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Home / Samples / Dark Predator: A Mafia Stalker Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Dark Predator: A Mafia Stalker Romance by Piper Stone – Sample


It all started in the dark of night, a masked, sensual man who ignited my desires, stalking me as if I was his prey.

Then he told me there was nowhere I could run or hide where he wouldn’t find me.

And it was just the beginning…

Chapter One

“Loved with obsessive devotion, hated with barely controlled fury.”

—Heather McCollum


I’d heard several times in my life that there was a thin line between love and hate. When the two collided, the power was catastrophic. I’d felt that for months, the savage pull that threatened to drag my soul straight into the fires of hell. While I’d managed to control the brutal needs churning inside of me, fueling my hate and the need for revenge, the time had come to let loose the beast dwelling inside, clawing at my organs, ripping at my skin.

The reason was simple.

The fury had built to a point of no return, years spent wallowing in sadness and self-pity, in rage and uncontrollable need for blood and destruction. I’d spent years in purgatory of my own making, driven to the point of madness. But just as the act of retaliation was within my grasp, another insatiable need took over, quickly becoming an obsession.

All because of her.

The reason for being on the precipice of losing what was left of my soul.


The longing for a creature so beautiful and innocent that the raging hunger took my breath away.


The strangling requirement that had left me incapable of focusing on anything else.


The woman who’d shattered the glass house surrounding my sanity.


The beguiling creature who’d become the object of my enraged desire, a yearning so intense that a mere taste of her would never be enough.

As I stood on the cliff, overlooking a rocky shore, I took a deep breath, the air crisp from an approaching storm. The waves were turbulent, crashing against the craggy rocks. With one misstep, I could fall from the precipice to my death.

I’d once sought death, the only outcome that seemed acceptable.

Now I hungered for more.

Not just a nibble of her voluptuous lips or a whiff of her feminine wiles.



She had no idea a monster lurked in the darkness, but the time had come to take what already belonged to me.

Soon, I would take that taste.

Then I’d capture her essence.

Using her body, bending her to my will.

Fucking her.

Caging her.

Controlling her soul and her destiny, requiring her devotion.

Only then would the madness be forsaken.

Only then would I be able to enjoy a sense of freedom from the thick chains.

Only then could I seek salvation.

Until death do us part.


Only your love can end the madness, a single touch unraveling the thick chains. Soon…

I stared at the card, a mixture of emotions tearing through my soul. I had no idea who’d sent it or the accompanying single white rose, the petals delicate, the color pearlescent in the soft glow of the light over the stove. I’d been mesmerized by its beauty, the dark rich green stem and leaves leading to a perfect specimen. It had been carefully folded in gold tissue paper, wrapped with a silk red bow, and left at my doorstep. The gesture was lovely. Even the card created a sense of longing that I hadn’t felt in years.

But as I read it again, I realized that whoever’d sent the gift was obsessed. Why? I placed the card on the counter, backing away as if the thick cardstock was on fire. A slight tremor shifted through me and it became difficult to breathe. What if this had to do with my past? What if I’d been found? What if someone was watching?

No. That wasn’t possible. I’d taken far too many steps to maintain anonymity, preserving a way of life I enjoyed.

I gripped the counter, trying to control my breathing. I’d had a few men ask me on dates. I was a public person of sorts, my gallery open at all hours, my customers from every walk of life. The rose was just a nice gesture and nothing more.

I’d always had a strange sense that there was only one man capable of breaking the spell that had surrounded my life for years. As I studied the beautiful creation of nature, I allowed my thoughts to drift to a fantasy, a wonderment whether my knight in shining armor was hiding in the shadows.

Or was this from the devil, disguised as my hero? I almost laughed at the ridiculous thoughts. There was no perfect man, no fantasy where I’d be swept away, protected from the evils of this world. I was fooling myself to think otherwise.


I could dream.

After taking a whiff, the incredible fragrance tickling my skin, I turned out the light. I was safe. There was no monster waiting in the darkness.

There was no new nightmare.

Only the bloody one remaining from the past.

Exhaustion had taken a toll. I’d worked every day of the last thirteen, thrilled that the upcoming show was getting so much attention. Maybe I could start to make some headway, finally achieving success. The artist was exuberant, the paintings a breath of fresh air. If she sold only five of them, I could continue expanding my dream.

One of peace and solitude, freedom from the past.

