An innocent coffee. A dazzling stranger. What can go wrong?

Anna Raymond focuses only on her work at a little custom printing company in LA. She’s become a recluse after a traumatic experience that tore her life apart. Then Eric happens, barging into her life one morning at a Starbucks. By the time night falls, she has witnessed a murder, fought for her life, and revealed secrets she meant to keep buried forever.

Eric Reed is a hired killer, well aware of his effect on women and how to use it to his advantage. He’s in LA for one thing only: Finish the contract he’s been assigned. Anna was nothing but a means to an end, but he finds himself reluctantly drawn to the enigmatic woman, a mistake that can cost him everything.

That long, cold night trapped together changes something fundamental between them. Anna must make a choice: will it be her path to happiness, or will the fervent Eric burn her to ashes?

This is book two in the Russo Saga but can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Publisher’s Note: This extremely dark romance is intended for adults only and may contain triggers. It contains elements of danger, suspense, action, adventure, sensual scenes, power exchange and a guaranteed HEA.

You can grab the first book this week for just 99 cents!

Chapter One

Eric

I grab his collar and pull him to me. The man is still conscious, which is unbelievable after the pummeling I’ve given him. Tightening my free hand into a fist, I connect it with his jaw again.

“You do not steal money from Salvatore, Sam.”

My breathing is a little labored, but apart from that, I feel absolutely nothing. This pathetic excuse for a human being has outlived his use by years.

“I have kids,” he sputters, blood oozing from his mouth. “Please.”

“Every-fucking-one can procreate. They’ll be better off without you, you little weasel.”

“No! Please!”

I hit him again. His nose crunches under my fist and his head lolls to the side. Dropping him to the floor, I stand and study the now not so conscious man. I put a shoe to his shoulder and prod him. He doesn’t stir. I could beat him to death, but my knuckles hurt. I’d have liked him to be awake when I put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Seeing that last moment of realization that they are, in fact, going to die is almost better than sex. It’s not a turn-on, but the power rush is incredible. It’s the same expression I saw in my father’s eyes all those years ago. It was over way too soon, and I’ve been looking for that feeling of fulfillment ever since. I’ve never found it again. 

Pulling my Colt out of the holster, I aim it between his eyes and fire. His body twitches as the bullet penetrates bone and brain. I fire two more rounds to make sure to finish him off. His skull nearly caves in on itself. No coming back from that.

I put the gun away and begin looking through the papers on his desk. Crap, crap, bullshit, more crap. Nothing directing me to the money he owes my boss. The drawers are locked, and I make short work with the locks, putting a few bullets in them.

Porn. Child porn. I shudder. I wish I’d known this ten minutes ago. My thoughts dart to my sister before I carefully lock them away, and I wish I could kill him again.

I kick the desk over. It topples with a loud crash.

Fuck!

I throw Sam West a dark glance, take off the gloves, pocket them and pull out my phone.

“Luci.”

Luciano Salvatore. Capo of the mightiest network of organized crime on the West Coast. My boss, my mentor, my savior. I absolutely loathe the man, and I’d die for him.

“Eric. Got anything for me?”

“Nada. He was shady as fuck, and a fucking coward, but either he didn’t know shit, or he was really good at keeping secrets. No papers here. Nothing. Do I move up the chain?”

“Definitely. Let’s not go over this on the phone, though. See you at dinner tonight. Put on a suit and bring a lady friend. I’m having a little gathering. We can combine business with pleasure.”

I had planned to do absolutely nothing tonight. A double whisky and listen to some music. You don’t say no to Salvatore, though. You can try, but it’s a painful lesson in his resolve to get things done his way.

“I don’t have lady friends,” I mutter. I don’t. I fuck them and leave them. No one wants to stay friends with me after, anyway.

Salvatore barks out a laugh. “You’re priceless, you sadistic prick. I might have someone for you, legs for days, a tight little ass, long black hair, half Japanese. She’s hot as fuck.”

“I don’t do prostitutes.”

“I fucking know that. She’s not a hooker.”

“I don’t do your leftovers either.”

“She’s the daughter of a client. I haven’t sampled her. Yet. And I have no issues with leftovers as long as they have tits and ass.”

“You’re a pig.”

He laughs. “I know. I’ll text you her contact info. Be here at eight sharp.” He disconnects.

I stare at the phone and rub a hand over my face. As I walk out of the trashed office, I give West a kick for good measure. I exit through the back of the little shoe repair store, into an alley, as my phone buzzes.

