She thought she was in love. But then he pulled her down into his world; a world of violence, corruption and crime. Life isn't always easy being Leah, the wife of a gangster. Especially after she falls for an enemy…
1. Corporate Launch (PG-13)
Another party. This one is happening at the Monique hotel in the centre of the city, celebrating the corporate launch of a new project by design house Chloé. Very elegant. Very sophisticated. Very me.
Or so he thinks.
I didn't bother to ask him when he first told me about the party two months ago who had invited us, what it was in aid of, or even why we were going. I've learnt, over the two years we have been together, that he knows many people, has many connections, and if there is a prestigious event happening in the country's capital, then him and me will be in a high position on the guest list.
As we waltz up the grand staircase, I can feel my husband Nathan nodding his head in acknowledgement of several people, who look business types, to say the least. I, as always, am his trophy wife, holding his hand and wearing a long evening gown of cream and pearls that has been exclusively designed by Stella McCartney and one of the members of the Gucci family. Yes, very expensive. But its nothing to him. He loves to show me off, to hear as we pass many people little comments being made such as: "God, isn't she beautiful?" and "Don't they look like a perfect couple?".
I suppose in many respects we are… both young, good-looking, healthy, very much in love, and of course… loaded. As I look around at the penguin-coated waiters serving canapés and caviar to the really rich who look like they are already struggling to manage their flutes of champagne and their Alberta Ferretti clutchbags, I sigh happily. I have really landed on my feet. School never did appeal to me, and I left at sixteen, managing for two years to hold together a retail assistant's job in some fashion outlet while still living with my parents. Then, as soon as my eighteenth birthday came, I added some evening shifts to my employment with a job in an up-market wine bar. That's where I met him, and soon after, fell in love.
At that moment he turns to me. We're now stood on the edge of the large marble balcony that overlooks the foyer. Through the large glass doors on our left is the ballroom, where the evening's dancing and socializing had apparently already commenced. His gorgeous deep blue eyes bore into mine, and for a moment I feel naked in front of him once more. He has a way of making me feel like he can read into my mind, see my soul. He has the power to expose me when I am most vulnerable and it is this power, I suppose, that had contributed to the many reasons he was able to seduce me.
I smile. "Don't leave me tonight," I whisper, almost inaudibly, but loud enough for him to hear and rest his forehead on mine before kissing my nose gently. I shudder slightly. His touch has always sent an electric feel along my spine. Handsome and amazing, I'm completely absorbed in love for him. But he has his faults like every man…
"There's a few people I need to speak to tonight, Leah," he speaks deeply, but quietly. "I won't be long. And then, as always, I'll be yours for the rest of the night."
I nod my head in acceptance, and together we smoothly enter the ballroom. It's a fine entrance, as always. Many people recognize us. They admire and whisper, but if we try to meet their eye they will look away. My husband is respected to the level that many have a slight fear of him. It is widely whispered in circles such as these that many of the dealings of him and his 'business partners' are not strictly legit… that it is not just the bars that he owns that keeps us in a London townhouse and me in Armani. No. There is more to Nathan Mackenzie than meets the eye, and many know it.
It is all like a fairytale dream. I feel tall, and beautiful, on the arm of this extremely attractive man, and also quite powerful when I am able to flash the Tiffany white gold and diamond ensemble that binds him to me.
He notices many of his business affiliates, and gently guides me over to one of their group standing to include himself in the conversation. They greet him enthusiastically, and each of them takes my hand to press it to their lips in politeness. This is the sort of behaviour I have become accustomed to, although only six years ago, a sixteen year old me would have laughed so hard at it.
But this is one side of my perfect life. The parties, the champagne, the hotels, the different locations. The other side I have to endure is the late night phone calls, secrecy, deception, him never being at home, the violence I see, the alibis I'm expected to provide. His world is one of corruption, organized crime, gangs and greed. You could say that I'm in love with a monster. A perfect monster, but still…
The evening seems to pass quite quickly, which pleases me. Although for half the night, Nathan betrays his promise and associates with many guests apart from his wife, he has obviously arranged for his little brother and 'second-in-command' Scott, to keep me company, and also to keep an eye on me. It is a typical Nathan plan; perfectly planned, perfectly executed. Throughout dinner, husband and wife are side by side, and he places a protective hand on my thigh under the table when I engage in a conversation with Ben Winters, a young executive of Chloé. He is charismatic, and I laugh on more than one occasion. Nathan, after the fourth joke, softly but firmly turns my head with his left hand and places a kiss on my open mouth. It isn't romantic on his part; just protective.
