We finished dinner at the restaurant then walked out into the winter air. The frigid temperature struck my skin the second we were outside, and I buttoned up my long black coat to protect my skin in the tight dress I wore. Knee-high boots were on my feet, protecting my skin to my knees. My stomach was warm from the wine and hot food, so that acted as an extra buffer from the nighttime chill.
Griffin had his arm around his Vanessa as we reached the sidewalk. In a black blazer with a V-neck on underneath, he didn’t look like the psycho badass who had ink all over his body. The only thing visible now was the black ink on his left hand—his vow of eternal love.
He took off his jacket and immediately wrapped it around Vanessa, even though she was in a long-sleeved black cotton dress. Her baby bump was noticeable, even when she wore all black.
“I’m not cold,” she said quietly to him as the jacket sat on her shoulders.
“Don’t care.” He wrapped it around her and stood behind her, keeping the jacket secure around her body as his hand moved to her bump. His hands were enormous, and it was easy for him to span her small pregnant belly with just a single palm.
She rolled her eyes, but the love was written all over her face. Her annoyance wasn’t real, and right before my eyes, she fell in love with him even deeper.
Seeing them together only convinced me of what I wanted someday. I wanted a passionate love like theirs, a man who loved me so much that he would die for me—a thousand times. And I wanted a man I would take a bullet for—because I couldn’t live without him. As a woman in her midtwenties, I was having fun and meeting new people every weekend. But now that I’d witnessed their love, I was starting to crave something more. Real love wasn’t something you just found on the street corner—it found you. My time would come eventually, but it might not be for years.
“That bump is so cute, Vanessa.” I smiled at her, seeing my cousin glow in the height of winter. “I can’t wait until we have another little Barsetti running around.”
She rested her hand on his as she leaned against him. “Me too.”
Griffin kissed her on the cheek. “I love this bump. Sexy.” He kissed her neck before he pulled away. “I’ll get the car.” He never cared about his overwhelming public display of affection for her, even in front of her family.
But that only made me like him more.
Vanessa stepped closer to me, keeping his jacket wrapped around her. “Dinner was nice.”
Vanessa chuckled. “What did the guy think?”
I shrugged. “I don’t care.”
She smiled. “Good answer.”
Griffin pulled up in his truck, then came around to the passenger side and got the door open. “Come on, baby. The car is warmed up.”
“Let’s go,” Vanessa said to me as she let Griffin help her into the seat.
Griffin looked at me like I’d just insulted him. “Get. In.”
“No. Thank. You.” I smiled, loving the way he got so worked up so quickly. “It’s a one-way street. You’re gonna have to loop back around, which seems silly since my apartment is literally right there.”
“I thought you told my father I could handle myself?” Griffin had always respected me as a person, not just a woman. But ever since he married Vanessa, he’d started to behave like an overprotective big brother.
“Yes,” he answered with a clenched jaw. “That has nothing to do with this.”
Vanessa’s voice was audible from behind me. “Let her be, Griffin. Take me home.”
His door shut a moment later, and they were gone.
I felt perfectly safe in this city because I always stayed on the good side of town. I walked everywhere, and not once did I have a problem with anyone. If someone tried to mug me, I would just stab their dick with the heel of my boot.
I crossed two blocks then turned right to take a shortcut to the next street, a cobblestone alleyway next to a coffee shop. A couple of bicycles were leaning against the wall, and light chatter came from inside the fogged windows. I turned right and kept going.
That was when someone grabbed me.
One hand was flung across my mouth while the other gripped me around the waist. “She smells as good as she looks.” A creepy voice spoke directly into my ear, the calmness of his tone more terrifying than the hand that silenced my mouth. He ripped off my jacket, leaving only my skintight dress behind.
“I find that hard to believe.” A man emerged from around the corner, dressed all in black with a beanie over his head. Approaching forty with a thick beard along his jaw, he looked like the devil spawn that roamed the streets late at night. He held a long piece of rope in his hands, which told me they didn’t just want my clutch.
