When You Become Valuable Collateral

Yay lovely ones! The second in the Sons of Darkness series is HOT HOT HOT off the presses. The first is His as Payment, but my latest can be read as a stand alone. It’s dark and steamy, dangerous and sinful. You won’t believe just how far our hero goes to avenge his father’s near assassination. As always, FREE to read if you have a KU Subscription. Ready for a taste?

TAKEN AS COLLATERAL

SYNOPSIS

I took her because I needed a hostage. I kept her because I wanted her.

Francesca Alessandro was just meant to be collateral, held captive as a warning to her father, but then she tried to fight me. She ended up sore and soaked as I taught her a takenascollateral_fulllesson with my belt and then screaming with every savage climax as I taught her to obey in a much more shameful way.

She’s mine now. Mine to keep. Mine to protect. Mine to use as hard and as often as I please.

EXCERPT

Kelan

Abduction.

Taking her minutes before her wedding had been easy.

Keeping her might be something else.

But I was the kind of man who didn’t take no for an answer.

“So, I think we should discuss a few very important rules.” I moved to sit on the edge of the bed, giving the beautiful woman a stern look. “You are indeed my prisoner. You will do nothing without my approval. You will be supplied with clothing, food, even the wine you seem to adore, but they will be doled out as you learn to obey. When you’re disobedient, the punishment will be swift and harsh. I am a reasonable man, Francesca, but I will not be crossed in any manner.”

“How dare you treat me this way!” she exclaimed, hissing as her lovely mouth twisted.

“How dare I?” I laughed and shook my head. “You should know I’m your only means of survival. I suggest you learn to submit.”

“Over my dead body.”

She was a mafia princess, a woman unused to being disciplined in any manner. She’d been pampered from the moment she was born, treated as if she would one day be a queen. To me, she was just something to barter with.

“Fuck you!” she snapped, jerking her arm as she attempted to claw my face.

“And that punishment will begin today. Make no mistake, I am a dangerous man.” Fisting her hair, I rolled her over, ripping down the shorts I’d provided. Now I owned every inch of her.

My possession.

I brought my hand down in a swift manner, even as she struggled to get out of my hold.

“No. No!” she squealed, whipping her arm back for protection.

I spanked her long and hard, moving from one side to the other, enjoying the building heat in my palm.

“Let me go!” She continued to struggle, her actions only fueling my desire. She had no idea what I could do to her.

What I would do to her.

I tangled my fingers in her long strands, yanking as I lowered my head. “I suggest you stop fighting or I will pull out my belt. You will learn your place.” I could see the fire in her eyes, the kind that kept my cock at full attention, burning desire raging through every cell and muscle.

“Like I said. Fuck. You,” she spat, remaining defiant.

I smacked her again and again, until her bottom was hot to the touch, her skin a rosy pink.

And my cock aching with need, my balls tight as drums.

“Make no mistake, Francesca. I. Will. Own. You. And there is nothing you can do about it.”

Only when she was finally subdued did I stop, taking several deep breaths. She was my retaliation, a necessity in a world where men ruled, and women were considered nothing but playthings.

Only this woman was different. Intelligent.

Beautiful.

Ballsy.

And I would enjoy breaking her.

* * *

Three Days Earlier

I’d been initiated into the mafia at eleven.

I’d witnessed my first contract hit at twelve.

I’d broken a man’s spirit and his body at eighteen.

I’d murdered a traitorous enemy at nineteen.

I’d watched my mother murdered in cold blood at twenty-five.

That’s when time stopped.

Be careful of the devil lurking inside.

He will steal your soul.

I stood at the window, snorting at the thought. I’d been summoned to my father’s house and into his expansive office overlooking a tropical pool and cabana. The light California breeze created a rippling effect in the shallow, crystal clear waters, the entire setting serene.

But I knew better.

This wasn’t a casual request by any means. This was all about business, my father’s twisted and very brutal business. He called the operation a functional need in a dysfunctional world, lending money to those who were already ‘entitled.’ The borrowed money came at a significant price, whether paid back in cash or in body fluids. That was only a small part of the operation, the rest centering around party favors and various real estate developments. He’d coined the phrase years before, serving up whatever flavor of drug the customer wanted. And he’d become a very wealthy man in the process.

There also hadn’t been a building built in Los Angeles that didn’t have the mark of the Cappalini family. My father liked to say he owned the cops and the mayor’s office. Hell, even half the players in the entertainment world couldn’t throw a party without his approval.

