Seven Days Ch. 01bysoular©
Victoria stared at her reflection in the mirror. She knew what she was about to offer was a long shot, but she had to try. This current situation was killing her parents' and making their lives miserable. She remembered the day he came into her father's failing soul food restaurant. She knew in his icy blue eyes that he was a fucking devil. She loathed him with every single cell in her body. He had ruined her family. Her parents' lives. Her life. She despised him and she hated money. Money really was the root of all evil. It was the reason she was in this predicament. She never found any use for money. Sure, she may have never sported the newest, trendy clothing, but she didn't feel the need to. She was never the girl in high school with the latest anything, and she was just fine with that.
But now here she was putting on the only decent dress she owned (minus a black funeral dress), which was now a little short from being washed a million times. It was a black dress with thin straps. The color had started to fade, and under a bright light it turned to an ashy black shade. She wore an old pair of black heels that belonged to her mother, and she quickly pulled her wild curls up in a ponytail. She wanted to look somewhat presentable since she would be going into the lion's den. Or snake pit...either was appropriate when talking about him.
She sighed as she turned off the light and walked out of the tiny bathroom she shared with her mom and dad in their one bedroom apartment. Her dad was in the bedroom asleep finally. His back pains kept him up and moaning most nights. Her mother, Olivia, was in the kitchen scraping the leftovers from dinner into containers.
She turned to look at Victoria and then back at the dishes. Her mother was a beautiful woman, but the years had not been kind to her. Her smooth chocolate skin that used to glow and sparkle was now a dull brown. Her makeup and hair that she at one point had taken so much pride in was not even a part of her daily routine anymore. She never wore makeup and she kept her hair in a tight bun at the base of her neck. She had prematurely grayed, which Victoria figured was due to her father's bad business investments. And the smile that Victoria remembered as a little girl seemed like it had been permanently removed from her mother's face. Now a hard line and tight lips were all that replaced the bright grin she had once grown to love. Victoria continued to stare at her mother's back.
"I don't know what you think you trying to accomplish by going over to that dangerous man's place. Just plain stupid in my opinion," Olivia said, not bothering to turn around.
"I know mama, but I got to try something. We can't live like this. I didn't want it to come to this, but this is a last resort," Victoria said, pleading with her mom to understand.
"You think you just gon' walk in there and have him erase the debt?" Olivia asked, turning around and throwing the dishrag over her shoulder. Then she smacked her lips and ran her eyes over her daughter's tiny dress. "Unless you plan on offering him something to make him forget the debt."
Victoria sucked in a breath. "Mama! I would never. I just want him to try and see it from our point of view. That's all. It couldn't hurt to try."
"Vicky, he don't care about our point of view. Rich, white, bad men like him could give a damn about poor, black people like us. The sooner you get that through your head, the better," her mom said, and turned back around. Victoria figured that was the end of the conversation.
Victoria sighed as she grabbed her purse and an old black jacket of her father's. It was chilly outside and she wasn't used to wearing something so revealing. As she slid the oversized jacket on, she looked down at her dress. She really hoped he didn't get the wrong idea. She just wanted to look presentable, not easy. She chanced another look at her mother, who pretended like Victoria wasn't even in the room anymore. Victoria blew out another sigh and opened the door. The windy night air hit her bare legs and it caused her to hesitate for a moment. 'No, I can do this' she thought, as she zipped up her coat and headed down the street to the nearest bus stop.
Nicolas Andretti stared at the green table before him. He bent down and looked at the open hole between his ball and the striped ball that sat in its way.
"Not sure how you're going to pull that one off, Nic?" Jimmy said confidently, as he leaned on his cue stick, staring at his boss and best friend. He knew that Nic hated to lose. For Nic, losing wasn't an option. He would circle the table a million times until he could figure out a way to win. Jimmy figured that's why Nic had gotten so powerful at such a young age. When you don't accept failure, you have no other option than winning. And Nic's philosophy was to conquer and destroy.
