Archive for the ‘My Writing’ Category

Have you taken the risk yet?

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Molly is ready to spend the holiday with friends. It’s the highlight of her year—or it was, until Tanner showed up. Her high school crush is all grown up, sexy as sin, and he’s demanding answers—answers Molly isn’t sure she can give.

When the woman he loved told him she needed space, Tanner gave her ten long years.  Now he’s back. He’ll settle for closure but hopes for a future. Sex with Molly is scorching hot and brings back plenty of memories.

When they’re together, it’s clear they were never meant to be apart.

Cover Credits:

Models: Lance Jones – Tattoo model & Kimberleigh Michelle
Photographer: Kruse Images & Photography: Models & Boudoir
cover designer Bookin’ It Designs

“It’s been a long time, Molly. I want you to know that I’m over it. I’m over what happened. How it ended. But I do need to understand. I need to know. Why did you break up with me? I thought we had a good thing.” He focused on her face. Without the aid of the campfire, he tried to search her eyes in the darkness, hoping he might somehow read her mind. “I never forgot you.” Not for a day in the ten years since he’d seen her, had he forgotten how she looked, what she smelled like. How good it felt to hold her, to touch her.

To kiss her.

To make love to her.

Raw, undiluted pain filled her eyes. It was a brief flash, and his gut clenched at the token glimpse.

“I don’t know what to say to you.”

He stepped in front of her and stopped, swiveling around to face her. She stumbled a bit on the gravel to avoid crashing into him. His hands clenched into fists in his pockets—the need to take her in his arms overwhelming. “Look at me.”

She lifted her chin, her head slowly tilting back until the features of her face were revealed. Even in the darkness, he saw uncertainty and panic struggling to stay buried behind those wide eyes. Regret sucker-punched him, but he couldn’t let it go that easily. After ten long years, he deserved answers.

Tanner grabbed her hand again, spun on his heel, and dragged her toward a path leading into the trees. She balked, pulling backward. He stopped again. “We should talk somewhere we won’t be interrupted.” Unrelenting, he leveled her with a look.

She lifted her shoulders and let them fall in a slow, fake shrug of indifference.

It had been a long time since he’d been into the park, but he remembered this footpath well. It wound around and would eventually come out behind where they were camped. She followed him until they came to a secluded spot a few feet off the main path. He walked over to a large tree, propped his back against it, shoved his hands in his pockets again, and braced one foot against the tree, hoping to appear casual.

Taking slow, cautious steps, she crept closer, stopping when she stood a few feet before him. “So you’re moving to Ottawa.”

“Actually, the deal’s not done yet.”

“But you said—”

“I know what I said, Molly. I do want to move back. But it depends on you.”

“On me? What does it have to do with me?”

“Are you seeing anybody?” The iridescent glow from the full moon filtered down through the branches, providing enough light for him to see her, but with her head ducked, her features were in shadow. He couldn’t see enough of her face or her eyes. He was desperate to see her eyes.

“Not that it’s any of your business. But no. Not at the moment.”

“I’m not either.”

She cast him a quick look of surprise. “Why aren’t you? You’re handsome and, from what I gather, successful. Why aren’t you married or committed to some lucky girl?”

He reached out and grabbed her hand, yanking her closer to him.

Gasping, she fell into his chest.

He gathered her close, spinning around to place her against the tree while he leaned in close to ensure she stayed put. She stiffened, surprise in her eyes.

“I’ve never forgotten you or what we had. You meant everything to me.” He put it out there. The pain he’d held in since that day she’d told him it was over, laced his words.

Molly dropped her gaze. “I never meant to hurt you.”

Shifting to the left, she made a move to step away from the tree, away from him, but he edged in close, stalling her. He placed his finger under her chin, tipping her face toward the moonlight. He gazed down into her eyes. “Why then? Why did you end it the way you did?”

“I had to… I… Never mind, I just had to.” She trembled as she choked out the last.

