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Captured Pawn: A Dark Mafia Romance by Livia Grant – Sample

Chapter One


The sound of a jet soaring overhead in the distance was distracting. It was hard to believe that somewhere at the nearby airport, people were going about their daily routines as if it were just a normal Wednesday.

As I glanced up at the vibrant blue May sky, it was as if Mother Nature herself was mocking me. How could she provide a picture-perfect sky for the darkest day in my life? As if she’d heard my thought, a white puffy cloud sailed in front of the bright midday sun, delivering a more appropriate chill to me and the small crowd gathered to say goodbye.

“The measure of a life is not in its duration but in its deeds while alive.” The minister’s words pulled me back to my personal hell.

What a damn crock of shit that was. Matty had only been thirty-three. His duration wasn’t even close to long enough on this earth. Still, I clung to the minister’s words, knowing that as little good they did to comfort me, once he’d finished, there would be nothing left for me to do but go home to an empty house—to wake up each morning and drag myself to the family business that no longer had any family but me left to run it.

“Later this day, when all the words have been spoken, when all the songs have been sung, and we no longer stand here at the graveside of our brother, Matthew Jamison Locke, we will commit his soul into the loving hands of the God he served, bringing an end to the final chapter of his earthly life.”

The elderly minister droned on, his monotone voice betraying that the words he spoke were merely memorized lines of his trade. How many other grieving families had he said those exact words for? I wondered if he’d choke on those holy words if he’d actually met my brother in life rather than in death.

I knew the shiver that shuddered through my body wasn’t because of the chill in the spring air, but rather my memories of the final sixty seconds of Matty’s life. His desperate phone call to me as he was dying was both a gift and a curse that I’d have to carry with me every day until it was my turn to be six feet under beside him.

The people crowded around the grave all started to move, telling me I’d missed the final words of the minister. It was just as well. His flowery prose wasn’t helping anyway.

One by one, friends and neighbors whispered their final condolences to me before slipping away to resume their daily life. It was still early. I bet some of them would head back to work, or maybe go out to lunch. Hell, if it were Matty, he’d be heading out to the marina to enjoy a few hours out on the water. He always did love to play hooky from work whenever he could.

“Come on, Sophie. I’ll drive you home. We can pick up some of Julio’s tacos on the way. You haven’t eaten in days,” my best friend from college, Tricia, said as she linked her arm through mine, gently trying to pull me away from the casket.

She meant well; I knew she did.

“I’m not ready yet. You go ahead,” I urged, fighting back renewed tears. “I need a few minutes alone with Matty to say goodbye, you know?”

“Okay. I’ll stay with…”

“No! I said I need to be alone.”

I hadn’t meant to yell at her. Tricia was the last person I wanted to raise my voice at. There were, however, many horrible people already in line for my fury. And as soon as I could get through an hour without crying, I was going to find each and every one of them and make them as miserable as I was right now.

Tricia reluctantly released me, leaning in to pull a single white rose from the impressive spray of funeral flowers on top of the casket before turning to retreat.

Finally, everyone was gone. Only after she’d left did I realized how very alone I was standing next to the casket that held the burned and broken remains of my only brother. Like my friend, I pulled a single rose from the arrangement, absentmindedly lifting it to my nose.

Nothing. No scent. I felt cheated. The rose was as useless as my despair.

I’m not sure how long I stood there, not bothering to hold back my tears. With each minute that passed, my heart squeezed tighter and tighter until I felt the panic attack building. It took all my effort to finally turn away from the casket, whispering a final, “I love you, Matty,” into the warming breeze.

The grassy turf between the neat rows of headstones was soft after the recent spring showers. The heals of my conservative black pumps punched through the soil, making each step feel as heavy as my heart. My vision was focused on the ground, so it wasn’t until polished black dress shoes came into my view that I realized there were still others who’d remained behind after the service.

Unwilling to talk with anyone else, I was tempted to walk around whoever the man waiting was, yet just as I moved to sidestep around him, he moved directly into my path.

