Chapter 5 - A Feather Promise
Hayley watched as all the girls like Ava dressed around her. She hadn’t managed to think about how she had been day drinking with Mr Marcello. She had tried to forget the noise of the gunshots of the men he killed.
A knock at the door caused a little stir, but none rushed to hide their modesty, Hayley looked at the door through her mirror as she finished applying her lipstick, Ava answered the door to a man in a suit holding a huge bouquet of roses in a crystal vase.
“Hayley.” Ava walked over to Hayley who turned on her cushioned backless stool to face Ava and the flowers.
She took the flowers, as Ava took a seat at the dressing table beside Hayley’s. Ava was more intrigued than Hayley at the flowers, even some of the other feather girls stopped to look over at the massive display.
It wasn’t unusual for a Venetian girl to receive gifts, in fact, that was normal for guys to shower them. However, this was common for feather girls, the ones who did things to make guys feel appreciative, Hayley didn’t get flowers.
Hayley looked at the white envelope with gold calligraphy handwriting of her name on the front. She placed the vase on her dressing table and opened the card.
I am sorry for earlier, you shouldn’t have witnessed what happened at the poker game. Also, I respect you, with that until you wear a feather you are not to be touched.
Hayley’s heart raced, the note was simple and very formal, yet it had her heart beating like a drum. This was a man who in her mind never said sorry, and respect was something he demanded not dish out.
“Who are they from?” Ava asked as she brushed her blonde curls out, so she had a glamourous wave to her hair, and she placed her red-feathered mask on.
Hayley placed the note in her hidden pocket in her corset alongside her trusty switchblade and admired the stunning flowers. Ava looked at the beaming face of her friend.
“Luca Marcello, they are a thank you for being his waitress earlier.” Hayley lied, Ava’s mouth hit the floor along with a couple of others including Arianna, who glared at Hayley and the damn roses.
“Luca brought you these, did you fuck him!?” Ava quizzed, and Hayley shook her head with a little laugh.
But her core ached as she thought of how close she came to let him kiss her, which was a huge step for Hayley.
Arianna was seething in jealousy, she had for two years had Luca Marcello eating out of her hand. Yet, he never sent her flowers. She laughed herself as she looked at the brunette bitch, he wouldn’t have her, she’s frigid. Arianna pushed her boobs up in her black lacy bra and left the room, to get ready for her first slot of the night.
Hayley placed her mask over her eyes and adjusted her corset, before leaving the dressing room to head to the bar.
Ben was already serving; the place was fully underway. Ava took her podium spot at their bar and began to dance.
Hayley loved it when the place was packed out and tonight it was crazy, it seemed the entirety of the New York underworld was in the Venetian.
She hadn’t noticed him, but he had noticed her.
He watched as she beamed at customers, smiled and was looking gorgeous for a girl who pulled a double shift and a bit of day drinking, Luca laughed as he thought of how she thought he had poisoned her.
"Fucking Jackson.” Nic huffed at his side as he hung up from his phone call and stood beside Luca.
Luca looked at his cousin, who he knew would tell him the problem eventually.
“Jackson, claims to be short again,” Nic explained to his boss and cousin.
Luca growled lowly to himself as he thought of the man Nic had spoken off and it pissed him off.
Jackson was a Texan arsehole, who had fucked him over one too many times now, he needed to be taught a lesson. A lesson Luca was all too happy to teach him.
“Does he know I counted the shipment myself and that only you had contact from here to Texas?” Luca asked his cousin calmly, as his eyes watched the Bella that had enchanted him.
He watched as she served drinks and moved fluidly around behind the tiny bar, and her hips moved seductively to the rhythm of the music that was playing.
“No, he doesn’t,” Nic said as he poured himself a glass of whiskey. Luca turned to face Nic. He could see the devilish glint in his eyes, a look he has had since he was a kid. “He doesn’t even know I’m your blood cousin.” Nic said, before he took a sip of his drink, this made Luca chuckle, darkly.
“What are you planning?” Nic quizzed, Knowing whatever it was wouldn’t be pleasant.
Luca looked back at Hayley as he watched as she scooted past Ben, he watched with jealousy as she touched his back, so she could get to the cash register. Resisting her was going to be the hardest thing he had ever had to do.
“I think we should invite him to a casino night,” Luca replied, it was an innocent-sounding request, but Nic knew the dark and deadly connotations behind Luca’s words. “If he has something to hide, he won’t show up, or he is too stupid and turns up anyways.”
