What did I get myself into?
We were riding back to the apartment building, the place where I would be staying.
When Luca offered it to me, I nearly cried. The apartment was beautiful, and I had spent all day there, resting and enjoying the luxury of having a roof over my head for the first time in a year.
Never did I imagine that I’d be able to call that place my own. It was hard enough to believe that I had been gifted with gorgeous designer dresses and priceless pieces of jewelry.
I had just taken the most incredible bubble bath when someone sounded the buzzer at the intercom. I had answered nervously, remembering that Luca had told me his men would be dropping a few things by.
A delivery of clothes that cost more than the average person’s yearly salary was definitely unexpected. It made me soften almost immediately. I appreciated the effort he was making to ensure I was well taken care of.
What’s more, he had the legal documentation for my new identity delivered within hours of my arrival. I took the gesture exactly for what it was: a show of power. But I also understood that meant that for the first time in a long time, I wouldn’t have to live life looking over my shoulder.
I could actually relax and enjoy my existence the way I should have been doing for years now. This man’s power would act as an invisible set of armor, making me as untouchable as he was.
But I was no fool.
I also understood that agreeing to his lifestyle would put a huge target on my back. A man as powerful as Luca Moretti didn’t find success without making a few enemies along the way.
It was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I would be safer than I’d been in a long time. On the other hand, my life would completely change, danger following me wherever I went.
In the end, the decision hadn’t been that hard. I knew just how cold and hard it was out there on the street. Residents looked down at the homeless like they were less than human. Finding even a few scraps of food in the fall and winter months was a rarity and staying warm enough to live until Spring was something entirely out of my control.
At least with the Moretti’s I’d have food, water, shelter, and clothing. I’d have the protection of the most powerful man in the world, and I’d have enough money to make just about anything happen.
I was relieved Luca had respected my wishes and stopped prying into my background. The shadows of my past haunted me every night in my dreams. I didn’t want to explain myself to anyone – didn’t want to recount the terrible things that had transpired to bring me to this point in my life.
I just wanted to move on…as Raven Moretti.
We pulled up outside the apartment. The driver opened Luca’s door for him and stepped aside. I watched him exit the car, his wide shoulders filling the doorway as he turned around to face me. He offered me his hand, his dark eyes silently commanding me.
I took it and let him help me out like I was used to the treatment. It was odd but wonderful at the same time. To be treated like a human being, respected instead of knocked down and abused, was the most incredible thing in the world.
A lot of women took that for granted on a daily basis because they’d never seen the other side of things. They’d never known the darkness or what it was like to be tossed around like a rag doll and told what to do under the threat of a beating or worse…death.
He walked me to the door, stepping in front of me and leaning against it so I wouldn’t pass. My breath hitched, and I looked up at him, confused by the action. Was he letting me stay here or what?
“I enjoyed your company this evening.” His gaze was intense as he spoke. Almost possessive. I felt threatened even though his statement was perfectly polite and charming.
“Thank you for dinner,” I said, a small smile on my lips. I was still nervous around this man. His reputation terrified me, even when he assured me I was under his protection. He claimed to be the most powerful man in the city. I should have taken comfort in that, but it was difficult for me.
“It was my pleasure.”
He lifted his hand and took my chin between his fingers, tilting my face so he could have a better view. “I’ll have some more clothing delivered in the morning. A car will pick you up then. Your training starts tomorrow.”
My eyes darted between his as I let his words sink in. This was really happening. I nearly forgot that all these wonderful luxuries and new life came with a price. I still had to work for the king of the underworld.
A thrill went through me. Was I a little…excited?
“Have a good night,” he grated, his voice an octave lower.
He leaned in, bringing his lips centimeters from mine. I could smell scotch on his breath from dinner, mixed with the scent of aftershave. My heart thrummed, beating against my ribcage like it was gonna burst at any moment.
I felt dizzy, my knees turning to jelly. His arm slipped around my waist, his large hand spanning across my lower back. He released my chin with his other hand and curled it around my nape, holding me immobile against him. His eyes remained opened as he closed the distance between our faces as if gauging my reaction before following through.
Then he kissed me.
It was slow at first, tentative. He pecked my lips once, twice. It was sort of innocent. Then he parted his lips, nudging against mine so that I would open for him. I did, and his warm breath entered my mouth, his tongue seeking entrance. Our tongues touched, only for a moment, then our lips closed, pressing together in another soft peck.
And then it was over.
He released me, his right hand trailing over my cheek and lingering a moment longer before he dropped his arm. Without another word, he turned around and walked back down the steps. I watched his retreating back for a second then entered the building.
My heart was still doing flips the entire way up the elevator. I wasn’t exactly sure what had just occurred. I knew he kissed me, but my mind was still reeling. I hadn’t expected it – hadn’t even known he found me attractive until he picked me up for dinner.
