Mason pulled his beat-up old truck into the parking spot. It coughed loudly before shutting down. Mason grabbed his keys out of the ignition and put the little paystub up on the dashboard.
<Fifteen dollars! Fifteen dollars to park in a lot this far away.>
Up until an hour ago the night had been going great. He’d had a good weekend workout, he’d gotten ahead on his homework so he wouldn’t have to worry so much next week, and he’d planned a nice relaxing evening alone. His girlfriend was going out with his other roommates, and Seth had something else going on, so Mason had the townhouse all to himself. That was a rare occurrence, and he planned to take full advantage of it.
He’d splurged a little bit on the take out and was halfway through his favorite cop action/drama when the phone rang. The caller ID said it was Kyoshi so he had to pick up. If he ignored it and it turned out she was in trouble and something bad happened he’d never forgive himself.
“Hey. How’s girls’ night?”
“It’s fine, weird but fine. What are you up to?”
There was a tone in Kyoshi’s voice. A tone he knew well enough after dating her for six months. It was the “I’m sorry but I need you to do something for me” tone.
He’d paused the movie mid Bruce Willis fight scene, when the phone rang, and after hearing that tone he stopped it and turned off the TV.
“Just watching TV, nothing important.” He gave her the opening she needed.
“Ok. If you want to…and you totally don’t have to…only if you’re interested…we’re all going to a club downtown. Do you want to come?”
Mason wasn’t a big fan of clubs. When he went out it was usually to bars. Bars had bartenders with stories, dartboards, and sometimes pool tables. They could be loud but the volume was bearable. Clubs on the other hand were just loud noise boxes full of sweaty people one shot or pill away from stripping right on the dancefloor and doing it with the nearest willing candidate.
Of course, Kyoshi felt the same way; which was why she was asking. If there was one truth in this world it was that his girlfriend was a beautiful woman, which could make an experience like clubbing uncomfortable unless seriously intoxicated.
“Sure, I’ll be right there.” Which was why forty-five minutes later and fifteen dollars poorer, Mason was stepping out of his truck in a parking lot three blocks away from the club.
Mason walked through the dark lot with the confidence of a man who could handle himself. Just acting like you knew how to handle yourself was sometimes enough to discourage predators, and if it came down to it he could more than handle himself.
“I’m sorry, Sir.” Mason bumped the sleeping rent-a-cop that was supposed to be guarding the lot on his way out the front gate.
“Watch it buddy or I’ll…” the guy stopped when he had to crane his neck to look up at Mason’s massive form. “Um…no problem, just watch where you’re going next time.”
Mason gave a friendly smile and then started walking toward club.
Club Spark was in central downtown Orlando, putting it right at the intersection of all the colleges in the area and the tourist traps. On the weekdays it did good business, and on the weekends it was impossible to get in without waiting a few hours.
<Where are they?> Mason got in line behind a group of three women in short mini-skirts who were already a little tipsy and were not so discrete in checking him out.
Judging by how long it took a person to get in he guessed he’d be waiting at least an hour to see his girlfriend. <Great way to spend my free night.>
Mason took a deep breath and wiped away the negative emotions. He didn’t want Kyoshi to think he was upset with her, because he wasn’t. He just hated clubs.
“Mason! Hey, Mason!” A voice called out from ahead of him in line.
It was about the last person Mason expected to see.
“Angela?” Mason could clearly see over everyone else in line to his roommate, but he wasn’t sure he believed his eyes.
“Yeah, come on up here. I’ve been saving you a place.”
Mason felt bad about moving forward in the line, and the looks he was getting said his emotions were well placed. When he finally got up to Angela he was surprised again. The usually conservative shifter was wearing the closest thing to party outfit he’d ever seen her in. It wasn’t the tight miniskirts of the threesome of girls who’d been standing behind him before, but it was a short sundress that showed off half her thigh. With the breeze it seemed constantly on the verge of blowing up too far.
