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of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Also by Fiona Davenport
About the Author

Christian DeLuca was born into a powerful mafia family, but he’s
chosen a different path for his own life. Returning home for his
niece’s christening, the last thing he expects is to fall for a
beautiful artist with ties to his family.

Mia Ricci is instantly attracted to the sexy professor, but a

relationship between them is impossible. If he knew about the
work she’s been doing for his cousin, he’d condemn her.

But Mia doesn’t realize that she’s quickly become Christian’s

obsession...and he’s not willing to give her up for anything.

C hristian

From the outside looking in, the crowd might have appeared to
simply be a mixture of New York Italians and Irish coming
together for the celebration of a christening. What the majority
of people wouldn’t notice is that most of the guys were packing
and there was an abundance of security stationed throughout the
room and around the church.
Why? Because the heads of the Italian mafia and the Irish
mob were in one place at the same time. As well as the majority
of their leadership and crews.
How did I know this? Because the Italians were my family,
ruled by my cousin, Nic DeLuca. And my younger brother,
Brandon, happened to be married to Carly, the princess of the
Irish mob, as well as being her second.
Before Brandon met Carly, he was Nic’s second. The world of
the mafia was a life we were pretty much born into. But, it was
never one I was interested in. In fact, I went to college at Oxford
in London to distance myself. I went on to gain my PhD and then
become an English professor there as well.
Things were even more tense when Nic’s father died, and he
was forced to step in and lead. The DeLuca’s were in a nasty war
with the O’Reilly’s. I’d been home visiting when Brandon had
taken out Carly’s father and helped her to take over. Now there
was an alliance between the two, though there were still times of
tension. All the more reason for me to stay on the sidelines, the
far sidelines.
Then my brother married Carly and they had a little girl,
Reagan. She was the most adorable baby, and it came as a
complete shock when they asked me to be her Godfather. It also
served as a wake-up call. If I continued to stay away, I would
miss too much in the lives of my family. Running away wasn’t
the solution, so I was back to stay. I’d secured a position with
NYU and would start teaching in the Fall.
I hadn’t shared this information with anyone yet. Soon,
though. When I was ready. After I figured out how to be a part of
the family without being a part of The Family.
My attention was drawn away from my thoughts as Brandon
came up to me and threw an arm around my shoulder.
“Thanks for coming, brother.”
“Wouldn’t have missed it,” I told him with a grin. “Never
thought I’d see the day when you’d grow up and settle down.”
Brandon’s brown eyes narrowed before a smirk formed on his
lips. “Yeah, I guess Ma will just have to focus her matchmaking
skills on her oldest son now.”
I rolled my eyes and opened my mouth to make a sarcastic
comment, but I was suddenly struck speechless.
The first things I noticed were black stilettos and long, long
legs. They were beautifully showcased in a short, black leather
skirt. Irritation flared at the lack of length, but I let it go as my
eyes traveled up to curvy hips, a small waist, and the most
gorgeous tits I’d ever seen. The lacy, white, long-sleeved top she
was wearing showed just enough skin to make my mouth water.
Her neck was slender and elegant, her face oval shaped, with
thick, plush lips, and hazel eyes that narrowed along the outer
edge, giving her an almost cat-like look. When she turned to
scoot into a bench seat, I could see her light-brown hair hung in
soft curls all the way to her perfect ass.
“Who the hell is that?” I breathed.
Brandon’s head twisted until he was glancing in the same
direction as me. “Who?”
“The woman that just sat in the second pew.”
“You must mean Mia,” Brandon clarified. “Mia Ricci. She’s
Enzo’s sister-in-law.”
Enzo was an older cousin of ours who worked for Nic. We’d all
grown up together. He’d gotten married shortly after Brandon
and Carly. But it had been the start of the fall semester and my
class schedule meant I hadn’t been able to make it back for his
wedding and I had the sudden urge to kick my own ass for it.
I wanted to ask more questions about her, but Brandon
clapped me on the shoulder and said, “We’re about to get
started,” before walking towards the front of the church.
I followed behind him, my gaze continually drawn to Mia. As I
took my place by Brandon, I finally caught her gaze. Her eyes
widened slightly and swept over me from head to toe. I couldn’t
help smirking at the heat in her look. When she noticed my
expression, she raised a single eyebrow and cocked her head to
the side, causing her curls to tumble down her front to rest on
her breast.
It was a struggle to keep my eyes up so it was a good thing the
ceremony started at that moment. Still, I couldn’t help covert
glances in her direction from time to time.
When everything was done, I hugged my brother and his wife,
cuddling my sweet niece close to my chest. A unexpected pang
hit my chest, followed by longing. I’d always expected to settle
down and have a family someday. It hadn’t really been on my
radar lately, though. It still seemed like something that was far
down the road. But, for whatever reason, I was bombarded with
the desire for those things as I reluctantly returned Reagan to
her mother’s arms.
Once again, my gaze was drawn to Mia. It didn’t take long for
me to recognize that she was the one who’d brought those
feelings to the surface. I didn’t know her, but I had a feeling that
as soon as I did, it would confirm my suspicions.
Mia was going to be mine.

M ia

“For someone who was complaining about the need to attend a

christening this morning, you sure do seem interested now. I
don’t think you’ve so much as blinked since the ceremony
If it hadn’t have been for the sharp elbow my sister dug into
my side, I didn’t think I would have heard a word she’d said. My
attention was wholly focused on the man who was handing
Reagan back to Carly. Right where it’d been ever since I’d caught
him staring at me when he joined them and Brandon at the front
of the church. I never thought I’d find glasses so damn sexy, but
they absolutely worked for me when it came to him. When his
head swiveled back in my direction, I tore my gaze away from
him and finally noticed the family resemblance to Brandon.
Same height—tall as fuck. Same dark hair. Closely trimmed
beard. Dark brown eyes. It was obvious they were related, but as
attractive as Brandon was, the man next to him was ten times
hotter. Damn those glasses that made him look like a sexy
It took every ounce of my willpower to stop myself from
checking to see if he was still staring at me as I turned towards
my sister. “I wasn’t complaining. Not really. I just hadn’t
realized it was already time to go.”
“Of course you didn’t. You never notice time passing when
you’re holed up in your studio. Most of the time, you don’t even
remember to eat unless I shove a plate of food under your nose.
Why would today be any different from every other day?” Camila
I grinned, used to hearing that exasperated tone from her.
“You know me too well.”
“You bet I do.” She jerked her chin towards the front of the
church and waggled her eyebrows. “Which is how I know you’ve
been staring all starry-eyed at Christian DeLuca.”
“That’s Brandon’s brother, Christian? The one who ran off to
England and hardly ever comes back?” It certainly explained why
they looked so much alike, but I never would have guessed it. Not
even if I’d pictured him as the professor that he was, albeit a
sexy one.
“Damn, sis. Did he rob you of all your brain cells with a
single look?”
“What? No!” I glared at her. “Why would you ask me that?”
“Because you somehow managed to miss the part where the
priest said his name.” She lifted her index finger. “You didn’t
remember that his name was listed on the invitation.” Her
middle finger went up, too. “Or any of the times I talked about
how excited Enzo was that Christian was coming back to town
for the christening.” Her ring finger joined the other two.
I rolled my eyes and huffed out a breath. It was irritating how
she liked to rub it in my face when she was right. Not that I was
going to admit she was. I never did. And I sure as hell wasn’t
going to start when it came to my reaction to Christian DeLuca.
If I did, Camila would find every opportunity to toss me at him,
even though he lived an ocean away. That’s how badly she
wanted to see me married off to someone. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.
That doesn’t mean the hot professor made me dumb. It just
means I’m my usual distracted self.”
She stood, yanking me up with her. “So what you’re saying is
that you think he’s hot.”
“Who’s hot?” Enzo rumbled from the other side of the pew.
He flung his arm over my sister’s shoulder and glared around the
church. When Camila first starting dating her husband, I was a
little worried about how possessive he was over her. But then I
saw the way his eyes melted and his face softened whenever he
looked at her. How he always opened doors for her. How he
never let her walk on the outside of the sidewalk or sit near the
door at a restaurant; always positioning himself between her and
any perceived danger.
The moment I realized Enzo would do anything for my sister,
any objections I might have had to their relationship
disappeared. He loved her the way every woman wanted to be
loved. So much so that I barely blinked when Camila told me he
was in the mafia. I’d heard the rumors and seen enough signs
that I wondered about his business interests, but I’d never asked
since I figured it wasn’t something I’d get an honest answer to.
Most of my shock when she told me was because I knew it was
something outsiders shouldn’t know. But then she showed me
the ring on her finger and explained that Enzo had gotten special
permission for me to be brought into the fold since Camila had
raised me ever since our parents died in an accident when I was
My sister snuggled into her husband’s side. “Christian.”
His arm tightened around her as he shot a dirty look at the
man in question.
“Not me, silly man. Mia thinks he’s hot.”
Enzo’s whole body relaxed, and he flashed me a grin. “She
does, huh?”
“No,” I tried denying it, not liking the speculative gleam in
his eyes.
“She called him ‘the hot professor’ and has been drooling
over him the whole time we’ve been sitting here.”
They didn’t look like they were going to let it drop, so I
swiveled on my heel and headed out of the church. Even with
Enzo and Camila following right behind me, I couldn’t stop
myself from glancing over my shoulder to get one last look at
Christian DeLuca. I regretted it right away, though, since Enzo
winked at me as my sister giggled.
“I knew it. You guys are going to be impossible about this,” I
“By impossible, do you mean that I’m going to pull my cousin
aside and tell him that only a dumbass would hop on a plane and
miss out on a chance to date you?”
“Yeah,” I sighed, feeling my cheeks heat with
embarrassment. I glanced around to make sure nobody was
listening in on our conversation as we walked down the church
steps and made our way to Enzo’s car. “Something like that.”
“Don’t worry, sweetie. From what I’ve heard about Christian,
he’s definitely not dumb.”
“Hell no, he isn’t,” Enzo agreed, opening the passenger side
door for my sister and then the back one for me. “And our Mia
just might be the wake-up call Professor Smart-ass needs to
realize that it’s about damn time for him to come home where he
I buried my head in my hands, groaning. Under different
circumstances, I’d probably leap at the chance to meet Christian.
I’d never reacted to a guy the way I had when I saw him, and I
was curious about the feelings he awoke inside me. I didn’t have
a lot of experience with men. The loss of my parents had shifted
my focus away from boys during my teen years, and then I’d had
school to keep me occupied. After Camila married Enzo, when I
was twenty-three, my life became extremely sheltered. There
weren’t a lot of guys who were daring enough to try to date
Enzo’s little sister-in-law...but it sounded like that wouldn’t be
an issue with Christian. Basically, it was the opposite.
Uncertain of what to think of this turn of events, I tuned their
conversation out during the drive. Instead, I thought about the
project I had waiting for me in my studio at home, making a
mental list of the final steps needed to finish it and how long
they would take. When the car started to slow down, I glanced
out the window and groaned again.
“Why are we at Nic’s house? I thought we were going home.”
“You’ve been part of the DeLuca family for over a year, Mia.
You didn’t really think we’d let the christening pass without
throwing a party to celebrate, did you?” Enzo chuckled as he
“No, I guess I didn’t,” I sighed.
“Christian will be there, too,” Camila pointed out happily
before Enzo helped her out of the car.
“You don’t know that for sure,” I muttered when I got out and
stood next to her.
“Of course he will. He’s Reagan’s godfather.”
Enzo nodded in agreement and jerked his head towards a
limousine pulling up behind us.
“He might have headed for the airport already.” I felt a pang
in my heart as I spoke, but then it raced when I caught a glimpse
of the man climbing out of the back of the limo. I couldn’t argue
my point any longer because the sexy professor had arrived.

C hristian

Carefully cradling Reagan to my chest, I climbed out of the

limousine in front of Nic and Anna’s brownstone. Brandon
followed and then helped Carly alight from the car. He reached
towards me, but I threw him a dirty look and cuddled my
goddaughter closer to me. She reached up a tiny hand to grab my
nose, knocking my glasses askew.
“Clearly, she likes her Godfather better than you, I’d hate to
upset her,” I quipped, smirking at Brandon’s glare and adjusting
my glasses on my face.
“Give me my daughter, jackass,” he growled.
I made a tsking sound, shaking my head in disappointment.
“Such language around innocent ears.”
Brandon practically snatched Reagan from my arms and
stalked away muttering to her about liking daddy best. I threw
back my head and laughed. Carly just chuckled and followed her
husband up the front steps and into the house.
Damn, it was good to be home.
“Christian!” I turned at the sound of my youngest brother’s
voice. Adam bounded his way over to me and threw an arm
around my shoulder. Somehow, in the year I’d been gone, Adam
had turned into a man. His gangly frame had become sturdy and
muscular, and he was almost as tall as me. He looked far older
than his eighteen years and it was a little disconcerting.
“Since you missed the twins’ birthday last month, we’ve
decided to celebrate again and take you out on the town. I’ve no
doubt you need to get laid, fratello. We’ll start at Flash
Dancers and—”
“Are you kidding me?” I interrupted. “The twins may be
twenty-one now, but Ma would kick my ass if I took my other,
underage, brother to a strip club.”
Adam rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to retort, but I cut
him off. “Talk to me about strip clubs again in three years, tipo.”
Just then, I glanced up and almost groaned when I saw Mia
standing only a couple of feet away, watching me speculatively.
“Or never,” I blurted out.
One corner of her mouth quirked up in an almost
undetectable smirk before she turned away and headed into the
house. I looked back at Adam to see his gaze bouncing between
me and the door in which Mia had just disappeared.
A mischievous smile stole across his face before I cuffed him
on the back of the head. “Behave!” I spat the command before
strolling inside, through the house to the backyard where the
majority of people were congregated.
Mia was standing near a table piled high with a variety of rich
food, as only Italians could do. She was nibbling on a cookie, and
my eyes zeroed in on her plump lips. Her pink tongue darted out
to lick a crumb and without warning, my cock hardened
painfully. I couldn’t wait to have that sweet tongue all over me.
I was about to make my way over to her when a hand on my
shoulder halted my progress. “You couldn’t do any better,
cousin.” I smiled as I faced Enzo and we embraced in a back-
slapping “guy” hug.
“Good to see you, man,” I greeted with genuine affection,
then my eyes narrowed in puzzlement. “Do better?”
His head canted in Mia’s direction. “Mia. You couldn’t do
better than her. The only person I love more than her, is her
sister.” He grinned, and his eyes darted to the woman standing
next to Mia. They softened and heated as he watched Camila. For
the first time in my life, I recognized the emotions he was
Then he turned back to me, and his dark eyes became hard
and serious. “She doesn’t have anyone else, so it’s my job to look
out for her. I know what kind of man you are, and I look up to
you like an older brother. But, you should be aware before
pursuing her…” he trailed off, clearly thinking hard about his
next words. “You’ve spent a long time trying to extricate
yourself from certain aspects of our family. I get it. But, Mia…
she’s…part of the family and if you go after her, you’ll need to
accept that.”
It seemed like an odd warning. Mia was Enzo’s sister-in-law;
of course, she was a part of the family. We might live our lives
away from the family “business,” but I would never keep Mia
away from them. I was determined to find a way to be closer to
our family without being drawn into the darker side of their
world. “I get it,” I assured him.
“Do you?” His tone was skeptical as he studied me closely.
“I haven’t announced it yet, but I’m back to stay.”
He raised his brow but nodded with acceptance. “Just keep
what I said in mind. And know that if you hurt her, the East River
will be the first place they look for your dead body. But, they’ll
never find it.”
I wanted to laugh, but in all honesty, one never really knew
what lay behind threats from the men in my family. Enzo was an
enforcer for Nic, and I knew his ledger was covered in red.
So, I looked him in the eye and promised, “I’ll take care of
her. No one will ever hurt her, least of all me.”
Enzo nodded. “I hope that’s true.” Then he grinned and
clapped me on the shoulder once more. “I’d hate to disappoint
Aunt Maria by making her oldest son disappear.”
With that, he wandered over to his wife, leaning down and
whispering something in her ear that made her giggle. Warmth
spread through my chest as I shifted my gaze to Mia. I wanted
what Enzo and Camila had, and I wanted it with Mia.
Her eyes locked with mine, and I silently commanded her to
stay as I slowly prowled in her direction. As I drew close, she
grew even more beautiful. Her hazel eyes were filled with
intelligence, creativity, and humor. I was a little baffled by how
much I was drawn to her.
Finally standing in front of her, I held out my hand.
“Christian DeLuca,” I introduced myself. She put her soft hand
in mine, and a spark of electricity shocked us both. She tried to
pull her hand away, but I grasped it firmly, keeping her
connected to me.
Her eyes widened, and she glanced down at our hands before
returning to my face. “Mia Ricci.”
A smile grew on my face and I kept our hands connected as I
led her away from the crowd, seeking somewhere a little more
private. I felt her hesitation in a small tug on my hand, but when
I didn’t budge, she said nothing and let me guide her to a
secluded spot near the back of the fenced yard, somewhat
shielded by a large oak tree.
When we reached the spot, I released her hand so I could
gently clasp her hip and run a finger lightly down her cheek.
“There is something about you, Mia. From the moment I saw you
at the church, I knew you were my future.” She gasped and tried
to take a step back, but I tightened my grip and pulled her closer
instead. “I could see in your eyes that you felt it too.”
She shook her head, but it was a feeble denial because the
pink hue of her cheeks betrayed her. Her eyes dropped to the
ground, her long lashes sweeping the apples of her cheeks before
lifting once more. A sheepish smile crossed her face, though
there was sadness in it. “Maybe I did. But, you should know, I
won’t ever leave my family, Professor.”
Ah, her hesitation made more sense now. Bringing her body
flush with mine, I lowered my head until our lips were mere
centimeters apart. “It’s a good thing I moved back to New York
then, yeah?”
Her eyes widened again, but I didn’t wait for another reaction.
I closed the distance between us and sealed my mouth over hers.
She inhaled sharply with surprise and I took advantage of the
moment, slipping my tongue into her mouth. Fuck. She tasted
like honey and strawberries. It was instantly addictive, and I felt
an overwhelming urge to discover if her pussy tasted of the same
It only took a couple of heartbeats before she melted into me.
One of my hands drifted down to cup one of her tight little ass
cheeks, while the other plunged into her hair, holding her head
at the right angle for me to deepen the kiss. I moved forward,
slowly backing her up against the tree, trapping her with
my body.
Eventually, I drew back in an effort to draw in some much
needed oxygen. “You taste heavenly, darling,” I breathed.
“You moved back to New York?” she asked cautiously. I
smiled and nodded in confirmation. “Good.” She grabbed onto
my shirt and yanked me forward, slamming our mouths together
for another deep, soul-stealing kiss.
Reluctantly, I pulled away after several minutes. “Mia, love,
we have to stop or I’m going to take you right here under
this tree.”