I heard his footsteps in the hallway behind me and bristled, my grip on the very expensive glass of scotch tightening. I caught a single glimpse of his grim expression in the reflection of the bulletproof glass and resisted snarling. This wasn’t the time or place to get into yet another vicious argument. I could also see who he considered his second in command, Grinder’s massive form standing in the doorway. He wasn’t a man I cared for in any regard, and the feeling was obviously mutual.

“So good of you to come, Michael.” My father immediately walked toward the bar, his long strides wasting no time. “You can leave us, Grinder.”

“Yes, sir,” Grinder said after a slight hesitation, his dark eyes boring into mine. What did the asshole think, that I was going to hurt my own father?

My anger immediately flared. My father and I always sparred, no matter the discussion.

“How many times have I asked you not to use my given name, Ricardo?” Ricardo Cappalini was a staunch believer in the old ways, cultures learned long ago in the darkened Italian streets. He’d come from nothing, maneuvering through famine and violence to claw his way to America. He’s lost everything along the way, including any concept of humanity; however, family meant everything to him.

Or so he continued to tell me.

He’d never proven anything but that he remained a violent and bitter man.

Since the death of my mother during a horrific attack, I’d walked away from anything having to do with his family values and the tyranny that came with it. My father’s brand of revenge had also nearly cost him his freedom.

I was the bastard son, a joke in his circle of great mafia leaders. It didn’t matter that I made a significant amount of money from making movies, I was the heir apparent. The fact I didn’t give a shit meant I was a thorn in his side. To him, I was nothing more than a useless movie star. I brought the scotch to my lips, savoring the slight burn as the liquid slid down the back of my throat.

“If you think I’m going to use the ridiculous name of Kelan Rock for any reason, you’re wrong,” my father said in a breathless and exasperated manner. We’d had this conversation a solid ten times.

I waited as I heard the ice plopping in his glass, tinkling against the dense lead crystal. I had to admit, his urgent message had piqued my interest. “What do you want, Father? I have a premiere to get ready for.”

“If you spent more time with your family responsibilities instead of that bullshit you’re into, we might not be in this mess!” His deep baritone reverberated even with the high ceilings.

And the worry laced in his tone.

I curtailed my rage, turning to face him. “What mess are we talking about this time?” I was no fool. We always talked in some manner of code, even though the entire house and grounds was swept by one of his capos at least twice a day. The FBI were always hunting.

He took a swig of his drink before moving in my direction, keeping his voice low. “Grinder and Tony got wind of a takeover attempt.”

Two of his most loyal capos, soldiers who performed the most heinous deeds, well rewarded for their silence. They kept their ears to the streets.

“Takeover? By whom?” I knew the other four mafia families within the United States more intimately than even my father knew. None of them would dare try to encroach on my father’s organization. They knew how savage he could be when pushed. I watched as a single bead of sweat trickled down the side of his face. He was nervous.

“A branch of the Massimo family. Did you see the morning paper?” He tossed a copy in my direction, a sneer on his face.

I hadn’t paid attention to the Los Angeles Timesfor years. The reporters were jaded in their viewpoints, preferring to err on the side of caution. And politics. Then again, my father hadn’t been able to purchase the rag. I eased my drink to the table, unfolding the paper. The headlines were bold, meant to sell.

Murder: Is Los Angeles Prepared for Another Turf War?

Sighing, I shook my head as I read the scandalous piece, the story meant to heighten fears, headlining organized crime in the usual pompous fashion. Two men had been killed outside a famous nightclub, the very one my father frequented. I had no doubt they were my father’s soldiers. The scene caught by some unknown photographer would no doubt make him famous. Bloody and horrific. The picture was graphic enough, actually highlighting the bodies of two individuals lying in the middle of the street. “Two of your men?”

My father nodded, his hand shaking as he attempted to take another gulp. “Marcos and Sam. Two of my best men.”

“And they were protecting you?”

He eyed me warily. “As they always do.”

“Who’s responsible?”

Ricardo took his time refilling his drink before answering. The attack had unnerved him. “Massimo’s men. At least from what I’ve heard.”

I was forced to reflect on everything I’d been taught over the years, things I’d prefer to forget. This news could be devastating. “You’re talking about the Massimos out of Italy? You must be joking.”

The Massimo family were as powerful in Italy as the Bratvas were in Russia and while they were considered extremists, preferring the old methods of handling issues, they also stood by their honor. Coming into America and usurping already existing authority wasn’t their style. Killing two of my father’s men was either an act of vengeance or a prelude to war. Either way, the danger had just escalated. I was pissed at the thought, let alone the interference that the two murders might cause in my life. I tossed the paper, grabbing my drink. I didn’t need to read the rest of the details.

