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Envy: A Dark Billionaire Romance (Empire Sin) by Isabella Starling (1)

Charli

I was nervous as hell as I took to the stage.

The room was empty; the only sound was the AC unit above my head. The constant, annoying whirring made me even more nervous. The empty space taunted me, reminding me that there’d be a man joining me soon, a man who expected my body to grind and shiver under his fingertips, a man who, at the end of the night, might want to fuck me and take me home with him.

I could feel my stomach turning as I climbed onto the raised platform, the silver pole slippery under my clammy fingers. Despite the cool temperature of the playroom I felt hot, boiling, like my whole body was on fire from the anticipation of what was going to happen.

My reflection mocked me from across the room, the body I thought I knew so well was unrecognizable in the outfit that had been chosen for me. I was dressed in pinks and blacks, satin and silk, lace and bows. I looked like every man’s dirty dream, my petite body with its perfect curves finally serving the purpose it was made for.

When I first heard about Empire Sin, I was disgusted, thrown off by the idea of it.

A gentlemen’s club offering anything and everything to any man who wanted it… and could afford it. Everything came with a price, and as I stood in the tense playroom, I felt like there was a price tag dangling from the expensive diamond chain that adorned my thin body. I knew there was one, but I was never told exactly what it was. The only thing I knew was that all my troubles would be gone. All my debts, repaid, the men I was running from told I was gone forever, and the money I owed them paid back in full, with a bonus.

I’d be free. My sister, Lucienne, and I would be able to walk away from all of it unharmed.

The first time I came to a meeting to discuss my future with Empire Sin, it felt like I’d walked into the devil’s den. They spoke of things I didn’t, couldn’t, understand. Money and power. Luxuries like jewelry, clothes, expensive food that I had never been able to afford. The man, the leader, met up with me. I sipped expensive champagne from a crystal flute and wanted it. I wanted this lifestyle which had escaped me so many times before. This life, filled with every kind of opulence I could imagine. Right at the tips of my fingers. It could all be mine.

And I wanted it badly.

The lust for all of it took over my body, my mind and soul. I pictured a different life for myself and Lucy. A life where I didn’t constantly have to scour for hand-me-downs, struggle to make it through the week without a rumbling tummy and worry about a roof over our heads. This was it. This was my chance, my one chance, to get away and get out from the game I’d been playing, the cards I’d been dealt.

I heard noises in the front room, and my body tightened with nerves, expecting the man I was supposed to dance for to come through the door any second. I didn’t know anything about him, but when the other girls who danced here found out who I was paired with, they looked scared. It frightened me. I didn’t know what he looked like, I didn’t know how old he was.

I only knew his name, which spoke of trouble and danger.

Beau Wolfe.

Beautiful wolf… I only hoped he wouldn’t chew me up and spit me out, because I needed to make this work.

Every girl who danced at Empire Sin had a single dream – to be sold as property to the highest bidder.

It was what they all lived for, tried for, danced for. They wanted to be sold. They wanted the life of luxury that had been dangled in front of their eyes and stolen away before they could reach out and touch it. But to a buy a girl was a life-long commitment, and it cost so much money no man I’d ever met would be able to afford it. And yet, it held so much promise.

Someone to take care of you.

Someone to fix it all.

Someone to hold you, and hurt you, and fuck you.

Something we all wanted, even though admitting it was the hardest step we had to take towards a new future.

Would Beau be the one for me? The one to desire me so much he would pay any amount of money, just to own my pretty little body?

I needed him to be the one. I needed to be sold. I needed it so I could save my sister. To save Lucy.

I heard voices, muffled and deep and strong, and I leaned against the pole with my hands twisted behind my back. I was terrified, barely able to stand in the too-high heels I was wearing. My body shook in a mess of pink and black silk, and I waited and waited for the man to arrive, so I could steal his heart. It was the only thing on my mind. He needed to be the one. He needed to save us both. And just maybe, I could help save him, too.

The door opened, and even though I’d been taught never to look, I couldn’t resist. I stole a single glance towards the door, and my breath caught in my throat.

He was handsome. Painfully handsome, so beautiful he looked like he was made out of marble. But his chiseled, glorious face was ruined, tainted, by an ugly, thick, raised and puckered scar that covered most of the right part of his face. His eyes looked at me, only one of them seeing, the other glassy and a color so light blue it was almost blind. I knew by instinct he couldn’t see with that eye, and my heartrate picked up.

I felt a mix of emotions, but fear took the front seat as I quickly averted my eyes and stared at the floor in front of me.

He was probably only five or six years older than me, around thirty or so. He was handsome. I shouldn’t have worried about that. But the scar that maimed his face was gruesome, and it scared me so much I couldn’t dare another look up into the eyes of the man I had to seduce, because I had to become his.

