Victoria just had to wonder why Damien insisted on visiting with her at this very moment. Perhaps he was just going to pay his respects, or not. It really didn’t matter to Victoria. Her attitude was sour to begin with and it only got worse when she felt forced into meetings with others when they hadn’t been scheduled. Walking straight from her bedroom toward the sitting room she padded inside and stood before Damien. “So the vultures begin to sweep.” Grey orbs locked on the man seated before her.

“I don’t believe this should take us too long. Thank you for paying your respects. And no I’m not selling. You may reach the door once you’re retraced your steps. It was nice seeing you once again, but I find time is simply wasted on reminiscing and I’m a very busy woman. Good day Mr. Provenzano.” The smirk barely graced her soft pink lips as she spoke. But Victoria was quite sure her words had hit the mark.

“Well that is hardly a way to greet a friend of your father, and really not very business like.” he sent a stream of smoke in her direction with his words. Damien’s eyes had softened from the glares given to the pair of thugs off to the side but still held a certain disrespect. This female was his inferior in most respects. Yet here she stood like a veritable angel of order dismissing a petioning child waiting to ask God if kittens get into heaven.

“As a ten percent holder in the Prestige Company I do have a certain amount of your time to be granted. Your father is in the dirt and you disregard him as non-consequential in your life. Fine but you should illustrate a sufficient amount of respect for your father to have manners regarding his old friends and partners.” He spoke his last words not so much as advice, but a command he expected carried out.

Gray eyes narrowed into mere slits before returning to normal. “I know of no such business dealings with you Mr. Provenzano and hardly care to do any future business with you either. As I mentioned before, the door awaits your graceful exit, don’t disappoint me.” Every nerve in her body was on edge. There was something about the man that literally made her blood boil.

Was it the handsome line of his jaw or those piercing icy blue eyes? Victoria wasn’t sure at the moment what it was that irked her more than usual. “If you’ll excuse me I believe it’s time to remove myself from the presence of a felon, whether tried and convicted or not. Once again Mr. Provenzano, I bid you a good day.” This time Victoria had the gall to turn from Damien’s seated form and allow him the sight of her rolling shoulders as she walked across the small room.

He took the cigarette from his mouth and stubbed it out on the arm of her fancy couch. She could hear the sizzle of chartreuse behind her. Damien stood up in a slow manner, at the same speed at which Victoria crossed the marble floor to walk toward her bedroom. Her well shaped legs were still ensconced in the fine hosiery that she donned for her father’s funeral, and he couldn’t help but gaze down at the fine form that was attempting to leave his presence. He shifted his shoulders to loosen stiff muscles. One step was taken in the direction of the leaving female.

“Turn around, we are not finished.” Six words were spoken softly but with the authority of a Mafioso well acquainted with being obeyed. His arms went behind his back as the man stood with a poise and dignity that was simply the residuals of his years in strict Catholic prep schools. Even though she didn’t stop, Victoria felt the frigid grip of his words twist deep inside of her. No one had dared speak to her in such a manner. A finely arched brow shot up when the audacity of his words sunk in. Knowing full well how her actions would be felt, Victoria didn’t turn and hold Damien’s gaze as she spoke. She took one step further and then stopped.

“You disrespect me with your over handed manner Mr. Provenzano. You sweep into my home and demand to see me when it’s been made aware to you that I’m not receiving visitors. I beg your pardon but I do believe it is you who doesn’t quite understand when he’s finished. I on the other hand understand completely. Furthermore, I’m not one of your men that will just stop and obey or come at your beck and call. Think again lest you waste more of your precious time.”

“Tori, I would never treat you as one of my men.” He gave her a light smile; a slick gesture which both of them knew held nothing behind it. Damien motioned towards Nunzio and Andre conversing quietly near the double door entrance to the Penthouse. “Were you one of them, I’d have painfully reminded you exactly who is at the top of the food chain.” He bowed to her with mockery. As a child he had played many a Shakespearian role. “Though my time is especially precious, I have taken this occasion to visit an old friend thrust into something she may not be fully prepared for… no matter how clever I know her to be.”

