The unknown man’s hand travels down my neck and trails along my collarbone. Just when he is right above the swell of my breast, the door flies open and his friend comes strolling in.

“Everything is set.” Even without seeing his face, I know he is smiling, boasting in what he thinks is success.

“Perfect,” the man behind me chimes in, and a shiver runs down my spine.

This could easily become the worst day of my life. My thoughts swirl around Layla and the unborn baby that Julian knows nothing about yet. I know Julian is searching for me, flipping this entire place upside down. I remind myself to keep my thoughts positive. Julian brought a lot of men. He won’t walk in here on his own. There are only three of them. We have at least ten people on our side, and Julian will do anything to protect me.

Everything is going to be fine, I keep repeating to myself in my head.

Tucking my chin against my chest, I look down at the floor while the men surround me like vultures, never standing still, always on the move.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving in the distance. Turning my head slightly, I see the other door crack open slowly. It’s a sliver of movement, but it gives me impossible hope. The air in my lungs stills as Julian appears like a knight coming to rescue me.

His face is an angry mask of pure murderous rage. The last time I saw him like this was two years ago. A day I’ll never forget. A day a lot of people died—all of them by my husband’s hand.

“Well, look who finally made it to the party.” One of the men chuckles behind me.

Then, like a bucket of ice water being poured over my entire body, I feel something cold and hard press against the back of my head. I know immediately, without looking, what it is. The barrel of a gun. “Julian Moretti himself.”

“You made a lot of mistakes today. Taking my wife. Hurting her. Threatening me. You know you’re going to pay with your lives, don’t you?”

“I don’t see how you are in any position to deal out threats. I’m the one holding a loaded gun to your whore’s head, aren’t I?”

“For every word you speak, I’ll add another minute of torture before I finally kill you.”

The three men start to laugh, but I know Julian is deadly serious. I know he has some kind of plan. Back up is going to burst through these doors any minute now. He doesn’t do things half-assed. He came prepared.

A moment later, the door flies open, but it’s not who I expect to come walking in. Anger pumps through my veins.

With a smug smirk on his face, Lucca walks into the room. “See, I told you he would fall for it.”

The room erupts into laughter, but I feel like anything but laughing.

“We figured he wouldn’t fall for it a second time. I’ll give it to you, Lucca, you must be one hell of an actor.”

“You son of a bitch,” Julian growls, lunging for Lucca. Before he can even get two feet, two of the masked men tackle him to the ground. A guttural scream rips from my throat, but again, it’s muffled by the gag. Panic clings to every muscle on my body.

No, no, no! I should have told Julian that I saw Lucca earlier. I should have said something. This is all my fault.

The ache in my chest expands, and dread overtakes me as the three men drag Julian to the spot in front of me. The gun that was pressed against my skull moments ago disappears and is now pointed at my husband’s head instead.

A muffled scream rips from my throat, making the guy next to me chuckle. “Want to say something, sweetheart?”

He grabs the gag and pulls it from my mouth.

“Please…” I croak, my voice sore from screaming.

I’m crying so much now that Julian’s face is nothing but a blurry mess before my eyes. Julian stares at me, his eyes bleeding into mine. I can see the profuse love and guilt in them. It reflects back at me with the intensity of a thousand suns. He won’t beg for his life. That’s not who he is. But I can. I will.

“Please… Don’t do this. Take me instead,” I plead.

“How cute that you’re willing to give up your life for this piece shit, but no can do, sweetheart,” one of the men replies, whispering into the shell of my ear.

My entire body trembles, and I start to struggle against the restraints once more. I know I won’t be able to save him, but I have to try. I have to.

“It’s time to die, Moretti—”

“Hold on. Let me do it,” Lucca interrupts at the last second. “He’s been hunting me like an animal for two years, I want to be the one to pull the trigger.”

Tags: Cassandra Hallman, J.L. Beck The Moretti Crime Family Erotic