Boss

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~14~

A/N: Hi readers! I deeply apologize for the late update, so you will have a double wammy this week with today’s update and the usual update on Sunday. Sorry again! Hope you enjoy this next installment and don’t forget to comment and review!

Luca

The car waited outside for us, Ricky sitting behind the wheel patiently.

I tugged on the ends of my sleeves, making sure they were perfectly aligned with the black blazer I wore, and placed the gold cufflinks with my initials engraved in them – a gift from my mother last Christmas.

Raven – Calliope – still hadn’t emerged from her room. I knew whatever she was doing, she was sure to be more beautiful than any woman who had the misfortune of being in the same vicinity as her.

She would steal the attention of every man, boy, or otherwise. But, she’d be with me.

Taking one last look in the mirror, I combed back the longer lengths of my hair and applied just the right amount of product to ensure it remained out of my face. Not a hair was out of place – just the way I liked it.

Grabbing my phone and wallet, I shot Raven a quick text letting her know we’d be waiting before shoving the items into my pocket and exiting toward the large foyer. The tapping of heels stole my attention, and I turned to face the source of it.

My breath caught the second my eyes landed on her. For a minute, I literally couldn’t remember how to inhale, and the last bit of oxygen in my lungs was forced out in a rush. All the blood in my body rushed to my cock, making him stand at attention almost immediately.

I swallowed hard, forcing the sticky lump in my throat to retreat into the depths of my stomach. Willing my eyes to hers, I took in the sight of her startling emerald irises which were framed by thick, curly lashes and black smoky makeup. Her hair was piled onto her head in an elegant updo, large curls falling from random places to frame her gorgeous face flawlessly.

Sweeping my gaze downward, I followed the curves of her perfect body, clad in a brilliant red gown that reached just past her knees. It was tight on her figure, so exquisitely fitted to her frame that one might think the dress was made with her inside it. Her fitly toned, tanned legs were on display – the muscles straining against the sky-high heels she wore.

My mouth immediately went dry.

Her shoulders were bare, a small purse hanging from her right one. She fumbled with it, pulling out her phone and scrolling through it. She bit her lip as she read through the message, stuffing the phone back into her pocketbook before meeting my gaze again.

“Sorry I took so long,” she walked toward me, her hips swaying deliciously, “I’m ready to go if you are.”

I wasn’t. The only place I was ready to go was back into my room – with her.

“You okay?” she approached me cautiously, a look of question in her beautiful eyes.

Cupping the side of her neck, I felt her pulse as it bounded against my fingers. Sweeping the digits over her soft skin, I traced a line down the column of her neck to the fading scar on her left shoulder. I traced my finger over the deformed area, slightly raised beneath my touch.

“You’re stunning,” I said, a flash of guilt spearing through me at the sight of the jagged scar – the one imperfection on her otherwise unmarked skin.

She smiled, blushed. “Thanks.”

“I have something for you.” I turned toward the closet in the main hall, yanking the door open and pulling one of the garments free. I had ordered this coat for her weeks ago, but since it was custom and made to order, it took a while to come in.

Calliope gasped at the sight of the black mink fur, long enough to reach her delicate ankles yet tailored perfectly so that it would hug her figure. I placed it around her shoulders, watching her slender frame be gobbled up by the expensive fur.

Stepping back, I admired her. She was like a vision, stepping out of my wildest fantasies with that sexy gown and designer coat. I made a plan to peel that dress off her later and have her strut around the room with her heels and fur coat on, her tiny waist and wide hips on display – tits bouncing from the force of her steps.

My cock strained uncomfortably behind the zipper of my slacks.

“Luca, this is too much…” she looked down at herself, her fingers spreading over the soft pelt, disappearing into the fluffiness of the fur. “I feel ridiculous…”

Grabbing my own double-breasted pea coat, I slipped my arms into the sleeves and fastened the buttons, my eyes trained on her the entire time.

“The last thing you look is ridiculous. You’re beautiful and sophisticated. You look like a woman that’s always been used to the finer things in life. You blend right in.”

