CH 11: Crescent City Blues

The humid air of New Orleans enveloped Dorian as he stepped out of the Mercedes in front of The Crescent. It was quite a different vibe from Miami. The city, still bearing scars from the recent tropical storm, hummed with its usual resilience. Dorian paused, taking in the familiar sights and sounds, a stark contrast to the chaos he'd left behind in Miami.

Inside the hotel, his staff greeted him with a mix of relief and apprehension. The tension was palpable.

"Mr. Batiste," his assistant manager, Meleesa, approached him cautiously. "We've been trying to reach you. There are... issues we need to discuss."

Dorian nodded grimly. "My office, ten minutes. Gather the management team."

In the elevator ride up to his office, Dorian's mind raced. The overdose in Miami, the compromised supply chain, Vivian's betrayal - it all swirled in his head, a tempest he needed to navigate.

Ten minutes later, Dorian sat behind his desk, facing his core management team. Meleesa, the assistant manager, sat to his right, her tablet at the ready. To his left was Marcus, head of security, his face a mask of concern. Rounding out the group were Tori from finance and Micah from operations.

"Alright," Dorian began, his voice steady despite the turmoil within. "Let's start with the Miami situation. Micah, what's the latest?"

Micah cleared his throat. "The police have finished their initial investigation of the penthouse suite. They're calling it an accidental overdose, but..."

"But?" Dorian pressed.

"But the amount and purity of the drugs found suggest this wasn't just some tourist partying too hard. This was professional-grade stuff."

Marcus leaned forward. "And that's not all. The security footage from that night? It's been tampered with. There's a 20-minute gap we can't account for."

Dorian's jaw clenched. "Any leads on who might have accessed our systems?"

"Not yet," Marcus replied. "But whoever did it knew what they were doing. This wasn't some amateur hack job."

Tori spoke up next, her voice tight with worry. "There's more, Mr. Batiste. I've been going over the books, and there are... discrepancies. Small amounts, but consistent. It's as if someone's been skimming off the top for months, maybe longer."

The room fell silent as the implications sank in. Dorian looked at each of his team members in turn, reading the concern and fear in their eyes.

"Listen carefully," he said, his voice low but firm. "What I'm about to say doesn't leave this room. We have a serious problem, one that goes beyond a single overdose or some creative accounting. I believe our organization has been compromised."

A collective gasp went around the room. Meleesa's tablet clattered to the desk.

"What do you mean, compromised?" Micah asked, his face pale.

Dorian chose his words carefully. "I mean that someone, or some group, has been using our hotels for their own purposes. Purposes that, I assure you, are not in line with our business model or our ethics."

"What do we do?" Tori asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Dorian stood, pacing behind his desk. "For now, we handle this internally. No one outside this room is to know the full extent of what's happening. Meleesa, I need you to draft a statement about the Miami incident. Keep it vague, express our condolences, emphasize our cooperation with the authorities."

Sarah nodded, already typing furiously on her tablet.

"Marcus, I want a full security audit. Every camera, every access point, every employee with high-level clearance. If there's a weak link in our chain, I want to know about it."

"On it, boss," Marcus replied, a determined glint in his eye.

"Tori, dig deeper into those financial discrepancies. I want to know exactly how much we're talking about and where it's going. And Micah, I need you to review all of our supply chain protocols. If someone's using our legitimate business to move illegitimate goods, I want to know how."

As his team nodded their understanding, Dorian felt a mix of pride and concern. These were good people, competent and loyal. But the storm that was coming might be more than any of them were prepared for.

"One last thing," Dorian said as they prepared to leave. "Be careful. Watch your backs, and if anything - anything at all - seems off, you come to me immediately. Understood?"

A chorus of "Yes, sir" echoed in the office as his team filed out, leaving Dorian alone with his thoughts and the weight of the challenges ahead.

As the meeting concluded, his phone buzzed. "Mom" flashed on the screen. Dorian sighed. Of course, his mother had heard about it even from her Senate office in DC.

"Dorian," her voice was sharp, political training evident even in that single word. "There are rumors. I need answers, and I need them now."

He closed his eyes, feeling the weight of family legacy and political ambition pressing down on him. "It's complicated, Mother. I'm handling it."

"See that you do," she replied. "We can't afford a scandal. Not now."

The call ended, leaving Dorian with a bitter taste in his mouth. Family, politics, business - all intertwined in a web he was only now beginning to fully comprehend.

Needing an escape, Dorian found himself at Le Chat Noir. The exclusive establishment was a world unto itself, where New Orleans' elite rubbed shoulders with beautiful women whose company came at a price.

Dorian took the stage, trumpet in hand. As the first notes of "Blue in Green" filled the air, he lost himself in the music, letting the melody wash away the complications of his life, if only for a moment.

As the song ended, Dorian's dark-brown eyes scanned the dimly lit room feasting on a suitable partner for the night. His gaze locked onto a woman at the bar, and for a moment, his heart stopped. She could have been Vivian's twin.

Tall, about 5'10", with caramel skin and long, crinkly waves cascading down her back. Her hourglass figure was accentuated by a sleek designer dress that left little to the imagination. Dorian recognized her immediately as one of the high-end escorts who frequented Le Chat Noir.

