Authors: Kit Tunstall,R.E. Saxton
Merger: A Mafia Love Story
Amourisa Press and Kit Tunstall, writing as R.E. Saxton, reserve all rights to NEGOTIATION (Triple Threat #1). This work may not be shared or reproduced in any fashion without permission of the publisher and/or author. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters are 18 or over if engaged in sexual activity.
© Kit Tunstall, 2015
Cover Images: Depositphotos.com/innervision
Edited by N.G., J.C., and CM Editing Services
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It’s like a fairytale when Dominic rescues Lily from a bad situation in Mexico. He sweeps her off her feet and into marriage within a week. It’s only after the wedding that she discovers her husband has more in common with Machiavelli than Prince Charming. The ruthless mobster deliberately targeted her as a bargaining chip to use against her father, who is heading up an investigation into the Rinaldi family’s mafia ties. Their relationship is a merger, not a marriage. He believes Lily is sweet and subservient. He actually thinks she won’t give him any trouble at all.
Her new husband has another think coming.
This is the third book in the Triple Threat series. All may be read as standalones, but reading all in order will enhance your enjoyment. If you’ve missed “
” or “
,” they are available exclusively on Amazon to buy or borrow for free with Kindle Unlimited.
Dominic looked through the crowded crush of people, barely hiding a grimace at the club décor. Whoever owned the place had clearly been going for edgy and exotic, but had instead achieved something that looked like a dystopian novel had thrown up inside. It wasn’t the kind of place he would ever frequent, and it was nowhere near the level of sophistication the club he shared with his brothers, Triple Threat, offered its patrons. It couldn’t even compare to the nightclub in his resort, but he wasn’t there to dance and mingle.
He was there for one specific purpose only. In less than a minute, he found his quarry, the sole reason he had ventured into the club after the man he had tailing Lily Faulkner had called with the location of where she and her friends had ended up.
As he navigated his way through the crowd, he examined the young woman standing with her back to him a few feet away. She looked different from the mousy little girl in the pictures that had been attached to the file that his men had put together for him. Most of those had come from school activities and the occasional school picture.
This girl was clearly no longer in school. As she turned almost in his direction, but not quite close enough for him to see her eyes, he caught his breath at the sight of her body displayed by a too-tight, too-short black dress. It did nothing to hide any of Lily Faulkner’s assets, and he felt a stirring of anger at the idea of her blatantly displaying her body for everyone. She belonged to him, and though she didn’t know it yet, she would soon enough. When she understood her new role, he would make sure she never wore something like that again.
Right now, he had to focus on the plan, and he made eye contact with Javier, who was a local contractor he’d contracted to help him find and follow Lily Faulkner. He was about to give the signal for Javier to initiate the plan, which was to have the other man aggressively hit on Lily before Dominic came to her rescue. As he glanced her way again, he realized the fiction might not be necessary. There was a man standing near Lily, far too close for Dominic’s liking.
Apparently, too close for her liking too, judging by the expression on her sweetly rounded face. She looked irritated and fearful, and though he couldn’t see where the man’s hands were, he could discern they weren’t in a place where Lily wanted them to be. Acting on instinct and abandoning the script, he waved off Javier as he strode forward just in time to hear her voice for the first time.
“Let go of me, Paul. You’re clearly drunk.”
“And you aren’t drunk enough yet, Lily.” The young man giggled as though he’d made a hysterical joke.
She scowled at him. “What would Chrissy think about you trying to paw me?”
Paul shrugged, looking unconcerned. “I doubt she’ll know. She took off to the bathroom with Britney and Tiffany, which means they’re probably in there snorting coke or something.”
Lily’s eyes widened, and she was clearly shocked by the revelation. “No way. They aren’t that stupid.”
Paul chuckled. “You wouldn’t believe how stupid that trio can be. We have plenty of time if they’re doing what I think they’re doing.” With that, Paul angled his body to push her against the wall. Lily had already clearly pressed herself back as far she could, and as Paul’s head descended, she turned hers and pushed her palms against his chest in an attempt to wiggle free.
Dominic was surprised by the surge of possessiveness that swept through him at the young man trying to grope Lily. He hadn’t anticipated any kind of reaction, and certainly nothing like that. He’d expected to play a role and seduce young Lily into falling head-over-heels for him, but there was no acting involved when he strode forward and lifted Paul off his feet by the scruff of his neck and dragged him a few feet from her. “Don’t touch her.”
