Chapter One: The Seduction
One doesn't fall in love without falling in lust...
The sensuous spurns of music filled the air at her entrance. They told a story of desire just as fast as they filled the room with lustful promises. Her appearance brought out the most raucous behavior; the leering grins of many men who stripped her naked in their minds, the gleam of arousal in the eyes of the rest.
She stepped into the candlelight, her cream and ivory ensemble molding to her luscious figure and exaggerating her transparency. The sheer silk fabric accentuated her long toned legs, their length and beauty amplified by the candlelight that came alive at her arrival. Her strong, narrow stomach, and her flexible body proved many days of hard work and commitment. Glossy black hair fell in silken strands to the small of her back. Piercing gold eyes halted the heartbeat of many a man and more then one fight had already begun to ensue over her heaven formed lips. The kind of lips made for sex. Soft, full, and filled with the earthy undertone of primal need. The undertone that could bring men to their knees begging for just a taste of the sin so sweet.
Her hands wove languidly over her head in lithe movements to the heady base beats playing inside of Club ESSENCE. A small smile played on her lips, her body stepping gracefully to the pole on the stage, her leg hooking itself around the metal. Falling back at the waist, she let her eyes close as her hips gyrated in a secret known only during the music's dreamy melody. Whispers of "gypsy" and "enchantment" filled the air not long after her grand entrance. Her eyes remained closed and her mind focused as she fell into the magic that had saved her life. As it did every day of the week...
Anthony Denunzio swept his hair back in frustration.
"The case isn't done?" he asked impatiently.
His colleague shook his head, lips thin. "Sorry, Tony. Boss recalled it for technical errors."
Tony banged the desk. "The guy was scum! He deserved to go out and Jack knew it!"
Tony's partner just shook his head again and smiled ruefully at his friend's livid face. Anthony was infamous for his Italian rogue charm. His temper was constantly emerging throughout every event in his life that he didn't believe to be fully justified.
Anthony had gotten the notorious Denunzio looks: the chiseled, angular features with a square jaw and high cheekbones. Dark hair, close to being black, was kept in a uniform taper cut, while deep blue eyes with long, thick lashes were constantly darkened in anger. Wide, full lips and an aristocratic nose completed the heady profile.
Tony was accustomed to being hit on and being the guy that most girls fell for. He was an ill-famed rake and vowed he would never marry, with a confidence he truly emitted. Yet, as much as he was deemed a flirt, Anthony Denunzio was known to have a passion for justice. He nearly always aggravated those around him, most importantly the boss, whenever he argued for another way. He almost always won too. It was this long-suffering fact that kept Denunzio at the top. He would never back down from an argument that demanded to be righted. That was just the way it was.
Later on that night, Anthony drove home, still in a rage at the final decision. He came up to his long driveway that wrapped around the long yard, and drove up, reaching his two story mansion. A bit outside the city, surrounded by a darkening forest, a freezing riverbank, and a stunning view of the mountains, Tony's house was beyond magnificent. It had large window arches that were wrapped with dark mahogany wood, with a large upper deck patio. The fir trees that surrounded the area lent a sense of privacy and coziness. The windows overlooked a serene garden, full of blooming, brightly colored plants. Dragon gargoyles were perched around the top of the roof, and the right side of the roof sloped up into a turret.
Tony slammed the door and stalked into his house, not in the usual good mood from entering his haven. The place always had the reminiscent scents of black plum and sandalwood. Much of his furniture was pine, done with dark brown and lush red colors. His kitchen was large, with self-dimming overhead lights, and dark marble on the countertops. His refrigerator was almost always stocked with Cabernet Sauvignon, French Bordeaux, and the goods for making any kind of Italian cuisine.
His room was done in a deep ruby red, the windows covered by expensive, black curtains that heavily covered both sides. His bed was sheer black silk, the finest of material, with a soft down comforter. He had a deep black rug that sat at the foot, with Moroccan pillows covering its surface. Denunzio may have had quite a few things going against him, but money was not one of them. He lived expensively and liked it that way.