M ia

Surprisingly, Christian’s suggestion was not unappealing—

except that we were on Nic’s property in the middle of a
celebration for a baby’s christening. Despite that—I still wanted
to drag him to the ground. It was so unlike me. I’d never reacted
to a guy like this. The attraction was new to me. New and
wonderful...and a little bit scary. I could easily get addicted to
the rush of adrenalin that punched through my system when
he’d kissed me.
“You’re a dangerous man, Christian DeLuca.”
“Not even close,” he denied softly, running a single fingertip
down my cheek and across my top lip. “I can’t deny that there
are dangerous men in my family, but I’m just a scholar.”
I tilted my head to the side. “Then why am I having a problem
believing that you’re ‘just’ anything?”
“You make an excellent point.” He tugged me into his arms,
his eyes darkening. “When it comes to you, I have a feeling I
could be every bit as dangerous as any of the DeLuca men.”
Knowing what I did about his family, I shivered. Oddly
enough, it wasn’t in fear. It was more like awe that this straight-
laced man with glasses perched on his nose, who seemed so
proper and refined, truly meant what he was saying. With a
trembling hand, I reached up and smoothed his tie down.
“There’s no need to turn into a caveman on my account,
Bending low, he captured my lips in a gentle kiss. It was the
slightest brush of his mouth against mine, but it sent butterflies
swirling in my stomach. “We are going to have to agree to
disagree on that point, love. I can’t think of a better reason to
turn into a caveman than you.”
“So damn chivalrous,” I sighed. “And too smooth for my
own good.”
His eyes crinkled at the edges as his deep chuckle filled the air
around us causing more butterflies to erupt. Then he stepped to
the side and held his elbow out to me. “I would hate to tarnish
my armor, and you’re too much of a temptation out here alone
like this. Walk with me while I try to remind myself why taking
you here and now isn’t the right thing to do?”
“You spent an awful long time in England.” I eyed him up and
down before looping my arm with his. “It somehow doesn’t
seem outside the realm of possibility to think that you were
knighted while you were over there.”
“No knighthood for me,” he laughed as he led me along the
fence line, matching his stride with mine. “My studies and
professorship didn’t garner me the attention of the monarch.”
It was easy to picture him mingling with the royal family. He
had an air about him that was the tiniest bit stuffy, and the way
he spoke was oh-so proper. But it didn’t make him any less
attractive—just different from what I was used to from the other
DeLuca men. “Their loss is my gain.”
“And mine.” He tugged me closer to his side, sliding my hand
around his waist before he wrapped his arm over my shoulders.
“I’d take you over a knighthood any day of the week.”
“Careful, Professor. If you don’t tone down the charm, I
might be the one tossing you onto the ground. Then all your
effort to keep that armor nice and shiny would be for naught,” I
warned with a saucy wink.
“For naught?”
“Hey!” I jabbed him in the side. “I might not have a PhD like
you, but I graduated magna cum laude with a double major. I can
use fancy words, too.”
“Of course you can, darling.” My spine stiffened, and I
searched his face for any hint of sarcasm. When I didn’t find
anything except a mixture of passion and curiosity, I relaxed into
his hold again. “Although, you have to admit that it isn’t often
that you hear ‘naught’ used in everyday conversation.”
“True,” I conceded. “But it seemed to fit perfectly with talk of
knights in shining armor.”
“That it did,” he agreed as we reached the end of the back
fence. If we followed it to the left, we’d only be able to go so far
before our path would be blocked by all the tables of food—and
the people surrounding them. It would mean the end of any
semblance of privacy for the two of us, and I wasn’t ready to give
that up. Christian must have had the same thought because he
turned us around so we could walk the way we’d just come from.
“Shall I hazard a guess as to what your double major was in
college or will you take pity on me and give me a hint?”
“Why bother with a hint when I can just tell you?” I laughed.
“I studied Studio Art and Art History.”
“I’ll have to keep that in mind when I pick something for us
to do on our first date.”
“Aren’t you supposed to ask a girl before you start making
plans?” I teased.
“Since I don’t plan on taking no for an answer, I think it’s
safe for me to figure out where I’d like to take you.”
I didn’t have an answer to that, not when I knew damn well I
wasn’t going to turn him down.
“I don’t think I would have guessed that you’re an artist,
though.” He switched the topic and let me off the hook,
stopping to scan me from head to toe. His heated gaze lingered
on my bare legs and my breasts before meeting my eyes again.
“Your outfit is sleek and sexy. Not Boho Chic like I’d expect from
an artist.”
My eyebrows arched at his use of the fashion term. It seemed
he was full of surprising knowledge.
He lifted my free hand up to inspect it. “And there’s no paint
under your nails.”
“Only because I resorted to stronger methods than my usual
mineral oil scrub. It’s amazing what a bit of turpentine can do in
a pinch.”
He inhaled deeply, dragging my scent into his lungs. I
watched his reaction, completely fascinated as his nostrils flared
and his cheeks filled with a dark red color. “I had no idea paint
thinner could smell so provocative.” Then he lifted my hand
closer and stroked his nose along my skin. “Too bad for perfume
companies, since it’s the unique combination of turpentine and
you that makes it intoxicating. They would never be able to
replicate it.”
I jerked my chin to the side. “If you keep tossing out
compliments like that, we’re going to need to hide behind our
tree again.”
“Our tree,” he echoed. “I like the sound of that.”
“Unfortunately, the location is going to be a bit of a problem.
I’m not sure that we can really call it ours since it’s in Nic’s yard,
and he tends to be fairly territorial about his property.”
“Except that you’re both family,” a soft, feminine voice
interrupted. We both turned to find Anna standing behind us. I’d
been so wrapped up in my conversation with Christian that I
hadn’t heard her approach. “He considers each and every
member of the family to be part of his domain, so there won’t be
any need for him to be territorial about a tree if it means you’re
I felt Christian stiffen next to me, and I was reminded again of
the stories I’d heard about the reasons why he’d chosen to move
so far and stayed away for all those years. Anna didn’t miss it
either, judging by the look she gave me. I felt the weight of her
stare. There was family, and then there was family. Some were
more subject to Nic’s authority than others, and blood wasn’t
always the deciding factor.
“When I find a house, maybe he’ll let me transplant this one
into the yard so it can truly be ours,” Christian suggested.
“A house? Are you moving home permanently then?” Anna
“Yes, it’s time,” Christian confirmed, tugging me into his
side. “And I met Mia, which only reinforced how right my
decision was.”
“Excellent.” Anna beamed at both of us. “Nic will be pleased
to hear the news. Maybe Mia can let him know?” She didn’t wait
for Christian’s response before locking her gaze with mine. “He
asked me to find you and let you know that he’d like to speak
with you in his office.”
“Then I guess I’d better go see what he needs,” I murmured.
Anna nodded as she turned to walk away, fully expecting me to
do what she’d asked.
“Don’t go,” Christian whispered.
“I have to.” I slowly slid my hand out of his hold.
“No, you don’t,” he insisted. “Stay with me, and I’ll explain it
to my cousin later.”
If only I could, but turning down a summons from Nic DeLuca
wasn’t an option. Not for me.

C hristian

Mia squeezed my arm gently and stepped away, but I grabbed her
hand. “I won’t be long,” she assured me with a sweet smile.
Then she let go and turned to follow Anna.
The flare of jealousy inside me was completely irrational. Not
because my feelings for Mia had been so instantly fierce, but
because Nic was a happily married man. Not to mention that he
wouldn’t have sent his wife to invite his mistress to a meeting.
And, despite my time away, I knew my cousin well and he
worshipped his wife. So, why did I have the sudden urge to wrap
my hands around his neck and threaten him to never speak to
Mia again?
I watched her hips sway until she disappeared into the crowd,
only to reappear at the back door and follow Nic inside.
I straightened my glasses and took a few deep, calming
breaths. Then I smoothed down my tie, but stopped suddenly.
The action reminded me of the burning trail Mia’s hand had left
on my chest when she’d done the same thing.
Dragging my eyes from the house, I directed them to the table
of food, telling myself to get something to eat and wait for her.
My feet didn’t listen though, and I found myself making a slow
path to the door where I’d last seen her.
What could Nic possibly need to see her about? Was he
warning her away from me? I couldn’t think of a reason why he
would do so. Our fathers had been brothers, and they’d both
raised their sons to give their whole self to the woman they fell
for. To give her anything to make her happy, to protect her above
all else. Mia would never spend a moment doubting my devotion
—my obsession, with her.
I reached the rear entry and stepped through to the kitchen. It
was bustling with women fixing even more food. We’re Italian,
what can I say?
My mother put down a bowl she was carrying and came up to
me with a big smile. She patted my cheeks before applying
pressure so I would lean down and allow her to kiss my cheeks.
“My sweet boy, is it true? You’re home for good?”
The only thing that traveled faster than a speeding bullet in
our family was gossip. I sighed and lifted her into a bear hug.
“Yes, Mama. I’m back to stay.”
She squealed happily and hugged me even tighter before I put
her back on her feet once more. “The only thing that would
make me happier is to see you settle down with a good girl.”
I opened my mouth to tell her that I was working on it when
she spun around and shouted, “Allegra! We need to find
Christian a wife!”
“What?! No! I—” My mother didn’t hear my sputtering as she
hurried off to confer with my aunt. It wasn’t of any use to try and
dissuade them at the moment. They would know soon enough,
and I was anxious to find Mia.
I strolled out of the kitchen and down the hall to the front
parlor. The empty room put a deep frown on my face. I suddenly
remembered that Anna’s message had instructed Mia to meet
him in his office. That room was for business associates and
other work related things. It was the one place in his home
where he stepped into the role of leader, as the ruthless head of
the Italian Mafia. I hated the idea that he would bring Mia to that
room. I didn’t want that darkness to touch her in any way.
Anger spurred my strides as I stalked to the room near the
back of the brownstone. I was about to barge in but Nic’s voice
floated into the hallway, stopping me in my tracks.
“I’m sorry to do this to you, but they pushed up their date for
the pickup. They want the passports by Friday. Do you think they
can be ready by then?”
Mia scoffed audibly. “Have I ever been late with a project, Nic
DeLuca?” Her tone clearly indicated that she felt insulted.
Nic chuckled, and I tried to suck air into my frozen lungs as I
processed what I was hearing. “Sorry, Mia. I meant no insult.
You know I have the utmost confidence in you. I wouldn’t have
thought less of you if you couldn’t meet the new pickup date.
Honestly, I only asked you to get the motherfuckers out of my
hair. This is the last time we do business with Maxim’s crew.”
“These are for the Russians? For what?”
Nic chuckled again. “As much as they piss me off, I couldn’t
help agreeing to this job. You won’t believe it when I tell you.”
“Well, I know you and the kind of people you do business
with, so it can’t be what I think.”
I heard shuffling and the squeak of a chair. Nic’s voice
sounded further away from the door when he spoke again. “Oh?”
“You wouldn’t deal with anyone smuggling women.”
Rage flared inside me at the thought of Mia being involved
with anyone who had a connection to scum like that.
“You are mostly right, Mia.” Nic’s voice was full of laughter
as he went on. “The passports are for brides.”
Mia gasped. “Nic! How could you?!” she shouted. “Those
women are forced—”
“Mia!” Nic’s voice was loud and stern. I clenched my hands
and took a step forward, angry that he would dare raise his voice
to my woman. Just as I pushed the door open, he spoke again.
“You should know better. I have a contact in Moscow. This is
through a legitimate agency; no one is coerced. But, the agency
doesn’t pay for passports and travel if a match is made overseas.
You should have seen Maxim when he came to me about the job.
He actually fucking blushed.”
Nic was sitting behind his desk, leaning back in his chair with
an amused expression on his bearded face. Mia stood across from
him, bent over the desk, her fists balanced on the table top. She
stood up slowly, and I noticed her shoulders jiggling. Then she
burst into laughter.
Nic’s eyes lifted, immediately aware of my presence, but I
barely noticed. I was mesmerized by the beauty of Mia.
“Christian?” Nic asked. “What can I do for you?”
I looked back at him and wasn’t sure what to say. He looked at
me with unapologetic eyes, not seeming at all bothered by my
interruption. I was shocked by this, considering he had to know
I’d heard at least part of their conversation. But honestly, I still
wasn’t sure what the hell was going on. She couldn’t possible
work for him…right? Mia spun around and stared at me with
wide, wary eyes.
“Looking for Mia…” I mumbled.
Nic nodded and gestured towards her. “Well, you’ve found
her, and she’s free to go.”
Mia glanced between us, seemingly conflicted about what to
do next.
I softened my expression and held out my hand. Hesitantly,
she stepped towards me but stopped when Nic called her name.
“Mia, I almost forgot.” Her head twisted back in time to see
him push a folder across his desk. “Your next assignment.”
Something inside me snapped. There was no question that
Mia was mine. And my stance on the family business had not
changed. So, there was only one thing to do.
I stalked forward and grasped Mia’s waist, throwing her over
my shoulder, fireman style. She struggled and I popped her on
the ass to tell her to settle down. Nic’s brows shot to his hairline,
and Mia’s loud gasp filled the room. Yeah, I really didn’t know
where that came from, but I wasn’t going to waste time dwelling
on it.
“Mia quits.” My tone brooked no argument and I didn’t wait
for a response before spinning around and marching out of the

M ia

“What? No!” I screeched, pounding on Christian’s back with my

fists. “I sure as shit don’t quit! Nic, don’t listen to him. I’ll talk
some sense into him.”
“I’m not the one who needs sense talked into them,” he
growled as he gave me another smack on my ass. He didn’t even
bother to slow his steps. He just kept storming through the
hallway with Nic’s laughter ringing behind us.
“It’s a damn good thing he doesn’t seem to be taking you
seriously,” I grumbled as we made it to the front foyer. “Or else
I’d have to shove my foot so far up your—”
“Christian?” I heard Maria call out. That would be
Maria...Christian’s mom.
“Let me down. Before she sees us like this,” I hissed.
He tightened his hold on me instead. “Let her. At least it will
put to rest the bride hunt she and my Aunt Allegra were just
plotting after they hounded me about being single.”
I suddenly felt light-headed, and it wasn’t because all of the
blood had rushed to my head. It was the mixture of shock and
pure jealousy that flooded my system at the thought of Christian
with another woman. So instead of feeling embarrassed when
Maria walked into the foyer and found me over her son’s
shoulder, I tried to lift up and glare at her.
“Mamma mia!” she exclaimed in surprise.
“Yes, Mama. This is Mia,” Christian replied dryly.
Hearing my stuffy professor make a joke at such an
inopportune time had me bursting into a fit of giggles.
“I’m sorry to say that we can’t stay for the rest of the party,
Mama. Please give my apologies to Brandon.”
With that announcement, Christian swiveled on his heel and
marched towards the front door.
“I’m going to stay late to help with clean-up,” Maria called
out. “So I won’t be home for hours and hours.”
I slumped against Christian’s back in surprise. “I can’t
believe your mom just said that.”
“I think you’ve just gotten my mama’s stamp of approval,
love,” Christian chuckled as he carried me down the steps.
“Yeah, well...too bad you don’t have mine.”
“Liar,” he taunted softly.
I practically vibrated with frustration when he bent low and
slung me gently into the back seat of a limousine. I scrambled
onto my knees, but I wasn’t quick enough because he climbed in
with me before I could lunge for the opposite door. Then
someone shut his behind him, presumably the chauffeur who
slid into the driver’s seat, sliding up the divider as he started the
“Do you really think I’m going to meekly go to your mom’s
house for those hours and hours that she mentioned? After you
tossed me over your shoulder? Smacked my ass...twice? Tried to
quit my job for me?” I hissed as he tried to tug me into his side.
Those dark eyes of his searched my face before a slight smile
tugged at his lips. “You make an excellent point.”
My jaw practically dropped to the floor when he shifted
forward to lower the divider and instructed the driver to take us
to a nearby hotel instead. “You have a fuck of a lot of nerve if you
think I was hinting that I’d prefer to go to a hotel with you
instead of your mom’s empty house.”
He ignored my glare as he settled beside me, and his
masculine scent wrapped around me. Damn, he smelled good. I
breathed him in as he took my hand and grazed his fingertips
over my palm. His touch was whisper-soft, but I felt it to my
core. It turned that spark of chemistry between us into a flame as
desire roared through my blood.
“You can’t go around making decisions for me. Especially not
when it comes to family,” I warned him.
His eyes narrowed, and he tugged me across his lap. Then his
mouth was on mine, and he was kissing me fiercely. I was still
angry, but it didn’t lessen my response to his kiss. If anything, it
magnified it.
“We’ll figure out the family stuff later, Mia. Of that, I have no
doubt,” he whispered against my lips.
“We should talk about it now; before things go further. It will
only hurt more if we—”
“Don’t,” he growled, gripping my hair in his fist and tilting
my head back. “I will not sit here and listen to you while you try
to convince me that there’s any other option besides moving
forward with what’s building between us. You are mine, Mia. I
may bend on other things, but never on that.”
“Christian,” I sighed, dropping my forehead against his when
he released his hold on my hair. “How am I supposed to argue
with you when you say stuff like that?”
“You aren’t,” he breathed. “You’re supposed to kiss me
My lips suddenly felt unbearably dry, and I licked them. Our
mouths were close enough that I grazed his bottom lip, and he
groaned. “Does that count?” I teased.
“Not even close, love. I need more.”
“After the stunt that you pulled back there, I shouldn’t let
what you need matter.” I tried to be strong since I knew if I let
him push me too far now, then he’d think he could boss me
around later. But he was asking me to do something I wanted,
too. So I threw caution to the wind and shoved my hands in his
hair and kissed him the way we both wanted. I tugged on the
silky strands, lightly scraping his skull with my nails.
He growled and deepened the kiss, stroking into my mouth. I
loved the way we kissed. The slide of our tongues against each
other. The feel of our bodies melded together. How both of our
hearts raced as we panted for breath. It was as though we’d both
go crazy if we didn’t stay like this forever. It turned me on wildly,
and wiped any thought of discussion out of my brain.
I sucked on his tongue, mimicking what we’d both prefer to
be doing if we weren’t in the back of a limousine. His hands
tightened on my back and jerked me closer to his chest. I felt his
hardness beneath me and my panties, which were already damp,
became drenched.
“Fuck, Mia,” he groaned as he shoved my skirt higher. “I can
feel how hot and wet you are.”
His fingers glided over my ass—the thin, silky material of my
panties as the only barrier between us. With my knees on either
side of his hips, I nibbled at his mouth and stroked my tongue
along his. I distantly registered the slowing of the car, and then
Christian gripped my waist and placed me on the seat next to
him. He leaned back, his chest heaving and his eyes locked on
mine as I slid my skirt back into place.
My skin felt ultra-sensitive. My breasts were full and tender,
with pebbled nipples that begged for his touch. My clit was
throbbing, and I slid my legs together to try and ease the ache.
His gaze dropped to my thighs, and I whimpered when he
reached down and stopped me from closing them.
“Come inside with me.”
I glanced out the window and saw that we’d pulled up in front
of the hotel. I didn’t have long to make my decision because a
valet stood outside the entrance, ready to open the door. My
brain knew that my answer should be no, for so many different
reasons. We’d only met today. I had a looming deadline for Nic.
Christian had over-stepped in a major way when he’d carried me
out of the party. But none of it seemed to matter; not when my
heart and body urged me to say yes. And then he made it
impossible to say no.
“Please, Mia. I need you to be mine.”
I placed my hand on top of his, and whispered, “Yes.”

