Lisanna’s feet dangled from where she now rested at the bar. She sighed. Hayden had, once again, been on her mind. To be honest, he hadn’t really left there. He’d somehow engrained himself into every thought she’d had for this past week, making it extremely difficult to focus on anything other than the man who’d saved her. His image was burned into her mind; his touch still scorched her skin. He consumed her being. Not because he had seemed like a prince on a white horse when he’d rescued her, which he had, but because he seemed to be everywhere lately.
Since the incident, he’d returned to visit her at Casa Le Blanc half a dozen times. She’d also run into him at the library twice that week and she could have sworn that she’d seen him at the grocery store, but she doubted a man of his stature would be shopping at the local SaveWay. Of course she hadn’t known who he was, or how wealthy he was, until yesterday.
Lisanna’s shift had been almost over when she’d realized he was there. He was in a booth at the window; staring into the outside world. Her coworkers crowded around a nearby station, their attention centered on this man only. They were practically drooling and Lisanna shook her head in disappointment. She understood the fascination but felt that their behavior was shameful. The girls excitedly chattered and the noise made its way to Lisanna’s ears as she’d made her rounds, checking guest’s glasses and getting the necessary refills.
She heard the eager gossip, telling of fortunes beyond Lisanna’s wildest dreams. He was rich and desired and he damn well knew it, she thought bitterly as she pushed away from the bar and began cleaning her workstation. She’d seen his casual wink at the girls, causing them all to squeal in delight.
Lisanna busied herself, paying no attention to the many men who were scoping her body as she worked. She despised men. She figured if she paid them no mind then they would get bored and lose interest. Lisanna paused, glancing at her wrist. The bruises were almost gone but the memory was still fresh. His arms had been muscular, his body chiseled. Her heart fluttered at the thought of his touch, wondering what it would feel like to be taken by that man. Blushing furiously, Lisanna shook her head. She’d done it again. The queen of chastity had taken a sudden interest in sex and it was disturbing her.
Rushing from table to table, she smiled eagerly as she spotted her relief for the evening. A young waiter bounced over and bowed respectfully. Lisanna giggled and motioned for him to stand. “I told you, Alex, you don’t have to be so formal with me.”
The boy, Alexander Harold, smiled. “It’s the least I can do since you got me this job. I was starting to worry I wouldn’t make tuition this month.”
Lisanna was aware of his predicament. Alex was her junior at Takahiro Private Academy in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo. Being one of the top educational institutions in the country, tuition had only gotten more expensive over the last ten years and most students struggled to make payment, even with their parent’s funding. Alex didn’t have the backing to pay for school. His situation was similar to hers. He’d run away from home, although she did not know the details of why, and he was currently fighting to pay his own rent and tuition every month. Lisanna admired him for his hard work and dedication. She’s been accepted into Takahiro on a scholarship so she could only begin to imagine the sacrifices he made in order to survive the harsh reality of the world. Lisanna shook her head and smiled gently.
“It’s not like that. You’d have gotten the job regardless. I just sped up the process.”
Alex watched her for a moment before losing to reason and reaching forward to brush her cheek. Lisanna blushed but didn’t flinch away as Alex feared she would. He knew how she felt around men. He’d watched his mother suffer through the same harassment. Their country wasn’t exactly known for women’s equality and most men believed they owned women. Alex had sworn, when he met Lisanna, that he would treat her like a princess. He would move slowly and take the time to make her fall in love with him. Now watching her flushed expression, he knew it might be impossible to be patient. Her lips parted, probably to speak, but before Alex knew what he was doing, he’d leaned in to kiss her. His lips were inches from hers when reality stepped in.
“Don’t even think about it.” A voice growled, somewhere near his ear and he spun around as one of their regulars walked by. He knew him, and now Lisanna did as well. Hayden Rolland Aberdine had been appearing in the restaurant a lot recently and now Alex knew why. Hayden came to Lisanna’s side and stared down at her, his height overwhelming the girl. Lisanna was short, standing at 5’ 4”, and next to this man, she looked beyond petite. Hayden had to have been 6’ 4” and he had muscles sculpted into every inch. Lisanna, on the other hand, was small with a tiny waist and decent curves. She looked so frail next to him. Alex moved to pull her away, hoping to put some distance between the two before him, but hesitated as Hayden glared in his direction. Alex stood paralyzed by Hayden’s stare. The man before him would have no qualms about killing him, and he knew it. Unconsciously, Alex took a step backward.
Glancing down at Lisanna in amusement, Hayden smirked. He could tell by her expression that no thoughts of this little boy invaded her mind; she was captivated by him, as she had been the first night he’d met her. She gazed into his eyes with longing as he brushed a few strands of hair away from her face.
“You’re off now, right? Would you please accompany me for the evening?”
Hayden wasn’t used to asking for things, he took what he wanted. This time, however, he knew that he would have to be careful. Lisanna had built up her defenses and breaking past them would be a challenge. Hayden relished in the thought of the chase.