He rushed through and ravaged his closet, muttering a few choice words as he did so. The idiocy of his boss! Tony knew the decision had been made more out of spite then anything else. A few weeks earlier, he had completely outdone Jack's son on an enormous therapy project, and though Jack had not been invited to observe the proceedings, he had found out that Tony had done exceedingly better, which had apparently inspired quite the bout of jealousy.
Grumbling, Anthony threw on a black button down and his expensive pair of dark blue jeans. He was on his way to his buddy Talen's surprise bachelor party. He and a group of friends had pitched in to rent out the new Club ESSENCE, strippers and all. He had received a reference for it a few weeks ago, and when he went to check it out, had found it to be quite extensive and quite to his taste. He wasn't terribly fond of a few of the guys that were expected to show, however, the distraction of strippers for the night was perfectly welcome. It wasn't his first time and he had quite the talent of getting the sexiest ones. Must be the Denunzio gene, he mused, with a half smile finally playing on his lips. One final look in his mirror and a grimace, he grabbed his coat and strode out the door, prepared to lose himself in a night of good, contaminating fun.
Esmerelda stalked backstage, the very embodiment of exhaustion. Here, her girls saw what the men out there never would. Deep, black circles were permanently etched under her eyes, her limbs gaunt and trembling from overexertion, and a gaze fixated on a life far from reality. Brandi pressed her lips together in sympathy, shaking her head in amazement at her state, and Esme offered a small smile of thanks in return. The gesture was comforting, but most of the girls were still astounded at the amount of pain her body could tolerate. But it couldn't be helped. She needed the money. She knew that Brandi was a single mother, paying rent on a small apartment. Jazz was working to finish getting her associates degree. Many of the girls were easy for Esme to figure out, who noted their intelligence and watched them become forced to forfeit their lives based on circumstances. Their lives were nothing to covet and they knew it.
Esmerelda sighed, refreshed her makeup, checking her burning gold eyes in the mirror, and changed to a more prized outfit she had been saving. It was tight black leather, a dress with a few ruffles of lace in between. Strapless, and short. Long elegant black gloves and black heels completed the ensemble. One more shift and she was done for the night, she reminded herself, and flipped her long black hair.
"Good luck," Brandi offered. Jazz sent Esme a supportive smile.
Esme nodded and stepped out, ready to face the crowd now. She was a silhouette against the dark backing stage wall. Her shadow moved with confidence as the beat thrummed the stage floor. Then, one dim candle came to life, making shadows dance and play across her body. She vaguely noticed the number in the club had dwindled, which most likely meant a private party. A little relief assuaged her; it meant less pressure on her. As she began her hypnotic dance, she twirled several times, on tip-toe, her arms outstretched to the glowing ceiling. Her long, ebony hair spun and flickered in the light.
She grasped the pole; her hands steadied on the gleaming brass and she started climbing to the top, her back arched. Pausing, she swung her legs around the pole, criss-crossing them, removed her hands, and slid down sensually to its middle, back remaining arched, arms still moving to the music's rhythym. Reaching the bottom, she uncrossed and stood, then spun around. Now her back was to the pole, her arms crossed above her head and around it. She began snaking down, her ass almost arching into the pole as her legs bent at the knee. Keeping tension on the pole, she dropped one leg behind her, and fell into drop leg splits. She opened them wider, remaining in that position, and leaned back to enhance her stomach and breasts.
She was now beginning to vibe with the music, and power began to energize her limbs. Gracefully standing, with naught more then an ab flex, she walked around the pole once. Turning to face it, her hands reached to her breasts and seductively, she began to inch the black material down, exposing the lacy hot pink bra. The material dropped to the floor, completely exposing her very nicely shaped 36B breasts. A few whistles ran out, but most were quietly mesmerized in their seats. She began her floor routine, when a flash of silver caught her eye. Earlier in her dance, she had caught on quickly to the fact that it was a bachelor's party, judging from the size and behavior of the crowd.
