Chapter One

A/N: Links on profile. Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Desperation was like stealing from the Mafia: you stand a good chance of attracting the wrong attention.
Douglas Horton

The club was full, the music was loud and the customers were drunk. My headache was only worsening with every passing moment. The downside of working in a club, I guess.

I was on my break in the back room when Jane made her presence known. Despite being the manager of "Solar Eclipse", being the best paid waitress and having the least hours to do, Jane always managed to be at least an hour late, leave an hour early, and delegate as much work as possible to everyone else as she sits pretty, flirting with the good-looking patrons. The only reason she still had a job was because the club's owned by her boyfriend Alec, who happens to be a complete sweetheart. Blinded by love, Alec doesn't see how much of a gold-digger Jane was. It's a pity, if you ask me.

"Isabella, what the hell are still doing in here? Why aren't you at the bar? Your shift doesn't end for another hour!" She screeched her voice like nails on a chalkboard.

"I'm on my break." I reply, not lifting my head from my arms. I'm resting my eyes, leaning on the table I was sitting at. Working on my book and working at the club was really kicking my ass, I think to myself.

This will be my fourth book, and while my first three were very successful and did make me quite the little nest egg to fall back on, I couldn't imagine not working, so after I began my fourth book "The Truth about Forever", I decided that I would find a job locally that was mainly at night and hopefully in shifts, that way I could work at night and write during the day. This plan was working very well, with the added bonus that I had made some great friends. Unfortunately, I also met some not-so-great people. The latter included Jane.

"The hell you are! You can't take a break on my time Isabella! Get your lazy ass back to the bar!" Jane ordered while strutting over to the fridge to get a complimentary bottle of water. Say what you want about Alec's choice in women, he was still a great boss.

Jane turned away from the fridge and faced me again. She wasn't happy. She brutally opened her bottle of water while beginning again.

"Listen Isabella, I don't care about your stupid books, or your stupid friendship with Alec. I don't understand why he likes you, and quite frankly I don't care because there was no reason on earth that he would ever choose you over me! So don't think for a second that you get special treatment for being able to write some words on some paper! It's not even a real job!" She exploded, her words mocking and her tone sneering.

Jane had a habit of taking personal offence to things that had nothing to do with her. Simple things like Alec speaking to me about things that weren't strictly business – like my novels – led to her feeling insecure which inevitably led to bitter, insulting rants.

I rolled my eyes when while she continued her rant. In essence, she wanted me to take my break later, to go back to work now, and I'm pretty sure the insult about my being an author was just for shits and giggles. Taking a deep breath, I straightened my uniform and pushed away from the table. My headache hadn't receded in the slightest, but a full bar was always better than Jane's voice.

Ignoring her, I walked out into the bar. Everything was exactly the same as when I left for my break: the club was crowded, filled with drunken college students grinding on each other like nobody else was in the room, the waitresses on shift were frazzled- with the exception of Jane. There was one difference, however: the light was on in the private VIP suite.

Solar Eclipse was the newest and thus most popular club in New York City. It could hold well over five thousand people; it had three bars, six private suites that are usually reserved by wealthy businessmen who want to win a contract by woo-ing them with drinks, women, a view and more drinks- and three dance floors over four different floors.

I walked behind the bar, nodding to James in greeting. James was the newest bartender. Apparently he worked in one of Alec's other bars in New York and was brought over here until we could replace Garret, the old bartender. He had only been here a couple of weeks, but he was by-far the best bartender the club has had. He flirted with all the female customers, making them want to come back - if even just to see his beautiful, tanned face. What the women that came to the bar didn't know was that James was in a very serious, long-term relationship with his boyfriend, Laurent.

It didn't take me long to get back in my rhythm. I served the customers for another hour, my headache increasing with each passing minute. James, having noticed my discomfort, had really stepped up his game.

Jane had left not long after interrupting my break, claiming she had important business to attend to and that she would be back later. James hadn't appreciated Jane leaving early. Apparently the only one in the club who hated Jane more than I did was James. Unsurprisingly, we had initially bonded over our hatred of her.

Half an hour before the end of my shift, Angela, the acting head waitress due to Jane's absence, came over to me in a hurry, her pretty face excited.

"Bella? I know your shift's ending soon but I need a favour." She murmured. I could barely hear her over the music, but I could see the wicked glint in her eye. Angela was up to something.

"What kind of favour?" I asked, immediately wary.

"Listen, Alec was in the Obsidian room with his boss, they need a private waitress and bartender. Jane isn't here and I'm already booked in for the red room. Heidi and Tanya are already swamped here, plus Peter called in sick, he and Charlotte are both down with the flu. You're the only one who can do it. Please? You could bring a notebook and write while they talk! They won't need you to do much I don't think...please?" She begged, using her puppy eyes. I cringed, I was really tired and I would no-doubt be even later getting home if this meeting went on too long.

I huffed a sigh as agreement, which caused Angie to squeal in thanks, her eyes alight with gratefulness. I sighed again, but reached under the bar for my handbag. Throwing it over my shoulder, I waved goodbye to James as he flirted shamelessly with a blonde across the bar. He threw me one of his trademark winks as a turned my back from him.

I climbed the stairs towards the suite, my eyes heavy with tiredness. Out of the

corner of my eye, I saw a flash of bronze.

A/N: This fic is not being beta'd so I apologize for any spelling and grammar mistakes.