After, there is dancing, although I don't indulge, despite persistent attempted persuasion by Scott. No, I am distracted by Nathan and an older looking man on the far side of the ballroom. I watch as he introduces a blonde woman, about my age but smaller, obviously his daughter. Her look betrays to me that she likes Nathan, and I immediately feel possessive. It's a familiar feeling, I have experienced it before. They talk, and she more than once places her hand on his arm while she laughs. And as she does, she flits her hair, golden dazzling under the small but intense lights. Nathan has his back to me, probably on purpose, so that he doesn't have to take any warning looks I might be sending. Scott, meanwhile, tries in vain to distract me. He knows what we are like as well. He knows what usually happens when I get jealous, and sometimes cause a small scene. Then Nathan gets angry, and it is usually Scott that takes blame for not keeping a close enough eye on me.
As the height of their flirting arrives, I hurry myself away to the bathroom. I can't bear to watch anymore. I look at myself in the huge, ceiling to floor illuminated mirrors. My trustworthy makeup has remained immaculate, thankfully, although there are a few creases in my silk designer dress from sitting down for so long. I sit on the sofa for a few moments, and gather myself, before returning to the party and requesting a glass of mineral water from the bar. It arrives, and the coolness slipping down my throat is enough to calm me further. I know, by now, how to bring him away from the other women and to me. Its quite easy, although slightly dangerous.
I look around. A man around 30 is standing just up from me. I suppose he could be called good-looking. Nothing to Nathan of course, but still fairly attractive. I slide down elegantly, still sipping from my glass of mineral water.
"Long night?" I ask quietly, as I come to a stop beside him. He looks tired, and bored. He turns as he hears me, and obviously looks me up and down before smiling in approval.
"You have no idea."
I laugh, in a very obvious way. "Try me. What brings you here then?"
"My girlfriend." He nods to a small cluster of women and young men at the edge of the parquet dancing floor. "She owns some fashion franchises. Designer, or whatever. So she dragged me along." He turns back to me. "And you?"
I shrug, without great enthusiasm. "Business. What else." I suddenly remember formality, and offer my hand. "Leah Mackenzie."
He takes my hand and is about to press it to his lips when he repeats "Mackenzie?"
I nod. He has obviously heard of my husband through the grapevine as well.
"Nathan Mackenzie's wife?"
"That's right." His deep voice comes from behind me, and as I turn my head, sure enough, my husband has returned to my side. He takes my arm once more. The gentleman who I was talking to looks as though he is going to bow, but then offers his hand and says;
"Good evening, sir."
Nathan shakes his hand. "Good evening." He turns to me, sliding his arm around my waist. "We're leaving." I'm ecstatic, but instead of showing it, nod my head dumbly and recover my shoulders with my stole.
"Who was that guy?" he asks as soon as the valet finds the Porsche and we get in.
I shrug, for what seems like the hundredth time that evening. "I was only talking to him for a second before you showed up." I pause as we set off, with Nathan driving fast as always. "Who was the girl?"
He sighs. "The daughter of Harold Davies. You know… the oil tycoon?"
"Oh, right," I say unenthusiastically.
"You're not jealous again, are you Leah? Look... I'm always charming and nice to the women simply to keep their fathers and husbands happy. Its bad for business if everybody thinks you're unsociable…"
"I'm not jealous…" I say weakly, fighting the urge to cry through mere relief that the night was over. Nathan, controlling the steering wheel with his right hand, starts to stroke my thigh once more with his left.
There is a long silence and we eventually pull into the leafy avenue that holds our home. He as always, parks the car expertly up the drive, and as he turns off the engine, turns to me and without saying a word gives me a full kiss. He does it with such passion, and with such expertise as usual that I can't resist a slight moan erupting from my mouth. I try to slide closer, but the handbrake doesn't permit me. Then he leans his forehead against mine and murmurs breathlessly; 'Come on.'
As soon as the front door closes, he falls on me with his mouth again. I want him so much that I kiss his mouth violently, and his fingers find the zip at the side of my dress. He slides it down my body, and suddenly I'm stood in front of him in just my lingerie and high heels on the marble floor of our dark hall. He steps back, pulls off his jacket and starts to undo the buttons slowly, never for a moment letting his eyes leave my body. I come back to him, helping him in a hurry to take off his shirt. He tilts his head, laughs, before allowing me to continue, and I feel his hands slide up my back to the clasp of my bra. There's no time to go upstairs, and everything becomes so passionate and heated that I remember our first night together, and how every single one since had just improved and improved. I slow things down, and walk backwards towards the stairs before lying on them, and inviting him with my eyes to join me. He obliges, and soon after we're both naked, making love fast. He is an amazing lover, always was, and shares the common liking for sex among men.
After, he gathers me in his arms, and I feel safe once more. We kiss for a long time, and I make a mental note to remember times like this whenever things get ugly in the future. I make myself think that he is just as in love with me as I am with him.
Although I don't think that I actually believe it deep down…