Chapter 20 - The Man Named Artem
Hayley had been organizing with Adrien and Siobhan her leaving day. Her last shift in the club would be Halloween, with two days off after to prepare for her departure. It all seemed so real and so soon.
When she arrived in New York she wanted it to be her new home and for a moment or two, it was. She loved most of her time here and even Luca contributed to those good times. Like the day in New York, the night of the casino party and the times she spent with Frankie’s family. But, it was time for her to move on.
But first, she had a few more shifts in the Venetian to contend with. She arrived at the club and was told to be in the staff room as soon as possible for a staff meeting. She stood leaning against a kitchen bench that was installed, some girls and bar staff sat on the couches or stood near-by.
The girls were in different stages of dressing for the night, some were in the full outfit and some like Hayley and Ava had just arrived so were still in street clothes.
“Okay,” Siobhan said as she breezed through and stood in the centre of the room. “Tonight, we are going to be busy,” Siobhan spoke but her face looked hard as if this wasn’t a good thing.
“Luca Marcello and his company are coming to the VIP section and they are going to be having a guest so please the best behaviour. However, there have been some problems beyond the club and so can we please have our eyes and ears open at all times.” Hayley nodded as did everyone else.
“Something to do with the Borroni family.” Hayley heard Will another bartender whisper into Ben who stood beside her. Hayley’s heart raced as she heard Borroni’s name.
“Ava, Arianna, Rebecca and Chloe you are to be the girls in the VIP area, they want girls they can trust tonight,” Siobhan ordered as she held a file showing the rotas and the floor area. “So, Talia can you take Ava’s podium pole, Rhea can you dance Arianna’s spot, Megan take Rebecca’s and Kaitlin can do Chloe’s.”
Siobhan then looked at the guys who sat around the table. “Security can you please be hyper-aware of any unfamiliar faces and any problems work alongside Frankie Altera tonight as I have to be in the upstairs bar tonight,” Siobhan explained and they nodded.
“Right let’s get sorted.” She said, calling an end to the meeting and everyone began to get ready for the night ahead.
The dressing room was a buzz as the girls began to get ready, the girls going to the VIP booths were getting ready for a night with the high rollers and the girls taking their spots knew this was a perfect opportunity to be spotted.
Hayley put on a red corset that had gold embroidery and found the red and gold matching -featherless- mask. As always, she wore black short shorts and some thigh high stockings with some black heels. She walked on to the club floor and she walked straight past Luca and Nic who had walked in.
Luca wasn’t expecting the coldness Hayley had, she walked past him without even looking in his direction.
“Is the club secure?” Luca asked his cousin as they walked up the stairs to where some of his men already were.
“Yes, I have had Frankie briefing the security team here, and our guys are armed for any trouble,” Nic responded.
Luca put his hand over the railings as he eyed around the lower part of the club that was getting underway. Some of his men were scattered in the audience, amongst the regulars that came in. His eyes went back to Hayley, he didn’t want her here not tonight.
Last night he had declared himself and his family at war with Lorenzo, he had killed Lorenzo’s cousin. Tonight, Lorenzo could retaliate big time and attack the club and he will shoot to kill. He watched as she made drinks for the guys propping up the bar, the ones who always sat around her bar.
“Frankie will also meet Artem at the entrance, get him a drink at the bar and get one of our men to watch him while we set up our meeting in meeting room one.” Nic updated Luca on the plan.
This is what he liked about his cousin he was efficient and organised unlike his useless sibling Marco, who only worked in the legit clubs.
“Frankie will lead him up where you and I will be in the meeting room Frankie will wait right out the door, armed of course.” Nic added.
“Very good, it’s just a waiting game now,” Luca spoke firmly, his eyes remained focused on her.
She looked beautiful, as she always did. He smiled when she laughed and smiled with the guys around the bar. He reminded himself to savour the image of Hayley as the knew Siobhan had given her the date of her leaving, it tore him in half even though he knew she would be safe in Paris. His men over there would assure him of that.
“When my dear are we going to find you strutting your stuff on there.” Mike- a regular- slurred as he pointed to Amelia who was dancing on the main stage, Hayley laughed and looked at Mike.
“I will do that,” Hayley watched as he sat up with interest at her words. “When you go right up to Luca Marcello and kiss him on the lips.”
Hayley chuckled with a teasing glint in her eye. She watched as Mike pondered this and then shook his head. Mike was drunk and crazy but he wasn’t about to be killed to see her shake her ass.
“If you could just wait here, Hayley will get you a drink on Mr Marcello of course,” Frankie said as he caught eyes with Hayley, Hayley just smiled at the man who stood beside Frankie. “Excuse me I’ll let him know you are here.”
Frankie then left the bar area to walk up to the VIP area, she looked at the man. He was slimly built and wearing a suit, but that wasn’t anything new. He had dark blonde hair and stubble on his face.
