Chapter 26 At The Hop

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I had to hand it to Tommo, the Taylor's ballroom had been completely transformed. Alternate red and white silk hung from the ceiling, creating the illusion of a big top marquee whilst jugglers and contortionists amused the crowd.

He had insisted on a red carpet that ran from the car park all the way up to the front doors. He had Durov's boys hoovering it all morning and now there were two of them dressed as strong men guarding the entrance.

I had yet to see Durov and his brother Pavel. I assumed they were in the inner sanctum with the big boss himself. Tommo always had a party within a party, a VIP area I intended to stay well clear of.

There had been rumors of a tiger on a gold leash, but so far, the only livestock I'd actually seen, were the hundreds of rabbits hopping all over the place pulled out of a magicians hat. They had all, rather bizarrely, been dyed orange.

At least they blended in with the fake tans of the Barham clan.

It was like an episode of 'my big fat gypsy wedding'. The extended collection of aunts, uncles and cousins stood out from a mile away.

Hooped earrings, big enough to have their own trapeze artists, skyscraper heels, fake nails, large hair and big boobs, were all out in force.

At any other time I would've found a mix of them amongst the islanders elite seriously entertaining, but now, I just waited nervously in my only suit.

I knew I must of looked presentable. The women circled like vultures and ogled me like I was lunch.

I really hoped Jay arrived soon. Something was definitely off. She had been jumpy the last time I'd seen her and now and had insisted on meeting me at the party instead of picking her up.

I didn't like the thought of her alone in this crowd and with Ren, even less.

Something was definitely not right there either. Ren had obviously detonated the self-destruct button and Taylor was seriously pissed off. They usually fought like cat and dog, but now, it was as if all out war had been declared. Taylor had even bought Imogen as his plus one this evening. Sparks were bound to fly when Ren found out.

I could also see Isabella and her cronies camped out the champagne bar. Each of them toned, tailored and decked out in designer threads. Didn't make a difference though, all of them wore either a smug, bitchy or sour milk expression on their pulled taut faces, making them about as attractive as a pit full of vipers.

Tonight was destined to be a bad melodrama. I could feel it in my gut. I just hoped Jay and I could stay seated in the stalls are not under the spotlight of the center ring.

Sensing someone behind me, I turned to meet Durov's dead shark eyes glittering with menace.

He stepped level to me and surveyed the crowd. "I can see why you like the skinny American girl. She looks fuckable this evening. Not as hot as my Karenina but then who is?"

Not once did Durov look at me as he spoke, he just continued to let his lifeless gaze roam over every woman in the room. He was clearly trying to wind me up but had he seen Jay already?

Was she here? I needed to find her. Durov blocked me as I tried to step away though. "I insist you have a drink with me and talk a little shop before the party get started, yes? I think you will. The job we need you to do may happen this evening, or it may not, no?"

Christ not this now. Where was she?


Ren and I were sat in the back of a rented pink limousine.

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