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Chapter 2

  • *~Riley~*
  • It’s been years since I felt this calibre of breathlessness overtaking my lungs. They were on fire, sending flames up through my constricting trachea, and limiting my air supply. My diaphragm working overtime as a result. A distant pang stretched over my abdomen from the internal workload. The tight, skimpy black dress sucking in my body contributed to this crisis.
  • I could easily attribute my discomfort to the half-hour walk I made in heels, but questioning my stamina seemed ridiculous. I had been dancing in heels since I was old enough to own them. I took a moment to admire the four-inch, velvety black, block heels adorning my feet. My favourite part of it had to be the thick, sturdy strap wrapping just a hint above my ankle. The most luxurious item I bought myself in over a month.
  • I could not regret it. Not even when spending the cash meant I needed to tighten my belt further. I had been saving it, hoping to sport it alongside this sexy lace lingerie I expected to wear for my boyfriend on our anniversary. Which ironically was supposed to be tonight. But, like all men, he fucked up.
  • Ex-boyfriend. I had to immediately reprimand myself as I righted, taking a long look at the gentlemen’s club obstructing my way. The Dalliance. An imposing structure of at least three fully functional floors and I could not comprehend the day-to-day workings of it.
  • I promised myself never to do this. Not again. I was not supposed to be this desperate after two and a half years of building a better version of myself. A version that I could be proud of. A version that could potentially help me forget what I once was.
  • Unfortunately for me, I was that desperate. Inhaling a distracting breath, I approached the bouncer, a brawny man with a permanent frown and tired eyes.
  • “Business or pleasure?” the member’s card I received to broker entrance glistened in the moonlight as he pulled it from my grip and there was a moment where all I could hear was the sound of my heart racing. The card had been in my possession for two and a half years and I nursed the thought that it might long have been decommissioned.
  • “A little of both I suppose.” I shrug, knowing fully well that he did not for a second know what to make of me. His narrowing, soaking in every inch of my appearance instead of verbally responding to me.
  • His perusal did not unarm me. I was comfortable under male scrutiny and had long learned how to revel in it. Especially how to draw power and confidence from it. At least outwardly. Although, I had to admit that the strength in my legs was returning as he stepped aside to grant me entrance and I thanked a non-existent God for small mercies. A hassle-free entrance would conserve my energy. I knew I would need it.
  • Collecting my card, I ventured through the narrow entranceway. Flashing lights bombarded my vision, and my eyes quickly adjusted. The corridor led out to a vast expansive space. Many private booths lined the east and south corners. The west corner houses the bar. The north provided the stage to the DJ and the middle of the room had a dip, a couple steps down where the dancers performed, surrounded by an array of comfy leather seats, chairs and tables. All turned towards the centre, perfectly aligned in a circle around the dancers’ enclave.
  • Amidst the speakers giving testamentary to an artist, I had never heard the only sound that echoed in my ear was the deliberate sound of my heels clanking on the floor. That seemed the only music my entire being was interested in despite the ease with which it could be drowned out by my surroundings. But I wouldn’t let it. I needed to retain my focus. I was here for a purpose.
  • One thing was certain. I’d never been anywhere remotely close to this. This was as exclusive as a club could be. Only the rich, powerful and dangerous inhabited these walls. The few women allowed were either wife, mistresses’ or strippers.
  • And I did not dress the part of a stripper, although that is exactly the reason for my visit. It might not take much for people to realize I don’t belong here. I wasn’t attached to any man’s side.
  • I slid gracefully into a stool at the bar, realizing that it had been ages since I came out to play. “Vodka tonic,” I say as one of the bartenders acknowledged me. Nodding, she reached down to pick up a glass, “on who’s tab would this be going?”
  • “I’ll settle it myself.” She watches me with suspicion in her eyes, and I shove the urge to bang my head against the table for my blunder. I lean in closer and she instinctively mimicked my movement, “can’t risk his wife discovering my existence while she’s here tonight,” understanding flashed in the woman’s eyes. All suspicion was erased.
  • My drink is placed before me and I take a sip, evaluating my life until this point. Safe, boring and tame. That was all I tried to be. I got a morally acceptable job to fund my education and a boyfriend to be loyal to. But the fates did not mind me much. The part-time job balancing the books at this tiny mini-mart could not allow me to accept entrance into university. I couldn’t afford the tuition and to top it all off, my boyfriend turned out to be a cheating piece of shit.
  • I had hoped to cultivate a different life, a better one and tonight was my last chance to do so. I had nothing holding me back anymore. I needed cash fast and lots of it.
  • ***
  • *~Draven~*
  • I saw her first. A pretty little thing with long legs, most of it on display in that monstrosity deemed to be clothing. Not that I was particularly complaining. It made for a nice view. She had generous curves, every bit of which was accentuated by the tiny, body-hugging back dress. Held up on her body by two flimsy straps draping over her shoulders. The straight neckline with a V carved in the middle of it gave her a polished appearance.
  • Her dark, wavy tendrils brushed against her shoulders. The front portion was swept backwards and secured with a clip.
  • Fuck, this woman was hot. Any attempt to recall the last time any woman captivated my attention was futile. I didn’t care who she belonged to. I didn’t care why she was here. I was determined to have her.
  • I had to admit, the part driving me wild was the single slit on the right side of the hem. The black number was already short, barely reaching half of her leg but I felt this strange anticipation every time she lifted that leg and it burst through the slit.
  • “Is she here with anyone?” my voice travelled to my team of four men hovering around me. A precautionary tale since the blood of at least three men was marinating on my skin from not a full half hour ago. It was difficult to anticipate retaliations and I was trained to be cautious above all else. Or that was the hope members of my organization had.
  • Reckless was more my speed. I am, however, a tad bit grateful for the extra bodies. Something tells me I’ll be more distracted than usual tonight.
  • “If I’m not mistaken,” Eddy, the head of the team stepped forward, “she’s new. Might not be worth the potential drama,” he advised and I could not conceal my smirk. A reaction mirrored in the three other men. Eddy had been the newest addition to my detail team and was quite unaware of my penchant for bad ideas.
  • He’d learn soon enough though.
  • I turned to gaze at him. Despite his advice to steer clear, Eddy had stared after her until long after she settled at the bar and ordered herself a drink. “Have my booth organized,” I patted him on the shoulder, giving him instructions to distract himself.
  • “You shouldn’t proceed there alone,” Eddy stammered, attempting to dissuade me, “Maybe you’re right but I don’t give a fuck,” I waved him off, adjusting the cuffs on my white shirt. The sleeves rolled up to my elbow.
  • I had thought of multiple ways to approach her. The foremost is to have her notice me first. Not a difficult course. They all noticed me sooner rather than later. I’ve never had to actively work for a woman’s attention.
  • The plan shot to hell the moment I was in earshot. I could overhear her talking to the bartender, “Who do I have to accost for employment at this joint?” Her voice was raspy, so seductive to my ears that I had almost forgotten the words spoken. They took me entirely by surprise, but I was not the only one. The blond-haired bartender, a senior employee I was certain, was now on guard, eying the vixen with utter disbelief and disgust.