As I headed into my apartment building, moving to the bank of mailboxes, I noticed a long white box propped against the wall. A rush of excitement as well as apprehension skittered through every cell and muscle. There was no doubt in my mind who the package was intended for.

After taking a deep breath, I pulled it into my hands. My name was penned in bold, red Magic Marker. There was no address, no idea who’d sent it.

Just like before.

My pulse raced as I headed up the stairs, fumbling to get the key into the lock. Once inside, I dropped my purse, holding the box out by several inches. Then I moved into the kitchen, turning on every light. There was no reason to be frightened, but a sense of foreboding remained in my system.

I couldn’t help but stare at the gift for a full two minutes before pulling the ribbon loose. As soon as I opened the lid, I backed away. The tissue paper was the same, folded perfectly so as not to crush the contents. When I peeled it away, my breath was taken. Two roses were nestled inside, only this time they were the deepest purple I’d ever seen.

The card was placed on top, and I could read the words from where I was standing.

Only your devotion can release the beast, allowing him to enjoy a taste of pleasure, fulfilling a need that burns deep within. Soon…

I pressed my hand over my lips, a moan pushing up from my throat. Who was trying to lure me into the darkness? A strange vision popped into my mind, one I’d shoved aside years before, refusing to fall into the nightmare that had almost consumed me. The one that had almost stripped me of my soul.


So much blood.

No. No.

I purposely took a step away, gasping for air. What was this about? There’d been no strange phone calls, no one lurking at the gallery. This was crazy. Maybe I needed to get a weapon, but what? I couldn’t stand guns. Not after what I’d witnessed. The crushing weight of my loss rushed to the surface. No, wait. That was crazy. This was just another gesture, a way to try to woo me so that when the sender finally approached, I’d be amiable to his affections. The method was different, but very creative. His words skyrocketed one-liners into something extraordinary.

I forced myself to laugh. I was just being silly.

After taking a few deep breaths, I moved around the small table, opening a cabinet door and grabbing a wineglass. Then I pulled the bottle of open wine, backing away without taking another look at the package.

Then I turned out the light.

The storm was vicious, sheets of rain coming from several directions. I struggled with the groceries, running toward the door of my apartment building. One of my neighbors was just heading inside.

“Wait. Hold the door,” I called. A crack of thunder almost made me drop my bags. Then as a flash of lightning lit up the twilight sky in eerie shades of electric blue, I tipped my head to stare at the malevolent force of nature. There was no reason to be jittery, but tonight the storm was more ominous than ever before.

Just like the night that…

No. I wasn’t going down that path.

Thank God my neighbor was holding the door open. I willed myself to move forward, shivering from being soaked.

“Thank you!” I smiled at him, thankful when he waited until I was all the way inside before allowing the door to shut.

“Brutal storm,” he said. He remained standing in the lobby.

Was he expecting a tip? I was cranky from long hours. “It’s awful.” As I eased the bags to the floor in order to get my mail, I realized he was still standing there. When I turned my head, I hated the fact I was holding my breath. “Is there something else?”

“I just wanted to tell you that I saw a man outside your apartment earlier.”

“A man?”

“Maybe a courier? One of the neighbors must have let him inside. Anyway, there’s a package waiting for you.”

I had no idea why he’d felt the need to tell me, but a strange sense of foreboding nearly swallowed me whole. “Thank you for letting me know.”

“Sure thing.”

I waited until he walked away before finishing my task. Then I moved to the stairs, taking them slowly. I knew what I’d find. It had been two weeks to the day since the purple roses had arrived. Only the day before had I been forced to toss them into the trash. They’d remained fresh and beautiful, barely opening, their vibrant color the first thing I saw every morning.

I had no idea why I’d kept them, but after the initial shock of the sender’s gift and the seductive words on the card had worn off, I’d enjoyed their beauty.

I’d also kept the notes, which was ridiculous, but it felt as if I had a little secret that had nothing to do with my past. A suitor. That’s what the mystery sender would have been called years before.

As I rounded the corner, my apartment door in front of me, the same mixture of exhilaration and anxiety flooded my system. There it was. The white box.

And I couldn’t wait to see what was inside.

The container appeared the same. No larger. No smaller. After turning on the light, I tossed the groceries and my purse on the counter, carefully placing the box on my table. Before bothering to put anything into the refrigerator, I poured a glass of red wine, swirling the liquid as I studied the same red writing located on the side. The letters were capitalized, accentuated in my mind. The sender had wanted to make certain I received his gift. Had he delivered it himself or had he used a courier?