Lisanna hesitated, unsure of how to answer and unable to think clearly. She did not want to be alone with the man who made her feel as if her body were mush. She trusted her feelings as little as she trusted the male gender. Her body screamed for his touch, her head and heart yelled at her to run. Lisanna nodded slowly, her thoughts completely incoherent, and slipped out of the black apron.
“Alex, I’m sorry about this. I’ll talk to you at school tomorrow.”
Hayden’s eyes narrowed dangerously. Classmates, huh? That would be the first thing he changed. Walking from the restaurant, Lisanna at his side, Hayden strolled over to a red Porsche parked in the tow away zone and opened the passenger door. Lisanna eyed the vehicle in apprehension.
“On second thought…” She mumbled, taking a step away from the car. Hayden held out his hand and forced a smile, slightly aggravated by her trepidation. Lisanna scanned the vehicle once more and took another small step back. Hayden’s eyes narrowed and he reached out to take her wrist into his own, pulling her forward with a small tug.
He could feel her body tremble against him and he closed his eyes, reigning in the anger that threatened to burst free. She was terrified and his temperament bounced between hostility towards men, who had made her this way, and disappointment that she saw him as a threat.
“Would you please trust me?” He asked huskily in her ear, his breath tickling her flesh.
“I-I c-c-can’t.” She stuttered words tripping over her heated breathing. Her body sought relief from him, called out to him begging for his hands on her. She shivered at the knowledge and tried to free herself from his grip.
Hayden sighed and picked the girl up, placing her gently in the seat and reaching across to buckle her in. Lisanna trembled and looked at him pleadingly, begging for escape. This chagrined Hayden more than he understood.
Lisanna certainly had her reasons for fearing men but he had nothing to do with the cruelty men displayed. He had been kind to her and, in his mind, patient. He wondered bitterly why she rejected him but quickly reset his thought process. This was nothing more than a minor setback. Both players pieces where at the start and his first move was to break past the pawns around her. Slamming the door, Hayden rounded to the driver’s side and hopped in. He started the vehicle and took a deep breath before glancing at the now pale Lisanna. “I would never hurt you. Please believe me.”
Lisanna nodded while her body continued to shake against the plush seats. Hayden turned his attention to the road, heading towards their first destination. He knew that he could succeed in taming her, it would just take time. Reaching across the seat, he slid his hand into hers and waited for her reaction. He expected her to shriek, flinch, or pull away but instead he felt her body relax and he glanced over to see her watching him carefully. It was progress, he thought.
Lisanna’s breathing eased and he sighed in relief. Although she seemed tamer now, the tension in the small car was so thick that Hayden was tempted to pull over on the street to talk her off this cliff she’d driven herself into. They drove in awkward silence, Lisanna’s eyes never leaving his face. He was not sure if she was looking for something in him or if she was merely plotting his demise. Pulling into a large parking lot, Lisanna peered away in order to take in the massive mall that lay before them. Hayden watched contently as her eyes widened like a kid in a candy store and she smiled for the first time since he’d taken her.
“Have you been here before?” Hayden asked and Lisanna shook her head, beautiful locks grazing over silky, cream flesh. Hayden walked to the passenger door and opened it, holding out his hand to assist her in standing. He was shocked when she took it and stepped gracefully from the car. Her eyes were lit in wonderment and he felt pleased that he had chosen correctly.
Walking side by side into the mall, Lisanna glanced around quickly, taking in everything around her. Running up to a window filled with multicolored jewels, Lisanna eye’s glittered in excitement. “They’re beautiful.” She muttered unconsciously and Hayden smirked before dragging her into the store.
“Pick something out.” He ordered while motioning for an associate to assist.
Lisanna walked slowly around the display, ignoring the prattling of the noisy salesman, and eyed every cut of gem. Finally settling her gaze on an opal butterfly set, Lisanna looked at the uniformed gentleman and spoke inquisitively, “May I try it on?”
The man nodded and pulled the pieces out, setting them on the glass counter and watching as Hayden took the necklace and slipped it around her neck. Standing behind her, he brushed her hair aside and fumbled with the clasp. His hands on her neck made her body heat in places she desperately tried to ignore. Finally latching it closed; he spun her to face him and stared in wonder.
Lisanna was a natural beauty, not needing make-up or accessories, but jewels clearly suited her and now she was absolutely stunning. Lisanna glanced in the mirror and smiled gently before reaching to remove the chain. Hayden brushed her hand away and glared at the now entranced salesman.
“We’ll take the complete set.” He barked to the man who immediately rushed to gather everything necessary, clearly having heard the threat in Hayden’s voice. Lisanna looked at Hayden in shock and confusion before coming to some realization and laughing.
“I’m sure she’ll love it.” She hummed and Hayden tilted his head in question. “Your girlfriend.”
Hayden laughed. The sound was pleasant and Lisanna found herself laughing with him, even though she had no idea what was funny. Hayden shook his head and grabbed the bag from the man. “They’re for you.”
Lisanna’s face smoothed into an expression of disbelief and she set the bag down before moving to remove the necklace. “I have no reason to accept.” She said firmly while Hayden moved to grab her hands.
“You have no reason not to.” He barked and she frowned. She wanted the jewelry but didn’t want to take advantage of his kindness. He clearly felt responsible for what had happened that night and now he was trying to buy forgiveness.
