11:50 pm came around, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I finally finished waiting on a young couple, obviously on their first date, who couldn’t afford to give me a tip. Strangely enough I didn’t mind It though. Seeing young love blossoming like that always made my heart flutter a bit.
Once I finished up with them, I began to total up all of the tickets from the night while my fellow waitress, and best friend Emily finished bussing tables.
"Emily, do you ever think that this job isn't worth it?" I asked as I angrily typed in numbers into the calculator on my phone. The tips lately were getting smaller and smaller with the slow down season, which I usually understood, but my bills and rent seemed to get higher and higher, so this time of the night had begun to burn me to the core.
"Where did that come from, Piper?"
“I don’t know. Its just, don’t you ever feel like we are just stuck here? Like, for instance we hardly make enough money to even pay our rent let alone other bills and utilities, but yet we can’t leave?" I said in an over exaggerated tone. Emily laughed as she finished wiping the last of the tables clean.
"Well, yeah I guess you do have a point. But Pipe we both don’t have a college educations. This is the best that we can do at the moment. " she grinned and walked over to me "Just think, maybe in a couple of years old Nova will pass the place down to us. Then we can be making the big bucks and hire other people do their work and our work too!" She flopped down next to me, almost sending all my tickets flying.
"Oops... sorry" she giggled and helped me gather the fly always and neatly stacking them. "So how did we do in tips tonight?"
"We got a grand total of $280.75 cents. " I scoffed. "Since you got the extra change last time I'll get it this time. So that makes 140 for you and 140.75 for me, that's just enough to cover my electric bill this month!" Said in faked enthusiasm. I divided the tip money and went to close the cash register out for the night. The last couple having already paid and left and Emily quickly scuttled to the door and locked it behind them.
"I'm ready to go home and hit the sack. I am totally beat. These late nights are about to kill me.” I said as I rubbed my aching lower back.
"Speaking of that. Let me take you home tonight Pipe. I hate you walking home alone this time of night. It’s dangerous in this city.”
"Emily. I told you I'm a block from my apartment. There is no since in you taking me home. Plus I could use the exercise!” I said an patted my stomach.
"Oh stop it. I insist on taking you home. Please I heard just yesterday a man was found dead…”
“No, stop with the scare tactics. I am fine walking.”
"Em. Stop I'm fine. All I have to do is cut down that alley and I'm at my front door. Ok? I promise I’ll be fine."
"Ok... I just don’t have a good feeling tonight."
"Do you ever?" I laughed as I went to clock out and grab my coat.
"You're right. Just promise me you will be careful?"
"Yes I will! See you tomorrow same time?" I hugged Emily and headed out the door.
“Love you P! Let me know when you make it home.”
“I will! Love you too E!” I yelled back at her as she was walking to her car parked across the street from the restaurant.
It was really a beautiful night. The New Jersey air was cool but not so cold that I was chilled. It was a welcomed relief from the stuffy diner air that reeked of burgers, onions and stale bread. I took a deep breath as I turned down the alley way towards my apartment. My eyes fell on my front door and I almost sighed in relief. I could almost hear the bed calling my name. That was until I heard the thundering sound of gun fire behind me.
I ducked quickly behind a garbage can, suddenly finding it hard to breath. Had I been shot? I slowly felt myself for wounds as not to make a sound. I was not in any pain and I seemed clean so I knew it was not me that was shot. I turned and peaked from behind the garbage can to see the alley entrance where I had just walked in from. There stood the silhouette of a man, gun in hand pointing it towards a heap on the ground. The heap moaned and rolled over. I stared in fear as the realization hit me that the heap was a man.
"You got something else to say?" The man with the gun yelled and kicked the helpless man. He had a thick Hispanic accent, and from I could see of his stance, he promised death.
"Please.... stop....I..." the man coughed and I could see blood sputter out of his mouth onto the concrete. Before he could say anything else he was interrupted with another ear curdling shot from the hand gun. I didn’t have time to cover my ears to protect them from the loud shot in the small alley. They rang so loud I couldn’t even hear my heart beat which I knew was running rampant it my chest.