It’s a text from Salvatore. Sun Yamamoto. And a phone number. I sigh. I can’t say I’m feeling it, but I won’t have a choice.

I walk a block to my car and call her as I start driving.

A soft, breathless, very feminine voice answers. “Yes?”

“Sun Yamamoto?”

“Yes. Who is this? How did you get my number?”

She sounds a bit suspicious. Self-preservation is a good thing. Maybe she isn’t a total airhead.

“My name is Eric Reed. I work for Mr. Salvatore who I believe has business with your father.”

“I know who Mr. Salvatore is, yes.” Her voice is still guarded. Good girl. Something stirs in me, and I suddenly wanna break through that wall, and make her scream and cry.

“He’s having a little gathering at his residence tonight, and he has requested your presence. I was told to escort you there, and it would be my honor, Miss Yamamoto.”

“Requested?” Her voice raises a pitch. “He can’t just request my presence.”

“Oh, I agree completely. It’s awfully bold of him, but he isn’t an easy man to please, and I got the impression it would benefit your father greatly.”

She’s silent. I wait and let her process this.

“And who are you again?”

“I’m Eric Reed. I’m Mr. Salvatore’s right-hand man.”

“I’m going to check you out first. See if it’s true.”

“Of course. I never expected anything less; on the contrary, I admire a woman who can look after herself.”

Well, I don’t. But it excites me, because they’re more fun when I break them.

“Miss Yamamoto. Dinner is at eight. Cocktail dress would be suitable. It’s now two p.m. I will call you in two hours and make plans for picking you up. You know how to reach Mr. Salvatore?”

“Yes, of course.”

There’s a new tension in her voice. Not as suspicious anymore, but as if she’s a little bit enticed. I grin. Good.

“Talk to you later then, Miss Yamamoto.”

“Call me Sun.”

“Sun,” I purr. “I’ll call you.”

I disconnect and pull up by the side of the road. A Google search comes up with thousands of hits. Gossip magazines. Wikipedia. Instagram. A jet set life. A socialite. And a real beauty. A French mom, and a Japanese father. Almond eyes. Long, straight black hair with heavy bangs. Tall. Slim. Fit. Luciano isn’t such a fucker anyway. Sometimes he knows exactly what I need.

***

She stays in a suite at the Hilton. Of course she does. Outside her door stands a heavy man in a dark suit. A bodyguard. I wonder if there are threats to her life. Does she live in fear of being kidnapped? My immediate thought is how I’m gonna ditch the man. Or I can just gag her when I fuck her. I’ll play it as it comes.

He knocks on her door for me, already having been alerted of my arrival.

Sun Yamamoto is a vision in real life as well. She’s tall, far from as tall as I am, but with her heels she’s much taller than most women. She could do catwalks. Her glossy hair lays splayed over her shoulders, her eyes are sensual and dark as soot. The dress, or the little fabric that covers her curves, is black, showing almost her whole back, and ends on her upper thighs.

A smile plays on her lips as she gives me a once-over. “You’re tall.”

“So are you.”

“You’re kinda hot.”

“So are you, Miss Yamamoto.”

She flips a strand of hair off her shoulder. “I know.”

I bark out a laugh and give her my arm. “Ready to go and witness the debauchery that is a dinner at the Salvatore residence?”

Her eyes flash with interest as she lays a slim hand on my arm, letting me guide her. A thrill runs through me at her touch.

“Debauchery? Now you have me intrigued.”

Oh, girl, I’ll have you much more than intrigued when the night is over.

The huge bodyguard trails behind us as we make our way to my car. “Does that piece of meat need to come with?” I say quietly in her ear. “It kind of puts a damper on things.”

She laughs. “It’s out of my control. I live under constant threat. I like living. I hate needing to take these precautions, but it is how it is.”

“He’s not riding with me.”

“No, it’s all right. He can follow behind. Just don’t lose him, please.”

I sincerely doubt she’s allowed to split from him, and he objects vividly, but has no say. I play a good boy and let him tail me the whole way, making everyone feel they’re in control. Games, deception and getting what I want in the end are my forte. It’s what I’m trained to do.  

Salvatore greets us with open arms and air kisses. Right cheek, left cheek. He kisses Sun on the back of her hand, spouting some compliments as he gives me a look, telling me all about the dirty thoughts that really run through his mind under that smooth façade. I hold my face neutral. I don’t like letting him invade my mind.

