Chapter 6 - Salt & Sugar
Nothing got past Siobhan, she knew everything that happened in her underground club and she knew Hayley had been seen with Luca, she knew Hayley had been his waitress of choice.
She knew this afternoon she had been in another private meeting with Luca in attendance. She knew Hayley was working day and night and wanted to check in on her.
Luca lived in a dangerous world, a world Siobhan swore to protect her little bird from.
Hayley sat in Siobhan’s office, a little tired but happy that Siobhan had given her the shifts.
“I’ve noticed you’ve done some private waitressing services,” Siobhan added casually as she went through the notes Luca had left about extra money in Hayley’s pay for waiting in the meeting. Hayley shuffled uncomfortably, where was Siobhan going with this?
“Strictly professional, Siobhan. Not a feather in sight.” Hayley explained, although there was nothing to explain. Siobhan nodded.
“I take it you understand who he is?” Siobhan asked the girl she found all those years ago in Russia. The girl she had risked her own life to get her through Europe and keep hidden away in Paris. Siobhan was not going to let her get hurt again.
“I understand, he’s a mafia boss, a man who will kill in a heartbeat,” Hayley explained, Siobhan nodded.
Hayley wasn’t stupid, she knew Luca was a dangerous criminal, she heard him kill three men. But, that didn’t stop her from thinking about him. She supposed even the most sensible of women craved the dark, mysterious bad boy, right?
“Luca’s difficult Hayley, he is a difficult man to try and understand.” Hayley shook her head at Siobhan’s words.
“Good thing I’m not trying to understand him then,” Hayley beamed at her friend and boss, as she put on her mask. “I’m a big girl, I can handle myself.”
Hayley stood up and smiled warmly at Siobhan before leaving the room. Siobhan sighed as the door shut behind the young girl, something in the pit of her stomach was warning her of the bad fate that now rested on Luca and Hayley.
Hayley stopped as she reached the VIP balcony area beyond the office, her heart sank as she looked into the booth where the man she couldn’t stop thinking about was sitting. Her eyes went to the blonde beauty that straddled him, his hands resting on the top of her thighs.
Arianna was everything Hayley wasn’t a feather girl. Luca caught Hayley’s eyes as she came out of the staff only room. Hayley couldn’t hide her jealousy as she watched the scene.
Luca watched as she shook her head, snapping herself from the situation and left the VIP balcony. To him, Hayley was an open book. With her brilliant eyes, he could see what she was thinking, and the jealousy for Arianna was rife.
In his mind, he should slip the blonde off his lap and chase Hayley, explaining he assumed she wasn’t here. Did that honestly make it better? He had to make it clear Hayley was like every other girl in here. But she wasn’t. Hayley wasn’t anything like the girls here. For one reason, she didn’t wear a feather.
Maybe that was exactly why he wanted her, why he was slightly obsessed with her, she didn’t wear a feather and she hadn’t just to get to him, unlike all the others. Typical, he chuckled to himself, he was told he always wanted something he couldn’t have.
“You okay?” Ben asked as Hayley slammed the cash register for the third time, what had happened in her meeting with Siobhan? He thought as she watched as she threw herself against the counter that had the cash register on.
“Fine.” Hayley breathed as she bravely took another peak up to the balcony, where all night she had watched as Arianna sat beside Luca, nuzzling his neck as she sipped the champagne he ordered for her. Now he was looking over the balcony his eyes caught hers, but she looked away and began to tidy up around Ben.
Why was she so jealous? He wasn’t hers and until she wore a feather he never would be.
She sat in the early hours of the morning, tired and trying to be thorough whilst removing the little makeup she wore. She could hear the girls talking about the money they had made, money that the Marcello men had given them.
Hayley turned her attention to the wilted flowers that sat in their crystal vases, beauty all fades and so does men’s interest. And Luca’s in her latest as long as the flowers he sent.
Ava tried to invite Hayley - with some of the other feather girls- out for some breakfast. But, Hayley wasn’t interested. So, she watched as the night shift girls left at the unglamorous time of 5am.
Alone in the huge, messy and perfume filled dressing room she sat brushing her hair, she brushed out the last of the curls, before she put her hair in a simple ponytail. That was when she noticed the door opening, and there he stood. His dark, brooding stare locked on to hers through the mirror, as she gently put the brush down.
She couldn’t control her damn heart as it pounded in her chest, the feeling in the pit of her stomach as their eyes caught hold of one another. This was irrational and she hated it, didn’t she?
“Can I help you?” She raised her eyebrows as she spoke, and he closed the door.
Her heart was racing as she looked at Luca. You would never guess that he had been sitting drinking, carrying on with feather girls and enjoying friendly games of cards. He looked pristine, clean and well-kept.
“I’d like to take you for breakfast.” Hayley stood up slowly and turned to face him.
He admired her and thought about how she looked so much better this way. Her natural beauty shone, her pale skin complemented by her dark chocolate coloured hair and of course her striking eyes. She shook her head.
“I’m not hungry.” She lied unsuccessfully as her stomach gave her away.
