Brett and I entered a dark chamber that was more heavily decorated than mine. This was a room for a Prince. “This was my room,” Brett announced. “We should be safe for now.”
          With the moonlight nicely lighting the atmosphere, I was too absorbed by the glamour in this room. “Brett . . . wh-who are you?” I suddenly shot a puzzled glare at him. An owner of a small coffee shop shouldn’t have lived here. A quiet apartment suited him more, yet when I saw his face, which was highlighted by the rays of the moon, I knew that this was home to him.
          “My father owns this manor,” he explained. “We were descendants of a lost, royal family.”
          “Why is this place a brothel then?”
          “To entertain business clients, but that’s irrelevant.” His blue eyes were piercingly cold. “What’s important is that you go back.”
          “Why do you guys keep saying that?” I frowned. “And what does this have to do with you anyways?”
          “I’m a detective, working with the police. I got a tip from a woman who used to work here—“
          “And you believe a lunatic?”
          He sighed while collapsing into a chair behind him. “I didn’t at first, but she knew everything about me. She knew that I had run away from this place and that my father had planned on killing me.”
          “Wh-why would he do that?”
          “Because I was going to be on the law’s side this time. I was going to reveal his illegal business affairs.” He leaned forward with his fingers interlocking each other.
          “Isn’t he your—“
          Raising his head to glower at me, he sputtered, “He . . . raped my wife, and I always suspected . . . that my mother, and brother were murdered by him.”
          My mouth parted to the shape of a cave. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know—“
          “You asked me why I’m doing this, and now I’m answering you,” he murmured. “You’re the only one that can put him behind bars.”
          “You’re joking.” I steadied my trembling hand by holding onto my wrist.
          He bobbed his head to the side. “My father has been tracking you ever since you were young.”
          I rushed to his side, grasping his hands for support. “But why? I don’t even know him!”
          “But, he knew your father and your mother,” Brett explained. “The three of them used to be best friends until . . . your dad married your mother.”
          “That doesn’t have anything to do with me putting him in jail.”
          “As long as you are alive and well, you can testify that you were forced into prostitution,” Brett added, “but most importantly, you . . . you’re the only witness to my brother and my mother’s deaths!”
          “Then, what about my father’s death?” I grimaced.
          “I’m not sure, but he probably pushed your dad to death,” he clarified.
          My eyes enlarged, and I urged, “Tell me . . . what I have to do then.”
          Brett placed his finger to his lips, and I stay hushed. There were sounds of footsteps and men shouting. We were too lucky that they had simply passed by.
          “Follow me,” he uttered.
          As we exited the room and headed down another hallway, I felt a hand on my shoulder and gasped. “Where are you going, Miss?” A man in a jeweled mask harked.
          Out of the corner of my eye, I realized that Brett had escaped. “I-I—“
          The man exhaled a long breath. “You must have forgotten about the Annual Ball.” He handed me a mask and led me to a boisterous ballroom, filled with scantily clad ladies and lustful gentlemen. “Put that on and go to that table over there.”
          I quickened my pace, scurried past the round tables, and plotted my bottom beside a man dressed in a black suit. He placed his arm over me, and welcomed me with a warm smile. One smile and I knew who it was. Of all the people in the world, why . . . why did it have to be him?
          He was beside me, saying, “Hello, Darling. I’m Monsieur T.”
          There was no mistaking who it was. He had the same walnut tainted hair, the same deep set aquamarine eyes, the same sharp aquiline nose, the same tanned complexion, the same smooth, sturdy voice, the same confident posture . . .
          Even twins could not have been the same. Perhaps, they were genetically, but certainly not characteristically. 
          “Good evening, Monsieur T.” I flattered him with my best smile. “I’m Lady Ren. It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
          This was a hostess’ instinct.
          He grinned. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
          “So what brings you here, Mr.T?” I wondered as I poured some whiskey into an empty glass. It was his first time here. I was sure of it.
          He thanked me for the drink and answered after taking a sip, “Well, my bosses decided to bring me along to celebrate.”
          “Celebrate what?”
          “Ah, I managed to close a tough case and well, I’m getting married.” He hung his arm around my shoulders. “I guess you could say that this is like a bachelor party, except the old men here are enjoying themselves more.”
          If he were getting married, then it would be with her and if he were getting married, then he shouldn’t be here. Bachelor party or not, this was not a place for engaged men although majority of the male customers was married. He should not have visited this club. He wasn’t supposed to be one of them, but then I remembered.
          Once a cheater, always a cheater.
          “Congratulations!” I held up my glass of whiskey and clinked with his.
          I noticed the way he looked at me, eyes harshly beaming and eyebrows crunching together. He must have been remembering too. “Say,” he took another sip. “You look a lot like someone I know.”
          “And who’s that?” I flashed another joyous smile. 
          He politely smirked. “Just an old friend of mine, but who knows where she is now.”
          I knew where she was. Of course I knew. She had died a long time ago. She had begun to wither away after I came here. It was better that way for memories to perish.
          “I’m sure she’s at a better place.” I comforted.
          “Probably,” he uttered, “she has always been lucky, could get away with anything. You know, the sort that didn’t have to do much but got everything?”
          No, she wasn’t, I wanted to laugh. Words of eternity should not have been used to describe anything. The possibilities were innumerable. 
          “Lucky her then.”
          His cell phone still rang to the sound of rap music. “Excuse me,” he swiftly took his phone from his pocket and answered. “Hey baby, I missed you.” I often heard of that phrase. I just didn’t know that it was so easy to say and so easy to fake. “Oh, I’m at a bar. My bosses wanted to thank me for doing a good job,” he further explained. “No, don’t stay up for me, sweetheart. I have a feeling that they’re going to drag this on until early in the morning.”
          After he hung up, I teased, “Early morning, you say? Honestly, with them?”
        He chuckled and lowered his hand down my back, caressing my skin. “No, I was hoping that it’d be with you.”
          “Oh.” I exaggerated my startled look. “And why is that?”
          “Because I enjoy your company.” He stared deeply into my eyes and pulled my body closer to his. I gently rested my head on his shoulder, reminded of what used to be.
          “If you feel tired, you can lean on me,” he murmured.
          We were watching a documentary for a project, and my eyes had grown heavy, filled with lethargy.
          “You sure? You won’t shrug your shoulder or anything right?”
          His large hand had pulled my head towards his shoulder, and with a chuckle, he said, “No, I promise I won’t. You can stay here for as long as you like.”
           “Is it because I remind you of her?” I asked.
            He didn’t answer, but I felt the coldness of his lips press onto my forehead. That too had not changed. Whenever he was unable to give a clear answer, he would stay silent and distract her with a loving gesture. Then, she would believe that he loved her, but that could not have been love. That was tactic.
           If I had known, I would have told her myself before. It was too late, however, to do
anything. She was already dead to me.
Chapter 5                                                                             Chapter 7