“You will speak only when you’re spoken to.”
As first meetings go, this one had already turned into a steaming pile of shit. I’d been looking forward to meeting my future husband for weeks now, and in the span of a few minutes, I already knew that I hated him and everything he stood for.
Anton’s voice echoed through the room as he took a threatening step towards me. I stood my ground and refused to allow myself to flinch even the tiniest bit, holding my head high and leveling him with a glare vicious enough to raise the dead. I gritted my teeth as he stared back at me, seemingly unaffected by my ire in a way that I had never experienced before in my life. He’d exuded an air of malevolence from the moment he’d walked into the room. He’d only come to inform me of the rules he had set for me as his future bride.
“You will be a good, obedient wife, but most importantly, you will be quiet, and do as you’re told,” he spat. His words dripped with venom, revealing his sadistic nature as he sought to bend me to his will.
I was never going to bend for him.
As he advanced towards me, his heavy footsteps resounded like impending doom, and I steeled myself against the fear that threatened to betray me to him. Despite my defiance, his icy stare continued to bore into me. His hands fisted at his sides, silently threatening violence should I push things any further. His eyes, framed by dark brows, harbored a dangerous intensity that hinted at a soul corrupted by power and cruelty. It was as if he derived pleasure from wielding control over others, leaving me with the haunting realization that this man was not to be underestimated.
Maybe it was foolish, but I stood my ground anyway.
“I. Will. Not. If my father knew how you were treating me, he’d have your head on a platter,” I declared.
My father was Maxim Morozov, one of the most powerful bratva bosses in Boston. We were new to the city, but my father had a long list of allies, and I knew that he would call on every single one of them if he knew that Anton was speaking to me like this.
“Your father gave you to me. The paperwork has been signed. He won’t be saving you now,” he replied, his voice rising with malice.
I lifted my chin higher, trying to appear brave, but the furious insanity in his eyes was even more apparent now. I kept my head held high. It would be detrimental at this point if he saw weakness, especially when we were arranged to be married in less than a week.
“Fuck you,” I spat.
He crossed the room in three large strides, and before I knew what was happening, he swung his arm back and backhanded me across the face. The agonizing pain shot through my jaw and the force of it was enough to toss me to the ground. I slapped my palms against the ground so that my face didn’t slam into the hardwood floor. It hurt, but I didn’t make a sound.
No one had ever raised a hand to me before. I was my father’s daughter, a mafia princess meant to be taken care of and cherished, not slapped across the face.
I was far more out of my depth than I’d realized.
“I will not tolerate disrespect!” Anton shouted. The security guards standing by the door didn’t say a word or move a single muscle. Their faces didn’t even twitch.
They’d seen this before. This wasn’t the first time Anton had raised a hand to a woman in their presence.
My father would be furious. Not only was I his only daughter, but I was a woman to be treated with care and respect, and most importantly, protected. He would have never agreed to this arranged marriage between the Morozovs and the Kozlovs if he had known Anton was like this.
Both of our families were trying to gain a foothold in Boston. Even though I was a woman, I’d helped my father strategize. The worst part of this whole arrangement was that it had been my idea in the first place. The union of our families would make us both infinitely more powerful against the more established Irish and Greek mafias, and the Cosa Nostra. At least, that had been the plan until now.
Bravely, I pushed myself up off the floor and stared at his back as he strode out of the room.
“Rot in hell. I’ll never marry you!” I exclaimed, my own voice hoarse with emotion.
He stopped, and for a moment, I worried that I’d pushed things too far, but he didn’t turn back around.
It was only after the door slammed shut behind him that I pressed my hand to my cheek, comforting the stinging flesh as I gritted my teeth with anger. Once the room had gone silent, I acknowledged the fact that a single tear had slid down my right cheek, and I prayed that he hadn’t seen it.
I would not be weak, not for scum of the Earth like him.
I pushed myself to my feet and lowered my hand. With a deep breath, I calmed my erratically beating heart and lifted my chin.
I didn’t care how or why or what I had to do, but I was going to get out of this. There were no phones in the suite, nor did I have access to a cellphone of my own, but all it would take was finding one weak link in the chain to pass a message for me to my father. Between the two of us, we could figure out how to call off this arranged marriage and potentially keep our alliance with the Kozlovs intact.