She drew her brows closely together. “But that’s not who I am, Luca. The coat is beautiful but I’m not,” she struggled to find the words, eventually sweeping her hands down her own figure as if to make her point, “this.”

I crowded her space, grabbing hold of the lapel of her coat and pulling it snug around her body. “It’s only a coat, Calliope. It won’t change who you are. Nothing, I suspect, could ever do that.” I stroked her cheek and captured her chin between my fingers, forcing her face upward.

I had perfect access to those luscious, red-painted lips. They slightly parted the longer I stared at them – the corners sticking together softly from her fresh coat of lipstick. I could already feel her breathing pick up, her warm breaths falling on my face as I leaned in.

“I would never want to change you,” I said lowly, stroking her jaw and cupping the nape of her neck, “but I’d like to dress you in the finer things.” I shrugged, stroking her soft skin with the tips of my fingers. “You know…spoil you.”

That fire entered her eyes, and I knew instantly I had said something wrong.

She pulled out of my grasp, shoving her arms down by her sides for emphasis. “I’m not a child, Luca Moretti, and I don’t want to be spoiled like one. I accepted the dresses and shoes, the jewelry…but this? Luca, how much did this coat cost?”.

A lot. “That’s of no consequence.”

She scowled. “I’m not a doll, Luke.” That was the first time she’d ever shortened my name like that. I sort of liked it. “You can’t just dress me in silk, fur, and diamonds and put me on display like a damn show horse.”

This was usually the part where I got annoyed, grabbed her by the throat, and threatened her into silent obedience, but I found myself enjoying the performance. Maybe it was all the sex earlier, but I was in an unusually good mood this evening.

“You’re not a show horse,” I said, stepping into her space again, pulling her close. “You’re a beautiful woman whom I’d like to take to my sister’s birthday dinner, as my date. If it makes you uncomfortable, then don’t wear the coat. Whatever makes you happy, Calliope.”

She stilled when I spoke her name, a little wrinkle forming on the bridge of her nose.

“Luca, please don’t tell anyone my real name…I don’t know if I can trust –”

“You can trust me,” I said, resting a palm on the swell of her hip. “I won’t tell a soul.”

The fight left her eyes, the fire slowly doused by my reassurance to keep her secret. It still niggled at me – the need to reveal her true identity and unearth her past. I was hungry to know her – almost desperate. The mystery of it all kept me going.

“Okay,” she conceded, relaxing her shoulders and pulling the coat around herself. “I’ll wear the coat.”

I didn’t bother hiding the shit-eating grin that split my face in two. “I’m pleased to hear that. It’s a beautiful piece, but you’re the feature that amplifies its beauty.”

“Oh, brother,” she moaned, rolling her eyes dramatically, “you have got to work on your pick-up lines. You’re so corny.”

Corny? I’d never been called that before.

“Really?” I slipped my arm around her waist and led her into the elevator, turning my key and punching in the code that would allow our descent to begin. “You didn’t seem to find my advances corny when I was making you come earlier.”

She gave me a look that could kill.

I leaned in, whispering into her ear, “I can still hear the way you screamed my name.” I raised my voice several octaves, mocking her, “Luca! Oh my God, Luca!”

She punched me in the gut, hard enough to force the breath from my lungs and make me double over. “That was a cheap shot,” I pushed out, my voice strained like I was held in a vice.

“I do not sound like that,” she hissed, crossing her arms over her chest, “and as I recall, I wasn’t the only one screaming out names.”

Touché.

I righted myself, massaging the area where she had just assaulted me. Why I let her get away with such a thing, I’ll never know.

She kept her face forward the entire way down – and it wasn’t a short ride. I watched her profile, memorizing every curve and gentle sweep of her features from the slender shape of her nose to the sharp angles of her defined jaw. The soft curve of her neck followed by the swell of her full breasts.

She was incredible. Gorgeous. Sexy. And she had a spine of steel. My obsession with her only grew, and now that I’d had her body, I was a full-blown addict.

