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Chapter Two


Illaria’s POV.

‘Don’t look now, but one of my father’s business associates can’t keep his eyes off of you,’ Georgina whispers, keeping her eyes trained on the bar to be discreet.

‘Is he hot?’ I ask, without turning around and giving away that we are talking about him. I’m no rookie.

‘Definitely. But he’s also 100% a member of the mafia. I’ve seen him before at my house and he has four bodyguards with him.’

My eyes widen at the revelation and I take a large sip of my cocktail. ‘Is it safe to turn, now?’

Georgina considers it.

‘I tell you what, I’ll introduce you to my friend, he’s near to him. You’re looking for a man in a black tux, Italian, scar down the left side of his face, he’s in the middle booth.’

I note her description and nod. We rise from our seats at the bar. Holding our drinks, Georgina takes my free hand and leads me across the club.

I scan the crowd and my eyes land on a man who fits her description perfectly. I almost forget how to function. My legs move on autopilot, but my eyes remain locked on him.

He’s watching me intently, too. Sat with two bodyguards on either side, he’s leant back in the seat, looking confident and relaxed.

He is beautiful. Striking, angelic handsomeness that draws you in immediately. His coal black hair is swept back off his face. It’s undercut and short on the sides, revealing patterns inked onto his scalp.

His chocolate eyes watch me travel across the room. His full lips look so bloody kissable. He must enjoy my staring, because they pull up into a smile, revealing white teeth that glint in the light.

I force myself to break eye contact and I look away, just as Georgina pulls us up to a man about our age.

‘Henry, this is Illaria,’ Georgina introduces us.

I’m polite and make small talk, but I can’t keep thinking about that man. He’s so handsome, but familiar in some way. I can’t think where I’ve seen him before.

My sexual fantasies, perhaps?

After a while, Georgina and Henry begin some heated conversation about university and I find myself bored and looking at my nails.

‘I’m getting a drink,’ I whisper in Georgie’s ear and head for the bar.

I order myself another cosmo and take a sip. I pause for a moment and try to think what to do next. I don’t want to join Georgie’s conversation, but I don’t know anyone else here.

A tap on my shoulder makes me jump.

I’m slightly disappointed when I see one of the beautiful man’s bodyguards stood next to me.

‘Excuse me,’ he says gruffly, ‘but Mr Vilenzo was wondering if you would like to join him for a drink at his table.’

I frown with confusion.

He can’t even be bothered to come over and ask me himself?

The cocktails fuel my confidence.

‘Well, if that’s what Mr Vilenzo wants, he can come and ask me himself, thank you.’

I turn back to my cocktail, my heart thumping wildly. The bodyguard goes back to the table and suddenly I’m terrified.

Have I just rejected and told off a mafia member?

Oh fuck, what was I thinking?

I tense up as I feel the presence of someone behind me.

I straighten my back and steel my nerves. The most intoxicating cologne fills my nose, one of those ones that makes you wet in an instant.

The man’s suit brushes against my bare arm as he moves to stand next to me.

It’s him. Mr Vilenzo. The Italian staring God.

He leans against the bar and lifts one side of his mouth up in a half-smile. It’s hot as fuck.

Up close, I realise where I’ve seen him before. On my eighteenth birthday, we got ready at Georgina’s house. This man was there. I remember because I nearly tripped down the stairs at the sight of him.

The only difference now is, he has a scar running from his temple to his jaw on the left side of his face. I frown and resist the urge to stroke it. I want to ask where he got it from.

‘Illaria, right?’ He says lowly. His voice is a deep baritone that has pleasurable shivers running through me at the sound of it.

My eyebrows furrow. How the hell does he know my name?

‘Ria is fine...and you are?’

His smile widens at my reply. ‘My name is Nario Vilenzo,’ he introduces himself. He takes my hand and presses a kiss to the back of it. The feel of his soft lips on my skin sends a bolt of pleasure straight to my clit. ‘But you can call me Lucca.’

‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lucca,’ I reply and his eyes sparkle with mischief.

This man has a face that promises trouble, but I love it.

‘Do you know, I’ve never had someone put me in my place from ten metres away before. I wonder, are you still that bold now that I am close to you?’ He asks teasingly.

I’m scared that he’s pissed off, but he seems rather amused.

I quickly lick my lips and knot my fingers in my lap.

‘I’ve never had a guy ask me to join him through his bodyguard before, either,’ I reply lightly. ‘Tell me, does that move often work or are other women as demanding as me?’

His lips quirk up in a smile again.

‘They’re not usually as demanding, no,’ he replies and rubs his hand over his chin, ‘but I quite like it, so let me try again. Would you like to join me at my table? I’d love to get to know you, Ria.’

