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Mine: A Dark Mafia Billionaire Romance by Sara Fields – Sample

Chapter One

New Hope, Pennsylvania

Maci Williams

“I triple dog dare you.”

I met Ryan’s gaze and smirked in his direction. The music pumped over the speakers, and I leaned back in my chair, appraising him with a cold, defiant look. The fire crackled, each snap and pop of the burning wood loud to my ears. The flickering flames danced with a warm, amber glow, casting playful shadows on the ground as his dare hung in the air between us.

I could never turn away from a dare… Never.

“Do it. You won’t,” he pushed, and I shook my head, looking down at the very full shot glass right in front of me.

It was honey whiskey.

I wasn’t usually a party girl. In fact, this was the first party I’d ever been invited to, and it was at my own house. The cool kids didn’t usually like hanging out with the nerdy kids, and I was definitely one of the latter. I’d always been a straight A student in all my AP classes and the first one to volunteer for extra credit. Most of my nights, at least before our graduation, had been spent doing mountains of homework, instead of smoking weed and drinking until all hours of the night, and that definitely didn’t make a girl a part of the ‘in’ crowd.

Right now, though, all of the smart kids were off starting their freshman year of college, and here I was, finally invited into the cool kid fold because they thought it was awesome that I already had my own place, and that I was taking a gap year. That decision had earned me somewhat of a rebel reputation, and with that came cool status.

Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what it was. I was still trying to figure that out.

Tonight wasn’t the time for that though.

Tonight, I was making a whole new group of friends.

I wrapped my fingers around the shot glass, threw it back like it definitely wasn’t the first shot I’d ever taken, and tried my best to hide the face I made as the whiskey burned its way down the back of my throat, all the way down to the pit of my stomach.

Gross.

Why did people like this stuff?

Instead of showing just how much of a noob I was though, I smiled, swallowed back my look of disgust, and held the empty glass up like I’d just won an Olympic medal.

“Won’t I though?” I grinned.

All at once, the rest of the group roared in support, which made me feel like a badass despite the horrible taste still burning my tongue.

“Fuck, Maci. I didn’t think you could do it,” Ryan grinned. Our eyes met for a moment, his bold and mine shy before I finally looked away.

“Give her another,” Kendra barked. Her own eyes were glassy as she stared back at me. She’s always been the most popular girl at school. Head of the cheerleading squad. Homecoming queen. First picked at every school dance and in every group project, except she’d gotten caught with a shit ton of weed in her locker a month before graduation and that had literally fucked up her whole life.

Turns out, her boyfriend Tucker had been dealing and he’d used her locker to store it, only the jackass let her go down for it without even saying a word. The school had expelled her, she’d gotten arrested, and her parents had made her get her GED, just so she could go to the local community college instead of some ritzy school out in California.

Honestly, I felt a little bad for her. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college yet, but at least I still had the choice, unlike her.

“Not so straight laced then, huh?” Carmen smirked, and Ryan winked in my direction.

“Seems not,” he declared, and he quickly poured me another shot of honey whiskey. I took it down like a champ, the burn still sizzling just as much on the way down as the first.

Was whiskey always this bad?

I shook it off with a huff and the group laughed.

“Fuck, this place is nice, Maci. No parents. No rules. Just us,” Kendra murmured, and the rest of the group agreed, nods circling all around the fire.

I smiled, feeling seen for the first time in my life.

My house was out in the boonies, but it was home to me. A two-story colonial with a ton of acreage all around it gave us enough privacy to have a campfire out in the backyard without worry of being disturbed. Even if we made a ton of noise, the nearest neighbor was half a mile away, so the chances of anyone knowing we were back here drinking was slim to none.

I kind of felt like a bad girl for breaking the law. I wasn’t old enough to be drinking, yet here I was.

Whatever. I’m nineteen. I’ll do what I want.

“Thanks. It was my grandma’s place, but it’s mine now,” I answered quietly, trying to not let my sorrow show and shrug it off. I must have done a good enough job because Kendra downed another shot, and everybody began egging her on to take another.

With a grateful sigh, I took the moment for myself.