I thought I could just fuck her out of my system, but that proved to be impossible. I couldn’t purge the memory from my mind – how wet she got for me or how tight she felt around me. I couldn’t erase the way she resembled a dark angel when she was over me, her body working against mine as she rode me.

Her face was the epitome of beauty, with features so soft only a woman could possess them. But there was a hardness in her too. A darkness that had forever made its mark on her soul. The sort of darkness that came with dark experiences – much like the ones I imagined she’d had.

Much like the ones I’d had.

“Calliope.”

She stiffened, her eyes falling shut for a brief moment as the sound of her name settled over her.

She looked at me with wide, vulnerable eyes. For the first time since I’d met this woman, I could see how much fear she bottled up inside.

“Come here.” I kept my voice low, quiet. I opened my arms to her.

She moved into my chest, her cheek resting on my sternum. I rested my hands in the curve of her spine, securing her against me.

“You have nothing to worry about, Bella. You trusted me with your name, now trust me to keep my word. Your identity is safe with me. And so are you.”

She sighed against me, her arms squeezing tighter around me.

“Thank you.”

I kissed her hairline, remaining silent and savoring the tender exchange of affection.

The elevator pinged, announcing our arrival to the ground floor. The doors slid open, revealing Gio, the head of my security detail, accompanied by his men.

He spoke into his mic, alerting the rest of his team to our departure from the building. I had eyes everywhere tonight – needing to ensure the safety of my family.

Carmen, my brilliant younger sister, had flown in from New York to be with the family for the first time in nearly six months. She was studying law – constantly needing to prove she could be of use to the family business. I didn’t care how many fancy degrees she got. My father’s dying wish was that Carmen live a life free from danger – an honest life.

I would never bring her on board. She deserved better than that.

After Salvatore’s attack, I couldn’t be careless. I aired on the side of caution, having over three dozen men combing the streets and securing the surrounding area between my penthouse and the family estate.

Holding Calliope against me, I trailed behind Gio, the rest of his team flanking the pair of us.

Once we were safely inside the car, the team broke off in every direction, climbing into their SUVs so they could follow us to our destination. Ricky pulled onto the street, and I pressed the button over my head to close the partition.

Calliope leaned her head against my shoulder, her arm snaking through mine and her palm resting over the back of my hand. It was such a small gesture, yet it felt paramount.

“I’m excited to see your mother again,” she spoke softly, her fingers tracing patterns into the back of my hand, “she’s a lovely lady. And a fantastic cook.”

I smiled at the compliment. “She’ll be happy to see you.”

I watched our hands, trying to make sense of the odd sensation in my chest at the sight.

“Why didn’t you mention your sister before?” She lifted her face toward mine.

I shrugged, meeting her gaze. “The subject never came up.”

She gave me an irritated look. “A lot of subjects don’t seem to come up with you.”

I lifted my brows in surprise. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She shifted beside me, facing forward as she answered. “Just that you don’t really share things with me.”

“I didn’t realize you were interested. You’ve never asked…”

She stayed quiet – probably realizing her anger was irrational since I’d never denied her anything before. If she wanted to know something about me, all she had to do was ask.

“You supply unregistered weapons to crooked cops.”

My ears perked at the statement. “Are you asking me or telling me?”

She brought her gaze to mine, those jade eyes locking onto me. “I’m not asking because I already know. I guess I just need to hear you say it.”

“I sell a variety of weapons, and I have a diverse clientele. Some of those clients happen to be law enforcement.”

She sneered, her disgust obvious. “Unbelievable,” she muttered, turning her face away.

“Why does that bother you?”

I watched her profile, noticing the way her jaw clenched and her throat worked as she swallowed. Silence stretched between us, making her seem farther away. She was right next to me, the side of her body pressed against mine, yet I couldn’t reach her. After what felt like a lifetime, she took a shaky breath and parted her lips to speak.

