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King of Pain: A Dark Mafia Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Chapter One

“Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.”

—Iyanla Vanzant


Betrayal had a bitter taste, a caustic bile slithering through my system. The acid burned as it slid through my veins, infecting my blood with its heavy treachery. My legs felt heavy as I moved toward the vestibule, my father waiting with an extended arm. He smiled as if this day meant something other than what it was. He’d told me I was his shining star, proud of me in everything I did.

Then he’d sold me off like a cow waiting for slaughter. I was disgusted by the sight of him, his fake smile adorning his look of contentment, an effect of the contract signing away my life. In my mind, he deserved to be gutted like the pig he was. All respect for him and his empire had been lost, my innocence traded for millions of dollars and the welcome thought of inheriting additional power from the unholy union.

My father had been stupid enough to believe that I wouldn’t make good on the threat I’d made, the dutiful daughter being led around by a strong sense of family. But I wasn’t interested in remaining in a noose that would only get tighter.

I would honor the promise I made.

To myself.

Destroying both families.

And I’d enjoy every moment of doing so.

I’d put my armor on, showing him how strong I was, but the bastard had broken through my defenses, using the single thing against me he knew I wouldn’t be able to tolerate: tossing my younger sister to the wolves. Still, he had no idea my level of strength or the lengths I was willing to go to in order to regain my freedom.

And to rid the earth of vermin.

And in my mind, I was unstoppable.

If only I could be wearing red, my favorite color. That was more fitting for an act of vengeance, the hue exactly as I imagined Diego Santos’ blood would be the moment the blade tore through his neck.

Despite anger simmering in my veins, I slipped my arm around my father’s, providing a practiced gaze of admiration. Yet the anger remained a raging inferno ready to explode. As he pulled me to the entrance of the church, I took a deep breath, rubbing my fingers across the knife I’d purchased only days before. My father had underestimated me, which would ultimately lead to his death. I’d start with my intended husband first, a man I loathed with every fraction of my being. Then I’d go after Diego’s father before ending my killing spree by cutting my father’s heart out and shoving it down his throat.

Only then would I feel vindicated from the atrocity that my life had become.

“Are you ready?” he asked as he patted my hand, unaware of my plans.

“Absolutely. Let’s get this party started.”

As the traditional music began playing, I scanned the crowd of three hundred people; celebrities and musicians, politicians and heads of state who wouldn’t miss the wedding of the year for anything. Little did they know they’d be witnessing a bloodbath.

And I couldn’t be more excited to see their horrified reactions.

My beautiful baby sister stood at the altar, her face beaming from happiness. She had no idea I’d saved her life in more ways than one. She would be leaving town soon, her dream of living and playing music in Paris coming true. I hadn’t regretted my decision. I would do anything in my power to protect her against the evil running through our family.

My pulse was racing, my heart thudding rapidly as I took my first steps toward the monster waiting feet away from the priest. While I knew my soul would be damned for all eternity for what I was about to do, I’d lost any ability to care. No longer was I the special princess. I’d become a woman expected to accept a crown of blood and thorns.

Perhaps my father had also considered me weak, choosing me to marry the son of a cartel kingpin. However, he had no idea just strong I’d become. The crowd rose to their feet, most looking at me admiringly as I walked down the soft red carpet, white rose petals already adorning the path. At least Diego’s blood wouldn’t stain the precious tile hand selected from Italy.

As we approached, my intended remained where he was, facing the thick pane of stained glass, the image of Christ a symbol of good, in contradiction to the blasphemous ceremony about to occur. He didn’t flinch nor did he bother watching my approach, his air of arrogance creating another wild thrumming of my pulse. When we passed my mother and sister, I turned my head, noticing my mother was crying. She’d been under my father’s thumb for so long she hadn’t said a word to me about the atrocity or asked what she could do to help. She’d been a willing participant, but she would remain alive because I knew she had no other choice.

My father would have beaten her for disagreeing with him.

At least the beatings I’d received as a child had allowed me to become resilient, hardening the shell and in a town like Los Angeles, that had become a benefit. What my father also didn’t know is that his anger had given me the courage to become cunning in everything I did.

He handed me off, squeezing my arm and lowering his head to kiss my cheek through the veil. As my stomach recoiled, I flicked open the knife, exposing the blade.