Ricardo simply gave me a harsh glare.

The taste of the three-hundred-dollar bottle of scotch was suddenly bitter. It was my turn to be civil. For my father, this could mean an all-out war, something the city of Los Angeles didn’t need. “What are your plans for retaliation and what does this have to do with me?”

“The Saltoris are also involved.”

“Louis Saltori?” My father had kept various aspects of business from his only son. My thoughts drifted to Saltori’s son, a man who’d been in and out of my life since entering show business. I was beginning to feel a trap had been set. The Saltoris had been small players, although their connection to the Italian Borgata was well known. In order to keep the peace, my father had allowed them a piece of the organization, businesses that Louis ran with an iron fist. The mere two percent provided to my father represented a substantial amount of cash through the years.

My father had always known the Massimos would eventually come to America, but the timing was interesting.

I could smell a betrayal.

So… What do you think? I so hope you enjoyed!

Kisses and spanks…

Piper

Purchase His as Collateral

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My Latest Release – Torched

Well, you all know I love my firefighters! They are rugged, dominating, delicious and commanding in every manner. My latest release is no exception. Our hero is a bit of a hothead – no pun intended – but he has a heart of gold.

It just takes our heroine to peel back all those damaged layers.

Ready for another taste and this one is pretty HOT HOT HOT?

TORCHED: A ROUGH FIREFIGHTER ROMANCE

Genevieve

Hunger

The word crowded into my mind, but it had nothing to do with the stench of grease and garlic permeating the dense air. The hunger racing through my body was all about letting go. The bar was crowded; beautiful people strewn across barstools and chairs, the majority laughing or swaying to the late nineties dance music. I swirled my glass of torched_fullmerlot, merely an observer in a bar ripe with sin.

Several couples were as close to fucking in public as could be allowed by law, their writhing bodies drawing my interest.

Igniting my desire.

I slid my finger around and around the rim of my glass, one stilettoed foot tapping to the heavy thumping of the drumbeat. I had no idea about the name of the bar. In truth, I didn’t care. I’d required a diversion tonight, a moment to pretend that everything about my rather dull existence wasn’t about to change, and for the worse.

At least in my mind.

Sighing, I threw back the rest of the wine, immediately motioning for the rugged male tending bar, his six pack abs highlighted through the oh-so tight tee shirt he was wearing. At least there was decent eye candy. I wasn’t worried about becoming intoxicated. The bar was within walking distance of my new place.

The thought brought another heavy exhale, my nerves on edge. I’d never had an issue meeting new people. Somehow, I knew this particular career decision meant walking on the edge. Perhaps of my very sanity.

I wasn’t paying much attention to the sexy smile of the bartender as he slid a drink across the scuffed bar top. That is until my nostrils were infused by the scent of something wonderful.

Delicious.

And all male.

The body sliding onto the only available barstool in the entire joint immediately reached for the bowl of peanuts, breaking open and popping several into his mouth.

I took another deep breath, inhaling the scent of fresh pine and exotic spices. The combination was more than just pleasant. I was instantly aroused, ashamed that some stranger could have that kind of effect on me. I purposely scooted away, as much as the heavy steel base of the stool would allow. Even over the din of the music, the solid scraping sound of metal against linoleum drew his attention.

Mystery Man shifted his gaze, turning his head just enough to send a hard stare in my direction. It was far too dark in the bar to gather the color of his eyes, but they were penetrating nonetheless. A smile crept slowly across his face, sultry in nature. Those same eyes shifted all the way down, not quite undressing me, but I shivered just from the heat emitted from his body.

I had no time for men and the thought of entering into a relationship was revolting on several levels. I had my reasons. Even though Mr. Mystery Man was sexy as hell: long legs encased in tight jeans, a leather jacket that screamed bad boy and dark shaggy hair meant for a girl to run her fingers through during a hard fucking, I turned my attention away immediately.

I’d left my comfort zone for a reason, advancing my career. Nothing was going to get in my way.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” the bartender exclaimed as Mystery Man advanced, both, smiling in a gregarious manner. “Haven’t seen you in months. Why you slummin’ in this part of town?”

The laugh coming from the rough-hewn man was just as I’d expected: sexy as fuck, husky in a non-assuming manner. Quivers trickled down the backs of my arms, shifting into my spine and ultimately into my pussy. I hated my body’s reaction, refusing to acknowledge any attraction.

“Been busy. You know how it is,” Mystery Man said causally, his voice just as alluring as the rest of him.

