Submitting to the Billionaire(2)

By: Georgia Le Carre


One has to be recommended by another member to enter, then there is a rigorous vetting process. Before a punter can step a foot through our door he must understand exactly what’s on offer inside … and the risks … of non-payment. This way there are no, well, let’s call it, misunderstandings.

Roman opens my door. I slide out, and stand on the sidewalk for an instant, while Roman and Semyon with military precision step into place on either side of me. Their cold, expressionless eyes dart around, alert and wary. Andrei, he’s always scowling, remains holding the front door open. I shoot my cuffs before heading for the door, my bodyguards closely shadowing me.

It sounds like too much?

Trust me, you can’t be too careful in my business. I have more enemies than friends. Come to think of it. I have no friends. They are all enemies in disguise.

It’s a different world inside the plain black door. Rich velvet curtains, glossy marble floors, chandeliers, and burnished gold fittings. It’s every nouveau riche oligarch’s wet dream. I walk through the splendor without seeing it. Anastasia, who mans the front desk, nods and smiles at me. She doesn’t expect me to smile back. I don’t.

I head upstairs to the first floor. Roman remains on my heels. He enjoys his job and takes his task of protecting me very seriously, which I am rather pleased about.

“Good evening, Mr. Smirnov,” a cocktail waitress, greets me on the landing. Her smile is wide and promises all kinds of things. She is tall, willowy, and very beautiful, quite honestly, catwalk material. She licks her lips. Ah, that age-old invitation.

She’s new, but she’ll learn soon enough. I don’t ever mix business with pleasure. As a matter of fact, I don’t mix anything with business. I haven’t had a girlfriend since I was seventeen. That’s twenty years ago.

In my world, everything has a price. If I want pussy, I don’t chase it around the room. That’s bullshit. I just pay for it. That way I get exactly what I want, when I want it. It’s worked real well so far.

“How many in the Blue Room?” I ask her.

“Six, Mr. Smirnov.”

“And next door?”

“Six as well.”

“Excellent.”

“Thank you, Mr. Smirnov.”

I look at my watch. Eight-thirty on the nail. I head downstairs and make my way to the purple room, where I normally dine, and where, very occasionally, the richest punters are invited to dine too, but never with me, obviously.

Vanessa, a sweet little thing, greets me. “Good evening, Sir.”

I take a seat. With military precision, a glass of Chateau Petrus arrives. I let its opulence slide over my tongue. Yes, this is the life. In five minutes Vanessa brings seared fillet mignon and girolles in truffle sauce. My head has stopped banging so I enjoy the food. It’s Friday, and I have a good feeling about today. A very good feeling.

I skip dessert, but accept the small, strong expresso she puts in front of me. Standing up, I make my way back upstairs to my offices. Roman follows silently at my heels.

Passing through reception again I see a number of punters milling around waiting to hand their coats over to the cloakroom staff. Some stare, some attempt to make eye contact, others are oblivious, one tries to dash over to shake my hand. He is one of those fools who hope that knowing me personally will make his situation somewhat more favorable should he lose. He is wrong. It doesn’t.

Roman ensures there is no contact, and I keep moving.

I pass the main gambling room. As I put my foot on the first step of the stairs that lead to my office, my ears tune in to a loud voice. Every sinew in my body tightens. Here is another one of those fools. Slowly, I turn around and look towards the commotion. Nigel Harrington. Look at him. In his sharp pinstripe suit.

“Nico,” he calls. Looking directly at me, he attempts to barge past security and come to me.

Three feet away from me Andrei slaps his huge palm on his chest, effectively stopping him in his tracks. Well, well, who knew today was the day. I walk towards him, my face wiped clean of the joy and excitement surging in my veins. This is it. This is the moment I have been waiting for.

“You got my money?” I ask.

Nigel’s facial expression doesn’t alter. “I will. By tonight. I promise.”

I raise one eyebrow. “By tonight?”

“Yes, yes, by tonight. You have to let me play tonight and I’ll be able to pay you back.”

“You don’t have the money now.”

“No.”

I turn towards Roman.

“Wait,” Nigel shouts desperately.

I turn back towards him.

“You see, I had a dream. I dreamt that I would win big tonight, so I will. I will win it all back. I can feel it in my bones. You’ll get it all back, Mr. Smirnov.”

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