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Persuasion: A Dark Mafia Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Prologue

The Specialists

Specializing in ROI. Operational specialists hired to perform a job using any methods necessary to fulfill their duties—legal or otherwise.

A covert operation consisting of highly trained experts from various industries: Military, KGB, CIA, Russian and Irish mafia. All considered dangerous, ruthless mercenaries, their missions entail returning precious stolen or abducted items to powerful and influential tycoons, who pay handsomely for the completion of their tasks.

Funded by various wealthy moguls, including those in the criminal sect, their strict methods of protocol leave nothing to second guess, including termination of the perpetrator and everyone involved in the heinous act if necessary.

There is one rule that must not be broken.

No personal involvement.

Anyone who challenges their method of operation in any way will face their wrath…

Chapter One

Kostya

New Orleans

A vile, merciless killer, a true monster.

That was my reputation, one well deserved.

However, this particular mission would challenge my brutal nature.

Following the mandated rules could prove to be… interesting.

“And in world news, there is an unconfirmed report of an escape attempt at the notorious Black Dolphin prison, the location housing some of the most horrific serial killers in the world.”

I exhaled as I glanced at the television, securing the last cufflink before grabbing my tuxedo jacket. The reporter prattled on about the extreme danger of even a single one of the heinous criminals walking free in society. Disgusted, I turned up the volume on the CD player, the incredible orchestra, Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 exactly the piece required for tonight. As the talented pianist continued, the cello and violin accompaniment perfectly matching his powerful skills, I took a deep breath, mesmerized by the music.

The only thing that gave me peace.

I stood in front of the mirror, fastening the single button and smoothing down the front of the light wool. As I grabbed my Rolex, I realized I’d mirror the dozens of other male guests at the party. Only the women would enjoy the pomp and circumstance of a Mardi Gras-style party to the full degree.

Even the costume I’d selected to wear wasn’t distinguishable: a simple piece of black linen with slits cut out for eyes and very crudely done. I chuckled as I folded the material, shoving it into my pocket. I had many attributes but sewing wasn’t one of them. If only I had a fedora and a whip to complete the Zorro ensemble.

I wasn’t attending the illustrious soiree to win fashion points. I was there to complete a mission, one that had led me to New Orleans only three weeks before. I moved toward the rear of the closet, pressing my hand against the right side of one of the sliding doors, waiting as the secured and very well hidden cabinet slid into view. The combination of locks was virtually hack-proof, or so I’d been told.

Everything in the newly purchased and fully furnished house had been in place by the time I’d walked into the front door, including weapons and various false IDs. The Specialists’ methods were never the same. Often, I simply addressed the situation in the manner I preferred.

A quiet conversation that left the thief shaken to the core.

This particular mission required an entirely different level of finesse. While I wasn’t thrilled, the time spent in the city had been more of a respite than I’d allowed in several years.

I stood in front of the impressive collection, inhaling. The rich scent of steel and leather was the perfect teaser for the night. I selected a Beretta for the evening’s experience. While I doubted heavy weaponry would be needed, I always carried protection, trusting no one. I snapped in a full cartridge of ammunition before sliding the piece into the breast pocket of my jacket.

I was considered a dangerous man, merciless in my method of killing, my profession requiring me to hunt and eradicate several enemies. Every target I’d acquired had deserved meeting their maker, the choices made never random. What few knew is that I enjoyed the task, relishing the art required to track men who believed they could get the better of me and the mafia family I’d known the majority of my life.

That portion of my existence was on hold, at least temporarily, loaned out to a group who simply called themselves the Specialists. However, no one could ever leave the powerful Georgian mob.

Unless they were in a body bag.

I had my suspicions the man called the Godfather, the head of the Georgian mafia, was bankrolling the Specialists for a certain percentage of the reward money offered by the clients. While Pavel Baranov, the notorious leader, would never confirm or deny, my high-ranking position catered to my knowledge of the inner sanctum. Besides, Baranov had insisted the organization expand, no longer merely running drugs and prostitution. No one was the wiser in the various world class law enforcement agencies. I knew better than to ask any additional questions, prepared to keep his involvement tight-lipped.

Every Specialist member had been chosen for their exclusive talents, considered ‘agents’ for a cause; however, there wasn’t a single man or woman involved who wasn’t a trained killer. That was the way of our world, a necessity given the criminals we were forced to deal with.

While the Godfather remained pleased with his decision to delve into more scrupulous and law-abiding activities, I knew the score. Certain members of the Georgian mafia were nothing but brutal thugs vying for an even larger piece of the pie than they’d consumed.

