Taken by the Italian Mafia(9)

By: Sadie Black

Could the night get any worse? Whitney nodded, already checked out. Liam wanted to talk to her to let her know about Thursday. If things were really bad, he was going to tell her not to bother coming in at all next week. What was she supposed to say to him to make him change his mind? There was precious little time to think about it.

"Thanks for the heads up. I'll track him down when I get back in."

"I'm sorry this is happening to you," Darren offered in condolence. "I guess that's just the shitty kind of industry we're all a part of, right?"

"Right." The word was hollow. Whitney hefted the kitchen garbage bag and brought both back towards the swinging kitchen doors.

"You got this, Whit," Darren assured her. "It seems bad now, but one-day life will be better."

No matter how much optimism Darren through her way, none of it was sinking in. All Whitney did before she left the kitchen was nod. The gesture was beginning to feel empty, like she was just a puppet on strings. The only good part about tonight was the hot guy she'd served, and even he'd met up with a friend and taken off. Right now the only person Whitney could rely on was herself.

Out in the hall, just outside the kitchen doors, she set the trash bags down and fished her phone out of her pocket. Tonight, when she got home, she was in need of some personal time to sort through her thoughts and blow her ego back up. Whitney fired off a text to her room mate.

Whitney (11:32PM): u gonna be home 2nite wen im done work? im gonna take a long bath n hog the bathroom.

There was no need to mention the bottle of wine she had her mind on. There was nothing a little red, a long bubble bath, and a pedicure couldn't fix. After that, she'd crawl into bed and forget today ever happened. Maybe she'd even dream sweet dreams of the unknown famous face she'd served today. A girl could only hope.

Tiana (11:33PM): yea ill b sleepin so no big. u feelin ok?

Whitney (11:33PM): nah. long story. well talk tomorrow.

By tomorrow, hopefully she'd have her head on straight. Right now she was stuck somewhere between close to tears and sick to her stomach. Whitney wasn't in any place to talk things through. She slid the phone into her back pocket and picked up the trash again.

At the end of the corridor was a metal door with a push bar, leading into the public hallway with the back exit. Clients weren't encouraged to exit through the back, but fire safety standards required the club to have an alternate exit from the front doors. Like the door she'd just pushed her way through, the back exit was made of metal and sturdy. A push bar opened from the inside, but on the outside there was a handle and a keyhole. Once the door closed, it locked. Back when she'd started at The Avenue, Whitney locked herself out a few times and had to walk around the club and enter through the front doors. These days she was more careful.

As she crossed into the hall, a sharp crack cut over the distant music. Whitney paused. She'd never heard a noise like that one before. A quick glance down the hallway confirmed that she was alone, and yet the noise sounded so close.

Whitney stepped out onto the metal platform by the dumpster, jammed the bar's garbage bag into the crook of the door so she wouldn't lock herself out, and took in a deep breath. The stench of garbage wasn't enough to ruin the crisp, refreshing winter air. Cold prickled along her skin, grounding her. No matter what, she always had her own back. Even if Liam cast her to the curb, she would make it work. All her life she'd been making sure that she was okay, and this was no different.

A movement to the left caught her eye.

In the shadows of the night, she could just make out the figure of a tall man in a suit. If she hadn't watched him back at the bar, she never would have recognized her handsome stranger, but Whitney was sure it was him. Was he out for a smoke? No matter how long he spent outside in the cold night air, he wasn't about to cool down any, not with the way he looked. Whitney bit down on her bottom lip as she grinned, wondering if she should call out and strike up a conversation. At least one good thing had to come out of tonight, and she thought that he might be what redeemed her terrible day.

There was no need to call out, the stranger turned all at once and started to run. Towards her. Eyes glued to her even as he sprinted. The pale light of the moon caught something metallic in his hand. In the second it took Whitney to realize it was a gun, her Mr. Not-So-Right had already swung himself up over the railing, his gaze emotionless and detached. Desperate for something to cower behind to shield herself from a direct shot, Whitney yanked the nearest object towards her and to her chest — the garbage bag from the bar. The back door to the club closed, locking her outside with the man who wanted her dead.

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