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Beautiful Villain: A Dark Mafia Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Chapter One



Strings of crimson washed over my eyes, the rage becoming uncontrollable.

Wham. Wham.

Wham. Wham. Wham. Wham.

I jerked back, taking deep breaths as I studied the punching bag swinging in a wide arc. I rubbed the sweat from my forehead with my arm, flexing my fingers before fisting them again. Then I issued several brutal punches against the dense piece of stuffed leather, dancing around to the other side then slamming my fists against it several more times.

My hands already ached, but the burning pain also allowed me to feel alive, freed from the ugliness of the dreams that had strangled me with sharp claws for years. I pummeled the bag again, losing count of how many times I’d thrown a brutal punch. Still, it didn’t ease the ache inside or the rage that kept me on edge.

An attack on my men.

Six of them murdered.

The perpetrator still at large.

Wham. Wham. Wham.

Fuck. I walked into the attack like a fucking idiot.

And I’d been one of two left alive.

The hunger for revenge tore through me, the ugliness of it evil and I was out for blood. I could almost taste the coppery sweetness in my mouth.

However, that wasn’t the only reason for my aggression.

I took a step back, stalking toward the bottle of water, almost crushing the thin plastic before I was able to open the cap, guzzling more than half. After splashing some of the frigid liquid in my face, I returned to my task. I was determined to rid myself of the memories, if only for tonight.

Even as I smashed one fist after another, putting all my weight into driving away the demons, the visions kept coming, one bloodstained frame after another. The past was more than just a terrible nightmare.

It had turned me into a monster.

Years had passed, my entire adult life a statement, or perhaps a retelling of what I’d endured as a child, the carnage left behind after a savage attack on innocent families, ripping away all the people I’d loved. The mother who’d nurtured me and a father who’d protected me against the tyranny gone in an instant.

Then there’d been my baby sister, innocence personified.

I could still hear their screams, the wretched sound echoing as much as the barrage of gunfire. Nothing had been able to stop the nightmares. Not liquor. Not women. Not violence. There hadn’t been a single moment of existing that had extinguished the stench of blood or managed to alleviate the damning horror of seeing their vacant eyes. At least I’d been able to use my rage to my advantage, settling scores as necessary.

What I’d yet to be able to accomplish was hunting down the men responsible. That would come. One day I would take everything from the bastards who’d destroyed all that I cared about.

Wham. Wham! Wham!

Only on that day would the nightmares end, at least for the last surviving member of the Sabatin family.


Stop. Stop. Stop!

The noise was like bottle rockets going off in my brain. All I’d had to do was get out of the elevator and I’d heard the same thunking noise I’d put up with for several nights in a row. I was working long hours, my legs hurt enough I wasn’t using the stairs, and the jerk making the noise only adding to the misery. I glared from one door to another, also furious no one had bothered to try to get the asshole to stop. Were they all in comas?

When there was a moment of silence, I lifted my middle finger toward the ceiling. Maybe the jerk had heard me. I yanked my keys from my pocket, taking two steps toward the door and…

Whap whap.

The. Same. Shit.

I jammed the key into the lock, cursing a blue streak. My mother would say I needed to have my mouth washed out with soap. Well, if she was standing here, she’d be doing the same thing.

Whap whap.

I closed my eyes, albeit briefly. At this point, I was pretty certain that by the end of the night, I’d be in jail, especially since the only thing on my mind was murdering the asshole above me who’d just moved into apartment Four-F. I knew exactly where the scumbag lived since I was in Three-F. Directly below him. A new neighbor. A loud neighbor. One who didn’t give a crap what time of night it was. Welcome to the neighborhood, you son of a bitch.

I’d never even met the dude and I was ready to send him to his maker. That didn’t make me a very nice girl, but at this moment, I didn’t care. All I knew about him was from a booming male voice echoing in the hallways and a new name slapped onto the mail bin by the superintendent of the building.