“I don’t understand. Did I do something wrong? Did I hurt you somehow?” His mind raced over their past, as it had many times, trying to figure out what happened. When things changed.

“Of course not.” Her conviction put him at ease, a little bit at least.

“Did somebody else do or say something?” Unexpected rage ripped through him. Good God, had somebody hurt her?

“No. No, it wasn’t anything you or anybody else did.” She tried to pull out of his grasp.

He held steadfast, closing the distance until his chest grazed hers. He pinned her to the tree.

“Please. Let me go.”

“I want answers.”

“I can’t—”

Standing this close to her, for the first time in years, her heart beating a rapid flutter against his chest did wild things to his body. His heartbeat sped up, sweat popped out on his forehead, and his cock hardened to steel. He dropped his gaze to her mouth. Her lush lips parted, warm breaths blew out in little spurts, fluttering against his neckline. He knew he shouldn’t rush this. He’d come with a plan to get her back, if she’d take him. But no way could he stop.

“I want the truth. I suppose I can wait a little longer if you’re not ready.” For answers. He could wait for answers. Touching her, tasting her, was a different thing altogether. “But I do have something I need to give you.” He hesitated, questioning his intention. Screw it. “I’m sorry, but I can’t resist, and you’re too desirable.”

He bent his head low, paused, and pressed his lips to hers. It should have been gentle, but it wasn’t. Unless she pushed him away, or told him no, the need to kiss her was vital, her taste essential.

She stilled.

He tensed, expecting her to do just that when she raised her arms and placed her palms against his chest. He held his breath, his body trembling while he waited. A heavy sigh escaped her mouth, and she curled the tips of her fingers into his shirt. With a soft whimper, she lured him closer, leaning into his body, taking his kiss.

A flood of emotions strangled him—anger, relief, basic sexual need. Pressing his highly aroused body solidly against hers, he flattened his palms against the tree on either side of her head. A moan rose from his chest. He swept his tongue inside her mouth, dueling with hers. He touched the soft insides of her cheeks and the smooth surface of her teeth, absorbing her unique essence, which was even better than he remembered. He drew back to lick along her bottom lip, placing small kisses at the corners, and then dove back in for more, angling for a closer connection. A sense of urgency began to build.

God, he’d missed this

~ * ~ 

Buy Worth the Risk Now:

Amazon US * Amazon CA * Amazon UK * Kobo * B&N * iBooks

It’s the Worth the Risk Cover Reveal

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Note: this is a re-release of my debut novel that was released in Jan 2013 through Etopia Press. Same title, different cover. The story has been re-edited and about 1200 words added to enhance the story, but it has not been significantly altered in any way. The book will be sold at a cheaper price than the original version, however, unless you would like an updated version, there is no need to repurchase the book.

A weekend of hot sex can’t erase past heartbreaks, but it might lead to a better tomorrow.

Molly arrives at a beautiful park, ready to spend the holiday camping with friends. This weekend is the highlight of her year—or it was, until Tanner Daivies showed up. Her high school crush is all grown up, sexy as sin, and he’s demanding answers—answers Molly isn’t sure she can give.

Years ago, Molly Simpson broke his heart. When the woman he loved told him she needed space, Tanner gave it to her—for ten long years.  Now he’s back. He’ll settle for closure but hopes for a future. Sex with Molly is scorching hot and brings back plenty of memories. When they’re together, it’s clear they were never meant to be apart.

It may be time to deal with the past. But is reliving it worth the risk?


“Come for me, baby.”

She froze. That quick, the climax that had been spiraling out of control fizzled and sputtered out. She collapsed against the bed and swallowed back an anguished cry, biting her lip hard in the process. “Stop.” She pushed him away when he reached for her and sat up, struggling to back up against the headboard.

“Molly, what’s wrong?” He remained on his knees at the side of the bed, confusion marring his handsome face.

