Wednesday, February 6, 2019







by Cecy Robson
Publication Date: March 13, 2019
Genres: Adult, Gritty, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone















Desperate men do desperate things . . .


Salvatore Torre is a dangerous man. If youve lived the life Sal has, rage is to be expected and maybe so is heart. After his father killed his mother in a jealous rage, Sal was left to raise his two younger brothers, becoming a parent long before he was ready.


Desperate for money to support his family, Sal sought help from his old friend, Vincent Maggiano, the son of New Jerseys top crime boss being groomed to take over his ailing fathers empire.


Sal never planned to join the mob. He also never planned to fall for his brothers sweet and ultra conservative counselor, Adrianna Daniels.


Aedry isnt the type of girl Sal is usually drawn to. Her skirts are longer, her hair is tamer, and her heels arent clear. But he cant deny the attraction he feels. And Salvatores dark, sexy, and dangerous persona is the exact opposite of the clean-cut business men who usually catch Aedrys attention.


Neither planned on a life of crime nor did they plan on love. But now, both are in too far.







What do you think, Salvatore?


Donnie taps her iPad with her long red nails when she finds yet another pair of shoes she wants. Like I actually give a shit what shes buying with Vincents money.


Sure. Get them, I answer, not bothering to really look and fixing my gaze back on the door.


She pouts in that way that annoys me, but probably gets Vin hard. Thats what you said about the other six. Im serious. Which ones should I get?


I dont have to tell her that Vincent will buy her whatever she wants so long as she keeps blowing him, but I come close. The muscles along my back are ready to tear away from the bone. Every nerve along my spine fires a warning that shits about to go down. But I dont show it, my face giving nothing away. Donnie, Im paid to watch your back. Not help you pick out shoes, I mutter.


She starts to argue, but a knock to the door shuts her up, so does me motioning her to the corner. She may spend her days worrying about what she looks like and what shell wear, but shes not stupid enough to ignore me.


I lean against the wall, opposite the door. Donnie might have shrugged off Vin yelling down the hall, but I didnt. He isnt happy. Neither are the other mob bosses in Jersey. It wont be long before hell itself rains down on us. Yeah? I ask, keeping my deep voice casual, like my piece isnt already clutched in my hands.


Vincent wants you in on the meeting, Lucca says.


Luccas smart. And for someone who hasnt been in the family long, hes tough and good on his feet. But I pick up enough in his voice to know this meetings not going as planned. So maybe Vin didnt send for me. Maybe Lucca thinks Im needed. If so, things are a lot worse than I thought.


Donnie looks at me, her preoccupation with shoes nothing more than a memory. Lock the door behind me, I tell her.


She rushes forward. I snag her elbow and pull her in tight to whisper in her ear. You hear shots, you leave out the back, through the alley and down the street. Find a diner, a store, any place with lots of people. Got me?


She nods, but shes trembling already. Shots fired means there are plenty more to come. The other family knows who Donnie is to Vin. But if they dont know shes here or if they find her with too many witnesses, shell be okay.


She clutches my arm when I start to leave. Sal . . . she says.


Donatella and me are from the old neighborhood. Weve known each other since back when we were kids and we were too stupid to know shit about organized crime. Now, were more stupid, because were willingly a part of it. She wants to say something like be careful or keep him safe or something else I dont need to hear. So, I dont.


I crack open the door, making sure Luccas standing there alone, and step out.


His eyes cut toward the hall leading to Vincents office, where hes meeting with Arturo, the boss in charge of most of South Jersey, including Atlantic City. Yeah. Shits going down. But I dont move until Donnie clicks the door lock behind me.


Lucca starts forward, moving fast. I haul him back. Easy, I mutter.


Thats all he needs to hear. He slows, mimicking my pace and stance, chest out, hand curled near the piece at his waist, face hard and unreadable. 


Arturos men stand in unison when we round the corner. At the sight of me, Vins men rise, too. They see what I want them to see in me and Lucca and me. A united front. It solidifies our crew and tenses Arturos. As Vins crew fixes their hard stares on the other family, I know theyre ready for what the next few minutes will bring.


I reach Vins office door. Its open, wide open, and it pisses me off. An open door shows weakness and it demonstrates how scared Vin is about being alone with the other boss.


I march in and take point to Vins right. Lucca starts to head to his opposite side, but he catches the subtle motion of my left hand that tells him to stay by the door. I want to tell him to shut the door and lock it, but I cant without raising the paranoia already thickening the air. Like I said, Luccas smart. He shuts the door and flicks the deadbolt.


Arturo huffs when he realizes hes closed in. What the fucks this? He doesnt turn around from where hes seated directly in front of Vin, but his second sitting beside him and his enforcer straighten at my presence. I expected them to react upon seeing me, but I dont expect the same response from Vins third, Angelo. Their reaction is so subtle that everyone gathered seems to miss it. But me, I dont miss a thing, ever. The one time I did, it cost me the only woman Ive ever loved.


Just a little privacy, Mr. Sorenzo, I answer, because Vin waited too long to respond and hes already lost enough face.