It felt good to crash into him. His muscular body was solid, unlike my frayed emotions.

“Excuse me,” I apologized, not meaning it.

Instead of moving, the tall man reached out and put his hands on my shoulders. I felt a light squeeze as I finally looked up into brown eyes I hadn’t seen in at least three years. Brown eyes that had no right to look as sad as they did in that moment.

“I’m so sorry for your loss, Sophie.” His serious voice surrounded me like a heavy blanket, pulling me deeper into my despair.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I spat, trying to pull away. “You don’t deserve to be here!”

His fingers dug into my shoulders, refusing to let me push away from the very man who sat at the top of my fury list.

“Matt was my best friend since sixth grade. I think that earns me the right to be here, don’t you?”

“Hell, no, I don’t think so. Matty would be here right now if it weren’t for you and your damn family. Now, get the hell out of my way.”

Dammit, why did my voice have to quaver like that? I wasn’t strong enough to have it out with Nicholas Knight. Not yet. I needed to go home, lick my wounds for a few days, make a plan… I tried again to yank out of his grip, but it only made him move his hands down to squeeze my biceps harder.

The asshole was smug enough to wait until I had no choice but to look back up into his eyes. Even in my heels he was a good six inches taller than me. He’d ditched his usual jeans and black T-shirt for a fitted black suit and tie. He’d even trimmed his normally longer beard to a perfectly groomed scruff that still couldn’t hide his chiseled jaw. For a brief second, he didn’t look like the big bad wolf I knew him to be.

But the slice of grief I’d seen in those dark eyes before had been replaced with his trademark arrogance. Its return made it easier for me to push down my tears and embrace my earlier fury. I flailed, putting all my built-up anger into the fight until he released me. I would have fallen backwards had he not caught me, which only made me angrier.

When he took a step closer, my pent-up despair boiled over and for the first time since Matty and I were kids and he’d been picking on me, I hauled off and slapped that sexy scruff right off the jaw of one Nicholas Knight. My palm connected perfectly with his left cheek with enough force that his head snapped to his right.

When he returned his focus to me, I felt a small measure of victory at the shock in those damn brown eyes. I’d surprised him. I suspected that didn’t happen often. That his cheek was visibly pink lifted my spirits more than I thought possible considering we were still only a few yards from my brother’s casket.

“Be careful, little girl,” he warned. “I know you’re hurting. It’s the only reason I’ll let that one go, but be warned. I won’t be as understanding should you try something like that again.”

I knew he spoke the truth. Nick Knight was not the kind of man that let anyone, especially a woman, intimidate him. He was the one who did all of the intimidating, and that included with my now dead brother. And that, right there, was the problem. He’d used Matty to do his dirty work and look where it had gotten him.

“You have some nerve. Showing up here, acting like I don’t know that it was his side work for you and your family that killed my brother.”

I expected him to deny it, so when he didn’t, I suddenly had no clue what to say next. I was saved from coming up with words when Tricia called out to me from her car several yards behind Nick.

“Let go of me. I’m leaving,” I inform him.

“Yes, you are, but you’re coming with me.”

I let a bark of laughter answer his absurd suggestion as I yanked free of him. I was surprised when he let me detour around him as I headed toward Tricia’s car. In my peripheral view, I sensed him falling into line beside me, easily keeping up with my steps.

Only when I tried to turn toward the stone driveway where a line of cars were parked did he pull me to a stop once again, yanking me around to face him.

“You’re delusional. Why would I ever go anywhere with you?”

He didn’t answer right away. Instead, he glanced toward the line of three waiting SUVs.

“You’ll go with me because Matt asked me to take care of you.”

My laughter was mirthless. “Now I know you’re lying. Matty knows how much I hate you.”

If he was upset by me telling him the truth, he hid it well. “Regardless, he asked. I agreed. So, let’s go.”

His hand was back on my bicep, pulling me into motion just as a bulky guy that looked like a dangerous criminal spilled out of the front SUV and started waving our way.