She squeezed her eyes tight and sighed. When she opened them, his face shimmered out of focus. “Tanner—” She licked her dry lips to try again.

He waited.

Her heart cracked wide open. God help her, she couldn’t do this to him? Words fell from her mouth, stumbling over each other in her haste to spit them out.

But it wasn’t the words she’d practiced.

Tanner loved her. He’d want to take care of her. She refused to destroy his plans when he could do nothing anyway. “I can’t do this anymore. I think we should split up.”

His head lurched back, and an odd sound exploded from his throat. “What? Is this a joke?”

“No. It’s no joke. I’m sorry.” She grabbed the comforter, wrapping it tight around her body, right up to just under her chin. Distance. She needed distance.

“I’m confused, Molly. Everything’s been good. We’re graduating; we’re ready to begin our lives. What do you mean you can’t do this anymore? For Christ’s sake, we’ve been together forever.”


He jumped to his feet and marched a few steps away. He stopped, spinning to stare at her, his mouth hanging open as he swept his arm back and forth between them. His words, when they came, filled her with anguish. “What the hell was this? A good-bye fuck?”

She flinched at the harshness in his voice. “I’ve been thinking a lot lately,” she tried. She hated this. But thought it best, for Tanner. He had such a bright future. “I’ve never been on my own. I need to be on my own for a little while.” Cold seeped into her fingers and toes. Tiny shivers racked her body. Molly held tighter to the blanket, willing her teeth not to chatter, not to stutter over the words she struggled to say. “We’ve never dated anybody else Tanner. Maybe—“

“Maybe what?” he demanded, his eyes a mix of anger and deep hurt.

“She gulped over the lie lodged in her throat. “I believe we owe it to ourselves to explore our options.” Inwardly she winced. What a grown-up piece of crap.


Cover Credits Go To:

Cover Photo: Copyright Kruse Images and Photography

Models:  Lance Jones and Kimberleigh Michelle

Cover Design: Bookin’ It Designs


Available Tuesday, March 7th!

The Perfect Moment!

Monday, February 27th, 2017

For fans of Friends with Benefits, here’s a short follow-up story with Tyler, Angela, and Connor. It’s Valentine’s and Angela has a special surprise for her guys!

Angela O’Neil has been waiting for the perfect moment to share a secret with her two husbands, and Valentine’s Day is it.
But things take a turn for the worse when she sees red. Is she about to lose the one thing that would complete their three-way bond?

How about a naughty excerpt? 

“I’m gonna come, Angela.”

She added more suction; her cheeks hollowing with the effort. He moved his hips faster, driving his cock closer to the back of her throat.

“Ah yes, sweetheart, here it comes.” Connor dropped his head back as he drove forward one last time and then stilled, letting each spurt pulse from his body.

Angela whimpered as a shudder rolled through her. Finally, she relaxed her jaw, allowing him to pull out of her warm, wet mouth.

She sagged a bit, but Tyler leaped forward to steady her, while Connor tucked his flaccid cock back into his pants.

Tyler helped Angela to her feet. “Enjoyed that, did you?”

She nodded.

“Let me taste.”

Tyler grabbed the hand she’d used to pleasure herself and brought it to his mouth. His tongue flicked out to swirl around her two fingers before he opened wide and placed them in his mouth. He clamped down and Connor could see his jaw working but his intense gaze held Angela’s.

She stumbled, her back connecting with Connor’s chest. He held her tight while his friend enjoyed the benefits of Angela’s orgasm.

A wicked look entered Tyler’s eyes as he licked her clean and then kissed the tip of each finger before he relinquished her hand. “Very yummy, sweetheart.”


Universal Link

Authors Note:

This book was originally published as part of the Valentine’s Heat IV Anthology.

All rights have been transferred back to the author.

This book has been reviewed and editorial changes made, but the content has not been significantly altered.