“So, what can I get you? If Mr Marcello is buying I suggest a really good bourbon that we reserve for special guests, sold only by the bottle so I could pour you a glass and send it up with you later?” She let a smile light up her face, the man went from a deep-set frown to a warmer smile.
“I think that would be great, Hayley.” His voice was deep and an accent.
It made her unnerved when people used her true name but idiot Frankie had introduced her now, damn him. She opened the expensive bottle and poured the man a drink. She tried to pinpoint the accent, it sounded Ukrainian or Polish.
“There you go.” She beamed with a huge smile and he held the glass up.
"Cheers.” He said in perfect Russian, it made her stiffen she just smiled back as he knocked the drink back and she poured him a second.
“So, what do we call you and where are you from?” She put on her flirty voice. The guy was captivated by the masked beauty. Her eyes were the brightest of blue, her body was amazing. However, it was her warmth that drew the stranger in
“Artem and I’am originally from Ukraine but I moved to America two years ago.” His mobile rang and he sighed as he looked at it.
“Excuse me.” He smiled apologetically as he answered the call and began to speak in Russian. Hayley turned her back to him and acted busy but she listened to his phone call.
“Yes, I am inside now. No. They don’t suspect a thing. I am meeting the boss. I know, I know I must kill him at all costs, I owe you my life and I will do this for you. Goodbye until the next life, yes?” He then ended the call and Hayley’s heart raced at what she had just heard in his full Russian tongue.
“Come, the boss is ready now.” Frankie’s voice was firm and authoritative, Hayley for a second froze as she knew Frankie was taking Artem going to meet Luca.
Hayley turned to see Artem and Frankie nearing the staircase, she had to warn Luca! She rushed around the bar and was stopped multiple times by other members of staff and by drunk customers, did they not understand she was in a rush. She ran up the stairs and was greeted by Arianna who stood with her hands on her hips.
“You are not supposed to be up here.” Arianna spat harshly as she looked at Hayley, Hayley had no time for Arianna.
“I have to be passed, Arianna,” Hayley said, trying to be polite but Arianna just laughed.
“Hayley, these guys want feather girls, not a frigid bar girl, that’s why you’re never invited to play.” She chuckled.
Hayley wasn’t in the mood and she shoved Arianna with some force to the side, she fell into a booth of some Marcello men who grabbed her as she fell but Hayley didn’t stop, until she reached the last booth Ricardo stood up after witnessing the commotion.
“Hayley?” Ava said as she looked confused from her seat in the last booth. Ricardo went to take Hayley’s arm, but she moved back so he didn’t get a chance to.
“Luca called down for me.” She lied.
Ricardo knew Luca had some sort of thing for this girl it could be possible he wanted her, or perhaps he wanted some drinks. He sighed, he let her pass if she was lying Frankie could deal with her.
“Thanks.” She said as he stepped to the side and she pushed the door that led to the square hallway, and there Frankie stood he looked puzzled at Hayley’s entrance.
“What the hell are you doing here?” He said in a low quiet voice, she could hear Luca’s voice behind meeting room one. “Go back downstairs.”
He kept his voice low as he didn’t want to interrupt what was going on in the meeting room. But Hayley had to get in and warn Luca before the guy struck. Frankie went to grab Hayley’s shoulders and she shook her head.
“I’m sorry.” Which confused him just before she kneed him and he fell to the floor clutching his manhood.
“Why?” He whimpered as he groaned in pain.
Nic and Artem heard the fuss beyond the door and both pulled out their guns pointing them at the door. Luca never moved from his position sitting facing Artem and his back to the door.
Nic was beside the door and had been leaning on the wall but was ready for whatever had made Frankie groan in pain. Luca watched as Artem stood up by the disturbance, but he remained calm.
“Luca!” Hayley’s voice caused Luca to stand up and he looked at her, his eyes caught hers and she ran into the meeting room. Nic put away his gun when he saw that Hayley was the ‘threat’.
“Hayley!” Luca looked furious as he went up to her and violently grabbed her arm, “go downstairs.” His tone was sharp as he looked down at her, and her bright eyes looked up at his.
He looked down at the hallway where Frankie was beginning to stand up clutching his balls, Luca would remove them for Frankie for allowing Hayley past him. Frankie looked at Hayley.
“I should have shot her,” Frankie said as he winced in the pain his manhood was giving him. “My little man.” He groaned, but Hayley pulled Luca’s attention to her.
“Frankie take Hayley and make sure she stays downstairs.” He said through gritted teeth, Frankie hobbled towards Luca and took her shoulders but she fought him off.
“No, Luca you have-” She began but Luca cut her off.
“Hayley!” Luca said as he roughly grabbed her shoulders. “Get the fuck downstairs.” But she shook her head, he was losing his patience with her.
“He’s going to kill you!” She shouted her eye looked at Artem whose face was hard as he stared at her masked covered face. “I heard him on the phone.”
Luca moved so his arm was around Hayley’s shoulders and walked forward so Frankie was in the room closing the door behind him.