C hristian

I didn’t understand the man that had overtaken me. This

overwhelming need and possessiveness had never been a part of
my nature. But, it was impossible to deny when it came to Mia
and I decided to let this darker side of me reign free for the
moment and worry about psychoanalyzing myself later.
The door to the limo opened just as Mia said, “yes.” I wasn’t
sure if she understood the true magnitude of what she’d just
agreed to. She would soon enough, though.
I hopped out and waved the valet away, reaching my hand in
to help Mia from the car. As she stepped out, the evening
sunshine illuminated the sky behind her, giving her a glow that
highlighted every facet of her beauty. Damn, she was gorgeous.
And about to be wholly mine.
Taking her hand, I locked it around my arm before leading her
inside. A young man sat at the front desk, probably no more than
nineteen or twenty, and he smiled politely at me as we
approached. When his eyes strayed to the woman at my side, his
pupils dilated and his mouth hung slack. I heard a low rumble of
sound and the clerk’s eyes darted back to me, his cheeks
reddening. It was then I realized that the sound had come from
me. I’d growled at the little pipsqueak.
Mia’s hand was vibrating on my arm and I turned my head to
see her shaking with silent laughter. It was completely infectious
and I found myself grinning back at her and shrugging a little
sheepishly. However, when I faced the desk once again, I pulled
her in close to my side so it was clear that she was taken. The boy
avoided looking to my right again and stammered out a greeting.
I asked for a room for a couple of nights and pushed my
passport across the desk.
“I’m sorry, but we are completely full, Mr…” The clerk picked
up my ID and for the second time, he looked a little shell-
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you, Mr. DeLuca,” he
apologized quickly. “I’ll have a room prepared for you
I frowned at his response. I’d forgotten about the influence of
the DeLuca name, especially in this neighborhood. It was on the
tip of my tongue to tell him to forget it, that we’d go somewhere
else, when the words stalled in my throat. Mia shifted her weight
to her right foot and brushed a lock of molasses colored hair out
of her face, tucking it behind one ear. She looked a little nervous.
Just this once. I didn’t want to give Mia the opportunity to
change her mind. Looking back at the clerk, I shut my mouth
and silently waited for him to finish typing. He smiled brightly
as he handed me a key fob. “You’re in suite 4515 and it’s an
open-ended reservation. Just let us know when you are ready to
check out, sir.”
I nodded my acceptance and steered Mia over to the circular
bank of lifts in the center of the room. I tapped 45 on a keypad
and it instructed us to wait at lift B. With every passing minute,
the sexual tension between us wound tighter and tighter. The
doors eventually slid open and we were joined by a couple with
three children before it began its slow assent. If it hadn’t been
for those kids I’m not sure I could have restrained myself, and
seeing as how the walls were glass…I was grateful for the
Until they got off on the twenty-fifth floor. Fuck.
Mia looked up at me through her long, dark lashes and what
little blood was left in my brain rushed south. My hand tightened
at her waist.
“Unless you want to find yourself with your beautiful ass
pressed up against the glass of this lift and me deep inside you,
you need to stop looking at me like that.”
Her eyes widened a little then shifted to stare at the numbers
above the door as we climbed from floor to floor.
“About bloody time,” I snapped gruffly when the lift finally
came to a stop and the doors whooshed open. I was at the end of
my patience, so I swept Mia into my arms before stalking down
the hall until I was at a door marked 4515.
“Christian!” Mia protested, wiggling in my arms. “Put
me down.”
I hushed her as I fumbled to wave the fob over the magnetic
lock pad on the door. “Think of it as practicing for our wedding
night,” I quipped.
She stiffened in my arms, but I barely noticed as the door
finally disengaged and swung open. Once inside, I kicked the
door shut and let Mia’s legs fall to the ground as I pressed her
back against the hard surface. My mouth crashed down over
hers, one hand sliding around to protect the back of her head
and the other gripping her hip.
She inhaled quickly, pressing her breasts into my chest and I
groaned as I took advantage of the opening, plunging my tongue
into the sweet recesses of her mouth. Her strawberry and honey
taste was every bit as delicious as the first time I’d kissed her.
Only now, I tasted a desperation that matched my own.
Holding her close and keeping our lips sealed together, I
maneuvered us around and slowly walked her backward until we
reached a bedroom. As we crossed the threshold, she tripped in
her tall heels but I swiftly caught her and lifted, wrapping her
long legs around my waist.
Her skirt bunched up at her waist, leaving very little barrier
between her sex and my bulging erection. When they connected,
she let out a little sigh and it tore at every facet of my control.
“I fucking love that sound, Mia,” I growled as my lips slid
down to her jaw before trailing kisses over her throat. My knees
made contact with the bed and I slowly lowered her to her back. I
was loath to let her go, but I needed to feel her and it was the
only way to get her clothes off.
“You look stunning, darling, but this outfit isn’t exactly easy
access,” I murmured as I searched her top for a zipper or button
of some kind. It was tucked into her leather skirt but it didn’t
move when I tried to tug it out.
“It’s a body suit,” she panted. Her cheeks pinkened prettily,
“It unsnaps…between, um, my legs.”
I raised a single brow and gave her a salacious grin. “Is that
so?” The side zipper on her skirt gave way easily and I slipped it
off, gazing down at her lace covered body. Sure enough, the top
had a snap at the apex of her thighs and my mouth began to
water at the thought of tasting her there.
I pulled her to the edge of the bed, pushing her legs wide open
as they dangled. Then I leaned in and grasped the fabric with my
teeth, pulling the two sections apart. My teeth scraped roughly
over her center and she cried out, her hips bucking.
Once the body suit was undone, another thin, lacy scrap of
fabric was all that stood between me and heaven. I was out of
patience so I grasped it and twisted, pulling hard and tearing her
panties away.
“Damn, love. Look how wet you are for me,” I breathed in
awe. Her pussy was pink and swollen, glistening with her
arousal. I flattened my tongue against her and licked from
bottom to top. Sweet ambrosia burst on my tongue, and I went
into a feeding frenzy.
Mia’s hands dove into my hair and she pulled hard with every
swipe of my tongue, every nibble and suck. I watched her writhe
above me, her chest rising and falling rapidly as her breathing
grew erratic. Her lips were compressed tight and I immediately
hated it.
I shifted the focus of my mouth to her sensitive little bud
while slowly inserting a finger inside her heat. Curling it up, I
rubbed the perfect spot and was rewarded when her head
slammed back into the mattress and she screamed.
“Good girl,” I praised her. “That’s what I want. To hear
everything you feel.” I bit her a little harder to gain her
attention. Her eyes trudged open and the hazel orbs were
restless and unfocused. “Do you understand me?” I pressed.
She nodded blearily and when I pressed my finger to that
magic spot again, she hissed almost silently and arched her
back. It was clear that staying quiet was instinctual for some
reason, and I was determined to break her of this habit.
“Mia, love, what did I say?” I halted everything I was doing,
staying completely still until she gave me her attention.
“Um, you want to hear…”
“Everything,” I finished for her. “No holding back.”
Experimentally, I sucked hard on her clit as I dragged my
finger out of her pussy, making sure to press long and hard into
her G-spot.
Her mouth pressed closed for only a heartbeat before she let
go and screamed, her hands clenching in my hair and pressing
my face into her pussy. I gladly followed her silent command and
put everything I had into eating her while I used two fingers to
rhythmically push her towards her orgasm.
She pressed her core up into my face and her legs came up to
my shoulders and tightened around my head. I could barely
breath but I didn’t give a flying fuck, especially when in the next
second, she flew over the edge and liquid gushed into my mouth
as my name ripped from her lips.
I gently licked her clean as she descended from her high, then
kissed each bare thigh. As I pushed to my feet, I groaned in pain
from the stiffness of my cock. My pants were a mess from all the
precome leaking from the tip.
Mia looked like a goddess spread out on the bed, but the
picture wasn’t perfect yet. I helped her sit up before pulling the
bodysuit up and over her head. Then I unclasped her bra and
drew it down over her arms before tossing it in a pile with the
rest of her clothes.
Her tits were full and round, tipped with dark nipples,
hardened into sharp points. Tenderly, I pressed her shoulders
until she laid back down and I could properly gaze at all of her.
“That was amazing,” she whispered.
My scorching eyes devoured every inch of her as I reached to
undo my belt. “Oh, Mia. We’ve barely begun.”

M ia

I watched in a daze as Christian shoved his pants to the floor. He

didn’t give me enough time to take in much beyond the ripple of
abs that had been hidden under his suit and the hardened length
of his cock with a glistening drop of precome dripping from the
tip. As soon as he got rid of the rest of his clothes, he moved to
the edge of the bed and crawled towards me. My eyes drifted
shut and I shuddered when I felt the graze of his lips against my
calves. He kissed his way up my legs, and by the time his tongue
swept out to slowly lick up my pussy and circle my clit I was
already close to another orgasm.
“I could eat you for days, love,” he rasped against my
sensitive skin before lightly nipping at me with his teeth.
My eyes jerked open, and I found his dark ones locked on my
face. They were filled with a scorching heat that burned through
me. His nose flared as he breathed deep, and it reminded me of
an animal scenting its prey. The sexy professor who’d seemed
almost mild-mannered earlier today had disappeared and in his
place was a dominant man who knew what he wanted and was
going to take it, come hell or high water. This Christian was
every bit a DeLuca, and what he wanted was me.
“As amazing as that sounds, I feel empty without you inside
me. So get up here and give me what I want.”
I didn’t even get all the words out before he was directly over
me, with his hand wrapped around my thigh to yank me up
against him. “I’d hate to make my lady wait, but I have to get a
taste of these perfect beauties before I lose my mind.”
I gasped when his head dropped low and his mouth sucked in
one hard, pink bud. If he hadn’t been holding me tight, I would
have shot off the bed because each tug of my nipple had the
nerves in my pussy pulsing. I tried squeezing my thighs
together, and it only made the need worse. Then I arched my
hips up, searching for pressure where I needed it most. I rubbed
against his hardened length but couldn’t get the right angle. My
hands went to his hair, pulling at his scalp. “Please,” I
He finally seemed to get the message because his hand left
my thigh and drifted upwards to cup my pussy. He slipped his
fingers between my drenched folds and dipped a digit inside, but
it wasn’t enough. Unclenching my fingers from his scalp, I slid a
hand between us and wrapped it around his cock. Distracted by
his moan of pleasure and how good his heat felt against my
palm, I stroked him up and down several times before I
remembered why I’d grabbed him in the first place.
“Give me your cock, Christian. Fill me up and make us both
come together.”
He let go of my nipple with a pop and sank two fingers deep
inside me. “Be patient, love. I’ll feel you fall apart around me
soon enough.”
“Fuck patience.” I tightened my hold and gave him a few
tight pumps. “Give it to me now.”
His control snapped and he tugged my hand out of the way to
guide his cock to my entrance. He rubbed it up and down to coat
it with my wetness and then he slid the tip inside me before
pulling it out again.
I wrapped my knees around his hips and held on tight.
“Please don’t tease me. None of that ‘just the tip’ shit.”
He chuckled and the head of his cock slipped back inside me,
but he held my hips so I couldn’t drive him deeper. “Are you sure
you’re ready?” he rasped.
“Yes,” I hissed.
He slammed into me, burying himself to the hilt and filling
me entirely. I cried out at the sensation, intense pleasure mixed
with pain. My muscles contracted around him as he held me
there, letting me feel him throb while I grew accustomed to his
“Fuck, Mia. You feel bloody fantastic. Tight. Hot. And so
damn wet,” he groaned, looking down at me with brutal
possession stamped across his face.
“Christian,” I gasped at how right he was.
“That’s right, love. Feel me inside you? You asked for it, you
got it, and now this sweet pussy is mine.” He slid out, and I
mewled in need until he pushed back in oh-so slowly. Inch by
inch, every muscle in his body shaking with tension. “It’s me for
you. No one else but me. Say it, love. I want to hear the words.”
It was absolutely crazy. Completely insane. But I found myself
saying it anyway. “No one else but you.”
“You’re mine.” He punctuated the claim with a driving
plunge that had me flinging my head back. I squeezed my pussy,
trying to suck him in further and earning myself a fierce groan.
“I thought you couldn’t feel any more perfect wrapped around
me, but whatever you just did...fuck.”
I tightened my walls around him, and he shuddered. “Do it
again,” he ordered.
“Only if you’ll give it to me harder,” I gasped out.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“The only thing I feel right now is pleasure. So please, fuck
me harder!”
He lost all control, repeatedly pounding into me so hard that I
couldn’t keep my place on the bed. I slid back further with every
thrust until I was bracing myself against the headboard as it
slammed against the wall.
“God, Christian.”
“That’s right. Say my name. Tell me who’s fucking that tight
pussy. Who owns it.”
“Christian,” I cried out, right on the edge. With one more
hard thrust, I flew apart. Yelling his name at the top of my lungs,
my inner muscles contracting around him until he lost control
and came with me.
After I’d milked him dry, he crawled off me and flopped down
on the mattress. I shifted to the edge of the bed, intending to get
a towel to clean myself up with—because holy hell, we hadn’t
used a condom and his come was dripping out of me and down
my legs—but his hand snaked out to grab my arm and he pulled
me into his side.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
I tilted my head back and narrowed my eyes at him. “To clean
up before hotel security comes knocking on the door after all the
racket we made.”
“Nobody’s going to bother us.”
Considering how a suite had miraculously been available once
the hotel staff had realized who he was, he was probably right.
“Only because you’re a DeLuca.”
“I’m not. Not really. Not like everyone else,” he sighed. “But
they don’t know that, and for the first time in my life I couldn’t
care less what they assumed since it allowed me to be
this, with you.”
The possible consequences from not using a condom needed
to be discussed at some point, but it would have to wait until we
hashed out the DeLuca family business thing. I took a deep
breath and dove right into it. “Aren’t we an odd pair? You’re a
DeLuca in name only, and I’m a Ricci by name but a DeLuca by
“Not for long,” he growled, his entire body tensing as he
lifted onto an elbow to glare at me. “You’ll be a DeLuca in name
soon enough, but without the ties to the family business.”
“Slow your roll there, sexy Professor.” I held up a hand when
it looked like he was going to say something. “I might have lost
my head enough to have unprotected sex with you the same day
we met, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to marry you.”
“Like hell it doesn’t. You said it already; you’re mine.”
“Actually, what I said was nobody else but you. Not that I’m
yours,” I drawled. “And I didn’t say a word about getting
He pushed on my shoulders until I was pinned to the mattress
underneath him. “You want me to demonstrate how much
you’re mine again? I’m happy to do so, love. Because we’re not
getting out of this bed until you admit it.”
“You’re insane,” I breathed.
He was clenching his teeth so hard that a muscle in his jaw
jumped. “When it comes to you, you’re bloody right I am.”
He sounded damn sexy when the hint of Brit came out in his
voice, but I couldn’t let that stop me from making my point. It
was too important. “I want to tell you that I’m yours, Christian. I
really do,” I admitted softly. “But I can’t be yours if the price I
have to pay is walking away from something that makes me who
I am. I might have started out helping the family with a small
forgery project because they were in a jam. I was happy to help
the people who I’ve come to love as much as my sister, but I
continued because I’m the very best at what I do and they need
me. So, if you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you can
live with that, without letting it poison our relationship, then
and only then will I consider being yours.”

C hristian

I scowled at Mia as I sat up to fully face her. I was infuriated that

she wouldn’t admit to what we both knew to be true. The
tempest of emotions she brought out in me were keeping me
unsteady, and I didn’t like feeling out of control. Normally, I was
a very laid back, easy-going guy. This possessive, domineering…
Neanderthal—I didn’t know where he’d come from. And, it
appeared as though he wasn’t going anywhere.
“Darling, I have no doubt that you are an amazing artist. Your
gift is what makes you who you are, not the work you do for Nic.”
She opened her mouth—no doubt to argue—and I placed two
fingers on her kiss-swollen lips. “I want you to do what makes
you happy, Mia. But not at the expense of having your life
constantly in danger.”
Mia rolled her eyes and leaned away from my hand.
“Christian, you’re blowing what I do way out of proportion. I sit
in my studio and create, the danger all stays far away from me.”
I narrowed my eyes and grasped her biceps, tugging her close
until our faces were inches apart. “You will never be safe as long
as you work with Nic, Mia. But, let’s say you’re right and there is
no threat from that side of things.” I locked my gaze with hers,
staring intently to make sure she was focused on my words.
“What if you get caught, love? Beyond what it would do to me,
think about the effect on our children if you are locked away.”
Mia reared back in surprise, but my hold was tight so she
didn’t gain more than an inch of space. “Children?! What
children? We just met today! Yeah, we had hot, sweaty, amazing
sex...but I haven’t even agreed to marry you!”
Releasing my grip on her arms, I slid my hands around her
back and pulled her onto my lap and flush against me.
“Are you forgetting that I just claimed you, love? There was
nothing between us, Mia. Even now you could be full with
our baby.”
Her jaw dropped and her breathing escalated rapidly. “It was
o-one damn time, Christian!” she sputtered. “No way am I
A wicked smile spread across my face and in a heartbeat, I’d
flipped us over so she was trapped beneath me. “Seems to me,
the best solution is to increase our odds.”
I pressed my ready erection firmly against her pelvis and
claimed her mouth in a deep kiss. Mia’s body responded so
passionately when we’d made love before, I took advantage of it
now. Any guilt I might have felt at overwhelming her senses so
she wouldn’t protest was quickly eclipsed by desire and need.
After several orgasms and wringing out another admission
that she was mine, I picked her up and carried her into the
adjoining bathroom. Once the temperature was right, we
stepped under the spray and my eyes dropped to the juncture
between her legs. The water was pink as it traveled down them.
I had the sudden urge to beat my chest and roar because it
was further proof that Mia belonged solely to me. I’d taken her
cherry and no one else would ever experience the bliss of being
inside her. A thicker substance began to leak out and I couldn’t
help scooping it up with my fingers and pushing it back
inside her.
“Christian,” she muttered in meek objection, attempting to
close her legs. But the action only caused the area to tighten,
sucking my fingers and come up into her womb.
“You are so lovely, Mia,” I whispered reverently as I lifted my
gaze and stared into her eyes. “I can’t wait to see you rounded
with our child.” Falling silent for a moment, I probed her hazel
orbs, looking for confirmation of my gut feeling. “You want that
too, don’t you? Despite your arguments, I can see that you feel
this connection as strongly as I do and it makes you want a life
together, a family together.”
Her cheeks turned a sweet shade of pink and she tried to look
away, but I grasped her jaw and forced her to focus on me while
she responded.
“I do,” she conceded. “But, there is a lot we haven’t worked
out and I think it would be irresponsible of us to bring a child
into a messy situation—”
“Life is messy, darling. Love is a disaster waiting to happen.
But we do it anyway because it’s also the greatest thing we will
ever have.”
Mia gasped and tried to step back, but I took her fully into my
arms. “Love? Need I remind you, again, that we’ve known each
other for less than a day, Christian?”
“It only took me a moment to know you were the love of my
life, Mia.”
Her face smoothed into a mild expression, but I could see
confusion in her eyes. She was struggling with how to handle
everything that had happened today and everything that lay
before us.
“It’s okay to be a little overwhelmed, love. I’m confident
enough for the both of us.” I kissed her lips tenderly and then
set about washing us both before shutting off the water. I
grabbed a towel and quickly dried myself before taking my time
to thoroughly do the same for her. Once I was done, I lifted her
into my arms again and strode to the bed.
Gently, I laid her down, then climbed in behind her and pulled
the covers up. I sighed contentedly as I pulled her into my
embrace, reveling in the feel of our naked skin pressed together.
“Christian,” Mia murmured after a while. “We still haven’t
resolved anything. I can’t simply accept a future with you and
leave my life behind. I need you to understand that. To…l—um,
love all of me.”
I kissed her head and squeezed her a little closer. “I know,
love. But, let’s forget the rest of the world and enjoy tonight.
We’ll talk more in the morning.”
She nodded but stayed silent. Still, she continued to remain
restless until I made love to her once more and she fell into an
exhausted sleep.

There was a knot of tension in the pit of my stomach when I

woke. Most likely due to the emptiness of my arms and the cold
sheets on the bed beside me.
I growled in frustration as I sat up and looked around. “Mia?
Love?” I didn’t truly expect a response; her clothes and purse
were gone.
Throwing off the covers, I huffed in frustration as I hopped
out of the bed. With my hands planted on my hips, I observed
the room once more. My eyes landed on a folded piece of paper
on the nightstand on the opposite side of the bed. I stalked over
to it and snatched it up.


Last night was amazing, and I wish I could have stayed in bed
with you another day. I would have loved to hide from the world
and pretend we were the only two in existence. But, I’m under a
deadline and needed to get back to my studio. And, I need time to
think. I promise I’ll call soon.

I crumpled the note in my hand. If she thought for one second I

wouldn’t go after her, that I would calmly let this go, she was out
of her mind.
Grabbing up my scattered clothes, I tugged them on as I made
a plan. I was going after my girl and when I found her, I was
going to spank her ass until it was cherry fucking red.

M ia

Usually when I was working in my studio, my focus was so

complete that the rest of the world melted away. I’d never had
an issue with my concentration, especially with a looming
deadline—until I spent the night with Christian. I’d barely been
able to accomplish anything in the past five hours. With the
information I’d been given from the Russians and the work I’d
already gotten done on the project, I should have almost been
finished. Forging papers for four women with the resources that
Nic put at my disposal shouldn’t have been too difficult for me;
I’d certainly done harder before. But I couldn’t get my mind off
Christian, and knowing that the recipients of my forgeries were
brides was messing with my head even more because it had me
daydreaming about walking down the aisle to a man I’d met only
a day ago.
“This isn’t working,” I grumbled, shoving away from my
workstation. Standing up, I stretched and felt aches in places
that reminded me of all the things I’d done with Christian the
night before. He hadn’t just invaded my mind all day; he’d left
his mark on my body, too. “Dammit.”
“Don’t kill me,” Camila called out, startling me. “I have food
for you.”
“Come in.”
My sister’s eyes widened in surprise as she walked into my
studio. “I figured I’d have to drag you away from your project and
convince you to eat something. Unless you’re done?” Her gaze
darted to the desk and back to my face in confusion. “It doesn’t
look like you’re done, but you’re not hunched over, working like
I always find you. Are you sick?”
She hurried over, set the plate and glass she was carrying
down, and reached up to press her hand against my forehead.
The smile I flashed her wasn’t as big as it normally would be, but
it was still heartfelt since my sister was my favorite person in
the world. “I’m fine, Camila.”
With her eyes narrowed on me, she didn’t look the least bit
convinced. “I don’t believe you. Not when it looks like you didn’t
get a wink of sleep.” Her head tilted to the side. “Were you in
here all night? Is that why you disappeared yesterday? And why
it looks like your bed hasn’t been slept in? When I asked Enzo
about it after I noticed that you disappeared, he told me not to
worry. I figured it was DeLuca business so I didn’t ask any
questions,” she snickered, “like a good little ‘mafia wife.’ But
now I’m wondering if I’m going to need to kick my husband’s—”
I slapped my hand over her mouth to stop her tirade because I
knew that once Camila really got going, nothing could make her
stop. If I hadn’t been laughing, muffling her probably wouldn’t
have even worked. I waited until her lips stopped moving before
I pulled my hand away, while carefully considering how I was
going to explain what had happened last night without throwing
Enzo under the proverbial bus—not that he couldn’t talk himself
out of it since he knew exactly how to handle my sister. When I
came up empty, I dove into my story and hoped for the best. “I
wasn’t in my bed because I stayed at a hotel. With Christian.”
And that’s as far as I got before she screeched, “What?! You
left the party with a man and nobody told me?” I nodded, and
she steamed ahead. “Did Enzo know? I mean, I’m so used to him
pretty much knowing everything, but maybe nobody told him
you left with Christian?”
“Um, yeah...about that,” I mumbled, my cheeks heating in
embarrassment. “I would say the odds are good that he knew
since I didn’t so much as leave with Christian as he interrupted
my meeting with Nic, tossed me over his shoulder, and carried
me out of the house.”
“Holy shit,” she breathed, stumbling backwards and
dropping down onto one of the chairs in the corner of my studio.
I followed after her and sat in the one next to her, reaching out
for her hand. “I’m not sure if I should be pissed at him for
keeping this from me, or impressed that he somehow managed
it so I didn’t hear a peep about it at a party where people had to
be talking.”
“I think Brandon and Christian’s mom was the only one who
saw us leave, so it’s possible that nobody except Enzo was told
about what happened.”
“Oh, please.” She rolled her eyes and laughed softly. “Mafia
guys are worse gossips than little old ladies. People knew.” Then
those eyes narrowed. “Except for me, and it wasn’t just my
husband who kept it from me. How long ago did you get home?”
“Five or six hours ago,” I admitted softly, cringing a little
because I knew she wasn’t going to be happy with my answer.
She crossed her arms and glared at me, with her foot tapping
against the floor. “And you didn’t think to come and find me?”
“Nope. Sorry,” I sighed. “I thought I’d be able finish off a
project that needs to get done soon, and that focusing on work
would help me get my head screwed back on straight.”
Her glower turned into a smug grin. “That doesn’t seem to be
working out so well for you. How about you try dishing to big sis
and I’ll set you straight instead?”
I leaned my head back against the chair, shut my eyes, and
took a deep breath. As I exhaled, some of the tension left my
body—only to quickly return as a deep male voice answered
Camila’s question.
“If anyone is going to straighten Mia out, it is going to
be me.”
My eyes popped open as I jumped out of my seat, only to find
Christian and Enzo striding into my studio. I felt frozen in place,
pinned where I stood by the blazing heat in his dark gaze. My
sister didn’t seem to be similarly affected, though. She moved
closer to me and whispered in my ear, “Surprise, surprise. The
fancy professor has the caveman thing down pat when it comes
to you. If looks could undress...”
“Camila!” I hissed.
“I guess I’ll give you a pass on not finding me the minute you
got back home. But I expect you to fill me in later because there’s
got to be one hell of a story behind it all if you’ve got him
hunting you down in Enzo’s territory like this.” She kissed me
on the cheek, and squeezed my shoulder before heading over to
her husband’s side. Enzo didn’t say anything. He just offered me
a reassuring smile and then led her out of the room, shutting the
door behind them.
I felt like I’d been locked in a cage with a lion with the way
Christian stalked towards me. I backed away a couple of steps,
until I bumped into the chair where I’d been sitting. That didn’t
slow him down, though. He kept coming until he was close
enough to lift me off the chair, taking my place and settling me
on his lap instead.
“How did you find me?”
His jawline hardened as a muscle in it jumped. “Your note
said you’d be at your studio.”
“Yeah, but nobody knows about this place. Only about the
other studio in the attic, where I do all of my painting. It’s
supposed to be a secret that Enzo converted the safe room in his
basement into a studio for me.”
“It isn’t a secret from everyone.” His arms tightened around
me. “Does it bother you that I know about this place now?”
“No.” His hold loosened a little.
“Yes.” And tightened again.
“I don’t know.” I dropped my head against his shoulder. “I
wouldn’t say it bothers me that you know, but I’m not sure if it’s
okay that you’re here. Although it’s my studio, this place is for
DeLuca family business. And by your choice, you’re not a part
of that.”
“True,” he conceded softly. “But to answer your original
question, I knew where to find you because I asked Nic. He told
me about this studio.”
My head jerked back, and I looked at him in shock. That
wasn’t the answer I was expecting because it blurred the line in
the sand when it came to where Christian stood in regard to the
family business.

