Read The Gun Runner (Mafia Made) Online

Authors: Scott Hildreth

The Gun Runner (Mafia Made)

The Gun Runner
By Scott Hildreth

Tripp

Once, I took down terrorists on the front lines as a marine.
Now I’m in the business of bad.
I’ve sold guns to people others might not approve of.
I’ve eliminated the criminals, the lowlifes and the thugs who’ve tread on my turf.
And I looked the Sicilian Mafia boss in the eye and told him to f*** off.
No one tells me no, unless it’s their last word.
I didn’t just act the part of bad—I lived it. Then she stumbled into my life.
I tried to stay away from her. Tried focusing on moving my merchandise. But one smile from Terra was like a shot to the heart.
She’s mine now. And
no one
threatens what’s mine.

Terra

I’ve seen a lot of terrible things in my life.
I grew up around lies and deception, and I ran away from all of them.
Until I met him.
I knew he was corrupt. I knew he was dangerous.
I should have stayed away, but my attraction to him, my
need
for him, overrode my logic.
Now I love him.
If he finds out who I am, we’re done and I’ll be nothing.
I never wanted to be the Mafia princess they tried to make me, but
mia familia
had other plans. And what
mia familia
wants...it gets.
Only Michael Tripp can save me.

This book is approximately 70,000 words

Dear Reader,

I like August because it’s my birthday month. And I’m a firm believer in celebrating more than once. Since my birthday falls at the end of the month, I start early with lunches with friends, happy hour with my husband, and by gifting myself a few things I love but know that no one will gift me. Books definitely fall into that category of things I gift myself. But the truth is, I give myself books year round and I’m betting a lot of you are my reading soul mates. Books should be the one thing we never deny ourselves. So in honor of my birthday—or just because you love a good book, go ahead and gift yourself one of these new releases. And then maybe gift one to someone in your life!

Bestselling indie author Scott Hildreth joins Carina Press with his sexy, sexy Mafia Made trilogy featuring the dangerous and mysterious Michael Tripp. In book one,
The Gun Runner
, she’s a mafia princess concealing her true identity while trying to win his love. He’s a former US Marine turned gunrunner at war with her father. When the truth is revealed, they’ll both have the fight of their lives on their hands.

Fan favorite author K.A. Mitchell is back with the second part of Ethan and Wyatt’s story. They’ve accepted their love for each other but now comes the hard part—the rest of their lives. Don’t miss
Boyfriend Material
and be sure to pick up book one,
Getting Him Back
.

Also joining us this month is another author coming to us from the world of indie publishing. Kerry Adrienne brought us this previously self-published book, and we said, “Let’s expand the heck out of this, re-edit it and turn it into an awesome series full of shifters, clan politics and sexy times.” We’re happy to say Kerry was definitely on board and the Shifter Wars series was born. In book one,
Waking the Bear
, sexy bear shifter Griff Martin is protector of his clan’s territory—but now a crazy lion is on the prowl and his stubborn Goldilocks, Amy Francis, shows up and won’t listen to his warnings to stay out of the forest and he can’t decide whether to bed her or send her packing. (Of course, we all know what he chooses, don’t we?)

Ex-military pilot Seth Erickson is fighting his own demons, but when he finds Summer Silva, a beautiful, warmth-loving Miami woman stranded in the frozen wilderness, he’ll do everything in his power to keep Summer safe from murder, treason and the ruthless Alaskan winter in Anna del Mar’s newest sexy romantic suspense,
The Stranger
.

Do you love the contemporary romance of Jill Shalvis and Shannon Stacey? Make sure you check out the debut romance from Jen Doyle,
Calling It
, as well as her newest contemporary romance,
Called Up
. There’s one thing Max “Deke” Deacon can always count on besides his old high school teammates: Angelica “Fitz” Hawkins. But no matter how much Deke might secretly fantasize otherwise, a relationship with his best friend’s sister is off-limits. Until one unexpectedly smoldering encounter has Deke and Fitz giving in to the feelings they’ve both been fighting for far too long.

And last, this month in mystery we welcome Emery Harper to Carina Press! In
Person of Interest
, Celeste Eagan, a prep school theater teacher, gets caught up in mystery and mayhem while trying to clear first her ex’s name then her own in not one but two murders.

For those on my side of the globe, if you’re looking for something to read next to the pool or on the beach in this last month of summer, make sure to check out
Didn’t I Warn You
and
Didn’t You Promise
by Amber Bardan. Dark, smoldering, mysterious and totally in love with his woman, Haithem will rock your world!