“We could do with having a casino party anyway, flush out any disloyal associates,” Nic shrugged and Luca nodded. “Shall we invite the usual’s cops, judges and government officials?” Luca agreed with a firm nod, he knew he could trust Nic with the organising of everything.
He looked down at Hayley, who for a second caught her eyes on his and she smiled at him before a customer tore her eyes away from his.
“Make it a theme, 1920′s old school gangsters.” Luca laughed, as he imagined Hayley in one of those flapper dresses. His mind was running away with himself.
Frankie walked up the stairs, it was obvious he had just had a private session with one of the delightful feather girls.
“Had fun, Frankie?” Luca asked, and Frankie gave a dirty knowing laugh.
“Sorry boss, I was just giving my little man, a little loving. Well, I wasn’t but Rebecca was happy to help.” Frankie chuckled as he pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
“Have I missed much?” He asked. Luca told Nic to fill in what Frankie had missed, he went in search of the person who held his attention.
Hayley kept catching Luca’s eyes every now and again as he stood looking over the Venetian and he spoke to Nic. It was Hayley’s break and like usual she found her perch on a box by the exit, which was open as some staff members were out having a smoke.
“Did you like the flowers?” His deep smooth voice made her get up from her spot and look at him.
She took a moment to truly admire him. He was wearing a suit, a different one to the one he wore earlier. His hair was stylish and thick, his face was stunning. She reminded herself firmly that he was just the well-dressed devil with a handsome face.
“I did, thank you,” Hayley blushed, his heart raced as he watched her pale face flush soft pink. What was he doing to her? “You shouldn’t have though.” She said as he moved a little closer to her. In her mind, she should have stepped back but remained on the spot frozen by his presence.
“I wanted to.” He shrugged, and she laughed a little causing Luca to look a little confused.
“And Luca Marcello always gets what he wants?” Hayley asked as she put her hands on her hips. Luca laughed a little, she knew him so well already.
"Always.” His smile was like the devil’s, it was wicked, yet Hayley could see the charm behind it.
“Did you mean what you wrote?” Hayley quizzed him as she pulled out the note that he sent with the flowers.
Luca walked over to Hayley, he took the note and nodded before handing it back to her, clasping her hands tightly for a second.
“You are not a feather girl, I won’t touch you. Not until you wear a feather.” He took a step back as he watched as she sighed, this shocked him.
He never believed she wanted him, how could someone so pure want someone like him? But, he could sense her want and this made his inside sing with happiness.
“You’ll have a long wait.” She admitted, he nodded at her.
He hated the idea of not being able to do what he desperately wanted to do to her, but she wasn’t a feather girl, so was off-limits.
“I’m not normally a patient man, but sometimes dessert is sweeter when you have to earn it.” He puffed before he turned on his heel and Hayley watched him walk away from her.
She could feel her palms were sweating and her heart was caving in her chest, what had this man had made her into.
It was midday when Hayley arrived at the Venetian the next day. She was busy working another extra shift. Dimitri propped up her bar, sipping Vodka and keeping her occupied with small talk.
Her eyes caught Luca as he walked in with a couple of men, he looked at her, but his face was serious, Luca and most of the men walked past her bar without even a side look in her direction. Most, except Frankie who walked to the bar, his confident cocky smile radiated on his face. It was annoyingly charming to Hayley.
“Hayley, can you please come and work in meeting room one? Georgia will cover down here.” Frankie asked her, her face paled.
She felt her stomach churn as she thought of going back into that room, she could hear the gunshots.
“I...I don’t-” She stuttered, she didn’t want what happened yesterday to happen, she didn’t want to be part of that again.
Frankie could see the fear in her eyes, her face was the colour of snow which was hard for this beauty as she was already very pale anyway.
“Hayley, calm down,” she bit her bottom lip as he spoke. “Today isn’t like yesterday, I promise. This is just the boss talking to his employees, no guns and no tricky card games.”
His words had calmed her a little, but as Georgia approached the bar she knew she had very little choice in where she worked today.
Hayley walked behind Frankie towards the VIP balcony, and through the staff only door and to meeting room one. There were eight men sitting around the table.
"Bella.” Luca looked at Hayley, he looked at Frankie then back at Hayley.
He didn’t want Hayley here, but he needed a waitress and Hayley was the most competent, the other day shift girls were unreliable.
He watched as she went to the bar, he knew unlike most of the other girls she could be relied on to keep a secret, he knew this because she knew the value of secrets.
“A round of coffee.” He instructed sternly, she nodded and went behind the bar and set up the state of the art coffee machine.