Angela clearly looked a little uncomfortable wearing it, so Mason didn’t point out her deviation from the norm. There were more interesting things to talk about. The first being the guy that was holding her hand and staring open-mouthed up at Mason.
“Mason this is Alec. Alec this is one of the guys who lives in my townhouse, Mason.”
“Nice to meet you.” Alec held out his hand to shake.
“Good to meet you too,” Mason couldn’t keep the confusion out of his voice as he examined the guy.
He had no idea that Angela was seeing anybody. He was pretty sure the CIA would have no idea she was seeing anybody. If he had to guess someone she’d be seeing, Alec wouldn’t be his first guess.
If Mason had been a mean guy he would have called Alec a geek, but Mason wasn’t a bad guy. That still didn’t stop Alec from being a few inches shorter than Angela, thin, with glasses, and looking a little pale in the strobing lights of the club.
Despite all of that, Mason first impression of Alec was that he was a good guy, and Angela needed a guy like that in her life right now.
“So when did you two meet?” Mason completed their awkward handshake. It was hard to do a proper one when Mason’s hand engulfed Alec’s hand and a quarter of his forearm.
“We had some classes together last semester. We did some studying sessions, got a cup of coffee, and then she invited me out tonight.” Alec’s face lit up on the last part.
“We have not defined our relationship,” Angela moved in and killed the mood. “But I enjoy his company.”
<Typical Angela.> Mason mentally shook his head.
“Um…ok.” He didn’t know what else to say, and Alec clearly didn’t want to push his luck with his date; so they stood in silence for a few minutes.
<Sorry, I’ll be there in a second.> A familiar and comforting voice popped into Mason’s head a few minutes later.
<Thank you.> Mason couldn’t keep the exasperation out of his mind.
A minute later the door at the front of the line opened up and out walked the most beautiful woman in the world. Mason wasn’t the only one who thought that as nearly every male head in the line snapped in her direction.
“Come on.” Mason held up the rope so Angela and Alec could get under and then crouched as low as he could go to follow them.
A few angry shouts followed them as they walked to the front of the line. Mason felt bad about cutting, but he also didn’t want to sit outside all night.
“They’re with me.” Kyoshi slipped what looked like a hundred dollar bill into the bouncer’s jacket pocket.
Mason had about five inches and fifty pounds on the bouncer, and he saw the older man eyeing him up as he approached. Judging by the other man’s stature Mason would either guess he was a really in shape human, maybe former military or police, or he was a low-end strongman. Due to Club Spark’s success and reputation he was leaning toward low-end strongman.
“Ok, you three are in.” The bouncer unclipped the stereotypical rope in front of the door. Not that the rope would do anything to stop anyone trying to get in, but it gave the place a classy look.
Before they were even inside the door, Kyoshi pulled Mason in close and gave him a big kiss. It was the kind of kiss where Mason tasted the champagne on his girlfriend’s tongue.
“Having fun tonight?” Mason couldn’t help but grin when they pulled their lips apart.
“I’m am now.” She smiled as she dragged him into the club with Angela and Alec in tow.
“Cheers! To the best friends a girl could ask for.” Liz poured more champagne in everyone’s glass, sloshing a good amount of the expensive liquid onto the glass tabletop.
This was only Kyoshi’s third glass, but she was already starting to feel the alcohol’s effects. <Where is Mason?> She’d called him forty-five minutes ago.
She did a mental scan and finally felt him driving into her range.
Between the alcohol, the loud pulsing music of Club Sparks, and the mildly inappropriate touching going back and forth between Seth and Liz it was hard to concentrate.
“No seriously,” Liz slurred her S’s a bit. She was a few glasses ahead of Kyoshi. “I needed you guys and you came to my rescue like knights in white shining armor.” Liz was combining references in her drunkenness, but Kyoshi got the gist.
All the girls had gone out to dinner with her to stalk Seth. They’d failed miserably, and apparently that was Kyoshi’s fault, but everything had turned out great. So great that Seth was spending a small fortune on drinks.
