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BY GILLIAN GODDEN
Tony Lambrianu is bold, daring and ruthless, qualities that have propelled him and Jake Sinclair up the ladder in London’s sleazy but lucrative underworld.
And, now that he’s running a fancy West End nightclub, Tony has new-found celebrity status – with a never-ending string of gorgeous women on his arm, he’s become the darling of the tabloids. However, despite his success, he still feels he lacks the respect he deserves and the status he desires. The little boy who lived on the streets is never far away.
Desperate for recognition, he’s driven to achieve more and more. Most of all, he craves the acceptance of Ralph Gold and to become a bigger part of his extensive web of organised crime.
Fearlessly facing up to enemies, winning battles and becoming the undisputed bosses of the London underworld can be a nasty business, but it’s the only business Tony and Jake know. And they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.
At long last, the club was ready. It seemed to have taken forever to gut and fully renovate the bossman’s old club in the West End of London, but now the wait was over. Lambrianu’s was no longer just a dream – it had become a reality.
Tony Lambrianu, the manager, had walked round it with Jake Sinclair – his business partner and the man he thought of as his brother – Jake’s wife, Sharon, and Elle, who had fostered both boys from a young age. They looked at the furnishings and took in the whole ambience, and they were astonished by the transformation.
The building works had been watched by the public, as they passed by on their way to work each day. Buses full of passengers and black cabs driving through the West End all seemed to be waiting for the finished result. It seemed the large building – now no longer surrounded by scaffolding and covered by long dust sheets – had attracting a lot of public interest.
Tony’s request that the sign, outside, should be pink neon had initially seemed shocking, but there was no denying it worked. The designers had continued the pink theme inside, to create an intimate atmosphere.
The bar was circular, the black top resting on a chrome base, and chrome stools with pink leather seats surrounded it. The dance floor looked like it was made of large glass tiles. Multi-coloured lights flashed and flared beneath it, lighting up the whole area, making it the centrepiece of the club. The theme continued with round black tables, surrounded by horseshoe-shaped pink leather sofas. There were private booths for those who wanted to sit away from the crowds, in the company of their own party. High up, near the ceiling, was a large glass DJ’s booth, and there was a stage, should they want to put on live entertainment. It all looked amazing.
CCTV had been installed both inside and outside of the club. Tony and Jake had their own office, and the CCTV monitors lined the walls, so they could watch everything that was going on. Tony had felt that this kept their finger on the pulse of the place. No one was going to creep up on him and walk in without warning, the way he had done to the South London mob boss, Marlon, and the hapless – now deceased – Eddie Rawlings.
All they needed, now, after all this hard work and waiting, were customers.
Sharon had suggested flyers advertising opening night and a notification in the local newspaper. Local tearaway, Dan, and his gang, had been given the job of posting the flyers everywhere and anywhere they could. Sharon had interviewed and hired bar staff, while Tony and Jake had sorted out security.
And now was the moment of truth; would anyone actually turn up?
Everything was in place. Two of the bouncers, smartly dressed in black suits and ties, were in charge of the doors, supposedly keeping the crowds safe – if there were any crowds. The bar staff and waitresses stood ready, dressed in black trousers, white shirts and pink bow ties.
Tony stood at the bar on opening night, having a drink with Sharon and Jake, impatiently waiting for the clock to strike nine. That was opening time. This project would either take off and be a success, or turn out to have been a money pit and a waste of time.
The club felt like an empty ghost town and suddenly twice the size. Even though there was excitement in the air, there was also nervous tension, and none of them had much to say to each other.
The bar staff were polishing the glasses and making themselves busy, to pass the time. The waitresses stood at the side of the bar, waiting patiently for some customers. It felt like time had stopped. Everyone seemed bored and restless; even when the music started up, it didn’t seem to make much difference.
‘I can’t stand this anymore,’ said Jake, ‘I feel sick. I’m going to take a look outside to see if there’s anyone around.’ No matter what happened, both Jake and Tony knew they had to put on a brave face and look confident. At this stage there was nothing else they could do.