They wanted something else.
“Bitch!” His hand loosened on my mouth as he jerked backward, his other arm releasing my waist.
I turned around and kicked him as hard as I could right between the legs.
“Fuck!” He gripped his balls and fell to the ground, so winded he couldn’t even move.
“Get her!” The guy with the beard moved in behind me just as two other guys joined the fight.
I got the knife and turned around. “Touch me and see what happens.” I held the knife just the way my father taught me, my other hand held at the ready while the rest of my body maintained a defensive posture.
I was surrounded and outnumbered, but I’d rather die than let them take me. I would fight my way out of this, never giving up.
I heard the sound of a cocking gun behind me. “Drop the knife, bitch.”
I didn’t turn around, keeping my eyes on the guy with the beard and the rope. “Stop calling me bitch. You three are the ones acting like bitches.” I turned around, my knife still held at the ready. I came face-to-face with the black gun pointed at my face.
I kept a neutral expression, but I was terrified. A barrel was pointed directly between my eyes, and my life depended on the finger squeezing the trigger. Just ten minutes ago, I was dining with my family, getting fat off bread, and having a great time. Now I was fighting for my life, unsure what to do and how to survive.
But I wasn’t gonna let these men take me. They didn’t want my shit. My clutch was on the ground, and they could have snatched it and taken off by now. No, they wanted me—and that was something I would never give.
“Drop the knife, bitch.” He took a step closer to me, the gun shaking in his hand.
He immediately fell back, gripping his shoulder as the blade stuck out of the wound. “Jesus Christ!”
The man with the beard jumped on me and quickly wrapped my wrists in the rope. “Got her.”
He pushed me onto the ground, not caring that my dress had risen over my ass and now they could see my thong. “Damn, that’s a fine ass.”
I tried to kick him. “Let me go! Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Nope.” The guy pulled out a piece of white fabric to bind my mouth. “But our dicks are about to find out.”
“Shut up. We don’t give a shit.” He kicked me in the back.
The pain made me lurch forward, but I refused to cry out. “Well, you should. Because Bones is my brother.”
His name was my lifeline, so I kept using it. “And he won’t stop until he gets me back. You know exactly what he’ll do to all of you once he tracks me down. So let me go, and get the hell out of town.”
They all looked at each other and seemed to come to an agreement. “If we let you go, we’re as good as dead. That means we have to kill you when we’re done—no tracks.” The man shoved the fabric into my mouth and gagged me so all I could do was make muffled screams.
This couldn’t be happening.
This couldn’t be my ending.
My life had been so perfect just minutes before. Now I would be raped and killed.
My parents would never recover from it.
Carter would be haunted by it.
This death was a death to all the Barsettis.
“Let her go.” A deep, masculine voice filtered through the alleyway, the baritone powerful and innately sexy. Full of authority and a hint of fearlessness, it was the voice of a man who wore an invisible crown.
The men turned silent, their shuffles absent because none of them was moving.
The men were still frozen in place.
I couldn’t see the man because I was facing the other way. All I had to go off was the sound of his voice, the way it was rough like sandpaper but hard like steel. He sounded young, maybe a few years older than me. It wasn’t Bones or one of my family members to save me. This man was a complete stranger—and he was provoking four armed men.
He spoke again. “Now.”
The man with the beard released my wrists. “Bosco—”
“Not her.” He snapped his fingers, commanding them like dogs. “Leave.”
The rope was yanked off my wrists, and the gag was pulled out of my mouth. The only thing they left behind was my black clutch that had fallen to the ground at the beginning of the fight. Their footsteps were audible until they turned the corner in the alleyway and disappeared.
My dress was still yanked over my ass, so I stood up and pulled it down, reclaiming my dignity after it had been taken away. Even though I was safe now, I was more afraid of the man who’d saved me than those idiots. All he had to do was say a few words to get those men to leave. That was an absolute kind of power—and that scared me.
I knew I was safe from those monsters, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think I was safe from him.
