Read His To Take: Night One Online

Authors: Kera Whisper

His To Take: Night One (2 page)

BOOK: His To Take: Night One
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He bit out a harsh laugh. “When governments need to borrow your money, they suddenly don’t care if it’s green, black, or blood.”

Black money? Blood money? So he
still connected to the underworld. Thank God!

turned to hand me a crystal glass. “Sit. Drink.”

These words sounded vaguely like orders. The steel in my steel magnolia was beginning to flare,
so I tried to steer this conversation. “I’d like that, for us to sit and talk.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Not used to taking orders?”

“I’m plenty used to
it. I’m a caretaker for my grandmother. She’s irascible”—a mean-spirited witch—“and quite a handful.” I heard countless screeched orders over a day. “I might be accustomed to them, but I still ... react.”

He sat on the front edge of his desk, his imposing body just inches from me. His legs were as muscular as the rest of him, encased in expensive slacks, and as I gazed at them, I felt like fanning myself.

“What’s the last order you received?” he asked, moving his leg, brushing it against mine.

hat contact flustered me. I had difficulty recalling the last order. Ah, yes. My grandmother. “It was,
Don’t go to Italy
.” She’d all but shrieked it, telling me that if I left her with a nurse for a week, I was never to come home.

Was it any wonder
that the two days I’d spent in Italy had been so liberating for me? I’d clawed my way out of a musty, dilapidated Victorian, into a palazzo hotel with breezes and sunlight streaming through open windows.

I’d eaten foods my taste
buds had never encountered and sampled wines that were so good, they’d made me want to sing.

Two days of l
iberation—and guilt. Yes, I’d been forced to await this meeting, but in my downtime, I’d been taking the opportunity to shed the chains of my stifling life.

hile my brother’s life had been on the line.

Well, I see how well that order went,” Cesan said dryly. “How did you answer?”

I’d told Gran that I would do
to save Tommy. “Oh, it’s not important,” I said instead. “Can we talk about something else?”

do that again.”

His brusque tone made my eyes widen. “Do what?”

“If I wish to talk about something, then that is what we speak of. I think you’ve forgotten that I’m the only one who can help your brother out of his current life-or-death predicament.”

I shook my head, eyes watering
. “I haven’t forgotten.” Ten days ago, I’d learned that Thomas was being ransomed for an amount that I could never pay—five million dollars. It was due one week from today, and his kidnappers had forbidden me to contact the authorities.

In a softer voice,
Cesan said, “Now,
, answer my question truthfully and

I swallowed, too staggered to do anything but. “
I told my grandmother that if I didn’t take this trip, then Thomas would die. I told her I’d do anything to save him.”

glanced down at his glass, swirling the liquid. I would kill to know what he was thinking.

The man who has your brother is known as
Il Macellaio
, the Butcher.”

My heart dropped to my stomach. “Butcher?” Why had
Thomas insisted on traveling abroad instead of going to state school like me?

Because he didn’t want to be like you.
Boring and straitlaced. I didn’t necessarily want to be these things either, but at least they kept me from getting kidnapped outside of an Italian youth hostel!

“Macellaio is a competitor of mine
,” Cesan said. “An opponent of sorts. I know he’ll have instructed you not to go to the police. They’re almost all in his pocket anyway.”

“Why would
this man be interested in Thomas? We don’t have any money.”

“But one
side of your family is wildly affluent, is it not?”

Of course
Cesan had heard of the Riverleighs. Most of the world had. “My father’s side is. But he was disowned when he married my mother.” A simple southern girl who was not up to Riverleigh standards. “I tried to enlist their help, but they wouldn’t give me a dime—just passed on the name of Mr. Nazario, the PI who contacted you.” With no help from them or my grandmother, I’d had to sell a broche of my mother’s, one my father had bought her before he’d been cut off. “Nazario said
were my only hope.”

“Do you know why you have seven days left to put together the
money?” Cesan asked. I shook my head. “Because that is when Macellaio returns from abroad.” He swirled his drink casually, but his piercing gaze bored into mine when he asked, “So what can you do in seven days to convince me that I should pay the ransom?”

jaw slackened as understanding hit me. Without a word, I collected my purse and stood, my back ramrod straight. On my way to the door, I set down my untouched drink.

“Thomas is just twenty-two, correct?” Cesan called, sounding like he was enjoying this situation. “Isn’t he your twin? Once Macellaio returns, he’ll kill poor Tommy.”

That stopped me in my tracks. I turned, hating the way my cheeks still burned from his proposal. “You’re just as much a villain as the Butcher is.”

, and you’d do well never to forget that. Juliet, you came to me for help. And I don’t make a habit of assisting disowned orphans.”

Our parents had died when we were twelve. What else did Cesan know about me? I feared the better question would be: what
he know.

Mr. Cesan, I never expected you to
five million dollars. I expected you to
for Tommy’s release, to inform the man that we have no money.” How had this meeting gotten so turned around?

“You don’t negotiate with the Butcher. He found an easy target—
Thomas Carlson Riverleigh, the third—in his backyard, unguarded. And he capitalized. Now he’ll expect a payday.”

Just because Tommy shared a name
with my grandfather didn’t mean the old man would help us.

