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Ruthless: A Dark Mafia Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Chapter One

Giovanni

“Eh, Luigi, this is the best gravy you’ve made in decades.” When Montego Calduchi spoke, everyone listened, and the entire room was leaning forward, as if the ordained crime boss was about to give an important speech.

Or issue a hit.

The man was powerful, considered one of the most dangerous men in America. He was without question a brutal monster, lording his reign over everyone. There wasn’t a single syndicate in the country who wouldn’t enjoying dethroning his empire, what would be my kingdom at some point.

Chicago.

Home of the White Sox and some of the sexiest women in the Midwest.

Home of the most notorious crime family in the country.

My father had been head of the family for almost forty years, his acts of cruelty leaving a trail of blood for decades. No one defied him.

“Thank you, sir. Thank you so very much,” Luigi said, his raspy voice, altered by decades of heavy smoking, no match for Montego’s deep baritone. He leaned over, obtaining the obligatory kiss on each cheek and a hug, my father slapping the frail man’s back with vigor.

The private suite door momentarily opened, and I was given a beautiful and sultry change in scenery. The long-legged brunette had no doubt made a point to stand just outside the door, hoping for an opportunity to showcase her voluptuous body. I gave her a respectful nod, envisioning her naked body draped over my lap, my well-worn leather belt in my hand. The thought made my balls tighten and my cock press in the most uncomfortable manner against my Armani pants. Sadly, the sensuous vixen was like all the rest; hungry young women longing to obtain status as a Mafia mistress. The concept bored the fuck out of me.

Mio amico,” Montego said as he pushed Luigi away, dismissing him from the room.

Already weary, I sat back, fingering the base of my wineglass, staring absently out the picture window and allowing the smoke from my Cuban cigar to billow in my father’s direction, one of many annoyances. A light rain continued to fall, creating a slight fog hovering over the busy street. This was my father’s favorite place to have lunch, a restaurant I’d often visited as a child. I only wished the location held the same fond memories as it did for my aging father.

Chuckling to myself, I took a sip of the expensive cabernet, longing to get the hell out of Chicago, even for a little while. Recent discussions with my brother had left me with a nasty taste in my mouth even after the asshole had disappeared, ruining a decent business opportunity. There were seven of us positioned around a specially carved table, crafted from the finest and nearly extinct Brazilian woods.

All to my father’s likings and because of his demands.

The meeting had been mandatory, myself included. Seated were five top capos, the most vicious men in the syndicate. Bodyguards, the newest soldiers, remained on the outskirts of the room, keeping watch on the crowded street.

After giving me a dirty look, Montego’s eyes followed the chef, waiting until the aging man had left the room, closing the door behind him. Privacy was everything. “Prick.” He tossed his fork and yanked the napkin from the collar of his shirt. “Stupid man can’t make gravy to save his ass. He needs to get out of the business.”

My father certainly didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything.

Including his children.

Montego had already eaten the majority of his capellini, as always and we’d only been here fifteen minutes. The man truly disgusted me and the worst part? I’d ended up just like him. Hard-edged, refusing to budge, and my joy of slicing and dicing legendary. I was a man to be feared. I took another puff of my cigar, savoring the rich smoke. The box of Cubans had been a gift from one of the dozens of businesses my family protected. The expensive smokes had also been a thank you for allowing the greasy pig owner to live after being light on his payment.

There would be no more second chances.

“Then why are we still coming here, boss?” the soldier asked, his foot tapping on the floor from eagerness. “I could give you suggestions for some pretty good places.”

I held my tongue. The young soldier had just made his first blunder. He’d opened his mouth.

“Will you listen to that babbo?” Montego said, laughing as he glanced from one capo to another, expecting their agreement. His eyes landed on me last, the laughter turning sour given I was ignoring him. He called everyone in our organization an idiot, including his own sons. “The pussy boy thinks he has a brain inside that big head of his. Suggestions, my ass.”

The men laughed, as they always did. Poor Antonio looked sheepish, regretting spewing the question. The kid shifted back and forth, trying his best to shrink into the woodwork.

“Can we get on with it?” I asked casually.

Montego’s smile instantly faded and he pounded his fist on the table. Complete silence swept across the room. “Fine. Let’s get to it.” Shifting back, he tapped his finger on the lip of his glass, his expression cold. “All this talk about New York taking over has put our organization in a precarious position. We have a rat in our family and we are going to find him. I won’t tolerate cock-sucking pigeons. He needs to be put on ice.”

