Chapter 27 - I'm Not Yours
Hayley wanted it all to be a bad dream, but it wasn’t. She spent the night rethinking about everything, she had killed a man. The tears flowed as she cleaned herself, the clothes she wore, the bathroom and the blade she always carried.
She hid everything-except her knife- in the floorboard beside her bed, including the damn phone the detective gave her. She hid in her bedroom, even when Ava and Ben came home she hid.
She showered again when the sun began to rise, she hadn’t slept, she just kept repeating the night in her head. The sound the knife made as it plunged into the Marcello man, the ultimatum the detective gave her.
As she showered she scrubbed trying to wash any evidence of the night off her body. She missed breakfast and just sat at the counter with a mug of coffee that her absent mind had left to go cold.
She had never explored New York on her own, but today she wanted to leave the apartment, she wanted to think.
She thought about everything as she found refuge from the rain in a dingy café, she thought about her choices as if she had any choices left. She could tell Luca, tell him everything the detective told her.
She played with the mug as she thought of the consequences, she would be sent home, possibly go to prison for entering the US illegally and then be sent back to her dad. She was sure the cop wasn’t joking when he said he would know if she told Luca. He knew she had stabbed someone he had ears in Luca’s camp.
Could she live with this? The detective could also have her done for murder, this made her sick as she remembered the blood on her hands, on her white corset.
Luca was a criminal, didn’t he deserve to pay for his crimes? He had killed people, and god knows what else. The detective only needed a little bit of information, what loyalty did she need to show Luca?
It pained her to think of him, but it was true he had hurt her and when she desperately needed help last night he didn’t help, he went back to screwing Arianna.
The dressing room was busy as usual. Hayley sat and applied makeup to her very tired skin. Ava had continued to ask Hayley if she was okay, but it was clear she wasn’t.
Hayley adjusted her red corset and put on her black mask before being the last to leave the dressing room, but she walked straight into a man as she opened the door to leave.
“Hello, Sweetheart.” The voice made her stomach churn, as she looked up at the man. Everything stopped as she took a step away from the man who entered the room and shut the door behind him.
“Remember me?” His grin was wicked as her eyes were wide in horror.
“You?” She whispered, and he nodded. The man she had killed was standing in front of her. “I-” She began but he cut her off.
“Listen to me Hayley,” His voice was stern, commanding. Hayley was still processing what happened last night. “I’m Max Willows, I’m not dead and you need to listen to me.”
Hayley shook her head as she tried to run past him, but he grabbed her shoulders, he apprehended her knife that he had learnt was hidden in the pocket of her corset, she watched as he tossed it across the room.
“Hayley, you have to listen to me.” She shrugged him off and pulled away from him.
“I don’t have to do anything,” She growled as she looked at the man she clearly stabbed last night, the man the detective told her was dead. He sighed loudly. Then it seemed it hit her, the detective had people inside already, “You’re a rat.” He sighed and shook his head before looking back at her.
“I prefer the informant.” He said slowly.
He knew in the Venetian this was the only room that didn’t have cameras, for the privacy of the girls. He knew he had to speak to her. “Detective Blake told me how long you have, do you have a plan?”
“A plan?” She was still in shock at finding out the man she killed wasn’t dead. “I haven’t even decided what the hell I’m doing, I can’t lie to Luca.” She said shaking his head, but his face was grim.
She now felt relieved she didn’t have to lie to Luca, she could tell him about the cop. This asshole was still alive and she couldn’t be done for murder.
“Hayley, you have too.” Was all he said, and she shook her head as relief washed over her.
“No, I don’t,” Her voice was bold as she looked at Max. “You see the detective has nothing on me, you’re not dead. I’m an innocent woman, I’m going to scream. Someone will be in here and I will tell Luca everything.” But Max just laughed darkly at her.
“You really think a little thing like me being alive will stop Detective Blake?” Her stomach dropped and so did all sense of relief as Max spoke. “He has a plan A, B all the way to Z with you. If you don’t follow the plan Hayley, he will pull out evidence. DNA, I bet you had coffee with him?” He laughed as her face paled. “Of course, you did, he will have your DNA, Sweetheart.”
“He will have a witness to your crime, hell he will have four witnesses if he has to. There will be a body, even a murder weapon. You have no idea the power that man has, he has the freedom to do what he wants if he can get the results he is allowed to kill if the cause needs it,” Max shook his head. “Now do you have a plan?”
Hayley was speechless, as Max looked around the messy room. Hayley hadn’t planned the cop to have so much power.
“Here,” He walked over to one of the tables and handed her a mask that had a feather on it. “Wear this,” He said simply, and Hayley shook her head. “Hayley.” His tone was harsh.
Hayley was still trying to process the idea of him still being alive and secondly the idea that the detective had tricked her, yet now she was trapped. “I’m trying to help, you have a month to get on the inside of Luca Marcello.”
“How will this help?” Hayley croaked as she looked down at the hand that he held out containing the feathered item.
