Disclaimer: The story is mine, the characters are the property of Stephanie Myers.
Pre-Edit Count – 3,069 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: If We Ever Meet Again By Timbaland featuring Katy Perry
Bella decides to accept her friend’s invitation to go to the new ‘in’ club in town. She can’t remember the name, but these new clubs come and go all the time and she didn’t see what the big deal about this one was.
She’s been working hard, either at school or at work, and hasn’t seen her friends in a long time – she knows this very well since they have no problem reminding her about it, as often as they can. Bella knows that even though they have promised not to try to set her up with another random guy in the club, it will inevitably happen after they start drinking. They simply cannot believe she is happy alone and they are genuinely concerned about her. But Bella is very happy being by herself and not playing some lovestruck fool, thank you very much. Truthfully, she doesn’t think she can dedicate the necessary time to a real relationship. That is, if a real meaningful relationship can even be found in a club.
She calls up her friend Alice and asks her if the offer of going out is still open. “Of course Bella!!! You will love where we are going tonight. Well maybe not… but who cares, after dancing and a lot of drinking, does it matter? The music is so awesome with one of the best DJ’s in the city.”
Bella laughs at her friend’s eagerness to sell her on an idea that she has already bought. “Alice! Enough!! Now, where should I meet you?”
Alice thinks back to the times they’ve gone out in the past and the condition they ended up in after. “Can we come over there? You have room and we can get a limo for the night and have a real time out on the town.”
Bella sighs, knowing the responsible thing is to do that or else she will need to be the designated driver for the night. Since she wants to let loose for once and remember why she is working so hard for at school, she agrees. “Sure, what time should I be expecting everyone?”
Thanks to her family, she doesn’t really need to work, and this way she can get some relaxation without the worry of missing the next day, never mind it being a Friday.
Hatter is busy at his new nightclub making sure everything is ready for the night. He’s been hiding himself here after making it in LA. His life had gotten out of control while there and his answer had been to move to Pittsburgh and out of the limelight for awhile.
However, he can’t be idle for long and soon designed and built this club. This way he can still do what he loved while producing entertainment for others.
The club is owned under his real name, but most people know him by MH. For this place, and when he DJ’s, he uses the name his friends call him – the name he had earned on the streets of London – Hatter. It is the only way he can protect himself from all the bloody gold diggers! He has known his fair share of them and luckily knew them for what they were. Also, his nickname plays well into the club’s theme. He smiles wryly at the thought.
Hatter turns in his chair and looks out to the city below him, losing himself in thought. He hasn’t spun for awhile; maybe tonight he will enjoy himself while at the same time keeping an eye on the club. As he peruses the thought, he decides that he will do just that and mix pleasure with work. Of course, he will need Jake to work with him to throw off the scent and also in case he needs a break, but Jake is great at making it look like he was doing all the work and that Hatter was only the eye candy. The thought causes Hatter to smirk; even not knowing who he truly is the ladies seem to throw themselves at him anyway, no matter how much he shows his disinterest. As long as he is not mean spirited about the refusals or uses any of them ladies, there is no reason that he can’t enjoy the attention, was there? Hatter turns to make the calls to put his plans for the night in place. Glancing at the clock he notes it will be time to open up in a couple of hours.
Bella is dressed in a blue mini skirt dress and red tights, with heeled boots. Her friends had tried to get her to wear something different, but she refuses to get dressed up just so they can try to set her up with someone. She is comfortable and that is all that matters to her tonight.
She walks outside thinking that it’s warm enough that she won’t need a jacket and gets into the limo with Alice and a bunch of their girlfriends. As they all grab a glass of bubbly, they raise them in toast and say, “To Bella, may she remember how to have fun tonight!” They all laugh, including Bella, and drink to that. Bella turns to Rose and asks, “Where are we going tonight?”
Rose is a petite woman with ice white hair and dark blue sapphire eyes that she came by naturally from her mother. She is another of those special friends who understands Bella. “You don’t know?”
Bella shakes her head no.
Rose looks at Alice. “You didn’t tell her?”
Alice is sheepish and replies, “Do you think she would agree to go if I had told her the name?”
Bella looks at both of them. “Alright! I am here and very unlikely to jump out of the limo if you tell me where we were going, so c’mon give!”
Alice is pure energy. She is 5’5, auburn hair, and bright green eyes. She is the life of the party and often Bella has commented that if they could harness her energy, it would end the energy crisis by itself for most of the world. But in spite of this, she is a loyal friend who will do anything to make sure people are happy. But there are times that Bella is ready to kill her, though, and this may be one of those times if she does not cough up the name of the club. How bad can a name be?