I’d figure something out. I always did.
I’d been watching Irina Morozov for days now.
She was being kept on the fifteenth floor of Tsar’s Palace, a Russian-built hotel that the Kozlovs had forced their way into and set up as their main base here in Boston. My team had breached their cyber security walls and hacked into their main security feeds. They had cameras all over the place, including the suite that Irina was currently pacing back and forth in.
I reached out to brush my fingers against the screen, wanting to comfort her with my touch.
I didn’t know what it was about her, but she possessed an allure that was as enigmatic as it was irresistible. Her jet-black hair cascaded in luxurious waves down her back, framing her delicate features like a silken veil. Her beautiful sage green eyes held me spellbound, shimmering with a mischievous glint that hinted at a spirit that was both sweet and unbelievably sassy. Yet beneath her charm and playfulness lurked a cunning intellect that was adept at navigating the treacherous waters of a life within mafia politics. She didn’t shy away from the guards that followed her every move, nor did she flinch in front of Anton or his men.
She was a force to be reckoned with.
I hadn’t had the chance to meet her father, Maxim Morozov, but from what my sister told me, I knew that he was a good man.
I understood the logistics of why we were planning to kidnap her. The Kozlovs and the Morozovs had arranged the marriage of Anton and Irina to secure an alliance between the two families, but Maxim had found out some damning information about his daughter’s husband-to-be and no longer found the match acceptable for her.
I understood why.
My sister Ada, one of the leading members of the Murphy family, had informed me that Maxim’s men had uncovered a series of transactions traced to offshore accounts between Anton and a high-end escort service. He was a regular user of the service. In addition, he had several mistresses throughout the city that he had no plans of cutting off after the marriage had been secured. Lastly and certainly the most alarming, there had been a shocking number of domestic abuse incidences that had been swept under the rug by the local police. He hurt women and had zero regret about it. I couldn’t stand for that either.
Knowing that had made me angry, but it wasn’t until I saw him hit her that my blood boiled.
He’d backhanded her so hard that it had thrown her to the floor. There was little doubt in my mind that her right cheek would likely bruise.
“How much longer do we need to wait?” I asked impatiently, staring at the screen as the resilient little thing pushed herself off the floor and held her head up high. Quickly, she swiped her hand across her cheek, likely wiping away a tear.
I saw red. I wanted to kill him.
“Tonight,” Liam growled. I could tell he was just as angry I was, but he tempered his fury better. As the Murphy family consigliere, he was level-headed, dependable, and wickedly intelligent. He was often quiet and introspective, but I knew he was always observing his surroundings while deep in thought.
“If he touches a single hair on her head, I swear, I’ll rip his head right off his shoulders,” I growled.
“That would be unwise, Aidan,” Liam replied.
“I know, but it would feel good after seeing him raise his hand to her like that,” I scowled.
“I know. In time,” he murmured, but I could tell that he was furious at what he’d just seen too. Liam may be tough on the outside, but I knew he was sweet, especially when it came to the women in our family.
He was a good man.
“According to her usual schedule, she’ll head to the gym around ten o’clock tonight. Since it’s a Saturday, most of the Kozlovs are out at their favorite local dive joint, the Kremlin Pub in Allston, leaving a skeleton crew for us to deal with as we make our way through,” he continued.
I went over the hotel blueprints for the thousandth time, memorizing the layout and preparing as much as possible just so that I could focus on something other than the image of Anton slapping Irina across the face.
This was a dangerous game, and right now, I just had to keep my mind on getting her away from him.
The hours ticked by, and I gazed out the window at the panoramic view of Boston. The setting sun cast a warm, golden glow over the city, turning the towering buildings into majestic silhouettes against the darkening sky. The fading light painted everything with a surreal beauty.
The Charles River flowed serenely through the heart of the city, reflecting the vibrant colors of the skyline like a shimmering canvas. The water glimmered under the fading light, and I could see sailboats gently gliding along the water.
Amidst the urban jungle, historic churches and buildings added a touch of old-world charm to the modern skyline. Their elegant spires and classic architecture stood as a testament to the city’s rich heritage, juxtaposed against the sleek lines of contemporary skyscrapers. It was a mesmerizing blend of past and present, a city with a timeless soul and a progressive spirit.
