Chapter 8 - Lady Luck
Hayley had gotten dressed, with both Ben and Ava approving her outfit, both told her to enjoy herself and left for work. She had been to a dress shop to find the perfect dress and accessories for tonight.
Luca had organised Ricardo to pick her up and take her to the casino. As she waited she paced, she was nervous. She had been bold with her outfit, mainly one part of it in particular.
She looked out the apartment and noticed the familiar SUV pull up along the building and watched as Ricardo got out. With butterflies in her stomach, she left the apartment and got into the waiting car
Ricardo pulled outside a legitimate nightclub. Hayley looked at the exterior; it had two bouncers on the door and a name in lights. She could feel her nerves and excitement buzz inside her stomach.
Ricardo jumped out and helped Hayley elegantly out of the car. She looked gorgeous, as she stood looking at the club. He had to remind himself to stop perving on her, or Luca will rip out his eyeballs.
“Thanks.” She smiled at Ricardo who nodded and got back in the car and drove off.
Hayley simply showed her ticket and was allowed straight through the velvet barrier of the entrance and straight down the dimly lit staircase to the double doors at the far end of the hallway already open.
As she walked through the double doors she found herself at the top of another, yet grander, staircase and admired the busy room. It was a full casino, far opposite was a stage. Girls were holding trays of canapes and champagne. A man took her white 1920′s inspired fake fur coat taking her name, so he could hang it up.
She searched the crowd for Luca, she found him, and her heart hummed as she looked at him done up in a 1920′s pinstripe suit, black and white dress shoes and of course a cliche black fedora. He looked amazing, he looked like a true gangster dressed like that.
She watched as he spoke to two men she didn’t know at the blackjack table, she slowly and carefully in her heels made her way down the staircase towards him.
“Just keep me updated, I don’t want the Borroni’s interfering tonight.” Luca looked between two of his men who nodded, but they both were distracted; he looked behind him to see her. Like his men, he was also totally mesmerised by her beauty.
She looked stunning as she walked down the staircase. She was wearing a floor-length gold flapper dress, with beading that made the dress sparkle, her hair was in soft glamorous waves. But, what caught his eyes was her gold beaded headband, it had pearls that hung to one side beside her left eye and it had a feather attached. He smiled warmly as she approached him.
“Leave.” He growled at his men as he took two champagne flutes and strode over to Hayley and handed her some champagne, she beamed her bright blue eyes at him. She gently took a sip of the champagne, it tasted amazing.
“You look stunning.” He murmured, her heart fluttered at his smooth voice, but she smiled at him and looked him up and down before meeting his eyes again.
“As do you Mr Marcello.” She then put the glass to her mouth for another sip of the delicious champagne.
She couldn’t believe the size of the room they were in, she looked around at the chandeliers, the place screamed money. Her eyes took in grand sculptures on the walls, the expensive drapes that fell from floor to ceiling, and the ceiling was exquisitely painted like the Sistine chapel.
“Do you like the place?” His voice brought her back to him, he chuckled as he had watched her admire his casino.
“It’s typical Luca Marcello.” She teased, but inside she was impressed. She had no idea places like this actually existed and that she would be within the walls.
“So, what is the purpose of tonight for you?” She asked as took another sip, she had to pace herself or she would be drunk by the end of the night, she watched as he took a sip of his own champagne flute. She unintentionally bit her lip as she watched his mouth on the glass and watched his Adam’s apple bob with his gulp.
She took a deep breath and pressed her lips together as his eyes locked back on to her own. Was he aware of how much he could turn her on?
“The purpose is to have fun.” His answer was too innocent for Hayley and she laughed before she drank the last of her glass and placed the empty flute on a passing tray that a waitress held.
“Luca, I don’t believe for a second there is no hidden agenda.” She raised an eyebrow as she spoke, and he chuckled at her. His laugh was so natural, although it sounded wrong coming from him. She stood and waited for an answer.
“Come.” He said as he put his hand on the small of her back and led her through the crowds of guests, people cheering as they won a hand.
Hayley was distracted by the people, the noise and the excitement from the games at the tables. Luca took two more champagne glasses and handed her one. He looked at her innocence, the way she looked at the people around her. He could tell this type of life was not what she was used to.