I blew out another puff of smoke, my lips allowing a floating ring to form. I’d heard rumblings in the organization, the same shit as months before. My concern was that the New York syndicate wasn’t the only group attempting to muscle in. There were others who saw our family as weak, especially given my brother had turned his back on the Calduchi name. However, Montego couldn’t seem to care less. He adored Jagger, the favorite son.

“Who the fuck is it?” Marco asked, his upper lip curled into a snarl.

“Yeah, boss. Any idea?” Daniel huffed, his fat face puffing out from anger.

I’d grown up with Marco, even considering him my best friend. Daniel, on the other hand, I didn’t trust for shit.

“That’s for you boys to find out and you’re going to do so within twenty-four hours or blood will rain in the streets,” Montego commanded then polished off his glass of burgundy before adjusting his tie.

Lunch was officially over.

The capos all nodded, and in my mind, three quarters of them were nothing but dancing bobble-head dolls. No brains but every one of them had damn good killer instincts.

“Stay, Gio. I need to discuss something with you,” Montego said without looking in my direction. Then he slowly turned his head and for a few seconds, I could see the strangest emotion in my father’s eyes.

Sadness.

I nodded, keeping my place but my gut told me things were about to change.

The second Montego pushed back from the table, the others rose out of respect. A split second before my periphery of vision was cut off, I noticed a glint and my instincts kicked in hard. I reached for my Glock, jumping over the table in an effort to yank my father away from the window. Mother fucker. “Get down!”

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

“You’re going to fuckin’ save him!”

Antonio’s voice? What the hell was going on? I tried to move or focus, but my arms and legs weren’t responding. I don’t…

“You need to back off, sir. There’s a waiting room just outside the corridor. Go there!”

Waiting room. A torrent of images flooded my mind. Blood. My father. I was so cold, so freaking cold. Help me. Where the fuck was I?

“Well, you better take care of him, Doctor!” The deep voice was one I recognized. Why couldn’t I speak? Marco, I…

“You’re going to be fine, boss!”

Light flickered then blackness and…

“We’re losing him. Get him into surgery. Stat!”

Wheels in motion. Voices. Blood. The world passing by…

“Where the hell am I?” There was no light, other than an orange glow somewhere in the distance. My mind was foggy, cobwebs filtering through every thought. I shook my head, expecting blinding pain. There was nothing. No cold. No anguish. No emotion.

Nothing.

The world was slanted, askew like my vision. Survival. The word hit me like a ton of bricks, leaving me with an urgent need to get the fuck out of this bleak place. Move. Move! My legs were sluggish, unresponsive. I slapped my hands on whatever surface was near me, struggling to move forward even a few inches. Jesus. What had happened? I would do this. What mother fucker had put me in this predicament?

With every inch of success, an overwhelming feeling of failure slithered into my system, filling me with dread and fear unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

Figures and faceless shapes seemed to come from nowhere, shoving against me as they moved, more and more of them until claustrophobia strangled every breath. I clawed at my neck, confusion mixing together with the fog.

“I warned you, son. There’s still time to repent.”

The voice was so warm and loving. I turned sharply, unable to see who’d issued the words. “Who are you?” There was no immediate answer. Anger. Now, all I could feel was extreme anger. Blinding rage. “Where the fuck are you?” I pushed and shoved, trying to force my way through the crowd but the faceless group seemed to block my way.

“Redemption. Pray for redemption, my sweet and loving son.”

“Mother?” The fucking assholes wouldn’t get out of my way. I punched, catching one then two of them, knocking them to the ground. Shapeless monsters. There were more of them, hundreds if not thousands, all heading in my direction. “Mother?”

“Find a way,” she whispered.

I could see her just ahead. She was so beautiful, just like I remembered as a boy. “Mother!” I kicked and shoved, swinging right and left. She was waiting for me. “What is happening?”

“I forgive you.” She seemed to wait, but only briefly, turning and walking deeper into the wretched horde of beasts, all reaching for me, cackling noises erupting from their misshapen mouths. Their eyes were like molten pools of lava, flowing down their faces.