“Jealousy.” The simple word from Max’s lips.
Max knew Luca had some strange obsession for this girl, and a part of him hated himself for passing that information to the Detective. But, that was his job, to find out all he could on Luca.
“Luca will hate to see this feather,” Max shrugged as Hayley took the mask but just held it in her own hands as she felt the soft feather and traced the fine silver patterns. “The idea that you will be approachable to other men, trust me, will drive him wild.” Max then turned to leave.
“I’m sorry you are dragged into this Hayley,” Was all he said as his back was to her. “Make yourself appear available, you don’t have to go with any man. I’m sure you will get offers though.” He then left the room.
Hayley flopped onto the sofa that was behind her, she stared down at the mask. Jealousy? He thinks this will make Luca jealous, he was wrong. Hayley looked up as the door opened to Ava.
“Hayley, Come on.” That was when Ava noticed the mask in Hayley’s hand, she shut the door and slowly walked over to her friend as sat beside her.
“I was thinking,” Hayley’s stomach was in knots as she spoke, and Ava put her hand on her thigh to comfort her friend. “Maybe, it’s not a bad thing.” She croaked.
“It’s not,” Ava reassured her friend. Ava remembered the first night she wore a feather, the fear and the nerves. “The guys down here are respectful, gentle even.”
Ava knew the men who walked in knew better than to harm a feather girl, Ava knew the club was owned by Siobhan and Luca Marcello, she knew all feather girls were Luca’s and if a man hurt them, he hurt the guy.
“You can say no too, no force.” Hayley nodded as she removed her plain mask and put on the feather one. “I’ll look after you,” Ava said with a wink behind her gold mask.
Ava was right, it wasn’t too bad. Although, her regulars found it strange as she stood with a feather to the right side of the mask.
Ben was even more shocked, she pretended it was to earn more cash, Ben was not impressed by her answer at all. But Hayley ignored him and got on with her work, getting drinks and getting chatted up.
Max was right, the offers came flooding in. But, deep down there was no price that a man could say that would get her to go with any of them.
“You,” Ava said as she jumped from the main stage and approached the bar where Hayley was getting Dimitri another drink. “Are the most wanted girl of the night, literally everyone is whispering about you.” Ava beamed.
She jumped over the bar to grab a drink before hoisting herself up to the podium above the bar. Hayley was actually flattered, as she noticed the bar she worked at was busier than usual and the men tried in vain to get her to ‘go private.’
Luca had entered the Venetian, today had been a tough day. It was tough because his enemy Borroni had been unusually quiet; he had also attended the funeral of Deano. It was hard going to a funeral where the family physically hated you, Luca would do his best for his family, the family protects its own and Deano was in his eyes a hero, a true soldier.
Luca sat in the booth, his mind on his world, his crazy fucked up world. Borroni was cocky and confident and that unnerved him, his only informant was gone and a part of him still believed he had traitors in his own camp.
He sat with a whiskey someone, he wasn’t sure who had given him, and he sat thinking alone in the booth.
“He is not going to like this.” Nic growled at Frankie as they looked over the balcony. Frankie had been in the Venetian all night; he and Max had watched the place before Luca and others had gotten here.
“Yeah,” Max said simply as he spoke to Luca’s second in command. “The guys are practically selling their souls to have her first.” Nic frowned as he listened to Max.
“They love a new feather girl, the idea of a feather virginity,” Frankie explained as he sipped from his drink looking at the beauty who never wore a feather.
Frankie laughed, he was normally the guy who paid the best price to get the first time with a new feather girl. But, he wanted to keep his balls and wouldn’t be perusing this little delight. Max excused himself and left the VIP area. Nic turned to Luca, who was busy lighting up a cigarette.
“Boss?” Nic said, making Luca look up at him, and he moved his head to indicate the floor below. “You might want to see this.” Luca sighed before he pulled himself out the booth and walked over to stand beside his cousin.
His eyes immediately caught the large crowd around one particular bar, his eyes immediately caught the damn feather she wore. Jealousy flowed through his body, desire hit his core and anger was raging in his mind. What this woman did to him!
He was so preoccupied he walked by her bar and never noticed, otherwise, he would have pulled her over the bar and carried her out of here.
“The men are throwing ridiculous prices for her,” Frankie explained, he watched as Luca gripped the railings making his knuckles whiten.
Luca, watched as she laughed and flirted with the men, the animals who just wanted her for a quick fuck.
“Get her up here, Nic.” Luca commanded, Nic nodded and left the VIP balcony and made his way through the crowd around her bar.
"Bella?” Nic said simply, he knew some of the girls don’t like their real names spoken, Hayley caught his eyes and smiled politely at him. “Can you, personally.” Nic made sure he empathised the word personally. “Bring up a bottle of scotch, and three glasses.”
She nodded weakly and watched Nic walk away. She looked up at the VIP balcony and noticed Frankie and Luca looking at her.