After taking a sip, I closed my eyes, envisioning a night of raw, unbridled passion. It was crazy to think that if I met the man responsible, the experience would be something I wanted.

Or needed.

But my instinct told me that this was just the beginning.

And that our connection would be explosive.

After putting the glass on the table, I pulled the red ribbon, slowly releasing the contents. The gold tissue was the same, the card positioned in the center. This time, the bold statement left no room for imagination.

Only your submission can ease the pain, providing a pure moment of ecstasy. And when that happens, only then can we be free of the torment, the burning need. The time is near…

I’d once believed that I’d already met my Prince Charming and that one day he’d come to take me to his castle. Was it possible he’d found me? Or was it the devil posing as my knight in shining armor?

I held my breath as I peeled away the tissue, exposing the contents beneath. Three crystal roses, the light overhead creating a spectrum of colors dancing through the glass. As I reread the card, there was no doubt in my mind that he was coming.

And my life would never be the same.

Chapter Two

Three months later


“Hello, Carmella.”

Nightmares always seemed more relevant at night, the time when shadows were allowed to roam the earth, grizzly monsters seeking their prey for the evening.

Soulless, violent, angry monsters.

I’d always been afraid of the dark, the temptation to fall into an abyss of my own making, allowing the savage creatures to feast with wild abandon terrifying.

But not nearly as much as this moment. Only this wasn’t a nightmare. This was real.

The man who’d sent the roses, who’d left me hungering for more had swept into my life days before. I’d ignored the warning signs, preferring to bask in the anonymity as well as the intoxicating excitement of our game. I’d known somewhere inside that I’d been playing with fire, but the dance between us had been far too delicious. Only now I knew his intentions hadn’t been worthy, only a reminder that there’d been no place to hide.

I turned around slowly, noticing the gun in his hand. Everything came rushing to me.

The horrific scene.

The blood.

My parents’ bodies.

Time stopped abruptly, as if the last several years of my life had been swept away. A sick feeling pooled inside as his voice scattered around me, dark and dangerous just like I’d suspected him of being only days before. But I’d let my guard down, pretending as if our twisted game was innocent, inviting him into a realm I’d locked away.

As if his cruel method of seduction had been about the intense attraction we’d felt from the minute we’d met. But it had all been a lie, a pretense to ensure my trust. He’d known who I was all along. He’d hunted me, playing me for a fool. Then he’d become determined to enjoy the win, feasting on his prize.

And I’d allowed it to happen.

The man I’d started to adore and to trust was here to kill me. My masked man. My Zorro. There was no other answer. Maybe Cruz was my uncle’s assassin. That didn’t seem right. He was far too powerful, a man of importance.

Another mafia organization. A rival of the Rosario family. If only I’d asked more questions about him all those years ago.

As if I had any family left.

Had Cruz seen to that?

Was he the man responsible for gunning them down in cold blood, which is exactly what my uncle wanted me to believe?

Could my uncle be so cruel as to eliminate his own flesh and blood? Of course he would. For money. Power. Influence. I was no fool. I’d known about my parents’ will even before their death, although my uncle had attempted to keep the details from me. He’d told me he’d been protecting me. Bullshit. He wanted it all to himself. I had no clue what he’d gain by killing me. What I did know was that Devon Rosario was a monster, a man with no conscience.

Was Cruz any better?

My birthday was fast approaching, which meant the trust fund my parents had left would become unlocked, my uncle no longer able to control my funds. I’d left because I didn’t care about the money. I’d always considered it tainted in blood. But my uncle was a vulture, determined to keep the millions to himself. If I died, what purpose would that serve?

What little I knew about the man standing in front of me had added to the mystique, our passion unlike anything I’d ever experienced. However, there was nothing innocent about him. Cruz was powerful, not only in stature within New Orleans but in the way he commanded attention whenever he walked into a room. And the way my name had dripped off his tongue reeked of the primal needs I’d satisfied.

Carmella. My given name, the one I’d abandoned years before.

The one that brought terror and uncertainty back into my life.

“Did you kill Talon?” I wasn’t certain I wanted the answer. I thought about the note the artist had left me, requesting I meet him here, but I doubted he would show. He was dead. Dead!

“No, Carmella. He was found dead in his apartment, an email to you on his computer.”

What was that supposed to mean? I shuddered, backing away as I continued staring at him.

“You sent me the roses several weeks ago. Didn’t you?” My tone was more demanding. Maybe I could grab his weapon.

