(The Five Families #3)
Publication date: April 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance
It was supposed to be business.Two families, one wedding, zero emotion.My father’s mafia outfit had saved my life.I owed them everything.An arranged marriage was hardly a sacrifice when I would have already been long dead had it not been for them.I would give up my independence for the Lucciano Family.I would bind myself to the man whose family tore my life to pieces.Matteo De Luca was vicious claws sheathed in refinement and class.He saw my untamed independence as a challenge.I saw his alluring authority as a threat.There was a ruthless storm that raged in his oceanic gaze. A majestic tidal wave of temper and domination looking to break on my rocky shores.He would annihilate me.Rip open my layers until all my pretty secrets were scattered at his feet.The worst part? I wanted to experience whatever it was Matteo had to offer, and I hated myself for it.I wanted to launch myself at him.To kiss him. To kill him.To end the debilitating torture of the unknown.The moment our paths collided, our lives were altered irrevocably.Taking us from enemies allied by a strategic marriage to something dark and consuming.Something that tasted like obsession.
“If it’s so upsetting to you, why did you agree to it in the first place?” The question wasn’t antagonistic. I truly was curious why she had agreed to the marriage.
At last, her spite-filled eyes found mine. “Because I’m loyal. Because I would do anything for my family.” Finding herself again, her voice regained some of its iron toughness.
“Do you believe the marriage challenges your loyalties?”
“No. I am a Genovese and a Lucciano.”
“Until we marry. Then you’ll be a De Luca and a Gallo.”
She made no reply, but her steadfast gaze answered for her. She would sooner die than be either of those things.
I shouldn’t have cared how she felt. It was irrelevant to my plans and the future of my family, but that didn’t seem to matter. The stirrings of a serpentine anger slithered deep in my gut. I tightened my fists, refraining from grabbing her and shaking sense into her stubborn brain.
What exactly was it I wanted her to understand? That she wanted me? That there were worse things in life than calling herself mine? It hit me like a freight train that I wanted, no … needed, to get under her skin and crumble her brick wall of resolve. I needed to see her come undone and offer herself to me like a sacrificial lamb. I needed to make her so thoroughly mine that she saw me when she looked in the mirror.
I closed the distance between us, caging her against the back of the couch.
Her eyes widened with alarm, but she didn’t fight against me despite what had to be a feral gleam in my eyes. I eased onto one knee beside her and lowered my face to glide my lips along the shell of her ear. Her breathing shuddered.
“You think I’m the worst thing that could happen to you? I promise you could have done a lot worse.” When I pulled back and met her eyes, her customary fire had returned.
She slammed her hands against my chest, shoving me away, then stood toe-to-toe with me. “I’m well aware of just how vile you men can be.”
“You men? So, it’s not just me, it’s the entire gender?”
“What does it matter to you? I thought this was business?” she spat, eyes blazing.
“The arrangement is business, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to fuck you. I know you want to fuck me too, regardless of how much you fight against it.”
“You seem to know everything, don’t you?” she spat condescendingly.
“I know you.”
Her posture relaxed, and a vicious smile lit her face. “That’s the one thing you’ll never know. Whether we have sex or not, you’ll never truly know me.”
Her certainty took me aback. I scoured her features and could discern nothing but absolute confidence. She had no intention of letting me in. Ever. Why did that bother me so much? Like she’d said, this was supposed to be business.
I hadn’t gotten where I was in life without a relentless ambition to win. If she was going to pit us against one another, my competitive nature had no choice but to prove her wrong. Maybe if she hadn’t been so goddamn sexy, I could have walked away from the challenge. But as it stood, I was ready to go down with the ship if necessary. I would fight until the end—rip open her layers until all her pretty secrets were scattered at my feet.
Gripping her arms, I spun Maria around and pulled her back to my chest. Her muscles tensed, but she didn’t pull away. I lowered my mouth and nipped at her neck, coaxing a shaky breath from her.
Within a year of self-publishing her first book, Jill Ramsower quit her job as an attorney and dedicated her days to churning out romantic adventures. She likes to think of her books as contemporary romance with a touch of fantasy--at its core, her writing is about the connection between two people. Sometimes that connection involves a little magic...With Jill's books, you can count on confident heroines, plenty of steamy tension, and deliciously assertive leading men. There are no guarantees in life, but with her books, you know everything will work out in the end. However, a perfect ending would not be nearly as satisfying without a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Jill loves to add plenty of adversity in her stories, creating unforgettably dynamic characters and sneaky plot twists you will never see coming.Jill is a Texan, born and raised. She manages the hectic social calendars for her three active children and occasionally spends an evening with her dashing husband. Aside from being an author and a mom, she's a travel junkie and loves to read when she is not lost in her own stories.
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