After the guests had returned to their seats, the priest began his sermon. I wasn’t a woman who had patience, but I’d learned to do so over the years. It was just a matter of minutes now before I’d begin my revenge.

As I inhaled, I was surprised he wore a different scent than I was used to, the richness of timber, citrus, and exotic spices assaulting my senses. Then as we turned toward each other, I allowed Diego the gesture of lifting my veil as I controlled my rapidly beating heart. I wanted the monster to look me in the eyes and know that I was sending him off to the fires of hell.

I took a deep breath, prepared to slice his jugular when I lifted my gaze, his eyes piercing mine.

And in those few seconds there was no one else inside the church, no sound other than that of my beating heart. When his nostrils flared and he parted his ruby lips, I returned the knife back to its original position. A jolt of powerful electricity tore through me, causing my legs to tremble. I’d never felt this way around the brutal man before. Not once. But as I stood here in the hallowed location, my core began to heat, the inferno of rage turning into a wave of desire unlike anything I’d ever felt.

I took shallow breaths, blinking several times to try to regain control of my resolve, but something was very wrong.

The man standing in front me was gorgeous, tall, and muscular with a stunning carved physique. Thick dark hair framed his chiseled face, his jaw clenched as if irritated by the proceedings. He exuded power in his presence, his eyes commanding, peering down at me like a wolf whose hunger knew no bounds. But as I stared into them, the same ones I’d gazed at on several occasions, I concentrated on the flecks of violet surrounding his steel gray eyes. And I knew without a shadow of a doubt I couldn’t carry out my act of retaliation.

Because the man standing in front of me was an imposter.

But that was only the beginning of the nightmare.

Chapter Two


I’d never intended on getting married, but as I took the hand of my bride, I was struck my how small her fingers were, her skin soft and smooth. I was in awe of her beauty and touching her shot arrows of lust straight through me, my cock already pushing against my zipper. While I’d seen her before, I hadn’t taken the time to indulge in just how insanely gorgeous she really was.

Carina’s cheeks were flushed, the light shade of pink pulling on every filthy desire that had ever entered my mind. Soon, she would be all mine to taste and touch, tease and fuck. I should feel elation, even a stronger sense of power, but with great dominance came concern. By accepting my hand in marriage, she’d just become my greatest weakness, a tool to be used by every Santos enemy.

She was trembling, but more so out of desire. I’d never experienced true animal attraction until now, but the amount of electricity soaring through us both was significant. As I took a deep breath, her luscious scent floated into my nostrils. She was as aroused as I’d become, her breath rapid and scattered. I sensed she hated the pompous ceremony as much as she did the man standing beside her, but there was no denying our intense connection just as there’d been when we’d sparred.

The alliance between our families would create a powerful combined empire, which would rock the entire Western region, as well as various global locations. Our respective fathers were celebrating our union, but she’d been coerced into the arrangement, forced to realize she was nothing more than a rich man’s possession. Now she was shifting from one gilded cage to another.

The air of tension between us was understandable, her desire to end my life in order to save hers written all over her lovely face. It was the intense burn of her heated gaze that intrigued me. She was a formidable woman for her age, only agreeing to an unholy marriage to save the life of her sister.

And I was the monster who would take full advantage of the difficult situation.

As the priest stepped forward, the congregation standing, so began the sanctimonious ceremony of our unholy matrimony. To feel such desire burning through me was unusual, especially given the circumstances.

Her hand was trembling in mine, but not out of fear. Only rage. We were enemies in a sea of sharks and piranhas, the blood-infested waters of Los Angeles not for the faint of heart. But she was strong.

Only I was stronger.

But I would remember that Carina DeMill was a force to be reckoned with.

I would need to break her to make her mine. The thought was riveting but complicated the situation. However, I had to stay focused, or the last months of preparation would mean nothing.

Throughout the ceremony, she kept her head down except when required. And when she lifted her chin, her deep green eyes piercing mine, I gathered a sense she wouldn’t be easy to break. The challenge kept my balls tight.

Thirty minutes later, the pomp and circumstances were nearly concluded, the vows already stated, hers through clenched teeth. As she turned to me, tilting her head, the amount of venom in her eyes was both understandable as well as enticing. As I lowered my head for the kiss, I sensed everyone was holding their breath. Carina squeezed my hand as she slid the other around my shoulder, rising onto her tiptoes.