Again, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
Entering the apartment, I kicked off my heels at the door and leaned against it. I flicked on the lights and took in the beauty around me. The place was huge, with black marble counters in the kitchen and matching cabinets. The appliances were all brand new and sleek, looking like they came from the future. There were two floors in this place, and I had it all to myself.
I had stepped into a dream.
Exhausted, I dragged myself to the enormous master bedroom which was one of the six large rooms in the unit. I slipped the dress off, letting it fall at my feet. I probably should have taken better care since I knew it was expensive, but I was too tired to bother.
I heard a vibration on the nightstand followed by the sound of a bell. Turning my face toward it, I was shocked to find a cell-phone, plugged into a charger. I picked it up, seeing Luca’s name on the screen.
Pressing my thumb to the screen, I opened his message. Sleep tight, beautiful.
My cheeks were on fire. I didn’t know how I should respond and my stomach wouldn’t stop doing flips. I quickly typed out a reply. You too.
Hitting the back cursor, I deleted the words and tried again. Same to you.
What the fuck? Whatever. I hit the send button and tossed the phone back on the night stand. So much was happening at once and things were moving at lightning speed.
I was running from thugs one minute and waking up in the lap of luxury the next. Overnight, my entire world made a full 180. I had my own place, my own money, a new phone, expensive clothes…
But I hadn’t done a single thing to earn them. At least, not yet. Tomorrow, I had to put in my all. I wanted to be worthy of the life Luca had given me. It was odd, but I wanted to make him proud.
I unfastened my bra and let my panties hit the floor, sliding into the Egyptian sheets, letting my naked body feel the silky threads that were as soft as a cloud. It didn’t take long for sleep to pull me under.
And it was the best sleep I had in my life.
Buzz-buzz. Buzz-buzz. Buzz-buzz.
“Ugh…” I pulled a pillow over my head to drown out the obnoxious sound.
Buzz-buzz. Buzz-buzz. Buzz-buzz.
“What the fuck…” I growled, throwing the sheets off and sitting up in bed. I reached for the device that had rudely interrupted my sleep. Tapping the screen, I saw six missed calls from Luca.
It was only six o’ clock. How early did he expect me to be up? I got ready to call him back when I heard the front door slam open. Footsteps sounded, followed by a deep voice. The sound was muffled because my door was closed, but I could still hear a man’s voice.
“Search the place. I’ll get the master bedroom.”
Panicked, I leaped from the bed and ran to the closet, looking for anything I could use as a weapon. I pulled a heavy wooden hanger from the back of the huge walk-in and rushed behind the bedroom door.
Adrenaline shot into my veins as I feared my worst nightmare had come true. He found me. After all this time He finally sent his goons after me.
The bedroom door was pushed open and I pressed myself against the wall, my good arm raised and armed with the coat hanger. The stranger rushed over to the bed, his back to me as he pulled the sheets off the mattress. He went for the phone next, looking through it before tossing it back down.
Another man came to the doorway, and I knew I had to make my move before any more of them arrived. Using all my weight, I pushed the door into him, slamming his large frame into the doorway. The second he was down, I hit him hard in the back of the head with the corner of the wooden hanger, knocking him out instantly.
Remembering the second intruder, I whipped around to face the man that still stood by the bed. I held my weapon tightly in my right hand and kept it in front of me, ready to block any impending attacks.
My eyes landed directly on Luca’s, which were wide with shock.
“Luca, what the fuck!” I yelled, dropping my defensive stance as relief and recognition flowed through me simultaneously. “You scared the shit out of me, I thought you were…” I stopped myself, realizing my mistake right away. “I thought someone was breaking in.”
His eyes trailed down my body, the intensity of his gaze burning my skin. It was then that I felt my nipples harden, realizing in an instant that I was still very naked.
A voice sounded behind me, approaching the bedroom door.
“Everything all right in there, boss?”
“Back away from the door or I’ll rip your fucking throat out,” Luca growled, stepping around me to shut the door before his man arrived.
While his back was turned, I made a mad dash to the bed, picking the sheets up off the floor and wrapping them around my body. I was mortified. This was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I couldn’t believe I just exposed myself to him like this.
Someone grunted, and Luca’s eyes snapped to his other man, who appeared to be regaining consciousness from the blow I had delivered to his skull. He bent over quickly, pulling the man to his feet and tossing him out the door. I felt sort of bad for him when he stumbled, tripped, and hit the ground.
Luca slammed the door shut and delivered another command. “Clear the apartment. I’ll meet you all downstairs.”
I heard their footsteps as they retreated, some of them grumbling in protest at their superior’s unexplained outburst. I actually cracked a smile at that. It died the moment his eyes met mine.
“You sleep in the nude?” he asked incredulously, his fingers raking through his hair.
I wished the ground would open up and swallow me hole. “No…” it was hard to sleep naked when you were homeless. “I’m sorry...this is so embarrassing. I really thought someone was breaking into the place.”
His look remained impassive. “I called you several times.”