And I was one of them.

I wasn’t thrilled with my ‘request’ to become a member of the Specialists, but the Godfather had mandated the alteration of my duties. Pavel Baranov didn’t take kindly to being questioned regarding his decisions.

Even if I’d been his right-hand man for years.

I’d given my security the night off, the gruff soldiers enjoying the basic vacation in the sinful city much more than I would normally allow.

Times had certainly changed.

I selected the tools I’d need as well as an identity that had already been established. While working this particular mission, I’d already been introduced to the fashionable upper echelon circuits as a wealthy art enthusiast. My dark and highly erotic collection of paintings and sculptures had been well noted in the local posh magazine. My alter ego, Sacha Ivanov, was also well known as a purveyor of kink, the very proclivity that had garnered me the invitation to the swanky party in the first place.

My particular target, or as some in this industry would call a mark, was Wyland Worthington, a renowned New Orleans citizen. He was also a true sadist, the ultimate perverted mind hiding behind a huge Texas grin. What’d I been reminded of more than once by my handler was that the egotistical asshole was extremely well connected, dangerous in his own right. There were even rumors he had certain connections to the New York Syndicate.

None of that bothered me in the least. I’d been asked to hunt him down for a single reason only.

He’d absconded with one of Italy’s most prized possessions and the owner wanted it back at any cost, no matter the price.

Even if it meant killing the thief.

The Mandalorian Pink Diamond, a piece so beautiful and highly revered that its worth had been difficult to calculate even by the finest jewelers in the world, resided somewhere in Wyland’s possession. The Texas millionaire pulling off the heist had been a true feat, requiring foolproof preparations as well as well-trained accomplices. Only my associates had been able to determine the identity of the thief as well as his current location recently.

He’d hidden his tracks, but certainly not very well for a man with friends in the mafia.

I had to admire a man with balls the size of melons, even if something didn’t smell right. Why the hell did he risk his entire fortune on obtaining a diamond? It wasn’t for me to ask, merely to regain what he been stolen.

Everything was in order and it was entirely my call as to how to handle recouping the loss.

Satisfied with the preparations, I secured the small vault before adjusting my sleeves. I strolled out of the walk-in closet, grabbing the television remote, my curiosity piqued given the story had continued.

I held the remote in front of me for a few seconds as I watched various images of absolute monsters flashing across the screen. No one escaped the brutal Russian prison; however, I was curious how an American reporter had gotten ahold of the information in the first place. Very few Russians ever mentioned the Black Dolphin prison for any reason. For the majority of the Russian people, they’d just as soon forget the aging facility was anywhere near the Kazakhstan border given the horrors the prisoners were forced to endure.

Perhaps making a phone call to my oldest friend, the Derzhatel obschaka, bookkeeper of the Georgian mafia would be in order to determine if the information was correct.

But that would come later.

I snatched the keys, heading out and down the front porch stairs, savoring the illustrious sounds of the blues playing at my favorite new café. I’d had my reservations about being required to take up residence in what I’d scathingly called a playground for the pompous and powerful, but I was enjoying the city’s nightlife perhaps more than I should.

Definitely more than my handler preferred.

“Speak of the devil,” I mused as I slid into the driver’s seat, immediately starting the powerful engine even before I answered the call. “Hello, my friend. I was expecting your call.” I revved the engine on purpose, chuckling as I pulled away from the curb. Dante Moretti hadn’t taken to his required new position as my handler well, sparks flying more than once.

He was a hot-headed Italian with a penchant for beautiful women.

I was the brash, elite leader of the Kutaisi clan, my merciless reputation creating instant terror. Even my arrogance had become a powerful tool.

We weren’t a match in any language.

“You were supposed to check in two hours ago, Russian,” Dante spouted.

“There was nothing to report as of yet. As required, finesse is to be used.”

“Jesus Christ, the party has been going on for hours. You know how important this particular mission is and it’s taking far too long.” Neither his quick level of speaking nor words spoken in his native Italian were able to hide his utter distaste for what he called a ‘dirty Russian mongrel.’

At some point, he would learn the specifics of why my reputation was accurate.

