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I don’t know who was more nervous — her or me.

How the fuck do you take a girl on a date when you’ve never been on one? I’ve never been interested in taking any girl on a date, especially not one as wild as her. Not only did I have to watch out for any threats from Damien Moretti, I now knew she’d sneak off like it was nothing should she have a reason and get the chance.

I’m fucked.

My heart had been pounding all morning, the nerves getting to me, and I prayed I’d been able to hide it well enough from her. The only time it had stopped was when Adelaide came out of her bathroom in just that little towel of hers and all the blood in my head had gone to my cock. She was making it harder and harder to not pin her to the bed and sink into her.

She still looked at me with annoyance as I brought up again how easily she’d let me tame some of her fire the other night as I opened the car door for her. I was an asshole most of the time but I could be a gentleman if I felt like it.

I snaked my arm around her waist, keeping a firm grip on it as we went into the coffee shop. I needed to ensure I did all I could to keep her in my sight, if not physically touching me, during this date so I could prevent her sneaking off or take her and leave if I had to. I had done a quick scan before going in, fast enough that she wouldn’t notice.

Damien would be a fucking imbecile to have his men follow us into a coffee shop with multiple witnesses, security cameras, and no quick escape routes but it hadn’t stopped him from sending someone while Adelaide and Hannah were out at the shops. My guess is he thought his guy would blend in, looking as if he was waiting for his wife or daughter to finish up in a shop. Inconspicuous but Adelaide had noticed. Maybe I wasn’t giving her enough credit, maybe she knew a lot more about this life than she led on. Just as long as she didn’t know what Park had done to Damien’s man once we were done with him.

My little princess was smart and sharp as a whip sometimes the way she hurled insults or harsh words back at me. And the way she talked to my father the other day it’s a wonder Gabriel doesn’t keep her locked up more with how riled up she could get people, especially those who wouldn’t hesitate to put her in her place, future daughter-in-law or not.

I hoped today of all days would be the day she kept that pretty mouth shut and not attract the wrong attention.

She didn’t resist my hold around her waist, in fact she seemed to be leaning into my side, molding herself to it as if she knew she what I needed from her today. She’d been on edge, the way she anxiously bounced her leg in the car and changed subjects so it was a welcomed thought to know she would hopefully behave herself for once.

“How do you even pick what to order? There’s like a hundred different flavors and all this other junk.” I said looking at the menu they had behind the counter, taking up almost the whole wall.

“Easy. You just pick what sounds good. Don’t make it complicated.” She said as she ordered her coffee with so much added shit I doubt there was any coffee in it.

“Black, please.” I said as I paid, pulling her to the side to wait.

“What are you, someone’s dad? Aallll those choices and you pick black.” She exaggeratedly swung her arm out to reference the board.

“So is that what you’re into, daddy stuff?” I raised my eyebrows suggestively at her, her face turning pink in embarrassment.

“Would you stop it?” She hissed at me, trying to pull out of my grip. I tightened my hold on her, spinning her slightly so she was pressed against my side.

“Just trying to get to know you better, Princess. Isn’t that what this whole date is about?” I teased and felt her lay her head on my shoulder in defeat, lightly shaking it back and forth.

“Yeah, and so far I’ve learned you literally cannot pull your mind out of the gutter for more than a minute and you like boring coffee.” She teased back, I heard the smile in her voice as she watched the barista making her drink.

“It’s not boring, it’s simple. I’m a simple guy. Coffee doesn’t need all that added shit you put in it, there’s probably not a drop of coffee in it at this point.” As I held her and we waited, I did another scan inside the shop, looking at each and every face to see if any of them stuck out of place. It seemed to be only college students with their laptops out typing away at papers, a few young mothers who looked like they needed an IV of straight caffeine to the veins, and a few others sipping and talking.

“Okay Mr. Simple. Well I like my coffee the way I like it. You like yours boring, I like mine to taste good.” She walked with me to grab our drinks when they were done and I kept my grip still around her, not giving her any chance to slip off somewhere. I walked us to a booth in the corner, letting her slide in first before I slid in next to her, keeping her going anywhere. She caught on and looked at me, cocking her eyebrow.

“Really?” She asked suspiciously. I smirked and put my arm over her shoulders, getting comfy in the seat. From where we sat I had a whole view of the cafe — every face, every entrance and exit, every opportunity to watch out for anyone who didn’t fit in.

“I figured you’d want to people watch while you get overly caffeinated. You do it enough at all the dinners and events.” I glanced over at her, her mind ticking away as she sipped her coffee, or lack thereof.

“It’s usually the only entertainment there is.” She shrugged. “Watching the Greene twins and Cecilia fight for your attention is just so sad I can’t look away. And I can make sure Liam stays at least 20 feet away from me at all times.” I huffed out a laugh.