“The first time I ran, I went to the police. It’s what everyone told me to do. My friends…my mother. They said they could help me get out. That I’d be safe.”

My mood darkened the moment I realized where her confession was going. While she hadn’t outright revealed the details of her past to me, I’d been able to piece things together over the last month. I knew she’d been abused by a man – a man I intended to kill the instant I discovered who he was – and I knew she’d gotten away somehow.

“I snuck out in the middle of the night with a bag packed and took a cab to the police station.”

Her voice broke when next she spoke.

“I thought I was safe…that they would help me. But I was wrong. They put me in the back of a cruiser and brought me straight home.”

I took her hand in mine, weaving my fingers through hers and tracing lines over her thumb as she spoke. I suddenly understood why the idea of dirty cops bothered her, and the urge to comfort her was overwhelming.

“The entire time, he had them in his pocket. I couldn’t walk for three days after that.”

The blood drained from my face immediately. I stiffened beside her, my hand stilling against hers.

“My arm was broken in three places, and my eyes were so swollen I could barely open them.”

I swallowed the bile that tried to rise in my throat, my eyes slipping shut at the images she painted for me.

“He was always apologetic after,” she continued, her voice barely above a whisper, “said he hated having to punish me…but I needed to learn. And believe me, I never went to the police again after that.”

It took me a minute to recompose myself – something I definitely wasn’t used to. “I’m so sorry, Bella.”

She looked at me for the first time since she started revealing the story to me. There were tears on the cusps of her eyes, yet a tiny smile played on her lips.

“It’s in the past now. I guess just knowing that cops like that are still out there…” her voice trailed off.

“If I didn’t need them on my payroll, I’d discontinue business with them immediately. For now, I hope knowing you’re under my protection is enough to make you feel safe.”

Resting her head on my shoulder, she sighed. “I do feel safe.”


My mother screamed at the beautiful woman on my arm.

“Oh! You’re lovely, Raven!”

I was nearly shoved aside when she reached for her, pulling her into a warm embrace and practically dragging her over the threshold.

My brother appeared in the doorway, a suppressed smile on his lips as he greeted me.

“You’d think Mamma didn’t already have a daughter, the way she’s smothering Raven right now.”

I cracked a smile at that, taking my brother’s extended hand and pulling him into a hug. When we were at work, it was all business, but tonight was about family.

Gesú,” he mumbled, wriggling out of my grasp, “alright already.”

“I can’t hug my brother?” I teased, removing my coat and handing it off to one of the maids as I made my way into the drawing room.

Danny ignored me completely, a look of repulsion in his hazel eyes. I chuckled, knowing he wasn’t used to my affection. Like I said before, I was in an unusually good mood this evening.

The drawing room was overflowing with relatives. The older members of the family, such as my great aunts and uncles, occupied most of the seating in the room. Plastered against the walls were my many cousins, deep in conversation with one another.

My father’s chair remained empty, standing proudly at the head of the large space. I approached the leather seat, my fingers ghosting over the worn upholstery. There were cracks in the deep brown leather, an indication that it’d been used thoroughly over the years.

It felt innately wrong to think of anyone aside from my Papà occupying this chair – yet I knew I was expected to. As head of the family, I had inherited the right.

A pair of small hands covered my eyes and a warm body pressed into my back.

“Guess who?”

I smiled at Carmen’s voice, my chest filling with joy. Laying my hands over hers, I turned around – wrapping her arms around my neck as I pulled her into my embrace.

“Baby sis’.”

She squealed, hugging me so hard her heels lifted off the ground. “Big brother!”

“Let me look at you,” I said, putting her at arm’s length.

There were times when I was proud of my family genes and the natural good looks my siblings and I inherited from our parents.

Now was not one of those times.

Carmen’s natural beauty scared me. With deep olive skin and dark hair like our mother and light brown eyes like our father, she was gorgeous. Radiant, she drew attention to herself like a fucking beacon. I wished there were some way to suppress it – some way to hide those high cheekbones and slender frame.