The people in the room were the epitome of evil, deceitful and violence. Luca knew there were people in this room hired to kill, men hired to lie and men hired to rig court decisions. Here her light stood out, her bright heart lit up the room from the darkness his life brought into it.
She gently took the glass from his hand, she took the moment to admire him, the man who was confusing her life. The fedora shadowed his face, but she could see his beautiful features.
“In this room, there are influential people. Lawyers, businessmen and other families.” Luca murmured, as his eyes reluctantly left hers to scope the vast room.
Hayley looked around at the men. It was hard to see them as lawyers or businessmen but it was even harder to spot the mafia men. What did she expect them to look like? Luca looked normal, handsome yet he was dark.
“Tonight, my men can socialise, have fun. They can find out if we have any problems, find any potential rats and I can build on any allies I have formed.” Hayley nodded, as she took a delicate sip of her glass.
“Then why invite me?” Her question came out of her mouth, she hadn’t thought about it. She looked at him for an answer, she watched as he sucked in some air before he spoke.
“Because I wanted to.” That was all he said, her head nodded slowly.
What was she expecting? He guided her to the where tables sat and facing a stage and Hayley’s face lit up as she noticed the singer, Evelyn, dressed in full 1920′s attire.
Evelyn was the singer she admired in the club, she watched in awe at the expressive and impressive singer.
“I had her hired, I know how much you like her.” Luca murmured in Hayley’s ear, her heart melted as she turned to look at the amazing eyes of Luca Marcello, “you look mesmerising Hayley.” He murmured before the pair looked back at Evelyn who sang like they were the only two in the entire room.
Luca continued to guide Hayley through the huge room, she recognised the faces of men, Marcello men who graced their presence at the Venetian, she was also introduced to lawyers, judges and other important people that Luca explained were discreetly on his payroll.
“Come, let’s go to the roulette table.” He took her free hand and guided her to the roulette table.
“Marcello!” A blonde man called out. Luca sighed as he looked at the confident man standing opposite him at the table. Hayley, stood close by Luca and sipped her champagne. She hadn’t gone unnoticed by the man.
“Jackson.” Luca was formal as he greeted the man.
Jackson’s eyes went from Luca to the beauty at the mob boss’ side.
“Hello, you must be...” He looked at Hayley who beamed her warm smile at him, Luca wished she wouldn’t.
“I’m Hayley.” Luca looked down at her, why did she have to be so gorgeous?
His eyes wandered to her feather, and the words she said when she said that he would never touch her unless she lowered herself to wearing a feather, was this her letting him in?
“Well Hayley, I’m Will Jackson, a pleasure to meet you.” His accent was southern. “Are you having a go?” He asked as he placed a bet on black to win.
Luca had gotten some chips put in front of Hayley, she looked down at the small pile and then looked wide-eyed at him.
“Just petty cash Hayley.” He murmured softly in her ear. His voice made her core shake, she had to learn to control himself. Hayley had never gambled before, and to be honest she wasn’t sure what to do. Luca watched as she did something he wasn’t expecting. She moved all her chips to number eight.
“Hayley, that’s twenty grand?” Luca said in a low voice but her eyes looked at Will who seemed just as surprised as Hayley. She was outstretched across the table as she pushed them in.
“I’m an all or nothing type of girl,” she laughed before she stood upright and looked at Luca’s wide eyes. “Plus, eight is my lucky number.” She winked, she noticed Frankie had walked over, he laughed and looked at Hayley’s bet.
“Well Boss, you’ll be bankrupted by the end of the night if you let her bet like this.” He laughed as he took a sip of his scotch, Hayley stuck her tongue out at Frankie that made him laugh harder.
“No more bets.” The girl said and then spun the roulette wheel. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the white ball that moved around. Hayley felt sick, she had risked two million dollars! Was she crazy? She held her breath as the roulette wheel stopped.
“Black, number eight.” The girl said as she looked at Hayley. Hayley’s mouth fell to the flaw in shock as people cheered around her.
“Well done! That was unbelievable!” Frankie laughed as he shook his head.
Luca watched as Hayley’s little face lit up as she won the game, he smiled with her happiness. She turned to him and beamed a smile at her win.
“Impressive!” Will Jackson laughed, and then looked at Luca, “can I have a private word.” Luca nodded and then gently took Hayley’s elbow and then looked beyond her at Frankie.