Paul got quickly to his feet, having stumbled and fallen to his knees when Dominic set him down so roughly. He glared at him, though his gaze didn’t quite meet Dominic’s. From the subtle drop of his shoulders and change in posture, it was evident Paul had realized Dominic was the alpha dog in the situation. That didn’t mean he planned to give in easily, and his bluster was plain to see when he put his hands on his hips and glared at him. “Who the hell do you think you are, man?”
“She told you to let go of her.”
Paul glared at him. “So? What business is it of yours?
Dom glared back, allowing his disgust to show. “I don’t like watching you manhandle an innocent young woman.”
The young man laughed. “Innocent? Hell, she probably is, and I’d be doing her a favor by busting her cherry.”
The last word had barely escaped his mouth when Dominic lost control of his temper and punched the snot-nosed brat in the face. His nose made a sickening crunching sound, and there was a softening mush of flesh under his fist where it connected with his nose. Paul slumped to the floor, cradling his face and moaning as tears came to his eyes.
“Paul,” screeched an annoying voice from a few feet away.
He looked at the source of the sound in time to see a tall blonde girl, flanked by two other blonde girls—though he suspected all three blondes came from a bottle—rushing toward the man sprawled on the floor as fast as their ridiculously high heels would allow. The one who had spoken knelt beside the man Dominic had just punched, rubbing his shoulder in a consoling fashion before glaring up at Dom.
“What the fuck is the matter with you, old guy? You shouldn’t even be here.”
His lips twitched, but he managed to hide his amusement. She had him there. He was clearly a decade too old to be in this rat hole, but he ignored the question. “I take it that’s your boyfriend, Chrissy?”
Her eyes widened as he identified her, and she started to look uncertain. “How do you know my name?”
“I overheard it when your friend over here was reminding Paul that you probably wouldn’t like it that he was trying to feel her up.”
Paul groaned again, though it was difficult to tell if it was from the pain in his nose or from Dominic’s revelation.
Chrissy turned her gaze to Lily, anger sparkling in her eyes. “You were trying to seduce Paul? That’s a really shitty thing to do.”
Dominic started to defend the girl, but she surprised him by stepping forward, hands on her hips. From what he had read about her, he had expected her to be a timid, quiet thing huddling in the corner. That was why he’d come up with the plan involving Javier, because he’d expected her to need a rescuer.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything with Paul, except get him to leave me alone. I even reminded him that you’re his girlfriend, and you wouldn’t like him trying to touch me. I didn’t do anything wrong here, Chrissy.”
“I clearly did.” Chrissy sniffed at her. “Britney and Tiffany were right. I never should have invited you along on this trip. I wouldn’t have bothered if your mother hadn’t called my mother and asked for a favor. You might be a legacy, but that’s the only reason you’re part of our sorority.”
Lily’s expression betrayed nothing, and she shrugged. “It’s not like I ever wanted to be part of your sorority anyway. I was only doing it to please my mom.”
Paul was trying to get his feet, and Chrissy was distracted in the process by trying to help him. Dominic barely hid a smirk when she started to sway on her too-high heels as he put too much weight on her. She squealed and cried out for her backup blondes, and the three of them somehow managed to lift the inebriated young man, who was still streaming blood from his nose, to his feet.
“You should clear out of here now,” said Dominic. “I imagine the club owners will have called the police by now.”
Chrissy didn’t even look at him, but she did pause to glare at Lily. “Don’t bother coming back to the hotel room. You won’t be welcome there.”
“That’s fine,” said Lily, glaring at the other woman until they had disappeared through the crowd. When they were no longer in sight, her shoulders suddenly drooped, and fear was obvious in her expression. She turned away from him, and he couldn’t explain why, but that didn’t sit well with him. Dominic stepped back into her line-of-sight, forcing her to look at him. “Are you okay?”
She shrugged a shoulder. “I guess, except everything I brought on the trip is in that room aside from my passport and my money. I don’t have enough of that to get through if I have to buy a room, so I guess I’ll just head home early.” Her eyes widened, and she let out a small groan. “Except the tickets are nonrefundable, nontransferable, and not subject to change. Crap, I guess I’ll have to call my father.” She looked fearful of the idea.