Knowing she was all the way in New York made me anxious. She was far out of my reach and thus my protection – something I couldn’t help but feel was done on purpose.

“You look beautiful as always,” I remarked, my words a little forced since my jaw was clenched so tightly.

“Wow,” she chuckled, “that was almost convincing.”

“Idiot.”

“Dumbass.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You’d better be focusing on school out there. I’m not paying for you to fuck around with any losers. I expect results.”

She rolled her eyes. Carmen was truly the only person that could get away with such behavior. Or she was, until Calliope came into my life.

“Of course, I’m focusing on school. In fact, I made it on the Dean’s List just last quarter. Your investment is safe, asshole.”

I released an irritated sigh. I hated when she used that word against me. “I just want you to have a secure future. A –”

“Away from the family business,” she interjected, the disdain clear in her tone. “Yeah, I know, Luca.”

I wanted to strangle her sometimes.

“Luca?” We were interrupted by a sweet voice. I turned, my pupils dilating the second my gaze landed on Calliope. Even though I’d just arrived with her, she took my breath away the moment I looked at her.

“Who’s this?” Carmen asked, the accusation heavy in her voice.

My sister and I were a lot alike. We shared the same arrogance and sense of entitlement. The expression on her face did little to hide her disapproval. She looked down at Calliope like she would an insect stuck to the sole of her red-bottoms.

Curling my arm around Calliope’s waist, I pulled her into my side. The look of shock that moved into Carmen’s eyes was definitely satisfying to watch. “Raven, I’d like you to meet my younger sister, Carmen. Carmen, this is Raven, the newest member of the family.”

My sister looked as though I’d just farted in her general direction. “What the fuck? You got married and didn’t even tell me?”

Definitely not the response I was expecting to hear, but it was entertaining, nonetheless. Calliope stiffened against me, clearly uncomfortable with the unexpected turn of events.

“We aren –”

“Don’t you dare speak to me. I’m having a conversation with my brother.”

Beside me, Calliope straightened her back – something she always did when she was getting ready to face-off. “Excuse me? What makes you think you can speak to me that way?”

Shit. Shit. Shit.

This wouldn’t end well. I could feel the fury rising between the two women, the tension threatening to burn down the entire estate. Grabbing Carmen by the wrist, I gave her a threatening squeeze.

“Keep your voice down.” I yanked both women out of the drawing room and into a quiet hallway. “Cut the shit. Both of you.”

Used to my short temper after having been around me constantly for the past month, Calliope kept her mouth shut. The only sign of aggression was the look of murder shining in her bright green eyes. I’d definitely have to make it up to her later, maybe with my face between her legs.

“How do you expect me to feel, Luca? You wait until my birthday dinner to tell me you’ve taken a wife? She doesn’t even look Sicilian.” Once again, my sister’s eyes roamed over Calliope’s full figure – slender in all the right places while voluptuous in all the others.

It took a lot of self-control not to lose it right then and there.

Turning to Calliope, I caressed her cheek with the backs of my knuckles, letting my thumb rest on the corner of her mouth. “Would you give us a minute, Bella?

She melted almost instantly, bringing her hand over mine and gently pressing a kiss to the inside of my wrist. Flashing Carmen one last threatening glare, she marched off with her shoulders back and her head held high. She might have been a little thing, but her confidence made her the tallest person in any room she entered.

My obsession would soon be obvious.

Turning back to Carmen, I was reminded of the reason Calliope wasn’t on my arm at that very moment. “I won’t tolerate that sort of behavior, Carmen. Not even from you. I expect you to apologize and treat her with the respect she deserves.”

“You’re kidding, right? Any woman who finds it acceptable to elope with a man and keep their union away from his family is not worthy of my respect.”

My eyes slipped shut as the anger set in. I suddenly didn’t miss her as much and couldn’t wait to ship her back to New York. I forgot what a quick mouth Carmen had on her.