As she nuzzled against my neck, I smiled, hearing her whispered words.

“One day I will kill you, my husband.”

I wrapped my arm around her waist, jerking her against my chest. “I can’t wait to see you try.” I sensed her heart racing, the pulse in her neck increasing. As I brushed my lips across hers, I heard her audible shudder. Soon, she would cry out my name in throes of passion.

The level of silence in the church was deafening.

Then I heard a noise.

Snapping my head toward the front of the church, I sensed exactly what was happening, but my reflexes weren’t fast enough.

Gunshots from automatic rifles rang out, the peppering of dozens of rounds coming from several locations inside the church. Screams erupted, guests trying to flee the pews. Carina immediately reacted, trying to race toward her family, but I jerked her back and yanked out my weapon. Within seconds, an asshole in a mask rushed from the side, coming within a few feet of us. I fired off two bullets, hitting him directly in the face. He tumbled forward, blood splattering across Carina’s face and dress.

I pushed her down, searching for the soldiers assigned to the location. Popping noises continued to occur, bodies flailing as they were struck, a mass stampede of confusion adding to the melee.

Carina struggled to get from under me, whimpering as she fought.

“Stay down,” I hissed. “Do not move. Do you hear me?”

“Yes. What is happening?”

An attempted massacre. My father had laughed at the thought, his arrogance refusing to accept that with all the pomp and circumstance of the high-powered union, both families had placed targets on their backs. He’d believed none of our enemies would dare have the gall to attempt an assassination.

Xavier Santos was a fool.

Carina’s voice was smaller than I was used to, the fear crippling. I shifted away by a few inches, taking aim as one of the masked assailants bounded close to the altar. As soon as he dropped, two others appeared. I remained crouched, shifting and taking aim, striking one between the eyes. Before I had a chance to twist my arm toward the other, he lunged forward, tackling me onto the floor.

Carina screamed from behind me as I rolled with the assassin, yanking my arm free. The asshole was larger, but I was stronger and even as he tried to force the barrel I held toward my chest, I snapped my other fist against the side of his neck, wasting no time before firing two shots. Several of my men were headed in our direction, jumping over fallen guests.

As another assassin came at us, I was shocked when Carina kicked out, catching him in the stomach. That allowed me fire to off two shots in rapid succession.

It would seem my bride wasn’t a wilted flower.

As he started to go down, I grabbed her around the waist, keeping us both as low to the floor as possible, heading for the side door leading to the church offices.

“No!” Carina screamed, trying to get away from me. “My family!” I was shocked when she slipped through my hands, grabbing one of the rifles from the dead assassin.

“We don’t have time, Carina. You’re coming with me.” Yanking her backward, I barreled her through the door as another series of shots rang out, the wall and doorjamb punctured with bullet holes.

Sergio Ivanoff was my second in command, the Russian considered brutal under anyone’s terms. He tossed and dragged furniture in front of the door, even though that would only hold off the perpetrators for so long.

“Get them out of here,” he called to the other men. “We have the SUV waiting in the back. We need to get out of here now!”

Our departure route had been preplanned, the alleyway behind the church the perfect location to keep away from the press. Our impending nuptials had been a top news story for days, reporters unable to get enough of our fairytale romance. They’d camped outside both our houses in their attempt to obtain an exclusive, the alliance of two of Los Angeles’ most powerful families boosted to national news.

Only our lives weren’t beautiful like the make believe of the movies. Instead, they were raw and dangerous.

“No. Please. I need to see them.” Carina managed to break free, smashing her way through three of the soldiers. She pointed the weapon in her hand, somehow able to get off a few wild shots.

Hissing, I fisted her hair, yanking her back with enough force she yelped. Then I tossed her against the wall, wrenching the weapon from her hand and keeping my eye on the door. I tossed it to one of the soldiers, taking several ragged breaths. It was only a matter of time before another line of assailants burst through. I kept the full weight of my body against hers, cupping her jaw. “Listen to me. We have about thirty seconds before the assailants come through that door. Do you understand me?”

She nodded as best she could, her eyes wide and glistening from tears. “Save them. Save my family. Please.”

“First, I save you. This is going to be dicey so when I put you in the vehicle, you’re staying all the way down. Do not look back, Carina. No matter what you do.”