“You guys have been in the news one hell of a lot. Heard the word ‘hero’ more than once,” the bartender said in jest.

“You know I hate that shit, Jack. Just trying to get by every day.”

“I heard you. Whatdya have? First drink on the house,” Jack offered.

The slight squeak of the barstool grabbed my attention, my reflexes allowing me to dart another glance in the Mystery Man’s direction. I could swear the man smiled, as if knowing I was curious.

“Just give me a Bud. Gotta do some work tomorrow.”

“Sure thing, Blaise” Jack said, grinning as he tapped his hand on the bar.

Interesting name. He reminded me of all the other bad boy wannabes. There was no reason for me to be interested in the hunky man in any fashion, but I found it difficult to take my eyes off him. I could swear I knew Blaise from somewhere. That wasn’t possible given my recent move. Still, I shuddered from the way my body was reacting:

My nipples fully aroused.

My pussy dampening my panties.

My legs quivering.

This was ridiculous.

“You know, most people would actually strike up a conversation before undressing a man with their eyes.” After Blaise made the statement, he popped open another two peanuts, taking his time actually sucking them out of the shells.

I was thrown at first, heat cresting along my jaw, mortified that he’d witnessed the fact I’d been leering. Then I grew incensed with his arrogant statement.

“What in the hell are you talking about?” I huffed, determined not to give him the time of day.

He chuckled in a dark and dangerous fashion, the timbre suggesting all the nasty things he could do to me. “I’m no fool, sunshine, but when a beautiful woman gazes at me in a seductive manner, I’m more than flattered.”

“You certainly have some balls. Then again, maybe they’re as shriveled as your cock,” I said without thinking, shocked at my outward display. I had no excuse, not even the three glasses of wine I’d consumed, but I knew the kind of behavior in forward men far too well.

He slowly turned his head, leaning closer. When his spoke, his heated breath cascaded against my skin, forcing my nipples into even harder peaks. His tone was raspy, inviting, “Such dirty words coming from a such a sophisticated woman. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were bucking for a firm hand.”

Perhaps it was the ridiculously long few days I’d had or the fact I hadn’t been able to sleep for days, but my reaction had nothing to do with a rational mind. The moment I tossed the wine in his face, at least four people around us gasped, another two customers laughing.

Blaise reared back, his only reaction to grab a handful of bar napkins, taking his time to wipe the strings of wine from his face.

sexy fireman oneI was mortified, even shocked at my behavior. He didn’t deserve my wrath just because I was in way over my head. The man was a stranger, for God’s sake and I’d been the one gawking.

“That wasn’t very nice,” Blaise said in a slow drawl.

“Yeah, well, if you got to know me, you’d learn that I’m not very nice at all.” I grabbed my purse, yanking out two twenties and tossing them on the bar. Then I did something that was far removed from my usual behavior.

I retreated.

“And thank God you’re never going to see me again,” I murmured as I attempted to make my way to the front door. The rush of people coming inside was insane, the crowd pushing in my direction. After a few seconds of trying to shove my way through, I took backwards steps, refusing to look in Blaise’s direction. If the light inside had been turned up, there was no doubt everyone could see just how embarrassed I was by the flush of warm heat sliding up both cheeks.

I took several deep breaths, refusing to look in his direction as I made my way toward the rear of the bar. There had to be a back door out of the place. Please God, let there be.

The silent prayers didn’t seem to be enough, my stomach lurching by the time I made it to the shadowed hallway leading to the restrooms. I rushed inside, heading immediately to the single sink. By the time I gripped the cheap porcelain, I was gasping for air.

My hands were shaking as I dropped my purse, trying to turn on the water. My reaction was ridiculous, but I knew it had almost nothing to do with the sexy man or my horrible comments. I was terrified of what I was about to embark on, second guessing myself for the tenth time in a matter of days.

As I splashed water in my face, I reminded myself that I knew what I was doing. I was the best candidate for the position. I heard the sound of the door opening, realizing I’d forgotten to engage the lock. “I’m sorry, it’s occupied.” I reached for a paper towel just as I heard the lock being snapped. “I said…” My words died off as I jerked my head to glance into the mirror.

Blaise stood behind me, studying me intently, only this time his expression bore a look of seriousness.

And lust.

“You’re very beautiful. What a shame you have such a caustic mouth,” he said under his breath.

“You’re not supposed to be in here.”

Shrugging, he inched closer, the scent of him intoxicating. “I have no intention of playing by the rules. Never have. Never will.”

