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'The Shark' - Lorenzo Abate Started by: Tyki_Mikk on Oct 01, '23 16:18

Wednesday 24th September, 1952 - Evening

Stargazers HQ


The night was soon upon him and alone in his private office of the Stargazers Manor, Tyki Mikk sat. Dark Oak desk, filled with various pieces of paper, all related to current mafia business, some family related, some not. One specific issue had caught his attention though, matters related to the ongoing debts and withholding of money from a local fund dealer, one Lorenzo Abate, nicknamed 'The Shark'.

Lifting the paper, he ran his eyes over the printed figures, unimpressed with anything he was witnessing. "What a joke. Does he really think he can report these numbers and we won't figure out he's trying to swindle us?" he muttered to himself.

"Perhaps, this is a good opportunity for us to pay him a visit and have a nice little chat with Signore Abate."

Opening the door to his office, he took a walk through the long corridor and past the main hall before arriving at the intimidating double doors, entrance to their building. As he momentarily left the Manor, he quickly spotted Pierre, his personal driver, performing his daily maintenance of one of the Sudan's. "Pierre, I require a service from you. I have some business that needs attended to and it requires a briefing with Amira and Corrado. I believe they are both at her Safe House right now. I would like for them to return here as a matter of urgency, please ensure it's done."

"Immediately Sir." Pierre responded without hesitation.

With a final swipe of his cleaning cloth along the metallic bonnet, he then opened the car door and with a turn of the key, the engine roared to life.

"I shall return with the pair shortly."

A nod of his head, he swiftly made his way back inside, returning to his office and pouring himself a whiskey as he prepared for their arrival.

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Amira stood watching as a team of two men plus Mrs. Carstairs neatly packed her things and moved them to a truck waiting outside. Today was the day that Amira would be leaving the safe house for a residence of her own within the Stargazer compound. As they moved out the suitcases, Amira could hardly believe she had accumulated so much in the way of material possessions in just two weeks. She had arrived with nothing but the clothes on her back, and one small shopping bag full of her clothes that had been retrieved from the flat where she and her brother had lived. Since then, those clothes had been disposed of, save for one very special item. Amira now owned more than 4 times the amount of clothes she had before, shoes, hats, even expensive underclothes that she had never imagined even touching. Now, she had a whole set of luggage and had even been taken to a furniture store to pick out things for her new apartment. It was all very exciting, but also humbling, and she'd told Tyki as much one evening that he had come to visit her. But, with a warm smile and a hand on her shoulder, Tyki had looked her in the eye and told her that everything was for a reason, and that she needed to be taken care of because he needed her help. That was something Amira could accept, and she had- in turn- promised that she would do everything she could to help him. 

Just as the last suitcase was being taken to the truck, Mrs. Carstairs came to her with her coat and helped her on with it.

"Mr. Conti is here to take you to the meeting with your boss. I will be going with these men to your new place to get everything settled for you, ok love?"

Amira smiled and nodded. Mrs. Carstairs was a kind, older woman of Scottish descent who had become something like a grandmother to Amira. It had been hard, at first, to get used to having people do things for her, but Mrs. Carstairs didn't seem to mind it one bit. In fact, she was quite insistent that Amira allow her to do such menial things. Eventually, she came to realize that Mrs. Carstairs felt just as much a purpose to her work as Amira was to her new lot in life, and that put the matter to rest. 

All ready to go, Amira walked out of the bungalow and silently thanked the little place for keeping her safe. Her long hair was washed and arranged in a tight French braid, with the length pinned underneath the rest. She wore a simple but well made black dress whose skirt fell below her knees and peeked out from the hem of her coat. She was down to only having to use one crutch, as har ankle had healed enough to be somewhat weight bearing. Mrs. Carstairs walked with her to the car, opening the door for her to slip in with Corrado. Amira smiled at him and took a small, paper-wrapped package from her coat and handed it to him.

"I have something for you."