You don’t want that. You love him.


That was crazy. I couldn’t love a monster.

The way he looked at me with such hunger in his eyes sent a course of shivers dancing all the way to my toes.

“Did you enjoy your gifts?” he asked, his voice even more seductive than before.

“They were a warning.”

“No, sweet Carmella. They were a promise and as I told you from the beginning, I always keep my promises. My word is sacred to me. Just like you are.”

The man was twisted, evil. Then why did I crave him?

I did what I could to resist his charm, but he had a way about him that was irresistible. That sickened me. “What do you want?” I demanded. Cruz’s features were sharp, a man so powerful he could destroy anyone with a single glance.

I’d thought that way since the beginning. Only as I stared into the same eyes I’d lost myself in countless times, I realized I was glancing in through a cracked window, searching for a soul that didn’t exist.

He would tell me I was being melodramatic, allowing my imagination to drag me into a warped, sick frame of mind.

I knew better.

I was raised to be strong no matter the situation confronting me, forced to learn at an early age that resolve and the lack of emotion would serve me well. But nothing on this darkened night would save me from losing what was left of my soul.

He knew.

I knew it.

It had just been a matter of time.

I shivered as goosebumps drifted down my arms, and there was no number of soft blankets or heat that could take away the chill.

“We need to leave. You’re in danger.”

“From you.”

“No, not from me.”

“Just get away from me.” Several visions rushed into my mind.

He remained near the door to my gallery, studying me with the same brilliant sapphire eyes that had attracted me to him in the first place. Yet tonight they held no sense of desire, only a calculating coldness that trickled down my back like a venomous snake ready to strike.

My heart was beating so loudly I was certain he could hear it. As if reading my mind, he lowered his gaze to my chest, his expression one of satisfaction.

“I can’t do that. Did I frighten you, mi diosa?”

“Are you trying to?”

He laughed, which only added to the suffocating feeling in my throat. Even from where he stood, it was as if he’d managed to wrap his hand around my throat, prepared to end my life.

Stop it. You’re losing your mind.

“It’s time to pull off the mask, revealing the woman hiding behind a lie. Don’t you think?” A hint of a smile curled across his lip. While it wasn’t threatening in of itself, as he shifted his gaze to the flat shoes I’d worn, I sensed his disdain. He preferred me in dresses and heels, calling me his diosa, his goddess.

“I asked you what you wanted.” My defiance seemed to amuse him. Suddenly, I could no longer breathe, the air sucked away, only to return if and when he allowed it. He’d always been in control. I’d just chosen to ignore the ugly facts that I’d known all along.

“Many things, my sweet girl. But you already know that. Don’t you? I’ve come to take what already belongs to me. You were always destined to be mine.”

Oh, God. When would I wake up?

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” The little voice inside my head continued screaming that this had everything to do with my ruthless uncle, a man even colder than the one standing in front of me.

Cruz cocked his head, taking a deep breath as he considered what I’d just said. This was the first night that I sensed he had a vengeful purpose in mind. And I was payment for an atrocity that had nothing to do with me. What had transpired between him and my uncle?

I swallowed only once, doing what I could to calm my nerves. I’d known that one day I’d be hunted down like a dog, forced to endure penance for daring to run away from my responsibilities.

But not like this.

Not because of a man I didn’t know, a viper in dark clothing, his sensuous voice harboring deceit and vindictive intentions. That much I could tell by his few words, but even more from the soulless glint in his eyes. How had I been so stupid, ignoring all the signs?

Still, his words dripped of the same lust I’d known before, but there was hostility as well. And his voice was little more than a predatory growl.

One of hunger.

Intense thirst.

As well as one of possession.

For a few seconds, I marveled in his beauty as I’d done before, drinking in the essence of power and sexuality as he gazed all the way to the floor. I could read his intentions clearly, his needs just under the surface of his perfectly coiffed attire and rugged features.

The man wanted to devour me.

But on this night, there was much more to his objectives, a tenseness to him that I’d never seen before.

I was locked in the moment, frozen in fear and anticipation of what he would do.

Without warning he flicked off the single light I’d turned on in the gallery, yet the eerie glow the closest neon signs provided accentuated a shimmer of colorful light through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Everything had been a façade.

I shuddered as he took three steps closer.

The masked man.

A predator who’d stalked me, tempted me.

Dominated me.

Now he intended on making good on his promise of breaking me.

Using me.

Owning me.

And I wasn’t certain whether I’d survive.

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