There’s a Little Role Reversal Happening Here

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
17 Authors, 17 erotic short stories all bundled together



Cleis Press
ISBN-13: 9781940550213

Kindle | Nook

High powered, high ranking…and in high heels.

The term sex object brings to mind a curvaceous starlet on a casting couch or an iconic, bee-stung-lipped beauty being pursued by a powerful, capable man. In Sex Objects, Devlin turns that concept upside down by allowing the woman to objectify a handsome, sensual man, using the concepts of role reversal and power play, but from a female perspective, to create something evocative and fun for the feminine, romance-reader.

A record executive plays hardball with her latest star in “Hush.” In “Taste Test,” a food critic is seduced with a gastronomic feast by a master chef. “Dark Circus” enchants with a story about a circus owner and a young accountant exploring a D/s relationship. A celebutante and her bodyguard get “Slap Happy.” In Devlin’s own “Butled,” a famous writer succumbs to the tender manipulations of her butler. Lush settings and creative cliche-busting will delight readers eager to embrace the passionate and surprising couplings.

These women are masters of their own domain, in charge and proud…capable of using sex for pleasure’s sake…but ultimately succumbing to the pull of desire and love created by the “objects” of their desire…


And my contribution to this highly charged erotic collection is
Game Night

A photographer who likes to play games entices a professional ball player into spending the evening in front of her camera – naked.

Game Night - Promo 2


To discover the other 16 short stories that make up this collection, check out

Delilah Devlin’s Collections 

In the coming days, each author in the collection will be posting about their specific story.  

There’s sure to be something for everyone in this bundle. 

It’s Release Day!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Her Choice Quote Card #3


Family Ties, Book 1 * * * Kobo * B&N

He’s not her father’s pick. But he’s her only option.

Gage Barrett’s goal is to bring one of the biggest crime bosses in the city to his knees. The man runs drugs, extorts money, and has the profits laundered by the pretty Angelena’s father. Gage just has to get close enough to find the evidence he needs to put the guy away for good before another family is forced to live through a pain Gage is all too familiar with.

Angelena Bianco doesn’t understand why her father is so insistent she marry the son of one of his clients. Santo is a thug and she wants nothing to do with him. It will be a cold day in hell before she’ll walk down any aisle to that man. When the day comes for her to get married, it will be to a man of her choosing, not her father’s.

Lena has two months and few options. She needs to find a husband, fast before she’s forced into a situation she can’t live with.

Chapter One


“Mary said you were looking for me?” Angelena Bianco smiled at her father as she strolled into his study, though confusion settled in when he didn’t immediately acknowledge her.

When he did raise his head, he didn’t look her in the eye. “I’ve found you a husband.”

She stopped in her tracks. “Excuse me?” Her father had found her a husband. She didn’t realize she was looking for one. She continued forward into the room and laughed, though the sound lacked true amusement.

“It’s time you married.”

Laughter cut off cold, Lena stared openmouthed at her father. Where was this coming from? Her father had never pressed her to marry. Why now?

She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. Make that two. She tried a different tactic. “Papa—”

“The deal has been made, Angelena.”

Angelena Bianco dropped like dead weight into the overstuffed wingback chair. Her father’s desk, large and nicked with age, stood centered in front of the east-facing wall. The mid-morning sun streamed between the heavy paisley curtains hanging in the twin windows of her father’s office, slicing the dark interior into sections. Dust mites danced in the shimmering beams, tickling her nose. As a small child, she’d been comforted by the cozy feel of the room and the smell of the books lining the shelves. She’d sit for hours curled in one of the chairs while her father worked, sometimes peppering him with questions, more often simply relishing the opportunity to share the space with him.

Over the years, however, he’d changed. He smiled less, rarely laughed, and preferred the solitude of his office to spending time with his only daughter. As she grew older, they spent less time together and he answered fewer questions. When she became more curious about his business, he began working behind a locked door. These walls no longer held a sense of security, but rather a wealth of secrets.

