She is the Jessica Rabbit of the mob scene. As the daughter of one of the United States’ most notorious crime lords, Layla knows she’s powerful. No one speaks to her father without going through her and she is never easily persuaded. She’s beyond beautiful and she knows that too. She’s had a string of lovers that have never lasted long or have ever been revisited (except for Marcus but that is a story for another time). She uses her beauty to her advantage, seducing and manipulating others to do her dirty work. However, she’s never against doing things herself. While her father is well known, only a few actually get to put a face to her name so she is able to gather information much more easily than others. Calm, levelheaded and almost never surprised, Layla never lets known how much she actually knows so people are always guessing around her. She is the epitome of a femme fatale. That is until Marcus is thrown into the mix (which is again a story for another time). Thus, I present to you Layla Arkwood.
There were men at either side of him, holding his arms so tightly he thought they were going to crumble beneath them. Even though he was fully capable of walking, they had chosen to drag him. Where? He had no idea. A black bag had been thrown over his head the moment he had said he wanted to speak to her. It was no surprise that he wasn’t allowed to see where he was going. She was as hard to get to as a safe within Fort Knox.
“It’s not like I’m going to tell anyone where you hide your diamond in the rough.” He grinned though they wouldn’t have seen that of course.
One of the men grunted, adjusting his grip on his arm. Something was murmured in another language between the two men and he strained to figure out which.
Suddenly, he was hoisted to his feet, black bag flying off of his face as he met the dark brown lacquer of a double door. He moved his eyes about, surmising that he was in some kind of hallway but to which he had no idea. His arms were released and he rolled his shoulders achingly, throwing a glare towards one of the cronies who had been manhandling him. Apparently, they had been at least a foot taller than him and looked to be related, their dark hair and dark eyes near identical. They kept their gazes forward possibly waiting for him to compose himself before the big reveal.
Not that many people had seen her. Not that many living people that is. She was as illusive as a white fox in the snow, in her element, hidden and ready to strike.
“So, what? Do I just walk in or something?” He asked with a laugh that seemed entirely too loud in the quiet hallway.
“Don’t upset her.” One of them said, accent very noticeable.
“Or we rip heart out.” The other replied.
“Noted,” He gulped.
The two bodyguards slid the doors open, revealing a minimalist office shrouded in a faint light that he had trouble finding the source of. He squinted, eyes straining to see the figure sitting at the desk in the back of the room. He could only make out a silhouette, one that sent a strange feeling to his stomach. He could feel her eyes on him as he walked, goosebumps settling against his skin in an uncomfortable way. He steeled his emotions, eyeing the singular chair at the foot of the desk. He took his seat there, drumming his fingers against his knee nervously. The two bodyguards flanked him again, this time shadows at his shoulders.
She was still hard to see, the light doing very little to illuminate her features. But he knew she was there, overpoweringly so. He knew she was studying him, analyzing him. And he wanted to do the same to her but he was at a clear disadvantage.
“Nikolai,” Her voice startled him. It was smooth, dangerously so. Yet it was music to his ears, lulling him into a state of pure pensiveness. “Would you be a dear and turn the lights on? I can’t see a thing.”
The bodyguard grunted and soon the lights spiraled on, illuminating the once eerie room in a blanket of sensual brightness.
He immediately trained his eyes on her, the air immediately rushing from his lungs as he met hers. She had to be a goddess. That was the only explanation that made sense.
Her deep crimson curls spooled at her bare shoulders, cascading over one of her dark eyes, shrouding her in mystery. Her face had been sculpted by an artist, plump lips drawn together in curiosity. Her dark eyes were drawn low cautiously, running over him like a magnifying glass . She looked to be no older than 23 but she appeared to hold the answers to the universe, wise beyond her age and queen of the chessboard. She wore a dark blue dress that left her shoulders bare, teasing him, making him wonder what she looked like underneath. Her pale hands were pressed together casually above the desk, contrasting his which were damp and hidden within his lap.