I was scared of him. Undeniably, ashamedly scared of the man I needed to fall in love with me. And I was embarrassed by it, but I couldn’t help it. My body trembled painfully as I waited for him to sit down. I could feel his disappointment in me already. I could feel the anger coming off him in waves, and I understood completely.

He came here to get away. To pretend the scar wasn’t there. To make himself feel like he was still in control, like he hadn’t been when someone carved his face.

And I’d just ruined it completely by gasping at the sight of him, trembling in fear as he approached me.

I didn’t think Beau Wolfe was a monster, but he sure as hell looked like one.

The music came on. Music I’d heard before and been trained to dance to. It was why they took me on, why I finally got the job which was so sought after in the world of down-on-their-luck girls like Lucy and myself.

My body started moving of its own accord, and I was grateful for it. I wasn’t sure I could make it move on my own, so I accepted the vibrations of the bass and what they did to me. I used the pole to my advantage, closing my eyes and moving with the rhythm of the music. I let it get to me, sink into my stomach, take over my heart, flow through my veins, and I danced for him.

My hands roved over my body and I touched myself like they wanted me to, moving my bra to the side to flash him my pink nipples, pulling my panties aside and showing him my wet cunt. I danced for him, for his eyes only, and I opened my eyes for a single second, looking through the haze before me at him. Beau lay sprawled on the couch, his legs far apart and his cock hardening against the fabric of his pants. I let out a moan and kept dancing, because it was what I was paid to do, not because I wanted him. I needed this. I needed this man’s money to make my life better.

The music pounded in my ears and I used and touched my body while he watched, twisting my nipples and gently fingering my pussy. My eyes remained closed, and I pretended it was just me and the pole, and nobody else in the room. I didn’t want to dance for him. I wanted to dance for my future.

I felt him get up, and the floor vibrated under his heavy footsteps. He approached me, and in one second, his fingers wrapped around my neck, pinning me against the pole. I gasped, but my body still moved to the music just like I’d been taught to do.

“Open your eyes,” he barked at me. His voice was dark and dangerous, and it made me shiver more than before. “Fucking open. Now.”

I did, and my baby blues were barely able to hold his gaze.

“Name,” he said, and my body stood still for a second. “No. Keep dancing for me, slut. And tell me your name.”

“Charli,” I whispered, forcing my body to move the way he wanted. “My name is Charli. Charlotte Rousseau.”

“Dance,” he ordered, and I whimpered, but did my best to follow his wishes, dancing despite the fact he had me pinned by my throat. I was so scared I thought my heart would pound right out of my chest. I’d never felt this intimidated by a man, and up close, his scar was even more gruesome than from afar.

“Look at me,” he told me, and I squeezed my eyes tightly shut which only made him squeeze my throat tighter.

“Little slut,” he said. “You’re too scared to. Fucking shit… You’re too scared to even look at me.”

I whimpered in response and forced my eyes open.

His pained expression made him look even more dangerous. He was painfully beautiful. So beautiful he looked like a painting, like this kind of beauty couldn’t possibly be real. And it wasn’t.

Someone took it upon themselves to ruin his handsome face, and I couldn’t stare it for another second.

An adrenaline rush took over my body and I ripped myself from his grasp. He stared at me as the music played on the speakers above us, and I ran to the corner of the room. Neither of us said a word, and I felt like he was the predator and I was his prey. And now… he was going to hunt me.

I bolted for the door before him, and I ran out into the hallway. Several guards stared at me as I made my way out, stripping me hungrily with their eyes, too turned on to react to what was obviously an unusual situation in Empire Sin. These girls lived to impress – they danced to be sold, not to run away.

I made my way past all of them and kept running in those painful heels. Down the hallway, out of the building, past all those people. I just ran and ran and ran as fast as I could, until I could only hear my own footsteps and nobody else’s following behind me. I ran until my feet were sore and blistered and I was suddenly in a parking lot I didn’t recognize, with a car pulling up after me.

“Charli,” someone called out, rolling down the window.

My eyes were wild as I met his.

“Please,” I whispered. “I can’t do this. I can’t, I don’t want to.”

He stared at me, grinning at my almost naked figure, at the fucking state I was in. Then, he rolled the window back up and I cried out when the doors of the car opened and two men stepped out.

They approached me, heavy footsteps on the gravel of the parking lot. One grabbed me by the arms with a grip so iron-tight, I knew I could never get away from him no matter the amount of adrenaline rushing through my blood. I couldn’t get away. They were going to get exactly what they wanted.

The other man approached me, holding a crowbar in one hand. I shivered at the sight, my whole body erupting in goosebumps, fear coming off me in waves.

“Please,” I begged. “You don’t have to do this!”

“Oh, we do,” one of the men responded while the other swung the crowbar. “We follow instructions, and you should have, too.”

The crowbar knocked me out the second it connected with my head, and after that it was all dark, dark, dark as the night.