After many foiled attempts to rebuild their relationship, she’d given up. Now they simply co-existed in the same house, sharing pleasantries and the occasional meal.

But today, not so much. Today, anger edged out every other emotion. Disbelief, a little bit of humiliation, and even a smidgeon of hurt at the insinuation she wasn’t equipped to find a suitable man simmered underneath. Maybe he sympathized over the fact that she had yet to meet a man willing to commit to a future with her. It’s not as if she dated scores of men looking for Mr. Right. What gave him the idea she wanted to get married in the first place? It’s not like they ever talked about it.

She replayed his words in her head. “Wait a minute. The deal has been made? What is this, some kind of business arrangement?”

“In the old country—”

She threw up a hand and closed her eyes, taking another fortifying breath, and counted to ten before she opened them again to stare across her father’s workspace. He watched her, the blank expression on his face not offering a hint of what was going through his head.

“We don’t live in the old country, Papa. We don’t do arranged marriages anymore. And I certainly won’t agree to one,” she stated softly. Clearly, she’d made a mistake remaining at home for so long out of concern and sympathy for her only living relative, wishing that one day they’d reestablish the father daughter relationship she yearned for.

“Well, I did grow up in the old country, as did your future father-in-law, and I’ve decided to choose a husband for you.”

She glared at her father. “Listen, Papa—”

He shook his finger at her.

She suddenly felt five years old, being taken to task for muddying the hallway floors. Damn if that little recollection didn’t leave a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“You’re almost thirty years old, Lena. Past time to begin your life as a wife.”

She rolled her eyes. “You make it sound like a job.” She was way past the age when her father could make such an important decision for her. Especially when he had no clue as to her preferences for a husband. Not that she had any. “If Mama were alive, she’d whack you with her soup spoon for such a comment.” At least she hoped her mother would have. Doesn’t every mother want her children to live their own lives, make their own choices, get a good education, a solid job and eventually get married? When the time was right?

“If your mother were alive she’d be nagging you for grand babies.”

Lena sighed and looked down to where she’d grasped her locket, the only keepsake she had of her mother’s. It held a picture of her parents on the day they married, and one with her mother holding her as a baby. “I’d like to think she’d want me to fall in love first.”

Her father tsked, but a sad look came over his face and his eyes glazed over. Was he thinking about the wife he lost so long ago?

“I’m not marrying a man I don’t even know, Papa.”

Her father shook his head. “That won’t be a problem. You do know him.”

At this, her head shot up. She tried to catch her father’s eyes, but he appeared to be scouring the papers spread out on his desk before him.

“Who?” A sense of foreboding slithered over her skin, raising goose bumps in its wake.

He cleared his throat and ran his finger down one of the pages he pretended to read, stopping halfway, moving that same finger across a line of print. Three times.

“Who?” she demanded, fighting not to grind her teeth together.

He licked his lips and fidgeted with his glasses, then scratched his nose. He dropped his gaze back to the papers, then over to stare at the blank computer screen. Next, he scanned the rows of books on the shelves.

Every nerve ending on Lena’s body went on high alert. The hair stood on the back of her neck.

“Papa,” she growled. “Look at me. Now.”

He raised his head, but looked over her shoulder instead of at her. His typical technique for avoidance.

“Who, exactly, did you make this arrangement with?”

He swallowed. His throat moved up and down. Was that a bead of sweat on his brow?

She knew. Before he gathered his thoughts. Before he opened his mouth. She had no idea how. But she knew who her father had signed her life away to before the words could pass over his lips. Rage, disgust and bitter disappointment battled as they rushed through her system.

“Father?” she whispered. Her throat had gone dry and she couldn’t bring herself to use the loving, more affectionate term of Papa. The one he used to bend to when she was a child, especially just after her mother died.

He winced, but then schooled his reaction into one of determination. “With Giovanni Soranno. His son, Santo, has asked for your hand. And I have accepted on your behalf.” He nodded firmly as though that sealed the deal.