I missed her.

My grandma had mainly raised me as best as she could, but she’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was gone now, so I was on my own. She’d left me her house, which gave me a nice place to live. I wasn’t too worried about money because I had a job and a reasonable allowance to live off of from my godfather. It was enough to live comfortably and pay the bills, plus a little extra for some fun. I wasn’t rich by any means, but I was at least taken care of.

Ryan met my gaze, his bright green eyes looking at me with a hint of open curiosity. He poured several fingers of alcohol for himself before downing it too. Playfully, he winked in my direction and my breath hitched in the back of my throat.

I’d had a crush on Ryan for as long as I could remember.

I’d known him most of my life because he lived right down the street from my grandma’s house. His parents had known mine, at least before they died when I was little, and they’d always checked up on me over the years to make sure things were going okay for my grandmother and I. He’d been around more since she’d passed, which had been a nice distraction from my grief. In that time, it felt like we’d grown closer.

His smile grew as wide as the Cheshire cat’s.

“What do you say, Maci? Want to blow this popsicle stand and go for a drive with me? I’ve got someplace special I want to show you,” he offered, and the group quieted, watching us closely. I could practically feel them all holding their breath.

His emerald irises glimmered in the soft glow of my back porch lights. He ran his fingers through his shoulder length blonde hair, sweeping it to the side effortlessly, making my heart skip a beat in my chest.

I’d always thought he just saw me as some poor orphan, but in the last few months I’d started to think that was silly. Maybe, just maybe, he actually liked me too.

“Maci?” Ryan pressed.

“I’d like that,” I said softly and a round of hoots and whistles sounded all around us.

“Fucking finally!” Kendra declared and the rest of the group stood up and actually cheered with their excitement.

I blushed as bright red as a cherry tomato.

Honestly, I’d never even been on a date with a boy before, because that’s what this was right? He was taking me out for the night, just me and him. Maybe he’d even kiss me.

A first kiss would certainly round off the night and make it the best night you’ve ever had…

I knew I shouldn’t get my hopes up or let myself get carried away. Ryan was the bad boy of the group, and he’d dated only the popular attractive girls, nothing like plain Jane red-headed me. I had a smattering of freckles on my nose and these weird, blue-green eyes, none of which met the classical standards of the pretty models plastered all over Cosmopolitan magazine, or literally anywhere else.

“Come on, Maci,” Ryan urged, and I stood up from my chair. My stomach fluttered with a mix of excitement and nervousness and maybe a bit from the whiskey as he took my hand and tugged me into the front yard towards his car, a bright blue Mercedes Benz that his parents bought for him the year he turned sixteen. Like the perfect gentleman, he opened the passenger side door for me and bowed his head while I climbed inside and slid onto the soft beige leather seat.

“After you,” he winked, and I giggled softly.

He closed the door behind me and strode over to the driver’s side, stumbling a little along the way. Had he drunk too much already? I shook my head. That couldn’t be it. Ryan could hold his liquor. He bragged about it all the time, so I shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

With a nervous swallow, I smiled as he climbed in the car with me. After he turned the key in the ignition, the engine purred to life just like a kitten. With a wry grin, he backed up out of my driveway and drove off into the night towards the center of town, the soft rumble of the engine the only noise disrupting the quiet between us.

“Where are we going?” I finally asked, wanting to break the silence.

“It’s a sssurprise,” he replied, his voice light and only a tiny bit slurred. I told myself that he was fine. He had to be fine. Sure, I’d never been around him when he was drunk before, but he’s always kind of looked out for me in a way no one else did, kind of like the big brother I’d never had in a way.

Maybe he pitied me because I was an orphan after all, or maybe he’d liked me all along. Either way, I didn’t question it because I really didn’t want to find out it was the first.

“Come on, spill the beans, Ryan. Where are we headed?” I teased, the corners of my lips curling into a playful smile despite my never-ending frayed nerves trembling in the octaves of my voice.

He chuckled, his eyes glinting with a mischievous spark. “Ah, Maci, where’s the fun in knowing everything?”