Nic's bright blue eyes narrowed when he saw the perfect shot he had to take. He walked back up to the table, slid the cue stick back and forth between his fingers two times, and then knocked the red solid ball into the far corner pocket, barely grazing Jimmy's striped ball.
"Motherfucker," Jimmy muttered under his breath.
Nic raised up, no smile or celebratory air in his voice. "You're up."
Nic watched as his oldest and closest friend walked to the table and scratched his head, trying to figure out his next move. That was actually Jimmy's problem. He gave too much away. Never let people see you sweat. That was the one good thing Nic learned from his father, rest his soul. Nic had a thriving business because he followed the few rules his father had given him, and a couple of his own rules that he had set throughout his life.
When Nic was a kid, he never thought he'd be leading an underground crime circle. He had always respected the law and police officers. He was eight when Miami Vice first aired, and his love for cops and the law was first born. He thought Sonny and Rico were the coolest motherfuckers to ever walk the planet. But over the years, Nic started to realize that the work that his old man was dabbling in would have caused him to be one of the guys Sonny and Rico would have tried to lock up.
Nic's father, Nicolas Andretti III, was a tall, dry man from the old country. He was born and raised in Italy, and believed in the principles of his home country. At fifteen, he traveled over to the United States on his own dime, and started working little odd jobs around town and saved up enough money to open his own fish shop. He would cheat men at the docks out of fresh fish, to get a leg up on competition. Over the years he made a name for himself. Not necessarily a good one, but a name nonetheless. He met Nic's mom, Marianna, at a local dance one night and the two became inseparable. They ended up having five children, while Nicolas's business grew from a smelly fish place, to his first restaurant, which was funded by crooked cops who came to conduct business with drug and weapons runners. Nicolas would turn a blind eye, and in return favor they would give him money and turn their heads away from his illegal numbers business. It was a perfect arrangement that worked well over the years.
But when Nic started thinking back over his life, there were things about his father that he didn't like. Nic didn't like cheating people. He preferred to scare them. That usually got the message across even better. And when Nic was a teen going into his twenties, instead of turning the blind eye like his father did...he started dealing with the weapons runners, to gain more money. He didn't approve of drugs, so they could still use his restaurants, but he was not a part of their deals and made sure they all knew it.
In the ten years that Nic had taken over his father's business, he had started another restaurant and opened a club uptown. All three investments were flourishing and he was in business with three foreign companies which he worked with to supply weapons. He had more than quadrupled the income his father had been bringing in. In their city, you knew to do any 'business' you had to go through Nicolas Andretti IV. Nic was never an overly flashy guy, but he did dress in the nicest Armani suits and had a hot new thing on his arm every other night. That's actually how he met his wife, Amber. She had been one of the regulars at his club, and eventually she flirted her way into his bed and then into a marriage. He still didn't know how that had happened. Maybe he had a weakness for tall, mean blonds, because that's exactly what Amber was. And part of him was turned on because of this mean streak she seemed to possess. He found it amusing when she would launch into someone and cut them down before they even had a chance to speak. Of course, when she turned that foul mouth on him...he knew what to do to put it to good use. She might have been the Alpha bitch, but in his domain, he was king, and no one would disrespect him. Not even his wife.
But at the moment, they were separated and had been for six months. Frankly, he couldn't stand her. He never loved her, and still couldn't figure out why he agreed to marry her three years ago. Something in him did want to share all of his success with someone. A companion, but Amber only wanted the money. And the sex. Originally, he knew that this leggy blond was only flirting with him because of his status. Although, he knew to women his looks were a bonus. He figured he wasn't the most handsome man in the world, but many women thought he was pretty close, due to the light olive tan he inherited, along with his blue eyes and contrasting jet black hair, which together seemed to turn women on. But when Amber realized the things he could do in the bedroom...she was one hundred percent sold.