“Enough. Who I fuck is none of your business. Raven is a good woman that’s been through a lot. She’s earned my respect and I won’t have you terrorizing her just to stroke your ego. You’re an entitled brat, so let me remind you just who is in charge of this family. Push me, and I’ll stop paying your tuition and have you back here in Mamma’s house faster than you can blink. Get your shit together.”

I didn’t bother to wait for her response because it was irrelevant to me. As far as I was concerned, I’d just laid down the law and Carmen was expected to obey just like any other member of this organization. Whether she was involved in the business or not, as my sister she understood the chain of command. Just because I loved her didn’t mean I wouldn’t make an example out of her.

I found Calliope away from the crowd, admiring a painting that hung over a decorative table in the hall. The piece was one of a kind, painted by a Sicilian artist back in Italy. My parents brought it to America with them so they’d always have a piece of home with them.

The canvas depicted the beautiful countryside of my birthplace with lush, rolling hills of green and bright blue skies. A villa sat in the background, not drawing too much attention but giving the piece the perfect touch.

Calliope stared into the canvas, lost in thought. I approached her from behind, circling my arms around her waist. She startled, jumping slightly in my embrace but relaxing the moment she recognized me.

I pressed a kiss to her cheek, letting my lips linger for much longer than necessary. The scent of her perfume combined with the subtle smell of her shampoo nearly pulled me under. I wanted to drag my nose across her soft, naked skin and inhale every inch of her. She was intoxicating.

“Don’t worry about Carmen,” I spoke against her ear, my voice quiet so only she could hear, “she’s just a spoiled little rich girl with a sense of entitlement. She won’t be an issue anymore.”

She sighed, turning in my arms to face me. It would have been easier to release her so we could have a conversation, but I was a selfish ass. Keeping my arms around her, I pulled her body against me.

“I was excited to meet her,” she said, the disappointment obvious as she spoke, “I thought it’d be great to have another woman around that knew about the business.” She furrowed her brows.

“Carmen is just stubborn and frankly a little self-absorbed. It’s my fault though, because I spoil her the way Papà used to.”

Her eyes melted at my words. “That’s sweet, Luca…”

Choosing to ignore the compliment, I leaned in and pressed a brief kiss to her lips. “Come back to the party. Dinner will be out soon.”

She nodded, letting me lead her back toward the drawing room. She stopped mid-step, stilling me with a hand against my arm.

“What’s wrong?” I looked down at her.

“Why didn’t you correct her when she assumed we were married?”

I smirked. “I don’t explain myself to anyone. Not even my sister. Besides, it will be that much more satisfying when she realizes she jumped to conclusions and attacked you for no reason. A little shame will be good for her.”

Calliope shook her head, silently disapproving of my methods. I could care less. Carmen needed to learn her place.

Back in the front room, I made my way to the large leather chair at the head of the space. It was big enough for two people, so I pulled Calliope down with me.

“I’m not sure this is appropriate,” she mumbled, her cheeks staining red as several eyes in the room honed in on us, pressed closely together in the foreboding chair.

“Everyone here is either family or close friends of the family,” I replied, snaking my arm around her waist and tucking her into my side. She fit perfectly.

“I saw Vincent in the kitchen talking to your mother, and Antonio was just with your brother in the living room.”

“Very observant,” I chuckled, “you don’t miss a thing.”

She narrowed her eyes and continued to question me with her stern expression.

Sighing, I leaned into her ear. I liked feeling the warmth of her skin against my lips. “Vinnie and Tony are my cousins – my mother’s nephews. They don’t just work for me, they’re family.”

Her eyes widened “I had no idea…all this time they never mentioned they were your relatives.”

I watched her lips as she spoke, mesmerized by their shape and the way they moved, gracefully forming the words that fell from them.

“This is a family business, Bella. We don’t call it La Famiglia for nothing.”

“Is everyone at the warehouse related to you? Ricky? Gio?”

Leaning against the back of the chair, I held her gaze as I answered. “Ricky was a friend of my father’s, and Giovanni is my cousin Vanessa’s husband. Most of the guys are family or extended family, others are loyal to the Moretti name and work for me because they worked for my father and respected him and all he stood for.”