“No! Come back. Please. Mother, what’s happening?” I chased after her, only to be captured by a massive web. I cried out for her, begging. Sobbing.

There would be no help, no salvation for the likes of me.

She turned toward me one last time. Tears streamed down her face, dripping to the blackened floor.

And for a few seconds, I could see that they were tears of blood.

Bloodshed. Death. Destruction.

This was my family’s legacy and all of it would be required in my new position as head of the Calduchi family. But I had a new word infiltrating my system and one that would become my legacy.

Suffering.

I would make the bastards who’d murdered my father in cold blood suffer in manners that only their nightmares could imagine. The word on the street was pinpointed at the rat Montego had mentioned just minutes before he’d been gunned down. The pricks from New York had yet to lay claim, but I knew instinctively who they were, and they would be punished for their sins.

Their leader, one sick bastard by the name of Bruno Giotano thought he was larger than life. He would soon learn he was nothing.

I certainly had no real love for my father. Montego Calduchi had been a hard man, brutal in his techniques, including dealing with his family, but I’d respected both him and his position. He’d been demanding as well as connected, certainly influential with hundreds of politicians and corporate moguls alike. And now I was required to take over his regime.

A cold shiver sliced into every muscle. I was prepared, more than ready to take command, but heads would roll under my dominion. Instead of initiating new soldiers, I was stuck in the freaking middle of nowhere, ready for some bogus rehabilitation that wasn’t necessary.

And I was pissed.

Columbus, Ohio. Fucking fantastic. I’d do my stint in medical rehab, directing my capos while the streets continued to play out the bloodbath. Information had flowed freely enough, the hit meant for the entire family. The plot had been ingenious, and I still had no knowledge of my brother’s whereabouts. For all I knew, Jagger was dead. To everyone, except for three of my most trusted men, I was still in intensive care at the Chicago hospital, barely hanging on, the Consigliere considered in charge. The lie wouldn’t hold for much longer.

For all practical purposes, I’d died on the operating table, considered clinically dead for almost two minutes. The single bullet had almost been successful. Still, I couldn’t afford to be laid up like some sick dog. I had a job to do and I loathed this shit.

Anyone who knew me realized I wasn’t the kind of man to run from a problem. Rage furrowed in my gut. Losing Franco, Tony, and Cane, powerful capos in their own right in the process was an enormous hit for our family and word had spread within minutes that our organization had been cut in half. Wasn’t good for business all the way around.

We also lost three soldiers. At least Daniel and Marco had only been injured and were alive. As the newest capos, they’d be forced to take over a lion’s share of the business dealings until I could get a handle on things. By the grace of St. Francis, Antonio had reacted quickly enough, dragging me away from the carnage. I owed the boy my life. The wound was healing, but a round of TLC was definitely needed.

But I had something else in mind.

I took a swig of my scotch, grimacing at the bitter, cheap taste. One week was seven days too long. At least by then, a plan would be set in motion. Antonio sat at a small table several yards away, the soldier bumped up to a made man after the incident. He’d earned his stripes after risking his life. He was my initial protector, my driver, and my hired gun. The man I most trusted had suggested the particular hospital, and I hadn’t been in any condition to ask questions or contradict him.

“What the fuck am I doing here?” My snarl was deep, coming from the heightened rage I’d felt since the attempted massacre.

My utter disgust drew attention from the striking blonde sitting at the other end of the bar. In the rather dingy setting, I was surprised to see such a beautiful creature. She twisted her head in my direction, easing the single olive from her martini with her fingers. The only reaction was in her shimmering eyes, but all I could concentrate on was the way she pulled the oblong vegetable in her luscious mouth after licking off the juices. Her tongue darted back and forth, creating filthy fantasies, vile images in vivid color.

She slid the tip of her manicured fingernail around the rim of her glass, not once but three times. The beautiful woman had no idea how sensual she truly was. Inhaling, even the way her exotic perfume wafted into my nostrils was enough to create depraved thoughts in my mind. I wanted to tie her up, exposing her rosy nipples and pretty pink pussy. I wanted to spank her for being a bad girl, making certain her bottom was crisscrossed in the same vibrant hue as her dress. My mouth watered and my thoughts drifted into darkness, a passion that would not be denied but hadn’t been fulfilled in a long time.