I winced. “I know, I’m sorry. I was asleep…”
His eyes raked down the length of my body again, and even though I was covered with the sheets he managed to make me feel bare all over again.
“Fuck,” he breathed, meeting my gaze again. “It’s hard to concentrate when you’re naked.”
I opened my mouth to answer, but no words came out. I could feel my face heating up and cleared my throat awkwardly. “Again, I’m so –”
He took a step forward, silencing me with a hard kiss on the mouth. Initially, my eyes widened with shock, but as I melted into him, my lids grew heavy and slipped shut. He had the softest lips and he smelled so damn good. It didn’t hurt that he was also gorgeous.
His rough hands explored my body, squeezing my hips and cupping my ass through the thin sheet. I didn’t know what the fuck was happening. He pulled his lips away and pressed his forehead against mine.
“I know I’m supposed to be a gentleman and take things slow, but you’re making it impossible.” His warm breath washed over my lips.
“Take what slow?” I whispered, still in a bit of a daze.
He pressed me up against the wall, his pelvis pinning my hips against it. “Let’s not pretend it isn’t obvious that I want you.”
He took both my hands in his, pressing our palms together and pinning them on either side of my face. The bedsheets slipped off my body, baring me to the cool air. My breathing accelerated, my chest rising and falling rapidly. My left shoulder ached from the way he had my arm bent, but my arousal far exceeded all else. Moisture collected between my legs for the first time in…forever.
He ground against me and I could feel his thick erection through his black dress pants. My wetness left a stain right on his crotch, but he didn’t seem to care since he kept gyrating his hips.
I panted, his movements stimulating my clit until it was swollen and aching. My eyes threatened to roll shut as an orgasm rose on the horizon. I couldn’t take much more.
“What are you doing?” I gasped, my thighs starting to shake as my pleasure mounted.
“Getting you off,” he rasped, dipping his head and pressing his lips to my throat. A loud moan fell from my lips at the contact.
I arched off the wall, my tits pressing into his hard chest. My jaw dropped and I barely held back the scream that ripped through me when I came. Luca growled in satisfaction, keeping his crotch right up against mine despite the way I soaked the front of his pants with my juices.
He released my left wrist and cupped my jaw, forcing me to look at him. He looked fierce in that moment, his dark eyes filled with lust as he took me in.
“You’re so fucking sexy,” he breathed, bringing his face closer to mine. “I thought I’d be able to hold off…control myself until you were settled in…but I can’t.”
I hung on every word, my eyes wide and heart jumping like mad.
“Raven…” the name sounded foreign even though I knew it was mine now. Getting used to it was harder than I thought it’d be. “Let me have you…”
Something in me snapped. My arousal died instantly and I pushed him back, bending to pull the sheet back around my body. He frowned, confusion and disappointment written all over his handsome face.
“I can’t…” I struggled to voice my feelings, needing a minute to clear the fog in my mind. “I’m not ready for anything like that right now…”
He stared at me for a long time, his sharp jaw clenched and his features hard like the ruthless man he was. After a full minute of silence he spoke.
“Because I respect you so much, I’m going to honor your wishes,” he said gently, his hand cupping my cheek again, “but you should know…eventually, I always get what I want.”
I wanted to say fuck it and let him have his way with me, but I had to be honest with myself. Sex just made things messy and right now, things for me were really looking up. I didn’t want to ruin whatever this was that was happening between us.
“It’s gonna be a while before I trust anyone that way…even you. Especially you…”
He held my gaze, his face giving nothing away. “He must have really done a number on you.”
My heart jumped into my throat. Did he know? I didn’t doubt a man with his resources could easily dig up information on my past.
“Who?” I asked cautiously, trying to remain calm.
“The piece of shit that hurt you. You’re so guarded, so defensive. Those qualities are great on the field, but I want to know the woman beneath the armor. But you won’t let me…will you?”
I didn’t know what to say. A part of me wanted to tear off his thousand-dollar suit and jump his bones. The other side of me, the one that was broken and paranoid, wanted to turn around and go back into hiding. I frowned, feeling bad even though I had no reason to.
I’d only just met Luca. It made no sense to jump into bed with him when he was still a complete stranger. Stolen kisses aside, I knew nothing about this man. He couldn’t expect me to give him something so intimate. The ultimate show of trust…
He sighed in irritation when I didn’t speak. “I’ll let you get dressed. The car will be waiting whenever you’re ready to go.”
I nodded, relieved when he pulled away from me and left me alone in the room. He certainly left me with a lot to think about.
A/N: So, let's get this discussion started. We are 5 chapters in and things are moving quickly for our female protagonist.
Any thoughts of Calliope's decision? Did she bite off more than she can chew? How do you think things will turn out for her? And who do you think she's running from and why?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below! I'd love to know what you're all thinking. Thank you for reading and showing your support by following my profile and liking the book.
I'll see you all with the next update on Sunday!