“I am not angry.” She said softly, her expression gentle and caring as she eyed Hayden. “Even if I was, it was not your fault. You saved me. You don’t owe me anything.”
Hayden stared in wonderment. This woman honestly believed that he was only trying to make up for last week. He debated whether she was slow or naïve. Suddenly realizing that he could work this to his advantage, he faked hurt. “I will not be able to sleep if you refuse to let me make this up to you. It was my men who caused this and I will only continue to feel guilty if things stay this way. Accompany me around today and let me pamper you for the inconvenience. It will put me at ease.”
Lisanna sighed and glanced at the set. “I cannot let you spend your money on me.”
Hayden was irritated; not only with her comment, but with his own disbelief. Women usually were more than ready to be showered with gifts. He had never met someone who’d refused his hospitality. “I have money to spend and nothing I want. Why should I not spend it on someone who will benefit from it?”
Lisanna eyed the pieces once more, knowing that she would regret the consequences that were sure to follow. She dropped her head in defeat. “You are not going to back down on this, are you?”
Hayden smiled triumphantly and shook his head. “I always win.” He mumbled playfully before realizing that he was actually joking with her. He felt good, laughing beside her, and it scared the shit out of him.
“Let’s go,” He mumbled, reigning in his emotions as he turned to walk away. Lisanna grabbed the bag beside her and chased after him, sliding her hand in to pull out the small butterfly earrings. Slipping one into each ear, she smiled up at Hayden from beside him, her eyes whispering thanks you more than her words. .
They made several stops throughout the mall, chatting and walking contentedly, before finally coming upon an expensive looking dress shop. Lisanna tried to guide Hayden away but he nudged her forward, a female associate rushing forward to assist them. The woman tossed a quick glance at Hayden who nodded in return and then she dragged Lisanna to the dressing room where items already lay waiting.
Sitting on a couch in the corner near the rooms, Hayden leaned back and closed his eyes. He knew he needed to be more careful. Lisanna was not like most women and that difference in her enticed him. She was intoxicating and, if he was not careful, he would end up drunk. He knew that this feeling in his chest was not love. He was not capable of loving another. He was merely fascinated by her unconventional behavior.
Lisanna cleared her throat to gather his attention and smiled as his eyes widened. A simple black cocktail dress now clung to her delicate curves and draped gently over her hips. Thin straps and a low swoop front revealed the flesh he’d found himself fanaticizing about for the last week. Lisanna spun in a circle, the dress fluttering as air danced around her, and he could have sworn for a moment that his heart stopped. Hayden stood slowly; carefully adjusting his navy slacks so that no one would see his member begging for release. He walked up to Lisanna and eyed her over once more.
“Do you like it, Anna?” He asked and she nodded. Hayden turned to the associate, tossing his hand in a small gesture of dismissal, before making to leave. “Now, all we need is to pick up your new shoes and you’ll be all set for this evening.”
Lisanna’s eyes widened. Had he really just said for this evening? She thought he had to talk so she’d come but suddenly Lisanna felt as if this were a date. Her head swarmed with thoughts, unsure of how to react. Glancing back nervously as they walked from the store, she wondered why they had just left without paying. Now thinking back, she realized that he hadn’t paid for the jewelry either.
“Is it okay to just leave with the stuff?” She asked and he nodded absentmindedly before pointing to one of many nearby signs. Lisanna walked to the board and read the small print carefully. Owned and operated by Aberdine Corp.
“You own the mall?” She asked in astonishment and he nodded as if everyone should have one at their disposal. Lisanna couldn’t help wondering for a brief moment if she had involved herself with someone extremely eccentric, and possibly demented. Lisanna returned from her wandering thoughts and rushed to catch up to Hayden, all the while debating her situation. It was beyond strange to her. This man, who clearly had so much to offer, was wasting his precious time to repay her for something which he had not caused.
Hayden guided her into a small shoe store and waltzed right up to the counter, picking up a box that had been placed in anticipation. Upon opening it, Hayden revealed the most beautiful pair of heels that Lisanna had ever seen. He knelt before her, lifting each foot in concession, and removed her plain jane flats. Sliding the heel over her soft skin, he strapped up each lace and stood to examine the outfit as a whole. The elegant new lace-ups matched her dress perfectly and she looked beyond breath-taking. Customers in the store stared, the scene before them like something out of one of those sappy romance movies. Lisanna stared down at him; her heart thumped madly against her body. Nothing made sense to her anymore. She was not in control and she feared she was slowly losing herself; being consumed by the man before her.
Hayden stood and held out his hand to her, Lisanna slipping her fingers into his without pausing to think of her hatred, of her fear. She followed after Hayden once more, being guided from place to place. She would never understand the life of the elite but at least, for now, she got to experience that which every girl dreamed of.
She would understand though. Hayden had already decided that he would give her the knowledge, the experience, and the life she deserved. This was only the beginning. If Hayden had to, he would steal her away in order to achieve his goals. She would be his princess, locked away from the cruel world, never leaving her tower. She already belonged to him, she was merely unaware. The game had already begun.