Vin eases back in his chair. He knows Im there and that I have his back, but his fingers digging into the armrest give away hes scared shitless. Christ. How many times have I told him to keep his hands relaxed and his expression like stone? His ailing father has been grooming him to take over his empire for six fucking years and Vins still not ready. The other bosses are honing in on his incompetence. Which is why Im not sure how much longer I can help keep Vin alive.


 Lets get back to business, Vin says, trying to sound harder than he is.


Arturo smiles in that sleazy way of his and tosses a hand out. “I believe we’ve reached a standstill,” he says.


“You’re right, we have,” Vin fires back, getting pissed. Good, anger is better than fear and, right now, it’s exactly what he needs. He leans forward. “You’re not getting the rest of A.C. And you’re not getting an eighty percent―”


My 380 auto is out and pointed at Arturo’s enforcer before his fingers reach the hilt. Move and Ill blow your fucking head off. Without me telling him, Lucca rams his guns in the back of Arturos and his seconds skulls. Smart guy. I reach for my 9 mil tucked in my leather jacket, not even blinking when I shoot Vins third in the leg, blowing out his knee cap.


With a scream, Angelo falls to the floor howling. What the fuck? Vin growls, leaping to his feet.


I dont explain why I shot one of his made men, someone he trusted. My next bullet goes into the enforcer, the impact and his pain enough to send him flying off his chair. He went for his Sig. I wasnt waiting for him to pull the trigger. Outside, all hells breaking loose, my heartbeat pounding fast in my chest until I hear the voices of Vins family taking control.


Less than a minute later, a sharp rap to the door is followed by Bennys deep voice. Sal?


All clear, I tell him, my tone steady. You?


Its not my words that he believes, its the confidence behind them. All clear, he responds in the same tone, letting me know they have Arturos men on the ground.


Vins reaching into the drawer, pulling out his Glock. To his credit, hes not questioning anything anymore, not after Arturos enforcer went for his piece. Hes reining in his shit like he needs to.


Lucca covers me as I strip everyone of their weapons. Angelo is wailing like the little bitch he is. The enforcer is swearing, pressing the wound to his shoulder as blood seeps through his fingers. I intentionally missed his heart. But no one needs to know that.


I drop the weapons beside Vin and far out of everyones reach. Arturo and his second havent said a damn thing. They werent scared of Vin before. But they are now.


Im not sure what Vins going to say. My fear is, he may say the wrong thing in front of Lucca that makes him look pathetic. Lucca is loyal, so are a few others, but if they keep seeing Vin acting like hes acting, theyll lose whatever respect hes managed outside his title of boss.


Vin knew you were playing him, you pussy, I tell Angelo, lying through my teeth. Were you going to kill him in front of Arturo? Was that your way into the family, you lying piece of shit?


In not answering, he answers enough. At Vins nod, Lucca puts a bullet in Arturos second, and finishes off the enforcer.


Vin motions to the door. Call in a few of my men, he tells me.


I unlock the door and do as he asks, after I make sure everything is still under control. Vins not ready to be boss, but he isnt stupid, at least not completely. He knows Arturo needs to die by his hands and that he needs witnesses to see as much. I pick three who have started to question Vins strength, knowing theyll tell the rest of the family whats about to go down, and to show them what happens to those who dont stay loyal.


The men pile in, but Vin doesnt let them get too comfortable. He shoots Arturo in the face with his Glock while the last two who enter are still busy taking in Angelo writhing on the floor. Vin keeps his face neutral, his confidence returning now that he knows his life isnt immediately on the line.


I take a step back when he prowls toward Angelo. Angelo was Vins trusted third. To be who Vin wants to be, he has to send a message. But I dont tell him that. Its something he needs to realize on his own. What did he promise you after you killed me, pussy? he asks Angelo.


Angelo doesnt deny his intention. Doesnt beg for his life. He knows its over. So, he hits Vin the only way he can. Your fathers the pussy for letting a chicken shit like you take over.


Vins heel comes down hard on Angelos face, smashing his nose in. But he doesnt stop there. He snatches the paperweight on his desk and flings himself to the floor, bashing Angelos face in, not stopping until the side of his temple caves inward.


To anyone eyeing me, it looks like Im watching everything and immune to it all. Yeah. My face never gives anything away. That doesnt mean my bodys not punishing me on the inside. I fight back the nausea working its way through my gut and how hard my heartbeat thunders out of control. Weakness in the mob and in life gets you killed. I need to live, despite how my sins have all but sliced my throat.


Fuck, one of the boys says, looking away. Hes new and probably has killed with his gun. But shooting someone is easy. Too easy. Its not intimate. Not like killing someone with your bare hands like Vin just did.


Vin stumbles to his feet, out of breath and covered with plenty of Angelos DNA. His face twists as if angry, which makes him look good, but I know better. Get rid of them, he says, spitting out blood that hit his mouth.


What about his men? someone else asks.


All of them need to go, Vin says, falling back into the leather seat behind his chair.


All right, boss, another says.