“Borroni is after turf boss.” One of the men spoke up first, Luca sighed.
He wished they spoke Italian, but these guys had very little Italian in them, but they were Frankie’s best street soldiers.
Hayley paid no mind to the men, she was just there to earn her dollar.
“He is pressing down on the runners.”
Luca sighed again as he thought of the young men he was losing daily, the low-end guys, the ones just starting the family who took money and drugs between them and the dealers.
Frankie’s face hardened, Luca knew this hurt Frankie the most. Unlike Nic and Luca, Frankie was once a runner, then worked his way up to be the left-hand man. Like Luca said if Nic was his right-hand man, Frankie was his left. He needed both to be the leader he was.
Hayley placed the black coffees to every man, she could feel the eyes of them on her. Luca was the last person she gave coffee to before she walked back to the bar and pretended to keep herself busy, which was hard when the place was spotless.
“Borroni needs teaching a lesson.” Frankie spat harshly, as an image of a young guy he had to go and identify and then bury quietly. He was just eighteen and was promising, but he ran to an ambush the animals tore him apart. Luca shook his head.
“We can’t have a war just yet, we had our own losses to count,” Luca explained calmly.
A war would mean his family would have to go underground, his businesses would be at risk and their employees, his eyes caught Hayley who looked busy cleaning the bar top.
“So, what should we do?” One of his street soldiers asked him.
“All runners are to work in pairs and be extra vigilant. Avoid Borroni territory, let’s sit it out to see what Borroni is really up to.”
Hayley served more coffees as the men discussed money, people and drug shipments. It was dull, but what fascinated her was how calm and in control Luca was.
Luca dismissed everyone, and in a heartbeat, they cleared the room. Hayley walked over to the table and began to clear away the cups, but she felt Luca behind her, so she put the cups down and turned to face him.
“Is everything okay?” She asked him, and he sighed and nodded.
His world was never okay. He was always walking a fine line between life and death. He was always reminded of that horrendous dark side, a side that others would hide. Luca couldn’t hide his dark side, his was too large and too dominant to control.
Frankie had told him of four young guys over the past couple of days that have died at his enemy’s hands, Luca hated that he couldn’t protect them all.
For him, he was a walking target. Everyday enemies aimed for him, a quick bullet to the head and he was gone, which never scared him. The cops were also out for blood and will take a living witness or an outspoken rat and that would be enough to see Luca put away for life.
But, he also knew how dangerous his world was for those that know him. Frankie and Nic know the dangers, they know people will kill them to bring down or get to Luca. Luca also knew people would use Siobhan, someone he couldn’t hide the world from, but he would die protecting.
Then there were people like Hayley. People who simply get caught in the crossfire, who was innocent of all Mafia deeds and yet they would get hurt all the same just for knowing a mobster like him.
“Hayley,” he gently took her waist, her heart hummed as he gently pulled her closer towards him. “Listen to me,” his voice was firm and assertive. “If anyone quizzes you about me or any Marcello man you don’t know us.”
“Why would anyone ask me anything?” She shook her head, but something in his face made her realise he was being serious, was he that dangerous, of course, he was. Stupid girl!
“Hayley, if people know you work here cops will try to use you to gain access, my enemies could use that also. So please never mention me or knowing any member of the Marcello family.” Hayley nodded, she understood.
Since she had met Luca she had never seen this vulnerable side to him, losing those guys they spoke about crushed him, something Hayley didn’t expect.
“I’m not a good man, Hayley.” He sighed, and she nodded, she knew this.
Hayley wasn’t dumb, yet sometimes his action made her forget what type of guy he was. The flowers were a prime example of that.
“I use people to get what I want, sex, money and power.” He moved closer to her and cupped her cheek.
The selfish part of himself was trying to take over, but it didn’t. He looked at her bright and beautiful eyes and he knew he could hurt her, he couldn’t use her, he slowly dropped his hand.
“I am not stupid, Luca.” She reminded him.
“I never stated otherwise, but I am a bad guy, Hayley. I am a very bad guy and the flowers, the drinks at the bar is not me.” He warned.
“Then why pretend? Why bother?” She asked more harshly than she expected to.
“Because I use people, I paid for your silence, I am not good just remember that.”
With that, he turned and quickly left the room.
Hayley just stared at the door, like he was going to re-entered and take her in his arms and passionately kiss her, but he didn’t and deep down she knew he wouldn’t. She wasn’t special to him, she was just another faceless woman who worked for him, but her feather promise made her unattainable and as a tear slipped under her mask she was grateful for that promise.