Dinner is what it always is. Sexy little servants, young men and women who get paid well, and have to put up with being groped all through the night. Quite a few of them will have earned a bit of extra cash when the night is over. A long table filled with men in dark suits, some of them with eye candy on their side. A couple of hardened wives sit and talk among themselves, not interfering with their husbands’ business. Every single person in here knows exactly what kind of man Salvatore is, and they bask in the benefits of being on his good side.

Sun has been ogled, approached and given dirty suggestions. I’ve protected her the whole night, played the perfect gentleman. She’s a tough cookie, though, and none of the less pleasant encounters seem to have rattled her.

“What do you do for Mr. Salvatore, Eric?”

“I manage his business deals with the mid-level players. It’s a full-time job. He never rests. I also double as his bodyguard.”

She eyes me up and down with an appreciative glance. “And… what is it Mr. Salvatore does?”

“I don’t think you need to ask that, Sun.” I flash her a wide smile and refill her glass with champagne. She’s getting tipsy and is definitely interested. Her cheeks are flushed, she’s chewing her full bottom lip and her pupils dilate as she regards me.

I lean in, putting my mouth to her ear. “Have you had enough of these mongrels?”

She gasps and her nipples harden visibly through the thin fabric. My cock stirs at the sight and the heady scent of her flowery perfume. It’s a little on the heavy side, but it fits her, just as the thick diamond necklace around her long, pale throat fits her. I want to wrap my fingers around that throat and feel her fear through her arousal. I want to see her naked with only that sexy necklace on.

She nods, her eyes glazed over, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

I offer her my hand and she takes it. As we stand, I snake an arm around her narrow waist and pull her to my side.

“Let’s get some fresh air.” I guide her to the backside patio. It’s dark and empty, only illuminated through the windows from the increasingly loud and drunken party inside. The night is warm and filled with earthy scents. I twine my fingers with hers and she lets me, then she puts a hand on my chest, stroking along my shirt, over my pecs, down along my stomach. My muscles ripple with tension. I grab her and spin us around, pushing her up against the wall, crushing my mouth against hers.

She moans and bites my lower lip pretty hard. A rush runs through me and I get rock hard in an instant. She likes it rough? I’ll show her rough. 

I hoist her up against the wall, my hands under her ass. She wraps her long, slender legs around my waist and gasps. I shove her dress out of the way and, fuck me, no panties. My fingers find their way to her wet slit, teasing back and forth, making her tremble in my hold. Then I push inside. Three fingers, rough, all the way to the last knuckle. She tenses and squirms, rising a little to ease the pressure, but I don’t let her get away. I pull out and find her clit, circling it, pinching, making her cry out. I chuckle and stab inside again, thrusting in and out as her breathing quickens, her heart thudding against my chest. Her inner walls clench around my fingers and I pull out. She doesn’t get to come yet.

I let her down. She wobbles and clutches my shoulders for support.

“You mean, mean man,” she whines. “I am so fucking close.”

“You haven’t seen mean yet, Sun. I’m gonna keep you on the edge of that orgasm the rest of the night. And if you play nice, I’ll let you come.”

She squirms. “What is ‘nice’?” she gasps.

I grab her arm and pull her with me through the garden. “You’ll see, love. Now let’s sneak past your babysitter. Unless you want him to join?”

“Oh, hell no,” she says and giggles.

I steer her toward my car. I parked it a little to the side, making it easy to leave. I’ve nurtured one glass of wine the whole night. It’s my trick. As people get increasingly drunk, they have no clue that one of them doesn’t keep filling his glass. When I’m among these thugs, I want to stay sharp. I clutch her arm a little tighter than what must be comfortable. A little hint of what’s to come.

I’m still hard as we drive past the gates, past Salvatore’s guards. I steer toward my place. I want my equipment. Maybe she’s a naughtier girl than I think and has some nice toys at her place, but I doubt they’d be to my satisfaction.

My hand rests on her leg as we breeze along the freeway, stroking the soft skin on her inner thigh, higher, brushing her swollen folds. I grin as a tremor runs through her.

“Put your hand on my cock, but no more, I don’t want to fucking crash. I just want to feel you.”

She obeys and carefully lets her fingers touch my raging hard-on.

“Oh my God,” she whispers. “You’re huge.”

“Do you want to know where I’m gonna put that?”

She gulps and nods.

“I’m gonna have your lush lips around it, you’re gonna have to work that hot mouth of yours, then I’m gonna fuck your throat before I claim your cunt and your ass.”

Her breaths get heavier. I glance at her. Her eyes are wide, and her mouth hangs open. She licks her lips. “I’ve never…”

I raise my eyebrows. All the better. I don’t even know what it is she’s never done, but she will have done it by tomorrow morning.