She waved to Mrs. Carstairs as the vehicle took off, then watched as Conti removed the paper from the item. Inside was a 3x5 black and white photo of her mother and a younger Corrado Conti, taken on a boat. Talia Dayan was laughing, wearing a two-piece swimsuit and holding a fishing pole whose line was pulled long behind her, appearing to be hooked into the swim trunks of an also laughing Corrado.

"After we met, I went back through some of my things and realized that was you. I thought you might like to have it."

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Corrado was wearing a new blue suit- a gift from Tyki_Mikk. As the car pulled away, he looked down at the picture and swallowed. Yes, Talia had certainly hooked him. He stared for a long time, then smiled and raised his eyes.

"Thank you for the memory. Your father threw me into the Mediterranean ten seconds after this picture was taken." He smirked, tucking the picture away inside the left side of his jacket. "He barely tolerated me. Not that I blame him."

Corrado shrugged, and soon he was staring out the car window. Had it really been that many years since that picture had been taken? Corrado had heard about Yael and Amira, and he'd even met Yael once, but Talia had always seemed to him like the same woman he'd fallen for back in Paris. 

Before he noticed, they were at the Stargazers HQ. 

Corrado knew the area should be safe, but he still went through his normal routine of assessing for threats and confirming his weapons. he had a M1903 under his arm, a switchblade in his jacket, and a knife on his ankle as well. He escorted Amira up to Tyki_Mikk, wondering what their mysterious sponsor had in store for them.

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The streets had grown quiet as the light of the day began to dim heavily. Spots of luminescence forming on the ground from the various lampposts scattered down the quiet walkways. Hearing the car arrive, he pulled back on the blinds, paying a careful watchful eye to his two associates, keen to see they were doing well with the recent aid he had provided them.

Before long, they had made their way up the flamboyant stairs of the Manor and arrived at his private domain. Opening the door, he then greeted them both, a warm embrace for Amira, followed by a firm handshake to Corrado.

"It's good to see you both. I hope things have been steadily improving since we last met. I am glad you are both together now and looking on the up. Amira, I hope the leg has seen some improvement as of late?" He asked with a gentle smile.

He slowly moved along to the nearby drinks cabinet, turning over a few of the glistening tumblers and preparing them all a drink. "We have some things which need to be discussed. Firstly though, if you could both take a seat, I would very much appreciate your company this evening."

Raising his arm, he signalled towards the chairs as he then returned to his own seat, paperwork still in front of him, as he waited for them to be seated.

"Allow me to start with the most obvious, however, I will not dwell on this subject as I am sure you both have already pieced together many of the breadcrumbs laid out before you. I am no City Broker,  nor a seller of fresh produce, nor a dealer in fine arts. I work for the criminal organisation known as the Stargazers and serve as the Left hand man to its Leader, Fluffy. I carry the rank of Don and with that title, comes both respect and responsibility. This, is a world I hope you are both able to slowly find your place in, understanding the protection and opportunities that will quickly come your way."

He allowed them a few moments to ponder his words, fully realising that the pair were not idiots and that this scenario would not come as a complete shock to them. Reaching both hands forwards, he then spread his fingertips onto each set of papers before him, swivelling them around so that they each had their own copy.

"Now then, onto more pressing matters. The slimeball you see in these pictures is one Lorenzo Abate, known by most as 'The Shark'. He, is why you are both here tonight."

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For just a few moments, Amira was keenly aware of the reality of the world she was now living in. The feeling inside her was new- not fearful, but more of an anticipation of the path that lay ahead of her. Destiny, or whatever controlled such things, had crossed her path with this powerful man, Tyki_Mikk; and then had caused Corrado to find her. She had gone from having nothing at all to having more than she could imagine in the span of a single week. 

Amira took the papers and began to scan over them with great interest as she listened. In school, Amira had always been good at book reports and research projects. A naturally curious person, she tended to always turn in more work than had been required. Yael had often begged her to do his school research for him, and it was only her curiosity and eagerness to learn anything she could that allowed her to do his work for him. Now, the information was much different, but Amira was just as eager to soak it up.

