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Copyright © 2019, Ella Jade
Back Cover Copy
Dangerous. Intense. And more intriguing than I ever remembered.
He's my every fantasy,
My secret crush,
My forbidden love.
I saved myself for him,
My father kept me sheltered from everything,
But Gianni wants to open up the world,
Let me experience it all.
I respect his family,
Respect his loyalty.
Until it threatens to destroy us...
Smart. Sophisticated. Innocent.
And completely off limits.
The senator's daughter has no business
With a mob enforcer like me.
But when we're together,
Everything makes sense.
I refuse to let anyone or anything come between us,
Even my family's enemies,
No matter how dangerous they really are.
Book Two in the Mafia Heat Series
All books stand alone
Contains Mature Content
“There you are.” My mother met me in the foyer of the main house. “Your father is looking for you.”
“I was getting my hair cut.” I shoved my phone in my pocket after checking my texts. “He left me three messages and two texts. It must be urgent. He hates texting.”
“Dominick is in the city,” my mother reminded me of my older brother’s whereabouts. “He needs one of you.”
“Your hair looks very nice.” She rubbed the back of my head. “Such a good looking boy. When are you going to find a lovely girl like Vincenzo? Nadia makes him happy. Don’t you want to be happy?”
“Ma?” My mother let her four single sons know on a daily basis that her other son had found true love.
“Oh right.” She motioned down the hall toward the study. “Something to do with Senator Bruno. He’s in the study.”
Ah, yes. The Senator. He liked to pretend he had no association with the Marchelli family. He had no problem accepting our generous donations from our legitimate businesses. He also didn’t mind calling on us when he needed security or an unpleasant job taken care of. We did plenty to keep him in office but no one could ever know about that. We were responsible for his growing popularity among the constituents in his state. I often wondered why my father was so accommodating when it came to him.
“You’re funny.” My niece Gia giggled from the family room. “I like playing with you.”
“You’re fun to play with,” a soft, delicate voice replied.
“New babysitter?” I asked when I heard Dominick’s daughter playing with an unfamiliar woman.
“No, it’s Angelique.”
“Bruno’s daughter?” The last time I’d seen her was at a party my mother hosted a few years ago. She was seventeen and totally off-limits but that didn’t stop me from staring. I was twenty-five and knew better. My brother Santino had a crush on her for about a week. I told him to go for it but he was too shy back then. If I was twenty, I would have gone for it. “How old is she now?”
“Twenty-three.” My mother walked down the hall with me. “She’s all grown up. A gorgeous, young woman. She recently got her Masters in education from Columbia. She’s beautiful and smart.”
“She’s back in New Jersey?” I’d have to peek in the family room on my way out.
“Living with her dad.” She shook her head. “Poor girl.”
“Gianni,” my father called to me. “Come in.”
“Have fun.” My mother rolled her eyes as she stepped out onto the back patio.
She wasn’t a fan of the Senator. None of us were but we had a beneficial relationship. We helped him when he needed it and he looked the other way when we needed him to.
“Dad.” I walked into the study, closing the door behind me. “Senator Bruno.”
The Senator stood when I approached him, extending his hand. “Gianni, it’s good to see you.”
Jack Bruno had been in politics his entire life. His constituents loved him. He’d been talking about a run for governor for a few years. He would definitely need our silent help if he was going to accomplish that. Lots of money and connections. Both of which my family had and he knew it.
“What’s up?” I leaned against my father’s prized pool table.
“Jack has a personal situation he’d like our assistance with,” my dad said. “I’d like you to handle it.”
“Of course.” When my father asked, I obliged. No questions asked. “What can I help you with, Senator?”
“Gianni, you can call me Jack.” He sat down and sipped his coffee. “Discretion is key for this particular situation.”
“Always.” That was the only way my family did business. Discreet kept us alive and out of jail. “What seems to be the problem?”
“You remember her?” He smiled with pride. “She recently finished graduate school.”
“My mother told me.” I looked toward the door. “I thought I’d stop in and say hello to her on my way out.”
“She’d like that,” he said. “She’s going through a tough time which is why I’m here.”
“You need me to help Angelique?” This evening just got interesting. “Is she in trouble?”
“There’s this guy.” The muscles in his neck tensed. “She went on a few dates with him but it didn’t work out. She’s not interested.”
“Is he having a hard time accepting that?” I asked.
“That’s an understatement.” Jack crossed his legs at the ankles. “He won’t leave her alone. She’s blocked him from her phone and social media but he uses others to contact her.”
“He’s stalking her?” That pissed me off. What the hell was wrong with men like that?
“He cornered her at a restaurant the other night when she was out with friends. She told him to leave her alone and I think he got physical with her.”
“What do you mean?” My jaw tensed. “He put his hands on her?”