As far as understanding the concern surrounding the mission, I was well versed on what was at stake. The Specialists’ reputation, while highly revered, was also considered on the line. I glanced at my watch before shifting around the curve, pushing down the accelerator. The city traffic would soon hinder my enjoyment of fast driving. At least the intense aromas of the incredible selection of restaurants would ease that particular pain. “You are aware of my specialized attributes, Dante. I suggest you allow me to do the job I’m being paid very well to handle. In my way.” In other words, I didn’t like being questioned by a slick Italian, even if his father was worth more than any other man in all of Italy. He and his family had a personal attachment to the job, another reason I hadn’t wanted the assignment in the first place.

They were very close to the Italian mafia leader, the true owner of the diamond.

Dante hissed, once again cursing under his breath in his native language, and I could swear he was tapping his fingers. “Let’s just hope you know what you’re doing. Our client is still… waiting.”

Coglione pomposo.

I accepted the term pompous asshole, even appreciating the moniker. I had every reason to be arrogant.

However, I didn’t bother acknowledging his concern. Our ‘client’ had been a fool, refusing security for one of the most priceless objects in the world. The fact it had been stolen within three minutes of being released to his custody had meant the thief was one of the best in the business.

But I was, in fact, the very best.

I scanned the area around me as well as taking a hard glance into the rearview mirror. No one was wiser as to my true identity, but I remained cautious. I had no patience for arrogant assholes.

The array of parties was endless in the city around this time of year. That allowed me a distinct advantage. No one paid any attention to comings and goings, although I was certainly an invited guest on the very selective list.

As the ornate railings of the 1800s mansion came into view, I could see the owners had hired a valet service for the night. I would possibly need to alter my plans at least to a point. A quick exit was vital in operations such as this. As I pulled in front of the makeshift stand, two young men more than eager to take a short ride in my Ferrari, I tugged out the mask.

“Take good care of her. She means everything to me. A single scratch will result in punishment. Do you understand?” I asked with a slight growl in my voice as I dropped the key fob into the perfectly groomed young man’s hand.

He swallowed hard, his eyes locking onto mine. “Yes… yes, sir. Not a scratch.”

I waited until he’d scampered around the car, carefully climbing inside before tying the black silk cloth around my head and eyes. Costume parties were distasteful, but on this night, perfect for my needs, hiding at least a portion of my identity. This was a timed operation and anonymity was vital.

I was impressed with the Georgian style décor, the attention to detail on the incredible iron railings highlighting the two-tiered front porches. The entire landscape was lit up with twinkling white lights, adding to the festive atmosphere. I was able to hear raucous laughter coming from several open windows.

It would seem that the guests were partaking in the party favors. Very good news.

As I walked up the stone walkway, I envisioned the layout of the house once again my mind. I had a picture-perfect memory, and an eye for details as well as various nuances of every facility I cased. I knew exactly what to expect the moment I walked inside the expansive mansion. Every room. Every closet. Every hiding place.

After providing a copy of the invitation, I made my entrance, allowing my gaze to sweep across the massive foyer, the marble and stonework impressive. The various oversized paintings were quite… unusual, very much to the taste of my alter personality. I sneered as I smoothed down my jacket. I’d given myself one hour to accomplish my goal.

I had other penchants to enjoy for the night.

The music that seemed to be coming from almost every direction was exceptional, a light jazz with a bite, perfect for the unusually warm evening as well as the event itself.

I’d studied the mark for several weeks, even before coming to the illustrious city. Wyland Worthington was a force to be reckoned with, a man who’d earned several fortunes from deliberate and calculating business tactics. He was considered ruthless in all manners, including with his family; a wife who’d been a former Texas beauty queen, a son attending law school in North Carolina, and one daughter. Unfortunately, his wife had been deceased for years, the man never remarrying, although his penchant for kink allowed him a curious choice of women.

While Garner was exactly like his father, I knew little about Giliana except that she resided in Paris working as a chef for a well-known restaurant and had for several years, her relationship with her father strained. I also had no doubt that Wyland would easily trade either one for a larger piece of any pie.

The concept disgusted me. Family meant everything, something to treasure and protect no matter the personal cost. That made me want to gut the man instead of simply retrieving the diamond. However, a cool two million dollars was waiting to be wire transferred to my account upon success. I wasn’t going to fuck this up.

As a waiter approached, I grabbed a glass of champagne. Why not indulge? Blend in as the Americans would say. I walked toward the entertainment wing, scanning the perimeter before leaning against the doorjamb. As I’d suspected, Wyland was holding court, entertaining several garishly dressed female guests and merely two males. His boisterous voice permeated the expansive space, his laughter as fake as his knowledge on fine art.