I was trembling with fear, but I knew I had to be quiet and still or I would be next. I glanced at the two men again. Smoke was rolling out of the barrel of the gun that was still pointed towards its victim. The one on the ground had stopped moving completely. The realization hit me, he was dead.
"That will teach you to mess with The Boss." The man at the mouth of the alley scoffed. He kicked the other hard enough for him to roll over on his stomach, still utterly still. He was about to turn and walk away, when a sob fought it's way out of me. My eyes widened as his head snapped in my direction.
“Who the fuck was that?” he yelled and began jogging down the alley. No this can’t be happening. I can’t go down like this. I jumped up and ran from behind the trash can making a bee line for my apartment.
"Oh shit!" He exclaimed and his jog became a full on sprint. I screamed and scrambled to get to my door as fast as I could. But my legs felt heavy and didn’t want to move me. It felt like I was running in a nightmare, the bad guy quickly gaining and you can't run away fast enough no matter how hard you tried. The lead feeling in my legs caused me to trip and land face first just a few inches from my apartment. Before I knew it the man had his hands around my throat and was pushing me against my door so hard the air whooshed out of my lungs, but the hand around my throat made it hard to get the air back in.
"You little bitch. Who sent you!?" He growled in my face.
"I... uh... no one!” I wheezed.
“Don’t fucking lie to me. Who sent you?”
“No one! Please let me go. I was just going home from my job." His grip loosened from my neck, but he still had me pinned. I could smell the weed emanated from his body along with very strong aftershave attempting to cover up the stench. "Please just let me go!" I sobbed and tried to get loose, to no avail. The hand tightened back around my throat threatening to cut off my air supply again.
"Now, now, little bitch, you know I can’t do that. You're coming with me. Boss might like having another play toy." He jerked me from the wall and led me down the alley passed my apartment. I couldn’t help the uncontrollable sobs ripping their way through my chest. "Shut up before I make you! You brought this on yourself" Another sob tore its way out against my will. The man stopped and looked me dead in the eyes and a sadistic glimmer shined in his. He reared back his hand and with all the force he could muster he brought it down on my face, causing me to fall to the ground. I went blind from the pain as the shock creeped in and my breath caught in my throat.
I wanted to scream for help, but no words would come as He jerked me up an carried me to a black SUV parked on the curb. He yanked the door opened and threw me in the back seat, slamming the door behind me. I laid motionless, sprawled out in the back seat with my diner outfit hiked up, revealing my underwear. I was afraid to move and adjust it, this man was a loose cannon and he could very well hit me again.
I could hear the faint sound of him running to the drivers side of the car. When he jumped in, he was speeding off even before he got the door closed. Tires squalled and the vehicle jerked when it finally got the traction it needed to go.
I could feel myself blacking out from the throbbing pain in my cheek. Silent tears began to fall down my face as I was hit with another agonizing realization. This was it. I was going to end up like the man on the ground. I was going to die at the hands of a mad man with a gun and a cocky attitude. As much as I hated my life, and how hard I had to work just to make ends meet, I didn’t want to die.
Suddenly I hear the man talking on the phone. It was hard to focus with my consciousness on the precipice, but I slowly began to focus in on his words. "Boss.... yeah its done... yes in the alley you told me, but Boss.... Boss there was a complication. " I could hear the gruff voice on the other end say "What the fuck are you talking about?" From what I could here, the voice didn’t have the accent that this man had. He sounded American.
"Boss there was a girl in the alley... I didn’t see her until it was done. She saw the whole thing... no of course I didn’t let her go. I’m not a fucking idiot!.... ok fine I was a fucking idiot for not checking the alley….I got her in the back seat now.... yes Boss, I know I'm so sorry.... ok Boss." That's all I heard, because the shock slowly took me over and I was slipping in the dark abyss of my mind.
