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No, little Miss Riley Tremaine had nothing to do with this. But I don’t doubt that the money is in the account, or la policia wouldn’t be here.

That leaves Emilia. Emilia, who has gotten it into her twisted little brain that she is meant to be my bride.

Emilia, who considers Riley little more than a bug to be squished beneath her Prada pumps.

And while this animosity between my stepsister and I is nothing new, the announcement yesterday put us on a whole new playing field. Benenati Enterprises is worth billions of dollars, and it’s at stake.

Emilia is a stubborn, sneaky bitch, but I never expected this from her. And my vision hazes with violet rage.

“All money in Miss Tremaine’s account was a gift from me.” I say smoothly, thinking fast.

I’m absolutely certain that this is a trick of Emilia’s. And if so, the money will trace back to Benenati Enterprises.

Riley squeaks in protest.

“And why, exactly, would you give this woman so much money?” The older cop lets his gaze wander up and down Riley, his lip curled in a sneer that he doesn’t bother to conceal, and I feel my rage building.

Without thinking, I pull Riley into my arms. Her skin is cold and clammy against my own, and the officer’s last words have her shaking like a leaf in the wind. A bit of an overreaction, I think, but then I don’t imagine a woman like her has been around many cops before.

I’m surprised when, rather than sinking passively back into my arms, she struggles against them, her cheeks flushing crimson.

“I’m not a whore, if that’s what you’re implying.” Unable to break my grip, her fingers curl into my forearms, the bite of her nails just a bit painful. And though it’s so not an appropriate time, I can feel my cock stirring to life.

Dio, but this woman is different. And I’m drawn to it like a child to candy.

“No,” I add calmly, tightening my grip on her slim waist. Calm down, I tell her with the embrace. “You most certainly are not a whore. You are my fiancée.”

Riley makes that little noise again, and it makes me wonder what sounds she would make if she was underneath me in my bed. At the very least, I want to kiss her, and even though this isn’t the time or place, I’m not afraid of these men.

As much power as they think they have, I have more. And so, to please myself even though I’m enraged at Emilia, I brush a slow, damp kiss over Riley’s temple, savor the jolt that works through her body.

“Your fiancée?” The younger cop repeats, and I’m not above feeling grimly pleased when he looks Riley over with an appraising eye.

The older one looks her over too, his eyes lingering on her breasts, which are clearly outlined in the cheap T-shirt that’s stretched over her torso. He sneers.

“I don’t see a ring.” His eyes meet my own, and he smirks. I simply stare back, letting the darkness inside of me pulse out in waves until he finally turns away.

“I just proposed last night. Didn’t I, cara mia?” This time when I kiss her, I turn her chin in my direction, allow myself a brief sample of those lips. It’s all I can do not to just press her against the doorframe and tear those ugly pants from her body. Fully aware of the two men whose gazes are fixed on us, I allow my lips to play leisurely over Riley’s, sampling her sweetness until her lips part and her body softens against mine.

When I finally turn back to the cops, my actions slow and deliberate, I can see that I’ve won. The younger one just looks dazzled to be here, and the older...

The older clearly has some issues, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that he’d had dealings with Carmine in the past. But I’m sure he’ll be handled easily enough.

“I trust these unfound accusations will be kept out of the press?” I don’t try to hide the implied threat. Young cop nods eagerly. Old cop bares his teeth.

“I don’t care if you are a Benenati. We have a job to do. You can’t just order us around—”

“Can’t I?” Letting go of Riley with one hand, I reach into my pocket, pull out a money clip. I pointedly count off bills, then hand half to each, twisting my lips into a cold smile when their eyes bug out of their heads.

On a cop’s salary, what I just pulled from my pocket is surely an outrageous amount of money. I know that it will buy their silence and their cooperation.

To me? It is less than nothing. They are less than nothing.

“Go.” I meet the stare of the older cop, and though he doesn’t look at all happy about it, he tips his head in acquiescence. “I wish to spend time with my future bride.”

The door slams behind us as I pull Riley back inside, the sound echoing throughout the massive entryway, loud enough to make the Swarovski crystals in the chandelier tremble.

“Son of a bitch.” I shout, one hand raking through my hair. The other slides to Riley’s hip, squeezes once.

The touch... anchors me. It is a strange sensation.

“What was that?” When I look at her, I find Riley is no longer trembling. Her face is instead flushed with rage.

It’s sexy as hell. It takes everything I have not to grab her, to slam her back against the wall and let us both work out our rage in the only way that I know of to express emotion.

But I have things to do. Things that cannot wait.

“That,” I reply slowly, forcing myself to step away, “was my stepsister setting you up.” It pains me, but I remove my hand from Riley’s waist. To touch her is to want her, and I can’t afford the distraction right now.

“She doesn’t want you to get married.” Riley doesn’t need me to explain things to her, a welcome change from the woman I usually see, whose brains have been addled by booze and drugs. “But why bother? You could just marry someone else.”

Someone like Emilia, to my stepsister’s way of thinking. Get rid of Riley, and then make another play.

“She overplayed her hand.” I pin my stare on Riley, note the way her pupils dilate as that inexplicable connection between us pulls tight.

“What do you mean?” Riley licks her lips, and I watch, fascinated. This woman is such a refreshing change from everything that is tired and familiar, I know Emilia has unexpectedly done me a favor.

Stepping closer to Riley, I gather her hair in my fist the way I did when I kissed her. It’s a mark of possession, and while she initially stiffens, her body melts against me as she submits.

“Emilia expected me to throw you to the wolves.” I smile humorlessly, and Riley’s lips part, just a bit.

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