Christian.
“Elliot, I know some of what goes on at Orpheus. My sources tell me it is discrete and select so I am not convinced that the photo of Elena in leather was taken there.” I already know that it wasn’t. I recognized the room she was in. “I gather that Christian has a membership which implicates him in a particular lifestyle that might not be good for business.” Fuck.
“Are you going to publish this?”
“Are you going to marry my daughter?” Jesus, straight to the point.
“When she is ready – yes, I will ask her.” My eyes bore into his, just so the message clear.
“Then – No. But that is not going to stop Linc, if it is him, from sending this to the competition.”
“How do we know he hasn’t done that already?”
“I am fairly certain that he hasn’t. For a start he doesn’t know how tight knit the media community can be. A few carefully placed phone calls on my part will shut this down quickly.”
“Why would they bury this? It is gossip mag gold.” I can’t believe he would do that.
“This prick has made it personal by including Kate and you in this. He is fucking with my family for leverage and I don’t roll that way. My people know this, my competitors know this.” The edge in his voice reminds me of his phone call to me and I know that he means this. Damn, it feels good to have him on my side.
“Aren’t you still worried about the Sirens connection?”
“Son, I have known presidents who have had some pretty fucked up sexual leanings in their time. Some fairly powerful people have strange predilections but it doesn’t stop them from being basically good hardworking people in their everyday and family lives. Its the loose canons like Linc Lincoln that we have to be concerned with. If you can look me in the eye and tell me that your brother is a good man then you and I won’t have any problem with this. Can you do that?”
My eyes fly to his face. “Yes, Sam, I can. Christian is a good man. He cares deeply about the world he lives in and the people who are close to him. I trust him with my life. More importantly, I trust him with Kate’s life.” Once more we hold each others gaze a while before he gives an almost imperceptible nod of approval.
“That’s good enough for me. I don’t need to know any more about Sirens. However, I think Kate does.” I nod. Yes, and I am working on how to tell her that. I just hope that she understands.
“I am going to have to find a way to silence Linc. Otherwise he is going to keep trying to collect evidence against my family.”
“Don’t you already hold that ace up your sleeve?” Sam knows about the buy up. I don’t know how he knows but he does.
“Yeah, I guess we do.” I am reluctant to reveal our insurance policy.
“Is the assault the reason why you and Christian have bought up controlling shares in Lincoln Timber?” I try to school my features so that I don’t reveal too much. It seems a little pointless. “That is what you two have done, isn’t it?” Suddenly I have a picture of what it will be like when Kate becomes a fully fledged journo. Scary shit.
“I don’t know how you know that, Sam, but yes. The assault was one reason to do that but it wasn’t the only one.” How much to tell? “I was apprenticed to Linc’s brother when I first left school. It was a great job and it saved me at a rough time in my life. This was long before the assault on Elena. While I worked for Max Lincoln I had a lot to do with Lincoln Timber. It didn’t take me long to learn that Linc had some fairly unethical practices in his business including importing materials from countries where there is a history of over logging. No one has ever been able to prove that he does it but I refuse to buy from him because of it.” Even without the assault I would have tried to convince Christian to help me go after him.
“You’re playing with fire. What about the assault on Linc?” This is the one that really stops me in my tracks. This is not a story I want to get into with anyone.
“You think I did that?”
“No, but I wondered if you knew anything about it.” Yeah, I know. But there is no way that I am putting that information on the table.
“No. I have nothing I can tell you about that. Except the bastard deserved it.” Once more Sam is searching my face. I try to remain as impassive as possible, drawing on my inner Christian-Master-of-the-Universe look. There is no way I am revealing this to Sam. He doesn’t need to know.
“You know if you needed to, you could always reveal exactly how much of his company you own. That would put a stop all of this.” I know he is right but technically it is Christian who owns those shares so it should be his decision. That would mean revealing all of this to Christian and coming clean about what I know. There has to be another way.
Thanking Sam I go to leave the room. “Elliot, I want you to know that I support this relationship with you and Kate and I think you are a good person but as a father I have to ask. Are you going to put her in physical danger? Is she getting into something with you that might…diminish her self respect?”
“Sam, I appreciate your candor but what Kate and I choose to do in our relationship is personal. I love Kate and I respect her. That is very important to me. I will spend every day of the rest of my life loving her and trying to earn and keep her trust.”
Sometime later I enter the bedroom and find Kate asleep. She looks like an angel and rather than wake her I go out to the balcony to think about everything that Sam has shown me. His reassurance that he would do everything he could to prevent this going to press has calmed my nerves somewhat but I still feel edgy. Checking my phone there is a message.
Where RU? Beer’s cold and Z’s is rocking.
I text back: On my way.
I sneak out leaving Kate to sleep.