“We need to get the fuck out of here!” Sergio hissed, firing off a full round at the door.

I wrapped my arm around her, holding her tightly against me as several of my soldiers surrounded us. I gave the nod to throw open the door, able to shove her inside the backseat but only seconds before assailants rushed down the alley heading for us.

Sergio pushed me, halfway tossing me inside then jumping in the passenger seat. “Go. Go. Go!” he barked.

The driver took off, slamming his foot down on the accelerator, the popping sounds continuing. Carina yelped as at least two bullets hit the rear of the SUV, the sound echoing. I kept my body straddling hers, cringing when the back window was cracked. The damn thing was supposed to be bulletproof.

“Get us out of here,” I snarled, wrapping both hands around the Glock, prepared to shoot out the back window if necessary.

Sergio threw his arm back, cursing in Russian. “Stay down, El Jefe. We need you.”

Huffing, I crouched lower, hating the way she was trembling in my arms.

When the driver swung to the right, hitting the street with a brutal jolt, I scanned the area around us.

“How the hell did they get through our defenses?” I demanded.

“They were in the crowd of reporters outside,” the driver answered, Sergio giving him a harsh look.

“And I thought you checked for weapons,” I retorted.

“We did,” Sergio answered. “They must have hidden them.”

“Fuck,” I hissed. Who the hell would dare do this now? The list of Santos enemies was long, but only one organization would have the balls to do something so egregious. “Get us to the goddamn plane.”

The next few minutes continued to be harrowing, the driver skidding through several traffic lights, gunning the engine to bypass every vehicle in the way.

Carina continued trembling, but she remained quiet.

I waited until it was obvious that we weren’t being followed before gathering my bride into my arms, lifting her chin when she refused to look at me. Blood had marred her lovely face, strings of it caked on the side of her neck, her dress ruined.

Her eyes were wild, full of fear. At least at first.

Then she seemed to have a razor-sharp focus, jerking out of my hold. Then she issued a hard slap across my face as tears slipped down her face.

“You did this. You killed my family.”

Chapter Three



My arms and legs remained numb, but my stomach was churning, my mind a foggy mess. How had this happened? I folded my arms, struggling to breathe, the weight on my chest unlike anything I’d ever felt before. “Find out if they’re alive. If they’re not…” Unable to finish the threat, I made the statement as if anything I said to the man would matter. I couldn’t stand to look at the man I’d agreed to marry.

“I will find out, Carina. That I promise you,” Diego said, his voice softer than it had been before.

I’d seen the look of horror in my sister’s eyes just after all hell had broken loose. Her terror was mine. If I lost her, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the knife on the man I didn’t even know. I twisted my head, studying him carefully.

Something wasn’t right. Or maybe I was losing my mind. “Where are we going?”

“To my house in San Diego. For now.” He yanked out another magazine of ammunition, tossing the old one onto the floor. I wondered whether he had to take a weapon with him everywhere. To the bathroom. Out to dinner. To a family gathering.

My thoughts were all over the place, my head aching.

“That’s not wise, El Jefe,” the man with the Russian accent said. I almost laughed at the term he used, my mind churning from trying to remember what I’d seen. A sea of men in dark clothes. And blood. So much blood.

I finally held up my hands. They were stained with crimson and suddenly they started to itch. A tremor from deep inside rushed through my system with such force I couldn’t stop shaking.

“Get every available man to stand guard. Have them sweep the place before we get there,” Diego answered.

“Why don’t we go to the safehouse in North Coast?”

“Maybe, but not now. Whoever did this will pay and I’m not going to hide some like terrified asshole. We go to San Diego,” Diego snarled.

“You did it. Your enemies. Your friends. Everyone wants you dead,” I half whispered.

“That may be the case, princess, but you could be the target as well.”

His tone had changed, the sultry sound lacing every syllable making me sick to my stomach. I turned my head, glaring at him as I’d done so many times before. He was splattered with specks of blood, but it didn’t mar his handsome face. He was far too debonair, acting as if the violence was an everyday occurrence. I’d never been faced with that kind of nightmare. Never.

You should have killed him.

Would that have changed anything? No. I’d likely be dead. However, the fact he’d saved my life didn’t calm the rage.