I shot him a mock glare, but I broke out in a smile a second later.

He winked, his playfulness catching. “Maybe I’m feeling a bit unpredictable tonight.”

“You can say that again,” I quipped, and he laughed a bit harder.

“You know, that’s what I like about you. You can roll with the punches and still have fun,” he quipped, and I looked down at my hands in my lap, smiling to myself. I didn’t really know what to say, so I stayed quiet.

Suddenly, Ryan’s laughter subsided, and he muttered, “Uh-oh, looks like we’re running on fumes.” He gestured to the fuel gauge, and I glanced at the dial, seeing that it was clearly past empty.

Like the kind of empty that meant we probably wouldn’t make it the rest of the way down the street, let alone wherever he was taking me.

A flicker of concern crossed my face. “Do we have enough to make it to the next gas station?”

Ryan grinned, a hint of mischief in his eyes. “We’re living on the edge tonight, Maci. Hold on tight.”

He pressed on the gas and fishtailed around a turn before speeding off down the road like a bat out of hell. I gripped the hand rest on the car door, giggling in delight as we raced through the night. In the distance, about a mile away, I saw a gas station and Ryan only seemed to speed up more.

It wasn’t far. We should make it, hopefully.

Instead of slowing down, Ryan pressed harder on the gas pedal, the engine roaring to life like an angry lion. My giggles turned into a mixture of nervous laughter and excitement, and I started to get a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

“Ryan, slow down!” I exclaimed, gripping the hand rest even harder, but he only seemed more determined to embrace his reckless speeding like he was a Nascar driver on the last lap. I swallowed hard, telling myself everything was going to be alright. He was just showing off for my sake. That’s all this was.

Until it wasn’t.

As we hurtled towards the gas station, the world outside morphed into a dizzying blur. The bright lights of the station smeared across the windshield, streaking the night with elongated lines of white and yellow.

Slow down!

My heart thundered in my chest. A knot of dread coiled tightly in the pit of my stomach, growing with each fleeting second that brought us closer to what felt like the inevitable.

My fingers gripped the handrest with a vice-like intensity, my knuckles whitening under the strain.

Too close.

Fuck. He isn’t slowing down.

If anything, he was still accelerating, the car’s engine emitting a high-pitched whine that screamed in my head.

Panic surged through me. My breathing became shallow, rapid bursts of air that did little to quench the growing hysteria spiraling inside of me. I could feel the car’s tires lose their tenuous grip on the pavement, skidding with a treacherous squeal that seemed like a harbinger of doom.

With a sudden, violent jolt, the car careened into the gas station. It was going too fast to navigate the turn properly, the back end fishtailing wildly out of control.

A sickening crunch shattered the air as the car collided with a pump, the sound a grotesque symphony of breaking glass, rending metal, and the tortured screech of twisting steel.

A burst of flames engulfed the pump, the air thick with the acrid scent of burning fuel. I could feel the heat radiating from the fire, and the world quickly became a blur of orange and red.

I acted quickly, my instincts kicking in. I shoved the car door open and stumbled out of the car, only to look back and see that Ryan had done the same thing.

The flames greedily licked at the car, the once sleek vehicle now a blazing inferno. Panic surged through me as I ran to Ryan’s side, the heat intensifying with every step.

“Ryan, we need to get further away! It could blow!” I shouted, my voice barely audible over the roar of the flames.

He nodded, his expression set firmly with determination and abject fear. We sprinted further from the erupting chaos, the air quickly growing thick with smoke. Behind us, the car, now completely engulfed in flames, seemed to pulsate with an ominous energy. As we reached what felt like a safe distance, a deafening explosion shattered the night.

The force of the blast sent shockwaves through the air, rattling everything around us. I instinctively threw myself to the ground, shielding my head. The explosion echoed in my ears, leaving them ringing and my eyes burning from the smoke.

When I finally dared to glance back, a plume of blazing smoke billowed into the sky where the car once stood. The remnants of Ryan’s car were now scattered across the gas station, each fragment still burning brightly in the dark of the night.

It was like waking up from a nightmare only to find out it was real.

