Authors: Sienna Mynx
Romano’s arms tightened around her waist. She was crushed against every hard angle of his chest, and it felt good. Though she knew it was well past what her Grams would have called appropriate, having a man hold her was near sublime. She took a deep breath and adjusted her smile. The heat of lust spread so fast under her skin she could feel herself vibrate with need. “Maybe I should go now.”
I’ve always wanted to do this.” Romano pulled back and straightened from the way he held her. His hands went to her neatly pinned hair. Harmony stilled. She steadied her breath in anticipation while he pulled the pins out and let them drop to the floor. Her thickly wound pin-curls fell free in frozen spirals about her face. His fingers ran through the coarse strands, and more pins dropped to the floor, raining small metallic sounds. He began to massage her scalp gently with the pads of his fingers. It felt sinfully divine. Her head rolled back slowly and her eyes shut. It was shameful how much she enjoyed the game. Romano then combed his fingers from the roots through her tangles and spread her untamed tresses over her shoulders.
The name buzzed through her skull with such potent force she felt herself go weak around the knees, so her hands lifted to hold his sides. All ideas of how she'd escape a night in his bed dissolved. “I… I thought… I never, uh… Mr. Romano… Vinnie,” she stammered.
Realizing how undone she’d become, she snapped out of it. With her locks falling freely over her eyes, Harmony nervously touched her hair and stepped back from him.
What just happened? In an instant she had lost her senses. How was that even possible with a man like Vinnie Romano?
The pounding of her heartbeat made her short on breath. Lewis was a demanding lover. Even in her inexperience she knew her man was a tiger. Most nights she’d have to fight her way out of his bed just for relief, and pray Willie would come home from those streets so Lewis would give her a break.
The loss of her man hurt. It hurt to the core. She never even dared think another man could spark the flames of desire in her again. Romano reminded her of Lewis. His touch firm and commanding, his hold strong, and that look in his eyes had her stomach doing flips. It wasn’t just the physical. Lewis said he stumbled into church one Sunday, a bit inebriated he mistook it for the boarding house next door. But he said he first saw her in the pew and heard her voice. Said he fell in love with her instantly. Romano had that same smoldering look in his eyes. She wasn’t crazy, she’d lived for that look from Lewis, and she’d recognize it anywhere.
She needed to get out, and now.
Excuse me,” Harmony stammered.
For?” he asked.
She couldn't answer. All she knew was in a blink, desire had rolled its way up through her with such force she forgot her middle name. Who could blame her? Power rippled off him in sexy waves hitting her with full intensity. Instead of reclaiming her senses that brief connection they shared melted away her defense.
Again he spoke his language and she frowned. He smirked and translated the words.
Is he serious? Grams always said, with a man trust is a trick horse, turn your back on common sense and get kicked in your head for it. Of course a mob boss like Romano thinks it should be given freely if he asked. Well, I’m no fool. Sure he may like to hear me carry a tune. Sure he wants a little something extra. But he’s like any man. Once his appetite is satisfied that maid Mabel is going to be showing me to the door.
Romano stepped back, but continued to hold her hand. Expectation weighed in his gaze. “You always this jumpy Songbird?”
No,” she said honestly, gauging his response. Humor sparkled in his eyes but he didn’t laugh. She offered him a sly smile. “I’ll try to relax Vinnie, if you keep your hands to yourself.”
Romano’s brows lowered and leveled over his hot gaze. Maybe he’d appreciate her candor. “Yes, try to relax. As for my hands…”
It’s getting late.” Harmony pointed out. “I think I’ll leave now.”
Your brother? You going to abandon him?” Romano’s gaze sharpened and so did his speech. “When we’re so
to finding him. I thought you’d do anything for Lil Will?”
The question hit her hard in the chest. Did she have some deep destructive desire to break every personal rule in her life for a fleeting feel of lust? No. But Willie had gotten mixed up with these men and she was his only hope. “I will,” she said, then pressed her lips together to keep the rest of her objections at bay.
He extended his hand once more.
For a brief moment she considered his open palm and the consequences of her actions. Could Lewis see her now? What would Grams think? Harmony lifted her hand slowly and placed it in his. Romano pressed a light kiss to her knuckles with his gaze trained on hers. He then led her out of the parlor.
Together they entered the dark hall to the staircase. Mabel had eased back into the shadows, still she peeked at her from behind a door. A stony look of disgust and disbelief turned what were possibly gentle features hard. Harmony held to her pride and made the climb with her head high. Romano took the lead pulling her hand behind him in silence.
, she kept reminding herself. Romano stopped at a bedroom door and pushed it inward. Harmony could barely see inside. She didn’t have to. She knew what awaited her there.
Should I delay the inevitable and make sure Willie was all right? What do I have to offer him but this, and once it’s had, what then?
Harmony?” he said her name, noticing her resistance.
She flashed a small smile of her own then stepped inside. The room was dark, but the bed lay clearly visible and even more intimidating than the mobster that stood behind her. The door lock clicked, engaged and she bit down hard on her bottom lip. Apprehension gnawed at her confidence. She forced herself to exchange glances from the bed to him when he turned on a lamp. Again, she was struck by the hard edges that strengthened his handsomeness. Here she was, alone, with this enigma of a man. Most coloreds avoided the Sicilian and Irish crime bosses, though desire had reshaped her fear. Tall, with glossy golden brown hair, he had fiery hot amber brown eyes, and the most delectable mouth she had ever seen on a man. His cool presence excited her just like it did with Lewis. His olive skin in the darkly lit room made him appear a bit more native than the pale faces of the white men he kept company with. She remembered Grams warnings against the excited fluttering in her breast. She didn’t listen then, she wouldn’t listen now.