“What’s your name?” She asked softly, voice creating ripples in space.
“Charles,” He said as evenly as he could. He needed to get it together.
“Charles,” She repeated, slower. He hated how his name sounded a thousand times better when she murmured it.
“So, Nikolai and Mikhail have informed me that you have some rather important information to tell me. Since I trust their judgement entirely I will let you speak your piece.”
“I have information that I believe will tear the Cyno Syndicate apart from the inside.” He said in a single breath.
“A mighty claim,” She hummed hand moving to rest beneath her chin. Her every movement fascinated him. She moved so elegantly that she could have been a dancer, slow and methodical. “I must warn you, Charles, that if you are lying to me there will be serious repercussions. I’m sure my gentlemen have told you what will happen should you upset me. They rarely kid. In Russia death is an art form and they would gladly take their time with you. So, choose your words wisely.”
Charles took a moment to compose himself, taking in a deep breath before beginning. “Taylor Higgins has been siphoning money from the Syndicate but nobody’s been saying nothing because nobody wants to get cut. If someone from another organization, say yours, gets a hold of Taylor that means you’ll get the money too. The Syndicate’s been under hard times and much of that money is in Taylor’s pocket now. So you get Taylor, you get the Syndicate.”
The hand that was underneath her chin slowly slid to the desk, moving over the length of it and settling at the corner. Charles followed the movement entranced, eyes gliding over her white skin. She had followed it too, dark orbs flickering back up to meet his. “What will you get out of this? Or what do you want from us?”
“A cut,” He smirked, leaning forward and pressing his hands to the desk. “We split it, 60/40.”
“That’s a hefty price. What makes you think I believe you?”
“I can see it in your eyes. You’re curious.”
“Curious?” She repeated in amusement. Her other hand slid forward, curling around his. “How can you tell?”
His heart threatened to burst from his chest the moment she touched his hand. It was so warm. Her long lashes fluttered as she waited for him to answer, gazing at him like a child. All he wanted to do right now was draw her into his arms and kiss her senseless. But that had to wait. He needed to finish this.
“You’re an open book, darling. But about this deal…”
“You give us Taylor and we split the money 30/70. I understand.” He didn’t even notice her other hand disappear beneath the desk.
“Whatever you say,” He murmured dazed, captivated by her dark eyes.
“But, I have to say one thing, Charles.” Her grip tightened on his hand considerably, so tight it hurt. “Taylor Higgins, as you call him, has actually been working for us the past few years. You see, we aren’t as stupid as we seem. And I’m not as easy as you think I am. And quite frankly I find it rather pathetic that you fell for my ruse so easily. I also find it silly that you even thought we would listen to you so wholeheartedly. However, I must give you the fact that you caught Taylor in the act. He needs to be more careful. Anyway—” She immediately raised the hand she hand been hiding under the desk to reveal a switchblade. She swiftly sunk it into his, causing him to yell out in pain. “There’s a reason very few people live after seeing my face. So, I would like to take this time to formally say: Goodbye.”
Nikolai wrapped a razor thin wire around Charles’ neck, tightening it until he heard bones crack. He continued to hold it there, struggling very little against Charles’ flailing. Soon, the man stopped, head slumping against his shoulders and arms falling to his sides.
“I’m glad I trust your judgement so wholeheartedly, gentlemen. Had this man lived, it would have been very incriminating to Taylor. Oh and tell him I would like to speak to him as soon as possible, would you Mikhail?”
The Russian nodded his head curtly. He murmured something else causing Layla to nod slowly.
“Yes, please dispose of the body. But please don’t do anything weird to it. We don’t want last time to happen again.” She sighed, dusting her hands off. Her cell phone began ringing and she answered it with a blank face. “Yes, dad?”
As Mikhail lifted Charles from the chair, his blood spilled onto the desk and carpet causing her to tsk in disappointment. She held her hand to the phone and said, “Nikolai, would you mind getting Charlotte? I really don’t want this to stain.”
She cast one last glance at the blood and turned away to return to her phone call.