He took two steps that brought him but half a foot away from her rigid form. He sent a hand to straighten his slicked back hair, a strand had come free as he stood. “Now… shall we discuss what you plan on doing as owner? I would despair if my investment was wasted due to a childish vendetta to run daddy’s precious company into the ground.” His bold gaze stared directly into her back without wavering. Now her mettle was to be tested. He knew her enough to foresee anger creeping into her body language.

Indeed her shoulders tensed and her blood ran cold. Swiftly turning to face him she reared back and slapped him soundly upon the cheek. Victoria couldn’t help but glare at Damien as his face took a violent turn to the right. The air around them crackled with tension as she stood there with her chest heaving, a literal blazing hellion full of vim and vigor.

Damien’s head slowly returned to grace her with once cool blue eyes that had grown many shades darker. A hand went up to his cheek to feel the skin throb with the slight discomfort from the slap. But the real churn was inside. His pride had been wounded in this last exchange of words, and a female had dared to lay a hand to him. Worse yet she wasn’t backing up and cowering.

“How dare you. My father’s grave is yet to be turned over and you’re already here on business. And you dare to call me Tori as if we were still friends and hadn’t had years with no communication between us. You overstep bounds you are unsure of Mr. Provenzano. I suggest you think about this further.” Her words were seething with venom; she did little to hide the revulsion that was flowing freely. “You disgust me. Andre…see Mr. Provenzano out and do so now!”, eyes as hard as granite bore into the man before she turned on her heel to depart. Let him stew in his own juices, she thought to herself while walking from the sitting room.

He’d broken men’s arms for less than Victoria’s slap. In fact, he had broken women’s arms as well. Lips tightened across Damien’s face and before Andre could stride across the sitting room, Damien’s loafers were clacking on ivory marble in tandem to the softer padding of Victoria’s feet.

His right hand snaked out to take hold of her shoulder. “Vai in culo tu gnacchera! Nobody and I mean nobody disrespects me like that! You will fucking return to the meeting or I will see this precious hotel is ruined. Do you understand? I will see to it that it will be run into the ground and the rubble pissed on, Victoria!” A grand sneer crested his lips. She was just another case of ill-mannered chattel to him. Too bad Vic hadn’t sired a son. A man could always be reasoned with.

A man would know when to fear. A woman… well the fear had to be firmly ingrained within her inferior form. Be it with words or a belt to the backside. This concept was another lesson mined from his childhood spent with a harsh grandfather. His grandmother was kept demure, never looking up at a man unless spoken to clearly. So deep, dark blue eyes glared at this blonde who acted mannish. Were she not acting the bitch, Damien might have felt the urge to move upon her.

Delicate cheekbones and come-hither eyes spoke of wonders perhaps shared in her bed. This was a thought he shifted to the back of his mind as the presence of Andre growing alarmed could be sensed behind him. Bold and cocky, Damien waited for the mistress of the house to turn. Reflexively he half brought his arm up to ready a block.

Turning slightly Victoria lashed out, “Look! I don’t give a good god damn who you think you are! You’ll replace my couch and you’ll leave here without another harsh word to me is that understood? You are in my home after a time in my life that I require to be left alone. Those that trod where they shouldn’t get what they deserve. Now kindly leave!” The look in Victoria’s eyes proved that she meant what she said as she tore her shoulder from Damien’s grip.

She was used to calling the shots in her realm. There wasn’t a person around that could tell her what to do or how to do it. When you grow up beneath a staff that takes orders, you learn how to appoint tasks and make sure they are carried through. Victoria had always been a kind child. But she had learned through the absence of her father, how to take control.

Grey eyes that raged with a tumultuous storm lifted to glance at Andre over Damien’s shoulder. One hand pressed into her hip as she regarded not Damien but rather her bodyguard. “See him out.” she murmured with all of the warmth of an ice queen. “I believe I’ve had enough excitement for one day. I’m going to retire to my room and slip into a hot bath. See that no one else bothers me Andre.” Finally, Victoria leveled her gaze on Damien and cocked her head to the side.