C hristian

I sighed and settled Mia against me a little more comfortably

before leaning back into the chair. My voice was a tad muffled
when I spoke again because I’d buried my face in her hair at the
crook of her neck. Bloody hell, she smelled delicious. And, it only
added to my growing need for her when I noticed my own scent
still clinging to her.
“Mia, my separation from the family was entirely of my
doing. I’m kept out of the loop as a sign of respect to those
wishes, not because there is a lack of trust.” I grinned and
winked at her. “I’m still a DeLuca, darling.”
Mia frowned and tried to get up, but I kept a firm hold on her
hips. She stilled with a small glare directed at me. “Then you
should understand. The work I do for the family is important,
and I can’t just quit. I’m needed.”
I raised an eyebrow and shifted her on my lap so my erection
pressed into her ass. “I need you more,” I said gruffly. “I may
have made an exception for you and dipped my toe back into the
murky waters of the family business, but I have no intention of
wading in and putting our lives in danger.” I grasped her chin
and locked my eyes with her. “The thought of losing you is—” I
broke off and shook my head. “No, you’re done with this
life, love.”
She threw her hands in the air and jumped from my lap. I
reluctantly let her go and sat back, watching her pace and fume.
“This won’t work, Christian.”
A growl rumbled in my chest, but she rushed on before I could
refute her statement.
“I don’t have it in me to be the good little wife who spends
her days barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. My art is a part of
me and if you want me, you have to accept the whole package.”
I cocked my head to the side, my expression quizzical. “I’m
not asking you to give up your art, love. Wouldn’t you enjoy
spending more time on your painting and mainstream art? Enzo
showed me your other studio before we came down here. You are
truly exceptional, Mia.”
Her face softened, and a pretty pink blush tinged her cheeks.
“Thank you.” Then she shook it off and went back to scowling,
drawing a sigh from me. “All or nothing, Christian.”
The next time she paced past me, I reached out and snagged
her wrist. With a sharp tug, she tumbled back into my lap. My
lips came down roughly on hers, and I poured every ounce of the
passion I felt for her into the kiss.
When I finally lifted my head, she was pliant in my arms, her
beautiful hazel eyes slightly unfocused and hazy with lust.
She might not have thought so, but I had listened to her
arguments. As much as it pained me, I knew something had to
give or I would lose her. “How about a compromise?”
At my words, Mia perked up and cautious hope shone from
her eyes.
“You focus on your art and only step in occasionally, mostly
to help the family in emergencies. Your name will be kept out of
it and under no circumstances”—I narrowed my eyes in warning
because this next part was non-negotiable—“are you ever to be
a part of the exchange. I don’t want you put in jeopardy.”
Mia tapped a finger against her kiss swollen lips as she
contemplated my conditions. I couldn’t fucking wait to see those
wrapped around my cock. With a quick shake of my head, I tried
to knock the image loose and focus on our conversation.
“Deal.” Mia smiled brightly and extended her hand for a
“That’s not how we seal deals, love,” I growled with a
naughty grin as I removed my glasses and set them on a table.
Pulling her tight against me, I crushed our mouths together. My
tongue plunged into her velvet mouth while my feet steered the
rolling chair backwards. As soon as I hit a solid wall, I blindly
reached out, feeling around until I found the lock on the door
and flipped it.
My hands splayed across her back, then slid down to glide
underneath and up. Our lips parted for only a second while I
ripped her shirt over her head. After a few moments, we were
forced to come up for air and I took the opportunity to admire
my girl.
“You have the most gorgeous breasts, love,” I murmured as I
palmed the full, round globes. Leaning down, I sucked on a
nipple through the lace of her bra. Mia moaned and her hands
tunneled into my hair. After switching to the opposite breast and
leaving another wet spot on the fabric, I popped the catch on her
bra and let it fall forward.
I groaned and attacked each breast with equal fervor. Mia’s
hips rubbed against my hard cock restlessly until finally, I
couldn’t hold back anymore. Hastily, I unfastened my pants and
freed my thickness. Then I thanked every deity in existence that
she was wearing a flirty, black skirt. With my index finger, I ran
it up her center and circled her little bundle of nerves. Mia hissed
and her hands clenched in my hair. The slight sting shot straight
to my dick.
Slipping underneath her panties, I swiped up between her
pussy lips. “Bloody soaked. Fuck.” My lips were kissing a path
up her neck and before I landed on her lips again, I demanded,
“Ride me, love.”
With one hand, I helped her raise up, and the other slipped
her panties to the side so she could slowly descend on my cock.
Once I was fully seated inside her, she threw her head back and
cried out, her inner walls clamping around me. She began to ride
me hard, her naked breasts bouncing enticingly in front of me. I
feasted on them as she picked up her speed and began to lift and
drop violently.
Her cries escalated, and I was relieved that we were in a
former safe room as it was soundproofed. I didn’t like the idea of
anyone hearing my woman in the throes of ecstasy.
It didn’t take long before Mia was hovering on the edge of her
orgasm. I gathered her close to me as my hips pumped up
furiously. “You are mine, Mia,” I grunted against her lips. “Tell
me,” I commanded.
“Oh! I’m—oh yes!”
“Mia!” I snapped.
“I’m yours, Christian!”
“Damn straight.”
I slipped a finger between us and pushed her over the edge so
she splintered apart. I followed right behind her, pouring myself
into her womb.
After our heart-rates slowed and the shivers subsided, we sat
in a slump of boneless limbs. Mia’s head rested on my chest and
I managed to find the energy to dip my head and place a kiss on
her crown.
“I’ve known you for barely twenty-four hours, and I can’t
imagine living without you.” My whisper was filled with wonder.
Mia sighed and her head bobbed in agreement. “I don’t know
how it’s possible,” she mumbled.
My arms surrounded her and I squeezed her in a gentle hug.
“Come back to the hotel with me,” I requested.
She groaned. “I can’t. I was serious about my deadline. Nic
needs these passports ASAP.”
I stifled my instinct to argue and simply nodded. Carefully, I
helped her extricate herself from my lap, gritting my teeth at the
rush of pleasure when my still semi-hard cock slid against her
walls as I withdrew.
“I have a few errands anyway,” I told her as I grabbed some
tissues to clean between her legs. I left a fair amount of my seed
when I moved her underwear back into place though. I wanted
her coated in me, and I wanted as much come as possible
working its way inside her and planting my baby.
Once our clothes were straightened and we looked a little less
“freshly fucked,” I gave her a tender, lingering kiss. “How about
I pick you up at eight and take you to dinner?”
Mia’s smile was bright when she looked up into my face.
“Sounds perfect. I think I’ll be done by then.”
I hated to leave her, but I hadn’t been lying when I’d said I
had things to do. With one last kiss, I left her to her work.
Camila was waiting for me when I reached the main level of the
house. She was quite a bit smaller in stature than Mia and I
almost laughed at her attempt to look intimidating. Until Enzo
stepped behind her, obviously throwing her his support.
“If you hurt my sister, DeLuca or not, you’ll be fitted for some
cement shoes and tossed in the East River,” she growled. A
corner of Enzo’s mouth lifted in a tiny smile at her words, but he
quickly returned to glowering at me in warning
“It would be your right,” I acquiesced.
“Glad we understand each other.” Camila stepped aside and
opened the front door. “I hope you know what you’re getting
yourself into,” she snickered quietly as I passed her. Before I
could ask her what she meant, she’d shut the door in my face.
I had more important things to worry about, so I turned and
jogged down the front steps. Pulling out my cell phone, I called
Brandon as I walked to the nearest intersection.
“What up, bro?” he answered.
Several taxis approached, and I waved a hand to flag one
down. “I need a realtor.”

M ia

“Finally,” I groaned, stretching my neck to work out the kinks

that had developed over the past six hours. I wasn’t used to
cutting it so close to a deadline, and I was incredibly relieved to
be done at last. The passports were due to the Russians today,
and missing a deadline for Maxim would be all kinds of bad. Nic
dealt with them out of necessity, and I had no desire to fuck up
the delicate balance between the two organizations. But in my
defense, I’d been trying to find my equilibrium now that I had
Christian in my life. He was a distraction I hadn’t planned on,
and I’d found it beyond difficult to pull myself away from him for
even just a few hours each day in order to work.
This morning, I’d resorted to waking up at the ass crack of
dawn to slip out of the bed we’d been sharing at the hotel all
week long. I would have much preferred cuddling against
Christian’s chest and letting the sound of his heart lull me back
to sleep, but desperate times called for desperate measures. If I
hadn’t left while he was still sleeping, I never would have been
able to drag myself away from him—a lesson I’d learned the
three mornings prior and how I’d found myself falling so far
behind in the first place. With the passports finally done, I just
needed to hand them off to Nic and then I could shift my focus
back to where I wanted it to be...on the relationship I was
building with Christian.
With that goal in mind, I grabbed my phone and called Nic.
“It’s done,” I said before he had the chance to say hello.
“Thank fuck,” he sighed.
I cringed at the relief in his tone because it was kind of
warranted, but a quick glance at the time helped me feel less
guilty since it reminded me that I could have cut it closer. “Have
a little faith, why don’t you? We still have three hours before the
“True,” he conceded. “But Maxim is antsy as fuck about this
deal. He’s already checked in with me three times in the last
twenty-four hours to confirm that we’d be ready.”
“If he wanted the damn passports so badly, he shouldn’t have
given us until today to get them done,” I grumbled.
“A fact I made explicitly clear to him the last time he called.”
Oh, I bet he had. Nic didn’t take shit from anyone; not even
the local head of the Bratva. “Feel free to put him out of his
misery and let him know they’re ready for pick-up,” I huffed.
“Already done, even though I should have let the bastard
suffer a little longer. It’s the least he deserves for doubting our
ability to follow-through.”
“Alrighty then.” No matter that I was just as irritated, I
refused to get into the middle of a pissing match between Nic
and Maxim. Nothing good could come of it. “I guess I’d better
hand the package off to you ASAP. Then I can hunt down some
food before I wither away to nothing since I haven’t eaten a
thing yet today.”
“I’m surprised your sister hasn’t forced anything down your
throat yet,” he chuckled.
“If I’m not out the door to meet up with you soon, she will.”
“Meet me at Romano’s in an hour, and you can kill two birds
with one stone. I’ll make sure you get lunch, and you can hand
over what I need to get Maxim off my back.”
My stomach growled at the mention of one of my favorite
restaurants. “I’ll be there,” I agreed.
It wasn’t like I would have said no even if Nic’s plan didn’t
work for me. Nic was the head of the DeLuca family. He didn’t
suggest. He ordered, and the rest of us followed. It had never
bothered me before since he’d always been kind to me and
hadn’t asked for anything I wasn’t willing to do. But as I hurried
through my shower and got ready to meet him at Romano’s, I
couldn’t help but wonder how much that might change with
Christian in my life. I had someone else to answer to now—a
man who’d made the choice to pursue a life outside the family
while I’d done the exact opposite.
As I walked into Romano’s I forced those thoughts out of my
head and offered the hostess a smile before I made my way to the
corner booth where Nic was seated. I slid a large, manila
envelope his way as I dropped onto the seat across from him.
Taking notice of the wine chiller on the table, I raised my brow
and jerked my chin towards it as I asked, “Did you order a bottle
of bubbly to toast the mail order brides that are going to be the
recipients of my artistic genius?”
“Of course not,” he scoffed, lifting his beer to take a swig.
“Champagne lunches are only my style when my bellissima wife
is with me.”
“Then who—” My words stuck in my throat when I spotted
the six-foot-four tower of muscles headed our way. “Oh shit.”
“Although I expected to see a bottle of vodka instead,” he
continued as though I hadn’t started to flip the fuck out.
I scooted around the booth while I hissed, “Nic, you didn’t
mention that we were meeting with Maxim to do the exchange.”
“It hadn’t been decided while I was on the phone with you.
Once he got my text, the Russian bastard called to let me know
that he didn’t want to wait a minute longer than necessary.”
I banged my head against the table. “I’m so dead. He’s going
to kill me.”
“You have trouble, little artist?” Maxim rumbled out. I lifted
my head to find him standing next to the table glaring at Nic. “If
he won’t take care of this for you, I would be happy to step in and
offer my assistance.”
Nic’s beer bottle slammed down on the table, and I hurried to
defuse the situation before it got out of hand. “Thank you for
your offer, Maxim. It’s very kind of you, but I don’t have that
kind of trouble. And if I did, Nic would absolutely make sure it
was handled.”
“Of course I would,” Nic growled. “Mia is family and has my
full support in anything she needs.”
“Just remember that for later,” I muttered, thinking about
the difficult conversation I needed to have with him about the
compromise I’d made with Christian—the one I’d already
managed to inadvertently break with this lunch meeting.
“Then why does she bang her head and talk about being
killed?” Maxim asked.
“Good question,” Nic replied as his attention shifted to me.
I circled my hand around to encompass the envelope and
Maxim. “Christian isn’t going to be happy about this.”
“Ah.” The big Russian nodded as though that explained
everything, reaching over to snag the passports. “Your man has
no need to be jealous. One of these is for my bride.”
One of the forged passports I’d created was going to be used
by a mail order bride for the local head of the Bratva. I bit my lip
to stop nervous laughter from bubbling up. At least I could find
humor in the fact that the odds were good that Maxim’s
relationship was bound to be more interesting than mine. “Of
course it is.”
“Speaking of my bride”—he stretched a muscular arm out to
grab the bottle of champagne—“they shouldn’t have put this on
ice since I planned to save it for her arrival.”
With a nod at both of us, he turned and walked away. As Nic
and I watched Maxim walk out of the restaurant, a waiter
stopped at our table and dropped off a basket of freshly baked
bread. Since I was starving, I ordered an appetizer, salad, and
“You weren’t joking about being hungry,” Nic chuckled when
the waiter hurried away.
I swallowed the piece of bread I’d shoved in my mouth before
answering. “Nope. My stomach was just about ready to try to eat
Nic smirked at me with a knowing look in his eyes. “I’ll have
to remind my cousin to let you out of bed long enough to eat.”
The silkily murmured words were a reminder of the news I
needed to share with him. “About that,” I sighed. “I wasn’t
kidding when I said Christian was going to kill me.”
“A week ago, I would have laughed at the idea of my staid
cousin being angry enough to do bodily harm. But now that I’ve
seen him cart you off over his shoulder, I guess I can believe it.”
“It’s not because he’d be jealous.” I thought about it a
moment and corrected myself. “Although I guess that’s
possible, too. But the reason he’s going to be pissed is because
he was very specific about wanting me to never be a part of an
exchange now that we’re involved.”
“I see,” Nic said, leaning forward and steepling his fingers
together as he looked at me.
“He also wants me to back off on the projects I do for the
family, limiting them to emergencies where you really need my
skills,” I hurried to add, figuring it was better to get all of it out
right away.
“And what about you, Mia? What do you want?”
“Excellent question, darling.” I almost yelped in surprise
when Christian slid into the booth next to me and threw his arm
over my shoulders. “One I’d like to hear the answer to as well
since you snuck out of my bed this morning and disappeared
all day.”
Well, shit. He already sounded irritated, and he didn’t even
know about the exchange with Maxim.

C hristian

I glared down into Mia’s eyes and spoke through clenched teeth.
“And, please tell me I was mistaken when I saw a man who
looked a lot like Maxim Ivanov in the parking lot.” Nic and I had
spoken after my confrontation with Mia in her studio, and he’d
mentioned who and what the passports were for. Maxim was a
long-time frenemy of the DeLuca clan, and I’d met him on one
occasion. So, I was fairly certain it had been him. Still, I hoped…
“Double shit,” Mia groaned quietly.
My arm dropped from around her shoulders. Apparently it
was him after all.
“You lied to me?” I inquired quietly.
“No!” she exclaimed.
“Calmati, cugino,” Nic broke in before she could say more.
“This was my fault, Christian. Mia was unaware Maxim was
meeting me here. She hadn’t yet informed me of your…
demands?” He ended on a question mark with one black brow
I stared back at him darkly. “If she were Anna?”
Nic’s expression cleared, and he leaned back in his chair.
“Point taken, cousin.” Then he turned his intense scrutiny on
Mia. “Back to the original question. Mia, what is it you want?”
I reached for her hand under the table, and she squeezed it
tightly as she gazed up at me. “You.”
A smile stretched across my face before I leaned down to
claim her lips. I lost awareness of my surroundings and
deepened the kiss until the spell was broken by the sound of Nic
clearing his throat. I couldn’t help my small chuckle when Mia
jumped back and glanced at Nic sheepishly, with her face
burning red. It was adorable.
Nic sighed. “As a happily married man who hates it when his
wife is in any type of danger, I cannot begrudge Christian for
wanting you to step away from this life. But, I also should say,
Mia, you are the best I’ve ever worked with and I would hate to
see you go.” He shot an annoyed glare my way, though it had no
real malice in it. “So, I’ll take what I can get. How about I consult
you on the things I need, and you choose which jobs to take?”
“That works great.” Mia jumped in before I could speak. Then
she let go of my hand and grabbed onto my thigh, digging her
nails in so hard, I knew I’d have marks. Honestly…it was kind of
hot, though unnecessary. I wasn’t going to interject; I could live
with this compromise. Slowly, I pried each of her fingers out of
my thigh and laced ours together.
“Brilliant. Now, if you don’t mind, I need Mia.”
“You should probably let her eat first, cugino,” Nic smirked.
“She needs to replenish her energy to keep up with your DeLuca
Mia slapped a hand over her forehead and groaned. “You did
not just say that!” she snapped.
At that moment, food arrived and I gaped at the amount the
waitress set in front of Mia.
Nic slid from the booth and tossed some money on the table.
“You should let her out of bed to eat occasionally.”
The waitress laughed and scurried away. I glared at Nic. “Sod
off, mate.” He just laughed and sauntered to the front door.
Mia had ignored us both and dug into her meal with gusto. “Is
this your first meal today, love?”
She shrugged as she swallowed a bite of her sandwich. “I was
focused on getting the order done and forgot to eat.”
“No wonder Camila assumed you’d be here when I called
her,” I mused.
Mia shook her head and muttered, “That blabber mouth.”
“You need to be more careful about eating, love. You could be
eating for two.”
Mia promptly started choking on her mouthful of food. I
patted her back gently and pushed her glass of water closer
to her.
“I—I’m—I’m not—no way am I—” she sputtered after taking
a healthy sip. She looked up at me and her eyes narrowed at my
unabashed grin.
“If you say so, love,” I placated and kissed the tip of her nose.
“Still, you shouldn’t be skipping meals.”
She stared at me for a moment more, then seemed to decide
to ignore the whole conversation and turned back to her food. I
reached over to snag a pickle from her plate, and she promptly
slapped my hand causing me to dissolve into hearty laughter.
I waved over the waitress and put in a quick order. We ate in a
comfortable silence until she’d consumed every last crumb from
her lunch and anything left of mine.
After paying the bill, I scooted from the booth and stretched
my hand out for Mia’s. “I want to show you something. Will you
come with me?”