He was a schemer, a true con artist in every sense of the word, but I had to give him credit. He’d amassed a significant fortune with his ‘oh shucks’ demeanor. He was also a dangerous man, his powerful tentacles wrapped around both influential corporate moguls as well as hard-core criminals. I took a sip of champagne then held the crystal stem into the light. Given the intoxication level of the guests, I imagined they had no idea their fabulous host was serving rotgut bubbly.

True to form, there were several beautiful pieces of art and jewelry positioned in glass cases placed in strategic locations in the oversized living room. Several of the guests were oohing and aahing over the collection. The very empty case located within an arm’s length of Mr. Worthington gave me a smile. He’d presented his finest piece first, locking it away in what he believed to be a secure vault, likely preventing me from collecting the valuable piece too easily.

Without use of entirely different tactics. However, by this time tomorrow, the diamond would be in a more protected environment.

I’d enjoyed hearing all about his priceless art during a by-invitation-only golf outing, the opportunity allowing me to provide pictures of my collection. His excitement in seeing my erotic paintings had been… fascinating. The gilded invitation to the costume party had arrived only three days later.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an exquisite woman, her beauty unequaled in the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her but not only because she was stunning. She was also a thief. I was amused as hell as I watched her flitting from guest to guest, sliding her hand into the pockets of unsuspecting men. She was quite talented as a pickpocket, more so than the majority I’d run across over my years. She also managed to expertly slide whatever she’d obtained into her small clutch, the men far too mesmerized by her attention to notice her true intentions.

I chuckled, lifting my glass in appreciation. Her actions were ballsy as hell, creating the kind of desire burning deep within that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I envisioned her naked body draped against a cloak of red velvet, her platinum blonde hair sweeping over the satin pillow. I could see her pert little mouth wrapped around my cock while her dazzling eyes stared up at me, her wrists shackled in iron.

For a few delicious seconds, I envisioned fucking her.

Using her luscious body in any way I desired.

Controlling her.

Owning her.

Hmmm… I hadn’t allowed myself such a provocative thought in years.

My shaft stirred at the thought, the darkness that dwelled within me rearing its ugly head.

She continued her task, oblivious that I was carefully watching her every move. She’d obviously been invited, several of the guests acknowledging her warmly. When she finally seemed to notice me, her eyebrows lifted, a slight smile crossing her shimmering face.

We played cat and mouse for a full five minutes, her expression laced with seduction.

But only with an ulterior motive in mind.

I took another sip of champagne as she headed in my direction, likely prepared to attempt the same action with a man who could eat her alive. I purposely looked away, once again scanning the room. If her actions were discovered, she could blow my chance at recovering the diamond. I worked alone, little more than a predator of the night.

Any kind of hindrance I didn’t need.

I concentrated my energy on my keen observations. Mr. Worthington had certainly been able to gather a group of some of the most prominent citizens in New Orleans. From judges to state senators, wealthy moguls to sports giants, it would appear that the notorious thief was prepared to show off portions of his collection. This should prove to be a fascinating evening.

Unfortunately, a nagging instinct had kicked in, a reminder to be extremely cautious. Far too much time and money had been put into this mission.

She studied me for a few seconds before taking a decided step sideways, perhaps determining that I wasn’t an easy mark. I felt her gaze dropping to my glass.

“Not to your taste?”

The purring quality of her voice yanked at my attention immediately, the tone provocative in every way. As I tipped my head, catching a glimpse of her beautiful porcelain skin and aristocratic nose forced my cock to push against my zipper. When I shifted my gaze down the length of her voluptuous body, my balls tightened. The little black dress she was wearing left little to the imagination; the deep V in both the front and back allowing me a stunning view of her rounded breasts. The thigh-high slit created a sinful array of filthy thoughts, desires that I had no place feeling.

I’d always been drawn to women who disobeyed the law, finding them more irresistible than those who performed in the appropriate manner. Unfortunately, this was the wrong time to be delving into my own personal desires. I had an entire network of professionals who’d worked countless hours putting this scheme together.

However, I liked to think of what we were doing as righting wrongs.

A few seconds passed as the music changed, Wyland motioned for one of the waiters to refresh his drink.

She stood with one arm crossed at her waist, the other swirling a glass of champagne, her body rocking forward and backward. I couldn’t help but notice her long leg was positioned in such a way the slit had crawled dangerously high on her upper thigh. She appeared bored, even nibbling on her bottom lip, the very one that was stained a delicious ruby red.