But now because of their separation, he had gone back to playing the field a bit...not that he had ever really stopped. He never had to chase women. They were always there...and always willing. But without Amber at home cursing people out left and right, he was becoming bored. He couldn't stand talking to her, but yet she was amusing. Their separation came about when she had asked the dreaded baby question. It just seemed to come out of left field one day while they were in the middle of dinner. They rarely talked to each other as it was, and now she wanted to add a baby to that? Fuck no. He could never imagine her as a mother anyway. All she did was spend his money and dance at his club all night. And she thought he didn't know, but she had been fooling around with cocaine. And that was a big no to him. They fought over that and the baby issue until he stormed off, and she left the house, trashed out of her mind. She got into his Lamborghini and wrecked it. Nic was so pissed. Not really because of the car, although it had been his favorite, but because her little incident brought the police sniffing around. He sent Jimmy and another of his guys to bail her out. There was no way in hell he would step foot in a police station now. They wanted him too much, and he would be damned if he'd go down without a fight.
Later that night, Amber and he had gotten into another argument. Nic didn't like to yell. He didn't like to argue. People usually just did what he said, but sometimes Amber tried to bait him, just to get a rise out of him. But he couldn't even stand the sound of her voice anymore. Worse than nails on a chalk board. She was high, and crying, and her makeup was running down her face. She had asked him point blank if he loved her. Nic just stood there staring at her, his answer in his eyes. No, he didn't. And never had. Amber also took the silence to mean no, and she pulled off her large diamond ring and threw it at him. She missed and it went sliding across the floor.
She stomped out and that was the last he had seen of her. She called him a few days later to inform him that she was staying with her sister, but she wanted to work something out. Nic really didn't want to. But he also didn't feel like getting the courts involved in a divorce, so he just told her that they needed time apart, and they would work something out later. But with her gone, no longer wreaking havoc on everyone's life, he was extremely bored. He needed a new challenge.
Jimmy shot at the striped ball and missed. "Shit."
Nic took the next three shots to clear the table of all of his solid balls, along with the eight ball. He looked over his handiwork and tossed his cue stick to Eddie, his accountant.
"Fuck, one more Nic. Let me try to redeem myself," Jimmy said.
Nic sighed and grabbed the cue stick back. "You're a glutton for punishment, big guy," Nic said, taking in his friend's large frame. Both Nic and Jimmy were tall, but Nic had him beat by about an inch, however his friend definitely had him in the weight department. Jimmy's wife cooked the best Italian meals every night, and judging on Jimmy's protruding belly, he certainly enjoyed them. Where Jimmy preferred to eat, Nic preferred to work out, which was his best stress reliever. That and sex.
Jimmy smiled and racked the balls back up. Nic rolled his eyes and turned toward the back door, where Raymond, his head of security was entering. He walked over to Nic.
"Sir, there's a young lady here to see you," Raymond said.
"Lucky bastard," Jimmy muttered, as he shot first, and the balls went scattering everywhere.
"What does she want?" Nic asked, surveying the table.
"She said it's a personal matter."
"What's her name?" Nic asked, as he lined up his cue stick and sunk three striped balls.
"Victoria Davis, sir."
Nic ran the name over in his head. Davis? Davis, Davis...oh. He knew who she was. Her father, James, owed him a shit load of money. He had opened up some cheesy soul food restaurant that tanked, and sunk Nic's fathers' money with it. Nic had only been in the restaurant once. James ran the place with his wife and daughter. The daughter had been a waitress at the horrible restaurant. Cute, shy thing, but he wasn't really paying attention. Maybe she had his money. Or maybe she just came to beg for him to stop sending his sharks down to their apartment, threatening to break her father's legs.
"Tell her I'm busy," he stated, as he leaned up against the table, waiting for Jimmy to make a shot.
"Yes sir," Raymond replied, as he exited.
It only took less than ten minutes for Nic to beat Jimmy again. Jimmy stood there scratching his head over the fact that Nic had managed to whip him in three straight games. He never could beat him, but one day...he'd figure out a way. Eddie sat over in the corner laughing at him.
"Fuck you, you four-eyed bastard," Jimmy yelled. "I mean, they have contacts nowadays, why the fuck are you still wearing those goggles?"