For those on the other side of the globe, if you’re looking for a book to heat up your cold, drizzly days, make sure to pick up the
Vengeful Love
trilogy by Laura Carter. From the very first page to the heart-stopping conclusion, from London to Rome to Dubai, these sinfully addictive novels will have you ignoring your dishes and calling in sick to life in order to read just one...more...page.

Coming next month: We’re doing it up different. One author, one story, two books, in back-to-back weeks. No excruciating wait to find out what happens next. And like any good trainwreck, you won’t be able to look away from this
Hollywood Hot Mess
.

As always, until next month, my fellow book lovers, here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

Dedication

To Michelle

Chapter One

Terra

When a relationship fails, it seems one person is always more accepting of the change than the other.

I was that person. The accepting one.

“I told you about coming here,” he seethed. “Grab your stuff. You’re leaving.”

“Leave me alone, Vincent. Jesus. It’s over. Go away. People are staring.”

His lips went thin. “Do I look like I give a fuck if people stare?”

I pulled away, yanking my wrist free from his grasp. “Go. Away.”

“Stand up,” he demanded. “I don’t want to make a scene.”


Testa di cazzo
. You already have. Go away.”

“You little bitch. Stand up,” he growled.

As far as I was concerned, the coffee shop was my place of refuge. Although we had been apart for almost six months, there were times when Vincent didn’t seem to quite understand that our separation was permanent. Italian men were extremely prideful, and my ending the relationship against his will made it far more difficult for him to accept.

The muscles in his jaw went tight. “I mean it. Get up. You’re fuckin’ leaving.”

I turned away. Seeing him turned my stomach and having him touch me was worse. His abusive behavior and his size were the two biggest problems facing me, and my size—or lack thereof—was another.

I reached for my cup of coffee. My shaking hand was a reminder of my fear of his violent temper. I wrapped my fingers around the cup of coffee and tried to convince myself I wasn’t as scared as I really was.

I raised the cup to my lips. “No. Leave me alone.”

One hand firmly grabbed my jacket, and the other got a fistful of my hair. Before I had a chance to object, my cup of coffee was on the floor and I was being dragged through the door and toward the parking lot.

Fear shot through me like an electric shock. This type of thing had happened with Vincent enough that I knew what was next. During our entire relationship I used makeup and scarves to hide the bruises left on me by his fits of anger.

He dragged me along the sidewalk. “You wanna disrespect me in public?”

I fought to free myself from his grasp. “Let me go. My purse. My purse is...”

His grip on my hair tightened. “Shut up.”

I tried to dig my heels into the pavement and pull free of his grasp. Instead of making any progress on escaping, I simply lost one of my beloved Louboutins. Through all of the commotion and my feeble attempts to get away, my eyes caught a glimpse of the coffee shop’s glass entrance, only to see the two dozen patrons watching us wide-eyed. No one seemed willing to do anything to help.

I had no interest in being beaten by him again.

Two years of it was enough.

As he dragged me off of the sidewalk and into the parking lot, a shrill whistle caused me to shift my attention toward the sound. Vincent stopped and did the same. An extremely handsome man in a well-fitted gray suit stood twenty feet away. Very methodically, he approached us. His gait included a distinct element of confidence.

He had an undeniable swagger.

And steel-blue eyes that I couldn’t seem to pry mine away from. It seemed he could speak with his eyes, and if I was understanding him correctly—and I hoped I was—he was telling me not to worry.

The stranger continued to walk toward us, each step expressing his confidence. My mouth fell open. Not out of surprise. Or hope for that matter. It was more a strange out-of-place lustful desire.

He was so good-looking that Vincent’s abduction of me became secondary.

The handsome stranger took another step toward us, stopped, and spread his feet apart slightly.

“Let. Her. Go.” His voice was distinct and commanding.

Vincent released my hair and slid his arm around my waist. “Mind your own business.”

The stranger reached up and loosened his tie. “I watched you drag her across the parking lot. Hell, one of her shoes is over there on the sidewalk. It
is
my business. I’m not going to tell you again. Let. Her. Go.”

Vincent loosened his grip slightly and cleared his throat. “Do you know who I am?”

The stranger chuckled. “I don’t give a thimbleful of fucks who you are. But you damned well need to understand who I am.”

Vincent’s Philadelphia Italian accent was thick. “Who the fuck are you?”

The man’s eyes thinned to slits. “I’m
that
guy. The one you’re going to wish later that you listened to.”

Oh my.

All he had done was speak, and I was already melted into a puddle of desire.

With his eyes locked on Vincent, the stranger took a few steps to the side and removed his jacket and tie. Apparently he wasn’t joking. I may have been afraid of Vincent, but it was obvious the stranger wasn’t. He tossed the clothes on the trunk of what I assumed was his car and reached for his collar.

