Chapter 1 : Tempting the Serpent
Growing up, the last thing I expected was to own a bar. However, when my old man passed, his pride and joy, the Viper Bar, was gifted down to me—including all of his shitty ass debt. My best guess was he really had no one else who knew how to run the damn place. It wasn't exactly what someone would call a dive bar, even though the characters who often graced it would claim otherwise.
My bar, with its matte black walls, tattooed celebrity art, and crimson leather upholstered seats, was something to admire. It had a way of drawing in, not only the shittiest of people but the wealthiest of people, too—something I had never thought possible.
At least, not in this city.
The day I took over the bar, I promised myself not to let it fail. I worked my ass off to keep the place clean. God knew something always needed to be done. If it weren't for Dahlia, my main bar b***h, and Damian, the ever-so-delicious security guard, I probably would have f*****g lost my mind.
They had practically become my family, now that my dad was gone.
Honestly, I didn't have anyone else, but I was okay with that.
“Raven!" Dahlia called, causing me to glance toward the bar.
I had gotten lost thinking about everything piling up while wiping down the table that by the time I glanced down, you could f*****g reapply your damn lipstick in the reflection. Straightening myself, I walked toward her with a smile.
Dahlia was my best friend and a badass. She was gorgeous with jet black hair, sultry blue eyes, and curves to die for, but she wasn't to be underestimated. I had seen this girl take down men twice her size, and trust me, she was the one left standing.
“Yeah, Dahl?" I stepped up behind the inky black upholstered bar with its obsidian-hued, lacquered bar top. I didn't even want to think about how much my dad had paid for the s**t.
“Can you cover me while I grab some more beers from the back?" Dahlia focused on downing a row of tequila shots before sliding them down the bar to someone, winking at the patron.
“Sure." I nodded and took over, watching her place the liquor bottle back from where she had pulled it.
A heavy metal card slammed down onto the bar, followed by an order. “Whiskey on the rocks."
I stared at the forty-year-old man in a tailored grey suit, his expensive cologne wafting around me, and I wondered what his story was. Did he own some hotel business, a casino, or a real estate business? The choices were endless how this fucker got his money. I enjoyed playing this fun as f**k game; guess who was who and what they did for a living.
My hand reached out and grabbed his card, holding onto it to open his tab for the night. Honestly, sometimes I thought about stealing cards and paying off some bills, but I didn't want to spend time behind bars with other fucked-up bitches. Not to mention, I enjoyed my privacy, and as far as I had seen and heard from some regulars here, prison ripped everything away from you.
I grabbed a glistening lowball glass from behind the bar and flipped it onto the shiny top, causing the thunk of the thick bottom of the glass to add to the cacophony of sounds within my bar. Dropping a chilled sphere of ice into the cup, I pulled a bottle of whiskey from behind the bar to toss and pour into it. The warm, amber liquid cascaded over the ice cube as it filled. Something about watching the warm liquid run over the smooth curves of the ice made it appear sexy. The recessed lighting above the bar did wonders for making the drinks look hella good too.
“Here you are." I slid the drink to the man in a suit, who thanked me before leaving to find a table.
I watched him leave to sit down and wondered if I should ask him to help me with my f*****g bills. I was on the brink of losing this place, and it was the last thing I had of my father's. Really, a part of me felt stupid I thought of the Viper Bar as my dad, but many people felt that way about s**t dead family or friends left behind. It's like one last material possession you can hug when you no longer have them.
But, I was about to lose this damn place, and if that happened, I didn't know what I was going to do. The sharp scent of liquor, dark smoke, good conversation, and a little chaos were my home! If I lost this place, my heart would shatter in two across the damn grey marble floor.
“Back!" Dahlia walked up behind me with a case of beer balanced between her hands, each brown glass bottle clanging against one another. “Sorry it took so long. These were way in the back. We're gonna need to buy more from a supplier, Rave."
Great… add that to the list of bills coming out of my ass. I had way too many at this point. The tower on my desk would soon topple over and eventually fill my whole office and bar.
I smiled at Dahlia and nodded, smacking her shoulder, “I'll make note of it. Thanks, Dahl."
“You're welcome!" Dahlia went to work putting the beer away while I took another order.
As I filled an order, I saw a thirty-year-old man walk in with two others. He was sexy as hell in a tailored black suit with onyx-hued hair that was longer on top and shorter on the sides. He ran his slender fingers through his hair, letting a gold signet ring on his left little finger shine in the lights. It drew my attention for a moment before I peered back up to take in his dark and brooding gaze. God, those eyes could f**k me alone.
He sat down at one of the tables in the back, shrouded in darkness over the other tables illuminated by the bar lights. His long, slender fingers grabbed the lapels of his suit coat and tugged on it to adjust it as a cunning smile fell onto his full lips. Goddamn, how I wanted to taste them. I wondered if they tasted like honey and smoke, or something darker. How would he react if I ran my hands through his luscious dark hair and suddenly yanked his head back to run the tip of my tongue along his bottom lip and flick the top one before biting it? Would his c**k get hard as I rolled my hips in his lap, taking control of his body? Would he slam me onto the table and rail me in front of everyone in my bar to show them all who I belonged to?
The sound of someone hitting the bar top with their hand to grab my attention brought me back to reality, and I cleared my throat, “Yeah?"