Eddie never got rattled. But he also didn't really have a personality. As a true accountant, he cared about numbers and that was about it. They had even brought over a hot girl once to show Eddie a good time, one that Nic kept in his mental rolodex, but she left the bedroom only about fifteen minutes after going in, with a confused look on her face. When Jimmy asked her what went down, she said they never had sex. Instead, he started talking to her about the importance of numbers and how they keep the universe in order. She told Nic she didn't come here to get a math lesson. So Nic took her to his room instead...and gave her the lesson she had come looking for. And more.
"They make me look more distinguished, you overweight idiot," Eddie said, while cleaning his glasses.
Nic laughed and hung up his cue stick. "So Eddie, this month, are we good?"
Eddie placed his glasses back on. "Yes sir, we're really good. Here are the figures," he smiled, while pulling them out of his briefcase. Nic nodded a few times while he examined the documents.
Raymond entered again. This time his face was flushed and he seemed irritated. He stood there waiting for Nic to acknowledge him.
"What?" Nic asked, when he finally looked up from the papers in his hand.
"Sir, she won't leave. She said if she doesn't get to talk to you, she'll start making a scene in front of the customers."
Nic's eyebrows shot up. Who the fuck did this little girl think she was? He'd have to teach her a little lesson in respect.
"Okay, see her to my office," he said, as he flicked a lighter and started burning the documents.
Victoria didn't know what to expect. She wasn't sure if he was just a rich crook, or if he had actually killed people before. She remembered how scared her father had been the day the bank seized his restaurant. He was more scared of Mr. Andretti finding out, than he was of the prospect of his family being broke and out on the street. But Victoria was determined that she wouldn't be afraid of him. She wouldn't give him the pleasure of seeing her sweat.
She sat in his office, staring around the large, cold area. She couldn't believe that something this chic would be located in the back of a restaurant. Everything in his office was black and white, including the art work on the walls. She assumed one of his paintings was probably worth more money than she made in a year. He didn't have any personal pictures on his desk like a lot of businessmen do. Or at least how they portrayed it in movies. He actually didn't have a desk. It was just a large glass table with a fancy chair on the opposite side of her.
She jumped when she heard the door open. She quickly stood up and faced the men entering. She recognized the first man that entered. He was the security guard who kept giving her a hard time. He narrowed his eyes at her, and she rolled her eyes back at him. The next man that came through the door, she didn't recognize him. He was a tall, round guy. He had dark hair and even darker eyes. He glanced at her and flashed a predatory grin. She wondered if he saw her shiver.
The last man to enter was tall also. He brushed right past her and sat down in the fancy chair, before he acknowledged her presence. This was Nicolas Andretti. She remembered him from the day he came into her father's restaurant a few years ago. She had tried not to look at him then, as her father, Nicolas and one of his men went into the kitchen to discuss business. The other guy stood on the outside, daring anyone to enter the kitchen. She had just caught a glimpse of Nicolas, but she had been completely thrown off guard about how young and handsome he looked. She had been expecting some old craggy-looking fellow, like a godfather or something.
And now looking at him, he hadn't changed at all from that first day she had seen him. He had beautiful, shiny black hair that he kept pushed away from his face, but it was longer than she remembered. If it were wet, it would probably fall to his ears. But the way he styled it kept it away from his face, made him appear menacing and handsome all at the same time. It also gave her a perfect view of his icy blue eyes. He had a straight attractive nose, nice lips and a strong jaw line. She could also tell that he had a nice body underneath his suit, judging by the way he walked with his shoulders upright and his chest out, which...wait, she needed to seriously pull her mind together. What the hell was wrong with her?
"Mr. Andretti, I just wanted to..." she started, but he placed a finger to his lips...his small order for her to be quiet. She immediately shut her mouth.
"Victoria, my security guard, Raymond, told you that I was busy, correct?" he asked her.
Victoria nodded her head.
"What? I didn't hear you," Nic said.
Victoria wanted to roll her eyes at his arrogance, but she knew she had come here to ask a favor of him. Better to play the nice card.
"Yes," she answered.
"I thought so. So, you should have come back or called to set an appointment like everyone else does, instead of interrupting me."