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I could barely keep my focus during lunch.

My eyes were glued to Raven the entire time. I watched the way she cut into her food, brought the forkful to her lips and chewed. She had the grace of a queen despite having lived on the streets.

Every now and then, her tongue would peak out from the corner of her lush mouth, licking away at the tiny bits of food that gathered there. When she swallowed, the column of her throat flexed. It made me imagine the way she would swallow around my cock when I finally had the chance to spill my seed down her throat.

She was charming and polite, holding a perfect conversation with the woman who raised me. I could tell my mother adored her. I’d never brought a woman to the house before so that probably played a big part in it.

“What is it, Tesoro?” my mother addressed me, breaking my concentration – which had been solely focused on Raven.

“Hm?” I met my mother’s gaze.

“You’re not hungry? You hardly touch the food I make.” Her tone was slightly offended, making her accent thicker.

“I’m sorry, Mamma. It’s delicious…but then again, anything you make is delicious.” I made my point by cutting into the roast chicken in front of me, shoveling a huge forkful into my mouth.

She smiled, satisfied that I was eating, and returned her attention to Raven. Their voices seemed to blend into the background as my eyes returned to the object of my obsession. I ate absentmindedly, barely tasting the meal my mother had made even when I knew it was delicious.

But Raven looked more delicious. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into her.

The rest of lunch went by in a blur. I’d barely said a word, looming in the background like a shadow. My dick was hard the majority of the time, making it an uncomfortable two hours.

I placed my arm around Raven’s waist possessively, my fingers digging into the swell of her hip. I led her to the door, my mother following closely behind.

“Raven, amore,” my mother beamed, coming around to hug her, “was so good to meet you.”

I watched the two women hug, never releasing my grip on her. My mother turned to me next, rising on her tip-toes to wrap her arms around my neck.

Non lasciarla scivolare via,” she whispered, “I like her.”


We arrived back at the warehouse and parted ways. Raven reported back to Vince and I returned to my office at the far end of the building.

My mother’s words bounced around in my head repeatedly.

Don’t let her slip away…

I was fairly certain my mother had the wrong idea about my relationship with Raven, but it hardly mattered. I knew bringing her to my mother’s for lunch would soften her – make me more human in her eyes.

It seemed as though the biggest challenge with Raven was getting her to overcome her fear. At first glance, one would never assume that she was afraid of anything. After all, the woman had an unbreakable exterior.

Her smart mouth had a reply for everything. She was quick-witted, intelligent.

Unbelievably sexy.

But it was clear she was running from something. She was afraid to be alone with me, always on the defensive as if she thought I would turn around and stab her at any given moment.

My office door slammed open unexpectedly, making my instincts kick in.

Within seconds I had reached into my top drawer and pulled out my favorite handgun. It was aimed at the door before my visitor had a second to take in his surroundings.

My brother stood before me, his eyes wide with fury and his shoulders tense.

I blew out a breath, waiting for my adrenaline to abate. “Have you forgotten how to knock, Daniel, or do you prefer to behave like a barbarian?”

He continued to glare, his thick arms crossing over his chest. “I have a concern,” he gritted between clenched teeth.

Leaning back in my chair, I rested my right ankle over my left knee, folding my hands over my stomach. “Speak.”

“I just came from the gym,” he began, his hostility dropping a few degrees, “and found your precious Raven sparring with Antonio.”

I waited before speaking, making sure he didn’t have more to say. “And?”

He huffed, the sound born of frustration. “And? I just pulled a bullet from her shoulder and sewed her fucking artery back together last night. Are you insane? She could pop a stitch and bleed out internally.”

I held my younger brother’s gaze, letting his words sink in. The thought honestly hadn’t crossed my mind. Raven had such a hard shell, I had assumed she could handle anything. Not once did I stop to think she could really injure herself.

Removing my ankle from the opposite knee, I planted both my feet on the ground as I sat up. “Then her training will be put on hold immediately. Tell Vince she’s done until further notice. And make sure Tony hasn’t injured her.”

He chuckled at that, his anger dissolving when I agreed to stop her lessons. “Antonio will be in the infirmary within the hour. Both his eyes are so swollen, he could hardly defend himself. That woman is fantastic.”

Something about the impassioned way he spoke about her made a searing hot jealousy course through me. She was mine.

“I suggest you stick your tongue back into your mouth and get back to work, Danny.”

His smile died, replaced by a look of suspicion. He stood in the room a while longer even though I’d already dismissed him.

This was the sort of shit my little brother could get away with that no one else could. He constantly felt the need to challenge my authority, knowing I would never lay a finger on him. Slowly, his smile returned, and he grinned so wide he looked a little insane.

“You like her.”

I held my brother’s gaze, not saying a word in response to his ludicrous statement. The only thing I liked about Raven was the fact that my dick would finally have a warm body to get off to.