Indeed fine features had earned her a vied for place upon the billboards and upon covers of magazines. Not a single line of worry or reluctance creased her brow. Even though she was standing up to the man her insides felt like a viable glob of mush. Roving eyes glanced at the reddened mark upon Damien’s cheek. With a slight huffing sound she produced a smirk that said it all. Golden locks cascaded over her shoulder as she turned slowly and gave Damien a view of her backside while she once again proceeded to leave the room.

Andre placed a hand upon Damien’s shoulder in a less threatening gesture than what the capo displayed. “I am afraid you have to go Mr. Provenzano. You have outlived your welcome sooner than normal it seems.” a deep voice reverberated close to Damien. Just looking at Damien in close proximity brought back memories of Damien’s father. He had been Andre’s first ‘boss’ so to speak. It was amazing how the younger Provenzano resembled his father’s better qualities while he behaved like such a strong hand. “As a sign of my favor with you Victor, I give over one of my best men. Andre will serve you better than he could me. He’ll watch over your daughter like a loyal hound ever watchful for dangerous strangers.” spoke Tony Provenzano, Damien’s father.

Those words still rang true in Andre’s memory and he’d only been twenty-eight at the time. Andre gave Damien a smile that exuded a respect for Victoria that wouldn’t be crossed. And Andre’s knowing smile told Damien that he recalled how the boss had previously respected this house better when Mr. Vice had been alive. Yet he also knew Damien would not fault him that barb. All ill intent was upon Victoria.

The lackey would be ignored as merely the hands that enforced Victoria’s will. The capo still violently shrugged off Andre’s grip. “Vaffanculo! I can see my own self out Andre. Go polish another apple.” Damien was pissed beyond any previous inflaming. She dared to bring up the right of her situation. Honor and face called for him to let her have the grieving period. If the lesser members of the Family knew he rode the girl so soon, his authority would be in jeopardy.

Certain rules had to be followed. One of which was never touch another when mourning. Nunzio would never say anything. He knew better. The simpering bitch was taking liberties with a smirk and walking away from the capo. Fortunately Victoria knew little of Mafioso culture. She could not call him out on his actions of this night.

Damien’s teeth loudly ground together and he could feel himself slipping. The tightly held control nearly fell from his grip when he confronted this Vice girl. His Julie would have to feel the brunt of his emotions tonight. At the thought of how she might whimper in protest, a grin spread across his face.

“Are ya ready to head back to the car Nikola?” Nunzio asked quietly of his boss. The dark mood expressed gave Nunzio pause. When Damien got like this people could be hurt. He looked past Andre to see her ladyship fade into another room. Hot as hell, and just as set for damnation. The big guy followed behind his boss out of the double doors and into the elevator. “Fuck… ya gonna start a harem now?” he chided his boss after the doors shut.

“No… she is too valuable in other ways to be just another doll Nun. I am going to have to plan on taming that bitch so we can clean more cash through here. You think some kibble will do the trick?” Both men laughed hard as the elevator took them back towards the parking garage.

Once the door to her bedroom had been shut she slid down the smooth surface to the floor, buried her head in both hands and sobbed quietly for the first time since she’d learned of her father’s untimely death. It felt as if all hope was gone.

Sure she’d had it in her mind to make him pay for the loss she felt as a child. But deep down in Victoria’s heart she had intended to seek her father out and tell him how she really felt. To perhaps give them both some sort of closure on the past.

That would never be. It wasn’t like her to feel this way, so vulnerable and lost. Sure, she knew what she wanted to do with her father’s empire. Those plans would be set into action soon enough. Time had a way of slipping through your fingers no matter how hard you tried to grasp it. It was time to let go and move on. And indeed that was what she was going to do.

Giving her eyes a quick rub with the back of her hand she stood and walked directly into her bathroom to draw a bath. A good long soak would make her feel better and give her a chance to clear her mind. The Prestige Hotel of New York City would never be the same once she made the changes she’d planned. But tomorrow was another day, today she was going to spend the rest of her time alone and try to bury the past in some dark vestige never to be turned over again.