After a few moments, she glanced over at Corrado, who was also looking through the documents with a careful eye. 

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Corrado's work as a spy had forced him to develop a strong poker face, but he didn't need it when Don Mikk revealed his business. It's what he had signed up for when he came out west to track down Amira. He spared a glance at her, and she seemed interested in the job ahead. Good.

"Amira and I have done our best to prepare ourselves to serve, Don Mikk. I've liquidated my few remaining assets in Europe and used them to make some property investments here. Amira has a weapon- or three- and has proven to be a natural in the area of gathering intelligence."

He leaned back in his chair and bowed his head respectfully.

"Tell us more about what you hope happens to The Shark, and I'm sure the two of us will be happy to go fishing for you."

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As he stared across the table, not only was he impressed at their calmness towards the news they had just been given regarding his 'work', yet, they both appeared to have an eagerness to gain his approval, to show just how sufficient they would be at any task assigned to them. He found this to be...refreshing. At times, sprouts would come by, full of energy, brash talk, but when push came to shove, they lacked the drive and charisma to see the job through to its finale. 

This time though, their attitudes, the look in their eyes, he simply..knew.

"I will not give you blind words of how easy this assignment will be. I hope that nor would you expect to be given a task suitable for a mere thug or goomba to perform. When you leave on any errand that I may need completing, such as this, you act on behalf of me directly. This means, I require a certain level of due diligence when handling the task.

Opening his side drawer, he removed a cigarette from it and brought a naked flame to the exposed tobacco, a long plume of dark grey smoke rising to the ceiling shortly after as he exhaled.

"The man you see before you, Lorenzo Abate, will more than likely be surrounded with some of his own goons, who you can assume are packing heat. If things are to go south during your 'discussions', I permit you to handle it as you see fit. What I require is either a full payment of the money owed to us, in the region of $30k, or, a signed payment plan that he will stick to moving forward. There are no exceptions to these two outcomes, I hope that is clear."

Leaning back into his leather chair, his motion causing him to rock slightly back and forth, he took another drag before continuing.

"If you wish to bring your own reinforcements, feel free to do so. I am sure that you can find some men who will gladly act as bodyguards, for the right fee. Should this be your chosen route, you may find that the local guys will offer you a better rate once you inform them exactly which Family you represent now. Money shouldn't be a hurdle for you but I can assist, if deemed necessary.

Leaning forward, his gaze cast quickly between the pair. "Any questions?"

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The man seemed to have a lot of muscle. That would make a direct approach difficult if not impossible, wouldn't it? How to get him alone? 

That question triggered a thought in her head. 'Get him alone.' That sounded like something she might be uniquely qualified for- perhaps with a bit of coaching from Corrado- but the idea quickly started forming in her mind. She looked back up to Tyki with a thoughtfulness on her face.

"Do we happen to know if this man has a penchant for 'professional' women?"

The word 'professional' was said with a particular emphasis as she alluded to streetwalkers, but couldn't remember the English word for them.

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The paper housed around the tobacco continued to burn, the ash building to a point where it would soon topple over and crash upon the table top. Reaching for his onyx ashtray, he gave the cigarette a few taps, depositing the charred sections.

"My dearest Amira, I'm afraid this isn't informarion I am privvy to. However, this does raise the question..."

Leaning forwards, he rested both elbows onto the desk as he looked towards her.

"Even if he didn't frequent these streetwalkers, do you not have the ability to use your womanly charms still? Perhaps he has not yet met a female who entinced him in such an elegant manner that he, simply found impossible to ignore."

He left the thought with her to ponder.

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At the mention of "womanly charms," Amira felt her cheeks blush just a little, but she gave her boss a tiny shrug and then glanced at Corrado for a second.

"We have worked on that very thing; and though only once, it seemed to work well. Though, the subject was quite different."

Amira then looked back at Tyki and gave a single, determined nod.

