Heartstopper(5)

By: Lauren Landish


“Speaking of which,” Nathan says as the limo rolls up to the sidewalk of the club. There’s a good amount of press, and even a few of the VIPs are gathered outside the club. I’m as impressed by it during the day as I know it’s going to look once the sun goes down. It was one of the things I insisted on, that our club looked as classy during the day as it will at night.

The crowd applauds as I get out. I shake hands with our local boxing champ and pose with him for a few publicity shots on the red carpet as the crowd builds. Cameras flash, and as the sun touches the horizon behind the club, it’s a certified throng.

Nathan and I both adjust our suits, and I wave as we mount the platform in front of the fountain. Nathan pauses, giving me a wink. “It’s show time!”

I know we look strange. I tower over Nathan at six foot three while he’s a modest five foot six. The cameras are flashing in our faces as soon as we’re ready, press calling our names and people in the crowd already chanting for the club.

Our staff strings the big red ribbon across the stairs leading up to the entrance, and I swear that I feel like I’m at a Hollywood premier. When Nathan brings over the special scissors that we’re supposed to use for the ceremony, really just painted up hedge clippers, the camera flashes are nearly blinding. I lift my hand, taking the wireless mic from Nathan.

“Thank you all for coming,” I start. “I’m not going to say that we’re as important as opening a new wing at the university hospital. But I’m proud of the work our team has done, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a few hours relaxing here. Thank you again.”

There’s polite applause, and I take one arm of the clippers while Nathan takes the other.

A cheer goes up from the crowd as Nathan and I slice through the ribbon, and the two of us lead the VIPs up the stairs and through the doors. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. I’ve been so busy setting up my place here in town and getting things settled with my transition to Franklin Consolidated. But seeing it like this, I have to give it to the architects. The place is a dream, with the perfect blend of classic touches that I like along with cutting-edge lighting and styling. It’s going to be a unique club for a very long time.

I check out the bar and the stage, then head to the VIP section overlooking the club just as the doormen start letting in the regular customers.

“This club is amazing,” one of the first women through the doors says to Nathan as she comes up to where we are. She’s going around and checking everything out I guess.

By the look in Nathan’s eyes, I don’t think he’d be opposed to taking her home tonight. “Thank you. My partner here helped, of course. But all the heavy lifting was on me,” he says to her.

I smirk. Nathan’s going to take the credit, huh? “Well, I let you do the heavy lifting since you’re closer to the floor. Less distance to move.”

The girl chuckles, but Nathan’s undeterred. “You know what they say, big things come in small packages. And you’re right, having three legs to stand on helps.”

I have to chuckle. Nathan is an outrageous flirt, and it works. The girl’s eyes flicker down to his crotch before she smiles. Nathan pats the seat on the couch next to him, and she sits down, making me shake my head. He’s going to have a fun night.

“Champagne, sir,” the waitress says, handing me a glass. She’s wearing a form-fitting blouse, a damn near painted-on skirt, and is even some wearing some thick-rimmed glasses, totally playing up the naughty professional vibe of the night. But she’s as professional as can be, just like we instructed all of our employees.

It was one of the things I insisted on. While I know Nathan would love to sample what some of the girls could offer him, I won’t allow it on my watch. I want to set an example for Sophie, and that means showing her that I can treat my employees with respect. I can be a gentleman. And I want my employees acting with respect too.

“So how much do you think we’ll clear tonight?” I ask, getting down to business. One of the local celebs comes up, shaking hands. I return the favor, sending over a bottle of Kristal as thanks for coming by.

“You send more bottles like that? We might break even,” Nathan laughs. “We’re doing just fine, man. I’ll check with the manager before we leave tonight. He’ll get me an estimate. But remember, tonight isn’t about turning profit. It’s about getting rep. We get rep now, and we make bank later.”

We chat for another forty-five minutes or so, and I’m amazed as the club fills up. There’s no way the folks still outside are getting in for hours unless they’ve got a reservation.

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