I didn’t know the span of time I was out, but suddenly the roughness of hands jolted me awake and out of the back seat. "Come on you little bitch wake up!" the man jerked me in the direction of a very tall, very immaculate house. It was dark and I couldn’t make out details but it was obvious whoever owned this house had a lot of money. And I mean A LOT!
The man pulled me through the front door and locked it behind us. I could hear the distinct sound of a party going on in a nearby room, but I was too scared to look around to confirm. I just let this man lead me down a hall. It was easier just to accept my fate, there was no fighting this.
We came to a door where he put a code into keypad. Then we went down another hall and came to another door where he scanned a finger print. This next hall was long, and hardly any lights were on. I was just being blindly lead by this barbaric man and I kept bumping into walls I couldn’t see. Finally we came to a red door, the man pulled out a key and unlocked it. When he opened it the sharp smell of cigarette smoke and booze wafted out. He pushed me forward. When we came through the room, I was shocked to see about 20 people all dressed in black and red suits and dresses. The conversation stopped instantly and all eyes fell on me in my dirty, bloody waitress uniform. I glanced down to find it was still pushed up showcasing my underwear. I would have been embarrassed, if I wasn’t about to die.
A woman gasped and ran towards us. "Rico what the fuck did you do!?"
"Regina, butt out of this. Where is boss"
"He is in his office, Rico... her face."
"She didn’t want to come quietly" he jerked me away from the group's view and led me to the stained wooden door in the corner. The man now known as Rico knocked. I heard a gruff voice on the other side tell him to come in. Rico lead me through the door.
There was a large oak desk covered in neatly piled paperwork. Expensive nick knacks and books lined shelves that covered the whole side wall off this office. Everything polished and the books looked freshly dusted. At the desk was a large leather chair turned away from us, but I could see cigarette smoke wafting up from behind the chair. So, I knew someone was seated there waiting for us.
"Rico, what the fuck did you do?" The chair shifted slightly and the man exhaled loudly. A large plume of smoke wafted from behind it. You could tell his boss was very annoyed.
"Boss, I'm sorry, I had no idea she was anyway around."
"Yeah, I can imagine it was all the marijuana you have inhaled lately that has clouded your judgement."
"But sir I didn’t..."
"Don’t fucking lie to me Rico. I smelled it on you as soon as you walked in. No amount of cheap aftershave can cover the amount you smoke." The chair turned slowly, revealing one of the most stunning men I have ever seen. His dark black hair was a deep contrast from his piercing blue eyes that fell on me. His gaze made its way all the way down my body and back causing me to shiver in fear. He stopped at my face and stared at what I assumed was my swollen cheek.
"Seriously Rico? You into hitting women now to cover up your drug habit?" He stood and made his way around the desk. Slowly inhaling his cigarette again and letting the smoke unfurl around him in a haunting wave. Up close he was even more daunting. He was tall and lean. But you could see the muscles poking their way through his tight button up shirt. The bits of his fore arm stinking out of his shirt reveal creamy skin with dark hair that matched that on his head.
He sat his cigarette down in an ash tray on his desk and made his way over to me. He took my chin in one of his hands. His grip was firm, but also gentle and he turned my swollen cheek towards him and ran a thumb over it assessing the damage. The pain sliced across my cheek and a hiss escaped through my gritted teeth as he pulled back.
"Rico... I have no choice but to put you on clean up duty for the next few months."
"But Boss! I can’t do that. You know I only got one more time going to jail before they never let me out."
"Well then, I advise that you stop the bull shit weed smoking. I trusted you with this hit, which I guess was foolish on my part. You will be on clean up duty until you CLEAN UP your act. And if I send you out on another hit after that and you fuck up AGAIN it will be the last fucking time." The Boss stared at Rico for a while, blue eyes boring into his with such fire it burned my insides. This man was so intense. "Do I make myself clear?" He said and stepped towards him with a balled up fist. Ready to strike out if need be.
"Yes boss." Rico said quickly and looked away, averting his eyes.
"Now, leave my office. I’ve got shit to do.” He fanned a hand in dismissal.