Our cab pulled up to a well-kept, but older, pre-war building not

far from Camila and Enzo’s brownstone. It was beautifully
designed and the original façade had been perfectly preserved.
I was living on a college professor’s salary. However, I still
had equity in the legitimate businesses. I couldn’t afford to
provide Mia with the kind of home Nic or Enzo had, but that
didn’t mean we wouldn’t live quite comfortably.
I hopped out of the cab and helped Mia to exit it behind me.
She smiled as her eyes swept over the exterior of the
apartments. “I love this building. The architecture speaks to the
artist in me.”
“I hoped you would feel that way.” Taking her hand, I led her
up the steps to the front door, then fished a key from my pocket.
I unlocked the door and guided her inside a small hallway. There
was a single door on the far end of the hallway and a set of stairs
up to the next level near the front. With another key, I let us in
the entrance at the end of the hall.
It led to a spacious, three bedroom, two bath apartment that
took up the whole main floor and the lower level, similar to a
walkout basement because it was actually street level. It also
included a decent sized back yard that led to an alley through
which you could reach Enzo and Camila’s home a few
doors down.
“What do you think?” I asked hesitantly as she wandered
quietly through the open floor plan that included a living room,
dining area, and large (especially for New York City standards)
“Did you rent this?” she asked quizzically as she disappeared
down a hallway that led to the master suite. I followed behind to
answer her question and gauge her reaction.
“Actually, I bought the building.”
Mia stopped short and spun around, her brows shooting up to
her hairline. “You what?”
I grinned. “I bought it. We’ll have to rent out the three upper
floors to afford the mortgage, but it’s ours.” I scrutinized her
expression, trying to decipher her feelings. “Do you like it?” I
asked, then held out my hand to stop her from responding.
“Wait, let me show you something before you answer.”
Grabbing her hand again, I towed her behind me and headed
to the lower level. There was another living space, two
bedrooms, a laundry room, and a storage room. At least, that’s
what it looked like. But, in the storage room was another door.
One that blended into the wooden paneled walls and it led to a
set of stairs. At the bottom was a room that had originally been
used as a bomb shelter.
I’d had multiple types of lighting installed since there were
no windows. They could be changed to imitate just about any
setting she wanted. There was a sink, mini fridge, stereo system,
and an intercom so we could communicate easily since the room
lacked a cell signal. I’d transported everything from her studio at
her sister’s house, then while we’d been at lunch, Enzo had
brought over everything from her…secret studio. The room was
set up and ready for her to create anything.
Mia gasped as her wide-eyed gaze took in every aspect of the
“Okay, now you can answer my question,” I prompted. “Do
you like it?”

M ia

Like wasn’t a strong enough word for the emotion coursing

through my system. I was completely blown away by the amount
of thought and effort Christian had put into the purchase. I was
thrilled that he’d so obviously had me in mind when choosing
the location. But what really got to me was that it showed that he
knew me better than I thought...and that he was more accepting
of my decision to still work some special projects for Nic than I
ever expected. His grand gesture meant everything to me;
conquering any doubts I might have had about him or how
quickly our relationship was progressing.
“I love it.” I swallowed thickly, clearing my throat so I could
get the next words out. “Almost as much as I love you.”
His dark eyes widened, filling with so much joy that my knees
turned to jelly, before he swooped down and cupped my face in
his hands. “I want to hear those words from you each and every
day.” His warm lips pressed against mine, and he breathed the
rest of his words against my mouth. “For the rest of my life.”
“Then I guess I’ll have to keep saying them then,” I
whispered. “I love you.”
A deep groan rolled up his chest, and he crushed me against
his body as his mouth devoured mine. I stumbled backwards
until my back bumped against the wall. Christian followed,
never breaking our kiss or letting any extra space come between
us. Our tongues tangled together, and the kiss quickly turned
desperate. Christian’s hands ripped at my shirt, lifting it over
my head before yanking my bra from my chest. Then his head
dropped low and his lips tugged at my nipple, drawing a moan
from me while I clenched my fingers in his thick hair.
“These are mine to suck on. Only mine. Always.”
“Yes,” I hissed out, arching my back as I felt each tug of his
lips all the way to my drenched core.
Even while he moved his mouth to the other side, he
unfastened my jeans with one hand and lowered them down my
legs so I could step out of them. Multi-tasking at its finest,
except I was falling behind on the job because I hadn’t gotten a
single piece of clothing off his gorgeous body yet. Reaching
down, I gripped the back of his shirt, pulled it upwards, and
tossed it on the floor.
Instead of returning to my breasts, he dropped to his knees
and his mouth drifted lower. He nibbled at my stomach, his
tongue circling my belly button before heading lower and trailing
across the edge of my panties. His fingers gripped my hips as he
tilted his head to lock his eyes with mine. “Every inch of your
beautiful body is mine, most especially this pretty little pussy.”
He dropped a kiss over the satiny material covering me.
“Mine to taste whenever I want.”
I shivered as he yanked my panties down and pulled one of
my legs over his shoulder. I was open and vulnerable in this
position, depending upon Christian to hold me up. But I didn’t
worry about falling. I trusted him to take care of me. To give me
almost more pleasure than I could handle while also keeping me
safe. And he didn’t make me wait long for it, either. His fingers
trailed up my inner thighs and headed straight for my pussy,
spreading it open. Then he leaned in, his warm breath a sharp
contrast to the cool air before he licked up my center. My fingers
dug into his scalp, using him for balance as my legs quickly
began to quiver. Face buried in my pussy, he firmed his grip on
my hips to help hold me steady.
“Christian,” I panted. “I’m so close.”
“Give it to me, love. Let go and come. I promise to give you
more,” he urged.
Sinking a finger inside me, he wrapped his lips around my clit
and sucked. The gentle pressure was exactly what I needed,
making me fly apart. My knees started to give but before I could
hit the floor, Christian lifted me up. I wrapped my legs around
his waist and clung to him as he walked us to the couch set
against the wall directly across the room. He laid me down,
removing his pants and boxers before following me.
“The way you taste,” he whispered in my ear. “I’ll never get
“Don’t expect me to complain. Not when your mouth and
tongue are so damn clever.”
His chest brushed against mine as he chuckled. “I won’t let
you forget you said that; not even fifty years from now.” His
fingers drifted down to my pussy, sinking two inside me.
“Because when I say never, I mean it.”
As crazy as it sounded, I believed him—more than that, I
agreed. When I thought of my future now, he was front and
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, enjoying the way
his body covered mine. It made me feel safe. And loved. “You’d
better, because I’m holding you to it.”
He pulled his fingers from my body and guided his hard
length to my entrance. Pushing forward, he dropped his
forehead against mine and whispered against my lips, “It’s like
coming home when I’m inside you. Every time, better than
the last.”
He kissed me softly, nibbling my lips as he sunk all the way
in. “You fit me so perfectly. Like you were made just for me.”
Tears filled my eyes at how beautiful this moment was. “And
you for me.”
“There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that we were meant
for each other.”
I reached up, cupping his cheeks as I tugged his head lower to
claim his lips. Sealing our love with a passionate kiss as our
bodies began to move in earnest. His hips picked up speed and
his cock thrust in and out of me, bottoming out on each drive
and not giving me any time to recover before he was back again.
What had started as sweet love-making quickly turned into a
primal claiming. It was hard and fast as we raced towards our
mutual pleasure.
Scoring my nails up his back, I dug in as my orgasm ripped
through me. His groans filled my ears as he followed me over,
rocking his hips so he could ride out his own release. When we’re
both done, he collapsed against me, quickly rolling us so that I
was sprawled across his body.
“Holy shit,” I breathed out when my heart finally stopped
“You can say that again.”
I tilted my head back to look up at him, a huge grin spread
across my face. “Let’s do it again, and I will.”
His eyes lit up as he chuckled. “Give me a few minutes to
recover, and then we can christen another room in our
new home.”
“Each and every one before we’re done?” I suggested,
winking at him.
“You can count on it, darling.”
I snuggled into his chest. “Since we own the whole building,
I’m pretty sure that would include all the apartments.”
“I guess if you’re going to be technical about it,” he drawled.
“I suppose we’d better move in as soon as possible. Just so we
have enough time to properly christen them all.”
His arms tightened around me. “I hope tomorrow is soon
enough for you because that’s when I scheduled the movers.
They’ll bring over the rest of your stuff and pick up anything we
order at the furniture store where we have an appointment in
the morning.”
I probably shouldn’t have let him get away with rearranging
my whole life, but that was a battle I could always try to fight
another day. Maybe...since I actually enjoyed when my sexy
professor took charge. “Tomorrow’s perfect.”

C hristian

It was early and I didn’t want to wake her. I had to teach a class
in an hour, but I couldn’t seem to pry myself out of our bed. My
palm was itching to touch her smooth skin.
Mia was naked from our bout of passion the night before.
She’d thrown the sheet off herself while she slept, a common
occurrence these days. She always seemed to be running hot.
I couldn’t resist the temptation of such a beautiful display in
front of me. Reaching out, I sighed and placed my palm on the
silky skin of her large belly.
“Hello, beautiful,” I murmured softly. A wide grin spread
across my face when I felt a tiny movement under my hand.
A soft chuckle reached my ears, and I looked up to see Mia
staring affectionately at me.
“You weren’t asleep?”
She smiled and shook her head. “I was taking bets with
myself to see how long you’d hold out before touching me.”
I crawled up until our heads were level and pressed my lips to
hers. “I’ll never get enough of touching you, Mrs. DeLuca.” And I
would definitely never tire of hearing her called that.
“Don’t you need to get to school, babe?” she asked, glancing
at the clock on the bedside table.
I groaned in frustration, especially since my hand had
traveled north and was cupping one of her gorgeous breasts.
“You don’t want to be late on the first day of class,” she
admonished in a teasing tone. “Besides, Brandon will be here to
get me soon. I’m spending the day helping Carly and
commiserating over the woes of being nine months pregnant.”
I frowned. “Helping how? You shouldn’t be—”
Mia cut me off with a finger to my lips. “With one of her”—
she gave me a pointed look—“side projects.”
I nodded in understanding and she removed her hand. Then I
kissed her quickly and hopped out of bed before the temptation
became too much. “Alright, my love. How about I pick you up
after my afternoon class and take you to dinner?”
“Sounds perfect.”

I looked up from my lecture when the door to the classroom

creaked. My attendance policy was very strict, and I leveled an
admonishing glare at the latecomer. But, he wasn’t one of my
students. His face was almost expressionless, only a hardness
that seemed ingrained in him. He wore black jeans and t-shirt,
as well as a bulky leather jacket. The entire room of students
watched him as he walked towards me.
Then his jacket shifted, and I saw the holster hidden beneath
it. My heart started to race. Fuck. Wasn’t this what I’d always
feared? That I would eventually get sucked into the DeLuca crime
vortex? What else could this man want? At least they’d come to
me and not Mia.
“Christian DeLuca?” he asked when he reached me.
I stopped short of speaking and simply nodded. Something
was off. He had an accent, but it wasn’t Italian…or Russian. He
sounded…the way Carly did sometimes when she got overly
excited and her Irish heritage exuded itself. He was likely Irish
mob—an O’Reilly.
“Carly sent me. Yer wife’s water broke, and they’ve taken her
to Mount Sinai.”
My heart exploded for a whole other reason, and I leapt into
action. “Bloody hell! Get me the fuck to the hospital!”
I spun around to grab my bag, knocking over a pile of books
and bumping the podium out of place. Once I had it slung over
my shoulder, I pivoted back but my first step landed on one of
the spilled books and it slid out from under me, landing me flat
on my ass.
The man’s steely façade cracked, and a chuckle escaped as he
reached a hand down to help me up.
Glaring at him, I quickly stalked to the door and reached for
the handle. I was still looking back at the O’Reilly stooge and
swung the door open a little too hard.
The next thing I knew, I was looking up at the mobster from
the floor as he laughed hysterically. “Yer definitely Brandon’s
brother. That man fell ta pieces when the boss went into labor.”

I tore my eyes away from my radiant wife and the sweet little
bundle wrapped in pink that she held in her arms. My mother
bustled into the room, immediately stretching out her arms and
making a beeline for my daughter. An involuntary growl escaped
my chest when she snatched the baby away. At the moment, I
didn’t feel like sharing my family.
“Behave,” Mia whispered. My mother simply ignored me and
cooed at my daughter.
“What name did you decide on?” she asked.
I smiled down at Mia’s glowing face and kissed her softly
before answering. “Sarah Grace.” It was our grandmothers’
names combined.
“Beautiful,” my mother sighed with a bright smile. “Just like
my newest grandbaby.”
Later, after everyone had congratulated us and left for the
night, we cuddled together on Mia’s hospital bed, just the three
of us.
At times like these, I didn’t always believe that my life was
real. I was married to the sexiest, most talented, and loving
woman I’d ever met. And, she’d just given me another little
piece of her perfection to love.
“Thank you,” I whispered as I brushed a kiss over each of
their foreheads.
“You’re welcome”—she cocked her head and smiled cheekily
—“next time, you get to do this part, and I’ll be the one knocked
on my ass.”
My cheeks heated slightly and I shook my head. “Brandon
told you?” Who else would have jumped at the chance to tell her
this quickly?”
“No, no. Not me. He took great pleasure in telling Sarah Grace
the second he had her in his arms.”

Missed Nic & Anna’s story? Keep reading for our bonus read,

Nic DeLuca is used to taking what he wants. Born to lead a

powerful mafia family, he’s not in the habit of asking for
permission—or forgiveness. He’s willing to cross any
boundary when it comes to possessing what he considers
to be his, and from the moment he laid eyes on Anna
Martin, he knew she was meant for him.

Nic is quick to move the innocent nanny into his home...

and his bed. But, he hides his dark side from Anna. The
deception is necessary to ensure she falls for him before
she realizes exactly who he is.

Please note: Nic & Anna’s romance is a three part story,

but there are no relationship cliffhangers.

A nna

“Good morning, Anna,” the recruiter at the Manhattan nanny

agency greeted me, waving towards the chair in front of her
desk. “You look lovely this morning.”
“Thank you.” My reply was faint. I might look nice on the
outside, but I was a mess on the inside as I sat down across from
her. I’d dressed with extra care this morning because I needed
the boost in confidence. I’d hoped to have been placed with a
family by now, but each of my interviews had been worse than
the next.
The first family’s home had been a disaster and they’d fully
expected the nanny to be the one to clean it. The second family’s
children were holy terrors who’d managed to scare off three
nannies in two weeks. My third interview was a couple days ago
and had been horrible. The mother hadn’t been able to make the
appointment due to a work commitment and the father made it
quite clear he expected to receive special attention if he hired
me. It had been enough to make me seriously reconsider if I was
cut out to be a nanny.
“I’m sorry things haven’t gone smoothly for you so far.
Matching a nanny with a family isn’t always an easy task, but
I’m sure we’ll be able to find something suitable for you.”
At least one of us was sure. “I hate to admit it, but I was
thinking maybe this was a sign that I should try to do something
else instead.”
She cocked her head and studied me a moment, most likely
trying to gauge how serious I was about giving up. “Are you
willing to give me one more chance?”
My hands twisted in my lap, toying with the edge of the
cardigan sweater I’d paired with a sundress to make it more
appropriate for a visit to her office. “Maybe.”
With a nod, she lifted a manila folder off the top of a stack
and flipped it open. She scanned it quickly before flashing me a
smile. “I think this might be perfect for you. The girl is six years
old and has had health issues, almost from birth. Because of her
illness, it’s harder to find a nanny to accept the position. Your
schooling could be put to good use.”
My heart strings tugged, even though I knew my one year
studying to become a physical therapy assistant wouldn’t be
much help when it came to caring for a sick child.
“Her grandmother has been caring for her, but she isn’t able
to keep up with her any longer—not because of Sophia’s health
issues, but because she’s had a health scare of her own. Her dad
came to us several weeks ago, but so far we haven’t had any luck
matching them with a nanny.”
I noticed a glaring omission in her description of the family.
“What about her mom?”
She rifled through the papers in the folder before answering.
“I can only assume she isn’t a part of her daughter’s life since
there was no mention of her in the information provided.”
“After what happened on the last interview, I’d really prefer a
position with a family, with a wife who will be around a lot. Not a
single dad.”
She closed the folder and leaned towards me, lowering her
voice. “I was lucky enough to meet with Mr. DeLuca in person. I
don’t think I’ve ever met a more gorgeous man. Trust me when I
tell you that he has no need to take advantage of an employee.
Not only is he sexy, he has money too. You’re a pretty girl, but
I’m sure he has women throwing themselves at him left and
“Okay,” I sighed, feeling like she’d put me in my place.
I was a nanny who couldn’t find a charge, and this little girl
sounded like she couldn’t find a nanny. Maybe it was meant to
be. Besides, if the interview didn’t go well, I could just throw in
the towel and think of something else to do. Really, what was the
worst thing that could happen?
An hour later, I was untying my cardigan from around my
waist so I could put it back on before knocking on the door of the
impressive brownstone, on the upper west side, in front of me.
Although my cream and pink striped sundress was flattering, it
was hardly appropriate for an interview with its spaghetti straps
and low neckline. All of which I wasn’t able to cover up with my
sweater before the door flew open.
A tall, dark-haired man with a neatly trimmed beard stood in
front of me. His black, button-down shirt was drawn tautly
across his muscular chest because one of his arms was pulled
behind his back as he held the door. His dark gaze swept over me
from head to toe, and I felt my skin heat in response to the flare
in his eyes as they landed on my chest. He whispered something
under his breath. It sounded like it might have been Italian. I
hurriedly put my sweater on and buttoned it up, well aware that
his gaze remained on me the entire time. When I lifted my head
once again, his lips were tilted up in a smirk that somehow made
him even more attractive.
“Anna Martin, I presume?” His voice was deep and slightly
rough, a perfect match for his looks.
“Yes,” I replied, my voice quivering at the end as he lifted my
hand to his lips instead of shaking it.
“I’m Niccolo DeLuca. Nic,” he introduced himself, tugging
me into the house and keeping possession of my hand to lead me
into an office in the back.
I should have known, but he was much younger than I had
expected. Most likely still in his early twenties. Holy heck, the
recruiter wasn’t kidding when she said he was hot. If anything,
she’d understated it. After my experience with the dad at my
third interview, I’d been understandably nervous about the idea
of working for a single dad. But if Nic DeLuca wanted to sexually
harass me, I wasn’t sure I’d complain.
“Please have a seat,” he gestured to a small, brown leather
After he helped me get settled, he dropped down onto the
matching chair which was diagonally opposite from me. His legs
were long enough that my bare calf brushed against his dress
“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me on such short
“It wasn’t a problem at all. I had a meeting at the agency this
morning, so I was already out and about anyway,” I assured him.
“My mother fell and broke her arm about a month ago, and it
brought my attention to just how much she does for Sophia and
me. Unfortunately, her doctor has decided she needs surgery
because the break isn’t healing the way he’d like. So, the need to
find a suitable nanny for my daughter is more urgent than ever.”
His eyes softened when he talked about his mom and
daughter, making him even more attractive than before. I
mentally shook myself, trying to overcome his magnetic pull.
“I’m sorry to hear about your mom.”
“Thanks.” He flashed me another smile before getting down
to business. “The agency sent your resume over. I noticed that
up until a couple months ago you were studying to become a
physical therapy assistant. Have you decided not to continue
with that? Because the hours I’d need you to be available aren’t
conducive to a full, or even part-time, course load.”
“No, I decided that it wasn’t for me so I won’t be going back.”
“What made you decide to try nannying?”
“I love kids,” I blurted out awkwardly. “I mean, I’ve always
been good with children. I started babysitting when I was twelve,
volunteered at the church’s day care all throughout high school,
and had planned to focus on pediatric patients as a PTA.”
“You only spent a year at college. I’m hoping whomever I hire
will stay for at least several years. Sophia is only six and will
most likely grow attached to her nanny. I don’t want to make any
unnecessary changes to her routine once it’s settled.”
Finding the right words to explain was difficult. None of my
friends or the few boys I’d tried dating in high school understood
where I was coming from. It had to be done, though, so I forced
the words out of my mouth. “Leaving school the way I did
probably makes me seem flaky, but I swear I’m not. It just
wasn’t right for me, it wasn’t what I’m really looking for in life.
It might make me sound old-fashioned, but what I really see
myself doing is being a wife and mother. Since I haven’t found
the right guy for me yet, being a nanny makes sense. I can’t
promise to stay on as Sophia’s nanny forever, but I can tell you
that I’m loyal. I’ll probably grow as attached to her as she will to
me, and it would be hard to leave her.”
“You’re hired.”
I felt my jaw drop as I leaned towards him. “But you haven’t
even checked my references or anything,” I sputtered.
“I’m not used to anyone questioning my decisions.” His tone
held a trace of steel mixed with humor, so it was hard to tell if he
liked that I was questioning him, or if I should never do it again.
“But, of course, the offer is subject to the background check I’ll
run on you.”
Since I’d always been one to follow the rules, I didn’t have to
worry he’d uncover anything and shrugged my shoulders.
“I’d like you to come back to meet Sophia tomorrow, after
I’ve had the chance to talk with her about you.”
“That will be fine,” I agreed.
“And then, if all goes well, I’ll want you to move in this
weekend when I’m available to help.”
“Move in?” I gasped. “I didn’t realize this was for a live-in
“It is now.” Some of my shock must have shown on my face.
“No need to worry, though. Not only will we have my daughter to
act as a chaperone, but my mother lives upstairs.”
I didn’t understand exactly what he meant about the position
only now being a live-in one, but I found myself agreeing
anyway. It looked like I’d found the nanny position I’d wanted,
only it was more than I’d bargained for.

