Destined - Chapter 1
“Hey dude, wait your turn. We all wanna to get in, but you gotta wait, man.”
Sebastian felt someone grab his arm as he walked past the people queuing to get into what was being lauded as the hottest nightclub in Cape Town. It had been a long, crappy day, and his dark mood turned darker.
Before he could so much as take a breath, he felt a heavy hand settle on his shoulder.
“I’ve got this, Mr Marino. You go on in, sir.”
He was no slouch in the size department at six foot three, and still the bouncer at his shoulder dwarfed him. The man’s muscular arms and thighs strained against the black standard-issue suit.
Stalking into the club, Sebastian headed for the bar. The bartender, catching sight of him, came over.
“Evening, Mr Marino. Your usual?”
With a nod, he replied, “Make it a double.”
The bartender placed the drink in front of him before returning to the other end of the bar, leaving him to his thoughts. Absently, his fingers traced the drops of condensation trickling down the outside of the glass. Lifting the tumbler to his lips, he took a large swallow of the ice-cold amber alcohol, relishing the bite as it slid down his dry throat. He licked his lips, catching a stray droplet and breathing in the rich, oak fragrance of the whiskey. He felt the tension of the long, stressful day start to fade.
He had been putting out fires ever since the press got wind of the rumours circulating that his father was ill. The rumours had caused nervousness amongst the shareholders, and he would have to set up a meeting soon to assure them that their fears were unfounded. Marino International would remain strong, regardless of who was at the helm.
Taking another sip of the single malt, he savoured it, allowing his tongue to swirl in the deep flavours. His thoughts turned to his father. The man had changed since losing his older son.
When his brother had been kidnapped, his father, Salvatore, had refused to pay the ransom. He hadn’t believed they would follow through on their threat to kill Stefano. His father had been so fucking wrong.
Sebastian had borne witness to the guilt that had consumed his father since they found Stefano’s body in an abandoned warehouse. His brother, his everyday hero, lying broken and lifeless on the cold cement floor was etched forever in his memory. It broke his heart when he thought of how Stefano’s life had been cut so short in a cruel world. He’d been the heir-apparent, the one set to take over the family business. God knew he had the brains and the talent for it. He’d been respected from a young age, having an arrogance about him that made people reluctant to screw him over in business.
Despite being driven and a hard task master, the man had been fair in his dealings. Days like today brought into stark focus how much Sebastian missed his brother. How much he longed to have him back. The grief he’d locked away leaked past his iron control.
Picking up his glass, he swallowed down what was left in one gulp. He turned to look at the dance floor heaving with bodies. People gyrated to the pulsating music, seemingly without a care in the world, having fun and living life. In his current mood, it seemed almost blasphemous. But at least the club was making him money. Inferno seemed to be filled to capacity once again.
Pivoting back to the bar, he motioned with his finger for a refill. From the corner of his eye, he noticed a woman sitting on her own. He turned his head to get a better look. Lifting her gaze, she looked directly at him, almost as if she’d felt the weight of his stare. Large, provocative green eyes captivated him. God, was she breathtaking. Simply stunning.
She dropped her head, almost self-consciously, breaking the stare as her hair fell across her face, acting as a curtain, hiding her beautiful visage from him. Her elegant hand lifted to tuck her long, auburn hair behind her ear before her keen eyes once again found his.
“Mr Marino, sir? Sir?”
The barman had obviously been speaking to him, but Sebastian hadn’t heard a word. He’d been too focused on the mystery lady.
This time, Sebastian was the one to break their stare.
“Sorry, I missed that.”
“Zane’s on the phone. He’s looking for you, sir.”
“Tell Zane I’ll come up as soon as I’m ready.”
“Will do, Mr Marino.”
The man went back to the phone, and Sebastian turned back to look at the beautiful stranger. But she was gone!
Swinging around, he frantically searched the countless faces on the dance floor. He found every auburn-haired woman but her. How had she simply vanished into thin air? She had to be there somewhere.
And just like that, he felt his positive energy leave him and his black mood returned. The fire that burned to meet the enigmatic woman had now been extinguished.
With a defeated sigh, Sebastian headed to his office where Zane was waiting to meet with him. At the last minute, he changed his mind. He needed to find her. Surely, she still had to be there somewhere in the club. A person didn’t just disappear.
He hurried back up the passage to the bar in time to see the woman in question disappear out the door. As he went to follow, the bartender once again called to him.
“Mr Marino, sir—”
“Not now,” was all he took the time to say as he made a dash for the door.
Ignoring the man, he ran towards the parking lot, but once again, the vixen had vanished. What was it about this woman? She was like a fucking ghost. Cursing under his breath, he scanned the parking lot in hopes of catching sight of her, but to no avail.
He dropped his head in disappointment, releasing a heavy sigh. Thrusting his hands in his pockets, he contemplated his next move. Was there another move? How did you find someone who didn’t want to be found?
Just as he’d resigned himself to the fact that she was gone, he heard the purr of an engine come to life. Moving in the direction the sound had come from, he spotted a bright yellow Mini Cooper reversing out of a parking space. Sprinting to reach her, he prayed he’d make it in time.
He saw her brake to engage first gear and realised he wasn’t going to make it. In the dim light, all he could see was those incredible green eyes he’d found himself so captivated by in the club. Their gaze met in the rearview mirror and clung for what felt like an eternity before she broke contact and slowly drove away.