He’s a lost man with a black soul. She’s a lost cause with a black heart. But together, they make a heart of gold.
I’m Leonara, the crazy one in Sam’s circle. The one with the nightmares lurking behind her shoulder, the blunt attitude, and the manners of a hedgehog. The one who needs tattoos to hide what can’t be erased, a shrink to cure what can’t be cured, and a pencil in her hand to escape a reality which can’t be evaded.
To Daniel DeLuca, I’m only a means to an end. A pawn in the kingdom he rules. To me, he’s a bomb detonating in my pathetic little life I haven’t seen coming. A rich-ass mobster in Armani with a smile to kill for and eyes to die for. Oh, and also the guy who hunts me down and ships me off to another country like one of his coke packages.
So, you see, my lifestyle is as close to his as the next solar system to planet Earth. Yet, his soul connects with mine on a level that seems to defy every law of nature. How the hell am I supposed to stand a chance?
“Explain,” I demand, my voice oddly calm despite my growing rage.
“Boss, she… she had a knife,” Emilio mutters, handing me the weapon in question—a switchblade with a curved blade and ragged edges.
Flipping it open, I whirl it around and press it under the girl’s chin. Before she can jerk back a second time and likely cut herself in the process, my other hand comes up to keep her face in place while I examine her injuries. Her eyes shoot daggers at me, but I’m distracted by her mouth—heart-shaped, toned a soft pink and pouted in defiance.
“What were my orders?” I request, my voice still cool like the blade resting on her skin.
Javier answers, knowing the question is meant for him. “To bring her here. Unharmed.” He adds the last word in annoyance.
“And does she look unharmed to you?” I continue the interrogation, the girl’s eyes flicking between mine as if she’s trying to solve the mystery of the decade.
Her head jerks again, and she rolls her shoulder as if Javier’s words hurt her physically. Damn him for raising his hand against her. She’s an innocent girl, for God’s sake, and already damaged beyond repair.
“He won’t hurt you,” I assure her.
“I don’t like people standing behind me,” she mumbles, and she slaps my hand away with her shackled ones before saying in an oddly strong and demanding voice, “I have no idea what the fuck is going on, but it’s clear you’ve got the wrong person.” Javier shifts, no doubt ready to show her some manners, but he retreats when I lift my hand in warning.
“What’s your name, girl?” Of course, I already know, but I want to see how she reacts in my presence.
“Your real name, girl.”
“I just told you, boy,” she mocks back, clearly offended by my words.
Defiant. Challenging. Rebellious. Foolish?
Still, I have a reputation to behold, and I can’t allow this girl to cross my plans, so I clamp my hand over her throat showing her who’s in control. The panic in her eyes is back, and I loosen my grip the tiniest bit.
“I’ll ask you one last time.” I scrape the switchblade lightly along her jaw. “What’s your name?”
She pants through her nose, probably assessing how much she can push but admits defeat as I hook the knife’s tip through her lip ring, pulling and watching her lips part with the movement. “Leonara.”
“Leonara,” I repeat, liking the sound as it rolls over my tongue. Considering her grandfather’s name, I guess Sofia named her after Leonardo.
She seems taken aback for a second, as if me saying her name affects her in some way. “Why am I here? What do you want from me?” She wants to know.
My hand slides from her face, and I step back. Her question makes me realize that she doesn’t know about her mother’s death.
“Will you behave for now?” I ask with a nod to her wrists, signaling I’ll cut her loose if she complies.
Her gaze only hardens. “I asked you a question,” she presses in a dark voice.
I tug sharply at her bound hands in response and cut her loose. Before I free her, I clutch the rope, yanking her into me, so her body is flush with mine. Tilting my head, I whisper into her ear, “Don’t make me regret this.”
Sliding the rope from her skin, I nod at my men. “Take her to her room. And Javier,” I add, my tone hinting he should heed my warning. “If I see another bruise on her next time, I’ll throw you in my terrarium to keep the snakes company.”
“Yes, boss,” he quickly complies, and I watch them lead the girl out, her eyes full of despair before the door closes behind her.
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Elodie Colt is a hybrid steamy romance author with the goal to use different approaches and creating new stories that go beyond simple billionaire stories.
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