He stares at for a moment with great intensity, then he shakes his head and says more seriously than he ever says anything, “I’m so glad Castellanos sent you to kill me.”

I smile. “He did us both a solid, there.”

“Maybe I’ll take that into consideration and make his death quick.”

My lips firm into a line and my eyes narrow as I rock my head back and forth, considering that one. “I don’t know. I think you should still make him suffer. Like, cut off all his fingers and toes first, shoot him in the knee cap. Once he’s crying, then you can put him out of his misery.”

Mateo shakes his head. “I’m a lucky man.”

“You really are,” I agree.

“When this is all over, I’m taking you away somewhere. Think about where you wanna go. I strongly encourage a choice which requires you in a bikini.”

“Ugh,” I say, rolling my eyes. “I can never wear a bikini again. My stretch marks from Lily I could accept, but now I’ve got this gunshot wound? One-pieces for me from here on out, sorry.”

Mateo shakes his head. “No way. You have a gunshot wound—you’re an official badass now. I don’t even have a gunshot wound. A weird gash in my thigh from being stabbed, but even I’ve never been shot.”

“And you’re such a badass,” I state, suddenly realizing how awesome this is. “Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Never mind, I’ll wear the bikini.”

He smirks, nodding his head. “There we go.”

“Manipulator,” I accuse, realizing he just tricked me.

Shrugging unapologetically, he says, “It works, what can I say?”

“Remember that conversation we had about your bad karma?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.

He waves it off. “You didn’t really cheat on me though, it was a false alarm.”

I shake my head. “That wasn’t the takeaway. You were still supposed to learn something.”

“I did. I learned that I’m going to have to take over the whole city, whether I want to or not, and that I have to keep Adrian somehow, and if I ever suspect you of cheating again, I’m just gonna have to kill the guy, because it didn’t make me stop wanting you.”

“This is… these are not the lessons,” I tell him.

He nods, standing. “We must have different notes.”

“You’re incorrigible,” I inform him.

“And you love it,” he shoots back. “Now, I have to go play the role of karma for a little while, but I’ll be back in time to lie next to you and imagine fucking you before we go to sleep.”

“Sounds like a lot of fun,” I inform him.

“You shouldn’t plan on doing much else once you’re functioning again.”

My eyes drift over his beautiful body, once more draped in a sharp suit, looking oh-so-tempting. “Maybe every night before bed, we should share all the dirty things we want to do to each other, in great detail. They say anticipation makes it better, right? After literally weeks of dirty-talking celibacy, we’ll be out of our minds.”

“That sounds like legitimate torture,” he states. “I’m into it though, let’s do it.”

I grin at him. “This is gonna be so hard.”


I spend more time taking it easy in bed than I’d like, but by Saturday I’m able to go downstairs for dinner.

Not able, like I physically couldn’t before, but able, in that Mateo finally let me.

I’m actually a little excited to dress up again. While having my meals brought to me has helped me avoid going up and down the stairs when I’m sore and unable to take pain meds, I miss people. Mia has stopped over a few times, but I have her covering for me at the bakery, so she’s pretty busy this week.

I still kind of miss my death necklace, looking at my reflection in the mirror, but the new addition of my engagement ring more than makes up for it.

Mateo’s in his study with Adrian, having drinks. At least, I thought it was only Adrian, until I walk in and see some new guy seated in one of the wing chairs.

He’s really cute—dark hair, nice blue eyes, a roguish smile. Doesn’t look like a Morelli.

Even more jarring than the random new dude, however, is that Mateo’s sitting. I’ve never seen Mateo sit in one of the wing chairs before, he always perches at the edge of his desk. He’s laughing at something the new guy says when I come in, but his gaze immediately moves to me, eyes warming.

“Here she is,” Mateo murmurs, standing to walk toward me.

“Oh,” I say, with a light laugh. “Were you waiting for me?”

“I was just telling Colin about you.”

Nodding at the stranger, I say, “Colin, I presume. I’m Meg.”

Colin stands as well, and it seems like he’s going to shake my hand, but he brings it to his lips and kisses it instead, looking up at me through sinfully long lashes. “Pleasure’s all mine,” he tells me.

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