“Shots!” The elemental manipulator exclaimed when a busty waitress arrived with a tray full of liquids whose tops were on fire. “Now that’s the shit I’m talkin’ about.”
Kyoshi gave the flaming shots a doubtful glance as Anika picked one up. The pretty stoic Super was reclining on the plush couch with her girlfriend cuddling close to her. Becca would have to drink a ton of booze in a short amount of time to overcome her Super metabolism, and that was what she was attempting to do.
“Fuck yeah,” Anika’s toast took Kyoshi by surprise, but not as much as the blue-haired speedster throwing back three in quick succession.
“I wanna dance. I feel like dancin’.” Becca was on her feet a little quicker than was natural, and was dragging Anika toward the chaotic dancefloor before she’d even finished swallowing her flaming shot.
“Excuse us, but if my lady wants a dance she’s getting a dance.” Anika half-followed and was half-pulled onto the floor by Becca. Both women’s hips started to move rhythmically to the beat before they disappearing into the throng of gyrating bodies.
That left Kyoshi alone with Liz, Seth, and Emilia. In an attempt not to be rude, Seth had invited the cryokinetic SUB out with them and she’d accepted. She’d then started to throw back drinks like a professional. She was half a dozen drinks deep and hardly seemed phased, even as Liz and Seth started making out hardcore next to her. The private booth offered some privacy, but not the type of privacy the two teenagers would need in the next five minutes.
“Mason is here.” Kyoshi yelled over the music “I’m going to go get him.”
Without breaking his stride, Seth reached into his blazer and pulled out a wad of cash and flicked some bills onto the table. Kyoshi snatched them up before they could get soaked through in booze.
“I’ll come with you,” Emilia regally announced as she picked up another shot. She blew out the flame and ice crystalized on the side of the glass as she threw it back. “I need to go find some…attention.”
Kyoshi didn’t want to know what that meant, but she got up and started heading toward the entrance.
The club was set up with a ring of private booths around a circular dancefloor. A railing separated the two areas with two person tables set around the railings for people to recuperate at and to order drinks from. On one side of the dancefloor and at a break in the booths was the entrance, and at the same place on the opposite side of the building was another exit, leading to more VIP rooms and the employees only section. Kyoshi was not fooled by the VIP label over the exit. Those rooms were for some dude to waste an absurd amount of money on when he found a girl who was ready to do him then and there. Technically, Kyoshi guessed it could also be the other way around. Emilia’s cryptic statement might make her an example, but for the most part girls didn’t come to these types of places just to do some random stranger.
Or at least that was just her opinion.
People parted out of her way as she passed. Her height and figure tended to have that impact on people. With Mason at her side they could make their way through a crowded area without bumping a single person.
The thought of her large boyfriend put a spring in her step. <Thank god I wore flats.>
Despite being Orlando the air outside was much cooler than the oppressive air inside the club. Kyoshi stopped to take a deep breath and savor it. She’d been in there long enough that she’d become immune to the scent of mixed BO and booze.
When she opened her eyes she could already see her man moving toward her with Angela and her plus one by his side. Her heart did a little flutter as he approached. Even after six months together he could still make her feel like they did after their first kiss.
It made her love him even more when she felt his ambient emotions. Mason was clearly a little annoyed at this whole club idea, even if he was doing his best to hide it. But he’d still come without any complaint when Kyoshi asked because he knew she needed him by her side tonight. Kyoshi knew she could always count on Mason to do what was right for her.
“They’re with me.” Kyoshi grabbed one of the damp bills Seth had tossed her and stuffed it into the bouncer’s jacket pocket.
Kyoshi didn’t see what type of bill it was, but she felt the spike of surprise from the man. He was a low-end strongman who worked this line for six hours a night and typically didn’t make more than a hundred bucks in tips, although they were really bribes. On top of his slightly above minimum wage salary, he would be lucky to walk away with a hundred and sixty bucks a shift. Apparently, Kyoshi had almost nearly doubled that amount; and the bouncer greatly appreciated that.
