Peaches and Cream
Publication date: August 3rd 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Gabriel AbruzzoSoft.Ripe.Juicy.Her name is Empress. I asked, she didn’t tell. The new masseuse at The Governor is quiet and delicate. Delicate things get broken in the underworld, but Empress is on edge, those dark eyes harboring a thousand nightmares. Edgy gets my attention. And drawing my attention means trouble is coming. I should send her packing, but she clings to me, a man without a soul. One touch and all I think about is the taste of sweet nectar on my tongue. I know she has secrets but I’ll protect my little peach from bruises…at all costs.Empress ReignDark.Lethal.Haunted.I ran from a dangerous man. Now, I’m attracted to one with a darkness that frightens even my demons. Distractions, in the form of my new client, Gabriel could prove deadly. Touching him, stroking my fingers over all his sinewy muscle makes my mouth water for a taste. Getting involved would mean trusting him with my secret. Gabriel’s no angel, yet being close to him transforms my living hell into heaven. Maybe I’m biting off more than I can swallow, or am I?
“Bill ain’t here, lady. Now get out.”
Bill? Now I’m for real confused. “I don’t know Bill.”
He twists those gorgeous full lips into a lopsided smirk. “With the road dust on you, thought you were here for a kill.”
I can’t help the eye roll at the movie reference. “Haha. You made a funny.”
“I don’t joke,” he rasps. “Who are you?”
“Answer my question. A name.”
“I would like to see The Doctor,” I repeat, lifting my chin, staring him in those dark pits that are swallowing me up like shadow giving way to darkness.
“No. Leave,” he says.
“Why is that?”
“Because you don’t belong here.”
“Tell me something I don’t know, Mr. No. But it’s a free country.”
“Not in these walls. Management reserves the right to say leave… while you can.” He smiles, flashing me one gold canine.
My heart slams in my chest. What the fuck? I will myself not to take a step back. He’s trying to intimidate you, Empress. Inhaling, I slow my rapid breathing. Who in the hell on the management team thought a bully with a double flare plug in each earlobe and a polished fang should greet the guests? Not that it’s my business, but I ain’t scared… that much.
“He’s expecting me. You can do your job and tell him that his guest has arrived. I will wait right here.”
He narrows dark eyes on me. The broad muscles across his chest bunch in agitation. I can see it even through his suit jacket, that looks so out of place on a man built like a mountain. Images of him shirtless, no, naked and alone on a mountain peak, the world perfectly poised on his broad shoulders, have me sucking in a breath. He-man tattoos all across his chest proclaiming him the biggest and the baddest of them all.
I forget that Jada is on speaker until she says, “Tell that asshole that you have an appointment with The Doctor, don’t let him stop you.”
He looks to the phone I’m still holding in my hand. I tuck it behind my back as if he might take it from me. Like I’m a child who’s touched something that daddy says I can’t have.
“Yeah, what she said. Go get The Doctor, now.”
“Why do you need his help?” The way he asks the question gives me pause. Like he’s trying to decipher an agenda beyond medical necessity.
“That’s none of your business. Why don’t you just do your job, you glorified jackass. And go get The Damn Doctor like I asked.”
“Not wise to call me names, pretty girl.”
“Woman,” I correct. “And, normally I don’t, but when the ass fits, wear it. You’re giving me a hard time. So, I do what I have to do.” It’s true. I’ve always done what I had to do. It may have taken me a little bit longer to get away from Rafa, but I did it. I’m not going back.
No one is gonna stop me. Not even this asshole who’s trying to play gatekeeper in this fancy hotel. No one gives shit about women like me. Those who choose the wrong men. Who are stalked and hunted by men with money, power, or both.
I don’t give a shit what this man thinks of me. I have responsibilities. Jada is depending on me to protect her. And Alfie… I have to figure a way out of this.
“You know what? Never mind. I don’t need your help. I’ll find The Damn Doctor myself.”
I pivot on one soggy sneaker, a deliberate drag of my feet to scuff the clean tiles. Looking from left to right for something that hints at where a doctor’s corner would be in a palatial hotel.
There’s this club to my right. Al Di La is elegantly carved into the sign above double paned doors. It looks like some type of lounge. Inside, people are huddled in semi-circular booths chatting and laughing. Distracted by the opalescent, I missed the soft jazz accompanying a female vocalist floating through the air.
I turn to my left. There’s a bank of elevators. I’ll start with them.
Before I can take a step, Mr. No is around the counter. I see him coming towards me. I take a step back, stumbling over another guest’s personal luggage behind me.
Mr. No reaches out an arm and snakes it around my waist.
Panic. Fear. It all crushes into me.
“Let go of me. Don’t!” I scream. My arms are flailing as I curl my fingers into talons to fight off my attacker.
“Sis, what’s happening? Say something. I swear, if that jackass lays one finger on you, I’m gonna come down there and a kick his jolly green ass.”
“Whoa,” he grumbles while blocking my blows with ease. “You’re going to hurt yourself.”
Too late. Cramps shoot up my balled fists. Pain explodes in my shoulders. “Damn it.”
“That’s enough!” His voice rumbles over me, weighted and slow, crushing my anger. The previous agitation tumbles over at the impact. A new, more troubling sensation emerges. Attraction.
He holds me firm in his arms, but his touch is gentle. Our size difference is comedic. His big beast nostrils flare to my round-eyed dark beauty. I relax my fighting stance and cling to him. But then, like a well-trained pet, I remember. Big hands bruise. Big hands hurt. Big hands kill. Tensing, my demons break free, their defenses fighting a battle one touch from this stranger could defend.
I draw back my hand. With my open palm, I make contact, across his bearded jaw as hard as I can.
“What the fuck was that for?” he bellows, but he doesn’t release me.
“Don’t ever touch me!” I yell, shoving his hands away. “Stop being an asshole. Stop telling me no. Stop holding me.”
My breath is a choppy, high pitch. My inside voice is gone. All hope of staying invisible vanishes. The other guests watch the beginnings of what I’m sure is an emotional meltdown.
My clothes have shifted, and the scars to both wrists are on display. He looks at them, then back at me. I refuse to feel shame for surviving Rafa’s hell. Steeling my spine, I point in the direction of the lounge.
“Is The Doctor in there?”
“No,” he says, lifting one of my wrists for a closer examination. “Who hurt you?”
It comes out as a growl. His eyes darken to an obsidian I’ve only seen under museum glass. His whole body seems to grow before my eyes like the hulking beast he is. I grab the edges of my secondhand sweater, yanking the sleeves lower.
“No one,” I lie, averting my gaze.
“Hate liars, pretty woman.”
“Well, that’s all you’re gonna get from me, beast boy.”
Siera writes heroines you know, heroes you love, and romance you feel.
USA Today Bestselling & Award-winning author, Siera London pens contemporary and paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and crime fiction. She crafts stories of diverse characters navigating their journeys to love with intelligence, wit, and heart-gripping emotion.
When away from the literary world, Siera lives on the east coast with Mr. Awesome and a color patch tabby named Frie.
Visit her website at www.sieralondonauthor.com to subscribe to Siera London News or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsieralondon. Repped by Latoya Smith / ArtHouse Literary Services
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