Cecilia’s attempts to win my affection every chance she got had crossed the line into fucking sad at this point. She’s been at it since we were teenagers, but she never turned her attention to any of my brothers stranger enough. It was only me. At this point I don’t think she knew how to stop herself.

We both sat there quietly watching as people came in and out, ordering even more complicated drinks than what Adelaide had. She leaned against the table, propping one elbow to rest her chin in her hand, the other folded in front of her on the table.

“People usually talk on dates, you know. They don’t sit in silence and just watch other people.” She turned to look at me, her eyebrows raising expectantly.

She had me there. But this wasn’t a normal date. This was me taking her from the safety of the property and extra security into a public place where I had to watch everyone’s every move to make sure she didn’t get kidnapped or worse. And I had to make sure I could keep myself alive while doing so. Damien and his men were ruthless and there’s no telling what they’d do to me to get to her.

“Fire away, Princess.” I was too preoccupied watching people coming in to think of anything to talk to her about. Besides, she’s the one who wanted to get to know me to make this easier. I’d let her be in charge for once. She was quiet for another minute, her mind rolling over what to ask.

“What’s your favorite band?”

I could tell she was going to play 20 questions with me but I went along. It would keep us here longer and give me a better chance to keep my eye out for anyone.

“Don’t have one.” I sipped my coffee.

“Ugh, boring. Everyone has one. Alright, uhm, what’s the best book you’ve ever read?”

“I don’t read.” I didn’t. I didn’t have time with all the shit I had to do with my father’s business and keeping up with her. Besides, she did enough reading for eight people.

“You’re killing me here, Luca. Do you do anything for fun or is it all business and picking at me?” She looked at me, trying to find out if I was just bullshitting her.

“Yes. But getting you wound up is my favorite hobby.” I winked at her knowing it would do exactly that. She huffed and tried to gather herself back up.

“I have hobbies, I just don’t get to do them much with work. I like working on my cars, working out, watching a movie if I have a spare moment.” I finally gave in satisfying her desire to know anything about me.

“Oh good, so I won’t be bored to death when I have to move in.” She rested her head on her propped up hand again, a small smile on her face. I could see that what little I gave her satisfied her somewhat, but she wanted to know more. More than just favorite color and movie.

“Why’d you agree to go on a date with me? You’ve wanted nothing to do with me all these years.” She stared right at me, cocking her eyebrows expecting a good answer, not giving me any chance to escape her mentally. It was like she was staring right into my soul.

“To get you into bed.” I shot back at her, a smirk spreading across my face. I twirled a piece of her sun bleached hair around my fingers, knowing she was about to get wound up again by my answer.

She looked at me with annoyance across her face mixed with the want to push me out of the booth. I slid my hand down to her waist and gave it a small squeeze.

“I’m only kidding, Princess. Partly. You said this would make our... predicament... easier. We’re not getting out of it, and at this point I don’t think you really want to.” I looked over at her, her cheeks turning slightly pink.

“There’s worse people to marry, I suppose.” She looked down at her drink, avoiding my eyes.

I knew in the past few days she’d warmed to the idea a bit more, that anger burning out a bit. She probably wouldn’t be completely burnt out until after we were married when she could fully accept it since there would be no going back. There was no divorce in our world, except during extreme circumstances.

“You could have ended up with Park and been bored to death. Or Jack but you’d never seen him since he’s always playing videos games.” I let out a small laugh.

“Hannah would have killed me. She had the biggest crush on him when she was younger and he still picks on her for it, even though she’s with Roman.” She sipped at her drink some more, watching more people come in and out. “Why am I to marry you and not Park? He’s the oldest, wouldn’t that have made sense?”

I hadn’t really thought of it until my father and I had discussed it, most recently the last few years when Adelaide had really started to get under my skin, meeting me at every turn with that fire of hers. We were uncontrollable with how much we were at each other’s throats, always picking at the other every chance we got. The worst of it was when she threw a drink in my face at a wedding two years ago, the same one I punched Liam Blake at for mouthing off about her. I may have hated her but she was mine and I wasn’t going to let some dickhead like Liam talk about her like he owned her.

She’d been at me all night, not wanting me near her, and throwing her usual tantrum when she wasn’t getting her way. I’d had enough, and was probably a little drunk, when I told her I’d put her pretty little mouth to use if she didn’t shut up and behave. She’d turned bright red and threw a full glass of champagne in my face before storming out with Edie, but not before some very important guests saw.

It wasn’t until the other night when she was terrified in my arms during the storm that I knew why I’d been chosen for her. She may have been young when this contract was created, me not much older, but my father knew. He knew I could calm that fire of hers as I was the only one of my brother’s she’d hated from the start. We’d been destined by some unseen force into this life. She knew what I could do and hated me for it, before she ever knew what would happen.

“Because I’m the only one who would ever be able to tame you.” I said to her, a tone of seriousness in my voice.