Dominic made a note of that reaction, filing it away for future use. “I’m sure he just wants you to be safe.”
She nodded. “I’m sure he does, but he’s going to be pissed off when he finds out I flew off to Mexico for spring break with my friends… Not that they were much of the friend variety. I knew this whole thing was a bad idea, but I just…” She trailed off, looking forlorn.
“Just what?” he prompted gently when she remained silent.
Lilly lifted a shoulder with a shrug, which caused her shining brown hair to fall backward down her back. He had a sudden urge to run his fingers through it, which was bewildering. He hadn’t expected to feel any sort of attraction to the young woman whom he had targeted. He’d expected to have to go through the motions and think of another woman when trying to get hard for Lily, so it was a shock to find out she was having an unexpected effect on him and his libido.
“I guess I just wanted to fit in for once.”
He found a stir of pity for her, which was also surprising. He wasn’t a man often swayed by the suffering or emotions of others. He was actually feeling her out when he said, “What’s the worst he’ll do? Scream and shout a bit? I’m sure he’ll send you a ticket anyway.”
Her lips tightened. “I’m sure he will, but then he’ll just use this against me too. He likes to think I’m young and naïve, which I clearly am, but Dad will use this as another excuse to smother me.” She let out a long sigh. “Still, I guess there’s no alternative.”
He forced his expression to look sympathetic, though he was gloating inside. “I guess it’s best to get it over with then, but if you need a ride, I can give you one.”
She gave him a smile, and it did strange things to his chest. He ignored the skip of his heart for a moment, forcing his expression to remain neutral and not reveal a bit of what he was unexpectedly feeling inside.
That was the only word for it. For just a moment, he entertained doubts about his course of action before shoving aside the uncertainty. There was no other course of action available to him, and he had to proceed as planned, not just for himself, but to protect his brothers and their families, along with his parents and sister.
She opened her purse and let out another groan of what sounded like exasperation. “Dammit, I left my phone in the hotel room. This ridiculous little purse wasn’t big enough to hold my money and my passport, along with lipstick and a phone, but Britney had her phone, so it seemed fine to leave mine behind. Knowing those vindictive little cunts, they’ll have destroyed all my stuff before I can ever get it back.”
He let out a surprised laugh at her use of the cunt word, not having expected such a sweet-faced young girl to know the word, or at least use it in any context, let alone referring to her so-called friends. It was obvious they weren’t really her friends though, and from what he had observed during the few minutes he’d spent with the unpleasant blonde trio, the word fit them aptly. “Come on, Lily. Let’s get out of here, and you can use the phone in my car.”
She gave him a strange look. “You don’t have a cell phone?”
He made a production of patting his pockets. “It was either bring that or my lipstick, so of course I had to bring the lipstick.” He grinned at her.
She rolled her eyes, though there was still a hint of uncertainty in her gaze despite her small laugh. “I’m sure there’s a payphone or something around here. Maybe.” She looked uncertain.
He shrugged, as though he wasn’t invested in her decision. “Probably so, but I imagine you’ll need change for it. Do you have change?”
At that moment, a hulking behemoth approached them. With coppery brown skin, dark black hair, and a mustache that would have made Yosemite Sam swoon with envy, he was an intimidating sight. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared down at Lily, sparing only a small glance for Dominic. “You need to settle your bar tab. Your friends tore out of here, and someone’s going to pay.”
She gasped softly, but nodded. “How much?”
Dominic saw her shoulders slump when the large man gave her the bill, and he wondered if all of her friends drank like fishes, or if they had been unexpectedly generous and bought a round for the house. They must have all been drinking top-shelf liquor to have accumulated so many charges in this dump.
The chivalrous thing to do would have been to step in and offer to settle the debt, but he held back. He needed Lily vulnerable and open to help in other ways, and allowing her to deplete her cash to cover her friends’ bar bill was a step in the right direction. He squashed down a hint of guilt as he watched impassively while she opened her purse and sorted out the money, paying in US dollars.
The big man took the money and counted it, though he had just seen her count it as well. And then he scowled at her. “What, no tip?”
He barely held in a chuckle as she gritted her teeth and peeled off another ten-dollar bill from her rapidly dwindling roll of money, handing it over with a small glare to the large man. The bouncer tucked it into his pocket along with the other money, looking satisfied as he made his way to the bar.