Lisanna glanced at the clock once more, trying to muster the energy to return to work. Her break had been over for almost five minutes and yet she had not moved from her position in the break room. It was Sunday and she had a million things to do upon returning home. Her three page essay on Commerce in the United States was due the following morning and, so far, she’d only managed to write her name on the paper. She wanted to cry. Glancing at the clock once more, she sighed. If it was possible to stop time, Lisanna would already have willed the night to freeze, giving her much needed time to finish her report.
Lisanna stood and shoved the paper in her bag before tossing her belongings into her employee locker. She could no longer hide from reality. It was her responsibility to serve the back of house tonight and she knew she would be missed if she disappeared for too long. Exiting the room with a loud yawn, her coworker glanced over sympathetically.
“I sat you another one, Lisanna.” The girl muttered, small curls bouncing around a petite face and silver eyes. “Some hot shots in room 102. Real creeps, if you ask me.”
Lisanna smiled and nodded. It was no surprise that the guys came off as creeps. The rooms in the back were for politicians, executives, and yakuza; in terms, the elite and dangerous. “I appreciate it, Saya. I know it must have been uncomfortable for you but I’ve got it now. Why don’t you take a break?”
The girl bowed slightly in thanks before bounding down the hallway and out of site. Lisanna sighed once more before grabbing another tray and making her way back to the VIP section of Casa Le Blanc, a restaurant located in the Roppongi district of Minato. What the associates referred to as “back of house” was an area at the rear of the restaurant made up of four soundproof “booths”. It was tucked away into a dimly lit corner of the restaurant, providing their elite clientele much needed privacy.
Lisanna hated working the rooms, considering the clientele that frequented there were pompous, arrogant elitists who believed society beneath them. Lisanna would never have agreed to work it but the tips were above par and she was currently desperate for funds. She’d run away last spring after her pathetic excuse for a father had stumbled into the house. He’d been out drinking again, the stench of liquor clinging to his every breath, and this time he was not alone. He’d brought over three of his friends and they all insisted she “entertain” them. She knew she would not get away with simply serving tea to their guests so she’d run, and never looked back.
Since then, Lisanna had turned 17 and been desperately working to support herself. It had been going smoothly until two months ago when she was mugged on her way home. Her money for her rent had been in her bag and she ended up losing out on $600. She’d honestly thought that the man was going to take more than her purse but, in the end, he’d ran away leaving her trembling on the ground. Lisanna brushed past her manager, ignoring his casual smack on her ass, and glided to greet her guests. Lisanna paused outside the room, steadying her tray on one hand and reaching to open the door. Before her fingers could wrap around the handle, she heard an elder man hiss violently, “That brat. He dares to arrive late after calling us out at this hour?”
Another guest laughed and the sound caused hairs to stand on Lisanna’s neck. “He’ll pay for it soon enough, Bisclow. Be patient.”
Lisanna pushed aside her discomfort and sashayed into the room, placing hot sake before each of her guests. It was only the two men she’d heard from outside and she knew that a third was on his way. Wishing desperately that there had been at least one woman within the group, she moved to place menus before each of them with a friendly smile. Lisanna hated men and desperately wished that she’d chosen to work the floor tonight instead of putting herself through the torture that was sure to follow.
As if sensing her discomforting thoughts, Bisclow reached forward to grasp her wrist and Lisanna let out a feral sound of defense before reigning in her desire to pierce him with the steak knife. “I would greatly appreciate it if you could release me.”
“How about you give yourself to me, girlie?” He asked bemusedly and Lisanna felt his grip tighten as he pulled her closer to caress her lower back.
Lisanna’s eyes narrowed dangerously as she once again considered stabbing the man. Knowing she could not afford to lose her job with rent right around the corner, Lisanna fisted her hands in her skirt and forced another smile. “I beg your forgiveness but I must decli…”
The man threaded his hand in to her hair and yanked her head back with a vicious pop. Lisanna flinched and bit back her voice, tears threatening to spill over. She would not allow herself to show weakness. Not to this man, or any man for that matter. She never had. No matter how bad things had gotten, she’d never shown her fear to the bullies of the human world.
“I must return to work or it will cause problems for my coworkers.” Lisanna gasped, her voice strained with effort against the pressure on her throat.
“If you leave, I will be the one causing problems.” He purred near her ear before forcing her to the floor in front of him and fumbling with his zipper. “Besides that, I have already paid your boss for your services.”
Lisanna silently cursed herself for trusting that perverted lecher after he’d already made unwanted advances on her, but she’d had no choice. He’d offered her the position without hesitation and she’d needed the money. She was definitely paid well, but this was not a part of her job description. Damn it all to hell if she got fired. Struggling to free herself from this man’s grasp, Lisanna scanned the room frantically.
“Don’t worry, baby doll, you’ll be well compensated. Hell, you might even enjoy it,” The man behind her chuckled.