Or the hatred.

I took several deep breaths, rubbing my hands together. Then I started scratching, digging my nails into my palms. I had to get the blood off. I couldn’t stand it. God, oh, God. Were they alive? As a whimper escaped my lips, he took my hands into his, just like he’d done at the ceremony.

“You can wash your hands on the plane.”

“I’m not going with you,” I snapped.

“Yes, you are. You’re my wife, which placed a target over your head even before you said ‘I do.’”

I finally broke into laughter. “And you think this is going to be a happy marriage?”

Sighing, he glanced at the man up front. “Find out about her family.”

The Russian snorted. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“I’m going to protect you, Carina, but you’ll need to do everything I say.”

“Not a chance.”

“Then you’ll learn the hard way.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Would I threaten my wife? That would make me a terrible man.”

There was strange sense of sincerity in him. I took a deep breath, trying to keep my shit together. The horrible visions would remain in my mind forever.

“We’re almost at the airport, boss,” the driver said. “There are several men stationed there.”

“Good. Get us as close as possible,” Diego told him.

“Yes, sir.”

“Sir. You must think you’re an important man.” I told him, still staring at my hands.

“No more than most, Carina. I’m just a man attempting to do his job. Now, that includes protecting his wife. I’m curious. Where did you learn to shoot?”

“It was one thing my father didn’t mind teaching me.” What did Diego care? I refused to look at him as the driver swung through a series of gates, heading onto a private airstrip.

The driver jerked the SUV to a stop, immediately getting out.

“I don’t have any clothes. Nothing.” I don’t know why I even made the comment.

“Take a look. Your suitcases are in the back.”

I barely glanced over my shoulder. My life had been sorted out, altered in less than two weeks. “Of course they are.”

“The church is swarmed with police officers. I can’t get any definitive answers,” the Russian said. “But there are several fatalities.”

I lifted my gaze, and I felt the heat of Diego’s. I couldn’t panic. There was a good chance they were okay. But what if they weren’t?

The driver climbed out, immediately yanking the suitcases from the back, heading toward the person standing by the plane. Then another haze formed over my eyes.

Diego pressed his fingers against my arm, and I wanted to pull it away so badly, but his touch made me shiver in a good way. I hadn’t been anticipating the instant connection or the way my nipples had hardened.

“It’s all clear, boss,” the driver said as he opened Diego’s door.

And it was until it wasn’t.

We were only a few feet away from the steps when additional shots rang out. This time, the adrenaline rush I’d felt before was long gone. I was incapable of fighting, only clinging to Diego as he jumped in front of me, using his body to block mine. This wasn’t behavior I expected from a man nicknamed ‘the Butcher.’

“Get her on the plane,” he hissed to the Russian, firing off several shots.

The Russian grabbed my arm, tugging me up the metal stairs. I almost stumbled given the long train on my dress, the man cursing when he was forced to catch me. He shoved me inside, immediately returning to the open door.

“Get ready to take off,” the Russian barked at the pilot then snapped his head in my direction. “Sit down.”

The asshole didn’t like me very much. The feeling was mutual. I eased into a seat, holding my head in my hands. I had no idea if my purse or phone was with the suitcases. What did it matter if I had no one to call? I could sense I was becoming hysterical, which wasn’t my personality. The only comfort I had was the fact I still had the knife with me. After throwing a quick glance toward the door, I pulled the switchblade from the holder I’d fashioned into the sleeve, still furious with myself for not using it. Everything was such a mess, including my thoughts on him being an imposter. His actions certainly didn’t corroborate my strange thoughts.

I heard another series of popping sounds and moaned. Then I felt a presence beside me and took a deep breath before lifting my head.

“It’s over. We’re safe,” Diego said in a hushed voice.

As the plane lurched forward, rolling down the runway, I lifted my head but couldn’t look at him. The stench of blood was everywhere, the coppery odor sickening.

He placed his hand under my chin, forcing me to look at him. “I will find out about your family.”

I wanted to believe him but at this point, I wasn’t certain what to believe. “Yes, you will.”

As he inhaled, I was startled by the sensations tearing through me, the white-hot heat that occurred every time I was close to the man. When he brushed his thumb back and forth across my cheek, I found myself wanting to nuzzle into his hand. That was ridiculous.

