The Venetian Lounge was an elite club in the underworld of New York City. The drinks were expensive, the feather girls were available at a price, and it was the safest place for Hayley.
Hayley wasn’t a feather girl nor did she wish to be. Although, she couldn’t help but envy them. They were confident, gorgeous, and had the men worshipping at their feet.
Hayley was a bar girl. She worked at one of the four round bars in the underground club, alongside Ben, her friend and roommate. He was funny and smart and they got along well, which was a relief.
In the center of the circle bar on a podium was her other friend, Ava. Ava, well, she was a feather girl and she was proud of her title. Hayley envied her beautiful blonde friend, but she couldn’t do what she did.
Hayley admired how Ava could dance and flirt with all the men in this place. She admired how confident and open about this world she was. A small part of Hayley wished she could be more like Ava.
“Another vodka, please pretty one.”
Dimitri was a regular prop at her bar. He was a friend of the owner, and he was Russian.
When she heard he was Russian, it made her nervous and wary. However, she soon learned he was running just as much as she was. Dimitri was a silent man but he gave Hayley some comfort that it wasn’t just her hiding away.
“Anything for you, Dimitri,” she replied in perfect Russian for the first time. It made his eyes widen as she placed the vodka in front of him. She laughed at his expression.
“You speak perfect Russian for a sweet English girl,” he complimented her, as she took the money from him. “Keep the change.”
She placed the tip in the jar she and Ben would share later.
“Where did you learn Russian?” Dimitri asked her as she leaned across the bar so she was close to him. She was sure he was peering down at her cleavage that poked above her deep purple corset.
“I went to a Catholic all-girls boarding school—I learned a lot of things there.”
Her lips curled into a smirk as she winked, making him chuckle. Dimitri liked this girl, she was spunky, sexy, and she was easy to chat with.
“One day you will wear a feather and I shall insist you wear a school uniform,” he teased, and she laughed and leaned across the bar again and spoke low to him with a wicked smile.
“When that day happens, I’ll be sure to bring it in.”
They both laughed loudly and she went on to serve the next gent who was staring at her ass in her shorts. They were more like underwear, and she had on her thigh-high black stockings and suspenders.
“Are you flirting again, Hayley?” Ben asked as he stood waiting for the cash register she was using, and she smiled at her light-blonde-haired guy friend.
“How else are we going to get the tips?”
Hayley knew tips were how they paid their rent, and how they could afford their nights out. So she smiled, laughed, and flirted as best she could; she was safe here and in control.
The bar was busier tonight. She could see there was a large group of men who had not been in the Venetian Lounge before, since she had started here a little over a month ago.
The main bulk of them were in the VIP area. They wore expensive suits and seemed to be celebrating something.
Hayley looked up at them high up in the VIP area. They were all good-looking men and it seemed the girls were getting excited at their presence.
Arianna walked over to Hayley’s bar. She was born and bred to be a feather girl. She had brown eyes and bleached blonde hair and big breasts and was tall, model-like.
“Get a bottle of scotch to the VIP lounge, booth five,” she demanded, her tone as rude as ever.
The dislike Hayley had for Arianna had always been there, and why wouldn’t it be? She was a total bitch after all.
It seemed Arianna didn’t like the idea that Hayley had made the decision to work here without agreeing to do the things the other girls did.
However, as much as Hayley didn’t like Arianna, she couldn’t say no to the request of the VIPs so Hayley rolled her eyes in response before grabbing the bottle and making her way to the VIP lounge.
The VIP section was on the second floor overlooking the sweaty club that was buzzing with music.
Upon heading to booth five, Hayley noticed all of Siobhan’s best girls were up here. They all had a look of determination and flirtation in their eyes, ready to please the men.
She went ahead and set the scotch on the table in front of Arianna, who was seated on a well-dressed gentleman, who was smoking a cigar and stroking Arianna’s side.
His three-piece suit oozed his wealth and his handsome looks made it hard to take her eyes off him—he was stunning.
Hayley bit her bottom lip as he caught her eyes roaming him, his chocolate eyes darkening. Hayley felt their eyes lock for a heartbeat, her brilliant blue eyes on his. Then the darkness in his eyes reminded her where she was.
Quickly, Hayley decided to leave but as she was headed toward the staircase, another man had some other plans as he grabbed her wrist and pulled her back to him.
This new guy was a tall guy, strongly built. He had warm hazel eyes and some stubble along his jawline. His hair was dark, and he had a warm persona but Hayley didn’t trust anyone, no one.
Hayley didn’t like how close he was.
“Well, hello, gorgeous.” He beamed at the beauty in front of him. He hadn’t seen her in Siobhan’s club, she was new. This excited him.“Coming to join the party?”