The sound was cut short and Lisanna heard him gasp for air. She could not see the man behind her so she scanned her attacker’s face for some hint of what was happening. What she saw there terrified her. His eyes had gone wide and his mouth hung open, trembling slightly at whatever he saw. Before Lisanna could think to pull away, her hair cascaded over her shoulders as he released her and she stood to run away, ramming hard into the chest of a third party.
Glancing up nervously, Lisanna’s heart nearly stopped. Her body shook and she wondered if it was in fear, as it clearly was for Bisclow, or in amazement as the man before her invaded her vision. Her cheeks flushed as she took in the beauty before her. At first glance his features were extremely masculine but upon closer inspection Lisanna felt that there was something soft and delicate about his face. He was stunning, really. His eyes were a deep green and currently reflected his anger and disappointment. Raven locks tumbled around a face truly sculpted by the gods and Lisanna could tell, through the silk button up, that his body was made to match.
Lisanna’s knees wobbled and gave out, causing her to fall into his arms. He supported her without paying any mind. His gaze was focused on the man cowering before him. His eyes narrowed, silently daring him to speak, and a whimper filled the room. After what seemed like an eternity, the Adonis of perfection looked down, meeting Lisanna’s gaze head on. His cold eyes widened and he pulled her body closer, the smell of him intoxicating her senses.
“Are you hurt?”
His voice was pure addiction and Lisanna shuddered against him. “I am alright.”
He gently pushed her away, scoping her over and noting her tousled hair and bruised wrist. His head spun back to the heap of a man trembling before him and he motioned for the scum to disappear.
“You know how this works. I’ll give you three hours.” He barked, glancing at the unconscious form of the old man’s companion. “Take him with you.”
The man nodded once before grabbing his friend and dragging him from the room. He skittered from the restaurant, the limp body a dead weight that now slowed him down. They needed to flee. The danger was apparent. For an instant, as the image of perfection stared after them, Lisanna pitied the fools and what was to come for them.
“Your name?” He purred as he picked her up, causing her to squeal and struggle. Ignoring her efforts to escape, he crossed the short distance and tossed her on a couch in the corner. “I’m Hayden.”
“Lisanna. Lisa. Whichever you prefer.” She mustered as he marched over to a nearby seat and straddled it, facing her.
“Anna?” He whispered and Lisanna blushed before nodding her approval. “Well, I apologize for my men, Anna. They will be severely reprimanded.”
Lisanna struggled to focus on what he was saying but found her mind wandering, something about him mesmerizing her with every move he made. His hands rested on the back of the seat as he watched several expressions play over her face. His gaze made Lisanna more restless than his appearance. It was like his eyes, deeper than the colors of the forest, could see into her very soul. The thought terrified her.
Lisanna had been known to captivate men’s attention but she highly doubted a man of his stature would be taken with a mere waitress. Lisanna sighed and Hayden’s eyes focused on the parted lips, pink and moist. “Would you lik…”
Lisanna cut him short, jumping from her spot and bowing respectfully. “Thank you for saving me and I apologize for any inconvenience I have caused.”
Hayden smirked, amused by her mannerisms, and stood to bow in return. “Not at all. I hope that this will not affect you’re evening.”
Lisanna shook her head fiercely, black curls tumbling wildly as her head turned. “I really must return to my duties but I invite you to return in the future. We would be honored to treat you to a free meal, if you would allow us to do so.”
Hayden stared at her bemused expression as she tried to make sense of her thoughts. “I mean to invite you back, for the inconvenience of course. I’m not asking you to come back and see me or anything.”
Lisanna’s face reddened with obvious embarrassment and Hayden placed a hand over his mouth to hide the playful grin tugging at his lips. He couldn’t help the sudden urge to make her even more flustered. “So, you don’t want me to come and see you again?”
Lisanna looked horrified. “I did not mean it that way. If you would like to come back on a night that I am working, I would be happy to serve you.”
Hayden laughed, a husky sound that caused places on Lisanna to tighten in response. His voice was warm, like caramel, and for a moment she imagined him whispering her name in her ear.
“I really must be going,” She stated breathlessly before rushing out the door without another word, leaving Hayden staring at the empty doorway.
Finally motivating himself to leave, Hayden exited the back room only to pause outside the door when he immediately spotted Lisanna. Despite having just been ruthlessly attacked, she was floating around the room greeting guests. Hayden’s eyes narrowed as he watched men shamelessly flirt with her. To make matters worse, this naïve girl was completely oblivious to their advances.
Hayden growled deep in his throat, a possessive sound that vibrated his chest. Slamming his fist into the wall, he fought to control the emotions welling up inside him. He did not understand what he was feeling but he knew what he had to do. If Lisanna could not defend herself then he would do it for her, even if it meant locking her away in a cage.