Moments later, Jake came running back over, nearly tripping up in his haste. His eyes were wide and his face wore a shocked expression. ‘Tony! Tony!’ he shouted.
Tony was still standing at the bar with Sharon. He was drinking a large whisky for Dutch courage. They turned to Jake on hearing him shout and, even in the dimly lit club, they could see the colour had drained from his face.
Jake was out of breath, he was panting and trying to speak at the same time.
‘There’s a queue around the block, loads of people are waiting to come in! Come and see.’
Jake led the way, almost running the full length of the club to get back to the doors. Tony and Sharon followed. Looking past the bouncers on the doors, Tony saw a long line of people patiently waiting for the doors to open. He looked at the bouncers and then back at the queue, then turned to go back inside. ‘Let them in,’ he said.
The three of them went and stood at the far side of the bar, almost in the shadows, and watched as people came flooding through the doors.
A blonde woman wearing a very expensive-looking pink gown walked in first, with a party of similarly dressed men and women hot on her heels. ‘Champagne!’ she shouted at the bar staff. Silver champagne buckets were filled with ice and corks were popped. The staff, recently idle, were now rushed off their feet, trying to keep up with orders.
More and more people came through the doors. Many followed the blonde woman’s lead and ordered champagne. She was adorned in diamonds that Sharon assured Tony and Jake had to be the real thing. She sat in the middle of one of the private booths, men and women seated each side of her, as though holding court.
The three of them watched as an older man walked up to her, kissed her on the cheek and sat at her side. He was dressed in a tuxedo, and had an air of authority. Everyone seemed to know him. One of the waitresses walked up to Jake.
‘Mr Sinclair,’ she said, ‘that woman over there keeps ordering champagne, but she isn’t paying for it. She keeps telling the bar staff to put it on her account. Do you know her? Does she have an account?’ She looked worried.
Tony and Jake looked over at the woman, and the man that had joined her. They were now circling the room, stopping to talk to people and shaking hands with them. Tony and Jake’s curiosity was roused. The woman got louder and louder as she drank more champagne, then she started moving in time to the music.
Jake was just about to call the bouncers to escort her out when her male companion was suddenly in the shadows at their side. He held out his hand towards them. ’Ralph Gold,’ he said, ‘and that lady over there, encouraging your customers to buy champagne and have a good time, is my wife, Julie.’
Ralph Gold? Tony looked at Jake, and then back at the man. This was his club. He owned it. Tony, for the time being, was only the manager. This was the man he was hoping to buy it off, in a year’s time. Tony’s heart sank. They had both obviously come to see what he had done with the place, and to keep an eye on him. He felt almost embarrassed; this man and that woman were, effectively, his bosses!
Tony held out his hand to shake Ralph’s. ‘Tony Lambrianu, and this is my brother, Jake Sinclair,’ he said.
The man was smiling and, in between talking to them, kept looking over at his wife, who was now encouraging everyone on to the dance floor.
‘It seems to me that you two gentlemen are shirking your hosting duties,’ Ralph said. ‘People want to know who the man is whose name is in pink neon above the door, and to meet the owner.’
Tony nodded and he and Jake walked towards the centre of the bar with Ralph Gold. People instantly recognized Ralph and walked up to him.
‘This is Tony Lambrianu and this is Jake Sinclair,’ said Ralph, introducing them to the people gathered around him. A sea of hands came out to shake theirs.
Julie walked up to them. ‘Come on, we need to show them how to dance.’ She pulled Tony forward, and into the midst of people.
Sharon nudged Jake with her elbow. ‘Isn’t he the owner?’ she said.
Jake nodded, but he also found it strange that Ralph was not introducing himself as such.
The Golds were telling the party of people they were with that they had seen the club being renovated and, being a ‘family friend’ of Tony Lambrianu, just had to dance the night away at his new club.
