I finally meet the man of my dreams and I have to kill him.


I head back to the bar, prepared to leave, but Mateo has ordered me another drink.

I start to remind him we were just about to get out of here, but honestly, I want to stall, and I want to spend more time with him. I’d like to say I need more time to figure a way out of this, but I don’t think there is one. I’m too deep in debt, or I’d go home with Mateo after this drink, then slink back to my house, put Lily in the car, and just drive. No murdering handsome mobsters, no retaliation from their rivals.

No, I don’t think I’ll come up with a plan I haven’t considered in the next half hour, but the longer I can delay the next part of this evening, the better.

I nurse that one, a little less cheerful now that I realize the clock is ticking, and we will be leaving soon. Still, the damn thing won’t last forever, and then Mateo is watching me, those sexy eyes even sexier with alcohol coursing through my veins, and why does this have to be so complicated? I know I never would’ve met him otherwise because I’m a boring mom who works and stays home, but why couldn’t Mateo Morelli have noticed me for real, and taken me out for real, so my dream date could’ve been real and not a stupid ploy?

I’m starting to feel really tipsy. I should’ve said no to that last martini. I mean, I couldn’t, because then it would be poison time, but I should’ve.

“Can I go pee one more time?” I ask, glancing at the little bit of alcohol left in my glass.

“Of course,” he murmurs. He doesn’t move to hand me my purse this time, but I grab it, tucking it under my arm. I get distracted by his broad shoulders before I can walk away. God, he has good shoulders. I’m an affectionate drunk and I’m already attracted to the man, so I find myself wanting to hug him. I don’t, but I do reach out and give that shoulder a little squeeze, more longing in my eyes than I should probably let him see.

He watches me as I linger. “Something wrong?”

I shake my head wordlessly, shoving down my regret. Attempting a smile, I pull my hand away and head for the bathroom to have one final anxiety attack.

When I emerge a few minutes later, The Best is Yet to Come is playing, and it feels like a bad omen.

Granted, Mateo requested nothing but Sinatra, but last time I played this song, I didn’t have such a great night.

Which really pisses me off, because I love this song.

When I get back to our seats, I’m confused to see Mateo isn’t there. Our glasses have been cleared, so I assume he paid the bill, but where is he?

The bartender doesn’t seem too busy, so I approach him at the bar. “Hey, did you see where my date went?”

The man shakes his hand, polishing a glass.

With one last, longing glance at the piano, I lament not getting to dance. Then I head for the doors, to see if he stepped outside.

Mateo’s on the sidewalk in front of the bar, talking on his phone. I feel relieved, thinking for a moment he’d actually left. In one sense I wish he would’ve, but realistically I know that would’ve been bad for me.

He’s probably more relaxed about drinking at his home. I can’t imagine it will be easy to dump anything into his drink, but…

Damn, I don’t want to think about this. I know I have to, I’m running out of time, but it makes me feel sick, and I need to keep it together.

He spots me as I come flying out the door, so he finishes up his phone call. Dropping it into the pocket of his dark pants, he heads in my direction, raking his eyes over my body.

“You ready to get out of here?” he asks.

“I thought I’d get to finish my drink first,” I say lightly, as he catches me around the waist and tugs me against his body.

“You weren’t fast enough,” he tells me, his lips dropping to my shoulder, then working their way up my neck. As tender as he is, I’m startled a moment later when he grabs my arms, flattening me against the brick building and crushing my body with his. I don’t hate it, I just don’t expect the aggression. He doesn’t wait to see if I like it, though—his mouth is on mine again, his kiss crushing, dominating, almost punishing. I struggle to keep up, to match him, until finally he pulls away.

With a mysterious little look, he takes my hand and leads me to the car waiting by the curb. He opens the door for me. “Shall we?”

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