Alice looks sheepish and tells her, “It’s called the Tea Shoppe. The main DJ’s name is Hatter and well, umm you can guess the theme.”
Bella sighs. She has lived most of her life hating Alice in Wonderland. Her great grandfather was Charles Dodgson, but most people know him by his pen name of Lewis Carroll. When people learn about it, and they somehow always seem to find out, they tease her and ask why her why her name wasn’t Alice after the main character in the story. After a very short while, Bella began to hate the story and has avoided anything to do with it. But Alice and Rose have convinced her in the past few years to accept it and not run screaming from it. Rose had once pointed to Alice and told Bella that if she could deal with the teasing then Bella certainly could. Bella tries to, but seriously?
Bella groans and asks, “Tea Shoppe?”
Rose answers quietly, while the rest of the girls in the group drink their champagne, laughing and carrying on in their own conversations. “The theme is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and their drinks are based on the teas. I heard that the owner has been very imaginative and has come close to make quite a few tastes like teas. And, the main DJ is pure eye candy and wears a hat everywhere.”
Bella looks out the window, resigning herself to trying to have fun, and notices that they are drawing close to a place with a huge line wrapping around the corner and down the street. Wow, she hasn’t seen a club this popular in a long time. She then thinks about having to wait in a line that long. She turns and looks at her friends, begging, “Please tell me one of you has a way in without waiting in that line.”
Alice and Rose look at each other and then start to laugh. Their friend has no idea how beautiful she is and how many times the three of them opened doors that normally stay closed. Bella is 5’6” with mahogany hair that falls below her shoulders and rich blue sapphire eyes. Her work and great genes give her a body most would kill for. But Bella never has a clue and would protest if they tried to tell her. Tonight, however, they did have a way in.
Rose finally puts Bella out of misery. “We are expected, a friend of mine is a bartender in there and has pulled some strings and got us on the VIP list.” Of course, when he heard it was for Bella, he was scrambling all over, trying to make sure everything would be perfect. He has a huge crush on her.
Bella sighs in relief. The limo door is quickly opened by the valet and the girls all get out of the vehicle. Rose walks up to the guy at the head of the line, tells him their names as he checks the list, nodding, and opens the doors for them. She looks back and pointedly raises her eyebrow. Bella and Alice laugh at her. Walking up to her, they link arms around each other and walk into the club. The rest of their friends follow them inside, still giggling and laughing.
Once inside, Bella almost stops dead, looking around in sheer amazement at the club decorations. There are trees everywhere, the tables have mismatched chairs and white tablecloths, and the ground underneath the tables looks like actual grass. As she looks at where the DJ booth is, she notices it appears to be a windmill. The Bar is cleverly disguised as a long assortment of connected tables with tea pots steaming slightly all over it. There are pastries all along the length that Bella thinks are fake until she watches as a woman picks one up and eats it. She looks up and realizes the ceiling looks like the night sky with comets and falling stars shooting through it randomly. As she watches, the stars seem to twinkle at her.
Rose and Alice lead their party down the pathway to… a ring of Mushrooms? Bella realizes that the owner has put the VIP level on top of the mushrooms with the dance floor in the middle of the mushrooms on the lower level. Bella has to give credit where credit is due; this club is awesome and the owner went way above and beyond designing it. She climbs the stairs and they go to the table marked ‘Bella in Wonderland’. Bella shakes her head but thinks, if it got us in, I’m not complaining! She sits down with her friends and they all start to talk and generally have fun while sampling the assortment of drinks in front of them.
Hatter looks out at the crowd, enjoying himself. Jake is working with him and keeping his mouth closed as normal. He looks up at the VIP area, intrigued by the group of women there. He’d seen them walking through the club heading in that direction earlier. He remembers seeing a large party reserved under ‘Bella in Wonderland’ and has wondered at the moniker; they must be that group. He shrugs and gets ready to spin another record, hopefully lure them down below to dance. If they look as good as they did at the first glance he’d taken, then they will draw others onto the dance floor with them.
Bella is getting bored listening to the girls talking. She doesn’t care much for gossip like most of them did. Hearing a driving beat start, she taps Rose’s shoulder and when she leans closer, Bella tells her, “I want to go down and dance.”
Rose nods and taps Alice’s shoulder next to her, pointing downstairs. Alice flashes a grin and stands up and the three women walk down, joining the crowd on the floor.
Hatter sees three of the most beautiful ladies make their way to the floor. Well, all three were certainly beautiful but one… one intrigues him. He watches her with her friends and wonders what her story is, what is she doing here, what is her name…. is she single? He thinks for a second and signals Jake to take over as he makes his way to the dance floor to watch her. Jake will be fine since he has a few songs queued up and ready to go. Hatter can’t think of the last time a woman has caught his eye like this; he is curious and wants to satisfy that curiosity.