I remained just inside the door to my apartment for a full minute and all I could hear was…

Whap whap.

Whap whap.

Whap whap.

If the sound wasn’t so regular, I’d think he was beating someone to death, which is what I would do to him. He obviously didn’t understand the power and wrath of a redhead after a long night serving jerks sucking down beer like it was the last night on Earth.

Well, the new neighbor was about ready to get a lesson in an Irish temper.

I tossed the food I’d brought home from the restaurant with me on my kitchen counter, taking long strides to the small closet and grabbing the broom. Then I glared up at the ceiling, jabbing the wooden handle toward it. Oh, yeah, like that was going to work. The entire building had high ceilings. And I wasn’t that damn tall. I grabbed a chair, dragging it across the floor and directly underneath the horrific noise.

Even after rising onto my tiptoes, well, at least as much as my Converse sneakers would allow, I was at least six inches shy of fulfilling my task. I’d need to use the up close and personal approach.

After tossing the broom and jumping off, I headed straight for the door, stopping short when I heard my mother’s voice inside my head.

“Never forget you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”

While I’d never really understood what she’d meant up to this point, as I glanced over my shoulder, a smile brightened my pissed-off mood. Bribery. There wasn’t a man alive who wasn’t hungry for a juicy roast beef sandwich oozing with delicious au jus and topped with just the perfect swirl of horseradish sauce. Eh, maybe the fruit salad would be tossed, but a girl could try.

I snagged the bag, planted a smile on my face, and took the stairs. When I was standing in front of his door, I shored my shoulders, fisted my right hand, and pounded on the door like the entire building was going up in flames any second.

The heavy footsteps weren’t as loud as the odd guttural sounds, but as he came closer to the door, I could swear I heard him speaking a foreign language.

Kto, chert voz’mi, bespokoit menya?

I refused to back down in any way. Nope. Not this girl.

Until he threw open the door.

While I tried to keep an angry sneer on my face, I was robbed of that beautiful moment by the sight of the giant standing in front of me. I wasn’t short by any means, but standing inches away from Mr. Barbarian, I felt tiny.

His chest, his bare and very muscular, perfectly carved chest, heaved as he glared at me with murder in his eyes—his gorgeous emerald-green eyes, his pupils almost iridescent. We had a stare down for a few seconds, but it seemed interminably longer.

Even worse, as he allowed his gaze to drop to my scuffed red tennis shoes, moving so slowly I thought we were in a time warp, I couldn’t stop quivering. If he didn’t have such a savage scowl on his face, I’d said he was probably the best-looking man I’d ever seen, but it was tough to tell given his flared nostrils.

Yet as he huffed and puffed, his muscles gleaming in the track lighting hung way above, I could envision him on the cover of Sexy Convicts of New York.

While he was checking me out, I was doing the same, blinking rapidly at the way his hard body glistened from sweat, beads trickling down his muscular arms and broad chest. Dear God, the man looked like Adonis on steroids, especially given the colorful ink sweeping down from his neck onto both forearms. While every part of his body was carved to perfection, I was certain his jawline could cut glass.

His eyes were full of something that I couldn’t place. Mystery? A firestorm? No, they were cold just like ice, penetrating in a frightening way yet I was barely able to blink let alone breathe. For a few seconds, a strange but solid buzzing sounded off in my ears, the noise deafening.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the handsome barbarian wanted to swallow me whole.

I took a deep breath, holding it as I dared to scan the rest of his sculpted body. I knew proper ladies didn’t stare at men’s crotches, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since he was wearing tight-fitting shorts and nothing else.

Oh, my God. I couldn’t believe I found this monstrous man attractive. I tried to keep from breathing at all, which would allow him to know he’d managed to intimidate me, but it was almost impossible.

He reminded me of one of those famous actors in the summer blockbusters, only he wasn’t one of the good guys. He was the villain, one beautiful villain.