“Now back to the subject of convincing me.”

Nico Cesan wanted to have sex. With me. Some dark part of me was flattered, thrilled. The rest of me recalled that doing anything sexual for money would make me a whore.

Ah, look how your pale cheeks bloom with color. Is our Juliet a virgin?” His gaze was wolfish, predatory, like he’d just sniffed out a sweet treat. “Answer honestly and thoroughly, if you want my help.”

“Yes, I am.”
How to answer thoroughly? “I live in a small town that frowns on ... fast women. And I don’t get out much.” Ever. Donovan was a retirement community. Most of the population was over sixty-five.

“Do you want your brother to live?”

I took a step closer to Cesan. “Of course!”

“Then you’ll spend this week with me. And you’ll spend it obeying my commands in all things.”

I had an internet connection; I’d seen enough RedTube to know that what he was describing
wasn’t just
—it was kinky. “I-I’m not the kind of person who does stuff like you’re talking about.”

“In seven days,
all this could be resolved, with you and your brother returning home together. No one needs to know what you and I do. It’s clear you’re attracted to me.” He smirked at my nipples.

Damn my eyes, I was! And it wasn’t like I didn’t have curiosity about sex.
Before I’d dropped out of college to care for Gran, I’d endured my share of lackluster make-out sessions. Though they’d never tempted me to go further, I continually
for sex. I dreamed of some nameless, faceless man who would touch me with experience and skillfully free me of my virginity. But intercourse before marriage was a big no-no in Donovan.

At least it was
. That thought brought on a surge of anger, tinged with recklessness.

Suddenly, this
deal of Cesan’s was beginning to make a certain twisted sense. I’d craved to explore my sexual desires; in lieu of four satyrs, he was offering me the opportunity to be with a man of experience, with no small-town repercussions.

ommy would get freed. I’d go back to my stale, stultifying life, with memories of an affair with the world’s most eligible bachelor.

Was there really any other play here?

In that sinfully deep voice, Cesan ordered, “Come to me, Juliet.” By the firelight, his eyes appeared to lighten and darken in waves. I could swear he was spellbinding me with them.

All on their own, my feet started walking toward him.
With every step closer, my body seemed to come alive, nerve-endings firing. When his intense gaze dipped to my swaying breasts, they swelled. When he surveyed my hips and legs, it made me want to exaggerate the swish in my steps.

I was still in disbelief even
as I rounded the desk. He stood to meet me.

peered up at him again. “How can I be sure you’ll do what you say? The amount is staggering.”

You can be sure, because I’m known for keeping my end of a bargain.” By all accounts, this was true. “And the amount is piddling to a man like me.” Also true.

“You could get anyone to sleep with you
. Why me?”

“Because at th
is moment I desire you more than anyone,” he said, as if stating a regrettable fact. “And I get whatever it is I desire.”

I whispered, “Will you hurt me?”

“You will enjoy anything I do to you.”

Not quite the answer I was hoping for.
“Why an entire week? Surely you’ll get tired of someone as inexperienced as I am.” I waved to indicate my short, imperfect figure. “And I’m not your usual fare.”

Blond, tall, size zero.

Though I ran everyday and took care of my body—often grudgingly, because it wasn’t like anyone was seeing the goods—I was not Cesan’s usual Victoria’s Secret model.

According to news reports, he’d gone through
of them, an entire runway of leggy perfection.

“You might not be my usual fare.” The corners of his lips tilted up, and his entire face changed—less underworld enforcer, more
dangerous fallen angel. I fully comprehended his nickname.

And w
asn’t a dark fallen angel just another way of describing a devil?

He continued,
“But I’m finding a new appreciation for green-eyed redheads with pale flesh. Bottom line: your shapely body gets mine hard. Not to mention the fact that you need what I can give you.”

I got him hard? I peeked down, then glanced right back up. His erection
was blatant in his tailored slacks.

“Some of the things I ask will make you uncomfortable. But I will expect obedience.”

He sounded like he was talking about dog training.

You know this is your only choice to save your brother,” he said. “And I vow to you, Juliet, you will never regret the time you spend in my bed.” His voice had dropped an octave, his lids heavier.

As long as I was considering a deal with the devil, at least he looked the part.

“This would make me a whore.”

In the sense of a sexually free woman? Yes. You will be a whore for me. In the sense of a woman who gets nothing but money for her services? No. When I’m fucking you, you will be begging
for more. And you shall receive it—if you are deserving.”

His words were making my
. How much longer could I hold out?

“The ransom will merely facilitate our liaison

our liaison.

Wh-what about safe sex?”

“Normally, yes. But
not with you,” At my questioning glance, he said, “I’m clean, and you, my little virgin, are on the pill for some reason.”

I took them for irregular periods.
“How did you know I am?” I asked suspiciously.

“I saw them in your purse.
When you were so charmingly coloring your shoe.”

I blushed again.
“Do you know something about me that I don’t? What makes you so confident that I’ll accept your deal?” Did he
that I wanted to be a ravished maiden clutching a male for more?

“It’s not that I know you—it’s that I know myself. I’ve been told th
at when I look at a woman I intend to possess, there’s a promise in my eyes.”

BOOK: His To Take: Night One
9.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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