Swallowing, I pulled away and he curled his fingers. “Please find out, Diego. I might not like my father very much, but I don’t want anyone in my family hurt.”

“I understand. I keep my promises.”

He never blinked as we studied each other and I was mesmerized by the flecks of gold, trying to remember if I’d seen them inside the courtroom. I was possible with the ugly fluorescent lighting that I would have missed the intense shimmer, especially when he was angry. At this point, I wasn’t certain of anything.

As the plane ascended into the air, he breathed a sigh of relief. “Do you want a drink? I certainly need one.”

“Yes but is there a bathroom I can use? I’d like to try and get the blood off.” I needed time to myself to process everything or I was certain I’d go mad.

“Of course. Behind me.”

I glanced toward the door and nodded. When I tried to stand, the ugliness of everything that had happened rushed into me, my legs shaking.

“Whoa. I’ve got you.” He jerked to a standing position, wrapping his arm around me. I wanted to shove him away, but I wasn’t certain I had the strength or agility to take the few steps needed. After guiding me down the corridor and opening the door, he turned me around.

“What are you doing?” I heard the biting tone in my voice and sighed.

“You’ll need help getting out of your dress.”

“Oh. Thank you.”

He brushed my hair over my shoulder, his hot breath skipping across the back of my neck. Another quiver trickled down my spine and I bit back a moan. I didn’t want to enjoy his touch. I couldn’t stand the thought of being close to him. Now all I wanted was to have his arms wrapped around me and it felt wrong.



But I needed his touch.

As I gripped the doorjamb, my once beautifully polished nails digging into the synthetic material, he slowly unfastened the three dozen small satin buttons. He was deliberate with his actions, treating the dress as if it hadn’t been ruined. I heard his deep breath from seeing my naked back, the sound ragged and full of desire. I closed my eyes, trying to slow my breathing, biting my lower lip until I tasted blood as he brushed his fingers all the way down my spine.

“I shouldn’t have allowed that to happen,” he muttered.

No, you shouldn’t have. But I didn’t say it. I couldn’t blame him, at least not entirely. “Thank you for helping me.” I had no idea what else to say.

“I’ll bring your suitcase. Just take your time. There are fresh towels and toiletries. We won’t land for an hour.”

An awkward silence settled in.

“Diego. I’m sorry. I didn’t ask about your family. That was heartless of me. Do you know anything about them?”

“Not yet, my beautiful bride.”

There was a sadness in his voice I had yet to hear, and it surprised me.

“I’ll pray for them.” I had no idea why I’d made the comment. I hadn’t prayed since I was a child, but there was nothing else I could do at this point. When he didn’t say anything, I turned sightly, crossing my arm over my chest. He seemed to be a million miles away, his eyes not focusing on anything.

Maybe I was still in shock, the anguish of not knowing as horrible as the shooting. I closed the door behind me, leaning against it, the light turning on automatically. The warm, soft glow was just enough to highlight the fear remaining in my eyes. I removed the knife, holding it into the air, flicking the blade open. I knew he’d take it away if he found it on me, likely punishing me. That wasn’t going to happen. I needed something to protect myself with.

But against who?

I slipped the weapon under a stand of towels, grabbing a washcloth at the same time.

Laughing, I shimmied until the dress eased past my shoulders, falling to the floor. Then I stared at myself in the mirror. All I could see was blood covering everything.

After stepping out of the dress, I tried to kick it away. I never wanted to see it again. Never. The long train had managed to wrap around my legs and within seconds, I was enraged, ripping at the twenty-thousand-dollar Oscar de la Renta designer gown, ready to use the sharp blade.

Then everything started to overwhelm me. As I lowered my head, I could no longer stop tears from falling.

I’d wanted to end the monster’s life, but the beast had saved me instead.


I raked my hands through my hair, taking long strides toward the bar, waiting until I’d poured a tall scotch before turning my attention to Sergio. “What. The. Fuck. Happened?”

“I already told you. It was an ambush.”

“Not good enough, Sergio. I know what it was. It was a goddamn shitshow. We let our guard down. I need to know why and by whom?”

“You know who it is.”

“Why don’t you tell me.”

“Ortiz. They were his men.”

I eyed him for a few seconds, still furious I hadn’t taken more precautions.

“You’re so certain about that?”