The sight of her transported Dorian back in time. Angela. The woman he'd loved and lost years ago. The woman who'd shaped his preferences, his inability to form close bonds. The reason he sought comfort in transactional relationships with women who looked just like her.

As if drawn by his gaze, the woman approached. Her walk was a seductive sway, confident and alluring. She leaned in close, her lips nearly brushing his ear as she spoke.

"Votre musique était vraiment enchanteresse," she purred, her French impeccable with a hint of Creole lilt. "Je m'appelle Camille."

Dorian felt a familiar thrill at the sound of French, his second language flowing as naturally as English. "Enchanté, Camille," he replied smoothly. "Je suis Dorian. Votre beauté rivalise avec la mélodie."

Camille's eyes sparkled with intrigue and a hint of mischief. "Ah, un homme qui parle français. C'est... excitant." She loved his voice as well as she was intimately moved by the melodious sounds that came from his trumpet. 

Their banter continued in French, a verbal dance as seductive as any physical one. Camille proved to be not just beautiful, but sharp-witted and well-versed in art, music, and politics. She matched Dorian quip for quip, her intelligence adding an extra layer of allure.

"Et que faites-vous quand vous n'enchantez pas les femmes avec votre trompette?" Camille asked, her fingers trailing lightly over Dorian's arm.

"Je dirige des hôtels," Dorian responded, enjoying the cat-and-mouse game. "Et vous, ma chère? Quelle est votre profession?"

Camille's laugh was low and throaty. "Je suis une femme aux multiples talents, mon cher. Peut-être que je vous les montrerai... si vous êtes chanceux."

Dorian knew the steps to this dance all too well. He decided to indulge in her company for the evening, knowing it wouldn't - couldn't - go beyond that. The familiarity of this type of encounter provided a comfort of sorts, a return to a world he understood after the chaos of recent events.

As Camille excused herself to freshen up, Dorian couldn't help but admire her retreating form. She was dangerous in her own way, he realized. Not like Vivian, perhaps, but a temptation that could easily become a distraction. And in the game he was now playing, distractions could be deadly.

A familiar face appeared at Dorian's side. Ramirez.

"Enjoying the local flavor, amigo?" Ramirez's scarred face twisted into a smirk.

Dorian's hand instinctively moved towards his concealed Beretta. "What do you want, Ramirez?"

"Information," Ramirez replied, his tone turning serious. "About Vivian. And the organization she works for."

For the next few minutes, Ramirez painted a picture of a shadowy international group with tendrils reaching into governments and corporations worldwide. Vivian, it seemed, was just the tip of the iceberg.

As Ramirez melted back into the crowd, Dorian's mind raced. He had a decision to make. How much to reveal to the authorities? How to protect his business? And most importantly, whether to pursue Vivian and her organization.

Later that night, Dorian carefully extricated himself from the tangled sheets, leaving Camille's naked form in peaceful slumber. Her caramel skin glowed in the soft moonlight filtering through the windows, her long hair spread across the pillow, a perfectly rounded ass glowing for his enjoyment. For a moment, he simply stood there, allowing himself time to admire her beauty.

Shaking off the memory, Dorian reached for his burgundy velvet robe, a luxurious indulgence that spoke to his appreciation for the finer things in life. He slipped it on, the plush fabric a stark contrast to his bare skin. As he moved towards the balcony, he paused at the bedside table. With practiced discretion, he placed a thick envelope next to the lamp – a silent acknowledgment of the transaction that had brought Camille to his bed.

He padded silently to the bar in his penthouse suite, pouring himself a generous measure of Jack Daniels. From a polished humidor on the bar, he selected a Cuban cigar - a Cohiba Behike, his longtime favorite. The familiar weight of it between his fingers brought a small measure of comfort.

Cigar and whiskey in hand, Dorian stepped out onto the balcony, the hem of his robe brushing against his calves. The cool night air caressed his face as he gazed over the glittering expanse of New Orleans. He lit the cigar with the practiced ease of long habit, drawing in the rich, aromatic smoke and exhaling slowly. The city sprawled before him, a tapestry of lights and shadows, secrets and possibilities.

He sipped his whiskey, savoring the interplay of flavors between the smoky cigar and the smooth bourbon. His phone, left on the balcony table earlier, buzzed with a text from an unknown number:

"The game isn't over, darling. It's just beginning. - V"

A smile played on Dorian's lips as he took another drag of the cigar. In that moment, standing between the sleeping beauty in his bed and the city he called home, he made his decision. He would use his hotels, his resources, his skills - everything at his disposal to unravel this conspiracy. The hotelier was now a player in a dangerous game of international intrigue.

As the first light of dawn broke over the Crescent City, Dorian Batiste stood ready to face whatever storms lay ahead. He cast one last glance at Camille's sleeping form through the open balcony doors, then turned back to the awakening city. The cigar smoldered between his fingers, a constant companion in moments of contemplation and decision.

Dorian felt that familiar thrill course through him as he finished his whiskey, the velvet robe a cocoon of luxury around him. Chaos was coming, and it was where he thrived. He stubbed out the cigar and went inside to prepare for the day ahead, leaving behind the ashes of the old Dorian and embracing the dangerous new world he now inhabited.

Back to blog