"Yes sir," he said and started to lead me out of the room.
"Leave the girl." The Boss said sternly. Rico grinned sheepishly and released me and walked out of the office.
When he did I could feel my legs start to wobble and I stumbled, barely catching myself on the door frame. The Boss scoffed at me, but he pulled out a chair at his desk and motioned me to sit. I gladly listened.
"What’s your name?" He asked me sternly.
"My name is Piper. "
"Piper Curtis... hmmm its suits you. " he stared at me for what seemed like an eternity. Those damn eyes searing me, cementing me to my place. It was hard to look away, but also hard to keep staring. I finally broke the tensioned silence.
"Please, please just let me go."
"You see I can’t do that. You did witness one of my guys killing a man. That doesn't go to lightly in mob mentality."
"Please. I promise I wont say anything to any one. I just want to go home."
"You want to go back to that shabby one bedroom apartment where the stove doesn't work half the time and your hot water heater last about 5 seconds before the water runs cold?"
"What? How... how did you...?"
"After Rico called I had your place scoped out to be sure you weren't a member of one of our rival mobs. Upon examination, you most definitely are not. " he scoffed and grinned at me. I looked down at my grimy shoes. I could feel tears welling up and burning my eyes. I held them back.
“Are you going to kill me?”
“No. Not yet anyway.” He said smoothly and sat down on the edge of the desk. His knee lightly brushing against mine.
"What are you going to do to me?"
"I don’t really know yet. But you aren’t leaving. I officially own you now." When he said this I began to tremble. The tears that I had been fighting slipped out of my eyes and my lip quivered trying to hold in my sob. "Get over it. What's done is done. My man may have screwed up by not making sure the coast was clear but YOU were the one who kept looking. You should have looked the other way like everyone else in this city." I was still looking at my shoes. I couldn’t bare the thought of those blue eyes and chiseled face staring coldly at me anymore.
"I will decide what to do with you tomorrow. But for now you need my medic to look you over. Rico did a number on you. " he reached over to a button on the desk. "Mikey. Come to my office please." he said casually and released the button. Seconds later a tall African American man walked in the room. His hair was long and braided and He had the braids in a thick pony tail. He was not dressed like the others outside in finery. He wore dark black scrubs.
"Yes Boss?" Mikey replied with a thick southern accent.
"Mikey, please examine Ms. Curtis’ injuries." He said and walked out of the door shutting it behind him. I allowed myself to exhale in relief. At least I knew I wasn’t going to die at this moment, and with the medic checking me out I didn’t see it happening for a while.
"Yes sir." Mikey said and focused his attention on me. He smiled at me "Hello Piper. My name is Mikey. I am the medic here. Looks like you have some pretty severe swelling here on the right side of your face. I'm going to give you a good check up and make sure everything is ok. Is that ok with you?" Mikey's voice was genuine and his bright smile was contagious. So I nodded. "Ok good. I'm going to listen to your heart so take nice deep breaths for me" he placed the stethoscope on my chest and I did as he directed. I winced and clutched my side as I did so. I hadn’t realized just how bad my side hurt until now. I must have hit it when I fell trying to get to my door.
"Your heart rate is elevated but that is very understandable given what you have been through tonight. Could you maybe undo your uniform and let me see your side. I'm worried about the wincing you did when you were breathing." I looked at him nervously. "I understand you being skeptical. I will look away as you do so and I promise to only look at your side and only when you tell me to. Ok?” He turned his back to me and faced the door. I grabbed the zipper at the back of my uniform and undid it. Pulling it down just below my naval. I was shaking so bad I couldn’t sit still.
“Ok.” I whispered
"Are you ready for me to turn around?" Mikey asked
He turned right around and I watched as his eyes went directly to my side, staying true to his word. My gaze followed his and I could see the distinct bruising all along my ribs. It was the shape of a hand print. I didn’t remember Rico grabbing me hard enough to cause that, but adrenaline probably helped with that. Mikey sharply inhaled and placed a gloved hand on my side. He pressed lightly. "Oh a scale from one to ten how bad is the pain when I touch it?"
