Not my first fic but my first for Nine Lives. I wasn't planning on writing for it but this just came into my head. I have no idea where this will lead to and hopefully this will turn out to be the first fiction that I will finish. I have NEVER finished a fiction before to keep your fingers crossed. If I don't finished before the end of summer, no chance in hell but I won't have internet connection for a few weeks (unfortunately for you guys) so no updates until I get back.

Things I've learned so far the last few days:

Avoid sitting next to Alek on a long road trip (and absolutely do not wake him)

When you tell mom that you'll text her every day, make sure you do or else she will panic and alert the police.

L.A. traffic sucks. Especially when you're in a compact car with a grumpy Valentina and a very hungry Jasmin.

I used to think that my first time to Los Angeles would be with my mom or with Amy and Brian and would most likely involve shopping (more like window shopping) on Rodeo Drive, go to Disneyland and wait in line for a ridiculous two hours to get on a friggin' Dumbo ride, and go celebrity sighting in hopes of getting a glimpse of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Never would I have imagined that I would be here to meet the leaders of the Mai pride, the big bosses, the Big Brother… well, of California. But still, just a few months ago, nothing like this had existed in my mind and just in a span of a few weeks, I've been killed, assaulted, and bombarded with information that was just completely unreal.

"We've arrived," Valentina announced.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Being stuck at the backseat of the car, sandwiched between Jasmin and Alek, definitely did not make my day. I scrambled out of the car, rather ungracefully I might add, ducking to ensure that my head clears the top of the door. I've gotten too much shit from Alek about that the first time around and I'm not going to repeat the same episode. Sunlight struck my face, making my eyes squint against the strong rays and yet again, I was amazed by the grandeur and wealth of the Mai – boy, they are doing well.

"Valetina, I can't afford this," I said, breathless.

"Don't worry, Chloe. All your expenses are covered by the "company"," Valentina replied.

"Company" was the new codename for the Mai. I gulped, anxiety started to crawl back in and I started getting jittery. Two doormen held the doors ushered us into the lobby. Definitely a 6-star hotel. Plasma TV's lined the walls, velvet cushions, orchid flowers and many important looking people milled around in the reception area.

The receptionist quickly checked us in and handed us our room keys. The bellboys were already informed of our room numbers and had already dropped off our luggage outside the doors when we arrived there. According to Jasmin, the whole floor was booked out by the Mai to ensure privacy. I quickly swiped in the room key and swung open the door.

"I definitely can't afford this," I repeated again, astonished.

"The company certainly does want to win the Uniter's favour, but I think they'll just end up spoiling you."

I turn to face Alek with his back leaning against the corner of the hallway, hands in his pocket and that incredibly irritating smirk on his face. I rolled my eyes at him and pressed my lips together in a smile as I surveyed my surroundings.

"I think I can get used to this," I eyed him, "but there's no way that you're getting a "come-in-anytime" invite."

By the time I turned around to face him, he's already cornered me against the wall. I blinked at the proximity.

"Are you sure? I'm quite hard to resist you know," he growled. I tried hard to keep a straight face and closed the small gap between us, gently grasping his shoulders.

"I'm sure," I whispered into his ear before pushing him away gently. He chuckled, ran his hand through his hair, and lent against wall next to me. I slid by back down the wall to sit on the floor and he followed suit.

After a while, the previously awkward, seductive moments started to become sort of an inside joke between us – that's what sort of happens after having him as a personal bodyguard at all hours for two weeks. Valentina has been a little bit too paranoid and overprotective after the last Scarface attack and assigned Alek to make sure I keep out of trouble. That was already his implicated job but now it was explicitly assigned. Unfortunately for me, or fortunately, from Amy's perspective, this gave him more of an excuse to mess with me (not that he needed one in the first place). It's still awkward sometimes because I get the feeling that he's pretty serious about it but I just shrug it off as my imagination wandering off with me. I refuse to fall under the cliché teenage girl category and crush over the hot high school jock with a British accent… and I already have Brian to worry about too.

I turn to face him, the side of my head pressed against the wall. He glanced toward my direction but refused to hold the gaze.

"Have you met them before?" I asked him.

"Who? You mean the big bosses?" He asked me, smirking, and looked at me from the corner of his eye. I nodded. I guess he saw that I was a bit intimidated or scared or something because he softened up. He relaxed his stance and let out something that sounded like a sigh.

"Um… some of them I have," he turned to face me and ran his hand through his hair, "They aren't all scary and intimidating you know. They won't try to scare you off or anything, you are the Uniter."

He turned back to face the front.

"There's a lot of internal politics going on," he continued, "They're trying to win your favour and hopefully relocate you to their area. Everyone has different plans for you, different ideas on what you should do. Not all of them are as open-minded as Valentina. I just thought you should know."

I turned back as well and closed my eyes. It was just a little overwhelming, having the fate of the Mai depend on everything I do. I focused on keeping my breathing even and regular – in, out, in, out. Subconsciously, I tuned into Alek's steady heartbeat. It's really become a habit of mine, one that I've desperately tried to shake off but really, old habits do die hard. When I opened my eyes again, I caught him staring. I smiled, reassuring him that I was fine with all this. After a brief pause, I nudged him playfully and got up on my feet, dusting off my shirt and regained my posture.

"I really gotta unpack now, so if you don't mind-" I gestured dramatically to the door. He looked like he was about to protest but thankfully obliged and headed out the door.

Just an intro, hope you liked it. Unfortunately, this is where it ended in my head so I hope you are all satisfied with the length of this first chapter. I wrote this actually before watching today's episode (I thought I was adding a new twist in the story) but sadly, the writers already beat me to it. Review please