The Prudential Tower and the John Hancock Building basked in the last remaining rays of sunlight. Their glass surfaces seemed to catch fire, radiating warmth and brilliance that illuminated the city below. The streets started to come alive with a myriad of lights, each flickering like tiny stars and guiding people on their evening journeys on the streets below.
It was a place that the Murphys had called home for years now.
“It’s time, Aidan,” Liam said softly.
“Let’s go,” I commanded.
Anton didn’t come back to my room that night and there wasn’t a single part of me that was upset about it. Needing to get my mind off the throbbing ache in the right side of my jaw, I dressed in my workout clothes, a short light pink crop top with a built-in bra, and a pair of a dark magenta leggings. The material was thin and breathable and worked well whether I felt like sweating on the treadmill or doing a more relaxing yoga routine. Plus, it made me feel sexy.
“Going to work out!” I called out.
The soldiers that usually stood guard at my door had left about an hour ago, only to be replaced with a second group that didn’t seem to care what I did. I was used to being accompanied everywhere I went. They said it was for my protection, but after having met Anton, I knew it was just to watch over me to make sure I didn’t act out or try to escape.
This crew seemed much more relaxed in their duties. I’d heard several of my usual group whispering in Russian about their plans for the evening, something about celebrating at the Kremlin. I didn’t know enough about Boston to know what they were talking about, but I was quickly considering this a blessing in disguise. At the very least, I could have a night to myself. At the most, I could use this as an opportunity to escape.
A single guard followed me out of the door to the stairwell and I had to cover my mouth to hide my smirk of excitement as this new development.
They were underestimating me.
I had to stop myself from skipping across the hall to the stairwell with my elation. I opened the door and slipped inside in silence. I stopped and looked back over my shoulder, waiting for him to follow. Once he opened the door, I turned back to the stairs and skipped up the first flight before I lifted my head, looking straight into the eyes of the most beautiful stranger I’d ever seen, and stopped short.
He was leaning against the wall, and as I took him in, time seemed to slow for an eternal moment.
He was nothing short of captivating, a rugged Irish man with a dangerous aura that both intrigued and intimidated me. His piercing green eyes locked onto mine, holding me captive with their intensity. Dark brown hair, cropped short and slightly tousled, framed a face that was both strikingly broody and mysteriously cryptic. The short-trimmed brown beard added a touch of roughness to his appearance, highlighting his strong jawline that seemed curiously tense. Tattoos adorned his forearms, peeking out from beneath the sleeves of his shirt, and I found myself wishing to see more of them.
Despite my better judgment, I felt drawn to him. There was something magnetic about him, an air of danger that made my heart race and my palms sweat.
As I stared at him, I couldn’t help but notice the way his eyes scanned me from head to toe, taking in every detail. It was as if he was studying me, sizing me up in a way that sent a shiver down my spine. I swallowed hard, suddenly feeling self-conscious under his scrutiny, yet unable to tear my gaze away from his captivating presence.
My nipples pebbled and I suddenly worried that he would be able to see them through the thin material of my crop top.
He pushed himself off the wall, standing tall and imposing before me. The air seemed to crackle with tension, and I found myself at a loss for words, unable to articulate the mix of emotions swirling inside me. His presence dominated the space, filling it with an intoxicating energy that made my heart race even faster.
This was a man who lived on the edge, a man with a past shrouded in mystery and darkness. I knew I should be wary, but there was an inexplicable pull that drew me closer to him. As he extended his hand, a hint of a smirk played at the corners of his lips, and I felt a strange mixture of fear and desire wash over me.
“My name is Aidan. I’m here to kidnap you,” he grinned dangerously, his eyes a mixture of tumultuous danger and broody mystery.
As I glanced at Aidan’s extended hand, I couldn’t help but be struck by its sheer size and rugged appearance. It was like a rough canvas, weathered by years of hard work and a life I knew nothing about. The calloused texture told a story of labor, of battles fought, and challenges overcome. Yet, there was a sense of safety in those hands, as if they could shield and protect, but also a promise of tenderness hidden beneath the hardened exterior.