N ic

“Caduto dalle Nuvole,” I muttered softly. The expression of

surprise had slipped from my lips involuntarily when I opened
up my front door to find the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
Not in the traditional sense, like a tall, Barbie-shaped model.
This woman was all curves and sweetness—a combination so
sexy, I was suddenly fighting to keep from scaring her away with
an obvious erection. I suddenly had a strong hatred for long
sleeve sweaters with buttons up the front. Her dark hair, green
eyes, and olive skin hinted at an Italian heritage, and I filed that
away for later.
In a spilt-second, I had no doubt the woman was mine. I’d
taken her hand and walked her back to my office for an
“interview.” It seemed the wisest course of action at the
moment. I didn’t want to scare her away. Not that I would let her
go. In fact, when she spoke about her desire to be a wife and
mom, I decided to move her in with us. Surprisingly, it hadn’t
taken much convincing, and I’d had to stifle a lascivious grin
when I realized she was just as affected by me as I was by her.
I took her hand once again, helping her up from her seat and
guiding her to the front door. I lifted her hand and brushed my
lips over the silky skin on the back.
“Until tomorrow, mia dolce.”
Anna’s eyes were wide and a little bewildered, as she nodded
then turned to slowly descend the stairs leading to my front
door. When she reached the sidewalk, she looked back to where I
was standing, leaning against the doorframe, watching her. I
smiled and winked, immensely pleased with the pink tinge that
appeared on her cheeks. Damn, she was fucking gorgeous, and I
couldn’t wait to get another look at the lushness beneath her
sweater and learn just how far down she would blush when I was
worshipping her body. And make no mistake, it would be
happening soon.
I wasted no time calling the agency and informing them of
the status change to live-in and asked for her background check
to be faxed over. It was in my hands less than ten minutes later. I
raised a brow at the name printed across the top confirming my
suspicions as to her genealogy.
The name suited her. It was every bit as exquisite as she was.
Why in the world would she use Anna? It occurred to me then,
she was my Gianna and mine alone, while everyone else got
Anna. I shifted in my seat, uncomfortably, my cock definitely
loving the idea.
“Daddy!” A sweet voice rang out as a blur of tiny arms and
legs, with dark hair streaming out behind, hurled themselves
into my arms.
I stood just in time to catch her up and twirl her around.
“How’s my preziosa today?” I asked Sophia as I smacked a kiss
on her plump little cheek.
She giggled and returned the gesture. “I’m feeling good
today, can I go to the park?” She blinked her long lashes at me,
her light brown eyes wide and begging. “Please?”
How could anyone ever deny this precious girl anything? I
checked my watch, I didn’t have another meeting until later in
the evening. “Why not?” Her whole face lit up with her smile,
and I felt like the king of the world. I would do whatever it took
to see that smile on her face, always. Days like those, they
almost made me forget the ones where her perfect face was
gaunt and pale, her whiskey-colored eyes full of pain.
We collected my mother from her apartment on the fifth floor
of our townhouse. I’d built it for her two years before when my
father passed. Knowing she was aging, and eventually the stairs
would be too much, I had an elevator installed, which was a
blessing for Sophia, who often didn’t have the stamina for the
stairs, as well.
Our home was in Central Park West, so we only had to cross
the street to step out of the concrete jungle and into the lush,
green, peaceful atmosphere of the park. My mother and I settled
on a bench to watch Sophia as she played on the jungle gym.
“How did the interview go, Niccolo?” she inquired.
I wasn’t sure how to answer, but honesty seemed the best
policy, especially when it came to my mother. Nobody in the
family could ever get away with lying to Mamma Allegra. “I hired
her. But, she won’t be Sophia’s nanny for long.”
Mother started chortling, and I glanced her way quizzically.
“Just like your father, aren’t you Niccolo?”
“I appreciate the compliment, Mamma, but would you mind
sharing the joke?”
She reached over and patted my hand. “Your papà
took one look at me and the next day he’d arranged a
marriage with my father. Our fathers were certainly happy for
the alliance, but it wouldn’t have mattered to my Lorenzo. He
would have stolen me away if they hadn’t given their
permission. Lucky for him, I’d been mooning after him from afar
and was all too happy to let him sweep me off my feet.”
I knew my parents had an arranged marriage of sorts and
they’d been deeply in love as long as I could remember, but I
didn’t know the rest of the story. “You didn’t know Papà before
he asked for your hand?”
She shook her head. “He worked for his family, and I only saw
him when he came to our house for business. I wasn’t supposed
to be anywhere around, but once I caught a glimpse of him, I
hovered in the background every time he was there.” She
laughed again softly, but her eyes saddened. “I miss him every
day.” She pinned me with a stare. “If she is the one, don’t let her
get away, Niccolo.”
“She is and I won’t,” I stated firmly. “She’ll be back to meet
Sophia tomorrow. Then I’m moving her in this weekend.”
“Into her own room?” my mother asked suspiciously. Raised
in a devoutly Catholic, Italian family, she wouldn’t approve of
my sharing a bed with a woman, much less a room before we
were married. I had no such qualms and, while I deeply respected
my mother, it was my house, my rules.
“For now.” I hated to disappoint my mother, but I was
determined to have Gianna permanently in my bed by the end of
the next week.
We spent an hour at the park then I took my girls home,
instructing my mother to rest and let me order pizza. As
expected, she was appalled that we would eat pizza she hadn’t
cooked. I looked pointedly at her broken arm, and she huffed but
While they ate and watched a movie, I returned to my office
for a conference call.
“Niccolo, you’re going to have to take over the reins soon, I’m
getting too old for this shit,” said my uncle, Antonio.
When my father died, Sophia was extremely sick and I was
only twenty years old. I asked my father’s older brother to step
in for him until I was ready to take his place. Antonio had never
had any desire to lead the family business. He’d been happy
running the front business, the perfectly spotless and legit
shipping company. But, he had understood and agreed.
Two years later, he was reminded why he never wanted to be
in my father’s shoes and he’d been after me to take his place. I
knew my time was running out. But now, more than ever, I
needed a little more time. I couldn’t take over until Gianna was
officially mine. I wanted a ring on her finger and a baby in her
belly before she found out about my “real” job. I’d ease her into
the life before opening her eyes to it all.
“I met someone, Antonio,” I stated quietly. There was a beat
of silence.
“Serious?” he asked.
“She’s mine. Even if she doesn’t know it yet.”
Antonio chuckled. “There is so much DeLuca in you, Nic. All
right, I know it won’t be long then. I’ll give you some
more time.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you next Friday at the meeting with the
O’Reilly's.” A snitch we had in our pocket had recently brought
it to our attention that a local faction of the Irish mob had been
trying to inch in on our territory. We were going to attempt a
peaceful resolution first, but I knew this group, and I didn’t
foresee it happening without force. If things didn’t go well, I’d
have to hire security for Gianna and Sophia.

The doorbell rang and Sophia perked up from where she was
coloring at the kitchen table. I waved at her to stay put while I
went to answer the summons.
I didn’t realize how tense I’d been until I saw Gianna standing
on the porch. She looked nervous but excited, and it was cute as
hell. I swept my eyes down her succulent body, taking in the
swell of her ample tits, pressing against the fabric of her white
blouse. Her tiny waist, full hips, and long legs (despite her
height which her bio had listed as five foot five) enhanced the
flirty red skirt she was wearing. I glared a little at the hem,
willing it to grow longer.
When my eyes returned to hers, her cheeks were pink and my
body tingled with the anxious need to drag her into me and kiss
the fuck out of her.
“Gianna,” I greeted calmly, masking the arousal and need
humming in my body. Damn, she was gorgeous.
Her eyebrows shot up at the use of her full name. “It’s Anna,”
she corrected as she moved to enter. I turned to the side but
stayed in the entrance, forcing her to brush by me. The touch
was too much. I gripped her hand and dragged her around the
nearest corner. I backed her up into the wall of my living room
and grasped her waist firmly. Her eyes flitted around
apprehensively, but eventually, the green pools locked onto
my gaze.
“Not to me,” I told her gruffly. “To me, and only me, you’re
my Gianna.”
Her eyes widened slightly, but I only saw it for a second since
in the next one, my lips crashed down onto hers.

A nna

I’d been kissed before. Or at least I thought I had, right up until

the moment Nic DeLuca’s mouth claimed mine. There was none
of the usual awkwardness of a first kiss. No chance for me to
wonder how I should hold my head, if I tasted like the strawberry
lip balm I’d put on earlier, or if I should part my lips. As soon as
his lush lips met mine, I gasped in surprise and he took control.
Head slanted to the right, his tongue swept inside to tangle with
mine. His fingers dug into my waist, tugging me flush against
his body and proving exactly how much he was enjoying our kiss
when I felt his hard length hot against my stomach. By the time
he pulled away to nibble on my lips, I could barely see straight,
let alone stand by myself without him keeping me upright. The
pecks I’d received had been from boys, but Nic DeLuca was no
boy—he was all man.
Once I’d steadied myself, one of his hands slid from my waist,
down to the hem of my skirt. I shivered when he slid it up my
thigh, the heat from his palm searing my skin. “Given more
time, I could come to appreciate your choice of skirt, but my
daughter is waiting for us in the kitchen.”
His daughter, who I’d come to meet and promptly forgotten
about when he’d gotten his lips on me. “Crapballs.”
His deep chuckle made me aware I’d said that aloud and not
just in my head. I felt the heat of a blush climb up my neck to my
face. He swiped his thumb across my cheekbone as he stared
down at me. “Such innocence,” he sighed. “It’s almost a shame
you found your way to my door.”
He didn’t give me a chance to wonder what he meant by his
statement, twining his fingers in mine and leading me out of the
living room and down a hallway into the kitchen. It was outfitted
with top of the line, stainless steel appliances and gleaming
black countertops, but it still looked homey. Colorful drawings
were stuck to the fridge, a few dishes were in the sink, and a
large bowl of fruit sat in the middle of the counter. I barely took
the time to appreciate the beauty of the room, my eyes quickly
drawn to the little girl with long brown hair, practically vibrating
in her chair at the table as she stared up at us with shining,
brown eyes.
“Is this her, Daddy?” she asked, her voice high with
“Yes, my preziosa. This is Anna.” The smile he sent her way,
his love for his daughter clear in his eyes, made him even more
attractive. “Anna, this is my baby girl, Sophia.”
“I’m not a baby anymore, Daddy,” Sophia said in
exasperation. “I’m almost seven.”
“Your birthday isn’t for another five months,” he
reminded her.
“I know,” she sighed. “That’s why I’m only almost seven.”
She was too adorable. I giggled at her response and she
quickly joined in.
“Oh, I see what’s going to happen,” he grumbled
exaggeratedly. “You two are going to team up on me,
aren’t you?”
Sophia and I smiled at each other, giggling even harder. Once
our laughter died down, I shrugged my shoulders at Nic and
offered him an apologetic smile. “What can I say? Us girls need
to stick together.”
“Yeah, Daddy,” Sophia chimed in. “It’s a girl thing, you
wouldn’t understand.”
Her response and Nic’s answering growl set off another round
of giggles for me, which were interrupted by the ringing of a cell
“I’m sorry,” Nic apologized after pulling his phone from his
pants pocket and glancing down at the screen. “I’ve been
expecting a call about an urgent matter and need to take this.”
“Go ahead.” I waved him away, pulling the chair next to
Sophia out and dropping down onto it. “Sophia and I will be fine.
It looks like she has some beautiful pictures here she can
show me.”
There was a moment of awkward silence when Nic left the
room, but I quickly filled it by asking Sophia about her pictures.
“Is this one a kitten?”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I really, really want one, and Daddy said
I might be able to get one soon. It depends on what the doctor
says at my next appointment. I hope Dr. Declan says I’m all
better and Daddy surprises me with a kitten.”
“What kind of kitten would you want?”
“A fluffy white one!” Her response was lightning fast, as
though she’d given a lot of thought to it. “Or a grey one, but it
has to be super fluffy.”
“I’ll make sure to tell him to only look at super fluffy kittens
if you can get one, okay?”
“Thank you,” she said sweetly.
“You’re welcome, but I love fluffy kittens, too.”
“Maybe you can help with the kitten? Daddy said you’re
moving in with us.” Sophia’s angelic voice held the slightest
note of uncertainty.
“Your daddy thought it would be easier for me to help take
care of you if I did, but only if you’re okay with me living here,” I
reassured her.
“Oh, I am!” she blurted out. “But I didn’t know if you had a
little girl like me at home who would miss you.”
I moved out of my chair and dropped to my knees in front of
her, taking her hands into mine. “No little girls or boys for me
yet. If I did, then I wouldn’t be able to move in with you. I
graduated from high school a year ago, but I still live with my
mom and dad. I’m sure they’ll miss me, but they know it’s about
time for me to leave home anyway.”
“My daddy had me when he was in high school when he lived
at Nonno and Nonna’s old house.” Her admission confirmed my
earlier assumption about Nic’s age. “But we moved out when I
was two because Daddy wanted us to have a house all to
ourselves. Then when Nonno died, he told Nonna he was willing
to share me with her, and she moved in upstairs and we got an
That was a lot of information out of such a little mouth. I
wasn’t sure what to tackle first, so I went with the safest subject.
“An elevator, huh? I’d love for you to show it to me. My mom
and dad’s house doesn’t have one of those.”
She cocked her head at me. “I don’t have a mom, just a Daddy
and Nonna.”
“I’m working on it, my preziosa.”
I jumped to my feet and whirled around, startled by the sound
of Nic’s voice. For a big guy, he sure was light on his feet. I
hadn’t heard him return, but surely he hadn’t said what I
thought. The rich, hot, single dad falling head over heels for the
nanny, at first sight, was something that only happened in
romance novels, not real life. Even if it did, it certainly wouldn’t
happen to me. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and
stepped away from Sophia, who was staring at both of us, her
gaze swiveling back and forth while she had a big grin on her
face as she took in the determined look on his.
“I’m sorry to say I need to cut our meeting short. I have
business matters which need my attention, and my mother is
waiting for Sophia to join her upstairs before I leave.”
Sophia scrambled from her chair and flung herself at Nic’s
legs, giving him a quick hug. “Bye, Daddy.”
He bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Bye,
my preziosa. I won’t be too long.”
“Okay,” she answered happily. She pulled away from him and
before I knew it, she was hurtling towards me. Her skinny arms
wrapped around my waist as she pressed her cheek against me in
a quick hug. “Bye, Anna. It was nice meeting you.”
“It was nice to meet you, too, sweetie.”
She was gone in a flash, racing away, presumably to the
elevator she’d told me about earlier.
“That went well,” Nic murmured, twining my hand in his
once again.
“It did,” I agreed as he led me down the hallway and to the
door. My gaze landed on the wall where he’d kissed me and I
almost missed what he was saying as I remembered the feel of
his lips on mine.
“I’ve reviewed your background check and references from
the agency, as you instructed me to do,” he said wryly. “Judging
from the hug she just gave you, you have Sophia’s stamp of
approval, too. There’s nothing stopping you from moving in this
weekend. Will Saturday morning work for you?”
“What about our kiss?” It certainly seemed like something
which might stop me from moving in. Didn’t it?
He glanced at the black and silver Rolex watch strapped to his
wrist. “Any conversation about the kiss will have to wait because
I can’t be late to this meeting. I can send a car and men to help
you with your possessions. Saturday morning at nine o’clock?”
“A car?”
“Yes, Gianna. A car,” he repeated. “In fact, use mine now to
go home so my driver will know where to pick you up, and I’ll
have an associate of mine fetch me on his way to our meeting.”
Before I knew what was happening, I’d been bundled into the
back seat of a gleaming, black town car. When the driver pulled
up in front of my parent’s house, I realized I hadn’t even given
him the address. He already knew how to find the house. Which
meant there really hadn’t been any need for him to drive me
home, and Nic had darn well known it. Sneaky man.

N ic

“Brandon. Wait a second.” My best friend since childhood

turned from where he’d been headed toward the door and
walked back over to me. He was also the man who would step in
as my number two when I eventually took over. He stopped by
the table and ran his hands over his buzzed, black hair, the short
sleeves on his t-shirt displaying his many tattoos. He definitely
looked the part of the enforcer, and we used it to our advantage
“What’s up, Nic?”
I waved for him to take a seat and waited until it was only he
and my uncle left in the room with me.
“There’s been movement in the O’Reilly organization. Word
is, someone is trying to move up in the ranks by taking on the
Brandon ran frustrated hands over his head and blew out a
breath. “You getting this from Silas?”
“Among other sources,” Antonio confirmed. “I wouldn’t put
too much stock in it if it were only that booze hound. But, his
information is usually correct and when I heard the same from
an informant, I knew we needed to take it seriously.”
“An informant?” Brandon repeated incredulously.
There wasn’t much Brandon didn’t know about family
business, but the fact that we’d been approached by someone in
the O’Reilly family six months before was one of them. My uncle
and I were contacted by someone wanting out and in exchange
for our help, she agreed to spend some time acting as our
informant. We would never have asked it of her, but she was
anxious to boot her father out of his place as the head of the
organization so she would be completely free of his tyrannical
reign when she finally left.
As much as I trusted Brandon, I wasn’t willing to risk anyone
knowing about Carly. Her position was too precarious and the
information she provided too vital. But, with the way things
were moving, I knew it was time to bring him in.
“I’m sorry we didn’t tell you before now, brother, but I
wanted to keep the circle as small as possible. It’s Grady’s
daughter Carly, and the situation is so fucked up, we need
your help.”
He nodded, aware that being the number two meant he didn’t
have to deal with one hundred percent of the bullshit, but always
willing to help lighten mine and Antonio’s load.
“I’m moving someone in with me on Saturday. I’m going to
have my hands full with her”—I was aware of the double
meaning in that statement, and Antonio’s smirk said he was too
—“as well as protection for Sophia and my mother.”
Brandon’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. “You decided
Sophia needs a live-in nanny? Are you crazy? You’ll have a full-
time job just keeping her away from the family business.”
“It’s going to be her family soon too”—Brandon’s face went
slack with surprise—“but you’re right, for the moment, I’d like
to keep her clear of it all. That’s why I need your help. I can’t
help feeling as though the shit is about to hit the fan. I need you
to become Carly’s shadow. If you get even the tiniest whiff that
she’s blown, pull her out and get her into hiding. She’s more
than earned our protection.”
He nodded, still looking a little shell-shocked. “Whatever you
need, man. You know I’ll get it done.” We both stood to shake
hands, our free ones rapping each other on the back a couple of
“Let me get Gianna settled, then I want you to come and meet
her. If I bring you over too soon, you’ll scare the fuck out of her,”
I jibed. Brandon flipped me the bird and loped out of the room,
“So,” Antonio drawled, drawing my attention, “moving her in
so soon?” His grin betrayed his lack of surprise.
“Mamma isn’t happy about the sleeping arrangements, but
she’ll have to live with it until I get Gianna to marry me.”
This time, he did register a little shock. “You’re moving her
into your room?”
“Not on Saturday,” I explained. “But, I fully intend to get her
pregnant as soon as possible, so those arrangements won’t
last long.”
Antonio burst out laughing. “Such a DeLuca,” he muttered
through his guffawing.
I shrugged with a grin. “So they tell me.”