I took a deep breath, inhaling her exotic perfume. The scent alone was enough to fuel a series of dark fantasies, igniting my own sadistic desires. As the same waiter as before passed by, I slid the glass onto the sterling silver tray, both amused and aroused. “Not in the least. I prefer something with more… elegance.”

She slowly turned her head, narrowing her eyes yet I was able to see the shimmer in the mesmerizing emerald green color. Sadly, the colorful mask hid the majority of her face, but I had no doubt that hidden behind the feathers and rhinestones was a gorgeous woman. The electricity between us crackled and the moment she dragged her tongue across her lips, I couldn’t help but smile. “A man of distinction. I appreciate that very much.” She pulled the glass to her lips, taking a small sip. “You are right. This is godawful. Disgusting in fact.”

Her long blonde curls trailed halfway down her back and the way she fingered the crystal stem was quite a scintillating draw. “I prefer a more robust flavor in everything.” I’d always been a man of discerning tastes, although my dominating desires off putting to the majority of women. I also hadn’t succumbed to my carnal hungers for several months, my work taking me from one continent to another preventing anything but a one-night stand. Not my style.

“Hmmm…” She darted a glance from right to left, finally offering a slight wrinkle of her nose as she inched closer. “What would you say if I told you that I knew exactly where the wine cellar is? I know for a fact that Mr. Worthington has an extremely amazing collection of fine wines and spirits locked away.”

“I would say you’re very resourceful.” Perhaps getting her away from the mark wasn’t a bad idea.

“Are you game for a… taste?”

“I’m curious. Would that mean that you are a friend of the family?”

She snorted lightly, slapping her hand over her mouth. “Oh, hell, no. I just happen to know where the true goodies are hidden. Mr. Worthington throws parties nearly every other week. Not only am I resourceful, but I’m a girl who enjoys taking chances. What about you? Do you dare indulge in things that are… risky? Or are you simply one of the same conservative assholes with huge bank accounts and even larger bellies pretending to have chutzpa?”

Risky. She obviously had no idea who she was talking to. The true risk was not following the order of things that I’d carefully laid out. Granted, as I calculated the time I had in order to retrieve the stolen object, I realized that I had at least a few minutes to spare. Why did this woman entice me as so few had done before? I was actually curious as to how far she planned on going with her game, my cock aching. “Do not issue a challenge to a man you’ve never met unless you’re prepared to face the consequences.”

A seductive smile crossed her face as she darted her eyes down the length of me before beckoning the same waiter, shoving her glass down with a slight thud. “How about a dance with me, just to make certain I’m worth taking a chance on? That is, if you can handle the heat?”

No woman had ever challenged me before, certainly not in this manner. I eased my glass onto the same tray before taking her hand. The level of electricity shooting down the length of my arm was unusual, tightening my balls. I pulled her close, using a single finger to slide several strands of hair away from her long neck.

Her lower lip trembled, her stunning emerald eyes opening wide. It was easy to tell her reaction was the same, our attraction one of a filthy nature. I could devour her in one sitting, lapping every drop of cream from her sweet little pussy, but only if she was a very good girl.

“Accepted,” I stated in a commanding tone.

“Yes. Okay.” She faltered only slightly before planting the palm of her hand against my chest, digging her fingers into the material of my jacket.

I swept her into the middle of the few couples already dancing, pulling her even closer. The feel of her in my arms was exquisite, dragging the darkness from deep within me to the surface. The vile things I wanted to do to her only fueled the embers. I slid my arm around her waist, forcing her heated body against mine. The music was perfect, the sultry strains of the blues adding to the mystery.

There were no words said as we danced, her eyes never leaving mine. As the scent of her feminine wiles filled my nostrils, my thoughts turned even more intense. I could tell she was wet, her hunger as raw as mine.

She shifted her hips back and forth, a slight moan slipping past her lips. Everything about her was tempting, my desire increasing.

“Who are you, Zorro?” she finally whispered.

“A very dangerous man. Do you still want to play?”

There was only a slight hesitation and as she tilted her head until our lips were mere centimeters apart, her whisper became rocket fuel.

“Absolutely.”

“Then you will do exactly as I say no matter what I ask. Are we clear?”

I was indeed a savage man, a barbarian that she should run away from in fear, but instead, she’d chosen to tempt the ravaging beast.

She dragged her tongue across her lips nervously, blinking several times before issuing a single nod.

While the moment was unusual, I knew without a doubt that one day, I would take her.

Command her.

Own her…

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