Taken by the Italian Mafia: A Dark City Romance

Taken by the Italian Mafia
A Dark City Romance
Sadie Black
Lost Coastline Media

C
opyright © 2015

All rights reserved.

Published 2016.

All titles are reprinted with permission.

Copyrights are retained by the original authors.

Please note that this is a work of fiction. This book does contain graphic depictions of sexual activity and adult language. It is intended for mature readers over the age of 18. All characters, fictionally depicted, are over the age of 18.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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Chapter One
Whitney

"
A
Bailey's Comet
, and make it
hot
.”

Above the blasting beats in the club, Whitney only caught a few syllables of the man's order. A few syllables were all she needed. Years of working at
The Avenue
made her a skilled lip reader. Even the drunkest clients slurring over their words posed zero problems. Whitney was good at what she did, and she knew it.

"The hottest for you," she said with a wink. The man standing across the bar from her wasn't particularly attractive, but she knew how to work the floor. Tips paid her rent, and she wasn't against a little harmless flirting if it meant a few extra bills slid her way.

With a flourish, she poured the Irish cream and Goldschlager into a cocktail shaker and shook it in time to the bass vibrating through the floor. Friday nights at
The Avenue
were always crazy, but they were always a good time. Fresh faces and hot young bodies kept the place alive and bouncing. Even though she worked through the non-stop party, she felt like part of the crowd.
The Avenue
was the best club she'd worked at yet, and Whitney dreaded the day she'd have to let it go.

"Hey!" Cassandra shouted near her ear. Whitney poured the mixed drink into a cocktail glass, a splash of 151 proof rum over top finished the drink. Whitney searched for the cinnamon shaker beneath the counter with one hand and fished a lighter from her pocket with the other.

"What?" The flame from her lighter ate its way across the surface of the drink, the ground cinnamon she shook into it popped. The man slid a twenty-dollar bill across the counter, a three-dollar tip on a single drink was nothing to scoff at. She lost track of how many she poured by the hour.

"Have you seen Liam?"

"No."

Liam owned the club, and Whitney thought he must live there, too. Liam was
always
there, no matter what time she showed up or day of the week it was. For the most part, Liam trusted his bartenders and let them do what they needed to do. Unlike some of the seedier bars she'd worked at, he didn't dip his fingers into the tips or demand his girls
service
him. In the two years she'd worked for him, she had little to complain about.

"I saw him with some girl," Cassandra shouted. Despite the elevated volume of her voice, Whitney could barely hear her over the music. At her side, Cassandra was pouring a row of shots. Whitney had moved on to take another order. The bar was hopping.

"And?" It wasn't like Liam was celibate. Single, in his forties but looking like he was in his early thirties, the man had no trouble with the ladies.

"I think he was interviewing her."

"For what?" Fifteen dollars this time. Whitney tucked the money away, keeping mental tabs so she could ring up the orders when there was a second to breathe between orders.

"For the bar. He kept pointing at us. She looked like she'd just turned twenty-one."

A sour taste spread across Whitney's tongue, and she paused from what she was doing to look over at Cassandra. With sandy blonde hair, big blue eyes, and pale skin, Cassandra was just about her opposite. Liam liked to schedule them together because of how well they complimented one another.

Her light cocoa skin against Cassandra's creamy white. Her warm brown eyes against Cassandra's blues. And her tightly screwed black curls opposite Cassandra's straight blonde locks was what Liam liked to describe as 'a delicious combination'. As a pair, Whitney and Cassandra made more money than any other duo on staff. If there was one thing Liam liked more than
The Avenue
, it was the money the club made him.
Liam couldn't be thinking about doing away with her, could he?

"What did she look like?" Whitney asked.

"Dark skin. Wavy hair. Big boobs. Really skinny, and like model pretty."

The sour taste spread. Whitney pushed a new glass across the table and pulled back another bill. It was no secret that she was getting too old to be working in a club. Most girls peaked around twenty-seven and saw their last days through at about twenty-eight. Whitney had dazzled Liam enough during her interview that he hadn't asked about her age until she was already on staff. He'd hired her at twenty-seven, and now her thirtieth birthday was quickly approaching. Since she'd started, she'd done her best to make herself a valuable member of the team. But if Liam could make more money off of a younger face, she knew that he wouldn't hesitate to let her go.

And at thirty, there weren't too many places to turn to.

"Shit." As far as she knew, none of the other girls had put in their two week's notice. Liam wouldn't hire another girl out of the blue. The team was just big enough that they didn't need another set of hands. Something was going down, and the more she thought about it, the more she felt like her neck was on the line.

Cassandra, just as adept at lip reading, frowned. They cranked out drinks and took in money without a moment's rest, but they were also familiar enough with the bar that there was time to talk.

"Maybe it's not what you think," Cassandra consoled her. More than any of her coworkers, Cassandra knew that the uncertainty of the future was eating Whitney up. With a GED and little life experience outside of bartending, she wasn't sure where she'd turn once she grew too old to be a part of the party. It had been a hard life, and it looked like it would only get tougher.

"One's for you, for being so good to all of us as we bring in the weekend!" one of the drunker men from the crowd slurred at her as she pushed two shots towards him. Whitney focused on him when he spoke, torn back down from her thoughts. Men bought her drinks all the time — it was part of being a bartender — but most of the time she didn't accept them. Drinking on the job, although permitted, didn't sit well with her. Facing her uncertain future, that moral choice no longer seemed all that important.

"Sure, alright." Leaving a shot in front of him, she picked the other up and raised it in a hasty toast. "To Friday night and nothing more," she said.