The fire had voraciously consumed not only the car but had also spread to the nearby pumps and structures. Yellow, orange, and red tongues of fire danced wildly, casting an eerie glow on the whole place, making it seem like something out of a horror movie.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!

The heat emanating from the blaze distorted the air, creating shimmering waves of intensity. The fuel pumps hissed and crackled as the flames eagerly devoured them. The acrid scent of burning fuel hung thick in the air, adding a sinister note to the already tumultuous scene.

I stared, not believing what I was seeing even though deep in my heart, I knew it was real.

Sparks and embers spiraled up into the air, carried away by the heated currents, creating a mesmerizing yet terrifying display. I watched them for what felt like forever, trying to convince myself that this was nothing more than a bad dream, but I never woke up.

It took only minutes, but soon sirens wailed in the distance.

Fuck. This is bad, really fucking bad.

Raw panic etched across Ryan’s face as he muttered something unintelligible, his voice growing desperately urgent. “I can’t get caught, Maci. One more strike and they’ll put me behind bars. Meet me at your house later, okay?” Without another word, he darted away, disappearing into the shadows of the night and leaving me to fend for myself all on my own.

What the fuck? One more strike?

Left standing amidst the chaos, a sinking feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. Before I could process what had just transpired, the distant wail of sirens grew closer. Then all of a sudden, I was surrounded. Emergency responders and police cars careened all around me, their flashing lights painting the scene with a stark intensity.

Oh my god… I needed to get out of here.

Even as I turned to flee, my heart pounding in my chest, my feet froze in place. I didn’t move. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t run. That would only make things worse.

You’re already fucked.

“Hands up!” one of the police officers bellowed as he barreled out of his car, gun drawn in the air and pointing straight at me. There were a handful of others that did the same thing and my panic slowly closed in on a breaking point. I blinked away tears.

This was bad.

This was going to ruin my life. There would be no going to college after this. My life would be even more fucked than Kendra’s, and that was saying something. What kind of jail time was I going to face? What would they even charge me with? Underage drinking? Felony destruction of property? Something worse?

A single tear rolled down my right cheek, dripping down to my chin and falling to the ground beneath my feet.

I was nineteen, plenty old enough to be tried as an adult…

I slowly raised my hands, fully surrendering as the officers closed in. Nervously chewing the inside of my cheek, I didn’t move as the sounds of approaching footsteps came closer, even though I wanted desperately to be anywhere but here.

This isn’t real. This is just a bad dream.

The officer who had shouted at me read me my rights in a firm, measured tone. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”

Wake up!

I nodded, the weight of his words settling heavily on my shoulders. Someone grabbed my wrists and pinned them behind my back. The cold metal of handcuffs clicked around my wrists. My eyes watered with more tears, but I quickly blinked them away. As they escorted me to a waiting police car, the gravity of the situation became more pronounced with my every step.

This is the real fucked up kind of bad. The kind of bad that will follow me for the rest of my life…

I am so fucked.

Once inside the police car, the officer continued to explain the legal process. “You’re under arrest for destruction of property and reckless endangerment. We’ll be taking you to the station for booking, and from there, you’ll be processed according to fullest extent of the law.”

I hated that he put so much emphasis on that single word. That made things even worse for me.

Fuck.

As the police car drove away from the chaotic scene, my shoulders bowed forward and I closed my eyes, trying to grapple with how the night could have been going so well and then gone so wrong just in a matter of seconds.

The police radio crackled to life, breaking the heavy silence within the car. “Dispatch to Unit 14, we have confirmation on the apprehension of the other suspect. Both suspects are now in custody.”

I couldn’t help but glance towards the front seat, where the officers exchanged a nod of acknowledgment. I knew what that meant. They’d caught Ryan too, and a terrible part of me thought that at least I wouldn’t be going into this alone. I shifted in the backseat, the handcuffs cutting into my wrists uncomfortably.

I hated myself for even thinking that.

The police car continued driving through the night, the radio intermittently updating the officers on the ongoing situation. The whole fire department had been called in to combat the flames, but there was a growing worry that the entire gas station might blow. I hoped it wouldn’t.