Once my dress was smoothed out, I faced the mysterious man named Bosco.
“Are you done?”
Amused, he gave a lopsided grin. “I’ll never be done.” He stepped closer to me, his black leather jacket tight on his thick arms. His muscles stretched the fabric, showing the physical representation of his strength underneath the clothing. He wore a black t-shirt underneath, and that was just as tight across his hard chest. He had narrow hips that led to dark jeans. He didn’t seem to be armed—and that made his power even more impressive.
He stopped a few inches away from me, so tall that he had to bend his neck down to look at me. He still wore the same smile of amusement as he met my gaze. When he shifted his eyes downward and looked down the top of my dress, his expression turned serious once more. “They made a good choice.” With stubble across his hard jaw and blue eyes like Griffin’s, he was a handsome man who didn’t belong in a dark alleyway. He belonged on a billboard or in a magazine. He didn’t need to kidnap a woman when he could sink himself into any pussy he wanted.
Like every other woman in the world, I wasn’t immune to his charms. He was a panty-soaker, a man I would take home in a heartbeat. Even if he told me he was a playboy who would be gone the second he was finished, that would have been fine with me—because he would make me come.
I didn’t like his arrogance, the way he thought he owned me just because he chased away those assholes. Without knowing a single thing about him, I knew he was from the underworld. He was the biggest predator in the food chain, the great white in the ocean. I didn’t underestimate his power, but I didn’t get on my knees and thank him either. “What do you want?”
He cocked his head slightly, his amusement increasing. “What makes you think I want anything?”
“Because you’re worse than they are.”
His eyes narrowed, and he stared at me for several heartbeats. He held my gaze without blinking, absorbing my words well after I’d said them. Long stretches of silence didn’t affect him at all. He seemed to thrive on it. “You’re a smart woman.”
My heart started to beat harder. I considered crying for help, but I suspected he would rip out my throat before I got the chance. His killer good looks didn’t mask the dangerous undertone he possessed. I’d been around powerful men long enough to recognize it from a mile away. He had the same aura as Griffin, the sort of man that could be equally evil or kind depending on the mood he was in. “What do you want?” Did he want to drug me and throw me in the back of a van? Or did he want me to get on my knees and suck him off as a thank you? It didn’t matter—he wasn’t getting either.
A shiver moved down my spine. I was both aroused and terrified at the exact same time.
“I don’t do this often.”
“What?” I whispered.
“Save a damsel in distress. Normally, I just keep walking.”
“I’m not a damsel,” I shot back.
This man was certainly more dangerous, but I preferred his company over the others. I didn’t like him, but I was still affected by his sheer magnitude, his gravitational pull that rivaled the sun. “If you think I’m gonna suck your dick as a thank you, you’re wrong. I would rather fight my way to freedom than submit to any man.” My pride would get me killed someday, but I would rather die with honor than submit out of fear. As a Barsetti, I held my head high and bowed to no one.
“Don’t call me sweetheart.”
He sucked a breath in between his teeth again, like my mouth was only making him want me more. “Carmen.” He said the name slowly, feeling it across his tongue as if he were tasting it.
“I didn’t want anything in exchange for saving you. But I changed my mind.”
“You aren’t getting anything.” Somebody else would be thanking him from the bottom of her heart, but I wasn’t that stupid. I knew this guy was bad news.
After all that, he just wanted a kiss?
He kept watching me, waiting for me to give my answer.
“A man should save a woman because it’s the right thing to do.”
“I’m not a man—I’m a monster.” He said it casually, like he was even proud of it. “As I said, I don’t do this. I normally would have walked by and ignored this confrontation in a heartbeat. I don’t give a shit about a stupid woman who walks home alone at night. If you were smarter, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”
“A woman should have the right to walk wherever she wants, whenever the hell she wants. Don’t blame this attack on me. Blame the assholes who wanted to rape me. They’re the problem, not me.”