“I won’t be taken anywhere,” I spat.
I didn’t know who this man was or what he was capable of. As much as I hated Anton, I at least knew that he wasn’t going to have me killed. He needed me alive for the alliance between our families to continue.
“I won’t allow you to stay here, not with him,” he ordered.
“I won’t have rules dictated to me like I’m a child,” I countered, and his green eyes grew stormy for a moment, like he wanted to say something, but was holding back.
From the floor above us, a group of men filed down the stairs. One of them flew past me and yanked the Russian soldier guarding me through the door. With a hard twist, the man grabbed the guard’s head and broke his neck. The soldier slumped to the floor in silence.
A startled cry flew free from my lips, and I clapped a hand over my mouth. I’d never seen a man die before. A much as I’d helped my father make strategic decisions over the years to put our family in a better position, it usually wasn’t around other men. My father also ensured that I was kept out of harm’s way. I hadn’t fought it. The Bratva was a dangerous world of blood, guns, and violence, and he’d kept me as far away from all of it as he could.
Aidan’s face softened a bit at my response, and he smiled before his expression hardened with a gentle firmness.
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way, Irina. It’s your choice. Either way, you’re going to be taken,” he rumbled.
I didn’t understand it, but Aidan’s growling voice had a way of igniting a primal desire within me, sending shivers down my spine with every rumbling word that escaped his lips. It was a voice that commanded attention, deep and resonant, like the low roar of thunder before a storm. When he spoke, it was as if the very air around us crackled with electricity, drawing me closer to him without conscious thought. I didn’t realize I’d taken a step towards him until I’d already done it.
“Fuck. You,” I snarled, frustrated by the warmth in my body at his firm tone.
“The hard way, then,” he sighed.
This time, his voice carried with it a slight weariness, like he was simply dealing with a naughty girl who refused to listen to her elders. For some reason, that same warmth in my body burned a little bit hotter, and I did my absolute best to ignore it.
He took a step towards me, and I took one back, looking quickly over my shoulder at the man waiting by the doorway. He didn’t move, instead gazing back at Aidan for direction, the expression on his face carrying with it rapt deference. He was waiting for Aidan to issue a command. Whoever Aidan was, he commanded power and respect like someone who’s name meant something.
He didn’t rule out of fear like Anton. It was clear he’d earned his soldier’s respect.
For a second, I contemplated just going with him. I wanted to escape this terrible marriage anyway, but I knew that by doing so, it would not only put my father at risk, but the rest of our bratva family too, including myself.
I’d seen the look in Anton’s eyes when I defied him. While I was certain he wouldn’t kill me, I wasn’t sure how much he’d hurt me to punish me for running away from our arranged marriage. Aidan seemed different, but so had Anton when he’d first walked through the door. What if it was simply a mask meant to gain my trust, one he would pull down after we reached the safety of wherever he planned to take me, and then he’d hurt me the same as Anton had?
I wouldn’t risk it. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
With a fierce determination, I launched towards him, swinging my arm in a hard punch meant to catch him in the side of the head. But Aidan effortlessly deflected the blow, his movement fluid and precise. I fought on, using the strength in my legs to leap out of the way when he reached for me, but it was as if he could anticipate my every move, making me feel like a novice. Still, I pressed on, refusing to back down.
As we sparred, I felt a strange mix of frustration and admiration. The way Aidan handled my attack with ease was both maddening and impressive. He had the strength to overpower me in an instant, yet he held back, showing restraint and control that spoke to his character as a man.
He didn’t want to hurt me.
But I couldn’t let myself be swayed by these thoughts. I had a point to prove, and I continued my assault, pushing myself to the limits. With a sudden burst of energy, I aimed a swift kick at his side, but he quickly caught my leg, spinning me around and pinning me against the cold stone wall without even a hard breath.
This was easy for him.
I gasped, the small of my back pressing against the icy stone as I lifted my eyes to meet his.
For a moment, we were locked in a heated gaze, and I saw something flicker in his eyes, a mix of concern and something else I couldn’t quite decipher. His grip was firm but not forceful, holding me in place without causing any pain.
I was strong. I wasn’t going to give up yet.
