The Mafia CEO's Yakuza Girlfriend
The Mafia CEO's Yakuza Girlfriend
Author: Eva Harlowe

Chapter One

Guillaume Esposito eased his long, lean frame from his red McLaren 570S Spider and tossed the keys to the waiting valet. He pulled down on his suit jacket to straighten it before stepping onto the red carpet that would lead him inside one of the hottest nightclubs in Los Angeles and all of California, Starstruck. He noted with appreciation that the side of the establishment next to the main entrance held a queue that was at least thirty people deep. Business was good.

Immediately behind him pulled up two black Escalades upon which six men in black and white suits and three women in haute couture gowns emerged. The tall woman with the red hair and tight-fitting green number sidled up to him and slid her hand into the crook of his arm. The others settled in formation, flanking him on both sides as they all walked together toward the main entrance of the club.

The bouncer, a young, handsome black man named Lance also in a black and white suit, greeted them reverently and unlatched the thick velvet rope to let them in.

There were some boos and hisses from the queue, but Guillaume clenched his jaw turned his head toward the crowd, regarding them with the glacial blue glare which has been known to silence an entire room in seconds. The crowd hushed and Guillaume was able to go into his club with his associates with a sense of satisfaction.

A pretty blond girl wearing a sparkly electric-blue dress and couldn't be older than twenty-three led them to the exclusive VIP area that you could only sit in if you had five thousand dollars to spare. It was a secluded alcove that had the best views of the nightclub's stage and dance floors as well as large, comfortable leather sofas and three tables. It even came with its own bar and two extra security men who stood by the velvet rope, in order to keep away random people from pestering the clientele.

Guillaume was impressed by all of this. As soon as he was settled on the sofa and had his drink in hand: Lagavulin scotch-whiskey in a crystal tumbler, no ice, he could finally exhale.

Out of all places, he detested LA. It was hot, loud, filthy, and the people were awful. He had just arrived from London this afternoon and barely had time to shower and recover from his travel at his penthouse on Spring Street before he had to set out to visit the clubs within the area.

He had saved this one for last because it was the biggest and most high-end club out of all of them. It usually took about an hour to get in unless you were on the guest list and it would take a miracle or a celebrity friend for that to happen. Yet it remained packed even on weeknights, which left Guillaume slightly puzzled. He supposed that the parties never really ended in LA.

The headache-inducing hip-hop beat slowed down its tempo and made way for trip-hop. He relaxed into the soft leather seating and sipped his drink. He recognized the artist: he financed the production of the guy's debut album last year and it went triple platinum. This music, at least, was tolerable.

Rachel began to massage his neck and shoulders. "Ease up, capo. You're too tense. You look like you're about to have an aneurysm."

Rachel was his personal assistant and had been for seven years. She went everywhere he went. But Guillaume couldn't relax even under her gentle rubbing. He'd had the feeling all night that some bad shit was supposed to go down and had been gearing himself up for it. His instincts had never steered him wrong.

"And now, the moment you've all been waiting for," a showman's voice boomed over the speakers. "The megastar of Starstruck and the empress of the stage, Kiki Chow!"

The song "Hell is around the corner" by Tricky began to play, reminding Guillaume of his uni days and he looked up just as a petite pink-haired figure, like Dione rising from sea foam, gracefully emerged from the thick violet fog that covered the floor of the stage. For a moment, he could only stare. The woman was a goddess.

"Bloody hell, boss," said McMullen, one of his longtime bodyguards, peering over the railing. "Now there's a little angel if I've ever seen one. What do you think?"

"She's precious," Guillaume muttered. He took another sip of his drink and as though he were mesmerized, was a little shaky about setting the glass back down right side up. Rachel had to take the glass from him.

What the hell was going on with him tonight? He was known for his unflappability and ability to look like he gave zero fucks about anything.

But the woman who was now working her lithe, lean body around the pole like an acrobat unsettled him. She was dressed in silver from feet to neck. She wore silver knee-high boots with four-inch stiletto heels, a silver thong bikini that showcased her taut, tight ass, and a silver bandeau that barely kept her pert, rounded breasts contained. Around her neck was a silver choker and on her wrists were silver bands.

He reached for his drink once again and drained it. Rachel stepped forward and refilled his glass. It wasn't his habit to get foxed when he was first visiting a venue with which he was unfamiliar, but tonight just felt... wrong. He had studied the floorplans of the nightclub and was aware of where all the doors were. The only problematic spot was the underground carpark that only had one exit.

On top of it all was this woman, the icing on the cake. Her pole-dancing skills and acrobatics were nonpareil to be sure, but there was something about her that was just tantalizing. He couldn't keep his eyes off of her. His gaze followed each twirl, dip, and gyration that her petite body made. He became obsessed with the sweat that made her honey-golden complexion glow. He took a few deep breaths meant to steady his rioting body, but they did nothing to slow down his pulse or ease the tightening in his groin.

Soon enough, the woman's act was over and she was cutely curtseying and blowing kisses to her adoring fans before scooting off the stage. Guillaume nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Would you like me to fetch her, capo?" asked Sylvana, a black-haired woman from Milan who was educated in Paris and one of his top lieutenants.

Guillaume knew he should say no, but he had to get to know this Kiki Chow and find out for himself if the rumors were true. Was there really more to her than meets the eye? His well-paid snitches hadn't yet revealed anything too useful.

"Yes," he found himself saying. "Go get her for me and quickly." 

Sylvana approached one of the other guards and dispatched him on the errand. "She is very beautiful, capo. But dangerous as well if the rumors prove true."