I glance over at Georgina, but her and Henry are now locked lips and dancing together. She’s obviously not missing me, so...

‘Well, seeing as you asked so nicely, I’d love to,’ I answer. He smirks at my teasing.

He places his large hand on the small of my back, sending heat through my body. He ushers me over to his table. The four bodyguards are standing nearby as we slide into the booth.

I lean back against the plush fabric and angle my body to face him.

‘So, Ria, tell me things about you. What do you like to do? Do you have a job?’

I take a gulp of my cocktail for Dutch courage. This man might be handsome as hell, but he is also very intimidating.

‘Um okay, I’m nineteen. I work as a bartender. I love reading and going to the gym,’ I trail off, feeling rather stupid. It’s like he’s made me stand up in class and introduce myself.

He looks alarmingly interested, like he can’t wait to know more about me.

‘What books do you like? What’s your favourite?’

My cheeks flush with both shyness and excitement. What man ever wants to talk about books to a girl? Not one I’ve met.

‘My favourite is probably I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, but I’ll read anything really.’

He smiles at my admission. ‘I read that book in school, it’s brilliant,’ he says and I’m filled with surprise.

‘Really? What did you like about it?’ I can’t believe this man has read my favourite book.

‘I loved that she gave such a raw account of her life. It really showed how different her life was, growing up in that era and being Black. The racism is stark and unfiltered, it opens your eyes. I’m twenty-five, I must have read it nine years ago and I still remember it.’

I can’t keep the smile off my face. I feel guilty for judging him, for thinking this man would never want to talk books with me. But he shows me just how wrong I am.

For the next two hours, we talk books, films, life, everything. He makes no move to touch me or kiss me, he listens with interest.

Georgina waves at me at one point to let me know she’s still alive, but then she disappears off with Henry to God knows where, to do God knows what.

Midnight comes. I apologise to Lucca and retrieve my phone from my clutch. I text Georgie and ask where she is. We agreed we’d leave around midnight.

‘Are you leaving soon?’ He asks, and I don’t miss the hint of disappointment in his voice.

‘I was meant to be, but my friend has disappeared.’ Her text comes through as I’m talking and I roll my eyes. ‘It appears she is going to spend the night with her friend, I guess it’s time to find a taxi.’

Lucca frowns. ‘Nonsense. I will take you home,’ he says.

‘No it’s alright, you really don’t have to,’ I protest but he has the face of a man who always gets what he wants.

‘I insist. I’m happy to leave now anyway, you were the best thing about this party,’ he comments and my cheeks heat up.

Ignoring my assurances that I’m perfectly fine getting a taxi, Lucca escorts me to the lift. It’s cosy inside, what with Lucca’s huge stature, the man is built like a brick shithouse. Not to mention, the four burly bodyguards that are in the cart with us.

The lift takes us down to the underground car park. We step out and my eyes widen at the numerous expensive cars parked around us. These probably cost more than I’ll earn in a lifetime.

The slender stem of my heel gets wedged between the gap of a drain cover, sending me tumbling forwards. Lucca catches me instantly, righting me in his arms.

His cologne fills my nose again, making me heady. His body is pressed against mine, our faces so close together that I can feel his warm breath on my face.

We stare into each other’s eyes, completely lost in one another. I try to remind myself to breathe, but it’s hard. Being close to such an attractive man is dangerous for my body.

I tug my heel free from the cover and straighten up, but Lucca does not remove his hands from my waist.

I meet his eyes again and my breath catches in my throat at the desire burning in his chocolate eyes. I want to kiss him.

So that’s what I do.

I blame the drug-like effects of his cologne and the five cocktails I’ve consumed.

I close my eyes and press my lips to his. He tenses up for a moment, caught off-guard by my actions. Then he kisses me back. He takes control of the kiss, moving his lips confidently over mine.

Man, this guy can kiss. I feel my body becoming hot and breathless. I press myself closer to his warm body, loving the feel of his hard muscles against me.

His tongue swipes at my bottom lip and I happily open up to him. The second our tongues touch, desire spikes through me and I feel like I’ll die if I don’t have him.

He seems to feel the same urgency. One hand slides up to grip the back of my neck, the other slides down to squeeze my ass through my dress. I can feel his enormous erection digging into my stomach, so I press myself against it. A strained growl leaves the back of his throat and he holds me tighter.

Suddenly, I remember that we’re not alone. I quickly pull apart, leaving Lucca with a dazed look of surprise on his beautiful face.

I glance over at his bodyguards and my cheeks flush red. The four of them have their backs to us, trying to give us some privacy.

Fuck, that’s embarrassing.


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