"If that is the best way to go about it, I am certain that I can handle it."

She knew, at the very least, that she could dress the part. Goodness knows that he and Mrs. Carstairs had put together quite a wardrobe for her- not to mention Corrado's work at "accessorizing" her with weapons that hid well in certain places.

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Corrado had been flipping through the documents and reading intently. He returned his attention to the conversation just in time to hear about "womanly charms".

"Honeypot? Certainly a possibility. You could get him alone, and I could handle the intimidation aspect. I'd want to do some reconnaissance first- figure out who this man is and what he cares about. Some men will take a beating before they give you a dime... but they'll pay up if you can find what button to push. I'd want to leave a man's family out of it, first, but if there's a girlfriend or any possessions that he values..."

Corrado shrugged.

"Some men cave if you destroy their car. I heard a story once of a man who loved his horses- and woke up with the head of his prized stallion in bed with him. If we can find out his weak spot, it'll be easier to lean on him."

He leaned back, crossing his legs.

"And if he owns anything of particular value, we could always take it as a guarantor of payment."

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He smiled to himself as he listened to the various ideas they began to ponder. Soon enough, he even found himself mildly caught up in the brainstorming.

"Or maybe a case of good cop, bad cop? I have seen my fair share of these scenarios down the precinct as they tried to get me to talk, pointless waste of their time though. Corrado could come on strong, pushy, creating a visual that he would gladly accept throwing fists. Only then, for the ever talented Amira to swoop in with her words of calmness and diplomacy, to find that ever peaceful solution with Lorenzo in a private space away from the... aggression."

Clearly some kind of magic had even worked on him as he originally had zero intention of entering any discussions regarding the tactics of their operation.

"Only for our sweet femme fatale here to find a good training dummy for her new weapons of choice?"

Opening his jacket, he removed his grandfathers pocket watch and checked the time, almost 9pm now.

"Well, it would see that your time with me today has sadly drawn to a close. I expect results within the next 5 days, no later. Please ensure I am given some wonderfully positive news upon your return, there is a good bonus awaiting you both, should I be granted a warm proud smile after hearing your mission summary. If you require anything else, funds, information, you know how to reach me."

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The single biggest thing that a man can do to alter his appearance is to grow or shave a beard. Knowing this, Corrado stopped shaving immediately after Tyki assigned him his job. He usually had some stubble, but the full beard covered his face- and he planned to shave the day they went after The Shark.

Lorenzo Abate seemed like a small target compared to the Nazis and fascists Corrado had spied on for most of the 30s and 40s, but he would not underestimate this enemy. Organized crime may not have as much as a budget as many nation states, but they still had a great deal of talent- and they played by their own set of rules.

His first step with Amira would be to find a place where they could hit Abate. Corrado was tempted to try to get to the man at home- it would certainly be easier to get to him alone there. Homes, however, tended to have more security- and there was a reason that so many sports teams talked about a "home team advantage". It was tougher to hunt for a bear inside its den- and even harder to try to take down a mafioso who may have left some surprises behind. Still, Corrado wanted to make sure that he got an address in case their initial approach failed.

Instead, it seemed better to try to get Abate alone while he was out with his bodyguards. If they could tail him and find his favorite resort, then Amira could try to lure him up to one of the rooms. Corrado knew that many high rollers, even those with residences in the city, often maintained hotel rooms in their favorite haunts to use for rest or "recreation". Tyki Mikk's information had told them that Abate's favorite spot was The Flamingo- an enormous casino resort on the strip.

The tough part would be Amira getting Abate alone. Her mother could have seduced the man before she'd had half of her drink, but Amira was an unknown quality. He'd have to instruct her- though based on their previous excursion, she did have lots of natural talent.