Hayley gently pushed Mr. Arrogant off her.
“Nope,” she said simply as she went to walk away, but he didn’t give in. He took her waist and she turned to face him, pulling her hand from his grip.
“Look!” she said as she pointed to her black and purple mask. “Do you see what is missing from my mask?” Hayley asked him. She stood waiting for him as he was taken back a little by the boldness in her.
Another guy stood beside the loudmouth, and he laughed as he placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder.
Hayley looked at him, he had eyes like the man who had Arianna on his lap; they were dark, nearly black, whereas the other man’s had warmth, like a brown to them.
“She’s not wearing a feather, Frankie.” He laughed.
Hayley clapped sarcastically and then put her hands on her hips. He frowned at her but then her attention went back to the first guy.
“You see, your friend…” She looked at him for a name, and waited as the second guy realized she was waiting for him to respond.
“Nic,” he answered simply, as he looked from Hayley to his friend, then Hayley looked back at the first guy.
“Thanks.” Hayley smiled, before talking back to the first guy. “Nic’s smart, be more like Nic,” she said sarcastically, before she seductively walked closer to the first guy, and gently took his tie.
She began to play with the expensive material, looking from her fingers to his hazel eyes, and gently pulling the tie closer to her, with a sweet smile.
“You see…” Looking at him, gesturing to him to tell her his name, like she cared anyway.
“Frankie.” He said his name as he looked down at the little tease standing in front of him, and she smiled at him.
“You see, Frankie, I’m not a feather girl. I know guys like you, you think you fuck any girl who passes you by.” Then her smile disappeared as she grabbed his tie tighter. Nic was taken back by the balls this girl had.
“Well, you can’t. Now take the hint. You don’t mess with a woman you clearly can’t handle.” She let him go, and then walked down the staircase and back to her bar.
That was why she was not a feather girl.
“What the hell happened there?” Luca asked, as he slipped Arianna off his lap and walked to the balcony where his cousin Nic and his best friend Frankie stood, looking over.
He had seen the whole thing; the pretty brunette practically had Frankie by the balls.
Luca couldn’t get the blueness of her eyes out of his mind—for a heartbeat they locked onto one another. It was strange.
“Frankie got owned by a girl.” Nic laughed at his best friend’s unfortunate incident. Luca watched as the girl flirted with the customers at her bar.
He watched as she smiled and moved around the small bar, brushing up against Ben Lusiak, who has worked here for over a year now.
“I didn’t. I just didn’t realize she wasn’t a feather girl.” Frankie shrugged. “I could get her—she has just made herself a challenge.” Frankie smirked, but Luca shot him a dark look.
“No, you won’t. Siobhan created the rules, only feather girls can be touched.”
Luca made sure Frankie understood this. But Luca looked at her again. She had disrespected Frankie, and that can’t be so easily forgotten. Maybe he should remind her of her place.
Hayley was out back having a quick coffee in the hallway that led to the outside world. She was sitting on a crate and had her phone out. She was reading one of her favorite books on her reading app.
She could smell the smoke from some of the bar guys who had gone out for a smoke, as they had left the door open. It was freezing as it was mid-October, but she didn’t care; it beat the heat from the club floor.
His voice nearly made her drop her phone; he was the man who had Arianna on his lap. His dark brown eyes were intense on her. Hayley stood up and crossed her arms across her chest as she stared him down.
“Customers can’t be back here.” She kept her presence strong; she wouldn’t be intimidated by him.
He laughed lightly at her because she had no idea who he was. He watched as she rolled her eyes and sighed.
“I can go wherever I want, bella.”
His tone was dark as he spoke. Hayley was lost in his eyes. They looked dark, but up close they were the warmest chocolate brown color.
“You’re new here.”
He moved closer to Hayley, forcing her to move backward. She felt the brick wall against her back; the corset left her upper back exposed to the cold from the brick.
But she never let her eyes leave him—he was making himself out to be the big man but she wouldn’t let anyone scare her.
“So, disrespecting my friend Frankie is not your best move.”
“Your friend Frankie was a dick!”
Luca couldn’t believe this girl; did she not understand the threat in his voice?
He moved just that little bit closer to her, but she kept her body language composed.
Her heart was racing; there was no denying that this guy, who was tall and muscular in build, had her cornered, but if he touched her, she would pull her switchblade on him.
Hayley wasn’t a bad person, but she knew there were bad people out there, and she carried her trusty switchblade in a hidden pocket in all her corsets.
“Your mouth is going to get you into trouble.”