Lena gasped. For a long moment she sat dumbfounded, at a loss for words as her heart beat at a frantic pace behind her breast once it restarted after the initial shock. She almost tilted her head to see if water might drain from her ears and clear the whooshing sound.

“You can’t be serious,” she whispered.

When he didn’t smile and tell her this was his first ever attempt at some twisted practical joke, she jumped from the chair and smacked her hands flat to his desk, hardly noticing the sting to her palms.

He jerked back.

Guilt etched his face, but she forced down the instinctive desire to mollify him.

“You had no right.” She growled the words between teeth clenched tight, so angry she shook.


“Don’t—” Fury roared through her. Tears swam, blurring her vision. “You had absolutely no business making such an agreement without my knowledge. None! I’m an adult, Father, not a child. I don’t need my daddy picking a husband for me. I don’t want my daddy picking a husband for me.” She spun around, giving him her back, closed her eyes and counted to ten. To twenty. To fifty. “Call it off.”

“I can’t.”

Yes, you can.”

“You don’t understand—”

She twirled around so fast, she felt her hair, always so snug in its clasp on her head, shift and wobble, threatening to lose its tenuous hold. “No, you don’t understand, Papa. Santo is arrogant. He’s crude. He makes me feel like a piece of meat he wants to chew on.”

Santo Soranno had been sniffing around her since she’d hit puberty. When she’d finally gone off to college, it had been a reprieve from his constant sexual innuendos and advances, some more blatant than others.

She remembered when he’d cornered her after school one day during their senior year. In the empty hallway, Santo had pushed against her back, pressing her into the lockers. Then he’d skimmed his filthy hand along her torso toward her breast, slow and torturous. If it wasn’t for his younger sister appearing out of nowhere, Lena had no clue what might have happened. Nothing deterred or scared him, not even back then. Other than his father. When Rosa reminded Santo their father planned to pick them up and didn’t like waiting, he’d cursed and copped a quick, painful feel, then retreated.

And now, her father has apparently agreed to just hand her over to the grown up version of that boy.

A shiver rolled over her, leaving her icy cold. “Papa, Giovanni may be a client of yours, but I’m not one of his fans. And I detest his son.”

Santo’s father creeped her out. Rumors abounded he was involved in organized crime, but of course there was no solid proof to substantiate such claims. A rich man, he had many business holdings. Although he preferred not to be in the public eye, he did good things for the community. People hesitated to press the issue when he constantly gave thousands to charities and built homes for people who needed them.

But his youngest son, Santo, was a bully who had no trouble using scare tactics and threats to get what he wanted.

“He’s one of my best clients, Angelena. I’ve known Giovanni for years. You went to school with his children. This will be a good match.”

Angelena had the insane urge to giggle.

Giovanni Soranno had to be close to sixty, but he looked ten years younger. Handsome was too weak a word to describe him. He exuded charm, wore his wealth like a conservative business suit, and had impeccable manners. He laughed showing off a beautiful smile. He played the all-American man. Hell, he even encouraged his friends and business partners to call him John instead of Giovanni. Lena, though, had no use for him. That smile of his never warmed the blackness in his eyes.

Every ounce of gossip had at least a grain of truth to it. He appeared too perfect. And in her experience, nobody was perfect. However, his acting skills were stellar.

Unfortunately, every time she tried to warn her father to be more selective in the people he dealt with, he brushed her fears aside, claiming she watched too much television. He insisted Mr. Soranno was a respected businessman.

But where Giovanni was as suave and smooth as a car salesman, Santo was as disgusting and rude as a punk ass gang banger. He had his father’s looks, but none of the personality. If his father was the snake, Santo was the oil.

Lena cringed, bile rising in her throat. No way in hell was she marrying that horrible man. “I will not marry him, Papa.”

“Yes, Angelena, you will.”

No. I won’t.” She stifled the urge to stomp her foot like she did when she was ten and he refused her requests for a sleepover.