We were still several yards away when the guy shouted, “Jimmy texted that they’re here! Three vehicles just came through the front gate of the cemetery. We’re out of time.”

One minute I stood grounded in my fury, and the next I found myself thrown over the shoulder of my enemy as if I were a sack of flour. Those hard muscles I’d felt when I’d run into him easily subdued my struggling to be free. And as if the feel of him under me wasn’t jarring enough, he dared place one of his hands directly on my ass to help steady me. The zing of electricity I felt through my skirt only made me madder at myself.

Even in my precarious position, I heard screeching tires and what sounded like an engine backfiring in the distance.

Nick broke out into an all-out run with me bouncing up and down on his shoulder as he yelled to Tricia, “Get in your car and leave! She’ll be safe with me!”

Well, Mr. Knight. I may be safe with you, but you can bet your ass you aren’t safe with me. I can’t wait to make you pay for putting my brother in danger.

Chapter Two


I didn’t exactly expect her to welcome me with open arms, but I’d be damned if the snooty bitch wasn’t pounding on my back with her fists. She must have had a death wish.

I could hear the fucking Bishop goons gunning it through the winding path of the cemetery. The irony wasn’t lost on me that the first act I had taken to fulfill my promise to Matt to keep his sister safe was actually putting her in harm’s way. I’d bet my new Harley the assholes were here because they knew I’d be here to pay my respects to my oldest and most loyal friend.

It probably would have been safer to attend the funeral, but I’d skipped the church service. Men like me weren’t exactly welcome on holy ground anyway.

As I broke into a run, Pops flung the back door to the SUV open and right on time. The caravan of black SUVs, identical to my own, shot into view as I leaned in and unceremoniously dumped my human cargo onto the back seat. As expected, the brat tried to scramble across to exit from the opposite side door, letting out a groan of frustration at finding the door locked.

I couldn’t give a shit if she beat on the glass. The entire vehicle was bulletproof so the chances of her doing any harm with her pounding fists were nonexistent. That she wasn’t already on her knees sobbing her apologies to me was another gift to Matty. He’d always had a soft spot for his kid sister.

Stevie was behind the wheel, and he gunned it just as the first bullet bounced off the window next to Sophie. Despite the heaviness of having to bury my best friend, I couldn’t hold in the chuckle at the terrorized squeal of the woman next to me as she scrambled away from the window, falling back into my lap, flailing the whole time.

“They’re shooting at us!” she shouted the obvious, wiggling wildly until I was forced to wrap her in a tight squeeze to keep her settled.

“Yes,” I answered flatly.

“But… we need to call the police!”

I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling. Pops and Stevie in the front seat didn’t bother hiding their chuckles from the naive little girl sitting in my lap. Their obvious mirth enraged her further until I finally had to warn her. “This isn’t a police matter, Sophie. It’s a family matter and the family will handle it.” The tears I saw glistening in her eyes, waiting to spill down onto her cheeks, softened me until I offered a consolation. “The SUV is bulletproof. They can’t hurt us.”

Despite her tears, her words were like ice. “Oh, like they didn’t hurt Matty?”

“Your brother wasn’t shot,” I countered rather lamely.

“That’s right. He was run off the road while trying to escape a bunch of assholes like those shooting at us. That’s oh so much better.”

I didn’t bother arguing that technically, he had been trying to run them off the road, not the other way around. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t make her feel better anyway.

As we shot out into the busy midday traffic around the cemetery, Sophie renewed her struggles to disentangle herself from me. Despite that, or maybe because of it, she was grinding that cute little ass of hers against my cock. I tightened my grip, holding her still in my lap.

I’ve always loved a good game of cat and mouse, and my dick, before my brain, had come to the realization that the tiny little mouse of a girl I remembered from her childhood had somehow grown up into a very real woman. Okay, maybe she was more like a kitten… lots of scratching and clawing, but no danger of doing much damage.

When her elbow connected with my jaw, I’d had enough. One quick smack to her ass settled her down nicely. Palming her curvy bottom, I warned, “Don’t make me take off my belt.”