“Need to close my tab now, baby girl." The man licked his lips, teetering slightly and smelling of alcohol and piss.
I smirked, grabbed the heaviest glass I owned in the damn joint, and slammed it onto his hand, causing his knuckles to crack beneath the pressure.
“f*****g HELL," the man screamed as I bruised his hand.
“You're lucky I didn't break your fingers with my damn bat!" Eyes on me, I caught the man in the tailored suit smirk while he talked to the two other guys with him at the table.
“What the f**k, b***h! I just wanted to close my tab! Jesus—Christ!" The man yanked his hand from beneath the glass and shook it out.
My dark gaze locked with his, “Rule one, don't call me baby girl. Rule two, don't be a f*****g asshole and have some damn manners."
I closed his tab, while he rubbed the back of his hand in pain. After I watched the sorry excuse of a man leave, I turned my attention back to the table in the darkness with the three men at it.
The other two men weren't half bad either. One had medium-length blonde hair with steel-blue eyes to die for when they hit the light just right. The other guy had short auburn hair and emerald-hued eyes reminding me of a deep dark forest. They were f*****g gorgeous men with tattoos peeking from their shirts, making me wonder if they covered their whole bodies or just small parts of them.
I f*****g loved tattoos. Something about the pain centered me when I needed it. The adrenaline and endorphins of the needle going into my skin made me feel alive! I never understood how some people used numbing cream before getting ink done. I craved the pain, the tickle of the vibrations in my bones from the thrum of the tattoo gun, and the raw burn of the scratching against my skin as it laid art on my skin. Tattoos and this bar, my two loves.
The table beside them cleared out, and I saw the opportunity to get closer. I wanted to know what they were talking about. I craved hearing what the man in the black suit sounded like. Was his voice dark, low, and alluring? Was it a voice you could sink into like a black cup of coffee with some sugar, cream, and a bit of dark spice… a voice I wanted to hear in my bed every night?
His full lips were enough to end me. I wanted to feel them ghost along my soft tattooed skin, lingering along my peaked n*****s and between my thighs. How his warm breath would feather along my wet folds and make me grasp his hair in my fists and shove his talented mouth onto my p***y.
The way he'd whisper, 'You're mine,' in a deep growl resonating in his chest between my thighs with his dark eyes on me. f*****g hell!
What the f**k was wrong with me? Clearly, it had been too damn long since I had been f****d.
My legs slightly trembled as I swayed my hips and wandered over to the table beside his. Maybe he wouldn't notice since I was just doing my job.
When I reached the table, I slowly leaned over it to wipe the other side of the smooth, ring-stained surface. His eyes scanned over my body like a predator about to pounce on his prey.
My gaze slowly ran up from the table to his, taking in the way he leaned back against the booth with his arms spread along it. The tip of his thumb played with the golden signet ring on his pinky, while he licked his lips and watched me.
The collar of my crop top had fallen enough to show off my red lace bra, and I watched his eyes wander down to take a peek. A smirk fell on my lips as I pressed my breasts against the table, shifting my hips in my tight black jeans to draw his attention.
Slowly rolling my hips, I arched my back to stand up straight to clean a spot closer to myself, taking my attention from him. He shifted his chiseled jaw, which was accented by dark stubble that matched the rich color of his styled hair. He was sexy and alluring and everything I shouldn't want. f**k!
“What are we going to do about the hit put out on Marcello?" The auburn-haired guy leaned his elbow on the table and gestured with his index finger.
“Giovani has that covered," the dark and mysterious man, who I wanted to take to my office and f**k, spoke in a low tone as if honey dripped from his full lips.
I bit back a moan at the sound, over cleaning the damn table and not giving a s**t about it. I needed to hear more. What the hell was a hit? What did that mean?
“Alright, what about the business partner who won't pay out?" I watched auburn-man lean back against the booth with a sigh, resting an arm along the back of it.
“I can handle it," the blonde piped in, pulling a blade from his pocket and flicking it open with his thumb.
'f**k,' I thought as I watched him play with the hunting knife.
“Send Dragon out first, and then you can play with him if that doesn't work. I don't need him dead; I just want his money," dark and sexy spoke in that f*****g enticing tone again.
“I'll get in touch," the auburn-haired one nodded.
“Great." His onyx gaze locked onto me again, burning into my skin and branding me as his already.
I didn't even know his f*****g name, and I wanted him. The more I heard them talking about these… business partners, the more I wanted to figure out how to partner with them. Maybe if I drew more of the main guy's attention, he'd offer something to me.
With one last lean over the table to show off my breasts to the man I wanted, gaining a dangerous smirk from him, I slowly stood up to walk back toward the bar with swaying hips. His eyes followed me the whole way, snaking through the crowd of people and tables until I spun around at the bar and locked my gaze with his again.
He parted his lips, letting a corner curl up as he licked one of his sharp canine teeth. He closed his mouth and shifted his jaw before leaning over to the auburn-haired guy to excuse himself.
My eyes stayed on him as he walked towards me with long strides like he owned my bar. His eyes never drifted from me as he raked his smoldering gaze over my body like he was licking me from the ground up. A shiver ran through me as he approached in his expensive suit.
'Oh, here we go…' I let the words linger in my head, wondering what he was going to try and pull on me.