"That little girl?" scoffed Gino Morelli, a man who's been with the family for almost twenty-five years. He had twice saved the life of Guillaume's father, so he had the old man's explicit trust. "Look at her, she's like one of those little ballerina things in music boxes or something."

Sylvana laughed. "Gino, you old-fashioned goon, you and I have to sit together one Saturday and watch some Quentin Tarantino movies. They ought to teach you not to underestimate those little angels."

Guillaume focused on his breathing until the chitchat of his people faded away to mere background noise and tried once again to mentally organize his thoughts. He learned a lot about meditation and compartmentalizing techniques during the time he spent with Tibetan monks in his gap year. He continued to practice them over the years and they have helped him make sound business decisions and execute actions that would otherwise violate his moral code.

Soon enough, she was standing before him.

The first thing he noticed about her was that she smelled like strawberries. He kept his eyes shut a little longer and breathed her in, savoring the sweet fragrance of her perfume and sweat. Before opening his eyes again, he snapped his fingers, ordering his men to disperse and give him some room.

The young woman in front of him couldn't have been older than twenty-five and not any taller than five-two. She weighed, at most, maybe eight stones soaking wet. Guillaume was convinced he could encompass her waist within his hands.

She was a lot more than pretty, which he had suspected, with rather delicate features that were almost elf-like. She had narrow eyes the color of hazelnut that tilted upward in the corners, a short, straight nose, and a generous mouth with the upper lip shaped like a perfect Cupid's bow. Her gaze was directed to the ground and her hands were folded neatly before her. She was familiar with the protocol.

She was still wearing the same outfit she had on stage and Guillaume was tempted to just grab her and haul her against him like an animal. But he could tell by the way her thumbs circled each other and the valiant attempt to keep her knees from shaking that she was extremely nervous. The last thing he wanted was for her to be afraid of him. He needed her at ease and off her guard.

"Kiki Chow," he murmured in admiration, using his posh Oxonian accent. "Your performance was beyond heavenly. I was blown away. Come, sit by me. I'm Guillaume Esposito, but you can call me Gui." 

"Gui?" she murmured, finally looking up. "It's nice to meet you, sir. I'm glad you liked my dance."

But she stayed where she was, ignoring his request to sit next to him. Guillaume frowned briefly. "I'd really like it if you sit next to me, Miss Chow. Those torture devices you call shoes must be hell on your feet. I don't bite, darling. Come."

Kiki Chow bit her lower lip and nodded. She made her way around a table so she could perch on the sofa a few inches from him. "I apologize, sir. I'm super nervous right now. It was a good thing I didn't know you were in the audience or I would have tumbled and landed on my head."

Guillaume thought her shyness rather charming, though he couldn't help but wonder how much of it was genuine or an affectation. He had always prided himself on his self-control and yet he couldn't resist reaching out to stroke the shoulder of the woman next to him. Under the warm red light, her skin looked like silk. He felt her shiver beneath his fingers. "Why do I make you nervous, my girl?"

She peered at him over her shoulder and giggled as she seemed to curl into herself. "Have you met you? You walk into a place like you own it and the people around instantly treat you like you're a frickin rock star."

"Well, I do own the place," he said with a chuckle. He removed his jacket and wrapped it around her since she seemed to be cold. "You have nothing to fear from me, my doll. I won't hurt you. Not unless you want me to."

Her laughter was soft, reedy, and carried with it an element of fear. She snuggled deeper into his jacket and seemed to burrow herself into his side. "Why would I want you to hurt me, Mr. Esposito? I don't think I'd like that at all."

He lowered his head so that his mouth would brush the top of her ear. "Don't you know, Miss Chow, that the most exquisite pleasures teeter on the line between agony and ecstasy?" He relished her trembling as he nipped her earlobe. "You are exquisite. Will you be mine tonight?"

Without waiting for her answer, he plucked her from her spot on the sofa and cradled her against him on his lap. "Do you want to spend the night with me, little angel?" He sipped at the skin on her throat and neck, savoring her sweet, clean scent, his fingers digging into the flesh of her hips. "My beautiful little nymph."

Her moans sounded more like purrs as he bit down on her clavicle. Her arms slipped around his neck and her hands curled into his hair as she seemed to enjoy the tender ministrations he bestowed upon her chest.

"Mis... Mr. Esposito," she gasped, putting her hands on his shoulders to push him away just as he was starting to nudge her bandeau off her breasts. "Please, stop."

For a moment, he didn't quite understand what was happening. Did she really want him to stop? He was Guillaume Esposito. Not only was a very rich and powerful man, but European GQ had also included him in their Top 100 Gorgeous Men in the World for six years in a row. He was just profiled and was on the cover of Parisian Vogue talking about the importance of style and selling a brand even when it came to mundane things like real estate and investment banking. At thirty-seven, he was at the top of his game.

He lifted his head slowly from her chest and brushed her hair out of her face, noting the look of mild alarm in her widening dark eyes. "I apologize for my rashness, my pet. Have I done something to offend you?" God, he certainly hoped not because he really wanted to bed her tonight.

Her hands remained on his shoulders as well as the wariness in her gaze. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Esposito. While I like you and enjoy your attention, I feel like this is going too fast."

Guillaume raised his eyebrows. Was she playing some kind of game with him? "Tell me, Miss Chow... are you not interested in coming home with me?"

She worried over her bottom lip with her small, white teeth. "Don't get me wrong, sir, I am honored that you asked me. I'm..." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm just not that kind of girl." 

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