But, her attention was instantly drawn from the husband-to-be, to one of the men sitting near him. He was devastatingly handsome. Any self respecting woman may have fallen into a swoon. Everything, from the electric blue eyes, to the tan, obviously hard as rock forearms, down to the crooked half-smile. Esmerelda's knees went weak and it took everything in her to remain upright. His searing gaze met hers and she found herself helplessly enthralled, instantly losing every ounce of her self control in their depths. She swallowed hard, and found herself almost missing a few steps in the routine she could do in her sleep. Wow. She glanced back, and saw that he had noticed her missteps, judging from the bemused expression that lit his eyes. Her temper slightly sparked at his smirk. Oh, what, he knew what he did to women? Fine. That's just fine. She'd see just how much control he had.
Keeping pace with the music, she confidently sauntered down the stage steps, straight towards him. His eyebrow raised. This was unusual for a dancer of stature at ESSENCE. She merely continued, her amber gaze locked on his. She was in control, she kept repeating in her head. Upon reaching him, she let her legs straddle either side of his chair. For a few counts, she did her usual lapdance routine, gently brushing down on him, as she let him get a good look at her. He was interested, and the instant darkening of his eyes proved a slight catch in his countenance, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough to wipe the condescension from his gaze.
So, retreating from that approach, she strode around his chair and shoved it forward. He almost toppled forward and the sudden glare he sent her way made her falter a moment, but it was still a small victory. She had breached his defenses. So, she merely grinned and walked back around the chair. Without thinking, she tugged at his shirt lapels, pulling him out of the chair. His confusion was warranted, she hardly even knew what she was doing at the moment. All she could contemplate at the moment was that she wanted this man's rock hard body against hers. She walked him onto the stage, barely aware of the uproar his friends were making. She drew him behind her and began using his hard, muscled body to finish her routine.
As his punishment for finding her amusing, he would become her pole. Insignificant pole. Yet, she couldn't help feeling the heat and hardness of his body behind her. Her senses were on fire, feeling his probing gaze. Disliking the unnerving sensations, she turned her head towards him in an effort to scold. His eyes spoke volumes, as he attempted to read her reasoning. But his confusion disappeared almost immediately when her ass pressed hard into his growing erection, her gloves stroking down his hard thighs, her gaze trapping his. She slid down his body, then came up quickly, her arms now stroking his shoulders and chest, as she pushed her body into his. She heard a slightly stifled moan emit from his lips, and when she looked at him, wordless approval rang through his eyes. She danced up and down, her body springing to an awareness she had never reached before. Every nerve was tingling, and an ache was slowly building, deep down inside her body. Then she felt his hands start to move on her, slowly coming to stroke around her stomach, his head lowering. She could feel his whispered breath on her neck, and her own breathing wavered. He pulled her up into him, fingers digging into her waist with need, continuing their dangerous dance. His hands trailed up, and both fingers quickly reached up and grazed her now hard nipples on the way to her neck. Her eyes shut tight at the feeling and she let out a small shuddering sigh before coming back to earth. Oh god. What was she doing? What was she thinking? She could get fired for this kind of behavior. But she felt so out of character. Snapping out of her thoughts, she knew her dancing had been sexy as hell tonight, but recognized the dangerous combination of arousal and jealousy from this man's party. She needed to let him go.
Reluctantly, she turned around to him to whisper a goodbye and send him back, but he surprised her by pulling her small body tight up against his with a hand on her waist. The sensation of her nipples pushing into his chest was very heady and overwhelming.
His heated breath caused shivers to run down her back as he whispered urgently in her ear, "I'm paying for you tonight, for the rest of the night. I'm not letting you go just yet. Be ready to leave in half an hour. Money is no concern."
He released her and hurried down the stage steps, despite her weakly uttered protest. She felt weak, delirious, and slightly vulnerable. Barely able to finish her routine, she just about ran backstage, met by her intrigued friends.
She had nothing to say except, "Don't wait up for me. I have a customer for the night."