She grimaced as he laughed a little. Hayley was struck by how handsome he was, how the gentleness of his face appeared when he smiled.
“Fine,” she huffed lightly. “You can take me to breakfast.” She reached for her jacket and Luca opened the door for her, and then placed his hand on the small of her back.
She walked out to a few usual faces outside the club, Frankie and Nic. She also heard the names of the other two men, bulky guys one was Ric and one was Dom. Hayley noticed the three-huge blacked out SUV’s.
“How many cars do you own?” She choked out as she looked at the three cars behind the guys. Luca laughed a little, as she had no idea how much money he had.
“I have a fair few, the SUV’s are heavy cars.” He said simply as he stopped in front of the guys.
“Heavy?” She quizzed, and Frankie laughed at her innocence but answered her question.
“They are armed, Hayley,” Frankie explained. “Bulletproof, ready for anything.” Frankie looked at Luca who did seem happy he answered her question so honestly.
“Oh.” That was all Hayley could say, the cars were prepared for violence, brilliant.
“Nic, you’re driving us. Frankie, you have to check the lock-up to make sure everything is going well. Dom and Ric, I need you two to stay close.”
Everyone seemed to spring to action at Luca’s words. “After you,” he spoke to Hayley as he opened the door and held out his hand which she took to let her get in the car. “Hayley, the four guys you have just seen,” Luca spoke lowly, even though he knew his cousin upfront could hear every word. “If ever there was a need to get help, for whatever reason they are the only four faces after me you can trust.” Hayley’s heart was racing at his words.
“What makes you think I trust you?.” Hayley said sceptically, which made Luca laugh at her words. He looked at the dark glare the delightful angel beside him gave.
"Bella, if you didn’t trust me then getting into a heavy car was a huge mistake.” Luca said darkly, “always remember, even salt can look like sugar.
A shiver uncontrollably coursed through her body. He said the words so calmly, yet she knew it was too easy for him to simply kill her. But, she acted brave, she acted like his words didn’t affect her.
She was aware of the tale of salt and sugar, and Hayley wasn’t going to trust him so easily.
“I trust no one Luca.” She said firmly.
A part of Luca believed her. He believed this girl preferred to fight than trust. That saddened him, what was hse fighting for? What or who had pushed her to this life of isolation?
Nic stopped outside the twenty-four-hour diner, he gave his cousin the nod and Luca left the car. The car door opening brought Hayley out of her gaze and she slid out of the car as Luca led the way into the diner and to a booth by the window. Hayley could see Nic sitting in the car on his phone.
Luca wasted no time and ordered some coffee as the waitress approached the booth and Hayley had the same as she picked up the sticky menu.
“This doesn’t seem your type of place to eat, Luca.” She spoke as she looked at him over the top of the menu she was pretending to browse, he smiled a little from the corner of his mouth. She raised her eyebrows begging for a response.
“I’m an opportunist, Hayley.” Was his vague response.
Hayley put down the menu confused by his words, and as the waitress came with two mugs of coffee and asked if they were ready to order. ”
Can we have another couple of minutes?” Luca asked the pretty waitress who nodded a reply and left the booth again, his eyes went back to Hayley.
“An opportunist?” Hayley quizzed as she used both hands to clasp her mug.
Then something changed in Luca’s demeanour, Hayley felt a cold blast of air on her neck as the café entrance opened.
Luca for a second looked at his cousin in the car who nodded, his informant was here.
Hayley watched as a guy dressed in casual jeans walked past their booth, Luca looked at him and watched as he took a stool at the counter. Luca looked at a very confused Hayley.
“Excuse me, Bella.” He murmured as he slid out the booth and we walked up to the counter and stood two stools away from the guy who just entered the café.
Luca was playing a dangerous game, broad daylight, no men and a very public place. Luca was aware of the risk he was taking and even more so as he quickly glanced at Hayley who was sitting watching him, her hands gripping her coffee mug. He was being reckless; this bastard could be betraying him leading Borroni’s men straight to Luca and that was why he needed this taken care of now.
“What have you got?” Luca asked in a low, harsh and violent tone. The guy looked at the infamous Luca Marcello, the boss.
“My brother?” The man kept his voice low.
Luca rolled his eyes and went to the inside of his jacket pocket.
Luca noticed the man was nervous and could see his eyes were watching in fear as Luca’s hand went into the inside pocket.
The man let out a huge sigh of relief as Luca pulled out his phone and not a gun. He slid the phone to the man a few seats from him, with the screen showing live footage of the lookup where the man’s brother was bound, gagged and bloody.
“He’s very much alive Wheeler,” Luca spoke firmly as the guy’s face paled at the sight of his brother, the sight of Frankie walking around waiting for a signal whether to end his days or not.
As his eyes were focused on the screen and his brother, Luca flashed his eyes back at Hayley.
She watched as Luca looked confident, calm and in control. His plan was for him to always come here like he said he was an opportunist. Then why did he bring her? She took a sip of the coffee, as Luca’s eyes caught hers and then he looked back at Wheeler.