Huffing, he cocked his head, lifting a single eyebrow as he concentrated on the bag in my hand then shifted his heated gaze to my chest.

I was used to men gawking at my chest given the ridiculously tight bright green tee shirt that every employee wore. It just happened that the name of the bar and grill, Killian’s, was plastered straight across my breasts. I watched as a single bead of sweat trickled down to his lips and the way he dragged his tongue across the seam of his mouth was the most provocative thing I’d seen in a long time.

If not ever.

“Does this mean you’re my treat for the evening? I admit, I am famished.”

Not only were his words dripping with a heavy overtone of sexuality, but the deep bass of his voice and the thick Russian accent were a dangerous combination. I wasn’t the kind of girl who got flustered over a boy, but this was no boy.

This was a man, a real man, the kind who didn’t take no for an answer.

I tried to form words in my brain so I didn’t sound like an idiot when I responded, but everything I thought of sounded like gibberish inside my mind. I’d never been this flustered around any man, no matter how good-looking they’d been.

My lungs could no longer accept any additional air, my throat starting to shut down when he grabbed me by the arm, yanking me inside his apartment.

Inside his lair.

Holy crap.

“It’s a…” Oh, Jesus. Get a damn grip. “It’s a peace offering.” My words sounded like they’d come from the twelve-year-old me, timid and asking for forgiveness. And what was with offering the brutal man anything?

“For what?” he growled.

Why the hell was he still staring at my breasts?

“For you shutting the hell up. I need some sleep. I work long hours.”

Every ounce of oxygen seemed to drain from the room as he took several deep breaths.

When he slammed the door closed, tugging the bag out of my hand, I stumbled backwards, which was the wrong way. I should have fled toward the door, only I doubted Mr. Barbarian was ready to let me leave.

“Killian’s,” he grunted then opened the bag, pulling out the sandwich, tossing the satchel onto one of the chairs then peeling the layer of foil from around the roast beast. Beef. I tried to look away, but with his intense stare, his eyes piercing mine, I couldn’t force myself to take my eyes off him. I was frozen like a stupid kid just before her first kiss.

When he bit into the sandwich, tearing half of it away and chomping down, I realized my mouth was watering. As he chewed, I was lost in the moment, my breath skipping as subtle growls rolled up from the base of the beast. His nostrils remained flared as he swallowed, the animalistic sounds getting louder. When he popped the remainder in his mouth, I was forced to chew my bottom lip to keep from making a strangled sound.

Like a moan.

I’d never known any man to consume food with such passion.

I folded my arms across my chest, trying three times before I was able to swallow. I noticed a dribble of the sauce on the corner of his mouth and damn if the wicked side of me didn’t want to offer to lick it off.

That was crazy. This man could be a serial killer for all I knew. I threw a quick glance around his apartment, realizing where the sound was coming from. He had a huge hanging punching bag positioned in the middle of his sparsely decorated living room. The long, thick chain dangled from a massive steel girder suspended from the tall ceiling. All I could think about was the alternative uses for the chain.

That certainly didn’t make me feel any better.

I studied him, watching as he chewed like some barbarian then glanced toward the swinging punching bag a second time. The thumping noise. “You’re a boxer.”

He grunted his reply.

His hands weren’t wrapped and there was no sign of any gloves. He was using his naked fists. While I knew sound echoed, the power he’d used on punching what looked like a professional grade bag should have given him scrapes or bruises. His hands, while just as masculine as the rest of him, showed no signs of wear and tear.

That wasn’t the case for his entire body. He had a nasty-looking scar on his chest. If I had to guess, I’d say there were others crisscrossing his body, but they were weaved into the various designs. What in the hell did this man do for a living?

You know what he does. He kills people.

The little voice inside my head wasn’t helping in the least. I was genuinely curious about him, maybe too much so, but I was here. He was standing right in front of me.

He was gorgeous.

And I was completely irrational.