My cock twitched, my balls tightening. My hunger was off the charts. As my chest rose and fell, I knew I had to have her. I offered a slight smile, shifting in the seat as my shaft became pinched. She seemed amused at my outburst then almost immediately glanced at her watch. Who was she waiting for? A boyfriend? Her stunning scarlet dress hugged every curve, accentuating her long legs. After a few seconds, she casually looked in my direction. She certainly wasn’t hovering at the bar for any business purposes. I snickered at the thought. Lifting my glass, I gave her a nod of approval.

Almost instantly she looked away, as if the attention was unwanted.

No one ever denied what I craved.

Certainly no one ever dared refute my command.

Not if they wanted to live.

This beauty would garner an exception to the rule. After all, she didn’t belong to me.

Yet.

At least my personality was intact as well as my desires.

She grew more restless as the minutes ticked on, finally tossing back the remainder of her drink and dragging her finger across her ruby-stained lips. Just as she yanked a small purse from the seat beside her, a hand was placed on her shoulder, the grip firm. Far too firm for a casual meeting.

I glanced sideways at the asshole who’d dared to be late, sizing him up. He was no doubt an attorney by the way he was dressed and by the looks of it, one that was paid very well.

“You’re late. As usual,” she attempted to say quietly, but she seemed far too angry.

“I couldn’t very well leave court, now could I?” he snapped and waved for the bartender. “Whisky, neat and another one for the lady.”

She laughed, the sound husky yet contrived. “The last time I checked the court calendar, I didn’t notice that cases continued until nine in the evening.”

A full minute of tense silence followed.

“Why do you have to be such a bitch?” he spewed then smacked his hand on the bar. “How about those drinks? Any time now.”

“And why do you have to be such a bastard?” she retorted, shaking her head.

Asshole. You’ve been caught. I could almost detect the scent of another woman. I took another sip of my drink, contemplating my reckless desires. I was supposed to keep a low profile while I was here and that didn’t include partaking in tasting a beautiful woman.

But I just might be forced to make an exception.

The boyfriend hissed and wrapped his hand around the back of her neck, squeezing.

My hackles were instantly raised.

Gasping, she shoved his chest. “Let go of me, you prick.”

The bartender slapped the asshole’s drink on the counter. I was delighted to notice that a solid one third was spilled over the edge. In contrast, the man behind the chipped fake wood bar gently placed a cocktail napkin on the bar and eased another martini on top. “Is this asshole bothering you, miss?”

“I can handle him, but thank you,” she quipped, managing to wriggle out of the jerk’s hold.

Every muscle in my body tensed, prepared to take the prick outside if necessary.

The bartender gave the boyfriend a wary and very nasty look before sauntering off. If the shithead didn’t release his hold in about two split seconds, I would make certain he found it difficult to use his hand again.

Ever.

He seemed to sense my discord, darting his eyes in my direction and releasing her. Leaning over, he whispered in her ear.

I was ready to finish my drink then leave, disgusted with the entire scene when she whirled in his direction, snarling in what I had to say was a classy manner.

“Jimmy. I think it’s time that you and I end this chapter. For good.”

He laughed, tossing the long wave falling in his face as if he didn’t have a care in the world. “You will do as I say.”

“Or what exactly?” While she issued the words, I’d already muttered them under my breath. I gripped the edge of the bar, rising to my feet.

“Or you know what happens,” boyfriend dared to say.

To her credit, she tossed her drink in his face then clamored to grab her purse. “Fuck you. You’re out of my life, you cheating bastard.”

I only managed to notice the way he grabbed and wrenched her arm before I shot around the bar, yanking him away and slamming his body against the wall. “You don’t talk to women that way, buddy.”

“Get off me, you freak! This is between me and her,” he snarled.

There was no turning back. My hand shot around his throat, lifting him several inches off the floor. I heard the shrieks from behind me, but I didn’t give a shit. This bastard was going to learn a very valuable lesson. My fingers dug into the various pressure points in his neck and within seconds, he was unable to breathe. As he flailed, his face turning red, I was somewhat surprised that no one attempted to stop my actions.

“Now, you’re going to walk out of this bar and never bother this gorgeous woman ever again. If I hear that you try even once to contact her, you will have me to deal with and trust me, you don’t want that to happen.”

