Vivian is excited about this weekend. Why wouldn't she be? She is finally turning twenty-one, and she knows for-a-fact that Liam, the man of her dreams is in love with her too. On the eve of her birthday, her world comes crashing down when she is taken from her home.
Now, instead of spending her birthday in Liam-heaven, she learns that she will be forced to take part in The Chamber, a lavish sex club for the world's richest and most powerful men. She finds early on that she will not suffer her sentence alone. With the budding sisterhood of the six other women taken at the same time, along with an unexpected ally, Vivian will discover an inner strength and love that she never knew existed.
Chapter 1-Card Me Please
Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. It’s nine-fifteen and I am already in bed. I can’t even begin to calm myself down. For starters, I’m turning the fabulous two-one! I can finally give a big F-you to every doorman and bartender in Vegas who sent me on my way when my fake ID didn’t pass the test. I dare them all to card me after tonight. Matter of fact, I may just punch a hole in my license and wear it as a necklace. Or I could wear a sign around my neck that says: “Vivian Travis. I’m legal, bitches!” Take that, Mr. Can I See Your ID Please.
Of course this plague only befalls me, because my best friend Maddie has had D-cups since I met her in the fricking seventh grade. She NEVER gets carded. Somehow, my less-than-B-cups—yes, I said less-than-B because it just sounds better than actually saying “my first letter of the alphabet cups”—are a red flag that screams ‘card me.’
Maddie always tells me that if I made small efforts to look older it would help. She and I are complete opposites in the looks department. Maddie has blonde hair and striking blue eyes. She was born looking like she belonged on the pages of Sports Illustrated. My beauty has always been much more subtle. My hair is long and straight and nearly black, making my too pale skin seem even fairer. People always complement me on my steel gray eyes. But the combination of my skin, eyes, and hair have always made me feel like my ancestors are some breed of wolf. Needless to say, add that to my runner’s body and lack of a desire to wear makeup, and I guess I can see why I appear younger than I am.
The second thing that I am so jazzed about is that Maddie, her boyfriend Stevyn, and Liam are taking me for a surprise birthday weekend. The surprise is exciting enough. I am one of those girls who actually love surprises. When I was a kid I would get a thrill at the butterflies attacking my stomach on the first day of school. The higher the drop on a coaster, the better for me. Since the second I asked what we should do for my birthday and I was told it would be a surprise, I have been a bundle of nerves. But the surprise alone isn’t what’s got my stomach in knots. It’s the weekend with Liam that I am the most thrilled about. Liam and I have been friends since seventh grade, too. He and Maddie are my best friends in the whole world. You rarely see one of us without the other.
The problem is that I decided to fall in love with him. I have always thought he was a good-looking guy. Okay, that’s an understatement—with his dark hair, blue eyes, and perfect body, he could be cast in the role of Superman. Growing up, I always knew he was a great catch for any girl lucky enough to be on his radar. But never me. For starters, he has always been more like a brother to me. For finishers, we are on completely different wavelengths when it comes to relationships. Liam is more of a ladies man, and I am more of an abstinence girl—how can we possibly be compatible? No way would he wait for me, and I’m not sure I am willing to sacrifice my personal beliefs, even if I do love him.
So what changed?
It all happened about a year ago. Sex always seems to be a deal breaker in relationships for me. I have yet to meet the guy who shares my beliefs. I don’t get why they think I am such a freak because I don’t want to give up something so sacred to me. I’m sorry guys, but our third date is not a significant event, or enough of a commitment for me to give up that part of me. I can only give that to someone once, and I’m not saying it has to be my husband, but I would prefer it be someone I love enough to one day become my husband.
Liam could be that person. Recently, I began confiding in him about my failed dates and relationships, something that I never really did before. Maddie was always there for that. My failed relationships had been a long-running joke between Liam and me. But one day, I took a leap, sought out a male point of view. It was then that I saw a different side of him. He was so supportive and patient. A great listener. No jokes, ever. He would tell me what a great catch I was, and how beautiful I was. Really? He would tell me about what he would do if he had someone like me. Not me exactly, but someone like me.
I could gaze into his baby blue eyes all night. He made me feel special. Liam changed things over the course of the last year. He altered my view of him, making me think that maybe with the right woman, someone he could really love, I could see him tamed. And now I am lost. A bumbling idiot around him. Of course I couldn’t say anything to him because I am potentially ruining everything. I am the one who is changing everything.
I am sure Liam’s emotional support for me is no different than what he would do for Maddie. What if he feels awkward about my changing feelings? Or worse, what if we do try and it doesn’t work out, and we end up hating each other? I mean, are my new feelings worth risking that?
Unfortunately for me, my bestie Maddie noticed how weird I started acting around Liam. I couldn’t lie to her when she asked me what was going on. So I confessed my feelings for our fellow best friend. In true Maddie form, she couldn’t wait to jump at that chance to intervene. She had no problem reverting us back to early middle school mode. She might as well have sent Liam a fucking, “Do you like Vivian? Circle yes or no.” note.
I wanted to kill her when she told me she pumped him for information about how he feels about me. But when she came back with the news that he is into me, I almost died! Really—Liam “The Hotness” Patrick is into me. Holy crap! So, to say this weekend is über-important would indeed be stating the obvious.