“Spin it however you want, sweetheart,” he said coldly. “That’s the world we live in—and you know it. As a Barsetti, you know better. Imagine the disappointment of your father if he knew.”
“Don’t talk about my family.” This man didn’t know anything about me, and I wouldn’t let him bring my father into the mix. “If you don’t care about saving an innocent woman, why did you save me?”
His broad shoulders looked muscular in his jacket, and the thick stubble on his face matched the nighttime shadows. It was cold that night, but there was so much adrenaline in my bloodstream that I’d forgotten about it until now. Now that I could see the vapor coming out of his nostrils as he breathed, I remembered it was a freezing night in winter. I was still standing in a small piece of fabric, this man growling at me like a hungry wolf. “Bones is your brother?”
My family name hadn’t meant anything to those men, but Bones’s certainly did. A ruthless hitman who wasn’t afraid of anything, his reputation acted as personal security blanket around me. Maybe my fate would have been completely different if I’d never mentioned him. “Brother-in-law.”
Now I was truly afraid. I’d just stepped into the underworld, and the reality was cutting off my air supply. I could barely breathe because there just wasn’t enough oxygen in the air. If this man knew Bones, that meant their characters must be the same. He could be a killer, a rapist, anything…and I was alone with him.
“But I still want that kiss.”
My breathing had increased because I couldn’t hide my physical needs. Unfortunately, the vapor rose out of my mouth at a quicker rate, showing him just how nervous I’d become. “And if I say no?”
He moved closer to me and placed his warm fingertips against the back of my frozen neck. He gripped me gently, his fingers reaching under the fall of my hair. He didn’t kiss me, but he invaded my space, his cologne and body soap mixing together and forming a tantalizing aroma. It was the scent of pure masculinity, of a man with so much power in his touch alone. “You won’t.” His eyes flicked down to my mouth as he held me in place, his stubble so close to my lips. His arm moved around my waist with a powerful hold. He tugged on me slightly, arching the curve in my back and bringing me closer into his chest.
He was so warm, and his grip was so strong. Like probably every other woman, I’d fallen prey to his touch. The context of our interaction didn’t seem to matter because my attraction outweighed everything else. Reduced to a biological need, all I wanted was that kiss he demanded from me. It was more than a fair trade after what he did for me, but I found myself wanting to kiss him…just because.
“Say yes.” His thumb rested against my jawline, and he angled my neck back more, gaining better access to my mouth with our differences in height. He was over six feet, making me over a foot shorter than him. His thumb brushed across my cheek, and he practically breathed into my mouth as he waited.
For a man who could do whatever he wanted, it was odd that he was waiting for permission. Maybe it was Bones’s presence still protecting me. Maybe that made me invincible. “Yes.”
The second he heard that word, his mouth was on mine. He came in aggressively, but his kiss was surprisingly soft. He touched my mouth with purposeful pulls, really feeling my lips as he breathed into me. His arm tightened around my waist, and he pulled me closer into him.
Making me feel the stiff outline in his jeans.
He turned his head to the right, positioning my mouth for a deeper angle. Like a man deeply in love, he worshiped my mouth with passion, moving his lips with mine at the perfect speed and intensity. It wasn’t sloppy, and it wasn’t slow either. He kept me on my toes, enjoying me like this was the sexiest kiss he’d ever experienced.
It certainly was mine.
He cradled the back of my head as he gave me his tongue. With a quick swipe against mine along with a warm breath, he protected me from the cold and made me melt right at his feet.
Now I was lost.
I felt his hard chest as I moved my hand up his t-shirt, touching the muscles that were as hard as a slab of concrete. My fingers felt the cord in his neck as I made my way to his short brown hair. I fisted the strands in my fingertips, and I matched his passion with my own. He was a monster, a man of the underworld, but that didn’t change the way my body responded to him. Good or evil, I wanted him.
My hand touched his jawline next, the thick stubble coarse against my fingertips. My thumb brushed across his bottom lip as I kissed him. Every single inch of him was all man, especially the enormous hard-on pressed right against my stomach. If I could measure him with my fingers, he had to be at least nine inches. On top of that, he was thick.
