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My palms were slick with sweat and my breathing was a little uneven. I sat in the front seat and my heart skipped a beat once the car finally came to a stop outside of the expensive restaurant.
"Don't worry, baby." My father brushed my shoulder comfortingly, "I'm the one that has to pay the piper. Just relax. You'll be fine, Amora."
His words failed to comfort me. Everyone in this town knew that when Noah Stryker called upon a meeting with someone, there was nothing but trouble ahead. But my father already knew this. He borrowed money from one of the most notorious gangsters in New York and skipped a monthly payment. What did he expect would happen? That he would get no form of punishment and leave the meeting unscathed?
My Father knew this was not the case. That's why he asked me to accompany him tonight. He thought if I was in their presence, Noah may have a better chance to spare my Dad some sympathy.
But I was not as naive as my father. I knew that my presence, nor the presence of any other would get in the way of Noah Stryker and what he had in store for my poor, unfortunate mess of a Dad.
My only hope was that I survived this dinner.
"Well," I unbuckled my seat belt, "Lets get this show on the road." Sarcasm was laced thick in my voice as I opened the door and got out of the car, not sparing my Dad even a glance. It was so like him to put me in the middle of his own trouble. I was getting pretty sick of being his savior. But I knew this was one of those times when not even I could save him.
Once we entered the building, the hostess led us in the direction of Noah's reserved table.
I followed slowly behind my Father. As we approached the table, I found myself even more of a nervous wreck than I was in the car. After all, my life was not a guarantee. I may not come out of this night alive myself. We were dealing with gangsters here. And not just your average gangsters. These New Yorkers ran their business much like they did in the 20s. Without a care in the world.
"Mr. Stryker," I heard my Dad say, "Thank you for having us." I could determine by the shakiness in his voice that I was not the only nervous one.
"Take a seat." The sound of the voice that spoke was guttural and deep. My head snapped up in surprise, and boy was I surprised once I saw the man sitting before me. His hair as black as night, skin as pale as the snow, lips as red as blood. Do not judge me for my Snow White reference, I was in awe.
Though he was sitting down and I did not get the best view of his body, there was no doubt Noah Stryker was the biggest man I had ever seen. I found it hard to breathe at the pure sight of him. He was gorgeous. But judging my the hard look in his eyes and scar just above his eyebrow, he was a cold man. One that scared the living day lights out of me.
My Father and I took our seats at the table. Noah was not the only one to attend the so called "dinner." There were two very large men who sat on each side of him. They almost looked as scary as Noah himself. Almost.
"You've brought a guest." His voice held no hint of any emotion.
I did not dare look up from the table. I already felt out of place.
"Yes, my daughter, Amora. She never skips a free meal." My Dad laughed to try and break the ice, but the room was full of nothing but silence. Deadly silence.
"She comes into my restaurant and sits at my table, the least she could do is look me in the eye." His voice was so, so cold.
My Father nudged at me under the table. Slowly but surely, I raised my head and my brown eyes met with Noah's. My breath caught in my throat. His eyes were so blue, the bluest I had ever seen. But it was not the color of his eyes that got to me, it was the intensity. He was not just staring at me, he was peering into my deepest thoughts. I felt naked under his gaze.
He did not speak after that. He only stared silently at me for a long period of time. And though I was scared as hell, my eyes did not waver from his own.
Noah only drifted his eyes when my Father awkwardly cleared his throat. I looked back down at the table.
"Mr. Smith," Noah finally spoke up as he adjusted himself in his seat, "As you know, you are in debt to me."
My Dad nodded slowly, I could practically feel him shaking beside me. After all, his life was seconds away from being determined. "Yes, sir, I know. And I'd like to apolog-"
With one large hand raised, Noah silenced him. "No need for that... I've found a way for you to repay me."
I practically heard my Dad swallow in fear of what was to come next.
And suddenly, Noah fixated his eyes back to mine, his face devoid of any emotion. "I want your daughter."
My heart stopped.