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Five Mafia Captors’ Virgin (Love by Numbers #4)
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I tried my best to escape. But they are after me.
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As always, I looked amazing. Everyone on the hair and makeup team was damned good at their job. After securing the knot on the black silk beach cover, I turned to a large mirror to make sure I hadn’t messed up any of their hard work.
Cat eyes made my dark eyes smolder and burgundy lipstick both made my lips kissable and edgy. The shimmering highlighter they applied made my golden brown skin glow, giving me an ethereal look, complimented by my big golden curls.
Yeah, I looked good, but I didn’t look like me.
I sighed, feeling tired all of a sudden. All I wanted to do was put on a pair of sweatpants and curl up on my couch. I’d been up all day and, because of the show, I was guaranteed a long night as well.
Glancing at a clock the Ballroom had graciously set up for us backstage, I saw that it was nearly 9 p.m. Time for me to take my place in line.
I lined up behind a pretty redhead and tried to put myself in that headspace I needed before I could confidently step out on the runway and put on a show. After years of modeling, getting into the blank place in my mind was automatic and almost felt comforting.
I felt a little less reticent given that I was about to walk in a charity show. Each year, the Las Vegas Venetian Resort Ballroom was transformed into a glamorous extravaganza. The richest of the rich from all over the world turned up, ready to show off just how much money they had. Then they went home, patting themselves on the back for helping out the less fortunate.
The soothing classical music faded out and a few people spoke on stage. It was too muffled for me to understand, but they didn’t talk long and returned backstage. The music changed to something a bit more upbeat and the first woman stepped onto the runway.
It wasn’t long before it was my turn. Before I stepped out from the concealment of the curtain, I took a deep breath. Then I raised my chin, put on coy expression that I was known for, and stepped out onto the stage.
I stomped down the runway, my hips swaying with each step. The black silk dress I wore picked up the wind and flared around my knees, creating the perfect amount of movement.
I was about halfway down the long runway when I saw him, the man who would end up changing my life forever.
He was in the front row, wearing a black tux and sipping a glass of wine. When he lowered his glass, I could see his strong, square jaw with a hint of dark stubble coming through his tanned skin. His eyes were the most wonderful shade of amber, framed by dark eyebrows. The man had thick black hair and for just a moment, I wondered what it would be like to run my fingers through it.
We locked eyes and, as clichéd as it sounds, my breath caught. His gaze was intense and shot through me like a bullet.
My eyes still on him, my hands went to the knot on the side of my silk dress and I pull the string. The two halves of the dress fell open, revealing the black bikini I had on underneath.
His eyes swept down my body and, just as his eyes locked again with mine, I was too far down the runway to see him any longer.
When I reached the end of the runway, I slid the thin straps of the dress down over my shoulders and let the audience get a full look at the designer bikini that cost more than my mortgage. I did a few quick poses, showing off the swimsuit, and took off back down the catwalk.
I saw that the man was still watching me. The closer I got to him, the harder it was for me to concentrate. Eventually, I just had to rip my gaze from him and keep walking.
By the time I returned backstage, I was breathing hard.
Who was that man? And how had he managed to make me feel so disarmed in just a few seconds?
I shook my head. It didn’t matter because I was never going to see him again anyway. He was just a face in the crowd, and I was sure that’s all he would remain.
I walked the runway two more times, experiencing that intense feeling yet again. By the time it was time for all the models to walk the runway together, I was shaking, forcing myself to keep my head forward.
The show ended and I dashed off to the dressing room, chatting with a few of the other women about the show. Many of them were younger than me and were still so excited about the job. Sitting at the vanity as I took off my makeup, I dwelled on the fact that modeling hadn’t given me as much joy as it once did.