His words were far too exciting, creating a warmth between my legs. He was far more attractive than I’d realized, the two-day stubble creating an aura of delicious danger. The way the cobalt blue shirt hugged his chest did little to hide his chiseled body and the well-worn blue jeans accentuated all the well-endowed qualities that God had given him.

“What do you want?” I demanded, unable to turn around given the close proximity of his body.

“What do I want,” he repeated, but not as a question. “While I might not play by the rules, I’m a firm believer that women should.”

“I beg your pardon?” Was he really going to play a game with me?

“You heard me. You insulted me for no apparent reason other than you’re obviously having a bad day.”

I honestly had no idea what to say. As he inched even closer until I could feel the extreme heat of his body, I was instantly quivering from the wild electricity soaring through my body and angry that he thought he had any authority over me. “Look, buddy.”

He shook his head, creating a tsking sound. “That’s not very nice, especially for a lady. I think you need to have some discipline in your life.”

“Discipline? You must be out of your fucking mind!”

“And that mouth of yours. You definitely need to be taught a lesson.”

I knew this either had to be a hint of the Twilight Zoneor I’d been thrown into an episode of Punked. This just wasn’t going to happen. “Look here, buster. You have no idea who you’re talking to.”

“Maybe not, but I think you need a stern lesson.” When he placed his hands on top of mine, leaning over, grinding his hips against mine, I was absolutely stunned.

“You’re out of your mind,” I whispered.

“I’ve heard that before. Now, you can take your spanking like a good little girl or I’ll be forced to pull out my belt.”

The man was serious. I was mortified, riddled with anger. I was also one hundred percent ashamed given the wafting of my feminine wiles that filled the tiny space. I had no doubt he could tell how turned on I was. I blinked several times, finding it difficult to focus. “I… Uh…” I never stuttered. Ever. Why was it that being close to this man invoked every fantasy, creating butterflies in my stomach?

Blaise jerked at my dress, tugging on the hem. “Where I come from, we spank our women bare assed.”

“You are… I mean…” Oh, this was ridiculous.

“Are you trying to tell me that you don’t need a hard spanking? Are you trying to tell me that your behavior was acceptable?” There was such a gleam in his eyes, but all I could concentrate on was the sound of his soothing voice, the words that should terrify me.

Instead, they excited every portion of my body.

Another round of utter shame washed through me, goosebumps popping along my arms and legs. I felt like I was standing outside of myself, gazing down at the mischievous girl who desperately needed a round of harsh punishment. I had no idea where this was coming from.

None.

I’d purposely shut down my previous life.

“Yes. No. I mean…” I was a blubbering idiot. Jesus Christ.

“That’s what I thought.” He yanked the dress up to my waist, bending me over the sink.

That’s when I remembered that I’d selected a violet lace thong to go with my plum colored dress. I’d never been so embarrassed in my life. I was shaking, unable to react in any manner.

Blaise kicked my legs apart before caressing my bottom. “A hard spanking will do you some good, releasing the tension I can see written all over your face.”

I was almost numb as my face was pressed only inched from the mirror, leaving me forced to glare at my reflection. The stress had been killing me. I blinked several times as he backed away. When I noticed his hand coming down, I winced and closed my eyes, preparing for the pain.

Tingles shot down the back of my legs, the mere sting more stimulating than anything. I gripped the edges of the sink, digging my fingers in as he lifted his eyebrow, watching me. Then he lifted his hand again, coming down in even and swift smacks, moving from one side to the other. The sound of his palm slapping against my skin became an aphrodisiac, causing my pussy to gush and my nipples to press hard against the matching lace bra. Everything about this was mortifying.

What do you think lovely ones? Are you hot and um…wet yet?

Kisses and spanks…

Piper

PURCHASE LINK FOR TORCHED

One HOT, Dominating Firefighter

I think the majority of my readers know I adore firefighters and smokejumpers. For those who don’t know – I have an entire suspense series based on the amazing team of smokejumpers from Missoula, Montana. Might want to check them out. The book releasing Friday – and the name hasn’t been decided just yet – is all about a hot headed firefighter. He’s dominating. He craves danger. He’s passionate.

And he knows there is a killer amongst his rank.

Add that together with the feisty female fire investigator forced into the ranks and well, sparks fly. Here’s a taste of the new one and a bonus snippet from my latest dark mafia romance as well.

EXCERPT

Blaise

“God damn mother fucker.”

The words came easily out of my mouth. I absolutely hated politicians, the blowhards who thought they knew better than the rest of us. Meanwhile, we all realized they were just fighting to make up for their Vienna sausage-sized dicks. Today was no exception and neither was the man preening in front of the cameras.