Boyfriend’s eyes were bulging even as he attempted to nod. I lowered him very slowly to the floor. I had to shut down my instinct to drag him outside. This wasn’t the time or the place to draw any attention to the fact of who I was or that I was drinking in a cheap rundown bar.

The jerk coughed several times, wheezing to the point I almost burst into laughter. As he attempted to stand, making certain his tie was straight, I resisted punching him in the kidney. He barely gave the sensuous creature another look before scampering toward the front door.

The various claps and cheers did nothing to brighten my mood. Pricks like that didn’t deserve to have a gorgeous woman on their arm.

Issuing another snarl, I turned around. I didn’t know this girl and she certainly could have been incensed, angry that I’d tossed him out. The blonde gave me an appreciative smile, the kind that allowed me a slight glimpse behind her mask, pretending the loss meant nothing to her.

She was a vulnerable kitten in a world of wolves. All I wanted to do was feast, sliding my tongue into her sweet pussy only seconds before thrusting my cock so deep that she screamed out my name.

I wanted her begging for more.

And I would take every inch of her, body and soul.

“Just who are you?” the blonde asked after I’d beckoned her closer, studying me in an almost clinical manner, which I admit amused the hell out of me. However, she seemed relieved, even happy that I’d intervened.

“Some would call me their worst nightmare.”

She laughed at the words, rolling her eyes in the most provocative manner. That was the very second I no longer cared about my condition or the ramification of tasting her. “I’ve had that said about me as well.”

“You’re a stunning woman and should be treated with respect. I loathe and refuse to tolerate bastards who have no idea how to handle a lady.”

“And you do?” she asked, swirling her martini.

I brushed the backs of two fingers down her shoulder, inhaling her perfume. I was rewarded with a series of goosebumps. They were so delicate, so feminine. “Beautiful women are to be cherished and protected at all times. There is nothing like savoring a woman’s soft lips and skin, ravaging her with attention.”

A slight curl appeared on the corner of her mouth and I could tell she wasn’t buying one bit of what she believed to be bullshit. Still, she undressed me with her eyes, allowing her imagination to soar. “I’ll accept that answer. At least as long as a man understands that not all women fall prey to lines of crap.”

The fabulous blonde locked eyes with mine. She was quite formidable in her own right, a woman to be reckoned with.

That only made me want her even more.

“Fair enough.” I allowed my words to linger.

There was no additional discussion and no details of our respective pasts for either of us. I simply held up my keys. Her nod of approval was all I needed.

Antonio drove us to our destination and neither the soldier nor the girl asked any unwanted questions. I knew my made man would keep watch on the hotel room, performing duties that he’d been extensively trained for. He would take the bullet if necessary and without question.

If my hunch paid off, I had two more days before the search for both my brother and me began. Two days of freedom. The thought was rather revolting.

The hotel was booked for only one night, the best Columbus had to offer. If there was any hint of recognition, she hid it well. My face had been plastered on every primetime channel, both locally and nationally, but from what I could tell, her interests were elsewhere.

The elevator was empty and my hunger was far too electric to wait any longer. Pushing her against the cold steel wall, I yanked her arms over her head, holding both wrists in one hand. I towered over her by at least six inches and while the ugly fluorescent light was harsh, the glow only managed to accentuate her porcelain skin, perfect in every manner.

Her breathing ragged, she struggled for only a few seconds, her eyes remaining defiant. She had utter confidence as well as sophistication, only making me desire her that much more.

“If I may ask, what’s your name?” I whispered, blowing a swath of hot air along her cheekbone.

As she shifted, wriggling her hands, she arched her back. This was nothing more than an attempt at a power play. I chuckled inwardly at the thought. “You can call me Minx as in cunning.”

“Minx. Very tasty.” I allowed a husky growl as I lowered my head, drinking in her scent. The exotic fragrance was much more pronounced, driving my cock to a painful point as it pushed against my linen pants.

“And yours?”

“You can call me Gio as in God has shown favor.” One day she would call me Master. I brushed just the tips of my fingers down the side of her face, reveling in the way she tensed at first. However, the goosebumps appearing on her arms were a dead giveaway.

“I’ll keep that in mind, Gio.”

The electric sparking between us was more like rocket fuel. I had difficulty focusing as I danced my fingers down her neck to her cleavage, taking my time to swirl them around her nipples in an exaggerated fashion.