Grams. That was rude. You barely said two words to Lewis.” Harmony closed the door and walked back to the kitchen. “He just coming to see about Willie.”
Mony, take a seat.” Her grandmother turned from the stove with her fist to her hip and a serious frown creasing her brow. Harmony knew that look. She thought it ridiculous that she would get saddled with the burden of explaining her little brother’s friends. Lewis didn’t come for her. He was just a nice guy to think of giving her some chocolates every once and awhile.
Yes ma’am.” Harmony said sitting at the table.
Grams had been sluggish lately. She stopped going to Miss Moncrief’s and now did laundry from her back room. It scared Harmony to see the woman she knew as her mother so tired all the time. Even now her grandmother heaved and breathed hard breaths from the simplest of tasks. And the tired lines of stress and worry lent a hint of sadness to her round, kind face. Her skin was a nut brown shade, and her hair, streaked grey from the temples, was always worn parted in two plaits. She’d raised them since Harmony was four and her brother a babe. Her mother had run off when their father disappeared. Harmony had no idea if either of her parents were alive.
I see the way that man looks at you when he comes to see about Lil Will, knowing full well he done passed that boy in the streets on his way up our step. He not fooling me girl. Showin’ up at my door with those sweets, flowers, he courtin’ you Mony.”
Harmony’s eyes stretched wide. “But he said…”
Don’t matter what he say Mony it’s what he do. You blooming baby. Men like him bound to notice. The problem with Lewis is he in the world, you ain’t. You spend mo’ time in the church pew singing and in those books of yours than understanding the attentions of a man. But if you keep on acceptin’ those gifts he gone expect more. Every man wants somethin’, even if what they give you is barely nothin.” Grams pulled out the yellow kitchen chair so worn on its legs the paint had all but disappeared in the wood. She sat and wiped at her brow then forced a smile. “Been saving up for you sweetheart, to get you out of Harlem. Send you South to learn in one of those colored schools. You gone be something baby, a teacher, or maybe a nurse. I can’t worry too much about Willie, he got too much of his daddy in him. But you, baby, you special, that voice of yours was sent straight from God. Don’t let the desires of a man change who you become.”
Harmony blinked away the beginning of tears. Her grandmother died two weeks later from her weak heart. And everything changed. Including her promise to be somebody special. Lewis was there for her, comforted her, even paid for the service. But his attentions had shifted from Willie to her solely. Before she knew the name of the new uncharted emotions she felt over his naughty touches and prolonged kisses she was in his bed becoming his woman.
Now she was alone.
Her own woman.
And here with a man who could only lead her down the wrong path. Just like Lewis, the danger and powerful maleness about Romano made her weak. Every time he spoke her name, she felt an insane urge to touch him. In fact, the more time she spent alone with him, the more those urges consumed her sensibility, and she was oddly grateful for it.
Romano walked over to the bed. The surface was bathed in sparse light, just enough to chase away the shadows. Her eyes skipped over to the wall. It was a rich and masculine room with pecan wood paneling. The bed had tall dark mahogany posts and a broad headboard. It was indeed the largest bed she’d ever laid her eyes on outside Pinkleston’s furniture store. Why would a single man like him need a bed so big? She and Lewis shared one less than half its size and Willie slept on the other side of a strung up sheet on a cot.
You’re still nervous,” he said, approaching.
Harmony opened her mouth and closed it, knowing that a litany of excuses were certain to tumble out. The truth was far simpler. Her heart thundered in her chest and blood warmly raced through her veins, not from nervousness but something strangely enticing. Good, bad or wrong the unknown held promise. When he stopped in front of her she had to look up into his eyes again. Romano traced his finger along her jaw to the center of her chin then with a pinch he tilted her head back. Harmony took in a few quick breaths through her nose, attempting to stop the breakneck pace of her heart. Her body tension slowly began to unwind. Romano lowered his head and stole a kiss. It was slow, teasingly gentle. A brief touch of lips that felt both soft and innocent. When his mouth parted she realized hers gaped for more. Embarrassed she pressed her lips together and double blinked up at him. Heat slid arousal through her body and she swallowed hard. To hell with innocence! She wanted a kiss. A real one.
Should she say so?
One arm held her. The other free hand caressed her cheek.
You are sexy.” He breathed.
Thanks Suga, you ain’t too bad yourself. Hey, slow down. Maybe we should wait for news on Willie. I might have to talk to him.” She pushed against his chest tasting him on her mouth. A stall was the only defense she had left.
I think I’ve waited long enough, Songbird.” Romano’s voice hardened and so did his hold. He ran his hand up the center of her spine, stopping at her nape a brief moment then stepped back as if he was getting a good look at her for the first time. He lifted her arm and spun her in a half circle, crossing her arms in front of her and bringing her up against his chest. She thought she heard a deep groan escape him when her backside pressed into his groin. He released her hand and eased his inside her bodice. The front material stretched and his warm palm massaged her left breast. Her eyes flashed upward to lock with his in the mirror. She stood transfixed, almost hypnotized.
I can feel your heart beating in my palm.” Romano smirked, giving her breast a gentle squeeze, then pulling on her swollen nipple until it was tight. “I’ve always wondered if the skin between your thighs feels as soft and beautiful as your voice. Does it?” he asked removing his hand then reaching between them to pull down the tab of the zipper to her dress.