If I could tame her, even in the slightest, my father would have exactly what he needed to keep dangled over Gabriel’s head. He’d indirectly have his youngest daughter and Gabriel would never been able to retaliate for fear of what could happen to Adelaide.

I’d never let anything happen to her, from my father or anyone, but it didn’t stop me from making sure she behaved herself when she needed to. Her mouthing off the other day was a slip up, and I’d been able to prevent much damage when I dragged her from the room. Just barely.

She smirked, a twinkle of that fire flashed in her eyes. I knew she was challenging me, it would always be a struggle with her, but I was willing to take her on. She was pretty damn willing to let me. Hell, I’d all but fucked her the other night and that was the most tame I’d ever had her. A devilish smile spread across my face. If only she knew how tame she’d be soon.

“Are we staying here all day to just look at other people or are we actually going to do anything?”

“We’re going, we’re going.” I trailed off, scooting out of the booth and holding my hand out for her to pull herself out. “You can’t sit still for one minute unless you have a book, can you?” I picked at her. She huffed.

“I can too, but it’s not much of a date if we’re just sitting here watching people all day. That’s no fun.” She said taking my hand as I pulled her from her seat and against my chest. We were far enough back in the cafe that I could hold her like this for a moment and no one would think anything of it, just a couple on a date.

A couple.

Meaning she was my girlfriend.

That thought never crossed my mind. Ever. Adelaide was always just Adelaide. My soon-to-be wife. The pain in my ass. The spiteful little princess. That was it.


There’s a few fun things we could do but they require a bed and you out of that dress.” I reached down and grabbed her ass, a small squeak in surprise came from her. She smacked my chest and tried to pull away from me as I tightened my grip around her waist, leading her towards the door.

“Five minutes. You can’t keep your mind out of the gutter for five minutes.” She hissed as I led her to my car, taking another quick scan around.

“You like it.” I teased, opening her car door for her.

See, gentleman. So what if my mind was on her naked and in my bed, moaning my name?

“I like you more when you’re not talking.” She teased me back as I got in. I started the car and drove off further into the city as I put my hand on her thigh that was exposed from her short dress riding up as she got in. I slid my hand towards her inner thigh and squeezed lightly, feeling goosebumps form on her skin.

“The things I was suggesting don’t require me to talk.” I pushed again. Getting her wound up and all bothered really was a hobby, and I was good at it.

“Luca! Five minutes!” She squirmed in her seat, pushing my hand off her thigh. I peeked at her and her chest was turning red, her face already tinged pink in embarrassment.

She was shy about sex, it came with the territory of her being a virgin. She didn’t need to tell me for me to know that.

“Told you, it’s my favorite hobby.” I smirked watching her out of the corner of my eye try to compose herself and figure out where I was taking her.

“Where are we going?” She sounded nervous, like I was planning to take her to the woods and leave her there. She started bouncing her leg again like she always did when she was anxious, and probably some of the caffeine kicking in now.

“You’ll see. Just trust me, you’ll like it.”

We were quiet for a bit, her leg bouncing had calmed some and I snuck glances at her when she wasn’t paying attention.

I’d never noticed how her hair shown in the sunlight, looking almost like silk with how light it was. Her nose having a slight slope to it at the end, very feminine and delicate like the rest of her. Her cheeks were a natural rosy color, almost like she permanently had makeup on, but I knew she almost never wore it. It was easy to see why so many of the other girls had been jealous of her, she’d grown into a natural beauty, only enhanced even more when she was dressed up for events.

I was falling, and I was falling deep.


Thankfully I didn’t have to dwell on it much as we pulled up to where I was taking her, helping me break out of whatever little spell I was being put under by her. She hadn’t even done anything and I knew she’d be able to bend my will at the snap of her fingers today. I had to get a better reign on myself if I was going to be able to keep her safe today and get her home in one piece.

Maybe into my bed, too.

“The aquarium?” She said figuring out where we were.

“You like the ocean so much, I figured you’d want to see what’s in it instead of just swimming in it.”

Her face lit up and a small smile graced her lips.

She thought I never paid attention to anything about her, only trying to get under her skin every chance I got. But I’d kept my eye on her the last few years, paying attention to the things she liked and liked doing. She’d been down at the beach behind her house at least four days every week, just laying on a towel or walking it to find shells. Other than the library, she was happiest and the most content floating out in the water under the sun. Her father’s office overlooked the water and I’d sneak peeks from time to time to watch her, her skin glowing from the sun and her hair wild and tangled from the surf. She was like a siren, ready to pull me down at any moment if I ever set foot in that water to stare at her beauty.

It’d also be dark in the aquarium, the perfect place for me to keep her hidden from spying eyes. I’d be able to keep her close in the dark here, and I’d be able to watch for any threats while she watched everything else.

“Well let’s go already!” She said and threw her door open, bolting from the car before I had barely turned it off.

She was now a ball of excited flames and for once I knew exactly how to control it.

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