“Oh,” she whimpered only once, her eyes locked onto mine. “Just who are you really, Gio? A knight in shining armor? A chivalrous man? I’m not certain I buy the nightmare aspect.”

“Neither. I’m what some would call a very dangerous man.” There was no reason to lie to her. “And one who will provide exactly what you need.”

She licked her lips and I was mesmerized by the way she dragged her tongue across the seam of her mouth before pursing her lips. “And how do you know what I need? No one has ever figured that out.”

The invitation was blatant and one I couldn’t resist. Kicking her legs apart, I slid my hand between them, delicately fingering her lace panties. They were already damp, driving my hunger into a frenetic state. “You need a dominating man, one who attends to your every need.” I swirled my index finger around her mound, digging in with every pass.

She swallowed; the single shake of her head was a denial that her mind required.

Not her luscious body.

She was hot and wet, ready to be taken. I blew across her neck before sliding my finger past the thin slip of elastic keeping me from nirvana. “N-no. I’m my own woman and quite capable.”

“I have no doubt you’re very capable, but you’re lying and the one thing I will not tolerate is lying. Do you understand, sweet Minx?”

“Yes.”

I tweaked her clit, pinching to the point she moaned. “Try again.”

“Yes, sir.” This time, her words were more of a sultry purr. Whether or not she was faking didn’t bother me in the least. For the night, she belonged to me.

I wanted nothing more than to kiss her, but in all her dark and secretive places. This wasn’t about romance. This was about hot and raw sex, domination of a woman who deserved everything special. And still, I captured her mouth, moving my fingers up and down the length of her pussy.

She seemed startled at first, her body bucking against mine but even then, she opened her legs wider, allowing me full access to what now belonged to me.

The taste of her was even sweeter than I’d imagined, a hint of cinnamon and I thrust my tongue inside, savoring her essence. Everything about this woman fueled the fire burning within, creating a wave of desire that I wasn’t certain I could contain. I could devour her, marking her body as mine for all the world to see.

Undulating her hips, she moaned into the kiss as she pressed her breasts against my chest. The sensations were powerful, a rush of adrenaline and something so carnal flowing through my system that I couldn’t wait much longer. Patience wasn’t my virtue, neither was denial, and this beautiful lady had captured my full attention.

I pumped a single finger in and out of her pussy, tingling as her muscles constricted. She had no idea the effect she had on me or what I was planning on doing to her. Breaking the kiss, I dragged my open mouth down the length of her neck, sliding my lips just underneath the bodice of her dress.

Her legs quivered when I exposed her nipple, sucking in my breath as the rock-hard pebble floated across my tongue. I flicked it back and forth across the tender bud and added a second finger, thrusting deeper inside her hot pussy. I imagined rolling my tongue along the lines of where my fingers were placed, my blood boiling from the thought.

“Oh, God. I…” She laughed and lolled her head, her breathing ragged.

“Do you like that?” I whispered, keeping my tone even.

“Mmm…”

I yanked my fingers out of her wet heat, tweaking her clit. “Try again.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Better. You will learn to obey me.” Leaning over, I engulfed her nipple, taking the tender flesh inside my mouth. Everything about this encounter was sinful, exactly as I craved. I shoved a third finger inside, flexing them and pumping in and out, taking my time. Her pussy muscles clamped around the invasion, drawing me in deeper. If any of this was too aggressive, her body had already betrayed her.

She was famished.

Wet.

Hot.

We both heard the ping of the elevator reaching its destination, her body stiffening at the sound. I continued licking and sucking, my fingers firmly embedded. The single exclamation from a bystander certainly didn’t stop my actions and I dragged my lips across her chest, nuzzling under the thin material.

“Jesus,” a voice finally said, almost as sultry in tone as I’d heard from my lovely Minx.

“Gio,” Minx whispered. She didn’t try to struggle to free herself from my grasp. She simply muttered the single word.

I knew a hand was braced against the door, keeping the elevator wide open like a movie screen showing the latest filthy movie. And I loved every second of being on display. My actions might not be prudent, but I wasn’t in the mood for second guessing my decisions. I enjoyed providing the same attention to her other breast then pulled back, taking her by the hand.

“About damn time.”

I snapped my head in the direction of the male voice, giving the obvious tourist a heated look, unblinking until he shrank back into the shadows.

“Come, little Minx,” I stated with full authority and pulled her out of the elevator.