That and her ability to face off with me. Also her strong will and smartass remarks. Those beguiling green eyes and pink lips. Her great ass…

Fuck. I did like her.

“Get back to work, Daniel.”

I had considered taking the night off, bringing Raven to my penthouse, and fucking her until morning.

But there was too much to do tonight.

In my line of work, business hours ran through the night. During the day, I was at the warehouse doing product checks, answering e-mails and signing paperwork for my legal business.

In short, I hardly slept.

Tonight, I had a business dinner planned with one of the many families considered to be allies of the Morettis.

I wanted Raven on my arm. The most exquisite accessory, she’d put every other woman in the room to shame.

The meeting would be held in my own restaurant, which was on the first level of my grandest hotel, Piccolo Sicily. I had only an hour to spare, and I knew exactly how I would be spending it.

Pulling my phone from my jacket pocket, I sent Vince a message.

Leaving in five minutes. Bring her to the car.

Once he confirmed my order, I met Ricky at the SUV and stepped inside. Always dressed for business, there was no need for me to change. The Burberry suit I wore cost me nearly twelve grand. It would suffice for a business meeting.

Now, I just needed my date to match me in eloquence. With Raven, I knew that wouldn’t be an issue. In fact, she would far exceed my expectations without even trying.

She exited the building a moment later, Vince at her side.

Not waiting for Ricky, I pushed the door open and stepped out. Her eyes were wide when she looked at me, almost fearful.

“Good evening,” I greeted her, offering my arm.

Her smile was forced but she nodded, slipping her arm through mine. I turned to Vince, satisfied that she was back under my supervision.

“I’ll meet you at the hotel in an hour.”

My underboss nodded, knowing exactly what tonight’s meeting would be about, and retreated into the warehouse.

“As for you,” I rumbled, looking down at the woman on my arm, “you’ll need to dress appropriately for tonight.”

She gave me a questioning look. “What’s happening tonight?”

I led her to the car and opened the door for her before answering. “I have a business dinner to attend, and you’ll be joining me.”


She remained silent, accepting my statement and offering no protest.

“I’m normally working through the night, but this meeting won’t run too late. We’ll be back at my penthouse no later than ten.”

That struck something in her. She snapped her face to mine and that same look of angst entered her eyes. “Your penthouse?”


“Why?” she demanded, her brows drawn closely together.

I held back a smile. “We have a date.”

Her eyes darted between mine and I saw the moment realization settled in. Her face went slack as her eyes grew wider, panicked. She pulled her arm away, taking a step back. My eyes rolled automatically, and I pinched the bridge of my nose as a migraine set in.

Here we fucking go…

“Excuse me?” Her eyes filled with anger and accusation.

Running my fingers through my hair, I silently begged for patience. This woman was wearing down my self-control and I could feel the final threads as they threatened to snap.

“Shut the fuck up and get in the car, Raven.”

She glowered at me, her animosity rising to the surface. “You’re unbelievable,” she sneered.

“So I’ve been told,” I retorted, reaching forward to grab her arm. The moment my fingers closed around her bicep, she swung on me. Her fist connected with my jaw, my head jerking with the force.

I blinked through the surprise, my hand gripping my jaw and maneuvering it back into place. It’d been so long since the last time I’d been struck, it took a moment for the shock to wear off.

“You’re crazy if you think that’s any way to get me into bed with you.”

I turned to face her, the dull ache on my face keeping me focused. Her chest rose and fell with her labored breaths, her eyes armed with daggers.

My arm flew forward, and I grabbed her by the throat. Pulling her close, I squeezed her neck until she gasped, her hands wrapping around my wrist as she tried to pry it free. I made sure she could get just enough air, keeping the pressure on her windpipe constant but nonlethal.

“That is the last time you’ll ever raise a hand and strike me.” The warning was clear in my tone. I kept my stare cold, menacing.

She didn’t beg. She barely reacted at all. She held my gaze with equal loathing – just as much determination. Not a hint of fear.

“Is that clear?”

She refused to answer.

“Speak,” I growled, tightening my grip for good measure.

“Yes.” Her voice was slightly strained from the lack of air supply, but clear.

I released her.

Rubbing her throat, she continued to stare at me with hatred and disgust.

“Get your ass in the car.” I challenged her with my glare.

She massaged her neck once more before dropping her arms by her side and walking toward the car. She didn’t look at me, her face impassive as she brushed past me and got in.

I followed suit, sliding into the seat and slamming the door shut.

I instructed Ricky to drive us to the apartment before giving her my full attention. “Would you like to discuss your concerns now?”

She didn’t respond, her back rigid as she faced forward.

In my chest, a fire raged. It took every ounce of my will-power to dampen my fury. Inhaling deeply, I looked away from her.

“Have it your way.”