She gathered her stuff and slipped out the back, uncertain about what was about to happen.
Anthony reached Talen's chair, slightly breathlessly, and was instantly greeted with a barrage of good-natured barbs, courtesy of his supposed best friends, most of them far past intoxicated.
"Awwwh, come on man, it's my freakin bachelor party and here you go, already taking the most beautiful girl out of the place," Talen whined, his arm draping over Anthony's shoulder, his alcohol reeking breath far too close.
Anthony felt himself smile, and replied. "Talen, buddy, I love ya, but you're getting married. You don't need a sweet little piece of temptation like this. Plus, I'll make it up to you with your wedding gift." He pushed Talen back into the chair and placed a new beer in his friend's hand.
A little appeased, Talen sat back for the next show. Tony contemplated for a moment about the girl that had just captured his testicles in a vice-like grip. He couldn't explain what had just come over him. The second their eyes had met, hers had held him in a trance, an amber enchantment of sorts. She reminded him of a gypsy, with her expressive movements and sensational gaze. All he knew was that she was indeed a sweet little piece of temptation. And one he shouldn't get involved with. Next thing he knew, an invite had slipped out of his mouth. But, he couldn't help it. He wanted her for the night. And when a Denunzio wanted something, he generally got it. So it wasn't any surprise to his friends that, once again, he snagged the sexiest girl in the room. The only lingering question in his mind was if one night would be acceptable to the now painful tightening below his belt...
Brandi approached Esme quietly from behind as she started walking to the parking lot.
"Honey, you sure you want to do this?" she asked lightly.
Esmerelda turned questioning eyes to her friend.
Brandi hurriedly explained. "You just seem so exhausted and I want to make sure. He is a stranger, after all."
Esme gave her friend a reassuring smile and hugged her quickly. "Of course! I'll be fine. Just because he is paying doesn't mean my services are required," she informed Brandi with a mischievous smile.
A light gleamed in Brandi's eyes in understanding and she returned with a wink. "Oh darling, I so love your games."
Nodding, Esme replied softly, "I'll check in tomorrow."
She found her way to the corner of the building and stilled. This was insane. She hadn't felt this alive in years. And, if anything went wrong... she bit her lip in consternation, but forced the thought from her mind. If anything bad happened, she would be able to escape. She'd done so before. Lost in thought, she had failed to recognize that he'd been coolly observing her from the curb, back leaned up against a car. His voice nearly made her jump.
"May I inquire your name, my lady?" he inquired in a deep, gruff voice.
She eyed him in speculation. "It's Esmerelda," she replied cautiously. "And yours?"
"Anthony," came the immediate reply. More intimately, he smiled, adding, "But you can call me Tony."
She inclined her head in acknowledgement. "Pleasure," she murmured.
He chuckled. "Oh no, darling, pleasure is all mine," he said.
She couldn't help but smile, though it quickly became guarded when he stepped closer. His eyes shone in the moonlight, a deep obsidian, nearly making her knees collapse. He tilted her chin up with his finger, thoroughly looking at her. His jaw tensed for a moment. Then he leaned down and began to kiss the side of her neck, just a whisper of lips, working his way to that soft spot behind her ear. Her breathing hitched a few beats as he expertly nibbled and teased, then gently bit her earlobe. She gasped, and her hips moved forcefully against his, with instinct previously unknown to her. His head came back up as he searched her face. When he saw her expression, his eyes darkened to an incredible black. Dipping his head, he took her mouth and began devouring her, kissing her senseless. His firm mouth was insistent and inviting. He slowly began to seduce her lips apart, kissing her until she was weak, his lips drawing out of her a breathless moan. He tasted like rum, mint, and a good deal of male. Needless to say, she kissed him back with fervor, her lips trembling as they opened to him. He kept tormentingly moving his tongue back and forth against her lip as he kissed away any protest she may have had. But his hunger couldn't be slated so quickly. With a low groan, he sucked in her tongue, telling her he wanted to own her. Refusing, she began biting his lower lip gently, telling him she wanted the power.Their tongues dueled in a need that was long overdue, both almost overcome by the slaking hunger that raged through their bodies. What had she gotten herself into, she thought to herself as she closed her eyes and threw herself back into his kisses of fire.