“Stupid bitch.” Artem hissed as he held out his gun, in his mind she had ruined everything.
Suddenly everything happened, Luca pulled Hayley into his chest and then she felt him going into his jacket and then a loud bang. Hayley shrieked into Luca’s chest as the gun was fired, but she knew he was fast so he was the one who fired the shot.
"Bastard.” Frankie spoke in the silence. Luca threw his gun on the table and held Hayley close as he looked between Artem and the men.
“Sssh Hayley.” Hayley wasn’t aware she was making a noise but she was sobbing and shaking as he held her. She tried to pull away and find out what was going on but he kept her close to his chest.
“No, don’t look baby.” He murmured into her hair, and then looked at Nic.
“Find out who the fuck he worked for, and get this cleaned up.” He instructed firmly, the anger was encased inside of him. But, the fact he had a whimpering Hayley in his arms meant he couldn’t sort this himself.
Nic knew he had to talk to the guy who Frankie had placed at the bar to watch him, if Hayley heard the phone call why did their guy miss the fact he was threatening to murder the boss?
“I’ll be at home,” Luca informed his two right hands. Hayley felt Luca pull her tight as he moved out of the room, he stopped once the door closed. He lifted her chin and looked at her.
“Are you okay?” He asked, she nodded slowly and he gently kissed her cheek. “Thank you.” He whispered before he threw his jacket over her and he took her hand leading her out to the VIP area, he looked into the first booth.
Ava’s mouth fell as she looked on at a clearly distressed Hayley, and she glared at Luca.
“Ricardo and Tony, you two with me, Dominic Nic and Frankie need you.” Luca’s voice was all business.
Hayley held Luca’s hand tight, to be honest, she had no idea what was going on but she didn’t want to let go of Luca for a second. Luca led the way with Hayley’s hand in his, and behind her was Ric and Tony.
The car ride involved Luca talking in Italian to Nic and Frankie, but his hand in Hayley’s and her head was on his shoulder as she listened to his voice as he spoke in his native tongue.
“Thomas was the guy I had to keep an eye on Artem.” As Frankie called out-in Italian- to the phone that Nic had placed safely on a bookcase that was in the corner of the meeting room.
He was busy pulling the teeth of Artem, who was on a sheet that was placed to protect the long conference table. Dominic had started pulling out equipment that would be used to disfigure Artem, while Nic was looking through the guy’s phone. Nic always got the comfy jobs Frankie thought humorously to himself.
“I’ve got some of the guys to take him to the lock-up,” Nic said out loud, as he looked at the callers there was just one number.
“Don’t touch him, I want to question him myself,” Luca instructed through the phone, Nic and Frankie rolled their eyes as Luca spoke, Luca was taking this personally.
But that was what it was, and if Thomas had heard this information and not passed it on that means he is a traitor.
“How’s Hayley?” Frankie asked as he pulled out the last tooth with the pliers and Dom grinned knowing his turn was approaching.
“She’s in shock, I suppose she had just witnessed a shooting. How are your balls?” Luca spoke back in Italian and Nic laughed as Frankie glared at the phone.
“I’ll find out later, I’ve got a nice little blonde that I promised a night she’ll never forget.” Nic laughed at Frankie’s words.
“Yeah, she might not forget it when you get there and you can’t get it up.” Nic laughed, Luca also laughed at his cousin’s words, Frankie however was not amused.
“Haha, Funny Niccolo. It’ll take more than a knee to the balls to stop this Italian Stallion.” Nic cringed as Frankie spoke.
“Look we have to go, Luca, we’ll get over to the house once everything is clear here,” Nic explained.
“Excellent, talk later.” Luca hung up and looked down at Hayley whose head was gently resting on his shoulders.
He sighed, this felt great but deep down he knew he had to keep her safe and keeping her away was the best solution.
However, as he held her hand and smelled her perfume he couldn’t let her go. It seemed the harder he tried to push her away the more the world seemed to pull them together.
Ric and Tony got out of the car before Luca, then Luca stepped out and helped Hayley out of the car. He pulled her into his waist as he led her into his home. Ric and Tony disappeared, but he knew they wouldn’t be far if he needed them.
He guided Hayley to his huge kitchen and she sat on a stool and he pulled out a bottle of wine and two glasses. She watched as he moved around the kitchen as if he had no care in the world like he hadn’t just shot a man.
“Is...” She tried to speak. He never looked at her; he knew what she was going to ask, he just concentrated on uncorking and pouring the wine.
“Is he dead?” The words came out, and she watched as he put down the bottle of wine and he used his palms to lean on the kitchen island and sighed as he looked at her.
“Yes, Hayley, he is dead.” You could hear a pin drop between the pair, her heart was racing and her stomach churned. She knew what he was like, she knew what and who he was, yet it was still some sort of surprise to her.
“This is me, Hayley.” He said in a low voice, then he laughed darkly