Her attitude infuriated me. It pissed me off because I also admired her for it. I wanted her to submit to my authority, but I also loved her fire. I didn’t want her to change. I did, however, want to conquer her.

And I would.

We pulled up to the building and I pressed the button over my head, lowering the partition. Ricky met my gaze through the rearview mirror.

“Take a few spins around the block. I’ll call when I’m ready.” He nodded once in acknowledgment.

I exited the car through my side, seeing three more of my vehicles across the street and another rounding the corner. I knew they would spread out once I was safely inside – blending with the public while securing the perimeter.

I straightened my sleeves, tugging them down by the cuffs before adjusting the diamond cufflinks that held everything in place. Sliding my hands into my pockets, I stepped around the car and pulled Raven’s door open.

She refused to meet my gaze still. I extended my hand and waited patiently. I wouldn’t let her little game affect me. She had to understand that I could be just as stubborn. If she wanted to sit here all night like this, so be it.

After a few moments, she finally turned to acknowledge me. Her face was hard, eyes still full of fury. Rather than take my hand, she hopped down from her seat and pushed past me – entering the building and leaving me on the sidewalk.

A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth.

I trailed behind her, my posture relaxed as I strolled along casually. The ride up the elevator was quiet. Raven punched in the security code that granted her access to the top floor apartment, as if she’d done it a thousand times and not only for the past two days.

The doors slid open, revealing the foyer of the large space. I had bought the place because it was closest to the main warehouse and saved me the trouble of having to travel to the other side of the large city where my penthouse stood.

Most of my business was conducted in the lower half of the city – where crime and disorder thrived. With Vinnie running most of the big jobs for me, I had more free time to work on my legitimate ventures, meaning I spent more time on the north end of the city.

This had always been one of my favorite properties, though. I owned the entire building, but the top two stories were closed off. I rented the other 60 units out to civilians. It was a great facility, with a gym, pool, and round-the-clock maintenance.

I preferred solitude. The enormous apartment had a private gym on the second floor where I spent many mornings. There were six bedrooms and three full baths. I noted that Raven had taken the master bedroom for herself.

My room.

We stepped into the apartment together. My eyes tracked her as she went around flicking on lights. She passed me on her way to the closet, removing her jacket and hanging it up casually.

When she passed me again, I grabbed her by the waist. Pulling her into me, I ignored the way she struggled to get free.

“You seem comfortable here.”

She stilled, meeting my gaze. “I guess I am.”

“I’m glad. This is one of my favorite properties. At least someone’s getting use out of it.” I tilted my head to look at her, seeing the trepidation in her gaze.

“Excuse me,” she whispered, wriggling herself free, “I need to get dressed.”

I smiled, knowing that was the exact reason I was here: to watch her get dressed.

“I had a gown delivered this afternoon,” I remarked, following her down the hall and into the bedroom.

The black dress lay on her bed, the silk shimmering beneath the fluorescent lights when she flicked them on. It was strapless with a sweetheart neckline that plunged deeply. It was also backless, and a long slit separated the skirt on the right side.

I couldn’t wait to see her in it.

Raven walked over to the ensemble, her hands shaking when she reached out and touched it. “Luca…it’s beautiful.”

I offered no reply, watching the way she ran her fingers over the dress gently. She turned to face me, a fraction of her anger gone. The fire still burned fiercely behind her emerald irises, but that was my favorite thing about her.

“A beautiful dress for a beautiful woman. Though I don’t believe it does you justice, it was the best I could come up with in such short notice.”

Her lips tilted in a smile. “Can I have a minute to put it on?”

I strolled over to a leather chaise by the window and took a seat. “Take your time.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Do you mind?”

I smirked. “Not at all.” I gestured for her to continue, my legs crossing at the ankles.

“I’m not getting naked in front of you, Luca.”

“Why not?” I leaned forward, my elbows resting on my knees. “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before…”

The flames burst to life in her jade orbs. “That’s pretty presumptuous, even coming from you.”

I stood, my long legs gobbling up the distance between us. Towering over her, I bent to press a kiss to her lips. Lifting a hand, I wrapped my fingers around her nape, my thumb resting on her pulse.

“You feel the way your heart speeds up when I touch you?” She sucked in a breath but remained silent. I kissed her again, this time wrapping my fist around her ponytail and tugging it down. “What about the way you let me kiss you without so much as a word of protest?”

Bringing my free arm into the equation, I slipped my fingers beneath the hem of her shirt, touching the small of her back. Her skin pebbled with goosebumps and I felt her shudder as electricity shot through her spine.

I pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it on the ground. Taking her bra off next, I cupped her breasts in both my large hands. Her nipples hardened against my palms and I gave her a light squeeze.

She did nothing, just watched my movements. Bending to my knee, I peeled her out of her jeans, bringing her panties down with them. I had to pull her shoes off as I went, satisfaction filling my chest when she stepped out of them.