“Ok, you three are in.”
Kyoshi didn’t wait any longer to grab her boyfriend and pull him inside. Once they were inside she didn’t waste a moment before pressing her lips to his. She felt surprise, affection, and curiosity as they made out for a couple of seconds right inside the entryway.
“Having fun tonight,” Mason smiled his big innocent smile.
“I am now,” she planted another peck on his lips before turning to Angela and her date.
“You must be Alec, nice to meet you. Angela has told me so much about you.”
“She has!” Alec felt and sounded like Kyoshi had just given him the biggest compliment in the world.
Kyoshi didn’t need to use her telepath to see that the small guy had a huge crush on Angela. <Good, she deserves a good guy.>
“Follow me. I’ll take you up to the booth and then you can decide what you want to do.” Everyone followed, and Mason never let go of her hand.
<Suddenly I feel like dancing.> Kyoshi looked out into the mass of human bodies on the dance floor. <Yep, I’m definitely going to pull Mason out there.>
Squid looked around and took a deep breath. Everything he could see was his, and what he saw was good.
<Bitches, cash, bling, booze, and more bitches.> He thought with a smile.
One such woman was laying across his lap. Her name was Christy…Carla…Cathy…something starting with a C, he didn’t really pay attention when she opened her mouth. What he was paying attention to was her barely clothed ass, which had to take hours a week to keep so tight.
The ass was nice, but Squid could get any ass he wanted. What he was really interested in was what was on her ass. Squid leaned over, pressing his nose to her warm flesh and snorted the long line of white powder.
<Fuck yeah! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!> The rush was immediate.
Everything around him seemed to sway in beat with the music. He was in the owner’s suite, and through a one-way window he could see the dance floor and the private booth of his club. A club that was going to make him a lot of money.
“Yo, Boss, you might want to take it easy.” The comment came from the only woman present who wasn’t some whore or college bimbo.
“Relax,” he gave the ass a slap to get the woman off of him. “This is a party enjoy yourself.”
“Hard to with Dragon gone.” She mumbled loud enough for him to hear.
Squid knew she and Dragon had an on again off again thing; which was hard to believe since Dragon would stick it into just about anything.
“We do need to talk about Dragon.” Another man, one of squids trusted lieutenants, walked over and took a seat on the recently vacated couch.
“Don’t tell me to chill, Big Mike, bitch has already tried.”
Big Mike was the Fist member that Squid appointed to run the Club after they took if from the Columbians following the power outage. Shadow might have been a pain in the ass calling in her orders, but her idea to consolidate the Fist’s power had been a good one.
Big Mike was one of those ironic names. The guy was actually just a hair over five feet tall, and about as thin as a board. A light breeze looked like it would have knocked the guy over. His power was what made him big. Big Mike’s power allowed him to stretch his limbs up to ten feet, and while being stretched they also strengthened. The longer the limb the stronger he was. At his max height his limbs were stronger than concrete, and he could toss them around like wrecking balls. He was a good guy to have at your back in a fight and he was loyal.
“Fuck chillin’,” Big Mike replied. “This is your party; snort, smoke, or fuck whatever you want. You the boss.”
“Damn right!” Squid grabbed a full shot glass from in front of him. “You hear that. I’m the boss.” He directed the question at Dragon’s on-again off-again girlfriend, and got an eye roll in return.
Squid threw back the shot and sighed as the smooth liquid worked its way down his throat. They were drinking the expensive shit because tonight was a night to celebrate.
A regular human entered the room on the far side, right in Squid’s line of sight. He wore a pair of cargo pants and a light jacket that poorly concealed the body armor and pistol on his hip. His eyes scanned the room and found Squid.
Squid waved him over. “Are my guests here.”
“Da.” The man said in a thick Russian accent. “They here.”
“Well then send them up.” Squid clapped the guy on the arm.
The mercenary didn’t give any response other than a nod before walking away.