“Right handed? You’re putting too much weight on one side. That makes you unbalanced. You need to practice more with your left arm. That will make you a more even fighter.” I was surprised how authoritative my voice sounded.

The sudden silence sent chills trickling all the way down to my toes. I shot him a look, involuntarily licking my lips. Damn it. I could tell by the twinkle in his eyes he’d caught the obvious gesture of attraction.

“Um, if you’re wondering how I know this…” Now I was blabbering on like some scaredy cat. Great. “My cousin’s a boxer, amateur but he’s pretty good. He’s a southpaw and can’t use his right arm for shit.” Heat swept along my neck, oozing on both sides of my jaw until they flamed scarlet. Oh, my God. I wondered in the warm glow of light if he was able to notice.

Tick. Tock.

How much time had just been sucked into the wind?

“Now, do you want to tell me why you really interrupted me, moy malen’kiy ognennyy shar?”

Everything coming out of his mouth was dripping with sexual innuendoes and this time as his hooded gaze shifted to the floor, I knew he was undressing me with his eyes. That brought out the fury I’d felt earlier.

“I don’t know what the hell you just said, but it sounded like an insult and that’s not acceptable. I already told you the real reason. Noise. That noise.” I pointed toward the still swinging punching bag, giving him a nasty look.

“I would never insult a creature so beautiful.”

“Do you always flirt with women you don’t know?”

“Isn’t that what flirting is all about?”

How the hell would I know? I usually shied away from wasting my time, but with him, everything seemed different. Dirty. Sinful.

And far too delicious.

“You don’t know me,” I countered, catching his look of amusement.

“But it would seem you’d like to get to know me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself, buddy.”

I was rewarded with a flash of his gorgeous eyes, although they seemed darker, more ominous than they had before.

“I assure you that I have no need to provide myself with compliments,” he growled. Again. Could the man sound more like an animal in heat?

Why was it that almost everything that came out of his mouth was frustrating? “Of course you don’t. You’re far too handsome and debonair.” I couldn’t believe I’d just told the dangerous-looking man he was handsome. While it was the truth, I needed to learn to control my mouth.

“I’m surprised you’re giving me a compliment.”

“Don’t give me that.”

“What am I giving you?” he sneered.

Why did I have the feeling he had several disgusting ideas in mind?

“Bullshit. You’re well aware of how handsome you are. I’m certain women tell you that all the time.”

He cocked his head. “Women aren’t usually as forthcoming as you are.”

“Well, I’m glad I can be of service.”

“Service. I like the sound of that.”

This was getting out of hand. There was a spark of electricity soaring between us that made me as uncomfortable as I’d ever been, and I knew rivers of red streaks were sailing up both cheeks. I was usually very good at bantering, but with him, everything seemed ten times more difficult.

“Just because I brought you food doesn’t give you the right to think I’m going to service you with anything else.”

When he did nothing but lift his head, I continued to launch into him. To hell with the fact that he was one big, scary-looking dude who could break me into pieces with one hand tied behind his back. “I think I’ve had enough bullshit for one night. Furthermore, it’s after two-thirty in the goddamn morning. Most people, you know, normal people, are trying to get some hard-earned sleep. I happen to be one of those people, although I just got home. The noise you make every night for hours on end is unacceptable, your behavior atrocious. You are going to stop boxing or beating someone to death or whatever it is you do at this ungodly time of night. Do you hear me? If you keep it up, there will be consequences.”

I couldn’t believe I’d just thrown out a threat, albeit a small one, to a man I’d cross the street to avoid at night.

I planted my hands on my hips, refusing to back down.

He said nothing, did nothing for a full twenty seconds, which had to be the longest twenty seconds of my life. Then a slight smile curled on his upper lip. Still, he remained completely silent.

But my sixth sense told me to run. Fast.

“Well, then. I’m glad we got that straight. Welcome to the building. I’ll just see myself out.” I took a wide berth around him, almost making it to the door. ‘Almost’ being the operative word.