I pressed a kiss to her thigh, my hands gripping her ass when she trembled. Rising up, I kissed her hip, her navel, and the underside of her breasts as I stood. Pulling the elastic from her hair, I watched the thick, black waves settle around her shoulders and tumble down her slender back. The ends reached her waistline, which was narrow – giving her the perfect hourglass figure.

Satisfied with my work, I swept my gaze over her one last time, taking in every voluptuous curve. “Go take a shower,” I mumbled, turning her toward the bathroom. I gave her a gentle shove, smacking her ass with my free hand as she went.

I considered following her into the bathroom and watching her through the steamy glass as she bathed. But then we would never make it to the hotel on time.

Walking over to the wooden table by the large bay window, I lifted the decanter of scotch and poured myself a glass. Bringing it to my lips, I took a long drink – enjoying the way it burned down my throat.

I kept thinking of ways I could make Raven give in to me. She had already agreed to sleep with me at least once, yet the moment I suggested it, she punched me in the face. The mixed signals were driving me insane. She liked when I was close, let me kiss her on more than one occasion. What would it take to get her on her knees with my cock in her mouth?

She enjoyed the luxuries I showered her with, yet she wasn’t that impressed by my wealth or power. She challenged me at every turn, constantly needing to establish her independence. It was both thrilling and infuriating.

The water shut off and I heard the glass doors slide open. Turning, I leaned my back against the wall and crossed my legs at the ankle – my glass of scotch still in hand. I sipped it, watching the door patiently.

She emerged wrapped in a fluffy white towel, her bare shoulders on display. Her long hair was covered by a shower cap and I stood there, mesmerized when she took it off, releasing her fall of raven hair.

The very color I named her after.

Our eyes met briefly, mine following the rivulets of water that rolled down the curve of her neck. I wanted to see all of her.

“Drop the towel,” I commanded, pushing myself off the wall and taking a seat back on the chaise lounge.

Raven tightened her grip on the fabric, her eyebrows drawing together as she considered my words. Just when I thought she would refuse, she released her fingers, dropping the towel at her feet. I had to swallow a large gulp of scotch to stop myself from getting up and tossing her onto the bed face-first.

Her damp body was pure perfection – her sinful curves making my dick strain against the crotch of my tailored slacks. I needed to ease the ache but refused to whip my member out and jerk off in front of her. When I got off, I’d be buried between this woman’s legs.

“Try the dress on.”

She stepped forward, lifting the designer gown in her hands. I watched her slip it over her body, the fabric clinging to her figure like a second skin. The neckline was even more promiscuous than I realized – plunging deep between her perky tits and showing a generous amount of cleavage. The silk hugged her tiny waist, accentuating her wide hips and gripping her round ass the way I wanted to.

“Turn around.”

My dick was ready to bust through my boxers and pants. I gripped the glass tumbler so tightly; my knuckles were white. My other hand was curled around the lounge cushion, threatening to tear right through the upholstery.

She blinked slowly, her long lashes resting on her cheeks like two crescent moons before fluttering open again. Her eyes were like jewels, brighter than usual when her onyx hair framed her face. She turned slowly, showing me the bare skin of her smooth back. Her caramel skin glowed, and I traced the borders of her gown with my eyes. It steeped so low, I could see the dimples in her lower back, the dress barely covering her perky behind.

Her ass looked like a peach in that outfit. I desperately wanted to take a bite.

I rose to my feet, setting my glass down on the table. Stalking toward her, I had to remind myself we had somewhere to be. I wanted to throw her up against the wall and fuck her until she screamed my name.

She shifted as I approached, and I noticed her toned thigh peeking out from the slit in the skirt. It rose pretty high, stopping only a few inches away from the center of her thighs. When I stood in front of her, I reached around and grabbed her ass, feeling the way the juicy flesh spilled over my fingertips.

I slid my free hand up over her hip and past her waist, enjoying the dips and valleys of her womanly curves. Eventually, I reached her neck, thrusting my fingers into her thick hair and pulling her hard against me. Squeezing her ass again, I realized something.

She had no panties on.

My eyes nearly rolled in the back of my head. I imagined what it would be like to have her like this all night – knowing that she was bare beneath the hundred-thousand-dollar dress she wore. I’d be the only one besides her that would know.

And the moment we got back to my place, I would tear her wardrobe off and take her roughly.

“Put your shoes on and let’s go.”

Her eyes widened a bit. “My hair…and I haven’t done my make-up.”

I raked my eyes over her again. She was gorgeous the way she was. Her skin was smooth and clear, her green eyes brilliant and framed by thick, dark lashes. Her pink lips were plump and naturally flushed. She didn’t need an ounce of make-up. All natural, she’d still outshine any woman.

“Skip the cosmetics,” I whispered against her mouth and pressed a kiss to her lips. “And the underwear.”

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