Fifth & Final Sneak Peek for this July 30th Release!
She didn’t leave the shelter of the vehicle.
Tessa hadn’t been herself since we stopped at her place and discovered no new leads regarding her ex.
That’s how I referred to him in my head, an ex. An old acquaintance who was better off dead. She didn’t know that yet, but it would have to come to light eventually.
As soon as I opened Tessa’s door, her gaze ping-ponged around the cab of my BMW, avoiding eye-contact.
“You wanna blow bubbles?” Jessica shouted our way.
We’d pulled into the curved driveway of my older brother Lorenzo’s house and his girlfriend, Jessica was twirling on the lawn with a giant bubble wand in hand, creating jumbo sized iridescent slugs that floated off into the sky.
She had a penchant for being carefree, much of which came from the protection my brother provided. What did she have to worry about with her own personal titan watching her back twenty-four seven?
I didn’t want to hurt Tessa by telling her the truth. When I found out the loser she was engaged to had been abusing the same girls who came to him for help, I took action.
Only one thing good enough for men like Bobby, and that was a swift, I won’t mislead and say “painless,” end to the life of misery he created. He suffered, for sure, but he wouldn’t live another day to lie, cheat and steal. He’d done plenty of that already, and I wasn’t about to let him continue doing so with Tessa’s money, her loyalty, or her heart.
All of those things were mine now, as they should have been from the beginning.
Meanwhile, Tessa was rubbing and pulling at her ear, stalling and staying put in the car.
“I’ll take care of it,” I whispered to her and responded to my brother’s girlfriend. “Not just yet, Jessica. I need to speak to my brother first. Why don’t you show Tessa your crops in the solarium?”
“Lorenzo’s with his dahlias!” She was a petite and playful thing. One you wouldn’t expect to be tough as nails, but her tone of voice accepted no objection when she said to my baby, “Come on! You’ve got to see the peppers that are coming up! And there are some pomelos ready to pick. Ever had a pomelo? They’re delicious!”
* * *
“It’s different with this girl, no?” My brother had his face in the petals of a flower as gigantic as his head. “She’s under your skin I can tell.”
“That obvious, huh? Was it that way with Jessica?”
“With my kitten, the flash of lightning and simultaneous crash of thunder hit me so hard, I couldn’t see straight. She completely bewitched me. I lived to taste her, to take her clothes off. Not that it was all sunshine and roses at first.” He waved a giant paw at me, “Trust me, I get it.”
“Thing is,” my stomach sank at the thought of the charade I’d be playing out, “the cops don’t have a lead on Bobby, and she wants to go after him herself. Thinks we can get to the bottom of things faster since we’ll be concentrating our efforts on his case.”
“She’s not wrong there. Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have staff to handle basic patrols out in rural areas, let alone invest their time in solving the mystery of some illegal grower. People disappear every day out in those hills.”
Don’t I know it.
Instead of speaking my thoughts out loud, I said, “I definitely get the whole thunderbolt thing, now. That’s me, in a nutshell.”
Lorenzo gave me a playful shove and asked, “You tame her?”
I had yet to experience the secrets hidden inside her soft, yielding flesh. But I had spanked her.
It was a start.
“Not yet. But recent happenings convinced me she’ll eventually accept that when the shirt and belt come off…” I began.
“…it’s time to drop to her knees…” Lorenzo finished.
The Drago approach to loving is far from politically correct. It has existed ever since our ancestors came from the old country. We didn’t consider it kink, or a lifestyle that needed explaining.
It was just how we were made.
It was a relief not having to explain myself to Lorenzo. He was built the same way. That’s what family was about. Acceptance, support, and backup. Which is why I knew what his answer would be before I asked him to stand by for any calls from local law enforcement. Tessa and I would be a couple of hours away, and if the Sheriff needed to be let into her house, or given access to any of Bobby’s things, Lorenzo would handle it.
“No problem at all,” he said. “Be careful out there. Her ex owed a lot of money to some very shady characters. They might think you and Tessa are good for it, and if that’s the case, you’ll need reinforcements.”
“I got all the reinforcements I need right here.” I patted the place where my handgun hung heavy in my pocket.
My brother reached over to clip one last dinner plate dahlia from its stalk and walked to his potting shed to fetch what he called a “water bubble.” A rainbow of blooms decorated the bouquet he made for Tessa, and it would survive our trip thanks to the temporary bath it was in.
“The Enchanted Forest Inn will have flowers, but nothing beats a blossom grown with love,” said my brother.
“Indeed.” The deal with Drago men was they could portray the macho mafioso with the best of them. But deep down, more than anything, we all wanted to see our women glow with happiness.
I knew my stare was greedy upon her when she came out to the flower garden with Jessica, shoving a pomelo into her mouth. She must have sensed that, like an animal, I was dreaming of looking in her eyes while I thrust.
She stopped in her tracks, citrus slice halfway in and out of her lips.
Same as I wanted to be.
“Come on, Tessa. We’d better hit the road.” She still had to make up for being a bad girl, and that was part of being able to trust me. She’d accept that whatever I did was the best thing for her, not the best thing for me.
She’d learn I’d never betray her.
I had to lock down my phone like Fort Knox. It still held hundreds of pictures of her, taken in secret. For her protection, of course. Watching over her, keeping her safe all this time. Taking photos and more photos.
Which is how, as soon as I returned from down range, I learned Bobby was stepping out on her.
And stealing from her.
I had it on film.
As a result of my treasure trove of snapshots with Tessa in them, last night sure as hell wasn’t the first time I’d jacked off to her image, and it wouldn’t be the last.