When he snagged my arm, spinning me around and crushing his chest against mine, every wisp of air was dragged from my body. His masculine scent was ripe with a heavy dose of testosterone and musk, which instantly made me lightheaded. I slammed my palms against him, but it was all in vain. He was an unmovable force.

I’d caught sight of ink covering his back, the figure reminding me of a horrible prehistoric creature with fangs and claws, the beady red eye the signature of a living breathing monster.

“What I called you was my little fireball and I’m afraid you aren’t going anywhere. While the meal was somewhat enjoyable, I prefer something much sweeter.”

“Sweeter?” I managed, my heartbeat pulsing in my mouth.

“Yes, malen’kiy buntar’. Now, it’s time for dessert.”

Chapter Two


I’d been out of my mind for coming here. There was no other reason for being so stupid, especially in the middle of the night.

This was bad, extremely bad. It was the kind of really bad that might end up with my body disappearing in the back of his trunk, tossed in some dark location where no one would find me. His little firecracker? Was he kidding me? He had no idea what kind of spirited girl I was.

“I suggest you get away from me,” I said as boldly as possible. I didn’t even know his name. What was I supposed to call him or tell the police? This big scary dude called me dessert?

“And why should I do that?”

“Be-cause. Be… I have roommates. We watch out for each other.”

“You live alone.”

How the hell did he know anything about me? Was he watching me, stalking me? This was much worse than I thought.

“I do not.”

“I don’t like lies, especially when they come from the mouth of a beautiful woman.”

“I’m not lying to you. And stop calling me beautiful.” I struggled, but the immoveable force was determined to keep me exactly where he wanted. He was also goading me. Why?

“Why don’t you believe how luscious you are?”

Luscious. There hadn’t been a single man who’d ever called me anything so… decadent. Why did my mouth have to remain so dry?

“I’m just average, nothing more. That’s beside the point.”

What the hell is wrong with you?

“No, that is the point, the entire point.” He swept the rough tip of his index finger across my upper lip then floated it down the side of my neck, circling my pulse. Was this his way of explaining how he was going to kill me? He studied me intently, the intensity of his gaze burning a hole straight through me.

While I didn’t pull away, I gave him the harshest glare I could, even though I was quivering to the core. Even our prickly conversation wasn’t enough to stop the electric vibes swimming back and forth between us.

“Thank you for the compliment but it’s time for me to go.”

“Interesting. Tell me something, moya krasota. Why do you have a quiver in the corner of your mouth and why is the gorgeous pulse on the side of your neck throbbing? Is that from the desire burning deep inside of you?”

His chuckle pulled me out of some vacuum. What the hell did he just say to me? Desire? For him? A monster? Fat chance in hell. And what the hell did he call me?

“You’re crazy. There’s no way I could desire someone like you,” I barked, allowing my usual personality to kick in. He was serial killer crazy.

“Absolutely. I am stark raving mad, printsessa, which is exactly why you should have known better than to come to a mysterious man’s apartment in the middle of the night. Dangerous things could happen to a pretty young thing such as yourself. Don’t you know there are some very bad men on the streets of New York?” He kept the sexy smirk on his face as he trailed his finger further down my neck to the edge of my tee shirt, sliding it back and forth twice before dipping it just underneath the material. “Unless you have a hidden reason for your visit. If that’s the case, then it’s very likely we won’t get along.”

What hidden reason? His personality seemed to change every few seconds. One minute he was amused I’d bothered him, the next he was pissed. However, I didn’t need a lesson in Russian to know what he’d just called me. “I’m nobody’s princess, especially yours. And it’s obvious you’re one of those bad men I’ve read about in the news, but I was here first, renting the apartment months ago, and you aren’t driving me away. But you are driving me nuts. Just promise me you’ll cut the noise at midnight, maybe one in the morning. Is that a deal?”

His chest heaving, I could swear he was contemplating what I’d told him, gauging whether I was lying. I was the one who couldn’t trust him.