"About a 4 or 5. "
"That Jackass Rico. Based on the bruising and the fact your pain lever is no higher than it is. I say you may have a bruised rib. I'll give you some pain medication for that. You may pull up your uniform now. " he turned and waited for me to do so. Once he heard it zip he turned his attention back to me.
"As for your face I think that you will have some bruising but the swelling should start to go down. I'll give you some anti inflammatory pills to help with that ok?"
"Thank you so much... for being so kind to me. "
"I know it's a shock being thrown in here like this. But The Boss is a good man. He takes care of his people. " he smiled and knocked on the door. The Boss walked back in.
"Rico is a dick."
"Well I know that. How is the girl?"
"She’s going to be ok. I'm giving her some anti inflammatory pills for the swelling and pain meds for a bruised rib that Rico gave her."
"Damn. Maybe I need to put him back on my protective team if he inflicts all that on an innocent bystander." His gaze fell on me again and those damn blue eyes shot daggers through mine. "Alright. Thank you Mikey. You may go now"
"Ok Boss." Mikey said as he gathered his things and exited the room. With that I was once again alone with The Boss
"Follow me. I'll show you to your room." He turned and started out the door.
"Yes. Either your come willingly or I make you. And I can assure you, I’m worse than Rico." he glared at me and walked out of the door. I got up and followed him back out into the room that was once full of people, but now there was not a soul around. Even still cigarette smoke hung lazily around us.
I didn’t speak as I followed him down another hall. There were many doors down this hall and as we passed each one I could hear TVs turned up on full blast, conversations being made and couples making love passionately and very loudly. This must be where everyone went after the party.
Once we got to the final bedroom door The Boss opened it and held it opened for me. I walked passed him and took a look around. The room was 10 times larger than my apartment was and the floors were made of white and red blood marble. The furniture was just as exquisite. The couches blood red In sharp contrast with the black tables, chairs and appliances. I looked back at The Boss nervously. He nodded and motioned for me to keep looking around.
I made my way to the bedroom and find a California king bed with a large black canopy with red netting. "Oh my..." I couldn’t help myself.
"You like it?"
"Is it ok to say yes since I am here against my will?” I chanced being a little sheepish. To my surprise he chuckled. “This room is bigger than my entire apartment." I turned around to look at him. He was propped up against the door frame staring at me.
"This room is yours then.”
“Yes. I would not lie.” He took two steps towards me, and his whole demeanor changed. “I have decided what I am going to do with you.” His voice took on a dangerous edge.
“What’s that?” I whispered and took a few steps back. It did no good because he matched me by taking two more steps.
“With this room comes a great responsibility. You will have work for it.”
"Work for it?"
“You heard me.”
“What will I need to….”
"Take off your uniform." His voice sounded hungry, almost ravenous.
"What?" I shivered slightly. This was not what I was expecting at all. Fear seeped into my bones.
"I said, Take. Off. That. DAMN. Uniform." He didn’t move this time. He Just stood there watching me with his hands in his pockets.
"Oh… uh…Ok..." I reached around to undo the zipper. My hands trembled and I fumbled with it for a while. Finally I grasped it and pulled it all the way down. I looked at him as I slowly pulled my uniform down below my hips and let it fall to the ground. I heard his breath catch as I stepped out of the dingy uniform on the floor. There I stood in only a bra and panties in front of this mobster king pin I didn’t even know. The man who was technically keeping me a prisoner now.
I should feel ashamed, or humiliated. But with those eyes boring into me all I felt was heat pooling at my center. It felt wrong, my body wanted to recoil from it, but at the same time it felt right. With all the turmoil I was feeling I looked away from his gaze, focusing on his feet. He moved then and approached me. I watch those feet come toe to toe with mine and I felt his hand on my chin and he brought my gaze back up to his. "Don’t ever look away from me. I am your boss now. And I will be treated as such. Understand?"