“Excuse me, Jackson is an ally I rarely see. Frankie will be about, I won’t be long.” He said before he nodded to Jackson and the pair left together. Hayley watched him as he walked away and Frankie was soon at her side.
“So, where else shall we take your luck.” Frankie looked around the room at the tables, as Hayley watched as Luca disappeared through a ‘Staff Only’ door.
Luca was sitting behind the heavy oak desk, a cigar in his hand. He was waiting for the begging, the lies and the grovelling from Jackson. Shame, with Hayley downstairs he hadn’t the time nor the patience.
Jackson sat opposite him smoking a cigar. Luca watched every move Jackson made, he watched as he confidently took a slow and long drag on the expensive cigar after speaking and before he began to speak again.
“Look Luca, I’m not saying I don’t trust you, I am saying my father has his doubts,” Will explained.
This had Luca’s attention. Leaning against a filing cabinet Nic stood, he was facing Luca and behind Jackson. Luca looked between his cousin and Jackson.
“Funny, your Padre has not mentioned his doubts.” Luca put his cigar out in the marble ashtray and then poured himself a scotch.
“My father wanted to see the goods you supplied, but when we came up short.”
Nic shook his head behind Jackson, he knew this kid was done for. Luca sighed and raised from his seat and moved so he was sitting on the desk edge right in front of Jackson.
"Bullshit.” Luca said simply as he pulled out a knife from his hip and began to play with it.
Jackson frowned pretending to look like he had no idea what was going on.
“You see, I counted the consignment myself,” Luca then pointed at Nic. “My cousin, my most loyal and trustworthy family member took the delivery all the way to Texas himself. You and your Padre are lying.” Luca could see the fear in his eyes, he could see the sweat rolling down his face.
“But, it’s not the first time. The first time you said the gear was short I apologised and returned your money and killed the men who I believed had stolen from me. The second time you said you were short I had my doubts but sent you back some money, but I killed no one.” Luca could hear the man’s heartbeat, his eyes flicked between Nic and Jackson.
“This time I can assure you, you were not short.” Luca spoke darkly. The man shook his head as he listened to Luca dark, and heavy words left his lips.
“Perhaps my father made a mistake.” Luca laughed as Jackson spoke and looked at Nic who was also laughing at how stupid he and his father was.
“I know he was wrong,” Luca shook his head. “You see the biggest mistake your father made was sending you here. I sent your family an invitation in the hope your stupid father would show, but I assume he knew what I would do, so sent you. Which I’m glad he sent someone because I hate travelling outside of Italy and New York.”
“What...wh.” Jackson was blubbering now, he had worked out his father had conned him. He was sent here as a sacrifice.
“I will be sending you home, don’t worry. Your father will have you back, in pieces of course then he will know not to cross me again.” Luca pulled out a gun that had a silencer on the end and swiftly killed Jackson, swiftly one bullet and Jackson slumped on the floor.
The dark devil in him danced with delight as he looked at Jackson’s limp, lifeless body. It was an easy thing for Luca, something his father had taught him. He was taught to listen to his inner demons, kill or be killed. Life was just that simple.
“You sure know how to throw a party.” Nic said as he looked at his cousin who removed the silencer and placed the gun back in the holster under his arm. Luca just gave him a devilish smile. Then the door flew open, and Frankie walked in. For a second he looked at the body on the floor.
“Naw!” He groaned as he looked at Luca. “Can we not go to one party where I don’t have to clean up after you, boss?” Nic laughed as Frankie then looked back at Luca.
“Anyways, you have to come and see this, Hayley is in the highest stakes game of poker I have ever seen,” Luca got up from the desk and stepped over the slumped body. “She’s pretty impressive,” Frankie admitted, but Luca already knew this but had to see it for himself.
“I’ll take care of this, and make sure he gets safely back to Texas.” Nic sighed, and Frankie beamed as he knew he was out of clean up duties and he followed Luca out to where a crowd was forming around the poker table.
Hayley sat there cool as a cucumber, he watched her as she flicked her hair over her shoulder looking at her hand. She was internally thanking her dad and Ivan had taught her how to play poker when she was younger. Internally, she was grinning like a Cheshire cat, she had a royal flush, but she had a poker face that even her dad could never break. Her eyes caught Luca’s, he was watching the game.
“You sweating baby?” The businessman to her right said, she looked at him and just shrugged.