“Asshole,” the man whispered, but I caught the nasty word, my hand immediately grasping my weapon. There would be no bloodshed tonight, no matter how enraged I remained.

Her long legs allowed her to keep up with me, stride by stride and soon, we were inside the darkened room.

“Stay here,” I commanded.

“Yes, sir.”

I made a sweep of the room, jerking open the closet door and peering into every shadowed corner. There’d been no sign of tampering of any kind.

Goddamn good thing.

I wasn’t in the mood for a hunt.

I turned on a couple of lights, easing the Glock onto the dresser. Minx’s eyes scanned the room, locking on my hand the second I laid the gun down. I expected a look of raw fear. There was nothing but intrigue.

“You are a dangerous man.” She inched forward, kicking off her shoes.

“Mmm… Yes.” I walked immediately to the bar, plucking fresh ice into two glasses. I didn’t bother asking what she wanted, making us both the same drink. She would learn to love what I did or simply choose not to partake.

Our fingers touched the second I handed her the drink and the vibe was the same as before, a firestorm of raging need bursting at the seam.

Her hand trembled just enough I couldn’t take my eyes off her and as she pulled the crystal tumbler to her mouth, darting her tongue just inside the glass, I took a sip.

Instead of ravaging her.

Time.

I had all night to take what I needed.

Minx sashayed further into the room, keeping the rim of the glass close to her voluptuous lips. I studied her as she walked, her long fingers gliding across various pieces of furniture. When she rounded the corner, I followed and the way she reacted to the baby grand piano was a pleasant surprise.

She licked her lips before walking closer, giving me a little girl smile as she exposed the keys, running her fingers down the length of the keyboard. The melodic sound gave me chills.

“Do you play?” she purred, darting a single glance in my direction.

I took a swig of my drink, easing the glass on the surface of the piano before sitting down on the bench. Music had been the only thing in my life capable of soothing the demons. I’d spent hours playing, going over the same song dozens of times until every note, every chord was absolutely perfect.

My father tolerated no less.

As I began to play, rolling my fingers over the keys, a wash of peace filtered into my system. I closed my eyes momentarily, envisioning a concert hall and adoring fans. If only life could be that simple. Every chord brought a rush of emotions, the powerful piece one of my favorites. All the rage that had built over the last few days whipped through my fingers, the deep base and powerful allegro booming in the room. I continued the piece, almost getting to the end before she spoke.

“That’s… extraordinary. What is this? I think I recognize it,” she whispered, resting her hand on the corner of the piano. I couldn’t help but notice the slight tremble and the way her fingers moved in time to the music, as if she’d played before.

“Rachmaninoff.”

“Yes, Prelude in C Sharp Minor. Right? Powerful. Stimulating. Breathtaking.”

She could have no way of knowing just how captivating her words, or the fact she had any clue about the music of my boyhood, were on a ruthless man like myself. Blown away, I leapt up without hesitation, the force tossing the piano bench out of the way. “I want you. I will have you but be very careful.”

“Why?”

I rubbed my thumb across her lips, desperately trying to control the inner beast. I wasn’t a passionate or romantic man. I’d never cared about quiet dinners or flowers, my needs far too intense for the majority of women. This woman just might be my undoing and I didn’t know her.

“Because your life will never be the same.”

She lifted a single eyebrow, the same defiant look taking on another level. She’d been challenged by my words, her curiosity getting the better of her. Her lower lip quivered as I placed both hands on her outer thighs, flexing my fingers as I slowly lifted the silky material. She had a rebellious sparkle in her eyes infused with heated passion, the combination irresistible. Easing the dress over her head, I growled and cupped her naked breasts, fingering her nipples and pinching until she whimpered.

Minx’s breathing came in soft puffs from her pursed lips and she tipped her head, arching her back.

I lifted her with ease, pushing her down on top of the piano and rubbing my hand on her stomach as she moaned. My patience stripped away, I wrapped my index finger around the thin slip of elastic holding her thong in place, snapping my wrist. Her breathing intensified from the ripping sound, her eyes fluttering open and closed.

I was suddenly drawn to her polished toenails as her toes danced over the keys, the bright scarlet a perfect match for her luscious attire. Yanking the piano bench back into position, the platform was the perfect height to begin my feast.

And so… I did.

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