Bella is having a blast, she likes to dance, but normally doesn’t go out much. She glances to her left and sees a pair of dark chocolate eyes that connect with hers. Her stomach does a quick flip and she blinks, losing the eyes in the crowd. She misses the intensity instantly as well as the warmth she felt when meeting them. Frowning, she wonders what is happening. Bella feels a quick tap on her shoulder and turns to see Rose cocking her head at her quizzically, silently asking if everything was okay. Bella nods and the three keep on enjoying themselves.
Soon enough, of course, people try to cut in. The three friends are used to men trying to cut in all the time and have developed ways to gently, but firmly, relay the fact that they were not interested, if they truly were not. Of course, there are always some who can’t take a hint, but they have ways to deal with them, also.
In this case, the guy in question is very drunk, not understanding their hints. Furthermore, it looks like he has planned this out. He grabs Bella from behind and proceeds to grind into her. She flicks her eyes to Rose and Alice who instantly understand and try to move closer to help her. Bella steps away and loudly says, “Get off!”
The guy leers at her, “C’mon, looking and dancing like that tells me you need a man to… dance with.” He leans closer and Bella backs off from the smell radiating off of him. She can see that his friends are helping keep Rose and Alice away and she is getting a little nervous. He grabs her again, pulling her close to him, not caring at all that she is fighting him.
Before he can do something, a hand grabs his shoulder and swings him around to a very angry Hatter who tells him in a hard tone, “The lady told ya no. And a gentleman always honors wha’ a lady says.”
Bella is shocked that the man whose eyes had caused the odd but pleasant feeling in her stomach earlier was now there… defending her? She is grateful and a little flattered; most people and her friends don’t try to help her, knowing she can handle herself very well. But this is a dangerous situation and she is feeling very uncomfortable – this guy gave her a very bad feeling – and Bella is grateful for the save. Her savior glances at her and indicates slightly that she needs to try to move away. She looks quickly around and sees that the only safe spot is beside her brown-eyed savior since all the other ways are blocked.
Lonnie looks at the man that has come out of nowhere, taking away his fun. Who did this guy think he is? He attempts to push away the smaller man so he can get back to his entertainment for the night, but is shocked when the man doesn’t budge at all. And then he notices the woman who’d caught his attention moving to the guy’s side. Without even glancing at her, the guy moves slightly in front of her, effectively making sure that Lonnie can’t get to her. Not without going through this guy first.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Lonnie demands angrily.
At first, Hatter puzzles about why the woman who caught his attention didn’t leave. Then he realizes that this bloody scumbag’s friends have blocked her in. Instead, she has assessed the situation and moved to the safest spot in the circle, by his side. He moves slightly to make sure that if the drunken man makes a move towards her, it would be through him. Where are the bouncers he hired to make sure situations like this did not happen?
Hatter replies to the man in a cold voice, “You will bloody leave now, my friend, or you will regret whatever you do to the lady here.”
Lonnie stares at the guy and gets a bad feeling that this is not going to end well. Glaring at him, he mutters, “Whatever, I was just trying to dance with the lady.” He stalks off, figuring he can try again when he is sure the guy is elsewhere. Lonnie has never seen this guy before when other girls came through and caught his attention. The guy is probably a bouncer or such, he thinks, before whistling to his friends and walking away, not looking back.
Bella breathes a sigh of relief and then brown eyes turns quickly and asks her, “Are ya alright, did the bloody scut harm ye?”
She looks into his eyes and sees that he is genuinely concerned. “No, he just frightened me.” She takes a deep breath, thinking that she needs to thank him – and to be honest, she really wants to know his name – and says, “Thank you. My name is Bella.”
He glances at her, as if making sure she is alright. “Yer welcome. Nice ta meet ya Bella, name’s Hatter.” He glances around again, noticing the crowd and still feeling… protective, he asks her, “Ya want to get off the floor and get a drink?” And maybe answer some of my questions…
Bella looks at Hatter, noticing the nice build, the hair that goes wherever it wants, and the oh ye gods, thank you! accent. The odd feeling in her stomach returns and she smiles. She really needs a drink and doesn’t feel worried about being with this man who has saved her. In fact, she wants to get to know him better. She glances over her shoulder to Rose and Alice and lets them know she is going to the bar. They nod and give her a look that she all too well recognizes; she will be getting the interrogation later.
Bella turns back to Hatter, noticing he has seen all of their byplay and is still patiently waiting for her answer. “Yes.”
This free fall in her stomach has got her feeling so…
They walk off the dance floor together to satisfy their mutual curiosity about the other.