She was a nervous wreck as she crossed the crowded floor to the staircase of the VIP lounge, her heart was racing, it pounded with every step she took. She noticed him first, his face hard and he stood at the ‘Staff Only’ entrance.
Hayley caught the eyes of Nic and Frankie who sat in the booth, she smiled professionally at both as she placed down the tray on the table.
“Hayley.” His voice made her heart stop and pressed her lips tight together before looking up at him, he used his head to indicate the door behind him that he had opened. The pair stood just looking at one another, it was intense.
“Don’t make me ask twice.” He warned, and Hayley’s bravery got the better of her.
“You never asked the first time.” Her voice was firm before he said her name once more in a low deep growl.
Hayley practically slammed the tray down and walked into the little hallway, where Luca followed and then brushed past her to open the meeting room one door. She took a deep breath as he used his free arm to gesture into the room.
He watched the stubborn yet beautiful woman pout and then marched into the meeting room. Hayley swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and kept her back to him as he closed the door and stood looking at her.
“I see you have become a feather girl.” He tried to keep his cool, he watched as she annoyingly just shrugged. Hayley remained focused and never turned to face him.
A part of her was still hurt from how he left things, the moment between them in the cellar where he said for her to forget about them being together like he said she wasn’t a feather girl.
“I don’t need your permission, do I, Mafia king?” She said firmly before she turned to face him, he ground his teeth, holding in the anger that wanted to explode. “You don’t own me, Luca.” She said with boldness in her voice, but her insides quivered with fear.
Then she walked closer to him. “I forgot Luca,” She whispered, locking his eyes on hers. “This is how you want your women, Am I what you need now? What you want?” Her words were harsh, they were cutting into her. “How would you like me? Hmm?” She felt sick.
He felt sick as she said the words. He could see the tears brimming in her blue eyes, begging to fall.
She shook her head and tried to walk past him, but just as she reached his shoulder he took her arm, she turned her head, so she was looking at him.
“You want a reaction from me?” His voice was low. His voice made her inside hot, but she remained cold on the outside. “You are not a feather girl Hayley.” He kept his voice cool and calm.
“Who says?” She spoke violently pulling her arm from him and stood back from him. “Who says for the right price I’m not somebody’s whore?” She croaked.
She felt a single tear fall down her cheek, under her black feathered mask. He noticed, and it crushed him. He hated how she spoke about herself, how she was changing, for who, for herself? For him?
“Hayley.” He walked over to the English beauty that had somehow etched herself in his soul, she had somehow managed to make herself the most important person in the universe. Hayley stood frozen to the spot as he walked towards her.
“I’m just another feather girl.” She whispered as he reached her, and he shook her head. No, she was wrong. She was more than a feather girl.
He gently took the mask in hand and pushed it up over her head and he tossed it on the long conference table behind her, her heart was racing as he gently used his thumb to wipe the fallen tear. She craved this man, she craved everything about him.
Her heart ached as she knew this was a betrayal, she was a villain and he had no idea. A few more tears slipped down her cheek as she thought of the vile agreement she had so naively made with the detective, and now he had Max spying on her, she was doomed.
“You are not a feather girl.” He repeatedly firmly, yet with a softness to his voice as he cupped both sides of her face. She shook her head, but he just pulled her closer to him and kissed her.
For a second, she was in heaven, she was in her happy place right where she wanted to be. But, the thought of him rejecting her again made her push hands into his chest and push him away.
The force knocked her into the table, so she was resting on it lightly. She put her hand to her lips before shaking her head. He just looked at her.
“I’m not what you want, I’m not what you need, remember?” Hayley spat harshly, he sighed and put his hands in his pockets allowing his jacket to open a little revealing his gun holsters. He looked at Hayley, her eyes damp from her tears.
“You have no idea what I need.” He spoke gruffly. That was a fact, Luca himself didn’t know what he needed, but he knew what he wanted and the angel in front of him was all he wanted.
He watched as she picked up the mask that was at her side on the table and held it in her hands. “I’m no good for you.” He said simply with a sigh. Yet, the devil inside him craved to touch her, destroy her, make her his.
“I know that,” She shrugged, still looking down at the mask in her hand, before looking back up at the handsome masculine man in front of her and pressed her lips together before she spoke again. “Yet, I can’t walk away from you.”
“You’re walking into danger.” He shook his head, she nodded in agreement at his words.
“I know I am,” she stood up from the table and held onto the mask. “But, I think I’m too far gone to turn
“No.” He wanted her in his arms, her legs wrapped around his body. He wanted her safe, he wanted her with him.
But, the image of her with a gun at her head never left his mind, the bullet with her name on, the simple yet frightening warning from his enemy a reminder that with him she was a target, a way for the enemy to hurt him.
“Then what do you want?” She asked him begging for his reply.
The room fell silent and you could hear their hearts beating it sounded like they were in tune. Hayley never lost eye contact with Luca, as he opened his mouth to speak.
All he said was one simple word.