Who am I? A firefighter serving Charlotte, North Carolina. My reputation? Playboy hard firemanhothead. Okay, not the best character reputation you want, but one I’d carved out for myself, maybe on purpose. I wasn’t much into rules, especially when it involved work. The members of my crew all craved danger, junkies for the adrenaline rush. I pretty much treated my concept of relationships the same way. I certainly wasn’t the commitment type. Yeah, I was snickering at the thought.

“This is bullshit.” The cry was full of outrage, drawing my attention to the oversized community room we all spent a hell of a lot of time in.

“This is politics for ya.”

“Lying sack of shit. The man’s never even set foot in any of the firehouses in this city. I don’t know who the hell he thinks he is. Dude from Jersey thinkin’ he can come here and take over Charlotte. Well, fuck him.”

I eyed the group of men standing around the small television set, their eyes focused on the press conference, nasty barbs flying right and left. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the announcement itself, but everyone else in the joint was fixated on the mayor’s choice for the brand spanking new fire investigator. The rumor mill had been flying for a solid two weeks that his selection was someone outside the industry, which was not only unheard of but considered blasphemy to the men and women who risked their lives every day.

“Aren’t you the least bit curious, Blaise?” Jake Hanson was my best friend, had been since I moved here from Texas over three years before. We were both lieutenants of Ladder Company 19, the captain relying on us for keeping the motley group on their toes in his absence. Well, that and for making trouble. I was the bad boy of the group with a nose for fires, especially arson, hence the use of my middle name. No one called me Brendon Tompkins unless I was in serious trouble. That seemed to happen on a frequent basis.

“You guys look like you’re doing just fine.” I reared back in the chair, placing my feet on the table, an action that pissed off the females of the group. Funny how the men didn’t give a shit. I could still hear the blaring sound from where I was sitting. David, Wally, and Kyle were shooting their middle fingers, as if the pompous mayor could see their contemptuous action. Thank God I had tomorrow off to regroup and catch up on some sleep. We were all antsy, exhausted. It had been a particularly grueling week, a shitstorm of fires, one right after the other. I had no doubt at least two were arson. We’d been experiencing a hell of a lot of that lately. Maybe a fire investigator worth his shit was in order.

Okay, so the thought was sexist; however, I just knew the industry as well as this city. The job was hard core and given the horrific spikes in catastrophic blazes, whoever was appointed would be digging their way through muck—both in and out of the dirt. In my opinion, women deserved to be treated better, like queens, even when they were required to submit. My cock ached, visions of a luscious and very naked young woman draped over my lap the culprit.

I allowed my mind to daydream, trying to dull out the rants. My last girlfriend had been back in Texas, a sweet little filly with a mouth that could shoot you down, then suck you right up, taking every drop of cum. Mmm… She’d refused to move across the country. Couldn’t say I blamed her. North Carolina certainly wasn’t like back home. I’d grown weary of the playboy lifestyle as well as being alone.

I thought about two nights before, my cock twitching at the mere thought. I’d never done anything so reckless in my life as to fuck a stranger, but damn if the experience hadn’t been hot as shit. I didn’t even know her name.

Then again, we all needed some R & R, myself included. Maybe I could convince Jake to grab a beer tonight, or even hunt down the sexy gal. If only I knew anything about the stunning and vivacious woman. Another wicked shift under the sheets could do a body good.

“Charlotte is a wonderful city, full of the finest people. We live and thrive because of our amazing emergency systems. However, there have been some serious accusations placed against our fire departments because of the increased reports of arson, among other things.” The mayor’s tone was gruff, almost angry, as if he had a bone to pick.

“What the fuck?” Wally snapped.

“He’s such an asshole,” Kyle added.

I’d butted heads with the politics in this town more than once, fueling my reputation. If you asked me, and nobody was, I knew there were some bad seeds perched in high positions. Taking them down wasn’t my job, but I’d certainly relish in the aftermath.

“What we need is a fire investigator who refuses to kowtow to anyone. We need strength of mind as well as a tenacious spirit. We need a bulldog. I am happy to announce that I’ve appointed the perfect candidate.” The mayor had that look of unveiling a surprise. I had a bad feeling it was going to bite everyone in the ass.

I halfway stood, able to see Mayor Zane pumping his fist like he’d just promised to rid the entire country of warfare. Rolling my eyes, I was about to walk closer when the alarm sounded. “Fuck. Me.” Another damn fire. I’d just gotten the soot from under my nails from the last one. “All right, boys and girls, get your shit together.”