I stopped abruptly and stared at the most perfect ass in the

world. Gianna was bent over, putting a few things in a bottom
drawer of the oak dresser in her new room. All day, I’d been
forced to endure the sight of her long legs in skin-tight yoga
pants and a t-shirt that kept slipping off of her shoulder to
reveal a lemon yellow bra strap. I’d forced down the need to
punch everyone else who got a glimpse of her creamy skin.
We had just finished unloading the last of her boxes, and I’d
come up to make sure she was settling in all right. My eyes
strayed to the queen size bed on the far wall, it was a far cry from
the oversized king in my bedroom, but it was still tempting as
hell. Especially since Sophia was spending the night with her
She yelped, jumping to her feet and spinning around. Her
hand flew to her chest, drawing my attention to her incredible
tits as they lifted and fell with her rapid breathing.
“Jiminy Crickets, Nic! You scared the heck out of me!”
I chuckled and shook my head as I prowled toward her. She
was too fucking adorable and I never wanted her to change. Well,
with the exception of bringing out the inner tigress I knew would
be there in the bedroom.
Her eyes widened to saucers as I closed in on her, but she
didn’t back away or break eye contact. Her pink little tongue
darted out to wet her lips, and I was fucking gone. Slipping my
hands around her waist I pulled her flush against my body.
“You tempt me beyond all reason, mia dolce.” I lowered my
head to place my lips gently on her neck and my hands traveled
farther down until I cupped her round ass in my palms. “I didn’t
like everyone seeing what is for my eyes only, Gianna,” I
murmured, nipping at her skin. She shuddered with a gasp, and I
smiled as I ran my nose up to her ear.
“Y-yours?” she questioned.
I clenched my hands tight and shoved my pelvis into her,
showing her just how much I wanted her. “Yes, Gianna. Mine,” I
growled. “I think these…pants”—I said the word with derision
—“need to be disposed of.”
Leaning back a little, I scanned her face to gauge her reaction
to my blatant claim on her. I would slow down if I needed to,
however, there was no way I was letting her go. She looked a
little dazed, but her mossy-green eyes were swirling with desire.
Yes, my sweet Gianna wanted me every bit as much as I
craved her.
This time, when my head bent down, I brushed my lips over
hers, before running my tongue along the seam of her lips. Her
little gasp gave me my opening and I plunged my tongue into the
warm recesses of her mouth. Just thinking about how much
hotter her pussy would be around my cock had the zipper of my
jeans digging into my erection.
My hands still firmly on her ass, I lifted her and set her on the
dresser, moving to stand between her legs. Our mouths danced,
our moans the only sounds in the otherwise quiet room. I was
ready to take her right then, to sink myself deep inside her
pussy, and hopefully, leave her with a little part of me. Except, if
I was right, she was an innocent, and I knew she wouldn’t be
ready yet.
“Baby,” I whispered between kisses. “Tell me something.”
Un-melding our mouths, I watched her expression as I asked,
“Are you a virgin?”
Her cheeks tinged pink and she looked down, refusing to
meet my eyes. I loved seeing that flush on her skin. It was sexy
as hell. But, I wanted her to know there was nothing to be
embarrassed about. I put a finger under her chin and lifted her
gaze to meet mine, smiling gently.
“I want you either way, mia dolce. But, if you are untouched,
it would be the greatest gift you could give me, until you’re round
with my baby.”
Gianna looked shell shocked at my words for a moment, but
then her whole face lit up like the sun. She looked amazing, and
it took all of my control to remain still and finish our
“Yes,” she answered shyly.
A rush of possessiveness washed over me and I growled as I
took her lips once again. I began to kiss my way down to the wide
collar of her shirt and tugged it down easily, revealing her lacy,
yellow bra. It seemed a reflection of her innocence and for a
split-second, doubt entered my mind, wondering if it would be
ruined by the truth of who I was.
The beautiful sight before me swept the worry away as fast as
it had come. I hungrily looked my fill at her full tits, almost too
big for the bra. Sliding my hands up her torso and over to her
chest, I covered them with my palms. Then, moving them
southward, I dragged the cups down with them and her pink
nipples appeared, puckered and ready for my mouth. Bending
my knees slightly, I put myself at eye level with those delicious
peaks and licked around one before sucking it into my mouth.
Gianna moaned and melted into me, her hands delving into
my hair and holding my head at her breast. I nipped and sucked
until she was wiggling restlessly, her knees squeezing just above
my hips. After giving her other nipple the same attention, I
placed a tiny kiss on each tip and started to move southward
once again, ending on my knees before her.
It wasn’t time to take her yet, but I needed a taste to hold me
over. I was without patience, so I gripped the fabric on either
side of the seam covering her pussy and yanked until it came
apart with a loud rip. Gianna made a small sound of surprise, but
didn’t protest. My mouth watered at the sight of her matching
yellow panties.
Sliding the lace aside, I grunted at the glistening lips of her
pussy. “Look how wet you are, baby. I bet you taste like heaven.”
She mewled and her legs instinctively widened, bringing a
smirk to my face. My girl was begging for it, and I wasn’t going
to disappoint her. Leaning in, I took a long, slow lick, lapping at
her juices, satisfied when she became even wetter and a loud
moan slipped out.
I looked up to find her watching me intently, ratcheting up
my desire. “Put your palms behind you and lean back, mia dolce.
Open these gorgeous legs wide for me.” She did as she was told
and it bared her neatly trimmed pussy even more.
Using my palms, I pushed her legs even wider, moving in
closer and using my broad shoulders to keep her open to me.
With my thumbs, I parted her lips and all the blood in my body
rushed to my cock. It began to pulse, each beat a threat that I
could come at any moment. I closed my eyes and did my best to
calm down. Re-opening them, I put my face into the apex of her
thighs and inhaled deeply. She smelled like sugar, as sweet as
she tasted.
I dove in and ate at her, a mix of shallow and deep licks,
nibbles, and thrusting my tongue inside her. Within minutes,
she was crying out, her body tensed and humming with energy.
A glance up at her face and the confusion there, a little fear
among the acute look of pleasure, reminded me to tread
carefully. This was all new to her.
I placed a soft kiss on her inner thigh and blew lightly on her
drenched sex. “Don’t be afraid, mia dolce. Just let it happen.
This is only the beginning of the pleasure I’ll show you.” I eased
a finger inside her, groaning at the tightness there. When I felt
resistance, I stopped, a growl ripping from me as I imagine
plunging through it with my cock and making her fully mine. “I
can’t wait to pop this sweet cherry, to thrust so deep in you,
we’ll be one, and to spill myself inside you unprotected.”
Gianna was lost to me by that point—her head thrown back,
cries of passion falling from her lips each time I pushed back in.
Her little bud was pink and hard, indicating how close she was.
Returning my mouth to her heat, I sucked her clit hard, and then
bit down as my finger, once again, disappeared into her pussy.
She screamed and her body began to shudder uncontrollably.
I used my other hand to continue working her clit as I sat back so
I could watch her come. It was sexy as fuck, and for the first time
since I’d been a teenager, I exploded in my pants, my orgasm
ripping through me as I watched my woman, knowing every
shiver, every moan, it was all because of me.

A nna

Waking up on Sunday morning, I was determined to start off on a

more professional footing than I’d spent the day prior. Not that
it would be difficult since I’d ended it with my boss’s mouth all
over my body, and his fingers inside me while I experienced the
first orgasm someone else had given me. After he’d ripped my
yoga pants and one of my favorite pairs of panties, it was a major
understatement to say my first day as Sophia’s nanny didn’t go
at all how I’d expected.
Secretly fantasized about for days? Maybe.
But expected? Not in the least.
I hadn’t spent any time with Sophia except to say hello and
get a quick hug before she disappeared upstairs to her Nonna’s
apartment for the day. And night. Nic had prowled around all day
like a large, wild animal, practically growling at the men he’d
hired to help me move. He exuded a raw, primal masculinity
which was impossible to ignore. Every time I looked at him, his
eyes were on me. His attention was intense—fierce. I knew I
shouldn’t let anything happen between us, but then he’d stalked
into my room and all my good intentions flew out the window.
I’d never had such a strong physical reaction to a guy. It’s why
I wasn’t just a virgin, I was completely untouched. There had
been cute boys in high school, and a couple attractive guys in
college who had asked me out. But none of them had the same
energy as Nic. He was beautiful. Savage. Completely unashamed
of his attraction to me. And he totally threw me off balance every
time I was near him. But today was a new day, and I was going to
do my best to forget what it was like to have his lips on my
nipples and clit, the feel of his soft whiskers on my thighs. His
finger inside me.
Darn it! Shaking my head to clear the sensual fog Nic was able
to wrap around me by mere thoughts of him, I hurriedly dressed,
getting ready to start my day. Pulling out a dress, I longingly
looked at a pair of jeans. After Nic’s destruction of my yoga pants
yesterday, a dress probably wasn’t the wisest choice of clothes
because it would give him easier access to my body. We were
starting the morning off with church, though, and I couldn’t
bring myself to wear something so inappropriate.
Glancing at the clock, I noted how early it was, brushed my
hair, pulled it back into a low ponytail, and swiped some gloss on
my lips. I wanted to beat Nic and Sophia into the kitchen, to start
this morning off on the right foot by making them breakfast.
Checking my reflection in the mirror above my dresser, I nodded
in satisfaction before heading out the door. I closed it quietly
behind me and crept past Nic’s room on tiptoes. I didn’t hear any
sounds from behind his door, but I didn’t trust him not to have
an internal radar which told him I was awake and out of my
room. Or to be a light enough sleeper to hear me moving around
in my room, since we shared a wall. Yeah, he’d put me in the
room next to his. I found it only slightly less shocking than the
way he’d made me come. Nic DeLuca was going to be a handful.
I arrived in the kitchen without incident and puttered around
until I found all of the ingredients and tools to make French
toast. I hummed quietly, lost in the comfort of something I
enjoyed and was good at. I didn’t even notice Nic enter the room
until his arms slipped around my waist, causing me to yelp with
“Morning, bellissima,” he rasped, his breath warming my
ear. His voice sent shivers down my spine. It was lethal, and
completely unfair that a guy who had his looks also sounded so
sexy. The sound of him speaking in Italian was enough to make
my panties wet.
“Good morning,” I croaked, my voice hesitant and unsure.
He nuzzled against my neck. “You look and smell good
enough to eat.” He nibbled at my skin, making me squeak aloud,
before lifting his head to peer over my shoulder at the pan on the
stove. “But I guess I’ll have to satisfy my hunger with the
breakfast you’re making me since Sophia and my mother will be
down here any minute.”
“Your mom?” I gasped, turning in his arms to look up at him
in surprise while running my hand down the front of my dress to
smooth out any wrinkles I’d gotten since I’d been up.
“No need to be afraid of my momma, Gianna. She’s excited to
meet you.”
He probably meant to reassure me, but his statement only
sent my heart racing more. If she was excited to meet me, then
they must have talked about me. My face heated at the thought
of meeting her so shortly after what had happened in my room
last night. The humor in Nic’s eyes and the smile tilting the
sides of his lips made me want to stomp my foot in frustration.
He didn’t seem to be worried in the least.
“I’ve never met a boyfriend’s mom before,” I blurted out, my
hand flying to cover my mouth as soon as the words left it. I’d
just called him my boyfriend. How much more of a dork could
I be?
Apparently, Nic had a thing for dorky girls because his eyes
heated with a possessive gleam. “Good,” he purred. “I’m a
greedy man and want all your firsts to be with me.”
“Give the poor girl some space, Niccolo.”
My spine straightened at the sound of the feminine voice
scolding Nic. I tried to step away from him, to turn and greet his
mom, but he didn’t let me get very far. Instead, he wrapped an
arm around my waist and led me over to where she stood.
“Good morning, Mamma,” he murmured, bending low to kiss
her on the cheek. “I hope you’re hungry because it looks like my
Gianna made enough French toast to feed an army.”
My cheeks heated further, but Nic’s mom didn’t give me the
chance to think about how her son had introduced me to her.
She tugged me away from Nic, her gaze sweeping me from head
to toe, before a wide grin spread across her face. “Such a
beautiful girl.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. DeLuca.”
“Please, call me Mamma Allegra,” she urged, wrapping me up
in a warm hug before stepping away and patting me on the
cheek. “There’s no need to be so formal.”
“Thank you,” I replied faintly, wondering even more about
what Nic could possibly have said to his mother about me.
I widened my eyes at him in amazement at how welcoming
his mom was being, as she moved to the stove. “And she cooks!”
she exclaimed, helping me to get the food I’d made served up
and plates on the table. “More than breakfast foods?”
“Yes, ma’am.” She lifted a brow at me and I hurried to correct
myself. “Yes, Mamma Allegra. I love to cook.”
“I’m so happy to know I won’t have to worry about my son’s
penchant to order take out if I’m not cooking for him and my
“French toast!” Sophia squealed from the door, still dressed
in her pajamas. She raced into the room and climbed onto a chair
at the table. “Thank you, Nonna.”
“Don’t thank me,” Allegra said, waving in my direction.
“Gianna made breakfast for all of us this morning.”
“Anna,” Nic corrected, practically growling at her.
“I thought her name was Gianna?” Allegra asked, her gaze
darting between the two of us.
“It is,” I confirmed. “But everybody calls me Anna.”
“Except for my son,” she murmured, sending him a sly grin
before beaming at me. “I understand completely. I’ll make sure
to call you Anna from now on.”
I murmured something faintly, completely bewildered and
uncertain as to what it was she understood. Wanting a way out of
the conversation, I helped Sophia cut her food while Allegra and
Nic sat down. Once everybody had their plates full, I served
myself and was about to leave the room when Nic’s hand
whipped out to grasp my elbow.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“I thought I’d eat in my room to give the family some
“There will be no hiding away from us like a servant,” he
grumbled. “You eat with us.”
“This is what happens when you don’t wait for a lady to be
seated like I taught you to do,” Allegra chimed in, making Sophia
giggle around a mouthful of French toast and easing some of the
Nic stood from his seat and helped me into mine, his hand
slipping from my lower back to my butt and giving it a quick
squeeze along the way.
“Do you know how to make pancakes with chocolate chips in
them?” Sophia asked as Nic sat back down.
I was thankful for the distraction her question gave me and
turned all of my attention towards her. “I know how to make all
sort of pancakes. Chocolate chip, blueberry, banana. Even
caramel apple ones.”
“Chocolate chip is my favorite kind, but I’d like to try the
apple ones too.”
“I’ll make them for you soon,” I promised, reaching out with
my napkin to wipe some of the syrup from her chin.
“Very well done, Niccolo,” Allegra whispered, but not softly
enough that I didn’t hear her. My head jerked up and I caught
both of them staring at Sophia and me. Allegra had a look of
approval on her face, while Nic looked like he wanted to drag me
off to the nearest cave. I refused to consider what it could all
mean. Now wasn’t the time, so I filed it all away for later
consideration, as best I could, while I ate my breakfast.
Nic insisted on cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, so I left
him to it while I helped Sophia get ready for church. I lost the
battle to sit in the back of the car with Sophia when Allegra
insisted it was more comfortable for her in the back seat. I was
ultra-aware of both of them riding behind us when Nic tugged
my hand off my lap and twined his fingers with mine on the
middle console. He only let go after he’d parked the car.
I climbed out while he was helping Sophia and Allegra,
earning myself a glare and a growl. “You wait for me to open the
door for you from now on, Gianna.”
He didn’t wait for a response, leading us all into the church.
Nic gestured for me to enter his family pew first. I couldn’t
argue, aware of all the gazes directed our way. He followed
behind me, settling Sophia on his other side and his mother next
to her. Mass went by in a blur, with me more aware of the
warmth of Nic’s body brushing against my side than the words
spoken by the priest. If I’d been going to confession today, I’d
have quite a number of sins to confess. Both in deeds and
We made it to the steps of the church before we were waylaid
by the priest, who stopped to speak with Allegra.
“And who is this lovely young woman you had sitting with
you today?” he asked, his gaze turning towards me.
The priest’s question was directed towards Allegra, but Nic
stepped between us and answered for her. “This is my Gianna.
You can call her Anna.”
“You do know he took a vow of celibacy,” Allegra chuckled
“Welcome to my church.” The priest’s attention turned from
me to Nic. “I’ll keep my schedule as open as I can since I expect
you’ll have need for me soon.”

N ic

Gianna was a bit skittish for the rest of Sunday, avoiding me and
spending most of her time playing with Sophia. I let her get away
with it because I enjoyed watching them bond, knowing Gianna
was falling in love with my baby girl. Sophia adored her and
every time my preziosa smiled, it strengthened my resolve to
keep Gianna. She was going to make an excellent mother to our
I did my best not to constantly replay our time together in her
bedroom. The feel of her soft skin, her cries of fulfillment, the
sight of whisker burn on her creamy skin. Sunday night, after
everyone retired, I went for a nighttime run, pushing myself
until I was sure I would drop with exhaustion. I came home and
attempted to cool my body and my thoughts with a freezing
shower. But, I was as restless as I’d been the night before,
knowing her delectable body was only a wall away from me.
On Monday, Gianna and I both saw Sophia off to school. She
raced to the bus with such energy, I could almost forget she’d
ever been sick. She’d been diagnosed with renal artery disease
when she was just over three years old. It had been hard to
pinpoint the source of her pain at that age, and being a
nineteen-year-old, single dad, it had been exceptionally rough.
Sophia’s mother hadn’t possessed a single maternal bone in her
body, and as soon as Sophia was born, she took off. We hadn’t
heard from or seen her since.
But, Sophia and I were exceptionally blessed to have my
parents. They were my rock as I was forced to watch my baby girl
suffer. Right before my father passed, they performed surgery to
restore blood flow to her kidneys and she seemed to be greatly
improved. However, the doctors continued to monitor her
kidney function, wary of further developments and long-term
damage to her kidneys.
Despite her exuberance of energy that day, she’d been more
tired than usual lately, and it was concerning me. I took Gianna
back to my office and walked her through Sophia’s medical
history, routines, and other pertinent information. I threw in
facts about myself as well as encouraging her to unknowingly
answering several of my own.
After a couple of hours, my stomach grumbled and I glanced
at my watch to see it was just after noon. “Sophia’s bus will drop
her off at around two o’clock.” I smiled and stood, rounding my
desk to help her up from her chair on the other side. “Come, mia
dolce. I’m going to take you to lunch.”
Gianna shook her head and stepped back, earning herself a
dark frown.
“You don’t have to do that. I love cooking and you have such a
great kitchen.”
I caressed her cheek and gave her a soft smile. “I’m happy to
have you cooking for our family, Gianna. But, sometimes, I want
to spoil my girl.”
She blinked at me, seemingly confused. I wasn’t sure she
really knew what to make of her situation, yet. Perhaps I hadn’t
been clear enough. I grasped her waist and tugged her forward so
I could wrap her up in my arms.
“You’re mine, Gianna. I’m keeping you. From the moment I
saw you standing on my porch, fresh-faced and innocent”—I
nuzzled my nose against hers and grinned—“in a provocative
little dress you hid under a sweater.” I bent my head to whisper
in her ear, my lips brushing the shell. “Just like you’re hiding the
tigress inside I know is there. The one only I will ever get to see,
the one that I’ll set free when I fuck you.”
She gasped and her head reared back, her face a mask of
shock. But, even after only a few days of knowing her, I was
aware of how much I could push her, and my crude words had
caused a fire to burn in the depths of her green eyes.
I kissed her, urging her to let the fire grow, to be the
temptress I couldn’t wait to explore. When I finally forced myself
to stop, it was because I was a hair’s breadth away from saying
fuck it, and taking her to bed. She was panting and her eyes were
glued to my lips. “Unless you want that to happen right the fuck
now, you better scoot your sexy ass out of this room and get
ready to go eat.”
She nodded, still in a bit of a daze, and floated from the room.
I watched her gorgeous hips and bottom sway, my mouth
watering at the sight. I was losing the battle with my patience, I
couldn’t wait to be inside her and it was going to happen, soon.
After lunch, we decided to pick Sophia up from school and
headed home. On the way, I received a call from Antonio,
informing me there had been an incident and it needed my
immediate attention. I cursed silently at the shitty timing and
apologized to my girls as I dropped them at home. After giving
each a kiss, Gianna’s earning me a giggle from Sophia, I winked
at them and hopped back in the car to head to our warehouse in
Washington Heights.
When I entered the building, there was shouting coming from
the back offices. I jogged back to them and found Brandon,
Antonio, and two of our other enforcers in a heated exchange.
They all dropped silent the moment they saw me and a sense of
foreboding surrounded me.
“What happened?” I asked Antonio calmly.
He scrubbed his hands up and down his face, before looking
straight at me, and I suddenly noticed how tired his eyes were.
“One of our shipments was boosted from the warehouse in
Fuck! It was where we stored our more…sensitive cargo. The
items that weren’t exactly legal. “How much?”
“Everything from Saturday’s delivery,” Brandon answered
darkly. There was clearly something else behind his anger, so I
waited with a raised brow warning him to hurry the fuck up. “It
was the O’Reillys,” he bit out. “Our driver caught sight of them
emptying the truck and hid until they were gone. He called for
backup, but we got there too late.”
I scratched my chin, then ran my fingers down my beard, as I
stood there, thinking. Something didn’t feel right. “That
shipment was abnormally large, how was it you guys didn’t reach
them in time?”
Brandon nodded, agreeing with my train of thought. “He
obviously didn’t put a call into us right away. And—” he broke
off and glanced away, his face darkening with a ferocious scowl.
“And,” I prompted.
“Carly knew about the shipment.”
I was sure most people’s instinct would have been to
immediately accept her as the guilty party, but I found it hard to
believe she would lift a finger to help her family in any way after
what she’d shared with me about her childhood. “It wasn’t
Carly,” I stated, my tone of voice deadly. I was not to be
questioned and they knew it. I pointed at the other two men in
the room. “You two, get your ears to the ground and find out
where the fuck our cargo is.” I stared at them with laser focus,
my voice now full of warning. “Get it back and make sure they
know what happens to people who try to fuck with us.”
They murmured their agreement and exited the room, leaving
the three of us. I faced Brandon, my expression conveying the
seriousness of what I was about to say. “You need to accept it
when I tell you it wasn’t Carly, and if you can’t, keep it to
yourself and do what I tell you. Capisci?”
“Yeah,” he muttered and stalked to the door, but stopping
before he was in the hall and turning back. “Why didn’t you
warn me what a pain in the ass she is, stronzo?” Then he spun
around and was gone.
I might have laughed if our situation weren’t so dire. I knew
what was coming and it was time to stop putting it off.
“We look weak, Nic. I’m not meant for this and they know it.”
I sighed and faced my uncle. “I know. I’m sorry I’ve put you in
this position. You’re right, it’s time I stepped into my place as
the head of this family.”
Antonio’s eyes shone with pride, and it made me feel like a
son of a bitch for wishing he would continue to lead in my place
for just a little while longer. Now that I’d met Gianna, it would be
even more of a struggle to hide the nature of my business, who
and what I really am, from her until she was tied to me forever.
“Your father would be proud of you, Nic. The man you’ve
become, the wonderful father, and”—he winked at me—“the
husband you are surely about to be.” He walked over and clapped
me on the back as he strolled to the door. “I’ll call a meeting for
tomorrow night. We don’t have any runs scheduled and most
everyone will be able to attend.”
I went home with the weight of the world on my shoulders
and yet, I realized a part of me was ready. It was time to do my
duty and lead.
Over the next few days, I was incredibly busy with the
transition. I found time to spend with Sophia and Gianna, but it
wasn’t as much as I would have liked. I had hoped to have
convinced Gianna to move into my room by then, but all I’d been
able to accomplish were stolen moments with hot kisses and
some heavy petting. I’d made her come a couple of times, but it
wasn’t enough. The stress of my work had me needing her more
than ever. I longed to sink inside her heat and lose myself to her
Finally, on Friday, our shipment was located and the goons
who’d stripped the truck were made an example of. Their bodies
were delivered to the O’Reillys as a message. I knew this meant
we were likely to end up in a war, but we would be vulnerable
without a show of strength and power.
As we waited for the next move, I vowed to focus on Gianna,
to truly make her mine. She’d had enough time to accept what
was happening. Saturday night, Sophia would be staying with a
friend, and I was going to use every weapon in my arsenal to
show her who she belonged to.