“That can change,” Luca’s tone was dark as he pulled the phone away and slipped it back in his pocket, “Frankie is waiting for one word from me. One word for me, or,” Luca nodded at the car where Wheeler instantly recognised Nic. He looked fiercely back at Luca.
“You said no men, you lying bas..” Luca never let him finish.
“You think I would meet an informant without backup? Besides, you said no men in the diner, Nic’s not in the diner.”
Wheeler hissed in a low voice, angry at the mob boss’ actions.
Wheeler was at a loss for words, he forgot who he was dealing with. A master of manipulation, an artist in deceit and the devil in man’s clothing. Wheeler had no choice but to dance to the devil’s tune, dance for his twin brother’s life.
“What do you have for me?” Luca asked before he listened to the Wheeler brother, with very little respect or interest in this traitor.
This asshole had been an informant for nearly seven months with no results, Luca and Nic feared he had become a Borroni soldier so they used his twin to get results, which it had.
Now suddenly he was telling Luca everything. He told Luca about how the Borroni’s were doing a deal with Neil Jackson in Texas. Luca remained quiet as Wheeler explained the times Borroni met with Jackson. But his blood boiled, Jackson was lying to him.
“I suggest you and your brother leave,” Luca said darkly once he knew he had gathered everything he could from his informant. “Get as far away from New York as possible.” Luca’s voice was filled with threat and violence.
“You said the family would protect me and my family.” He said, shaking his head, but Luca shook his firmer.
“The familia looks after our own, that is true, but you have sat on this information for too long. Men have been killed, ammunition and money are gone. We will text you where you can pick up your twin.” Luca then slipped off the stool and walked a little until he stood behind Wheeler.
“You showed disloyalty, you should be dead. But, you were once one of us and that is why you have time until my men will kill you.” Luca warned before he walked back to the table.
Hayley looked taken back by everything, she had heard nothing, but Wheeler quickly left the diner and Luca got out his phone, and said one word down the phone before hanging up.
"Uccidilo.” He placed the phone back in his jacket, he had lied. But, he could show no mercy. Both of the Wheeler brothers had lied, and the information he had could have saved four lives of his men, he could not tolerate liars.
“I understand what you mean about being an opportunist,” Hayley said as the waitress came with a coffee pot and refilled their mugs, she thanked the waitress who left the table.
“This wasn’t about taking me for breakfast this was just about business.” Suddenly, that idea of being special was taken from her yet again. Why was she doing this to herself?
“I saw an opportunity, I wanted to take you out again and I needed to come here so two birds.” Luca shrugged as he picked up his mug and took a sip.
“Then why invite me at all?” She quizzed.
“Why did you accept?” He countered as he raised an eyebrow. His chocolate, dark and brooding eyes bore into her.
“I wasn’t going to.” She croaked, her voice collapsed on her as she was taken by his gaze, his intoxicating presence. Damn him!
“But you did.” He gestured with his hands at the table and the coffee she had drunk.
He watched as she nervously put stray hair behind her ear and he watched as she pressed her lips together and tried to avoid looking at his intense stare.
“You asked no questions, I offer to take you somewhere and you so blindly follow.” He shook his head, just like all the others.
They all like the danger his world brought, maybe she was like all the others. Just another star in the night sky.
“Perhaps, I was just hungry?” The lie was easier to say than the truth.
He screwed his face up. He knew the truth behind her stunning eyes, the anger she felt and he wanted her to feel all of that. He wanted her to hate him, loathe him. For maybe then she won’t be hurt by him.
“Maybe if another guy or girl asked me for breakfast then I would have gone with them, don’t flatter yourself, Luca, I was just hungry.” She lied, of course, she came because a part of her craved any little time she could get with Luca.
“So, the other girls didn’t invite you?” Luca knew Ava and the feather girls were getting breakfast, he knew this because he heard them and he also heard them offering Hayley to go, she refused them.
“I... we..er..” Hayley stuttered, she never ever lost her head, yet he caused her to.
He watched as she grew red trying to compose herself. He was playing a dangerous game with Hayley. Physically he wanted her. He wanted to get her hot and wet just for him, he wanted to conquer her in his bed and that was new. But, something told him she was like a drug one taste and he would be hooked. But, he liked the idea of holding her, he liked to tease himself, by putting himself around her. What was he doing to himself, to her?
“This was a bad idea!” He murmured, and Hayley looked up at him, as he stood up and she stood up, “I could kill you in a heartbeat, I should for your utter stupidity.”
“I’m not stupid Luca, I just like to see good in people, give people a chance.” She said, shaking her head.
“There’s no good in me, Bella.” He replied simply, and she nodded in agreement. He watched as she stood on the sidewalk and hailed a cab.
“Hayley!” he called out her name and walked to the taxi and quickly got in and to her relief, it pulled away.
She put her head against the headrest. She was a damn fool, she was crazy to ever trust Luca Marcello! But, the more she wanted to hate him, ignore him and forget about him the harder it was. What was pulling her towards this criminal? And why was she not fighting it? He was a dark, cruel man and he loved that side of him. A side she hated within herself.