Vins focus darts my way. He expects an approving nod from me. But he isnt going to get it. As much as Im a part of this shit, it doesnt mean I like it.


Or that I dont want out.


* * *


I climb into my Range Rover and shut the door tight. Vins hand is shaking as he takes a drag of his cigarette. I knew he wasnt going to keep it together long, so I made it like he needed to be away from the cleanup in case someone heard the shots and called it in.


Is Donnie coming? he asks, sprawling across the back seat.


Yeah. Shes picking out girls she thinks you might like. Says shell be right out.


I snagged Donnie at a street festival a few blocks away after I secured Vin in my ride. She flung her arms around me and started crying when she saw me. I quickly pulled her off me and led her to Vin. Donnie cares as much as someone like her can, and mostly for all the wrong reasons. I know this and, maybe, she does, too, which is why were outside a strip club Vin owns waiting on her and whoever shes recruiting to lift Vins spirits.


How many girls is she bringing?


Two, maybe more, I answer, not because she told me, more because this has become the norm.


Yeah, she knows how to take care of me, he says with a laugh, despite how his hand continues to tremble.


This isnt the first time Vins killed with his hands or the first time Ive watched him do it. That doesnt mean it hasnt fucked with my mind or given me more nightmares to stash in my memories. Christ, it took all I had not to puke, seeing all those bodies lying in a mound and the mess Vin made of Angelos head. But I still have a conscience. Real mob bosses surrender theirs to get what they need. If hes going to be one, he needs to lose whats left of his fast.


He takes another drag, his forced humor fading. How long has Angelo been playing two sides?


No idea, I mumble.


He straightens. Then how did you know Angelo was in on it?


I rub my eyes. Im only twenty-seven and I already feel too old for this shit. He tensed at the same time and in the same way Arturo and his second did.


Vin curses under his breath and reaches for another cigarette. I didnt see shit and I was looking at them the whole time. How the hell do you pick up on these things?


It comes from the years I spent fighting, I answer, looking out through my tinted windows and wondering what the hell is keeping Donnie.


In the octagon? Vin asks.


Vin knows I fought in the mixed martial arts circuit for a few years, just like he knows I fought anyone who messed with me on the street. Weve known each other since we were kids and long before his father became the most feared man in Jersey. Im not sure why hes asking, but dont bother to question it. Vin isnt the same guy I once called a friend.


Yeah, I mumble. It helped me anticipate my opponents next move.


You miss that shit? he asks.


Considering I was on my way to becoming the next light heavy weight champion? Hell, yeah. Fighting in the MMA put money in my pocket and gave me a way to unleash my rage. But neither were enough when push came to shove. It was all right, I tell him.


Vin takes a few more drags before he says, I want you to think about watching my back full-time. Ill pay you a hell of a lot more if you do.


Any other boss would just tell me this is what Im doing and not give me a choice. But for all Vins not the same guy I once knew, he was there when my world imploded around me. And in hiring me to watch his mistress, hes able to keep me on the mob payroll without staining my hands with their blood. That doesnt mean I havent made a lot of people bleed. It only means I havent killed anyone. Yet.


I make enough watching your gumad, I respond.


Vin doesnt like my answer, but he doesnt push it. After what went down with Angelo and with his second serving time, Im the only person he completely trusts. But, despite our friendship, the times coming when Ill no longer have a choice but to do what he wants.


In killing Arturo, Vin will either gain respect from the other bosses or turn them against him and the family. I dont think any of the higher-ups want war, but theyre greedy and looking to expand their domains. My gut tells me that when Vins father Carmine dies, the cards unfold. But they wont be in Vins favor, and if he doesnt wise up fast, none of us will make it out alive.


The back door to the strip club opens and Donnie steps out, leading three laughing and almost naked women in clear heels forward.


I wont forget what you did for me today, Sal, Vin says, right before the women pile in.


He wont. I know that. Just like I know I added a nail to my own damn casket the day I went to him for help.


Im supposed to take Vin and his dates back to Donnies. But Vins not waiting to get there. I crank the engine when I hear his zipper yanked down and the first sound of smacking lips. He groans, likely relieved the day is finally going in the direction he wants.


You, go take care of my buddy, Sal, he says between sharp intakes of breath.


I stiffen and not in a good way when a blonde with more hairspray than brains falls laughing into the front seat. With a hard stomp, I step on the brake and set my SUV in park. Shes already naked by the time I reach into the center console and shove a condom in her hand.


She huffs. Youre kidding, right?


No. Im not.


She looks insulted, but I dont care. Shes going to do what Vins paying her to do, whether I want her to or not. It takes a while for me to get hard enough for her to roll the condom in place. Once she does, she immediately buries her face in my lap.


I lean my head back against the headrest. I should enjoy whats happening. And at one point I did, seeing it as the perks of the job.


Now, all I wonder about is how my life became what it is, and how Ill ever survive it.








Cecy Robson is an author of contemporary and new adult romance, young adult adventure, and award-winning urban fantasy. A double-nominated RITA® Finalist, Winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and published author of more than twenty titles, you can typically find Cecy on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine.


Connect with Cecy online: 


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