She creased her brows and a shadow passed over her. She seemed upset.

“What’s wrong?” I couldn’t believe I had asked her that twice already. Since when did I give a flying fuck about a woman’s emotions?

“Those men I killed in the alley…were they family too?”

Ah. Now I understood her concern. “Cato, Bruno, and Michael were brothers. I gave them jobs as a favor to their father. He asked me to take them under my wing and give them jobs that taught them the principles of hard work. They were a bunch of low-lives that spent most of their time drinking and fucking women. They were good henchmen, but nothing more.”

She released a breath, the relief slowly sinking in. “And their father? Does he mean something to you?”

“Like most people I know, he was loyal to my father and to the family. He passed away from pneumonia a few months ago. His sons had been working for me for a little over two years. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan. The only reason I kept them on was because they were actually good at what they did. That didn’t make them irreplaceable, though.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay? I thought you’d be overflowing with relief now that you know you didn’t butcher any members of my family,” I teased.

Her look remained stern. “They threatened to take turns raping me, chased me down an alley and shot me. They got what they deserved whether they were family or not.”

I grinned. “Well, okay then.”

We returned our attention to the party, and I noticed the line forming in front of me. Calliope stiffened, pressing her back against the seat as I was approached by a chain of men in the family.

“Don Luca,” they said, taking turns pressing a kiss to the large ring on my right hand.

I nodded in acknowledgement, greeting the men individually as they showed their respect.

When at last the crowd dispersed, Calliope leaned into me. “That was…interesting.”

“Old customs,” I said, giving her my full attention now that the guests had returned to their mingling.

Danny entered the room with Carmen in tow. From the look on his face, I knew whatever conversation they’d just been having was not a pleasant one. They closed the distance between us.

“Carmen has something she’d like to say.” Danny pushed our sister forward, forcing her to meet my gaze.

“Yes?” I tightened my grip on Calliope and straightened my posture as I waited.

I could tell this was difficult for Carmen. Her pride might actually be bigger than mine. It was clear she was irritated as she stood there with her arms crossed over her chest.

“I’m waiting, Carmela.”

She scowled at me. “I apologize for my behavior earlier. It was rude and uncalled for.”

She kept her eyes on me as she spoke, the disdain obvious in her eyes.

“That’s all well and good, but I’m not the one you should be apologizing to.” I gestured toward the beautiful woman beside me, who in that moment was being just as stubborn as my sister.

With her jaw clenched and her arms crossed, it was clear Calliope was in no mood to receive my sister. But, receive her she would. I didn’t like the idea of conflict among members of the family – especially when one was my sister and the other the woman I was currently sleeping with.

“Raven.” My tone said it all. Calliope sighed, her frustration clear, and lowered her arms. She turned to face my sister, remaining silent.

I returned my gaze to Carmen. “You were saying?”

“I apologize for the way I spoke to you, Raven. Welcome to the family.”

Calliope huffed, and for a second there I thought she would refuse my sister’s attempt at an apology. To my surprise, she stood before her and extended an open palm.

Carmen wouldn’t be my sister if she didn’t at least hesitate before shaking Calliope’s hand. And she did. I was relieved once the whole ordeal was over.

Rising to a stand, I pulled Calliope back into my side. The need to feel her body against mine was overwhelming. I couldn’t seem to keep my hands off of her.

“I just want to be clear,” Calliope spoke, her voice stern, “I am not his wife. We work together.”

The color drained from Carmen’s face as the shame set in. “Oh, my God…” She hid her face in her hands.

“Don’t worry about it.” Calliope said, leaning into me subtly. “You’re protective of your brother. I get that.”

Carmen dragged her hands down her face dramatically and sighed. “I appreciate you giving me an out, but that’s no excuse for my behavior. I really am sorry, Raven. It won’t happen again.”

Damn right it wouldn’t. I’d make sure of that.
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