He unbuttoned the top button of his shirt and walked toward us.

The distance between us vanished, and Vincent’s grip on me tightened. It was so like him to attempt to use me for a shield. He was the type of person who wouldn’t hesitate to abuse a woman, but when it came to standing up for one—or challenging a man—he was all tongue and no tactics.

At least that was what my father said about him.

When the stranger was so close that I could smell him, he lowered his chin. The muscles in his jaw flared. I had no idea of what he had planned, but his focus was unquestionable. His chiseled facial features, strong jaw and high cheekbones only added to the intensity of his narrow-eyed stare.

He stood close enough to reach out and touch me. A lump rose in my throat. I pressed my tongue against the roof of my mouth and attempted to swallow, but a combination of fear and the unknown prevented it. Vincent held me so close I could feel his heart beating against my back. I desperately wanted to be free of his clutch, but at that moment I saw no way this could, or would, end.

And then it happened.

I didn’t see it. At least not immediately. A few seconds later, I realized what took place.

The stranger’s hands were
that
fast.

I was in front of Vincent, with my back against his chest. Being six inches shorter than him left enough of an opening between my shoulder and his neck for the stranger to throat-punch him, causing him to release me in reflex. The instant he let me go, another lightning-fast hand shot past me and smashed into Vincent’s face.

After it happened, I realized he didn’t do it with closed fists. He had done it with his flattened hands.

He stood in front of Vincent in a fighting stance that would scare any reasonable man away.

Vincent fought to breathe.

I stood in awe.

Who are you?

Instead of running or screaming, I stood and stared with my mouth agape. “Uhhm...”

He gestured toward the coffee shop. “You better go get your shoe.”

I hobbled across the parking lot and picked up my shoe, checking over my shoulder every few steps. I then retrieved my purse and gave the coffee-drinking yuppies a fine-tuned fuck-you glare.

I turned toward the parking lot. The stranger’s raised hands, bent knees, and laser-sharp glare made his objective clear. He was ready to continue the fight. Vincent, on the other hand, appeared to be having a difficult time breathing.

I probably shouldn’t have, but I hoped the fabled throat-punch crushed Vincent’s windpipe or something more permanently damaging. If he collapsed dead right then and there, it would have been the beginning of a very good day. Not knowing what to do next, but feeling drawn to my handsome new protector, I held my head high and walked to his side.

Vincent was bent over with his hands pressed to his knees, fighting to catch his breath. Be it genuine or an act to keep the stranger from continuing, I had no idea, and it really didn’t matter.

Feeling confident that the well-dressed street fighter would keep me from harm, I reached down and removed my shoes.


Che cavolo?
” I raised my right foot and swung it into Vincent’s crotch with all my might.

A muffled grunt passed his lips.

“Don’t you ever.” I inhaled a deep breath and kicked him again. “Come near me again. I’ll have my father cut you in pieces and throw you in the Missouri River.”

Vincent fell forward, groaning and holding his crotch. I glared down at him and shook my head. “
Testa di cazzo!

The stranger stepped back and coughed out a laugh. “You done?”

“I am now.” I slipped on my shoes and turned toward my new friend “I can’t thank you enough. I’m Terra.”

“No worries,” he said with a lighthearted shrug. “My name’s Michael.”

No worries?

Maybe not for you.

We shook hands. He looked at Vincent, scoffed, and retrieved his tie and jacket. His grayish-blue eyes commanded my focus. His handsome looks kept it.

“You know him?”

I hated to admit it, but I nodded anyway. “Angry ex.”

I glanced at his car. The license plate said TRIPP. I made a mental note of it and smiled to myself.

I motioned toward the car. “Your last name?”

“Yeah, long story. Listen,” he said. “You better get going.”

My eyes fell to Vincent, who was either being theatrical or still in pain. “You’re right. I can’t thank you enough.”

He grinned. Two slight dimples and a mouthful of white teeth were all I saw.

“I’ll stick around and make sure he gets up,” he said.

“You come here often?”

After I said it, I felt like a fool. It sounded so cliché.

“I will. Just moved to the neighborhood, so this is my new place,” he said. “It’s on my way to the office.”

“Again, thank you.” I didn’t want to, but I tore my eyes from him and turned away.

Well
,
Michael
,
my handsome ass-kicking friend
,
this won’t be the last you see of me.

If my father thought for an instant that I was interested in someone who wasn’t both Italian and Catholic, he would come apart at the seams. Italian fathers are known to be protective of their daughters, but mine was even worse. He was much more than
my
father.

He was the Godfather.

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