Corrado also wanted to hire the bodyguards that Tyki Mikk had mentioned. Using their connections to the Stargazers, Corrado lined up a group of reliable men. He also intended to acquire four uniforms of firefighters and two of EMTs. Having too much muscle around might attract trouble. But in an emergency, he could pull the fire alarm and have their bodyguards ready to respond immediately. The firefighters could control the crowd, and depending on the status of Abate, the two EMTs might able to sedate him and get him outside into a waiting taxi. Hopefully Amira could get The Shark alone, up to where she and Corrado could speak to him, but it always paid to have multiple backup plans.

Leaning back in a chair in one of the Stargazers' HQ sitting rooms, Corrado walked through the plan with Amira:

1) Corrado would infiltrate The Flamingo, getting hired as hotel staff.

2) Amira, having reviewed the art of seduction with Corrado in the next couple days, would lure Abate up to a hotel room.

3) Once the two of them were away, Corrado would join them. If there were any guards posted outside the room, he could incapacitate them or talk his way past. If there were too many, he could always try to get to them from the exterior.

4) They'd get Abate alone and intimidate him into paying the money. Corrado would take the lead as the bad cop, while Amira was the good cop.

5) If anything went to hell in the hotel, they'd pull a fire alarm and the bodyguards in the firefighter/EMT gear would check the Abate's favorite gambling spots, then his hotel room. They could potentially get Abate out of there by sedating him and putting him on a stretcher. Stealing an ambulance might be tricky, but they could always get him into a taxi and pull at gun on the driver to steal it.

6) If everything failed, then they could always try to stealthily take down Corrado at his home address. Corrado would be reluctant to include Amira in this kind of assault due to her lack of experience, but he could always take their bodyguards.

Corrado shrugged.

"That's how I'd want to approach it, at least. What do you think? Any ideas?"

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Corrado smiled.

"And, of course, I'd want to shave before the night itself, so I look different. Any recon I do beforehand should look like an older man- especially if I take my time and walk slowly. We'll also make sure to get you some weapons, of course."

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More out of habit from her training as a secretary than anything else, Amira was scribbling notes as Corrado went over his plans. Writing things out helped her think through them, and she scanned over the notes after he finished, considering each step and how she would play her part.

"You mentioned sedation if needed- what if we used that in the room. Say I get him into a room for a few drinks in anticipation of...well, activity...and slip something into his drink to keep him docile- making the intimidation go much more smoothly?"

She chewed on that thought for a few moments, then continued.

"I don't know about this man, but I know Tyki carries more than that amount on him every day for spending money. If Abate does the same, I could just as easily rob the man and leave a note, then you wouldn't have to even worry about the guards unless things go badly."

Whether it was a good idea or not, she'd soon find out- but Amira was learning that it was better to speak up and learn than keep quiet and learn nothing. Corrado had been an amazing teacher thus far, and had never made her feel stupid for not knowing what she didn't know. 

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Corrado tilted his head.

"Sedating him as a possibility, but I'd only want to do that if he's not cooperating. Ultimately, we want to get the two of us alone in a room with him. We could try to sedate him and move him before talking to him, but that has risks of its own."

"And robbing him is certainly a possibility- and it would make up for what he's already stolen. The larger point, though, seems to be in the future. Tyki didn't tell us to kill the man, so I assume he wants him in place and running his operation. I think this job is less about asset forfeiture and more about sending a message- a message both to Abate if he think about skimming again... and anyone else who thinks about it."

He shrugged.

"What do you think? That was the impression that I got from Don Mikk, at least."

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Nodding, Amira reached for a glass of wine that was sitting beside her and took a drink.

"I think you are right. It seems in the Don's best interest not to kill him if he doesn't have to- that isn't the best message to send for others doing business with him; and I think I'd like it to be the last resort for myself, as well."

Surprisingly, the thought of killing someone herself didn't faze Amira as much as she thought it would. Of course, she didn't jump at the idea, but the depth with which she'd accepted her new line of work and the loyalty she had developed to Tyki_Mikk and the Stargazers organization had seemed to make nearly everything permissible if it was necessary. 

She sat down the wine glass and put the notes on her lap.

"Alright, you mentioned weapons. That's going to be something I'm awfully uneducated in."