I could feel the tension escalating once more as I refused to back down, glaring back at him with an extreme sense of indignation. Aidan’s guarded expression showed a mix of surprise and determination, and I seized the opportunity to catch him off guard. With a sudden surge of energy, I lunged forward, sinking my teeth into his forearm.
A low growl escaped his lips, but he didn’t release me. Instead, he tightened his grip on my shoulders and swiftly lifted me off my feet. Before I could react, he effortlessly hoisted me over his shoulder, immobilizing me in an instant.
“Enough, Irina,” he said firmly, his voice commanding yet still tinged with concern.
It annoyed me to no end.
I struggled, kicking my legs in protest, but it was futile against his strength. As much as I fought against him, there was no going anywhere. He was too strong.
“Let me go!” I shrieked. I pummeled my fists into his back, but it was like trying to push through a brick wall. I didn’t move an inch.
“You fight really hard for a girl with nipples as hard as yours,” he murmured quietly, his voice soft enough for only me to hear now. It caught me off guard, and for an instant, I stilled completely.
My cheeks grew warm, and I felt a subtle heat spreading across my face. I tried to hide my embarrassment, but the more I attempted to control it, the more evident it became. In that moment, I was vulnerable and exposed, but also much warmer than I’d ever felt in my life.
The scent of his cologne enveloped me like a tantalizing mystery, leaving me spellbound by its enthralling notes. It was a heady blend of woody undertones, infused with a hint of smokiness that carried with it a touch of danger. Each inhale revealed subtle hints of spicy warmth, teasing my senses with an intoxicating aroma that seemed to match the perplexing aura of the man wearing it. The fragrance wrapped around me like a comforting cloak, yet it also stirred a restlessness within me.
A restlessness I could only identify as desire.
As Aidan’s strong arms held me securely over his shoulder, an unexpected sense of safety washed over me. It was an odd juxtaposition, being in such a vulnerable position yet feeling strangely protected. I couldn’t help but notice how his touch sent a jolt of electricity through my body, leaving me acutely aware of his proximity. I tried to push aside the growing desire that stirred within me, but in that moment, with my heart beating against his back and the scent of his cologne closing in on me, it was difficult to deny that deep down, a part of me was enjoying this.
Part of me wanted to resist, to pull away and keep my distance from this dangerous, powerful man, but another part of me yearned to find out more, craving the perilous thrill of being near him and the intoxicating pull of the unknown.
I couldn’t help but feel incredibly small and vulnerable in comparison to his towering presence. From this vantage point, the world seemed to shift, and I was acutely aware of the sheer difference in our sizes. His broad shoulders and strong arms held me firmly, making me feel tiny and delicate in his grasp.
I swallowed, trying to contend with the confusing emotions swirling through me. My body remained still, as if I had forgotten how to fight with nothing more than a few words from his mouth. I took a shaky breath, pushing back my shame and reminding myself that I was a force to be reckoned with. I wouldn’t let him win, not now, not ever.
His hand settled on the back of my thigh, dangerously close to the lower curves of my ass. I closed my eyes, imagining myself so horrendously exposed over his shoulder like this.
My leggings would leave almost nothing to the imagination. They were skintight so that they didn’t slide down when I perspired during my workout. Plus, I liked them that way. Thankfully, right now at least, they were staying in place just like they were supposed to.
“Fuck off, you Neanderthal. Put me down!” I exclaimed.
I renewed the fight even though my muscles were already tired. I kicked and scratched at him, but it didn’t seem to faze him. Instead, he just held me securely over his shoulder as though it was the easiest thing he’d ever done in his life. I’d thrown everything in me into trying to fight him off, but he was more than double my size and I quickly realized I was losing the battle. Finally, I stilled and threw my last defense at him.
“I’ll scream!” I scowled, hitting his back as hard as I dared.
I couldn’t help but notice the firmness of his muscular back beneath the fabric of his shirt. Every movement he made sent subtle ripples of strength and power coursing through his broad frame, and I felt every contour beneath my hands as I clung to him. His muscles tensed and flexed with each step, and I was keenly aware of the strength that lay just beneath the surface. The sensation was electrifying, and I found myself almost transfixed by the physicality of the man holding me, as if the heat of his body was seeping into my own.