He cupped my neck and a good portion of my face, his big hand grasping and holding me in place. Everything about the man was terrifying, but especially his eyes. He had a desperate, unforgiving look in his iridescent eyes, but his gaze seemed soulless. Maybe he’d already sold his soul to the devil. “What’s your name, little fireball?”

“Candy,” I spouted off without thinking. My God. I must have lost my mind.

“Candy. The name isn’t regal enough for a woman of your stature, but it’s delicious enough.”

Every word out of his mouth oozed with seduction.

“What’s yours?”


He said his name with such savage force, the tone deep and guttural, that it took my breath away. Only monsters had such a dangerous name, while I was named after something far too sweet. I could tell by the sly smile he issued that my name pleased him.

“Yet your name is appropriate given the circumstances, little beauty,” he whispered as he swept his thumb back and forth across my lips. “My favorite dessert is candy, rich chocolate to be exact, a treat meant to be savored by taking several licks before biting into the rich center. Tell me, Candy. What flavor will I taste when I feast on your pretty pink pussy?”

He was mad. Absolutely insane. And I was nuts for thinking I could deter a man like him from doing everything he wanted. As he pulled me onto my tiptoes, I was helpless against the brute, even though I beat my fists against his rock-hard chest several times. “You’re going to let me go or I’ll scream for the police.”

His grin was even more disturbing, the sparkle in his eyes allowing me to know in no uncertain terms that he controlled the area. He wasn’t just a criminal. He was much worse, the kind of darkness only nightmares were made of. I was no fool, especially given what one of my cousins did for a living. Finnegan faced bastards like him almost every day as a New York City police detective. He’d committed his career to hunting down monsters just like this.

And Kirill was definitely one bad-ass criminal, maybe an assassin. My mind was fuzzy, but odd questions surfaced in my brain.

Why would an assassin live in a crappy apartment building in Brooklyn?

Why would he be boxing in the middle of the night?

Duh. He was honing his skills as a killer.

Kirill took a deep breath, holding it as he studied me, reveling in keeping me in his full control. When he breathed across my face and neck, my knees buckled, my heart thumping so loudly the sound echoed in my ears. As he lowered his head, his scent filtered all the way through my system, tossing a cup full of gasoline on flames that shouldn’t exist.

“I have no issues making deals, especially in the middle of the night. While I enjoyed the sandwich, I have another idea in mind.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not in the habit of talking to dangerous men in the middle of the night. There are no more deals to be made.” My insistence was met with another sly smile.

“It would seem you don’t understand. You aren’t allowed to change your mind. You’ve already made a deal with the devil.”

“What are you talking about?” I no longer recognized my voice. When he dragged his tongue across my lips, my legs began to shake even harder. The devil. At least he was giving me a warning. He was stupidly gorgeous, and I sensed he knew it. Suddenly, I felt like a piece of juicy tenderloin in a large platter ready to be served.

“What am I talking about?” he repeated, allowing his gaze to shred every ounce of clothing as if he had a knife in his hand. “You’re a beautiful woman, Candy, and I’m going to enjoy teaching you about the power of passion.”

Passion? Wait a minute. He thought I’d really made some crazy kind of deal with him? Oh, hell, no. I’d walked from the frying pan into the fire.

I soon found out his bold intentions when he brushed his lips across mine. As insane as it was, firecrackers went off in my system, vivid colors of the rainbow shooting across the periphery of my vision. I was completely unprepared for this man, any man for that matter, to treat me like a possession, like he’d claimed me because I’d dared to knock on his door.

When he pressed his lips against mine, I found myself leaning into the far too intimate moment, my breath skipping in time to my rapid pulse. He slipped his other hand around the back of my neck, holding me in place as he towered over me, taking his damn sweet time before pushing his tongue past my pursed lips.