I was given no details about my surprise except for packing—an evening dress, a slutty party dress, and a bikini. No doubt the latter are for Maddie’s elaborate plan to ensure that Liam and I are a couple by the time we return home. I openly pray that her plan works as wells as she hopes it does, because the idea of Liam and I as a couple keeps me up most nights. I want nothing more than to be on the receiving end of those sparkling blue eyes, and that dazzling Liam-dimpled smile. To say that I am in love with him is a severe understatement. To say that I know he feels the same way is too scary to fathom. Madeline promises me daily that she knows for a fact that he feels exactly the same way.
Other than my constant obsession that my best guy friend and the secret object of my desire wants me too, the rest of my birthday is going to be a surprise, left up to my imagination. My brain is working on overdrive tonight. Maybe I should add a sign to my necklace declaring my love for Liam along with my license. If only I were that brave.
Luckily for me, after hours of tossing and turning I drift off into a Liam-ful dream. Always a light sleeper, I rouse when I hear the creak of my opening door. I don’t know how long I was out. My body tells me that the sun isn’t up yet. It’s dark in the hallway, but I know my door is open. Probably Growl—if my door isn’t closed all the way, my black lab comes and visits me in the middle of the night. There have been plenty of mornings when I wake up with my intruder dog hogging most of the bed. I think nothing of it and close my eyes, prepared to let sleep consume me in hopes that I can return to my dream—Liam was just about to grab me in a lover’s embrace and kiss me. I feel the hood go over my head before I see anything.
“What the hell?” I gasp, and right as I am prepared to scream the place up, I remember the surprise. These fools. Might as well play along. No sense ruining the surprise, especially since they went to the length of staging a kidnapping. “Wow, guys. This is a better surprise than I thought. Talk about elaborate. Staging a kidnapping. I’m game. Please, Mister Kidnappers. Please don’t take me,” I add with a giggle. Not a word from my friends. “Maddie, if you’re gonna go this far and take me from my bed in the middle of the night, at least grab my overnight bags. They’re right by the door.” I point in the general direction of my bags. “This hood stinks! Please tell me I don’t have to wear this the whole time, ‘cause that is so not gonna work for me.”
Wow, still not a word or a giggle from my friends.
Still, I play along. Just think—it only means that in a few moments I will be riding in the car with Liam, hopefully the backseat. Not that I’m brave enough to try anything. I feel someone lift one of my feet and I realize that they want me to slide into my slippers. “Thank goodness…I thought you were going to walk me right out the front door barefoot,” I say.
I wish I knew if the strong hands holding me belonged to Liam or Stevyn. If I knew for sure they belonged to Liam, I’d trip on purpose just to have him catch me.
The air is cool and windy—April in Las Vegas. If I didn’t have the stinky hood on, I could feel the nighttime breeze that I love so much caressing my face. Knowing that triple digits are on their way, I like to appreciate the crisp April winds.
I can hear a car door open and the tug on my arm indicating that I am to enter the vehicle. My right leg is lifted to guide me up the high step. Wow, an SUV—they went all out. “Can I take the stinky egg hood off now? I’m seriously over this thing already.” But I get no response.
The door clanks shut and echoes. Hunh? I sit in my seat and am quickly belted in. Before I can utter another word we are on the move.
“Okay guys, seriously, if you think for one minute I’m riding another inch under this fowl hood…” I start to remove the hood from my head.
“Leave the hood where it is,” a deep voice warns me. A deep voice that does not belong to anyone that I know.
In a flood of reality, the hairs raise on my arms, alerting me to what I pretty much figure out. I’m in trouble. My heart starts a steady drumming that is so strong I can feel each beat pounding in my ears.
“What the fuck is going on?” I dare shout.
I hear a faint conversation in front of me. The driver—no, the passenger. I strain to hear anything that might help me.
“Yes, boss. We have her,” the deep voice says. I don’t hear an immediate response, so I can only assume he is on a call. “No, boss, we didn’t have to drug her. Get this—apparently her friends were supposed to kidnap her for some surprise.” He laughs.
Fuck you, mister. That’s the only way you would have got me so easily.
“She let us put the hood on and walked right out the door, telling her friends—” He laughs again. “How the hood smelled like rotten fucking eggs. Her family had no idea. It was priceless. I wish they were all so easy,” he continues. “We’ll be at the airport in about twenty minutes.”
The conversation ends and I realize how many mistakes I’ve made. I let them take me from my home. Scratch that, from my fucking bed! I have willingly climbed into the fucking kidnapper’s vehicle! Now they think I’m getting on a fucking plane! Hell no!
Oh my God, what am I going to do? I’ve been kid-fucking-napped. What the fuck? My mom and dad. My little brother, Shane. Why didn’t I realize that my friends like their sleep too much to wake up in the wee hours of the night! Fuck, fuck, fuck. I can’t get on that plane! I’m as sure as dead if I do. Better they toss my dead carcass on the side of the Vegas road. At least my parents will find out sooner what happened to me.
I take two or three deep breaths and am almost knocked out by the foul rotten egg smell. Fuck you, assholes. I remove the hood. I only grab a few mental snapshots. Four men. Two in back with me. Two in the front seat. Not an SUV, but a certified, kidnapper-issued, blacked-out van. That’s all I see before my mouth is covered with a cloth saturated with something that makes me only see darkness. All goes black. Dreamless. Nothing.