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Good. Now go take a shower." He sat down on the bed as I made my way to the bathroom.
The bathroom had the same blood marble in the floors and even the huge shower. All the facets and counters were the same jet black as the rest of the appliances in the house. I would normally have stopped to admire such a beautiful lay out , but my mind was focused on not getting myself killed tonight.
I could feel The Boss’ eyes on me as I took my bra and panties off and left the on the floor. I turned the water on and let it heat up to the point where steam wafted out of the shower and swirled around the bathroom ceiling then I nervously stepped in.
The shower felt good. I let the hot water run down my body and I watched the dirt and grime wash down the drain. I felt tears fall down my face and I began to shudder as sobs came. I covered my mouth to hold them at bay. The events of the night took over me as I started to scrub my body.
I spent a long time in the shower partly because I felt like I couldn’t get clean enough. I could feel the blood on my hands for the death of the man in the alley, even if I didn’t pull the trigger, I failed him by not being quiet and getting myself caught. I could have gotten him justice. I also spent as much time as possible in here because I was scared of what The Boss wanted to do to me.
My experience with men was little to none. I had a couple of hook ups with some guys that Emily introduced me with but other than that I didn’t know. But based on the way he looked at me, I could almost see what his intentions were.
After I was all clean I slowly turned off the water and stepped out. I blindly reached for a towel and was met with one and when I looked up The Boss was holding it out to me. I gasped and looked away quickly as I took it, wrapping it tightly around myself and stepping out of the shower. On the bathroom counter were some of my pajamas from my apart
"You brought my clothes?"
"Just your pajamas. I have cloths that are more appropriate for you to wear around here."
"Oh... well... thank you." I said and was about to slip a gown over my head.
"Stop" The Boss ordered. I froze and swallowed nervously. "Come to the bedroom.” He turned and walked out giving no room for an interjection. I grabbed the towel tightly and followed him.
He stood next to the bed and began to undo the buttons of his shirt. I looked away, not really knowing what to do. "Look at me Piper."
I did as he asked and watched as he let his shirt fall to the floor. I gasped at the sight of him, not just because of his rippling muscles but because the left half of his body was covered in scars.
"What happened to you?" I stepped forward to get a closer look.
“Does it frighten you?”
“No…” I wanted to look away, but I was entranced by the look of him. To others the scars that marred his body would turn someone off, but something drew me into them. He scoffed, sensing my peaked interest.
"In time you will find out. Drop your towel." Again with the ravenous voice. I let go of the towel and let it hit the ground, baring myself to him. I watched him as his eyes burned their way down my body. "You have a very beautiful body. I'm going to enjoy making you work to keep this room." He stepped towards me and grabbed my chin. Then in a flash his lips were on mine, hot and dangerous. He devoured me.
His taste enveloped my senses. cigarette smoke, vanilla and bourbon swirled into me as his tongue brushed against mine. I couldn’t help the sigh that slipped out of me.
He let go of my chin and grabbed my waist with both of his hands. He pulled me to him. My naked body pressed tightly his chest, and I could feel his muscles move has he turned me towards the bed. This was it. I was about to damn myself to him forever.
He stopped kissing me and let me go. He stood there for a minute, just inches from my lips. Our breaths mingling together. I was beginning to wonder if he was going to kiss me again, when his phone rang. He groaned in frustration and pushed me back on to the bed. He turned from me and left the room to answer the call.
My body was a bundle of live wires, of fear, desire, hate, and lust all at the same time. I was trembling with the cacophony of emotions swirling around me, so I scooted myself up into the middle of the bed and covered my body with the black and red satin comforter trying to still some of the trembling as the sound of him talking loudly came into the bedroom.All of a sudden a wave of sleepiness over took me, and I could feel myself dozing. I vaguely heard him come back in the room, only because the comforter was suddenly brought closer to my neck and I felt his hand on the cheek that wasn’t swollen. If I didn’t know any better the touch might have seemed tender. The next thing I knew I'm off to a deep dark sleep with no dreams.