The man standing by the doorway below spoke and I turned my head to look at him, pausing my struggle for just a moment to study his expression. He looked concerned, glancing down at his phone screen and then back to Aidan.
“What is it, Liam?”
“We’re going to have company in a few minutes.”
“I didn’t want to have to use that,” he murmured.
Use what? What the fuck was he talking about?
“Take her down and get her in the car. Get her to the safe house and we’ll follow you there,” Liam suggested. His voice didn’t carry the same command that Aidan’s did, but it was comforting all the same.
Aidan carried me down the stairwell towards Liam, and I watched as Liam reached in his pocket, pulling out a white cloth and a small bottle. Once he uncorked it and wet the cloth, I started to struggle anew, but Aidan had no difficulty keeping me pinned in place.
“I’m sorry, Irina. We wouldn’t do this unless we had to,” Liam murmured, his soft gaze catching mine. For a moment, I saw real regret hidden within those dark depths. Aidan shifted so that I was facing Liam more directly, and just as I opened my mouth to scream, he forced the white cloth over my mouth.
A very sweet aroma overtook my senses, and the edges of my vision started to go dark. Bright white spots swirled around me, and I tried to hold my breath. I struggled over Aidan’s shoulder, but soon enough, I had to breathe, and then my whole world went dark.
I woke up in Aidan’s lap.
As I slowly stirred from slumber, I found myself wrapped securely in his strong arms. The warmth and sense of protection enveloping me felt strangely comforting, like a shield against the dangers of the world. It was as if, for a fleeting moment, the chaos around us as we drove down the road had faded away, leaving only the two of us in a cocoon of quiet intimacy.
For a moment, I allowed myself to enjoy that solace, knowing it could only be temporary, and that when the first opportunity presented itself, I needed to escape. I would make it back to the safety of my father. Between the two of us, we’d figure out how to deal with the fallout.
My head still ached slightly, and I felt a bit dizzy, so I kept my eyes closed for a few minutes until it all subsided. When I was finally ready, I opened my eyes and gazed up at his face, still trying to decide if I was furious or relieved to have been taken in the first place.
I decided to be true to myself and be angry.
I scurried out of his lap and moved into the seat next to him, refusing to meet his eyes for fear that I would lose my nerve. I had no idea what it was about this man, but he unsettled me in a way I’d never experienced before. My body pulsed with reluctant desire, and I did everything in my power to ignore it.
Feeling my nipples pebble in my thin crop top, I crossed my arms over my chest, needing to hide the evidence of my arousal in case he could see them in the light of the passing streetlamps. I noticed that the car was moving along the streets of the quieter neighborhoods. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been in Boston long enough to recognize the area in order to have even the slightest clue of where he was taking me.
“What did you say your last name was?” I demanded, squeezing my arms tighter over my chest as my nipples throbbed repeatedly. My desire was only getting worse as he leveled me with a firm glare, although I could have sworn there was a hint of amusement hidden deep in his gaze.
“I didn’t mention it,” he rumbled as the left side of his mouth lifted in a smirk.
I fumed beside him in the seat. I almost huffed in annoyance, but I stopped myself right before I made a sound. For several long minutes, the two of us sat in silence, the tension between us mounting by the second.
“You’re awfully feisty, aren’t you?” he murmured softly.
His voice circled around me like a warm embrace, and I had to keep myself from gasping at the way the sound set my soul on fire.
“Do you know who I am?” I asked him pointedly, unable to stop myself from lifting my chin like a petulant child.
“I do know who you are, Irina Morozov.”
“Then you know that my father will have your head for this.”
“Your father is the one that sent me here to take you,” he replied quietly, cocking his head slightly. He studied me closely, his eyes sparkling as recognition bloomed over my face. I gritted my teeth and squeezed my arms harder, feeling far out of my element.
“I don’t believe you,” I countered, but there was a very slight part of me that considered that maybe he was telling the truth. Did my father know about Anton after all?
“Why would I lie to you?”
“To keep me from fighting whatever this is, to keep me quiet.”
I spat the last word out, unable to hide the vitriol I had for the way that Anton had demanded that of me only hours ago. Did he know I’d been taken? Did he care? Was he just drowning himself in a bottle of vodka for the night?