Twelve months later, Damien was still pissed at himself. The two guys supposedly watching the Prestige would have to be shot. Over the summer shut down Victoria had retooled the entire damn building. The papers were calling it ‘the artistic masterpiece of underground dance culture’ and ‘the club that hit every vice twice’. Furthermore tonight was the grand opening.

Nunzio was sitting across from him in a suit and tie reading that same article in the Times. Damien growled while adjusting his tie for the fifth time. A mirror would definitely have to be placed in the back of the limo. He could hardly straighten the thing by mere touch. And asking Nun about it would only get a noncommittal grunt. The lug knew him too well. Giorgio had received another bone break due to making a poor comment on Damien’s clothing for that particular night. Nunzio was not immune to getting a clobbering either. And being the lieutenant he would have to stand still during the strikes, which was another Provenzano family rule. It proved the strength of the lieutenant while showing the pure authority of the capo.

The limo found a curb spot with hearty driving by Lionel. The old man had proven himself over and over. It would seem that years evading the cops had given him a few speed tricks. Damien opened his own door to stride upon the red carpet. Photo flashes went off a few dozen times. He’d be worried if not for the front of being a wealthy owner of check cashing outlets. Wise Cash was kept clean from the other less savory activities as a tax shelter. Any intake of money could be easily explained away due to the legal predatory lending. He marched up the red strip with Nunzio trailing behind in full bodyguard mode.

This time he’d have a very long talk with Victoria. After all he was technically a business partner. A full ten percent of the Prestige chain belonged to him for favors done. The senior Vice had responded generously to favors done in respect to his competition. That this young model had converted the New York building into a light flashing home for drug fiends and sexual deviants… it angered him to the point of shaking.

She was supposed to be a little rich girl turned model, a veritable air head. Actually she was barely beyond the level of airhead if the hype was to be believed. Damien of course knew her intelligence rose above the common masses. He was however reluctant to consider the woman an equal. Then how could she have so quickly morphed the Prestige into something that appeared only in his fevered dreams?

No airhead could do all of this. In fact she’d one-upped him. That was the exact reason Damien was thoroughly pissed beyond reason. This was his vocation, his field of expertise, and his domain. Victoria had no right to turn his world upside down. The capo was literally fuming but turned the negative energy within. He knew her reasons for creating such devious changes within the hotel.

She was getting back at daddy by ruining what he had worked hard to create. The hotel had an S&M dungeon in there, so Giorgio had told him. A corpse had to be spinning on satin padding right about now. That thought was rather fleeting compared to the idea of where Miss Vice was keeping herself at this instant.


Giving herself the once over before leaving her rooms, Victoria took a moment to reflect on everything that had transpired. It had been the hardest twelve months of her life. The critics had been great in number once the news came out that she was converting the hotel into a virtual nightclub and hot spot. But it was more than that. It was a one spot stop and drop. It touted every delicacy and amenity anyone could ask for.

The largest Casino in New York resided upon the third floor, the entire third floor, and the dance club itself was on the tenth floor. Beneath the foundation resided a shopping mall that sprawled out for miles and catered to every shopping whim man or woman could think of. There was no reason to leave the hotel. Clothing, food, resources, entertainment…you name it Club Vice had it.

That had been a whole other scenario, changing the name of this particular Prestige Hotel location. It was worded so that Club Vice took the main position and Prestige came secondary. In Victoria’s eyes this was quite fitting. She was going to reign supreme. And according to her backers, they’d make sure their investment didn’t falter. The entire hotel had been revamped with up to date furnishings as well as board rooms and meeting rooms that met the requirements of the most discriminating guests. The place held a touch of class to it that managed to cover the fact that it also catered to every vice known to man.

From the sprawling black marbled entry and long dark art deco halls, to the finest chintz and leather money could buy, Victoria had spared little concerning her creative rights. The walls were covered with midnight brocade wallpaper and lined with prints from various artists old and new. The lobby and every floor of the high rise hotel touted fresh flowers in golden vases set at intervals that were particularly dominated by the elegant white calla lily. Even the rooms offered by the Prestige were fully refurbished. The tone for the entire establishment was one of dark and elegant tastes. To say the least it was a lush atmosphere that catered to the most cultivated discernment.

June 2018
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