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Corrado nodded.

"We'll line up some training for you to do tonight. Some practice moving through a crowd, keeping your eyes open for threats. And then I'll get you some basic weapons for self defense. I don't think any plan would involve you kicking down a door and going in guns blazing, but I'd still want you to be able to protect yourself."

He stood, stretching.

"Then give me a couple days to do some do some digging, then I'll walk you through some training and we'll get you ready for some training in how to lure Abate away. Meet me at this address in a couple days."

Corrado scribbled an address and handed it to her.

"It's a club that should be good hunting grounds for you. When you pick out a dress for the evening, think balance. You want to wear something that will catch the eye- but in a town full of showgirls wearing cocktails napkins, a man like Abate isn't just going to chase skin. He can get that anywhere."

He narrowed his eyes, studying Amira.

"For what it's worth... I would dress you in purple. Royal purple. Perhaps... a high neck in the front, but an open back."

Corrado blinked, then smirked.

"But I'll defer to you and your Mrs. Carstairs, of course."

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Three Days Later

While Corrado was doing some intelligence gathering of his own, Amira set herself to learning the ways of American women. More specifically, American women in Las Vegas. Since coming here, it had crossed her mind more than once that women here were quite different than they had been in New York. For her own suspicion, Amira thought it was the lack of inhibition that everyone seemed to adopt. Perhaps it was the draw of the gambling and the chance to win riches, or the anonymity with which visitors could indulge in some of their less socially accepted vices. Whatever it was, Amira knew that she had quite a thick shell to break out of if she were going to be successful at any of this work before her. 

The first day after receiving their assignment, Amira took Mrs. Carstairs to lunch at one of the local casinos that featured a rather famous buffet. The popularity of the fare made it easy for Amira to "people watch," and she practiced her skills at doing so stealthily while she chatted with her assistant and tried what seemed to be the most popular items on the buffet. She watched everything from hair styles to clothes, how couples interacted with each other, how the casino staff interacted with guests and each other, and she even spent some time trying to guess the occupation of some of the guests. Some were easy, like bankers or lawyers. The men who were here to "get away" from their normal lives just couldn't relax; they went about as if they had a price on their heads. That evening, she'd joined Corrado at his new home and business for further training.

The second day, in the afternoon, Amira went to a department store to do some shopping- only this time, she went by herself. Well, "by herself" these days meant herself and a gaggle of armed and brutish looking men who had been hired as her protection detail. This amused her a bit, as Amira did not really think of herself as an asset so valuable to the Stargazer organization to warrant so much muscle; but Tyki and Corrado had both made it quite clear that it was necessary, so Amira hadn't given any argument. Instead, she sat in a plush chair in a well-appointed dressing room and watched a number of gorgeous dresses modeled for her while six men stood in a large perimeter nearby- an arrangement that left a tense look on the faces of the Ladies Department staff. But, they had come to know Amira (mostly by her bank account), and were willing to at least try and overlook the army of men. 

Finally, on the evening of day three, it was time to take everything she'd learned and practice. During the ride to the club that Corrado had suggested, Amira spent the time in silence; working to set aside herself and build a persona made up of some of the personalities she'd observed over the last few days. It was something she'd thought about; something she'd practiced on her own. Now, it was time to put it all together.

The car pulled up and one of her men got out and hurried around to open her door. The woman that stepped out looked like his principal, but there was something very different that even he noticed. Amira had a confident, cool smile on her face- as if she knew exactly where she was going and what she was going to do there. She gave him a little wink as she stepped up to the curb. Five other men took their place around her, all in the same place as their fellow guard- wondering what the hell had happened to their timid Ms. Dayan. The woman walking between them had the aura of some kind of celebrity, smiling a dazzling smile at people while they craned their neck looking at her. Her dress was the red of a shiny new hotrod, and fit every single curve she had. It had a wide, boatneck that had braided red tulle lining it, and she wore a silver necklace that came to a point right between the teasing peek of her cleavage. Her dark hair was styled, each curl placed just so, and she wore lipstick that perfectly matched the dress. 