“I would never dream of keeping a girl like you quiet,” he answered, his voice wrought with heat.
I swallowed hard, turning my head so that I could look out the window instead of the molten volcano of his gaze. “Where are you taking me?”
“To a safe house that’s been specially prepared for you and me,” he answered. “A protective detail is already there waiting for us to ensure that you’re kept safe.”
“Who are you?” I pressed again.
“I already told you my name. That’s all you’re going to get for now.”
Aidan’s refusal to share his last name with me gnawed at my patience like an incessant itch. When I had asked, he deflected the question, leaving me more frustrated than before. I sensed that there was more to him than met the eye, but his reluctance to be transparent about his last name only fueled my irritation.
“You’re an asshole,” I exclaimed, unable to keep myself from scowling as I met his gaze.
“But those needy little nipples are still rock hard, aren’t they?”
As Aidan’s sharp gaze fell upon me, I felt a sudden shift in the atmosphere, and my heart skipped a beat. His eyes darkened with an unmistakable desire that sent a thrill of anticipation coursing through my veins. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from him, mesmerized by the intensity of his stare. It was as if a fire had been ignited in his soul. The world around us seemed to fade into the background, leaving only the two of us locked in a charged moment of tension.
I both hated and loved every second of it.
“Fuck you,” I spat, finally getting a hold of myself long enough to speak. I crossed my legs and leaned as far away from him as I could, not knowing what to do about this electrical pull between us. My core throbbed, and I bit my lip, hazarding a glance back at him. Did he know what kind of effect he was having on me?
His answering smile told me that he did.
He didn’t say anything else before the car pulled into a back alley and idled as the driver waited for the garage door in front of us to rise before he parked inside. The gentle rumble of the engine quieted as he turned the car off.
Aidan opened his door, turned around, and offered me his hand. Like the perfect gentleman who hadn’t just kidnapped me, thrown me over his shoulder, and carried me off, he waited for me to take it.
I climbed out of the car on my own. His face twisted in a mask of barely concealed amusement, and I scowled in his direction. I glanced out the garage door, but it was too late to make a run for it because it was already closing behind us. Annoyed at myself for missing an opportunity, I scuffed my foot against the floor and put my hands on my hips.
For a moment, his gaze drifted down to my chest, almost as if he was making a point to stare at my breasts, and then his eyes rose to meet mine. I knew what he was seeing. Ever since I’d found myself in his presence, my body had been set on fire, and he was seeing the evidence of it right in front of his eyes. I gritted my teeth and lifted my chin, standing up as straight as I could as if I was completely unaffected by my shameful arousal, even though I was anything but.
Even worse, the look of appreciation on his face told me he was enjoying the sight of my body in my skintight workout outfit.
But then, something else occurred to me. I never wore underwear under my leggings.
Immediately, heat rose to my face at the realization. I felt a telltale warmth spread across my cheeks, betraying the blush that I could not hide. The color of these particular leggings grew darker when I perspired, which in the past had always made me feel like I’d put in hard work during a workout. Right now, though, I wished I’d picked a black pair instead.
I stepped from one foot to the other, shifting my thighs against one another to find out if what I was thinking was really true.
The fabric was wet. My arousal had dampened it, and there was no question in my mind that it had been fully visible when he’d thrown me over his shoulder. Had he seen how wet he’d made me? Had Liam? Had anyone else?
The flush across my cheeks grew hotter, but I had to stand my ground.
“What now?” I questioned, unable to hide the way my voice trembled with embarrassment from my recent discovery. As if he could read my thoughts, his gaze dropped to the cusp of my thighs and then up to my face.
He said nothing, but that was somehow worse than him saying anything at all. Did I want him to acknowledge it? Did I want him to ignore it?
I couldn’t reconcile my thoughts, but there was no time as he took several steps towards me until he stood beside me. When his hand gently rested on the small of my back, a flurry of conflicting emotions swirled within me. I tried to steady my breath and calm my heart, but the touch of his hand sent a jolt of electricity through me, betraying my attempt to hide any sign of my desire for him. If he heard my breath catching in my throat, he said nothing, and I was thankful for it.
“Where have you taken me?” I pressed.
“We’re safe in Southie. That’s all you need to know for now,” he answered.