“She wouldn’t say but she was shaken.”
“Gianni,” my father said. “Perhaps a chance meeting is in order. You can put this scumbag in his place. Make sure he leaves Jack’s daughter alone.”
“I can do that.” If this bastard hurt her, he’d be getting more than a warning from me.
“She’s fragile.” Jack set his cup down on the end table. “Naive. That’s probably my fault. I’ve kept her sheltered most of her life. She’s a good girl.”
Oh... I wonder how much Daddy doesn’t know about his good girl. She was probably one of those wild ones who were kept under lock and key their entire life and when they got out, they did it all. I knew a few of them. They could be so much fun.
“When her mother died,” Jack continued. “I was protective of Angelique. I’m afraid she hasn’t been exposed to much. Even when she went away to college, she kept to herself. She doesn’t have experience with men. I don’t want her to think she has to be with this idiot. I don’t want her in a situation she can’t get out of.”
“What do you need?” This was easy compared to what he usually asked us to do for him.
“I want him to leave her alone. Send a message that she isn’t interested in him.” He stared at my father. “Do whatever you have to do.”
Seriously? Did he think I would kill the guy?
“Gianni will handle it. All his information is in here.” My dad handed me a folder. “You’ll make it very clear that he should forget the Senator’s daughter exists.”
All I’d have to do was show up and when the asshole figured out who I was, he’d back off. They always did. I’d bring Dominick with me. Two Marchellis were better than one.
“I’ll take care of it tonight.” I took the information from my dad. “Your daughter has nothing to worry about.”
“Since coming back from school she’s a bit lost. That’s how she ended up with Leo. That’s his name.” He shook his head. “It’s all in the file. My P.I. says he hangs out at a bar in the city every Thursday night. He’ll be easy to find.”
“Leo won’t be a problem after tonight.” I opened the study door eager to get a glimpse at the damsel in distress. “Don’t worry.” I set the folder on the decorative table outside the study and headed down the hall. I wanted to see this innocent woman for myself.
Her melodic giggle filled the hall as I made my way to the family room. Standing in the archway of the massive room with the large flat screen and cathedral ceilings, I couldn’t help but notice how the light from the skylights cascaded around her. Gia placed a tiara on her head, creating a sparkling effect behind her. It was all so very... angelic.
I leaned against the doorframe, crossing my arms over my chest. Angelique had changed since the last time I’d seen her. She’d always been a pretty girl but now the woman in front of me was gorgeous. Her long lashes and perfectly manicured eyebrows highlighted her shimmery blue eyes. Her makeup was soft but her plump, pink lips drew me in. She took care of herself and it showed. Her clothes were casual. A light blue v-neck t-shirt that teased a hint of cleavage and the expensive jeans with well-placed rips in them accentuated her subtle curves. Her light brown hair was twisted into a low knot at the base of her slender neck.
“Uncle Gianni!” Gia barreled toward me, jumping into my arms and interrupting my analysis of Daddy’s little girl. “You’re home.”
“I am, ladybug.” I kissed my goddaughter’s head. “It sounds like you’re having fun in here.”
“Doesn’t she look like a princess?” Gia pointed to Angelique. “Like the one in the movie?”
Angelique smiled as she averted her gaze toward the floor. Was she embarrassed by Gia’s honest assessment? I thought it was spot on.
“She does but prettier.” I set my niece down and stepped forward. “Hi.”
I like the way she says my name...
Gianni Marchelli... I’m in the same room with him. I’d waited years to see him. To say his name. To make him notice me. I’d thought about him while I was away at school. Those big brown eyes and dark hair. His huge biceps, muscular shoulders, and broad chest. His full sexy lips. When I closed my eyes before falling asleep, I fantasized about that mouth on my hot flesh. I never forgot the tattoos that graced his toned body like a fine piece of artwork. He was still total perfection. And this time, I was legal.
The last time I’d seen him, I was too young. I was still in high school and he was a man. A mob enforcer with a bad reputation. He worked for his father doing things people didn’t speak of. He was my first crush. A vision I’d taken with me as I matured. I’d kept him inside my heart all this time. I never expected a chance with him but now we stood face to face. And I’m wearing a stupid tiara. Seriously...
“We’re having a tea party,” Gia informed him as I slipped the diamond-studded band off my head and placed it on the chair behind me, trying to act sophisticated. “Do you want to play?”
“Maybe later, sweetie.” Gianni winked at his niece and my ovaries may have exploded... a little. “How are you?” When he smiled... more explosions. “It’s been a long time.”
“Almost six years.” Did that sound weird? “I’ve been at school so that’s how I know it’s been that long.”
“Too long.” He leaned forward and kissed my cheek, resting his hand on the small of my back for a moment as he gazed into my eyes.