“I cannot break this agreement, Lena.”

She returned to the chair, but leaned forward trying for a conciliatory pose, desperate to get her father to see reason. “Do you really want me married off to a man I don’t love, never mind one I don’t even like being in the same room with?”

“I’m sure he’s not that bad. You may even learn to love him.”

She gaped, struggling to find words. Swallowing, she sat back in the chair and looked across the desk at somebody she’d respected her entire life, even more so after she’d watched him pine for the love of his life since the day she’d closed her eyes and never woke up.

“Learn to love him? Papa, you don’t learn to love somebody. Either you do or you don’t. And believe me, I have absolutely no plans to love that man. Ever.” Kill him perhaps, if forced to spend her life with him. But love him? Not even on her deathbed.


She needed to get him off this kick, and quickly.

Angelena stood and smoothed a hand down her dress, preparing to leave. “When I’m ready, I will find the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

“The wedding will be during the long weekend in September.”

“What!” How many more surprises would fall into her lap today? Considering it was not even noon yet, the day was young. “That’s two months away.” This was spiraling out of control faster than she could breathe.

“Santo isn’t in the country at the moment, but he’ll be home in plenty of time.”

Her flight instinct kicked in. She shoved down the scream battling to be set free.

“We don’t live in Sicily, Papa,” she finally said, her voice low but not too steady. “You and Mama left there long before I was born. I’m a modern, American woman. When, and if, I fall in love, I’ll decide if I’m going to marry him. The choice is mine to make. Not anybody else’s.”

“John has hired somebody to help you with all the necessary arrangements. You won’t have to do a thing but look beautiful. The wedding will be at their home.”

He wasn’t listening to a word she said.

“Goodness, what woman could turn that down?” She huffed. “Would I at least get to pick out my own wedding dress?”

He titled his head, casting her an offended look. “Of course.”

Her anger melted away, some of it. She sighed. There had to be a way to make him understand. She needed time. If Santo wasn’t in town, perhaps she had some. It wasn’t much, but she few options without completely disrespecting her father. “Papa, I won’t marry Santo. I will only marry a man of my own choosing.”


“At least give me some time to find a man I want to marry.” Any man would be better. Hell, she’d even, maybe, in a million years, with the possibility of a quick and painless death immediately following the ceremony, consider marrying Giovanni himself. A shiver of revulsion wormed its way up her spine.


Please, Papa.” Desperation consumed her. “Six months. Give me six months.”

“I don’t think—”

“Surely you can give me six measly months to find a man that I actually want to marry. If I haven’t found one by then…” Then she’d have come up with another plan. She’d run, leave the country, go into hiding and leave her father behind if she absolutely had to. However, the thought of not seeing him again tore her heart in two. There had to be another way. She just needed a little time to think.

Her father slouched in his chair and ran a hand over his face. “You have no choice in this matter. If you don’t marry Santo, his father—”

“What, Papa? What could Giovanni possibly do if I don’t marry his son?”

Her father blanched.

Fear settled like a gigantic boulder in her gut.

Her father gulped and wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. He closed his eyes and took a breath. A shiver racked his body.

His strange reaction scared the crap out of her. Could Giovanni actually do something to her father? There’d never been any hint of violence in the many rumors circulating about him. Not one. Questionable finances, unsubstantiated claims of course, and a few moments where she didn’t like the gleam in his eyes. But nothing that would warrant the unease she suddenly felt.

His son was a different story altogether.

“Angelena, you will marry Santo Soranno in a ceremony at their home on the Labor Day weekend in September as planned.” He stopped talking but his lips continued to move.

Lena had the distinct impression her father uttered a prayer.

Before she could try to change his mind again, a knock sounded on the den door, startling both of them. It creaked open and their housekeeper poked her head in.

“Mr. Bianco, there’s a phone call for you. Would you like me to transfer it into here?”