A nna

“I’m taking you to dinner.”

It took all my energy to stop my lips from tilting up in a grin
at the way Nic asked me to dinner. He totally skipped over the
question part and just told me what we were going to do. He was
so darn bossy and it had nothing to do with the fact that he really
was my boss.
“It’s the first night I have free since I moved in. Maybe I
already have plans.”
“Plans?” he growled, prowling towards me.
“I have a hot date with some shampoo and conditioner,” I
joked in an attempt to lighten the mood, since he resembled a
lion who was ready to pounce.
It had the opposite effect than I had intended. Nic’s eyes
flared, heating with an animalistic lust. When he was inches
from me, he reached one finger out, wrapped it around a long,
dark lock and tugged. “If your hair needs washing, I’ll do it
for you.”
I gulped at the thought of showering with him, his hands all
over my wet body—mine all over his hard one. It was too easy to
picture us together under a stream of water. I leaned into his
hand, his fist unclenching, so my cheek rested against his palm.
“Dinner’s probably a better plan.”
“Fuck dinner,” he rasped, sweeping me into his arms and
heading for his room. “I’ll feed you later.”
He dropped me onto the oversized king mattress and followed
me down. “I tried taking it slow, Gianna,” he growled into my
ear, making me roll my eyes because the pace at which he’d
moved was anything but slow. “I wanted to give you time to wrap
your head around what’s happening between us, but I’m done
waiting. I can’t do it anymore. I need you too much, so I’m taking
what’s mine.”
His aggressiveness probably should have been a major turn-
off. Instead, my body betrayed exactly how much it aroused me.
My heart raced, my muscles went lax, and my lips parted as I
struggled to drag air into my lungs. And that was all before he
kissed down my neck, scraping his teeth lightly against my pulse
point before sucking my skin into his mouth hard enough I knew
it would leave a mark. My first hickey. I giggled softly and he
growled at the sound, lifting up on one arm to free his other so
he could pull my shirt up and over my head. My bra quickly
followed and my breasts were bared to his sight and touch. He
cupped one of them, rolling the nipple between his fingertips
and making it pebble. Trailing kisses down my chest, he reached
my other breast and flicked his tongue over the nipple several
times before sucking it into his mouth.
“Nic,” I moaned, my back arching as I ran my fingers through
his dark hair, trying to pull his mouth closer to me.
He chuckled against my skin and switched his attention to the
other side.
“Please,” I whimpered.
“I love the sound of your whimpers,” he murmured.
“Knowing I’m the only one who has ever heard them.”
There was no hurrying him, so I gave up trying. My hands slid
from his head, along his shoulders and back, tracing his muscles
as they bunched with his movements. When he moved lower and
nipped at the skin on my belly, I bowed off the bed, my nails
digging into his skin. I was desperate for him to move even
lower, well aware of the pleasure his mouth was able to give me.
Nic lifted up to look at me, and the heat in his gaze made me
burn even hotter. I reached down, unsnapped my jeans, and slid
down the zipper before I lifted my hips so I could shove them,
along with my panties, down and kick them off. His gaze swept
over my naked form, spread out underneath him. “I’m the only
one who gets to see you like this. Ever.”
“Maybe we could move from the looking part of this evening
to the doing?” I asked, feeling a little sassy, but a blush
immediately heated my cheeks.
“So impatient, my bellissima. But I need another taste of you
first,” Nic said. His hands were hot as he held my legs open.
When he bent over my pussy, I felt his breath against me and
jerked my hips up. His hold tightened, and my ass landed back
on the mattress. I writhed underneath him, but couldn’t move
my hips off the bed with his grip on me.
“Please,” I begged.
“Mine,” he growled, his tongue flicking against my clit.
“Yours,” I moaned, trying unsuccessfully to open my legs
He trailed his tongue down one side of my pussy lips and back
up the other, over and over again, driving me crazy. He
alternated the swipes of his tongue with licks to my clit, easing
off each time my body tightened with pleasure. After what
seemed like hours of endless torture, he ran his tongue up the
middle and drove it inside me.
“Yes!” I screamed, my hands clenched in the sheets as his
tongue speared in and out of me.
“Tastes so good,” he murmured, sliding one of his hands
around my hip and down my stomach until it rested over my clit,
ever so lightly. He flicked it gently once, making my hips jerk.
When he did it a second time, with a little more pressure, I felt a
tightening deep in my belly. And on the third, I went off like a
rocket. Nic licked me through my orgasm, flattening his tongue
and softening his touch when I began to shudder at the end.
“Holy moly,” I whispered when it was over, making him
chuckle as he licked along the skin of my inner thigh.
I lay limply on the bed, my legs sprawled, completely naked
with him fully dressed above me. “I think you’re a little
“That I am, Gianna,” he agreed, swiftly removing his shirt
and pants, leaving him in only a pair of black boxer briefs with a
visibly hard bulge. A big enough one that I gulped in hesitation.
“Don’t be nervous,” he whispered, pushing his boxers down.
His cock sprang free, long and hard. Impossibly long.
“You’re so big,” I breathed.
“I promise it’ll fit, mia dolce,” he swore, his fingers sliding
against my pussy. “You’re so fucking wet for me. We shouldn’t
have any problems. But let me stretch you out a little bit first.”
One of his fingers pumped into to me and I whimpered, even
while I widened my legs.
“You’re so tight.”
He added a second finger, working them in and out of me.
Stretching me. Getting me ready for him.
“I need to be inside you, Gianna. I’ll make it good for you, I
promise,” he whispered against my lips before kissing me
gently. “Give yourself to me now. Please.”
“Yes,” I moaned.
He pulled away and looked into my eyes. “There’s no going
back from this. You are mine, Gianna.”
“I know,” I whispered softly. There was no denying the way
he made me feel. This was more than physical attraction. It
might be crazy, but I was falling for him. Fast.
One of his hands held on to my hip and the other gripped the
back of my thigh. I instinctively wrapped it around him, the
other one following suit until I was able to lock my ankles
together. His hardness nudged against me, and I felt a
momentary panic. Then he was pressing into me. So slowly.
Centimeter by centimeter, giving me time to adjust. It didn’t
hurt, not exactly. I just felt stretched beyond my comfort
because he was so big. After he bumped against the proof of my
innocence, he pulled back slightly and drove into me with one
powerful thrust of his hips. Then it hurt. I felt like he was tearing
me in two.
“I’m sorry, mia dolce” he murmured, kissing the tears off my
cheeks. “I tried to get you ready. To be gentle. I should have
given you more time, but I wanted you too much.”
“You’re too big,” I cried.
“I’ll make it feel better, I promise.”
The utter sincerity in his voice soothed my heart but did very
little for the physical pain I was feeling. I’d trusted him to go this
far, so I waited, my eyes locked on his as my body adjusted. After
a few minutes, the pain eased to an ache. One which didn’t take
long to turn into the slightest tinglings of pleasure when my
walls unclenched, and he slid deeper inside.
“Mmm,” I moaned, wiggling my hips and testing to see if
there was any pain. “Feels good now.”
“You know you are right where you belong, Gianna. Don’t
you?” I melted into him. “Tell me you know.”
I nodded, unable to speak but knowing he was right. I felt a
desperation to be with him that should have scared me.
“I wanted to do this slowly the first time, Gianna. But I don’t
think I can now. I fucking swear I’ll make it up to you, though.”
I reached up to rest my palm on his cheek. “It’s okay, Nic.
Take what you need from me.”
He pulled out slowly, watching my face for any sign of pain.
When there wasn’t any, he slammed his cock back into me with
a hard thrust.
“So fucking tight,” he groaned. “Perfect.”
“Please, Nic. I need more,” I whispered, my body clenching
against him as he drove in and out of me. He lifted one of my
legs and brought it over his shoulder so he could get even
“Oh my,” I breathed at how far he went with the new angle.
He pumped into me, hard and fast, his eyes locked with mine
as he watched the orgasm build in me.
“I think I’m gonna come,” I whimpered.
“Come for me,” he urged me. “Now, mia dolce.”
He dropped my leg off his shoulder, and I wrapped it around
his waist as he continued to hammer into me. My fingers dug
into his butt while I lifted my hips to meet him thrust for thrust.
And then I flew over the edge again, clenching against his cock
and taking him with me.
“Wow, that was amazing,” I whispered when my heart
stopped pounding like crazy and I could speak again.
“You’re amazing,” he murmured in my ear, rolling onto his
back and cradling me against his chest.
We lay there together, bodies entwined while we whispered to
each other before he drew me a bath. He carried me into the
bathroom, easing me into the water, insisting I needed it to
soothe any aches away. When my bath was done, I could barely
stand on my own, falling asleep as soon as my head hit his
pillow. I woke up a couple of hours later, reaching an arm out for
Nic, but found the bed empty next to me. Lifting up on an elbow,
I found a note on his pillow telling me he’d been called away for
a work emergency. It was the middle of the night, his sheets
were stained with the proof of the virginity he’d taken from me,
and he’d been forced to leave me there alone. He’d seemed more
tense lately, stressed about something at work. It must be really
bad if it pulled him from his bed at a time like this. I only wished
he was willing to share some of the burden with me.

N ic

“What the fuck?” I shouted as I slammed the door to the

warehouse shut. “Someone had better be fucking dying to drag
me away from my woman at three in the morning.”
“Well then, I guess I better fucking die, shouldn’t I?”
My head whipped to the side as two of my men dragged
Brandon in through another door. He was leaning heavily on one
as he limped forward, blood pouring from a wound in his thigh. I
ran over and replaced one of the men, yelling at them to call for a
We took him to a back room kept for the overnight guards and
laid him on an old twin sized bed.
“What the hell happened?” I demanded, grabbing a knife and
cutting away at Brandon’s pant leg to assess the damage. Seeing
it was just a graze on his upper thigh, I sent up a prayer of thanks
Brandon sighed, but when he didn’t speak right away, I
looked up to find his expression the strangest mixture of
embarrassment and rage, it was almost comical. He glared at the
ceiling as he grit out, “Carly shot me.”
Shock almost knocked me on my ass. No fucking way. “Carly
betrayed us?” I croaked.
Bandon’s expression got even blacker. “No, she shot me
because I insinuated she might have.”
I shook my head a little, still confused. “Brandon, you pulled
me out of a warm bed with the woman of my fucking dreams, so
you could tell me you got shot for being an asshole?”
“No, motherfucker,” Brandon growled, “That’s why they”—
he pointed at Freddy and Enzo—“called you. I called you
because, while Carly was threatening to shoot me for being an
asshole, the trigger only went off because someone shot at us
Dread filled me. “What happened?”
“She ran away from me. And let me tell you, when I get my
hands on her, I’m going to take her over my knee and spank her
ass.” Brandon’s fist slammed against the wall as he finished.
“Bran!” I yelled, “Focus. What the fuck is going on? Who shot
at Carly?”
“I don’t think they were aiming for her.” This was said by
Freddy as he opened the door for another man to come inside the
small room. The older, balding, portly man was a doctor who I’d
known since I was a kid. Doc had been friends with my father,
and he was the one we called for injuries if a hospital could be
“Move over, boy. Let’s see what this one is whining about.”
I stood to let him by, watching Brandon grumble at Doc for a
second before turning a serious gaze on me.
“I was with Carly—don’t”—he held up a hand, clearly seeing
my intention to question—“we don’t have time for that right
now.” I raised a brow but let him continue. “Freddy and Enzo got
to us just in time to see that little fucker Darby running off.”
“Would you stop wiggling, boy?” Doc snapped. “You need
stitches and I’d rather not sew up your balls instead of the
wound.” Doc smirked. “Though those may be pretty well
shriveled and out of my way. Hear you got yourself shot by a
little lady.”
Brandon rolled his eyes. “For the love of…”
I was getting ready to shoot someone myself. “Silence!” I
exploded. I turned to Enzo, who’d been quiet this entire time,
not surprisingly. He was usually more seen than heard. But, this
was the reason I looked to him for answers. He often saw more
than most and was deliberate in his thoughts when vocalized.
Enzo crossed his arms and leaned back against the door jam,
his body only half in the crowded room. “Freddy and I had just
come off shift at the bar and were having a drink when we
overheard a couple of little shits talking about a reward Pat
O’Reilly just put out for the capture of any DeLuca.”
Rage boiled inside me but I stayed silent, knowing there
was more.
“Darby, his youngest, was hanging with the group, and I saw
him sneak out the back. He was packing, so we followed him. I
don’t know if he knew where Brandon would be, or if it was by
chance, but he stopped outside Bran’s house and hid in the
bushes. There was a pretty loud argument happening inside”—
Enzo’s eyes cut to Brandon, who scowled in return—“and when
Bran came into view, Darby took a shot before we could get to
him. He’s a piss poor shot and it went wild, but when we heard
the second shot and Bran went down, we rushed the house to get
to him.”
The wheels in my mind were spinning one hundred miles an
hour. What Carly had been doing at Brandon’s house was a
question for another day. What I was most concerned about was
the likelihood that Darby saw his sister inside.
“Did Darby see her?” I directed my question to Brandon,
anger at the situation and worry putting a bite in my voice.
He nodded slowly. “It’s why she took off. She wouldn’t listen
when I told her it was better for her to stay with me. I couldn’t
exactly chase after her. She cursed me to hell and back, then
hightailed it out of there.” He stopped and his eyes darted away,
reluctant to continue. I stalked up to the head of the bed and got
right up in his face, sick of his evasions.
“Stop fucking around and tell me the rest of it.”
“The thing is,” he said hesitantly, “she came to tell me about
the reward.”
“For shit’s sake, Brandon!” I yelled. “Darby’s probably told
Pat by now, and she’s out there on her own because you couldn’t
do what you were specifically told to do and keep your fucking
mouth shut?”
Brandon’s lips tightened into a thin line, but his expression
gave no indication to what he was thinking otherwise. “I’ll find
her.” I stared into his eyes and nodded when I saw the conviction
there. It went beyond duty, though, and I worried about what
might have sparked between the two of them.
Speaking of sparks, I was ready to get back to Gianna, but I
knew I’d be stuck cleaning up this clusterfuck for the rest of the
night. Doc finished up Brandon’s leg and told him to get some
rest, but it was clear he had no intention to follow the
suggestion. As soon as he could, he was out the door.
I dispatched Freddy and Enzo to get a couple other guys and
put their ear to the ground. I wanted to know everything there
was to know about the reward and how far the word was being
spread. For as long as I could remember, we’d done our best to
keep our family and businesses in a state of peace with the other
local gangs, or whatever you want to call them.
Ever since my father died, Pat O’Reilly had been trying to stir
up shit between the families. But now he’d gone too far. It was
time for me to step up, and considering the fragile state of my
relationship with Gianna at that moment, it was just another
reason to be out for his blood.
I returned home and silently made my way to the second
floor. As I passed Sophia’s room, I peeked in and looked at the
empty bed, littered with dolls. She was my princess, the light of
my life, and now I had another female who was just as precious.
They both needed to be protected.
Continuing on to my own bedroom, I padded over to my bed
and gazed down at the beautiful woman sleeping peacefully. Her
dark hair was splayed behind her and she was on her side, curled
around my pillow, the sheet dipping low, showing off the
smooth, creamy expanse of her back. I longed to slip into its
place but there was work to be done. Bending down, I whispered
a kiss across her lips, then went back downstairs to my office.
I started by sending an e-mail to a business associate of mine.
He ran a security company and among other things, he provided
private security. I wanted bodyguards on Gianna and Sophia first
thing. Then I contacted the buyers of our next two shipments
and moved the time and location of the sales. I was still working
when the sun came up and sometime later, a knock on my office
door drew my attention.
Antonio shuffled into the room, mostly shutting the door
behind him before taking a seat in the chair across from me.
“We need a show of leadership, Niccolo,” he said seriously.
“It’s one thing to tell the family, but it’s time to make it clear to
everybody else. We need a response to this challenge from
O’Reilly. Make it clear you’re not a pushover, and nobody fucks
with the DeLucas.”
I sighed and passed a hand over my beard, scratching my
chin, and thinking. “I’d rather not start a war, Antonio. I don’t
want the lives of my family, any of them, put in any more danger
from my work.”
Antonio nodded slowly. “I understand, Nic. But, they are in
even more danger if you appear weak.”
“Do you have a suggestion?”
He shrugged, a regretful expression on his face.
“Unfortunately, that’s going to have to be all you. I was never
cut out for this, Nic. I just know that it’s time to take a stand,
and for this family to survive, it can’t be me leading the charge.”
I knew he was right. I was going to have to be extremely
careful and strategic if I wanted to keep the peace.
“Have you told her yet?” Antonio’s voice wasn’t reproachful,
merely curious, but guilt creeped in anyway.
“No. I really can’t avoid it any longer. With everything being
such a clusterfuck, she’s bound to find out and I want her to hear
it from me.” My voice hardened with resolve. “I won’t let
her go.”
Antonio nodded and opened his mouth to say something but
was cut off by the sound of the doorbell. I glanced at my watch
and saw it was a little past seven.
“I don’t want whomever that is waking Gianna,” I said as I
stood and walked around the desk.
Antonio got up as well and patted my back when I passed by
him. “I need to get going anyway. We’ll talk another time.”
We entered the back hall, and while I headed to the front
door, Antonio went to the kitchen and left through the back
door. At the far end of our tiny yard was a gate to a back alley,
and there was a side alley one block up that cut through two
streets. He only lived ten blocks away, so exiting through the
back got him home a little faster.
I heard the murmur of voices from the front of the house and
frowned, irritated that the person had woken Gianna. I’d worn
her out the night before and she needed rest.
Reaching the front parlor, I recognized Carly’s voice. My
emotions were at war, one-part glad to see she was okay, and the
other angry, not wanting Gianna anywhere near the mess Carly
was embroiled in.
I turned the corner just in time to hear Carly say, “The word is
spreading about you. But, I have to say, you aren’t what I
expected. You seem awfully innocent to be with the ruthless,
gun-running head of the local mafia.”
I screeched to a halt. Oh fuck.

Nic & Anna’s story continues in Danger.


Risqué Contracts Series

Penalty Clause
Contingency Plan
Fraternization Rule

Yeah, Baby Series

Baby, You’re Mine
Baby Steps
Baby, Don’t Go
Dance With Me, Baby
I’m Yours, Baby
Brief Me, Baby
Play with Me, Baby
Safe with Me, Baby

Mafia Ties: Nic & Anna


Mafia Ties: Brandon & Carly


Sex & Vows

Until Death Do We Part
For You, I Will
From This Day Forward
Not-So Temporarily Married
My Father’s Best Friend
My Step-Dad’s Brother

The writing duo of Elle Christensen and Rochelle Paige team up under the Fiona
Davenport pen name to bring you sexy, insta-love stories filled with alpha males. If
you want a quick & dirty read with a guaranteed happily ever after, then give Fiona
Davenport a try!

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