“You’ve not managed to call me out yet.” She teased him and he puffed on a cigar.
Her heart rate was higher than ever, as she could feel Luca’s eyes burning into her.
She was mesmerising as he watched her, she was cool, calm and totally in control.
“I’m trying to find your trigger, but you seem to have mastered the art of a poker face.” The lawyer- Hayley had found out to be called Bill- sat opposite her.
Luca knew Bill was wrong, you can tell what Hayley was thinking, she always let her emotions show. But, in this instance he was right, Luca had no clue what type of hand she had.
“Sometimes, having a poker face is the best way to protect yourself.” Hayley said as she looked back at Luca then at the gent to her left who threw his hand in.
“Fuck! I’m done.” Hayley had learnt he was a “family” member of the Marcello family. Frankie had told her he was a hardcore gambler. He had spent the entire set of games trying to figure her out, which meant he didn’t concentrate and lost his own hands.
“You see boys, I was raised to play poker. My dad and uncle were big players. You, Mr Lawyer, have at most two pairs.” Everyone gasped as Bill laughed and threw in his hand.
That made Hayley smile and shake her head. Throughout the games, he had barely anything but bet high to try and con people into thinking he had more.
Luca couldn’t help but be turned on by her, she was completely owning this casino. By now, the entire party was watching her, and the poker match. Her eyes went to the businessman.
“As for you, you are a businessman. You haven’t risked anything on anything that hasn’t been worth it. I would say you have a straight flush.” The businessman placed his hand down and everyone cheered as he placed down a flush and looked smug, but she gently touched his hand as he went for the chips.
“I’ve got a royal one.” She said as she turned her free hand around she showed her royal flush in red diamonds, the room silenced for a second.
Before the lawyer and the ‘family’ member began to clap, and the crowd joined in before the businessman shook her hand, he was impressed. Her heart was racing, as she found Luca making his way towards her. He held out his hand as she got out of the chair.
“That was very impressive.” He murmured into her ear as he wrapped his arm around her waist. Frankie was at her other side.
“You are lady luck tonight Hayley.” Frankie laughed at the girl who had managed to take on three of the best gamblers he knew. Luca wanted Hayley as people came to congratulate her he wanted her, she smiled and thanked people.
The music began to change to a slow melodic number and loads of people began to take partners for Evelyn’s slow number.
“Would you like a dance, Hayley?” Luca offered, Hayley raised an eyebrow at the hard mafia man.
“You dance Mr Marcello?” She laughed, and he smiled at her as he took her hand and led her to the dancefloor at the foot of the stage.
Luca put his hand delicately on her waist and she put her hand on his hand and he began leading her through the slow number. Hayley’s heart sang as it had been years since she had danced like this, she used to adore dancing.
“I have many talents, Hayley.” He answered her question, as he held the girl close to him.
He could see the jealous eyes of the men that had watched this stunning girl play an intense game of poker, he watched as they wanted her, they wanted the captivating creature that he held close to him.
Hayley loved this, she loved being this way with Luca, she was falling for him and a part of her hated it, and a part of her loved it. The music stopped, and everyone clapped Hayley beamed at the talented singer and she winked at Hayley. Evelyn had known Luca for years and never seen him look at a woman as he had done with this beautiful brunette.
Luca asked for her coat from a passing waitress, who went to get it at once. He instructed Frankie to keep an eye on the party and to go and get Tony to get a car ready for him.
“Are we leaving?” Hayley asked as a waitress came with Hayley’s coat and like a gentleman, Luca took the coat and helped Hayley into it, and her heart raced as he gently kissed her cheek as he put the coat on.
He pulled her into his waist as he led her up the staircase to the exit of the club, where Tony was waiting. Luca stopped and pulled Hayley from him and then took her shoulders gently and looked down at her bright blue eyes.
“Do you want to come back to my place, I can take you home if you’d like?” Luca asked her. She took a deep shaky breath, she was nervous but something inside of her craved him, and something inside him craved her.
“I’d like to go back with you, to yours.” She said simply, he smiled at her reply and took her face gently and kissed her. Her eyes closed at his touch, she never expected him to be so soft and gentle she expected him to be rough.
He pulled her away and then took her hand and let her slip into his car before he did. She knew she was heading into the known, and the point of no return, but she had no idea if she was ready, or not.