Taken by the Italian Mafia(2)

By: Sadie Black

And at thirty, there weren't too many places to turn to.

"Shit." As far as she knew, none of the other girls had put in their two week's notice. Liam wouldn't hire another girl out of the blue. The team was just big enough that they didn't need another set of hands. Something was going down, and the more she thought about it, the more she felt like her neck was on the line.

Cassandra, just as adept at lip reading, frowned. They cranked out drinks and took in money without a moment's rest, but they were also familiar enough with the bar that there was time to talk.

"Maybe it's not what you think," Cassandra consoled her. More than any of her coworkers, Cassandra knew that the uncertainty of the future was eating Whitney up. With a GED and little life experience outside of bartending, she wasn't sure where she'd turn once she grew too old to be a part of the party. It had been a hard life, and it looked like it would only get tougher.

"One's for you, for being so good to all of us as we bring in the weekend!" one of the drunker men from the crowd slurred at her as she pushed two shots towards him. Whitney focused on him when he spoke, torn back down from her thoughts. Men bought her drinks all the time — it was part of being a bartender — but most of the time she didn't accept them. Drinking on the job, although permitted, didn't sit well with her. Facing her uncertain future, that moral choice no longer seemed all that important.

"Sure, alright." Leaving a shot in front of him, she picked the other up and raised it in a hasty toast. "To Friday night and nothing more," she said.

"To Friday!" the man cheered. Their shot glasses clinked, sloshing his drink. The hot, satisfying burn of liquor down her throat was all she needed to remember that this talk was only speculation. There was no sense worrying about what might happen until she knew for certain that her job was in jeopardy. Tonight, all the needed to do was treat herself well and have a good time with the rest of her patrons. No one tipped out a bartender who brought the mood down.

And as she cleared the counter of empty glasses and punched up her sold drinks, Whitney laid eyes on her good time.

Through the chaos of swarming bodies, she saw him. He had snow dusting his shoulders, like he hadn't worn an outside coat at all. And what shoulders they were. Perfect posture saw him standing tall, with a suit so flawlessly tailored she thought it must have been sewn onto him. Muscle memory allowed Whitney to input her orders without looking at the screen — all the more time to keep her eyes on him.

In a club filled with young bodies looking for a good time, he was overdressed. A navy tie, so straight it looked starched, disappeared beneath the buttoned V of his suit coat. Gray slacks drew the look together. With a body like his, he had to be a model. Flawless pale skin and beautifully cut brown hair made her certain he made money off his looks. New York was the fashion capitol of America, after all. He wouldn't be the first model to have walked through the doors of The Avenue.

Whitney went back to filling orders. It wasn't all that long before tall, white, and handsome found his way over to the bar. People parted for him as he walked forward as if repelled by a magnet, leaving his path clear and effortless. Whitney's grip on the bottle she held weakened, but as the neck started to slip out of her grasp, she snapped back to reality and caught it. Even in the dim, flashing lights of the club she could make out his piercing blue eyes. Like cold gems. There was a story in those eyes, something deep and tormented that she wanted to sink her teeth into and explore. Those eyes spoke to her. Whoever he was, the man in the suit had it going on.

"A black Russian," he told her. Everyone else at the bar had cleared from the area, and the chatter of dozens of mouths sounded far away. Whitney bit down on her bottom lip and smiled at him, eyes rising to take his in. The sounds of Friday night fun drowned most of his voice out, but she thought she heard an accent in his words. Musical. Light. Was he foreign? Maybe he was in New York on a modeling contract.

The drink was easy to make, and Whitney slid it across the counter to him. He lifted the drink to his lips, sipped, then put it back down. A moment passed where he looked into her eyes but said nothing. At last, he fished a twenty from his pocket and slid it across to her.

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