He turned my hips and guided me to the wall of the alley. Our kisses turned from a smolder to raging fire. He pressed my back against the freezing stone and sank into me, covering me with his entire body as he continued to claim my mouth. He sucked my bottom lip into his mouth before he released it. “This.” He kissed my top lip this time, breathing against my mouth as he looked me in the eye. “Mouth.” He dug his hand into my hair again as he kissed me harder.
I didn’t care that we were in the middle of a dark alley and my panties were getting wetter by the second. I didn’t care if this man was a murderer or a thief. All I cared about was keeping his mouth on mine, making this kiss last forever. I’d had good sex and hot kisses, but nothing like this. This was the first time I’d ever come this close to the sun. I was about to get burned, but I didn’t care.
He grabbed my left leg and hiked it over his hip, pressing me farther into the wall so his cock hit right against my clit.
He gripped the back of my thigh and kept my leg in place as he started to grind against me, rubbing his thick length right against my throbbing clit. Without breaking the kiss, he dry-humped me right there in the dark alleyway, right there in the middle of winter.
And I wanted him to.
My nails clawed at him harder, and my mouth ached for more of his. Our tongues danced together, we breathed as one, and I gripped the front of his t-shirt because I was eager for him to take it off.
My hand slid up under his shirt, and that’s when I touched the rock-hard ads that felt like mountains. My fingers slid along the deep grooves as they made their way up to his hard chest. My thumb flicked over his nipple then stroked his pecs.
What a beautiful man.
He kept grinding against me, his huge cock hitting my clit in just the right spot.
Fuck, he was gonna make me come. Right in the middle of this ice-cold alleyway where I’d just been assaulted. I didn’t know anything about him besides his name, but my hips were rocking with his, and I couldn’t stop picturing how that dick would feel inside me.
He gave me his tongue again, and that’s when I came.
“Fuck…yes.” I gripped his shoulder and moaned in his mouth, my hips bucking against him as an awesome climax overcame me.
He stopped kissing me—just so he could stare at me. With hard eyes that burned with desire, he watched me convulse against his cock, his arrogance at its peak. His jaw was clenched hard as his fingers dug into the back of my thigh.
Watching him enjoy my climax just made me come harder. I moaned in the alleyway, an orgasm that was better than any I’d had during intercourse—or with my hand. My panties were soaked and I knew they were smearing against his jeans, but my mind was so far in the clouds that I didn’t care.
He kissed me again when I finished, a smile on his lips.
That orgasm felt so good that I didn’t care about being embarrassed. I wanted to keep my dignity, even now. My head rested against the cold wall, and I stared into his handsome face, his throbbing cock still pressed against my pussy.
“Wasn’t bad.” I dropped my leg and adjusted my dress. Like I’d expected, there was a dark spot on his jeans—a pussy stain I couldn’t erase.
He glanced at it then looked at me, his arrogance at an all-time high. “Yeah…not bad.”
I moved around him, keeping my head high and my back straight. My clutch was still on the ground and so was my jacket. I pulled on my coat and buttoned it up, hiding my curves from view as I retrieved my purse.
He came up behind me, his heavy footsteps audible in the silence.
I adjusted my hair then turned to face him. “Good night, Bosco.”
He stared at me with those cryptic blue eyes, his thoughts a mystery behind that stone-cold gaze. His hands moved into the pockets of his jeans, and his hard cock still made the front of his jeans rise with a bulge. “I like the way you say my name.”
He probably expected me to invite him over for the night. If he made every woman come like that, then he was probably used to women begging for him. I should be no different, but I refused to let that happen. I didn’t know much about this man, but I knew he was bad news. He might be beautiful as hell, but he was also dangerous as hell. I’d gotten a climax that would put me to sleep the second I got home. When I woke up in the morning, I would forget about this man forever. “You’ll never hear me say it again.”