As I raced to grab my gear, I noticed Captain Waters on a heated conversation over the phone. Whatever he was attending to, the man was pissed. This kind of thing had occurred more than once this week as well. We were all batting zero on the tolerance level.

I heard the call out, the dispatcher repeating the location. Another horrific house fire. Jesus Christ. As we scrambled onto the engine, the captain the last man, Kyle started roaring out of the driveway.

“You all right, Cap’n?” I couldn’t help but ask. His pinched face and pursed mouth were unusual for the man. He had almost forty years on the job and had seen everything. Lately, he just seemed exhausted, as if he had no joy in working fires any longer.

Captain Waters snorted as he fumbled to fasten his jacket. “Yeah. Dandy. Next few weeks are going to be hell.”

I knew better than to ask anything else. Fully dressed, I hung out the open door, searching the horizon. We were literally four blocks away from the address. Didn’t take long until I could see the flames shooting a solid twenty feet into the air. The closer we came, the more my gut kicked in. I had a weird sixth sense about fires, had since I was a kid. This was one of the reasons I’d defied my father, becoming a firefighter instead of following in his footsteps and taking over the family ranch. The transfer to Charlotte had been on a whim, a new location, more possibilities for advancement.

And I’d never regretted a day. “Hurry up, Kyle. The house is at least fifty percent engulfed.”

“Almost there,” he shot back.

The second the engine rolled to a stop, I was off the platform, scanning the scene. The area was combined use, commercial and residential and at this time of afternoon, the streets were teeming with activity.

“Damn hot fire,” Jake hissed.

“Where the hell are the cops?” I demanded to no one in particular. We needed some serious crowd control.

“Take it easy, Lieutenant,” the captain stated. “I’ll get everyone back until the police arrive. Assess the situation.”

“My baby’s inside!” The woman’s scream was laced with complete panic. She raced toward Jake, almost knocking him off his feet.

“It’s all right. Tell me who’s inside,” Jake asked, trying to keep calm.

“She’s only three. I couldn’t get her out.” The woman was almost incoherent.

“Where is she located? Tell me where,” Jake encouraged.

Sobbing, she had to be shaken before she reacted. “Back bedroom by the porch.”

I snapped my head in the direction of her finger. There was smoke but no active flames, although the fire was rolling through the timber box style construction. We had no time to waste. “That’s it. I’m going in. Watch my back, Hanson.” The ax in my hand, I shoved down my mask and raced toward the side of the building.

“Jesus Christ! Wait for backup!” the captain called.

“I got him. You three come in from the front. You guys on the side. Let’s get this rolling,” Jake commanded.

I heard the sound of sirens coming from every direction and knew two things instinctively. One, Jake would have my back, fighting alongside me and two, this little girl had minutes to live. She was not dying under my watch. I made it to the back door. Smoke was rolling from under, embers popping along every surface. The door was cool to the touch but locked. I didn’t bother with the ax, simply giving it a hard kick, standing back until I was able to ascertain the location of the flames. A blanket of thick, acrid smoke rolled over me the second I walked inside. Blue-hued flames licked up from the walls, threatening to swim over the ceiling. I was forced to yank out my flashlight, tossing the beam into the center of the building. Couldn’t see shit.

A rush of water flowed behind me, the sizzling sound like sweet music.

“You’re late,” I called to Jake, then threw out my hand silencing him. The cry was muffled but distinct enough. “She’s over here.”

“Be careful,” Jake commanded, swinging the hose back and forth.

Everything was black as night, but the walls and ceilings had already started to crumble, raining debris all around and over us. A snapping crack was followed by a whooshing sound as the fire leapt to the ceiling over us.

“Fuck!” Jake huffed.

What do you think? Imagine the man embroiled in wicked passion.

A TASTE OF…

PREY

I am an assassin. I was born into the profession. There was no choice given, no question of what I preferred to do when I was growing up. I am royalty. I am privileged. And I am my father’s son, expected to follow in his path as well as that of others, dominant men ruling the world with an iron fist. The consortium holds the most powerful countries in the palm of their hand, their plan to eradicate respected leaders and those who stand in their way on prey_fulltrack. I am merely one son, one heir to a throne consumed by evil, an indentured servant to the Dark Haven. I am also the darkness, a hunted man. What no one knows is that I am lost, a weakness I can’t afford.

One day, I will find her. The one who will pull me into the light.

One day…

The words had haunted him for years, leaving the kind of sadness that could be career-ending. But not on this night.