He hesitated, finally shaking his head. “I will confirm it, El Jefe. The fucker needs to die.”

I took a long swig, fisting my other hand. “Soon, Sergio. Soon.” Every muscle ached, the anger building to the point the tension had tightened my chest. This was the last goddamn thing I needed. “Who the hell is still at the church?”

“Stone,” Sergio sneered. “He managed to clean up some of the debris before the cops arrived.”

“Any markings?”

“Not that he noticed. Granted, he’s green to this.”

Stone had been with the Santos organization for two years.

The two were at odds, which had already annoyed me. “Call him back. I need to know the status of her family now. I don’t care whose heads he needs to break.” I tipped back the scotch, realizing he was still staring at me.

“Do you want to know about your family?”

His tone was sarcastic, as if he’d caught me in no longer caring what happened to my family. Little did he know my father meant nothing to me. “Yes, Sergio. However, keep in mind that my father knew the risks better than most. I’m certain he was wearing a bulletproof vest just in case.”

He thought about what I said and nodded. “You’re right. I will find out.”

“I need to know as soon as you have any concrete information.” I polished off my drink, the light burn from the alcohol doing nothing to soothe the rage inside. After slamming down my glass, I headed for the bathroom, realizing my bride would likely have difficulty removing the stains from her skin. I headed to the small kitchen, searching the cabinets for salt. Finally finding a container, I yanked a glass from another, turning on the faucet. After pouring salt into the glass and filling it with warm water, I grabbed her suitcase, heading for the bathroom. I lowered the case to the floor and rapped my knuckles against the door.

“Just a second.” Her soft voice filtered through the closed door.

I waited, the fury given everything that had happened continuing to grow.

“Okay.” She held a towel in front of her chest, staring at both of us in the mirror. Her arms were bright red from the scrubbing she’d done.

I slid the case inside, closing the door behind me. Then I crowded her space, the heat shared between us oppressive. “Let me help you.”

“I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not. Soap and water won’t be enough.” As I grabbed the washcloth, she shuddered in my hold, her body quivering but I knew it wasn’t from a chill or fear. The crackling current between us was overwhelming, so much so I found it difficult to breathe. As I took her arm, she fisted her hand, still fighting to keep her voluptuous breasts covered. Her eyes never left me as I poured the water over the worst spots, taking my time to gently rub her already abraded skin.

She said nothing, but her breathing remained scattered, her hot breath steaming up the mirror. When she winced from the salt content, I stopped altogether, lowering my head and brushing my lips across the back of her neck.

Her single moan was sweeter than anything she could say to me. She fell against me, the towel slipping from her hand.

I took a deep breath, angry with myself for being fully aroused, my throbbing cock pressing into her bottom. She dragged her tongue across her lips, never blinking as she studied me. There were so many questions in her eyes as well as worry and hurt.

“Don’t,” she said, her tone pleading.

After rubbing my knuckles across her shoulder, I backed away, leaving the glass on the counter. As I turned to go, I noticed she’d tossed the towel.

“Wait,” she said softly.

“What’s wrong?”

“Fuck me.”

“What?” What had she just said to me?

“Just fuck me. I need to feel alive again.”

I took a deep breath, wanting to devour her. As I turned, the sight of her naked breasts, her hardened nipples took my breath away. I moved closer, trying to keep my control in check. When I wrapped my arms around her, she brushed her fingers across my hand, my cock instantly twitching, already fully aroused. As I pressed my groin against her, she shuddered, her eyelids now half closed.

And I’d never wanted anything more.

I lowered my head, nuzzling against her neck, smiling as she pulled her long hair to the front. As I bit down, she trembled in my hold, grinding her hips against me. I was no longer shocked by the soaring electricity we shared or the burning desire that we’d both had in our eyes. She hated me for who I was and the fact she’d been forced into marrying me, but the longing couldn’t be shoved aside.

The moment I pinched her nipples, twisting them painfully, her moans filtered into my ears. Even with the lingering stench of blood, the acrid copper smell filling the space, her sweet fragrance of desire was the only thing I could concentrate on. I licked along her shoulder blade, moving to her ear, nipping her earlobe.

Carina arched her back, easing her arm back to touch my face and the beast dwelling deep within me roared to the surface. I took my time tasting her skin, enjoying the delicious flavor on my tongue.