The flash of anger in her eyes was immediate. We were face to face, close enough that I caught a whiff of mint as she fearlessly screamed, “You can’t possibly hurt me more than you already have! You stole my brother!”

Her thrashing was back, only this time her beating fists were accompanied with sobs of despair.

I hated it when women cried, unless of course, they were crying under my paddle, whip, or strap. Although, to be fair, I never came harder than when a woman had mascara-smeared tears streaking down her face as she looked up at me from her knees, my shaft choking off her air supply.

But tears of hysterics… sorrow like those dripping down onto my tie…

Well, shit. Those tears were making me hard too. Or maybe it was the thought of shoving Sophie off the seat to her knees and feeding her my cock. That would be a fun way to teach her how I expect her to behave going forward.

Except I did none of those things, in part because she was just a kid. I had to be at least ten years older than her, although I vaguely remembered Matt going to her college graduation the year before so she couldn’t be that young. More important, Matt asked me to take care of her… keep her safe… provide her with family protection.

So instead, I did something I never do… just held her while she cried it out. Seconds turned to minutes. Eventually, her sobs turned to sniffles, which turned to slow, steady whimpers.

Fuck me, she’d fallen asleep. She was crying in her sleep.

My gaze jerked up to the rearview mirror. Stevie’s shocked expression said it all.

I’m so fucked.

I didn’t do comforting. And the only reason I didn’t throw her across the back seat now was Stevie’s eventual small smile of understanding. He’d loved Matty too. Hell, everyone had. Matty was… had been… the life of the party kind of guy. The one person who got away with telling me like it was and could walk away unscathed, even when I didn’t want to hear it.

The unfamiliar crush of guilt was trying to weigh me down again, but I pushed it back. Matt had always known the score… the dangers… I never asked him to take any risks I hadn’t already taken a hundred times myself. We were in a dangerous business. That meant sometimes bad things happened.

Stevie easily lost the tail of the Bishop goons once he hit the 114. Even they were smart enough to know better than to follow us far enough south to be in Knight country. I was grateful for the silence as we drove along the picturesque Wampanoag Trail, crossing bridges and inlets as we weaved our way out to the Knight family estate, better known as The Compound.

We were within a few miles of The Compound when the little kitten in my arms started to stir.

“Where are we?” she mumbled.

When I didn’t answer, Pops offered up, “We’ll be home in about ten minutes.”

Glancing out the windows and no doubt noticing we were not in the Providence historic district where her condo was, Sophie complained, “What the hell! I want to go to my home.”

Annoyed, I cut off his reply. “It’s not safe there right now.”

“Oh, and why is that? I’ve never had anything to do with your family business.”

I bit my tongue. She didn’t need to know that while she wasn’t directly working for the Knights, her family’s Locke Security Systems, Inc, which she now solely owned, was a critical member of my family’s network of businesses. In fact, there would be no Locke family business without the investment of my father years before the little kitten had even been born.

No, I didn’t think she needed to learn about that yet.

“The shop is closed today, but I need to be there to open tomorrow.” When that didn’t get any reaction, she added, “I don’t have any of my things. In fact, my purse… hell, even my phone… it’s all in Tricia’s car. We need to go back!”

Unwilling to cooperate, she continued to rattle off a slew of reasons—none that I gave a single shit about—why she needed to go home.

Gratefully, Stevie was finally pulling up to the fortified iron gate that marked the main entrance to the property. The sooner I could distance myself from my annoying companion, the better.

But as the gates swung open, it seemed Sophie decided it was time for her to get some distance as well. In a surprisingly stealthy move, she shoved out of my lap, diving through the opening in the middle of the front seats and started to struggle with Pops, reaching out to try to open his passenger side door.

Matty’s sister or not, my instincts kicked in. It was all too easy to grab her hips and yank her backward into my lap, only this time I made sure she was face down. I had to give credit where credit was due—she fought like a wildcat to be free, leaving me no other option than to yank up the back of that little black mourning dress and start whaling on that curvy little ass of hers like I meant it.