Wrath had never felt so exhilarated in his life, although the fact he’d not only interfered with what had to be a shakedown but decided to take matters into his own hands could place his life in danger. He had an assignment to finish and instead, he had a naked girl on his lap, her provocative and stunning body more powerful to him than the five hundred thousand dollar prize he was expecting. As he wound his fingers around her silky strands of hair, leaning dangerously close to her voluptuous mouth, he counted all the reasons this was ridiculous.

The mark could get away.

His cover could be blown.

He could be arrested and spend the rest of his miserable life languishing in prison.

Or worse.

He could be eliminated by one of the eight men who comprised the Dark Haven for simple betrayal.

Right now, he didn’t care about any of them. He wanted her. He was determined to dominate her.

Ashley took several deep breaths, her eyes darting back and forth across his.

“We’re not finished yet, sweetheart. We’re just getting started.” He crushed his mouth over hers, inhaling the sweet essence of her feminine wiles as well as her expensive perfume. Everything about this woman was exotic, forbidden, and the fruit was too ripe and lush for him to resist.

Their chemistry was off the chain, electricity shooting through both of them.

He swept his tongue inside, tasting her, devouring her mouth. Even as she struggled, pressing her palm against his chest, he knew she craved much more. Everything about her body language screamed utter desire, the kind that would set the world on fire. He was more alive than he’d ever been, his cock screaming for relief.

She moaned into the kiss, undulating in his lap to the point he could no longer focus or think of anything outside of taking her. The barbarian in him had risen to the surface, threatening to take over what little humanity he had left. She should be his enemy.

Instead, she was the ultimate prize.

He gathered her into his arms as he stood, moving slowly toward the bed. He might regret his actions in the morning, but for tonight, she belonged to him. As he eased her down, the passionate embrace continued, their tongues thrashing together, her moans turning into purrs as she clung to him.

Breaking the kiss, he nipped her lower lip, growling in a savage manner. There was no need for discussion, only their respective carnal needs that required fulfilling. He licked around her mouth then down to her neck, darting his tongue in swirling motions as she tilted her head toward the bed. Inching further down, he licked around her nipple then peppered her skin with kisses as he returned to her neck, issuing a guttural sound. As he unfastened the buttons on his shirt with a single hand, he whispered into her ear, just to make certain she was well aware the deal had yet to be finished.

“You’re mine, all mine, sweetheart. Take a deep breath because the beast is about to claim you.” Easing back, he gazed down at her, the electricity shooting through him igniting embers embedded in every muscle and cell. He was well aware she’d lied about her name, but at this point, who the hell cared? She would never learn his real name either. This wasn’t about romance, simply raw and unadulterated sex.

Ashley eased onto her hands, lifting and spreading her legs wide open as she lifted a single eyebrow. Her gaze full of amusement, she gave him a heated once-over. “I’m not your sweetheart. And what makes you think I’ll comply that easily?” She blew him a kiss as she tossed her head from side to side.

Wrath tossed his shirt before kicking off his shoes then tapping his finger against his belt. “Because you’re a born and bred submissive, just waiting for the right man to come along and claim you. Plus, it’s obvious you have a penchant for danger.” Chuckling, he could see the wheels of her mind turning, trying to find the correct retort.

“I do adore a dangerous man, but I usually prefer kicking his ass.”

Such a little minx. He allowed his French accent to flow in a soft-spoken, seductive manner. All the years of education and intense training had given him options, including the use of eight different languages. French seemed to suit her. He was more than curious to garner a look into her small purse but had the distinct feeling that she was hiding everything about her identity. Maybe she was really just a high dollar card shark, employed by some rich socialite who craved the thrill of risk.

Funny how his instinct told him otherwise.

Ashley wasn’t the kind of woman who followed orders, at least in her profession. The rest was a matter of allowing the fragrant blossom to open naturally. Maybe they would even meet again. His blood pressure increased at the thought.

He gave her a commanding look, enjoying the slight blush and the flicker of her stunning long lashes. “Besides, you still have another round of punishment owed. I suggest you be a good little girl.”

In a flash she was off the bed, pressing her palms against his naked chest and pushing with just enough pressure he was forced to take a step backwards. “A good girl, huh? You obviously have no idea who I am. I’m very good at being very bad.”

Fisting her hair, he used enough pressure she hissed. “While I might not know everything about you yet, I can see right through to your soul, all the sinful little cravings that keep you awake at night.” He swatted her on the ass twice before giving her a daring look.

“Don’t tempt me to show you who’s boss,” she purred, her fingers digging into his chest. “I could hurt you badly.”

“Oh, really? Give it your best shot.” The challenge was almost too tasty.

You know how I adore my mafia pieces! I hope you enjoyed.

Kisses and spanks

Piper

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