I didn’t want to like what he was doing to me, but within seconds, I’d yielded my mouth to him, allowing him to taste me. I was paralyzed by his actions, swooning from the way he held me. I wasn’t the kind of girl to have fantasies like my friends back home had cooed over. I’d been taught to be practical, finding a boy after I’d succeeded in life who was financially stable and would keep his good looks as we grew older. This was a bad boy fantasy on steroids.

It was also unacceptable.

As he crushed his mouth over mine, pulling me even tighter against his body, I’d never felt so small or inconsequential in my life. My nipples ignored what rationality I had left in my mind, so aroused and aching that with every slight movement he made, a jolt of raw anguish sliced through me. Ridiculous visions rushed into my mind of the man tearing off my tee shirt, licking and sucking first one hardened bud then the other.

Good God. What the hell was wrong with me?

He made the kiss an artform, sweeping his tongue back and forth across mine, his actions dominating, but strangely romantic.

In some psychotic crazed killer kind of way.

I continued to lean into him, my fingers slipping across his slickened skin, making my actions seem like I was caressing him.

Encouraging him.

No. No!

This was the nuttiest thing I’d ever gotten myself into. I bucked hard against him, wiggling back and forth as I struggled, trying to find a way to get enough room to knee him in the balls. Somehow, I doubted that was going to do much damage. He was obviously made of steel or some other indestructible component. Yet the harder I fought, the tighter his hold became. Now the bastard was mimicking my moves, grinding his hips against me. The intense sensations tingling every inch of me were from the feel of the hard ridge of his cock slicing into my stomach.

No man could be that large.

No way.

He was like a giant in every aspect, perfectly fitting the Adonis appearance. As he made several guttural noises, I realized he was growling.

Like a beast in the wild!

Holy shit, the man was serious.

The second he slid his hand down my back, the tingles shifted into overdrive, shooting straight into my pussy. Within seconds, I was mortified as I caught a whiff of that very desire he was talking about. I could already feel a rush dampening my panties. This had shifted from bad to disastrous. Nothing good could come out of this, but his touch was warm and inviting, filling my mind with filthy, delicious thoughts.

This wasn’t me. I’d never had a one-night stand in my life. What was I talking about? I’d never even had a thirty-minute stand.

Kirill sucked on my tongue for several seconds before breaking the kiss, nipping my lower lip.

I jerked back, gasping for air. “I’m sorry. There’s been some misunderstanding.”

“So you were lying to me.”

“No. I mean… I was trying to be nice bringing you food, not suggesting anything else.”

I could tell by the blank look on his face that he either didn’t understand me or didn’t care.

His next words were finally the last straw.

“You need to learn a lesson in caution and in telling the truth. And I’m just the man to teach it to you. Then, moy malen’kiy ognennyy shar, I’m going to enjoy my dessert.”

The audacity of the man.

Finally, something kicked into my hapless brain, and I managed to rear back, issuing one hard punch to his jaw. Of course. His face was made of steel as well. Almost nothing changed, but the look in his eyes, a combination of fury and amusement. “Don’t call me your little fireball.”

He released his hold, rubbing his jaw, a huge grin crossing his face. Strangely, even when he smiled, he looked like a dangerous criminal.

I backed away, then sprinted around him toward the door. This time, he was on me in a flash, pushing me against the thick wood, planting both hands on either side as he crushed his full body weight against me, cutting off my air supply.

“Tsk. Tsk. That wasn’t very nice of you. I accepted your peace offering, but in my world, the server comes with the food. You see, my beautiful girl, I take what I want, and I definitely want you. All of you.”

His words weren’t threatening as much as they were a promise.

I managed to swallow, doing everything I could to keep from making a single sound.

He took several deep breaths then pulled me away from the door, tossing me over his shoulder.

“Let me go!” I knew my cry was in vain.

My outburst was met with a brutal smack on my backside. I kicked out, pummeling my fists against his back, but the formidable structure wasn’t budging. He cracked his hand against my backside several more times. I wanted to hate what he was doing, but the slight pain only added to my arousal. How could I feel this way?