I hoped no one had gotten hurt either…

As we approached the police station, I couldn’t shake the sense of inevitable doom that awaited me there. The drive was only about five minutes, but it was the worst five minutes of my life. I sank down in the backseat, not wanting anyone to see me.

Fuck!

I’d never even gotten detention at school, let alone anything like this. Now, I was getting arrested and the possibility of going to jail for the rest of my life felt very real.

I was panicking, even more than before.

Unlike Ryan, my parents weren’t going to come bail me out. There wasn’t anyone for me here. I was alone. I had no one.

I had to deal with this all on my own.

I wanted to cry.

I didn’t know what to do. When was I supposed to call a lawyer? How did I even find one? How did I know if I had a good one? Could I even afford one? Questions spiraled through my mind on overdrive, and I bit my lower lip hard enough to taste blood.

When we pulled up, they opened the door and one of the officers wrapped his hand around my arm and roughly yanked me out of the car. I knew better than to complain as they led me inside the station, the harsh fluorescent lights blinding at first in contrast to the dark autumn night.

What happened next must have been completely routine for them, but entirely too terrifying to me.

They led me into the back, where the booking process began. The station’s sterile air, laced with the harsh scent of disinfectant, heightened my nervous panic. An officer instructed me to stand against a faded gray wall after they collected my fingerprints, and I had to blink away tears for what felt like the thousandth time that night.

The clatter of the camera shutter echoed terribly loud as my mugshot was taken. The harsh flash briefly illuminated the entire room, casting elongated shadows that frolicked across the cinderblock walls like monsters creeping through the night. Each click of the camera seemed to echo like the slamming of a door.

It was hard not to cry the whole time.

The formal documentation of charges followed. The officer’s pen scratched against the paper as they listed all of them. My mouth dried with each offense until my tongue felt like it was made of cotton. I didn’t dare say a word for fear that my voice would quiver before I burst into tears right there in front of them.

Keep it together, Maci.

Finally, they led me down a dimly lit corridor, and I quickly found myself shoved into a holding cell. The heavy door slammed shut so loudly it rung in my ears, leaving me in a small, dimly lit space. The hard, narrow bench offered meager comfort, and I sank onto it, the cold metal seeping through my clothes.

As I sat there in the stifling silence, I finally lost control. Tears leaked out from the corners of my eyes, and I burst into sobs. I tried to be as quiet as I could, but my whole life had taken a turn for the worst in the matter of a single night.

Before, there had been hope for my future. Right now, I had none. This kind of mistake would follow me for the rest of my life. Every time someone did a background check, they’d see this. It would show up when I applied for an apartment or even a job.

It would be a black stain on my record forever.

I looked up at the ceiling, trying to force myself to wake up from this nightmare and hoping I’d find myself safe in my bed. I tried pinching myself and grimaced from the pain.

This isn’t a dream.

This was absolutely, one hundred fucking percent real.

Eventually, I cried myself to sleep.

Abruptly, the metallic clank of the cell door being unlocked jolted me awake. A uniformed officer stood at the entrance, his stern expression illuminated by the muted glow of the overhead light. “You’ve got one phone call,” he stated, his tone brusque.

I blinked, totally disoriented by the sudden awakening along with my surroundings.

Where am I?

Then it all hit me in a rush. The shots of whiskey. The gas station. The car crash. The fact that I’d been arrested and booked on felony charges.

Rising from the bench, I followed the officer through the labyrinth of corridors to the police station in a haze of fear and panic. The distant sounds of clattering keyboards and hushed conversations over donuts and coffee echoed from somewhere out of sight, nothing more than background noise for the march of my doom.

We reached a small room with a single phone mounted on the wall. The officer gestured towards it in silence, and I nodded in acknowledgment, saying nothing in return. I stepped over to the phone and stared at it for a long moment.

Who could I call?

I chewed my lip. My parents were dead, and so was my grandmother. Ryan’s parents might help me, but the chances were slim. I hardly knew them and even though they’d checked in on me over the years, I doubted they’d lend me enough money for bail. I had no other family to speak of. No aunts or uncles or cousins.