His words were laced with his threat, but Hayley just put her hands on her hips, close to the hidden pocket and her knife.
“I’ve managed to keep from trouble so far.” Hayley had to fight back.
His face pulled into a light yet dark smile. If he wasn’t such a prick, Hayley would have said he was a beautiful man, but he, like his friend, was a prick.
“Then you have been lucky to not piss off the wrong person,” he pressed.
He couldn’t get over her beauty as she was up against the wall. The light from the outside light caught her pale skin, her bright blue eyes were striking against her deep purple mask.
Perhaps it was a shame she didn’t wear a feather.
“So, listen very, very carefully,bella~.” He made sure his tone was dark and serious. “~Don’t~ test me, or my friends.
“You see, you may not be wearing a feather but you still work here and politeness and grace from ladies is appreciated.”
He watched as she scoffed at him with a laugh, and he frowned at the girl.
“Ladies will respect a man if he is a gentleman. Perhaps your friend needs to learn that.”
Did she have a death wish? he thought as he looked down at her petite frame.
“Now excuse me, I work here and my break is up.”
She tried to brush past him, but he grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him.
“What the hell?” she said, looking at him fiercely.
“Disrespect me, or my family, again and I won’t hesitate to show you how to respect me.”
His eyes were dark, but she wasn’t frightened. She reached in her pocket to take out her knife but they were disturbed by a voice that approached them.
“What the hell is going on here?”
Siobhan looked between Hayley and Luca. He let go of her arm, and she stepped away from him. Luca looked at Siobhan as she stopped beside the pair, her green eyes scolding him. She then looked softly at the girl.
“You, honey, best get back to the bar so Ben can take a break.” She spoke softly to Hayley who nodded and walked away back to the floor.
Siobhan snapped her head back at Luca. “Explain yourself Luca Marcello and no bullshit!”
“Where the hell did you pick that one up from?” Luca said as he recomposed himself, watching as the girl walked away and slipped back into the bar.
“Paris, she came from the Paris club,” Siobhan explained flatly.
Luca shook his head looking back at Siobhan.
“I suggest you teach her respect or send her back to Paris,” he growled.
Siobhan shook her head allowing her auburn bob to move as she did.
“What did you do to her?” Her tone was just as dark and serious as his was when he spoke to the girl.
But Siobhan moved closer to him.
“Listen, Luca, that girl is to be left well alone.” Her tone was firm, and her eyes locked on him.
Luca had never heard Siobhan talk about any of her girls like that. He could see the fondness she had for the girl, a fondness Siobhan only had for him.
Siobhan was the only person in the world who had the ability to get into Luca’s head. She was there when his mother died, she was his godmother and had the power to rein him in, or hype him down.
“You seem to like her, Siobhan, what’s special about her?” Luca quizzed.
Siobhan did like Hayley. She liked her courage, she liked how she had overcome so much in her young life yet still managed to smile every day.
“Luca,” she sighed as she watched as two guys from outside reenter and pass them before she spoke again. “Keep away from her.”
He could hear the warnings in her voice.
“That girl has had a rough time, and I brought her here because I thought she could do with a change of scenery; she has been at the Paris club for nearly three years.”
Luca looked beyond Siobhan at the door that led onto the floor where the girl had disappeared to. She had been in Siobhan’s world for three years?
Was she the reason Siobhan had flown back and forth to her Paris club for the past three years or so?
This intrigued Luca. Siobhan wasn’t one for sentimentality; that had been knocked out of her living in this world.
No, this girl was something important to Siobhan and that made him question who this fiery British girl was.
“She’s not a feather girl, she never has been. I promised to keep her safe and, Luca, I intend to keep my promise.” Siobhan’s voice was strained as she half-told, half-pleaded with Luca.
“What’s her name?” Luca was intrigued by her now; Siobhan didn’t care for many people. She was similar to himself in that way, apart from his family.
Siobhan had nobody apart from her elite clubs around the world. Siobhan laughed and shook her head.
“Tonight? It could be Abbey, Lucy, or even Destiny.”
“Just keep away from her. Otherwise, I will make your torture methods look like a trip to Disneyland.” Then she walked away.
“So, tomorrow night we are getting wasted.” Ava beamed as she jumped from her podium and squirted some water into a glass and scooped in some ice.
It was the trio’s first night off together, so Ben and Ava had decided to have a night out. Hayley wasn’t keen, but she had no choice; Ava was scary when she didn’t get her own way.
So Hayley just had to accept a night out with her excitable friend.
Her eyes wandered back to the men up on the balcony and she looked up to see him standing there. Her heart raced as their eyes met again but she looked away, scared of him seeing the dark side she was hiding.
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