Mary winked at Lena. She had started working for Lena’s parents a few years before Lena’s birth. After her mother’s death, Mary had been the surrogate Lena leaned on throughout the years. Right now, she wished she were five years old again. She could use a warm hug and perhaps some cookies and milk.

“Who is it, Mary?”

“It’s Mr. Soranno, sir.”

The tension in the room doubled, the oxygen sucked out like a backdraft. Lena faced her father. She opened her mouth.

He raised his hand. “Yes, Mary, you can transfer the call. Just give me a couple of minutes, please.”

“Certainly, sir.” Mary backed out and closed the heavy wood door with a soft click.

She needed to try one more time. “And if I refuse?”

When her father looked at her, sadness filled his eyes. He sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking every one of his sixty-two years.  “That’s not an option, I’m afraid.”

What the hell did that mean?

His desk phone rang. She once joked with her father about his ancient telephone. He’d clarified, saying it was an antique. Her father hated cell phones, computers, and current technology. Right now, they both looked at the relic as though a serpent would slither out through the handset.

“Why don’t you have Gage take you for a drive? Clear your head.” He spoke to her, but stared at the black heavy-duty telephone, his brows furrowed.

She stood and took two steps toward the door.

“I’m sorry, Angelena,” he said softly.

She stopped, but didn’t turn. She dropped her chin to her chest, took a deep breath, and then straightened her spine as she left the room.

As soon as she cleared the threshold of the office and closed the door behind her, she sagged against the wall. She needed a plan. Something quick and decisive that would put a stop to this entire fiasco. She’d rather die than spend the rest of her life with Santo Soranno. She needed another option. There had to be another option that didn’t include her slipping away in the night.

“Ms. Bianco?” Gage Barrett leaned against the wall opposite her. The man looked like he ate testosterone for breakfast. Decked out in his chauffeur’s uniform, one that fit him like a glove, it appeared ready to split at the seams if he flexed the slightest bit.

Their previous driver had been old and grumpy, and lacked the necessary skills to be a driver—like a sense of direction, or the ability to see above the steering wheel. She’d been concerned for their safety every time she climbed in the vehicle, more than once insisting she drive herself so he could rest his aging eyes and trembling fingers that clearly ached with arthritis.

Gage didn’t fit the image either. However, he was much easier on the eyes. He handled the car like an appendage and seemed to have an alertness that other drivers didn’t. His gaze took everything in, leaving her unsettled more than once after he’d given her a thorough twice over.

Short dark hair, broad shoulders that could probably carry the weight of the world, narrow waist and well over six feet, he had appeared out of the blue a couple of months ago. When she’d questioned her father about it, he’d simply said their previous driver had failed his re-test and couldn’t hold a license anymore. The limo company had sent Gage as the replacement.

With Gage, the only risk she worried about was the possibility of combustion—hers. One of these days, her panties would go up in smoke. He belonged on a romance cover or modeling sexy underwear, not behind a steering wheel driving a financial advisor and his daughter around town. She could even envision him on a recruitment billboard for the military, encouraging every hot-blooded woman and man to enlist.

“Hello, Gage.”

“Can I take you somewhere?” His deep baritone sent prickles over her arms. The good kind. The kind of shiver only a man like him could warm up.

She needed to get out of the house for a while. Maybe an idea would come to her if she cleared her mind for a few hours. “I’d like to go for a drive, if you have no other immediate obligations.”

He shrugged. “It’s my job.”

“Then, let’s go.” She pushed herself away from the wall, grabbed her purse from the hallway table, and strolled to the front door.

He reached it first and held it open for her. “After you.”

She passed by him and stepped out into the sunshine, catching a whiff of his aftershave. Very sharp and edgy. It fit.

“Anywhere in particular you want to go?” he asked.

“Anywhere you want to take me, is fine.” As long as it was far away from here, so she wouldn’t be tempted to listen in on her father’s call with her future father-in-law. * * * Kobo * B&N

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