I glanced at his sleek black Bentley Continental GT. My knowledge about cars was limited, but even I could tell that this was not an ordinary vehicle. It exuded an air of opulence and sophistication that spoke volumes about its owner, confirming my suspicion that he was more than just a man of muscle and brawn. It was evident that he belonged to a world of privilege and power, one I had only gotten a glimpse of so far.
Gently, he led me inside. His hand remained on the small of my back, neither too low to be scandalous, nor too high to consider him just a friend, but somewhere in the middle, where I didn’t know what he wanted.
I gulped down my nervousness as we walked into the kitchen, and I couldn’t help but be captivated by the extravagance that surrounded me. The sleek and modern design of the kitchen spoke of refined taste, and I felt a flutter of nerves. His touch never wavered as he led me forward.
Once we walked past the hallway, he guided me up an elegant hardwood staircase. The desire and tension between us seemed to intensify with every step, making my heart race and my palms grow sweaty. The air crackled with an unspoken attraction, and I was acutely aware of his presence close to me. We climbed several floors together and the longer his touch pressed against my bare skin, the more the tension between us continued to grow.
As we reached the top floor, he led me to an opulent guest room adorned in rich hues of green and gold. The room was a sanctuary of luxury, and I took a moment to marvel at the attention to detail in every corner. The plush bedding, the ornate furniture, and the soft glow of the crystal chandelier created an ambiance of indulgence that left me breathless. My nerves were on edge as I felt his proximity, the electricity between us nearly palpable now. It was as if the very room had conspired to heighten the tension, mirroring the desires I was struggling to suppress.
As Aidan turned to face me, I found myself ensnared in his intense gaze, the desire in his eyes unmistakable. Time seemed to stand still, and I could feel the weight of unspoken words hanging in the air. With every passing moment, the desire and tension built, leaving me on the precipice of surrendering to the magnetic pull between us.
“You will remain here tonight. There is an attached restroom over there and the closet is already prepared with clothing that should fit you. My sister Ada wanted to make sure you were comfortable.”
I didn’t reply, instead choosing to battle my emotions towards the enigmatic man that had suddenly become my entire world.
“I’m going to put you to bed, and in the morning, the two of us will talk about why your father wanted you to be taken,” he said softly.
Why did my pussy clench when he said those words? There was nothing heated in his offer, but something about it felt romantic and sweet all the same.
“Well, goodnight then,” I replied curtly, trying my best to appear strong even in the face of this unwelcome desire coursing through my body.
“Go get changed into your pajamas, little girl,” he growled.
Little girl? What the fuck?
A surge of annoyance washed over me. I didn’t need him treating me as if I were a child. I couldn’t help but feel that it was a jab at my independence and resilience, and it grated on my nerves. The air crackled with increasingly strained tension, the push and pull of my attraction towards him and growing irritation creating a heady concoction that left me both exasperated and intrigued.
I wanted to hate it, but I wasn’t sure I did because a very deep, very secret part of me liked it.
“You should leave,” I scowled.
Something crossed his face, but it was unreadable. His jawline tensed, revealing a bit of a stern expression, but then it passed almost as quickly as I had seen it.
“If you get bored, princess, you can always touch yourself tonight while thinking about the big strong man that carried you off today,” he growled darkly.
My pussy had the literal audacity to clench at that exact moment.
I wasn’t enjoying this. I couldn’t be. It wasn’t possible.
My clit pulsed like it was shouting out to the world that I most certainly was.
“Go fuck yourself,” I snarled.
He chuckled softly, my harsh words meaning nothing to him.
Without another word, he stood up and nodded once before he left the room and shut the door behind him. As I heard the distinct click of the door locking behind me, my heart skipped a beat, and a mix of uncertainty and surprise swept through me.
The sound of his footsteps echoing on the hardwood floor sent a shiver down my spine.
I rushed to the door and grabbed the doorknob, finding it locked just like I had known it would be. Somehow, though, touching it like this made it real.
He’d really locked me inside.
I rushed to the windows and tried each one, finding those locked too. The twinkling lights of the city seemed to tease me from the outside, and I snarled with my frustration.
I’d gone from one prison to another.
I had yet to decide which one was worse.