This was time stolen, a horrible tragedy unable to keep our needs contained. I eased away, rolling my fingers down her spine and along the crack of her ass. Every inch of her was beautiful, her curves as perfect as any woman could have. I had a feeling she had no idea how gorgeous she was, always stuck in the shadow of her father.

Tonight, I would show her just how much of a dazzling woman she was.

And this was just the beginning.

As I unfastened my trousers, she took shallow breaths, her lazy eyes staring at me. When my cock sprang free, a slight smile crossed her face. She lifted her head, and I couldn’t resist wrapping my fingers around her lovely throat, squeezing until she released a string of husky moans.

Then I cracked my hand against her rounded bottom, a smile curling on my lip as she shivered in my hold. “Are you a bad girl?”

“Yes. Always.”

“I guess I’ll need to deal with that in the future.”

“Mmm… We shall see.”

I smacked her several more times, enjoying the heat already building in my fingertips. She undulated her hips, swaying them back and forth and I forced her head back, lowering mine so I could capture her lips. The taste of scotch mixed with her sweet nectar, and I was far too hungry to wait. Yet I brought my hand down several more times before slipping my fingers between her legs, her wetness staining my skin.

I allowed the kiss to become a roar of passion as I fingered her, swirling one around her clit then pinching the tender tissue. She mewed into my mouth, darting her tongue inside. Within seconds, I’d dominated hers, my heart racing as I thrust my fingers deep inside.

She rolled onto her toes, tightening her grip on the counter. I couldn’t stand to wait any longer to fuck her, the temptation too great.

I kept my grip on her neck as I flexed my fingers open, pumping several more times. Then I shifted my hand to my cock, stroking the base of my shaft several times before slipping my cockhead to her swollen folds.

Then I broke the kiss.

“Just fuck me. Don’t be gentle. I won’t break.”

She could have no idea what her words did to me, the need exploding deep within me. I drove the entire length of my cock inside, tightening my hold until she issued a strangled cry. As her pussy muscles clamped around the thick invasion, I gasped for air, every muscle tenser than before.

“So tight. So damn tight.” My muttered words caused her to whimper, jutting her hips back and grinding her bottom against me. I couldn’t hold back, thrusting several times, the force driving her against the counter. She didn’t care, her eyes glassy from explosive lust.

Nothing could have prepared me for the powerful vibrations coursing through me or the need building to a precipice. I was unable to control my hunger, plunging into her hard and fast, taking everything that now belonged to me. Every sound she made only fueled the fire, igniting embers I’d left dead for far too long.

I pulled all the way out, cracking my hand against her bottom again, adoring her soft cries. I wanted her marked as mine. My needs continued to explode as I thrust like a savage, our bodies molded perfectly together.

As I rolled onto the balls of my feet, a smile crossed her face, the same fire burning in her eyes. I could tell she was close to an orgasm, her brow furrowing as she licked her lush lips. I pounded my cock even more brutally, straining to keep some level of control.

When her breathing changed, her climax close, I shifted the angle again, digging my fingers into her soft skin. After nipping her ear, I whispered exactly what I had planned on doing to her. “I’m going to fuck you for hours, tasting every inch of your sweet skin, your luscious pussy. And after I’d finished, you’ll never want another man again.”

Her sigh was like sweet music, my mind raging with the kind of thirst that would never be quenched. As an orgasm rolled into her, I pushed us both harder, rocking her body as she let out a slight scream.

“Yes. Yes… Oh, God, yes.” Her cry was strangled, her long lashes skimming across her shimmering cheeks. There was no way I could hold it any longer. Her pussy muscles constricted, and my body started to shake. Then as my balls tightened, I closed my eyes, pumping wildly until I erupted deep inside.

She took gasping breaths, continuing to whimper. I crowded her space even more, placing my hands on hers, keeping us together for a full minute.

When I gazed into the mirror one more time, I saw blood in my eyes, thick and coagulated. That’s when I realized how furious I was that someone dared try to hurt my wife.

My. Wife.

I repeated the two little words over and over again in my mind. I hadn’t wanted her. I hadn’t needed a distraction. But I’d had no choice. Seeing the horror in her eyes had broken something in me.

I would hunt down the bastards who did this.

And I’d put a bullet into their brains one by one.

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