The band in the club was already warmed up and hot. Amira stepped into the main room and stopped for a few moments to take in the scene. She got a quick layout of the club in her mind, and almost immediately spotted Corrado. He was looking at her, but she wasn't sure he immediately recognized her. Grinning slyly, she dismissed her guards to take their stations, and began to cross the dance floor. As she went, she took a cigarette case from her bag and produced a long, slender smoke which she held between her fingers as she walked up to Corrado near the bar.

"Got a light, handsome?"

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Corrado tried to channel a message of thanks through time and space to whatever enlightened one had first invented coffee. It had taken a great deal of preparation to line up not only their bodyguards, but also enough firefighter and EMT uniforms for them without raising any sort of alert. He wished they could jack an ambulance as well, but that seemed too much of a risk for a contingency plan. And while Corrado was prepared to cross lines for Fluffy, Tyki Mikk, and Amira... well, he still felt uncomfortable limiting the ability of emergency services to assist innocent people. 

The night of Amira's weapon training at The Blade and the Bullet had gone well, at least. Hopefully the girl wouldn't actually have to use any of them, but at least she was prepared if something unexpected happened. 

He hadn't slept much the night before, but he'd managed to get on a read on a couple of Abate's bolt holes. There could be no mistakes on this job- not if he was going to help Amira ensure the future she wanted... the one that she seemed so willing to tangle herself in. He'd also managed to infiltrate the Flamingo, the casino resort that Abate was most fond of. As long as Amira could hook The Shark, they were ready.

If only I'd gotten out of that damned Florentine prison a few months before. Could I have gotten Amira and her brother away from this life?

He sighed and sipped his coffee. No point in wondering now. 

Besides, any capacity his brain possessed for analysis short circuited when Amira stepped into the club. He covered his reaction with a practiced poker face, curling the corner of his both ambiguously as she approached. 

She looked so much like her mother that he'd barely recognized Amira. Corrado had seen Talia captivate a room- like she could adjust her own wattage and outshine everyone else around her. 

Corrado raised his cup of coffee toward her as she approached the bar, leaving a wake of interested men and jealous women behind her. 

"Excellent choice with the red," he said, grinning and speaking over the band. His hand darted into his jacket pocket; he lit her cigarette with a steady hand, not breaking eye contact.

"The eyes are important. You don't want to stare the person down too much- that can be intimidating or suspicious. But if you can hold it for an extra beat, then get 'distracted' by someone else..."

Corrado's eyes had flicked up to watch a curly-haired blonde walk behind Amira toward the other end of the bar. 

"You want to show interest- but you also want to make sure he knows it's a competition."

He waited for a moment as a pair of men trailed after the blonde; they were distracted by Amira as they walked by her and craned their necks quickly. Corrado deftly slid between them and Amira, resting his hand on her hip for two heartbeats longer than he had to. He flashed an easy smile at her as the crowd pressed them together for a moment, then helped her onto the stool he'd been sitting it.

"You don't want to charge into someone's personal space like the Germans heading toward Paris- dance around the edges, then slowly and steadily reduce the distance. If you're not sure how hooked the person is, establish this closeness then take a step away from them. Often, consciously or not, they'll take a step on their own to maintain that distance. A murmur in the ear can do wonders."

He raised his hands to get the bartender's attention, but the man was busy.

"As you get to know your mark, you can refine your own attitude. Some men like to dominate. Some like to be dominated. In my experience, a man like Abate can get a girl anytime he wants. If a woman- a lady- walks in front of him? More likely to catch his interest."

He shrugged.

"That's what I've got, at least. The hardest part is finding the right questions to ask to get your mark to talk about himself or herself. Want a drink? I think you'll get the attention of this bartender a little easier than I can. Then you can go pick someone to practice on. Not one of these wild vacationer types, though. That'd be too easy for you."

Corrado's eyes danced over his coffee.

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