Chapter 33

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We round the corner and stop at the top of the stairs that leads to the basement and where the dark rooms dwell

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We round the corner and stop at the top of the stairs that leads to the basement and where the dark rooms dwell. Even during the daylight hours, this hallway is as pitch black and secluded when the club is hopping. Except today, of all days, there's no noise. Its tunnel is eerie and ominous, striking a ghostly fear down my spine.

Mika tightens the hand-woven blanket around us, easing away the haunting memories of the reaper. Somewhere between the bar and the basement, he pulled the blanket further around our shoulders. It's brought us closer. In the past I'd say too close, but now my body leans further in and accepts this secure warmth he brings.

I can't help but wonder what Mika is thinking. Does he have the same disgusted feelings as Marc every time we come to this place? Would he let me go if he knew I used to be a participant? Would he regret kissing me if he knew I've kissed many others before him?

He's becoming my new safety net, and I'm not sure if I can push him away this time or if I want to. This isn't good.

I step first down the stairs as Mika holds onto the railing. We slowly descend into the darkness and it feels like it takes forever to reach the door. His heavy breaths echo through the hallway. My heartbeat quickens, becoming more aware of him and his body as my back gradually warms the closer he walks.

The moment we reach the bottom my hands smacking the button multiple times just to get through the door quicker than possible. I'm the first to step through once the slither cracks open. I'm blinded by a stark light; bleach sprays across the walls.

Mika stumbles into my back and uses my shoulders to hold himself upright. He coughs into his fist. "What is that smell? It's burning my throat."

"They're cleaning the rooms," I say before taking his hand. "Just keep your mouth covered with the blanket. I'll lead the way."

We pass through the doorway and into the millions of red ribbons hanging from the ceiling. Fake jewels gleam under the bright lighting, reflecting a rainbow of droplets off every inch of the bare room. The cushions are gone and so are the hookahs. A hollow feeling echoes with our every step as the toxic chemicals collide with the scent of iron.

The staff huddle together near a section in the back. Their fading gray uniforms mesh together, nearly making them camouflage against the stained concrete walls. Red drops sprinkle the material covering their bodies and face masks as rusted water drains beneath their boots and into the middle section of floor. When we pass by, we briefly catch the crimson splattered on the wall before a staff member blocks our view once again.

We hurry down the hallway towards Harry's room. Mika doesn't say a word. I don't try explaining either. The dark rooms are a notorious place for hooking up. They're the place to escape and enjoy your fantasies. Some people just have twisted fantasies.

I slam open the door to Harry's room. When I expect him to be toking it up or passed out on the couch, he's doing quite the opposite. Harry's running around the room. He picks up random electronics out of the hoard stashed in the corner and tosses them into a moving box sitting between the desk and coffee table.

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