“You’re going to obey.”

“No. I will never obey.”

His chuckle was dark, adding to the wild desire swelling from deep within. When he delivered four more in rapid succession, the sting was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

“Now, be a good girl.”

His heavy footsteps as he took long strides deeper into the lair would forever remain in my memory. Suddenly, everything was surreal. He was the caveman, and I was his mate being taken to his cave. While the thought was horrifying, it was also exciting. The man reeked of passion, and I’d fallen into a haze of lust, incapable of fighting in earnest what he was doing to me.

Did that make me a willing victim?

God above, this was insane.

“Why are you doing this?” I muttered as his strides developed a rhythm. I tried to grab onto the chain holding the boxing bag in place, but that forced him to smack me again, this time the hard swat shifting from stinging sensations to outright pain.

“Why? Because I can. Because you offered.”

“No. No! That’s not what I meant.” I lifted my head, trying to find anything I could use as a weapon. Oh, yeah. What did I think I would manage to do, beat the brute over the head? What good would that do?

My words faded away as he moved down a hallway, passing by two open doors to the last one. When he walked inside, I was thrown by the luxuriousness of the room. Gorgeous ornate and huge furniture was positioned against almost every wall, the deep shade of purple on the walls as shocking as what I was dealing with.

The room didn’t seem to suit him at all. He stopped just inside, turning just enough I was able to see the massive bed. Holy shit, it was huge, the vivid purple comforter thick, the material like velvet. I pushed against his back, tossing my head over my shoulder when I felt him yanking one tennis shoe off my foot.

“What are you doing?”

“If we’re going to become acquainted then we’ll need to be more comfortable.” His words were a statement, the thickness of his accent sliding over me like he’d yanked the comforter from the bed, sliding it against my naked skin. Girl, what did you get yourself in the middle of? There was no dignified answer.

I was dizzy, my stomach full of butterflies.

After yanking off my other shoe and both socks, tossing them aside as if his effort was bothersome, he dumped me directly into the middle of the bed. I sank into the softness, stunned from the revelation of what was about to happen.

Move. Get a grip.

My little voice was jarring.

I wasted no time, scrambling to try to get to the other side. What was I thinking? He simply wrapped his fingers around my ankle, tugging me all the way back to the edge.

“I can see I’m going to need to punish you even more before we can enjoy each other’s company.”

“This is crazy. You don’t have control over me.”

Kirill crawled onto the bed, hovering over me possessively. He snagged my hair, holding me in place as he rolled the tips of his other fingers down my spine, moving them along my buttocks then sliding them underneath.

“Oh,” I whimpered, taking shallow breaths as he eased his hand between my legs. I was overcome with a deliriously exciting rush of vibrations, clawing the covering as he rubbed up and down the length of my pussy. Everything he was doing added to the extreme embarrassment. The bastard now knew that his roughness had enticed me, luring me into his darkness. I closed my eyes, trembling as he slid a single finger under the thin elastic. His touch was surprisingly gentle, the tip tickling my clit as he swirled it around the tender bud several times.

As he held me, he took his time continuing the spanking, moving his hand from one side to the other. I couldn’t breathe, had no sense of what I’d been thinking, but as the scent of my desire floated between us, I was mortified.

“Yes, my good girl.” With every hard crack of his hand, I fell more and more into a blissful state, my mind a complete blur. The pain had already morphed into something sinfully delicious, which was crazy.

He gave me six more, each smack of his hand harder than the one before. By that point, I could no longer breathe easily.

Everything about the man aroused me, which was horrible to admit to myself. He took his time, enjoying the moment, the rumble coming from his chest indicating his hunger was increasing. When he pulled his hand away, a ragged breath escaped my mouth.

“That’s where you’re wrong, my sweet, delicious Candy. As of now, I’ve become your protector.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“That means I never intend on letting you go.”

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