Holy shit! Gianni Marchelli!
“How have you been?” he asked.
“Uh...” Did he kiss me? “I’m well.”
“You kissed the princess.” Gia pretended to pour tea into a delicate cup before skipping out of the room, leaving me alone with my childhood crush.
“She’s adorable.” I tried not to be awkward but I failed miserably. “Very advanced for her age.”
“That’s because she’s growing up around her father and four uncles. We treat her like royalty but we teach her everything she needs to know.”
“How are your brothers?” The Marchelli men were the most eligible, desirable men in town even if they were slightly unattainable. “Dominick, Vincenzo, Salvatore, and Santino.”
“I remember coming to all those lavish parties your mom used to have.”
“She still has them.” He leaned against the back of the couch. “She’s having one this weekend if you’d like to join us.”
“Oh, maybe.” I nodded. “My father’s leaving for Washington tonight so I’ll be alone most of the weekend.”
“We can’t have that.” He held out his hand. “Let me have your phone. I’ll put my number in and you can text me so I’ll have yours. I’ll get you all the details.”
“Okay.” I took my phone out of my pocket, used my fingerprint to unlock it, and handed it to him. When he reached for it, I noticed the tribal cuff tattoo around his right wrist. “That’s new.”
“What is?” The confusion in his expression alerted me to how stalker-like I sounded.
“I don’t remember the tattoo on your wrist. It’s really cool.”
“Thank you.” His lips curved into a side smile and I wondered if I amused him.
As he created a new contact in my phone, I couldn’t stop staring at him. When my father said he was coming here, I asked if I could tag along. I’d always enjoyed this house and the warmth they all inspired. We’d eaten several dinners with them on Sundays when I was a kid. We didn’t come often but I remember those times. They were some of my favorites.
“My tat is new.” He handed me back my phone, focusing on the fresh bruise on my forearm. “What’s this?” He gently took my arm in his hand, studying the mark. “That looks new too.”
“It’s nothing.” I maneuvered my arm from his grasp because it really was nothing. I’d taken care of the asshole who’d left it there. Leo, that stalker creep. When he didn’t take no for an answer, I punched him in the eye. “I’m clumsy. I probably bumped into something.” That wasn’t a lie. I often banged into things, bruised myself, and couldn’t remember where I had done it. But this time, I remembered where it came from.
“Are you sure someone didn’t bump it for you?”
“What?” How could he know that? “No.”
Both of our fathers joined us in the family room as my phone buzzed with a text. My stomach churned as I read the message.
You stupid bitch, you can’t block me
My hand trembled when I realized Leo was using yet another of his friends’ phones to torment me. Why can’t he leave me alone?
“Angelique, what is it?” my father asked.
“It’s nothing.” I didn’t want to get into this in front of Gianni and Mr. Marchelli.
“It’s him, isn’t it?” my dad persisted. “It’s written all over your face.”
“It’s not a big deal.” I tried to assure him. “He’ll stop.”
“May I?” Gianni held out his hand for my phone again.
“It’s nothing at all,” I insisted.
“Sweetheart,” my dad said. “Let him see it.”
I glanced up, staring into Gianni’s encouraging eyes as he waited for me to let him see my latest text. The three men stared at me in the eerily quiet room. “It’s okay.” I reluctantly gave him my phone because I didn’t want to involve Gianni in this mess. “Just some guy who doesn’t like to take no for an answer. I thought I’d handled him.”
It seemed as if all the muscles in Gianni’s body tensed as he read the text. His jaw tightened as the veins bulged down his neck. I wondered if that was what he looked like when he was caught up in a moment of sweaty, dirty passion. What’s wrong with me? As if I’d ever seen a man hot, writhing, and caught up in pleasure. But if I had, I’d want it to be him.
“Unfortunately, some men can’t appreciate the word no.” He gave me back my phone. “Sometimes they need help understanding.” He looked at my father before returning his attention to me. “I’m sorry you have to deal with him but don’t reply to that text.”
“I’ll keep ignoring him.”
“That’s a good idea.” He lingered for a moment as our fathers engaged in conversation. “I’ll text you the details for this weekend. I hope you’ll join us.”
“I’d like to.” I sent him a smiley face emoji text. “Now you have my number.”
“Good.” When he leaned in to kiss my cheek, he caught me by surprise. The first kiss was a greeting, totally understandable. Almost obligatory. The second one? Not necessary at all. “It was nice seeing you.”
“You too.” When he let go of me, I stumbled, hitting the back of the sofa in a less than graceful attempt to be alluring.
As I tried to compose myself, Gianni moved toward my dad and said something to him and Dante Marchelli. The three men nodded in what seemed to be a mutual agreement.
What are they up to?
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