There was literally only one person that came to mind.

My godfather.

I hardly knew anything about the man besides his name, Nikolaos Kaligaris. I’d met him once when I was a little girl, but I didn’t really remember anything about him. He lived overseas in Athens, Greece, I think, but I wasn’t certain. I’d spoken to him on the phone on a handful of occasions, mainly a couple of times on my birthdays as I was growing up and more around the time that my grandmother had passed away.

With his help, I’d been able to make the arrangements for her funeral and burial. He’d ensured that the liens against her house were squared away, paid off the mortgage for me, as well as all the bills that came with owning a home. He hadn’t been too excited over the idea that I wanted to take a year off instead of going to college right away, but he’d made sure I had more than enough to live comfortably. He’d always been kind, but I didn’t know about something like this.

Maybe if I explained what happened last night, he’d help me.

I didn’t have any other choice. There was no one else.

I reached for the phone and pressed it to my ear. The dial tone buzzed, and I paused, holding my fingertips over the keys.

What was his number?

For a moment, my mind went blank, but then I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. I recited a few facts about Greece to myself, which was something I did sometimes to slow my mind down, and then it finally came to me. I sighed in relief and dialed his number with trembling fingers.

After a few rings, a rumbling voice answered on the other end. “Hello?”

His voice caused the hair on the back of my neck to rise, just like it always did. It reverberated through me like a summer storm, rolling down my spine and settling in the pit of my belly with a finality that left me breathless.

The relief in my voice was palpable as I replied, “It’s Maci. I… Ummm… I’m in trouble, and I was hoping that you maybe would help me.”

A heavy sigh on the other end conveyed a mix of concern and disappointment, which made my heart pound even faster in my chest.

The silence stretched on until he finally asked, “What have you done?”

I took a deep breath, struggling to find the right words. My heart hammered in my chest, and I opened my mouth, only to close it again before I could figure out what to say.

“I made a really big mistake…”

A lengthy pause followed before my godfather’s voice softened. “Where are you?”

“At the police station,” I answered softly, my voice breaking a little bit. I didn’t want to cry again. I’d already cried for much of the night. For a long moment, the other end of the phone was silent, and I worried that he’d hung up on me. Then he cleared his throat.

“I didn’t know who else to call,” I added quietly.

“What happened?” he asked, his voice a tad bit weary, and I chewed on my lip. I swallowed heavily and recounted the events of the night to him, not leaving a single detail out. He listened quietly, and by the time I finished, he sighed.

“Okay, take a deep breath, Maci. We’ll get through this. I’ll get you the best lawyers that money can buy, and we’ll sort this out. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Thank you,” I whispered.

“Hold tight. As soon as I’m able, I’ll get your bail settled away, and then I’ll get you out of there. Don’t worry. Do you understand me? I will handle this,” he instructed, his voice so firm that it rattled the very marrow in my bones.

“I understand,” I whispered.

“Good. Now be a good girl and do everything the officer says for you to do. If he says sit, you sit. If he wants you to jump, you jump. Get the picture?” he added sternly.

“I will,” I professed quickly. My words hitched in the back of my throat, and I tried to swallow back a tear-filled cry. I blinked several times, trying to keep a hold of myself while I felt like I was breaking apart on the inside.

“Listen to me, Maci-girl. Everything is going to be okay. Trust me. I’ve always seen to it that you were cared for before, haven’t I?” he asked, his voice softening a little.

“Yes,” I whispered.

The truth was that he had. Ever since my parents’ death, he had watched over me from afar. He’d made sure that my grandmother and I led comfortable enough lives. He’d even set up a small trust fund for me to use once I turned twenty-five or graduated from college, whichever came first. I’d lived a normal, happy life, at least until now.

“I’ll be there soon. Take care of yourself until I get there,” he added.

“Thank you, godfather,” I answered.

“You’re welcome, Maci-girl.”

I hung up the phone and turned back to the officer, who led me back to my holding cell in silence.

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