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Taken by the Italian Mafia

By:Sadie Black

A Dark City Romance

Chapter One


"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?"


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.