When I felt my cock growing, I had to remind myself that she was supposed to be like a little sister to me… nothing more. Still, I didn’t intend to go easy on her.

The fact that I was simply spanking her with my palm and not taking my belt off was all the mercy I could muster. I didn’t bother counting. I never did. I always knew when to stop by listening. Her screams and flailing were expected, but her guttural groan of what almost sounded like pleasure surprised me for a moment.

“Please…” she cried as I continued the rain of hard swats. “It hurts!”

Her begging mingled with her moans of pain went straight to my trapped shaft. Her thrashing about had her stomach rubbing against my cock, bringing the perfect erection for an entirely different kind of punishment. Was I imagining the whiff of feminine arousal?

Resisting the urge to show her just how much harder I could make things on her, I answered, “Good. It’s supposed to.”

By the time Stevie had driven down the long tree-lined drive and was pulling up at the grand entrance, her panic had set in. Then came her tear-filled threats.

“You can’t do this! I’m gonna press charges! You’ll rot in jail for this!”

Still, I didn’t relent. It wasn’t until she broke into sobs and started truly begging that I knew we were getting somewhere.

“Please… I can’t take any more.” A small hiccup escaped before she cried out, “I’m begging you…” she sobbed, finally lying limp across my lap like a good girl.

Still, I didn’t stop. Not until I’d delivered a final ten swats directly to her sit spot.

Only after the spanking ended did I realize Pops and Stevie had gotten out, leaving us in the vehicle alone.

I could feel the heat emanating from that cute little butt of hers. Listening to her sniffles as she reached back to rub her sore ass, I enjoyed the sight of the fabric of tiny panties that had ridden up between her cheeks, leaving the pink globes of her ass on display. I was enjoying the view so much that when she tried to push up to her knees, I swatted her again, warning, “Stay right where you are, little girl. I think this is the perfect position for me to lay down a few new rules for you. That way if you give me any trouble, I’m ready to pick up where I left off.”

“You’re a real asshole, you know that?” she spat.

“Guilty as charged. Never denied it.”

“Why are you doing this to me?” she whimpered.

“I’m not doing anything to you. I’m doing something for Matty. You’d do well to remember that. I promised to keep you safe, but I didn’t say jack about how I planned to do that. Now, we’re going inside. I’ll show you to your room. In light of your continued intent to make yourself a pain in my ass, I’ll be locking you in your room until I can figure out exactly what it is I’m going to do with you.”

She turned to glare at me over her shoulder. Her long dark hair was perfectly messed, begging to be pulled while those light violet eyes of hers tried to shoot daggers through me. My cock had already enjoyed her spanking, but the streaks of black mascara running down her cheeks were my kryptonite. It took all of my self-control to keep from ripping the lacy panties still in my hand off her before bending her over the back of the seat. My dick throbbed, wanting out of my suit pants so badly, which was why I knew it was time to knock on my window.

Pops had been waiting. He opened the door as I shoved Sophie off my lap so I could get out. Angry at my own weakness around her, I reached back into the vehicle and grabbed both her ankles and yanked her across the back seat. She lost one of her heels in the fray, but I couldn’t give a shit. She wouldn’t be walking anyway.

Throwing her over my shoulder, I grunted out my orders. “Collect her shoe and give it to Margaret. She’ll be taking care of our unwanted guest.”

I scaled the flight of stairs leading to the oversized entrance. It was the middle of the day, so I was annoyed when my brother called out to stop as I crossed the foyer toward the grand staircase. He wasn’t supposed to be home yet.

Turning to face off with him, I had to deliver a smack to Sophie’s ass to get her to stop struggling.

“Since when do you bring your women to the main house?” Nathan asked, the rocks glass of amber liquid in his hand betraying that he was having a rough day too.

I shouldn’t need to explain myself to Nathan. We each had our roles to play in the family business and this… well, it was none of his fucking business.

“This is different and trust me. You don’t want to know.”

