Marissa snorted, angrily wiping her tears away. “Yeah, why so worried? Our futures are already fucked, thanks to our father. Maybe Ivan’s here as runner-up to Tony? It could be that dear old Dad is seeing who has more to offer him to take me off his hands. You can’t do a damn thing, Stefano, not with Camila either.” She shot her brother a loaded look that landed on him then Emiliana. “Our hands are fucking tied.”
Stefano frowned but didn’t deny what she’d said. “You know I would do anything for you.”
Marissa leveled a hard, defiant expression at him. “I know. But… we both know where the real threat is for us, and spotting a Russian is not it. Not for me, anyway. Not with whatever deal our father made—at the cost of our sister’s future.”
“Stay away from Ivan, Marissa,” Stefano warned then shifted the weight of his stare to Emiliana. “That goes for you too.”
“Me?” Emiliana’s brows rose in challenge, but her words lacked bite. “Your issues are ridiculous. I can handle myself. I’m fine, Stefano.”
He didn’t respond, and the rest of us didn’t move, riveted by the palpable sparks flying between them. For the most part, Stefano kept his distance. My interest was piqued when he growled something under his breath then ushered Emiliana into another room. maybe I was wrong about the chemistry between them.
“What do you suppose that was about?” Lil moved closer on the couch then leaned forward, her elbows on her knees.
“No idea.” We fell silent, listening intently, hoping to hear what was happening between them. Several minutes later, they emerged, speaking not a word as they returned to the room.
He went to Marissa and hugged her. “Stay safe. I can’t lose you too.”
Tears welled in Marissa’s eyes, and she gripped him tightly. When they broke apart, he left without another word.
I snapped my gaze back to Emiliana and her flushed cheeks and swollen lips.Interesting. “Anything you want to share with the class?”
“No.” Emiliana pivoted on her heel and left the room.
The glowing numbers on my phone taunted me as I rechecked the time, unable to sleep in anticipation of what would happen soon. Clad only in a silky black camisole and matching panties, I pulled the fluffy duvet around my bare legs and sat cross-legged on my bed, attempting to study for finals. The pads of my fingers brushed my lips at the memory of Stefano’s kiss. Before he left that afternoon, after kissing me senseless, he’d promised to come to my room later.
We met when we could, which wasn’t enough, and always under the cover of darkness. Too often, he held me at arm’s length. But there were times, like today, when his need for me eclipsed his determination to wait until things were safer, and he threw caution to the wind. I greedily grabbed those moments because we both knew there was a very real possibility that things would never be safe enough for us to be together. Frank Rossi, his father, the Rossi boss, viewed me as damaged, an ill-afforded distraction.
Goose bumps rose along my exposed skin as my pulse beat frantically at the base of my neck. I sensed Stefano rather than heard him. Even so, I couldn’t take any chances, so I raised my gun and aimed for the door that had eased open a fraction of an inch.
When it swung wide, Stefano stood with a wicked grin curving his devastatingly handsome face. I took in his solid, six-foot-three-inch frame, which moved with predatory grace as he approached me.
No words were needed as he reached for me. I rose to my knees, letting the textbook and gun fall to my side on the mattress. Then he was in front of me, and I pressed my hands flat on his chest while he placed one hand at my hip and the other around the back of my neck to draw me in.
“You’re so beautiful, Emiliana,” he whispered across my lips as he brushed a tender kiss on them before drawing back. “I would have come sooner, but Sofia took over the living room. It’s an explosion of fabric.” He chuckled, and I imagined what the room looked like. “She’s passed out on the couch.”
“No one else saw you?” One of the soldiers knew, but we didn’t need to mention it, as the guard wouldn’t report to Stefano’s controlling and evil father. I wished we could always be together and not in secret. But we couldn’t, and I would take whatever time we managed to carve out to be together. The only drawback was that we weren’t able to meet more often.
He shook his head and cupped my cheek. I leaned into his touch as he ran the pad of his thumb back and forth. I knew what he felt—smooth skin with no hint of the invisible scars that riddled every inch of me. Inside, I was ugly—broken, vengeful, and deadly. We had that in common, a beautiful exterior that didn’t match what lay beneath. It had always drawn me to him, and I guessed he felt the same.
He made me feel safe, and very few people had that effect after what I’d been through. I could be myself with him because he understood me in a way few could. He’d seen enough of it firsthand. I saw the pain from my abduction in my family’s eyes and locked the broken pieces of myself away to ease their pain. I didn’t have to put up walls to protect Stefano. I could give him everything, and he was strong enough to take it.
As his mouth grazed mine, I gripped his neck, urging him to give me more. He answered the invitation of my parted lips and deepened the kiss. All our problems slipped away, and I moaned in pleasure. I leaned into his touch, melting against him. The way he made me feel was an addiction I never wanted to quit.
I tugged at his shirt, urging him to remove it. He broke the kiss long enough to take it off before stripping mine away. When there were no barriers. I lost myself in his touch.
There was only him—no fear, no nightmares, just the two of us.
My hands explored the contours of his strong shoulders and back. Beneath my fingers, the muscles shifted and bulged. My body hummed with need. His kiss turned insistent, and I matched his urgency. When he nipped at my lip then sucked it to ease the sting, I sighed then whispered, “I need you. I don’t want to take things slow.”
He growled before reclaiming my lips and trailing a hand along the inside of my thigh, and sparks of lust shot between my legs. I squirmed against his teasing touch. He dipped his finger into my heat, and I clenched around him before he withdrew and circled my clit. I gasped into his mouth then tore my lips from his as desire exploded inside me from his sensual touch.
After easing me back, he trailed kisses along my jaw and down my body until he found my clit with his tongue. I buried my fingers in the sheets as he teased and toyed with me until I bucked my hips against him. Stars exploded behind my eyelids as I climaxed.
I heard the tear of a condom wrapper. He leaned over me, a satisfied grin curving his sexy mouth. “You sure?”