Dark, dangerous mafia soldiers like Marco Russo were made men, but luckily for me, they weren’t made for marriage. Which made my job of seducing him so much easier.
It was supposed to be a simple undercover operation. One that required me to work in a strip club in order to get close to Marco and do whatever it took to coax him to spill his family’s secrets. Our attraction was undeniable, so establishing a relationship with him was the easy part. Enticing him to share sensitive information took far more finesse.
But during all those steamy nights we shared I learned enough to take down his family. I also made the stupid mistake of falling for the enemy and now I was going to have to make a choice.
My head or my heart.
My job or my love.
My end or my beginning.
Because once Marco realized who I was and how I’d deceived him, he’d have a choice to make, as well.
To let me live . . . or to kill me to prove his loyalty to his family.
Marco was waiting when I stepped back out into the alley after work, only this time he was leaning against his motorcycle.
Oh, my God. I knew he had one but we’d never ridden it together. My legs trembled, my body already getting hot at the thought of that machine between my thighs, molded to Marco’s back as we rode…
“Nice ride,” I said, walking over and running a hand along the leather seat. “Where are we going?”
“Just a little place I know,” Marco said, and tossed me a helmet.
I put it on, and didn’t bother asking if he was going to wear one, because clearly he wasn’t. I shook my head. “Y’know, I can see why your dad worries about you.”
Marco just smirked, swung his leg over the seat, and straddled the bike. “Hop on.”
“I hope you’re not trying to impress me,” I warned him as I slid behind him and wrapped my arms around his waist, “because the opportunity to do that passed about a month ago.”
That was a total lie. I was definitely impressed by the motorcycle and I was prepared to be impressed by whatever else he had planned, but there was no way I was going to let him know that. I didn’t want him to think I was easy. Even though it had already been a month and I could probably let myself relax by this point.
Still, the thrum of arousal and anticipation that shot through me as he hit the throttle was unreal. I held on tightly and pressed my face to the back of his shoulder as we took off, out of the alley, onto the deserted late-night street.
Wherever he was taking me, I knew I’d like it. For all his fancy toys, Marco didn’t like to make a big deal of things. He wasn’t about taking me out to a fancy restaurant. Instead he took me to his favorite random ice cream shop. I liked that. I was ready for the low-key thing he had planned.
And in the meantime, I really loved pressing myself against him as we rode this motorcycle. I could feel his back muscles shifting and flexing underneath me, the firm feel of his abs against my hands as I kept my arms wrapped around him. When I rested my cheek against his back, his body sheltered me from the wind, so I could just watch the flurries of blurred light as we sped past buildings and out of the city.
At last we stopped at a hilly park that was high up, and had a great view of the bay. Marco stopped the motorcycle and got off, offering me his hand.
I looked around. “Why are we here?”
Marco rubbed at the back of his neck, like he was nervous. Big bad Marco Russo, nervous? The idea was endearing.
“This is one of the areas my family bought outside of the city,” he explained. “One of the ways we maintain our strength in the mafia and the legitimate business world is focusing on charity efforts. It gives us a good reputation with people, helps us with our public image. Vincent’s new wife, she’ll pick her own charities she wants to work with, where her focus is, but my mom was all about community outreach and the environment so she built a lot of parks. Like this one.”
He gestured towards a sign I hadn’t noticed before. It dubbed the place Marco’s Park and below it had a few lines explaining who built the park and in what year.
I looked at him in surprise. “This one’s yours?”
“Yeah, we all have one. Mom liked to name them after people in her life. And I think she knew that we all needed a place to go and breathe. I don’t know if Vincent goes to his park a lot, but I like to come here when I need to get out of the city and just chill.”
“But you love the city.” New York City was vibrant, pulsing with life, and so was Marco.
“Most of the time.” Marco leaned back against his motorcycle and looked out over the city, its lights gleaming like so many fireflies. “But what I do for the family… I see the dirty side of the city. The grime, the blood, the ugly. Sometimes I gotta get out and take a few deep breaths away from it all.”
“I understand,” I said softly. Working in the FBI wasn’t the glamorous catching of bad guys like you saw on television. A lot of the time I didn’t know if we were really the good guys or if there were only shades of gray. “Thank you for bringing me here.”
Marco gave me a small, soft smile, and it tugged at my heart.
“Who knew the bad boy with a motorcycle had such a soft side?” I added, trying to ignore that feeling in my chest and hoping to get myself back onto safer emotional ground.
“Hey, I’ve got layers,” Marco protested with a smirk. “And you can’t say you don’t like the motorcycle. I saw your face light up when you saw it.”
“Well,” I admitted, feeling there was no harm in telling him, “I’ve always had a bit of a thing for bad boys.”
“Congratulations then, you hit the jackpot.” He winked at me.
Meet Erika Wilde:
Erika Wilde is a New York Times Bestselling author. She is best known for her super sexy Marriage Diaries series and The Players Club series, and has also co-written the Dirty Sexy Series and the Book Boyfriend Series with Carly Phillips, her best friend and writing buddy for the past twenty years. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two daughters, and when she's not writing you can find her exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. For more information on her upcoming releases, please visit her website at www.erikawilde.com and sign up for her mailing list for updates and news!