“Oh, but I think I need to know, don’t you? Considering who she is?”

Shit. This complicated things.

Nathan didn’t wait for an explanation. He already knew all he needed to know. “Do you think I’m stupid? That I didn’t know you’d get us saddled with the Locke kid if something ever happened to Matty?”

“I’m not a kid! Now put me down!” Her voice was muffled against my back.

Nathan took a leisurely sip of his beverage as I struggled to keep Sophie from falling off my shoulder. Was that a smile playing at the bastard’s lips? To be honest, if it were happening to anyone else but me, I’d probably think it was funny too.

“Let me get her settled upstairs. Pour me one of those and I’ll meet you in the library in ten,” I barked, trying to sound like I was in control when we both knew it was the scratching kitten over my shoulder who presently seemed to be holding the upper hand.

“Uh-huh. Ten minutes, you say?”

I knew he was goading me. Implying that I wasn’t going to be able to keep my dick in my pants, which only made me that much more determined to maintain control.

I turned and started taking the steps up two at a time, shouting back to confirm, “Ten minutes!”

Margaret had set up the guest room at the very end of the hall. I was glad it was as far away from my suite in the main house as possible, even though I usually spent most of my time living in the cottage house down by the beach. The privacy of the cottage was my refuge, and I couldn’t wait to get there, peel off this damn suit, and decompress after a really shitty day.

But first, I had to deal with the kitten and my brother.

The door was open so I beelined it to the king-sized bed, dumping the load from my shoulder into the middle of the mattress. Sophie bounced and then lifted her foot up and kicked against my chest with all her might. The little minx was stronger than she looked and I stumbled back a step to keep from falling.

Fury coursed through me. Didn’t she know I could make her life a living hell?

No, asshole, she doesn’t know.

The thought was in my head, but it had been in Matty’s fucking voice saying it. I pushed back the wave of guilt I felt at his loss long enough to rein in my anger.

It was too easy to capture her ankles to keep her from kicking me again. I yanked her down the bed until her feet hung off the end. I jumped on top of her, trapping her waist between my open legs as I leaned forward to snatch her wrists and shove them above her head.

As much fun as it had been in the SUV to ogle her fine ass, this position gave me a front row seat to the fire in her watery eyes as she stared up at me—fearless.

The girl had balls, I’d give her that.

If she were paying attention at all, she had to feel the length of my shaft pressing into her stomach. I didn’t bother to hide it from her. Why should I? And if it helped to remind her of what was at stake here, all the better.

“Here is how this is gonna go. Are you listening?” I prodded.

When she met my question with silence, I repeated it, making sure she knew she would not want to ignore me.

“I asked you a question. I suggest you answer.”


“If that little sample in the car didn’t get your attention, I’ll be happy to give you your next lesson in obedience. Do I need to take my belt off?”

“Barbarian. I can’t wait until I get free and call the police. They put people in jail for kidnapping, you know.”

“Oh, baby, you wish you’d been kidnapped. That would imply I’d let you go if I get something in return. Who the hell says I have any intention of ever letting you go?”

I wasn’t sure exactly where those words had come from. I might not have been a saint, but kidnapping was definitely not my normal gig. Looking down into those wide, innocent eyes beneath me, it dawned on me that for Sophie Locke, I’d enjoy making an exception.

My words had scared her silent, which was fine by me.

“I’m going to send up our housekeeper with a tray of food. Eat, don’t eat. I don’t really care. I’m giving you the rest of today. You can cry, hell, even scream, and pound on the door. No one here is going to go against my orders.”

“And what orders are those?”

“For now, you stay put in this room. You have everything you need here. I’m going to give you this one day of grace to get this wild behavior out of your system, but starting tomorrow…” My voice trailed off. I shouldn’t want to scare her any more than I already had, but hell, taming her might be fun.

“What happens starting tomorrow?” she pressed.

A gentleman would comfort her, but I was no gentleman.

“If you keep hitting and kicking me, I can assure you, you don’t want to know.”

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