She was a divine kisser, he thought. She tasted of cinnamon and honey, and nothing in the world seemed to have this effect on him. Her lips were soft yet strong, holding back a forceful hunger of her own, taking in his desperate desire. Her tongue wrapped around his, her hands stroking down his back. He nearly growled when she bit his lower lip. No one could have blamed him when he picked her up and set her down on the car's hood. It still just wasn't quite enough. One leg pushed intimately in between hers as he grabbed her waist and began kissing down her neck again, her hands running through his hair. She sighed and relaxed against him, her whole body singing to him. That reaction almost did him in. He was about to lose control if he wasn't careful. His hands stroked down her shaking sides, and his thumbs stroked her face.
Finding that he himself was trembling, he pulled back abruptly, and let them breathe for a moment. He spared a glance at her and found her staring at him, a mixture of torment, curiosity, and sheer sexual need. Her hair was disheveled, in an extremely sexy just-got-ravaged look. He couldn't help but to stroke the errant piece of hair behind her ear. Her breath caught and her body almost jumped. Her inviting stare was enough to get him moving. He couldn't get her home fast enough. He turned and opened the car door, and motioned for her to get in. He noted her reluctance to leave and smiled, his teeth gleaming in the night.
"By all means darling, take your time. I am paying for you all night. But do keep in mind, I do have a few things I would like to do before daylight," he said softly, a wicked gleam coming to his eyes.
She gave a small laugh before letting herself into the car. He shut the door, and leaned against the car for a moment, breathing hard. What had he gotten himself into?
They drove in silence for a few minutes, each feeling the situation's uncertainty. Tony gripped the steering wheel hard in the effort to not just pull over and fuck her in the street.
Finally, in an attempt to think about other matters, he starkly asked, "So how long have you been in this...business?"
Too late, he realized he had broached on the wrong subject. And with such a rudeness. He sighed inwardly. To his surprise, even though she stiffened a considerable amount, she responded.
"About three years now."
He nodded. For damage control, he managed to add, "I'm guessing it wasn't your first choice."
That comment brought out an interesting emotion. She let out a small laugh before looking at him. God, those eyes a man could swim in forever. Deep amber eyes, liquid gold when she smiled.... He wanted her to smile. Wanted to see her eyes light up in amusement. Coming out of his mental reverie, he felt her gaze. Feeling like she could see straight through his charming charade at the moment, he cleared his throat, before looking away. He didn't pause again to analyze why he liked making her laugh so suddenly. God, I just need to get laid, he thought. He sighed in relief when he saw the road to his house.
"Almost there," he mentioned.
She merely nodded. He was glad for the silence. He wasn't sure he could exactly talk with the best of intentions yet. They pulled up the driveway. He quickly got out, and opened her door. She glanced at him, startled at the gesture and slowly got out after a pause. He led them to his front door and once inside, placed his coat on the side table. It was incredibly dark, just the way he normally liked it.
Except, this time, he had a ravishing gypsy who had put a spell on him with her kiss. He looked at her, and this time saw nothing in her eyes but incredibly desperate desire. Perhaps as much as he was feeling? Now inside, with her, in the security of his house, no prying eyes, with a feeling of foreboding he couldn't put his finger on, he pulled her over to him. He groaned at the instantaneous reaction he had and, for the time being, willed his thoughts to pass, and allowed the pleasure to overwhelm. Almost staggering in his need, he pushed her up against the wall, and began kissing her hard, his lips forcing an entreaty into her mouth, his tongue sliding along her lips. Her hands went to his chest, for a moment he thought to stop his onslaught, but instead, they curled into fists against his shirt as she pulled him into her for more, with a small whimper of desire. God what had he gotten himself into...?