‘More champagne,’ shouted Tony, trying to fight his way back to the bar and away from the crowds. For the moment, he just wanted to stand and watch all the people that were in his club. What only a few hours ago had been a ghost town was now a thriving, noisy nightclub, crammed to the rafters with people enjoying themselves.
Tony felt a tap on his shoulder and was pleased to see Marlon, the South London mob boss. As a gesture of goodwill, he had made a point of sending him a personal invitation.
‘Nice club, Tony, business must be good.’ Marlon smiled and shook hands with Tony and Jake, like they were old friends. ‘Your DJ isn’t so hot, though. Tell you what … I know a young guy, freelancing, he’s good, gets the people going. If you like him, you do and if you don’t, no skin off my nose, he doesn’t work for me.’
Tony felt this was Marlon’s reciprocal gesture of goodwill; he was trying to help him. He knew he had a lot to learn about the nightclub business and was prepared to listen to friendly advice.
Sharon was mingling with the women and showing them the ladies’ room, which was large and full of mirrors, and even had a sofa inside it. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was a great success. Then Jake walked over. ‘Have you seen who just walked in, Tony?’
Tony looked across the room and again, his heart sank. He took a deep breath, expecting trouble. Walking towards him was the detective from Scotland Yard who had been involved in the diamond heist investigation. He didn’t walk up to Tony and Jake; instead, he walked up to Ralph Gold and shook his hand like they were old friends. They were talking and drinking, and even Ralph’s wife, Julie, was joking with him and trying to encourage him to dance.
‘Friends in high places, eh?’ said Tony, looking at Jake and then back to the three of them, laughing and joking together. As the night went on, Tony began to relax. He had made a point of drinking with Marlon until Marlon had been swept away by some young woman who wanted to dance. He began to mingle, and to enjoy himself. He introduced himself, and everyone seemed pleased to meet him. It felt like a parallel world. Not that long ago, these people would have passed by him in the street, without giving him a second look. Now he was Tony Lambrianu, the club owner and their new best friend!
‘Evening, Mr Lambrianu.’
Tony looked up to see the detective reaching out his hand to shake his. Mr Lambrianu? Tony couldn’t believe his ears. Tony shook his hand, and for the sake of something to say, asked him if he was enjoying himself.
The detective nodded, and took a large gulp of his whisky. Seeing that his glass was nearly empty, Tony raised his hand to a member of the bar staff to fetch a fresh one, then stopped the detective when he saw he was going to take out his wallet.
‘This one’s on the house,’ he said.
‘Thanks.’ The detective looked around. ‘Nice club, Mr Lambrianu, it looks very different to the last time I was here.’ He looked directly at Tony. They both knew that the last time the detective was there was after he had been anonymously tipped off that the diamonds were in the bossman’s safe. ‘You have a very distinctive voice, I’d recognise those dulcet tones of yours anywhere.’
Tony had made a point of disguising his voice, so that the detective wouldn’t recognize him, but it seemed his plan had failed.
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About Author Gillian Godden…
“I work as a doctors receptionist at the local health centre, close to where I live. I’ve experienced a lot of support in the writing community and have seen my titles flourish under the microscope that is Amazon. The only part of writing I find difficult is the promotion. Bloggers help authors to market, advertise, and publicise our wares, but I’d far rather be writing them.
“I live in Yorkshire with my dog Susie. Walking her around the park after ten-hour shifts clears my head and allows me to plot ideas. The best murderous plans come to me this way. My son, Robert, lives in London. I’d love to move back there someday.
“My books appear in Fantastic Fiction, London Crime, and during a recent visit to Streatham library I donated one copy of each of my books. People regularly send me photos of themselves reading them while on holiday. And I often receive messages from those who’ve enjoyed my works.
Links to Gillian‘s Website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon (Dangerous Games, Book 1):
Amazon (Nasty Business, Book 2):
Amazon (Francesca, Book 3):
You can buy all of Gillian’s books here:
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Thanks, Gillian, for sharing your book with us!
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