With. A. Thick. Irish. Accent.

I withdraw my hand, scowling at him in response and offer no greeting.

Mateo gives him a tolerating look of warning, and I’m too fresh off a fake affair to want to linger any longer. “I’m gonna go help with dinner,” I say.

“No,” Mateo says, catching me by the wrist before I can escape. “Stay.”

I narrow my eyes at Colin, but he doesn’t seem bothered by it. He’s smiling, like he’s not tempting Mateo to kill him for his abundant charm.

“I’m yer new bodyguard,” Colin informs me.

My eyes widen. “No.”

He nods, glancing to Mateo for confirmation.

Almost reluctantly, Mateo says, “He is.”

“No,” I say again, this time shaking my head. “Nope. No, thank you.”

Mateo smiles, tugging me close, but he’s not charming me into this one. No way, no how. I spoke to Salvatore Castellanos for two minutes and there was hell to pay, I’ll be damned if an attractive Irishman is going to guard my body.

“He’s good,” Mateo assures me.

“I like my chances with the bullets better,” I inform him.

Colin laughs, abandoning us to this conversation and dropping back into the wing chair across from Adrian.

Mateo plants his hands on my hips, pulling me in front of him. “Afraid you’re going to cheat on me?” he jokes.

“Nope. Afraid you’ll imagine another affair? Yes.”

“I promise not to,” he assures me. “Plus, we’ve already been over this. If I ever suspect you of cheating again, I’m going after the guy, not you.”

“Couldn’t you give me an ugly bodyguard?” I request. “Or, like, a woman? I’m totally down with a new female friend. Get me a badass lady bodyguard.”

“I don’t have any of those on my payroll,” he says, amused. “I’ll look into it for future reference, but right now there’s an immediate need. All of my people are going to be occupied with Castellanos, so Adrian suggested Colin.”

“Well, Adrian should’ve recalled what happened last time he let me be around an attractive man who wasn’t you,” I state.

“You make me sound so controlling.”

I raise my eyebrows. “I don’t even have enough time before dinner to respond to that.”

His brown eyes twinkle with mischievous amusement and he leans in, his warm breath sending tingles everywhere as his lips find my neck.

I close my eyes, faintly groaning. “Not fair.”

“Heal faster,” he murmurs, leaving a trail of kisses up to my ear, where he stops to nibble.

“I’m trying to channel my inner Wolverine, but it doesn’t seem to be working.”

He pulls back, smiling down at me. “Well, try harder. I’m upping my bedtime story game tonight.”

“You’re killin’ me, Morelli.”

Reaching down to take my hand, he leads me over to the wing chairs and I take a seat in the one he was in, while he lingers beside it. Colin smiles at me, and I give him another narrowed look to let him know I’ve got my eye on him.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Cherie coming in to do the pre-dinner drinks for the men. I probably could’ve done that myself, but I’m already sitting now, and to be honest, sitting down and standing up are both uncomfortable acts, even now.

I guess I’ll have to accept the bodyguard for now. If any more bullets come flying my way, I’d rather they hit him than me.

I glance at him, privately amused that I’m already maiming him in my mind, but I’ve lost his interest. As Cherie approaches, his eyes twinkle, roaming over her body appreciatively.

“Well, hello, lass,” he says.

As she fills his glass, her gaze flicks up to him, lips curving up slightly. “You’re not a Morelli.”

“No, thankfully not,” he agrees, with his charming little smirk.

Cherie offers back a smirk of her own. “Luck of the Irish.”

“Colin McGregor,” he offers, reaching for her free hand.

Cherie shakes her head, not giving him her hand or her name. “I’m calling you Irish,” she states.

“As long as ye call me somethin’,” he replies, winking.

“I bet that accent does good things for you, doesn’t it?” she replies.

He shrugs with feigned modesty. “I’m no’ complainin’,”

Mateo interrupts to inform my roguish new bodyguard, “She’s 17.”

Pulling a face of exaggerated displeasure, he asks, “For how much longer?”

Cherie laughs, walking past him to go fill Adrian’s drink. “One more month.”

“Ah, that’s no’ so very long,” Colin says.

She gives him a wink over her shoulder, but I think it’s more to annoy Mateo than because she’s interested in the Irishman.

“My house isn’t a brothel,” Mateo states.

“You should stop bringing in pretty young maids,” Adrian suggests.

“Bring one more,” I add. “We need to find Joey a girl so he’ll back off Vince. Also, we need new blood in the kitchen on Sundays.”

“I think we should hold off on worrying about new Morelli women until we get this territory situation under control,” Adrian advises me.

“You’re so pragmatic, Adrian,” I tell him, shaking my head. “What would we do without you?”

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