"To Friday!" the man cheered. Their shot glasses clinked, sloshing his drink. The hot, satisfying burn of liquor down her throat was all she needed to remember that this talk was only speculation. There was no sense worrying about what might happen until she knew for certain that her job was in jeopardy. Tonight, all the needed to do was treat herself well and have a good time with the rest of her patrons. No one tipped out a bartender who brought the mood down.

And as she cleared the counter of empty glasses and punched up her sold drinks, Whitney laid eyes on her
good time
.

Through the chaos of swarming bodies, she saw him. He had snow dusting his shoulders, like he hadn't worn an outside coat at all.
And what shoulders they were.
Perfect posture saw him standing tall, with a suit so flawlessly tailored she thought it must have been sewn onto him. Muscle memory allowed Whitney to input her orders without looking at the screen — all the more time to keep her eyes on him.

In a club filled with young bodies looking for a good time, he was overdressed. A navy tie, so straight it looked starched, disappeared beneath the buttoned V of his suit coat. Gray slacks drew the look together. With a body like his, he had to be a model. Flawless pale skin and beautifully cut brown hair made her certain he made money off his looks. New York was the fashion capitol of America, after all. He wouldn't be the first model to have walked through the doors of
The Avenue
.

Whitney went back to filling orders. It wasn't all that long before tall, white, and handsome found his way over to the bar. People parted for him as he walked forward as if repelled by a magnet, leaving his path clear and effortless. Whitney's grip on the bottle she held weakened, but as the neck started to slip out of her grasp, she snapped back to reality and caught it. Even in the dim, flashing lights of the club she could make out his piercing blue eyes. Like cold gems. There was a story in those eyes, something deep and tormented that she wanted to sink her teeth into and explore. Those eyes spoke to her. Whoever he was, the man in the suit had it going on.

"A black Russian," he told her. Everyone else at the bar had cleared from the area, and the chatter of dozens of mouths sounded far away. Whitney bit down on her bottom lip and smiled at him, eyes rising to take his in. The sounds of Friday night fun drowned most of his voice out, but she thought she heard an accent in his words. Musical. Light.
Was he foreign?
Maybe he was in New York on a modeling contract.

The drink was easy to make, and Whitney slid it across the counter to him. He lifted the drink to his lips, sipped, then put it back down. A moment passed where he looked into her eyes but said nothing. At last, he fished a twenty from his pocket and slid it across to her.

"You make a good drink," he remarked. It was all he said before he turned and made his way back through the crowd. In his wake, people flooded the bar again. Whatever influence the man had over them was gone, but Whitney was still under his spell.

"Cassie," Whitney called out, "did you see that?"

Although they stood only two arm lengths from each other, Cassandra was busy with her own clients. She looked over at Whitney, shrugged, and turned back to her work. What passed between Whitney and the stranger in the suit had strictly been shared between them. Whitney wasn't sure if she'd been imagining it all or not. Maybe that shot she'd slung back had been a little too potent.

When she looked back into the crowd to try to see him again, he was already gone.

Skin prickling following the encounter, already in a better mood, Whitney worked with enthusiasm. Friday night brought out the thirstiest crowd, and if she wanted to prove that she was still worth keeping on the payroll, she needed to do a good job.

One song faded into the next, the bass throbbing in the floorboards and rattling in her chest. Cassandra swept her blonde hair up into a high ponytail and flashed a little more skin. The crowd thickened. The club grew busier. People milled by the bar now, a sea of hands trying to wave her down to place their orders. Whitney was relieved to see reinforcement arrive. Lily, a sweet brunette who'd been working at
The Avenue
for eight months, ducked beneath the division between bar and club.

"Thank God you're here," Whitney called out. "I'm gonna take the dishes back and bring out a clean set. Take care of the crowds for a sec, okay?"

"You got it," Lily replied. Whitney pulled the plastic crate of dirty dishes off the shelf and cut out from behind the bar to get to the kitchen entrance. So far, the club had been insane. Despite the tips she'd lose now that Lily was here, Whitney was glad for a chance to catch her breath.

Whitney scanned the crowd. People were always interesting to watch, but tonight was different. Tonight there was one man in particular she was interested in seeing again.
Was he here with friends, or was he flying solo, looking for a good time?
The answer would say a lot about his character, and she was dying to get to know more of the story he teased her with behind those blue eyes.

"'scuse me, chicky," a man grunted as he passed. His muscular frame towered well over six feet. At first Whitney mistook him for one of the bouncers. When she turned her head to watch him make his way towards the floor, she knew she'd been mistaken. The midnight color of his skin was one she hadn't seen before. Some of
The Avenue's
bouncers were dark, but none of them came close to how pigmented this man was.

From across the crowd, tall, white, and handsome emerged. Whitney perked up and paused by the kitchen door to watch them.
So he was here with friends. Maybe the muscular man was his bodyguard?

She watched as her blue-eyed heart stopper approached Mr. Midnight skin. The two of them changed direction and walked off to the back together. It wasn't long before the crowd swallowed them, and she lost sight of where they went.

A bodyguard
. Whitney grinned to herself, more mystified than ever. If he was worth personal security, her stranger had to be more than a model. It was a long way from Los Angeles, but there was still a chance he could be an actor. More likely, he was just an attractive man who had a beefy friend, and the two of them were out for a night on the town.
What hot guy didn't have a good wingman, after all?
It was all part of the game she saw night after night.

Putting the thought of him aside, Whitney saw herself into the kitchen. The more time she loitered, the less money she'd be bringing home — and with her job potentially on the line, she needed every dollar she could get.

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