“Big Mike, get all the bitches out!” Squid yelled, much to those bitches’ disappointment.
“Ok ladies, we’re gonna take a short break. Here take this and this.” Big Mike handed out bottles of champagne to the leaving ladies. “Don’t go too far now.” He smiled at a particularly tall woman. “Especially you.”
Big Mike had a thing for tall women. “Mmm, gotta love volleyball players.”
Squid gave a good hard laugh before composing himself. The night was turning from pleasure to business, and he needed to be ready. His abuella had always said that an animal was at its most dangerous when you had it cornered.
“Nobody fuck around, comprende.”
Everyone acknowledged and waited.
A few minutes later the Russian mercenary returned with two men in business suits. The two men looked, tense, pissed off, and generally unhappy to be here. One of them held a briefcase and the other a chain, which dragged behind him to the shackles of half a dozen women.
“Gentlemen,” Squid smiled as the two men came to stand across the table from him. “Please take a seat. You want something to drink or some blow?”
“No thank you.” The man’s English was heavily influenced with his native Columbian accent.
“Come on boys, you gotta want something to take the edge off. This used to be your office didn’t it?”
The two Columbian cartel officers’ jaws tightened at the reminder of their failure. It wasn’t the best way to start a negotiation, but Squid needed to remind them who the boss was.
“We are fine,” the man Squid pegged as the leader spoke up. “We would like to get down to business.”
“The business part is simple.” Squid leaned forward. “This is my town now. I took it fair and square. Everything that goes on in it goes through me now. You want to deal I get a percentage, you want to fuck I get a percentage, you want to sell pussy I get a percentage. Ya feel me?”
The Columbian’s face grew angrier and angrier with each passing sentence.
“You listen here, puta. You’re small time, just a little prick compared to my organization. Don’t fuck with us…”
“Or what?” Squid leaned back with a confident smirk. “This place is hot as fuck right now. American Heroes are out looking for blood. Sure, your organization might have Supers stronger than me or my boys, but are you really going to risk them against me and the Heroes. Against her?”
“El Diablo,” the other man crossed himself. His face had gone from anger to fear at the mention of Seraphim.
The other guy’s mouth snapped shut.
“That’s what I thought, so here’s the deal. You’ll give me a monthly tribute payment fifty thousand, I’ll get first pick of the new girls, and we’ll split all your other endeavors fifty-fifty.”
Squid could practically here the man’s teeth grinding, but after a minute the Columbian nodded his agreement. Squid knew he’d have to keep an eye on the cartel guys because they would fuck him the first chance that they got, but that was the price of doing business.
“Excelente!” Squid clapped at the agreement and waved for the case and girls. “Now let’s check out the merchandise.
Squid popped the case just to make sure the money was in there and then handed it off to Big Mike. The lieutenant had money counters in a back room that he could use to count it, but Squid didn’t think the Columbians would try and stiff him just yet. Doing so before they left was a certain death sentence.
Then came the girls. They ranged from fourteen to thirty and looked like they’d either been picked off the street in South America or had paid the wrong coyote to get across the boarder. Either way they were Squid’s now.
He stripped them down to nothing. Checked tit and ass for firmness and bounce, checked their teeth, because there was nothing worse than a hooker giving a BJ with bad teeth, and lastly determined which of them were still virgins. He might be able to get a more exclusive clientele for those lucky two. After a few minutes he was satisfied with the payment.
“Pleasure doing business with you.” Squid shook the two men’s hands. “Feel free to stay around. There are a bunch of loose American college girls down there.”
“No thank you,” the Columbian shook his head. “Goodbye.”
The two cartel officers exited the room just as Big Mike reentered it.
“The money’s good, clean, and it’s all there.”
“Fuck yeah!” Squid grabbed an open bottle of Dom Perignon and took a big swig. He was fifty grand richer and had some fresh ass to make even more money. “Let’s get this party started again. Bring the girls back in.”
The night was turning out to be one of Squid’s most profitable ones yet.