Yasmeen Michaels’ first hours of life were spent nestled in a cloud of dirty blankets on the front stoop of an orphanage in the Bronx. Even though rejection and loneliness peppered her life, she still fought hard enough to step out of her past a free, independent woman with a bright future ahead of her. Darkness descends when a shocking ripple in the organized crime world sends a grieving Romanian mobster back into her life. Yasmeen wakes to find herself in a centuries-old castle in Romania; claimed not as Lucian Fane’s lover…but as his pet. Lucian Fane is at ease in his place of power. He unapologetically lords over his business empire right alongside his criminal one. But when tragedy dares to cross his threshold, Lucian is sent into a tailspin and soon finds himself toeing the line between sanity and freedom. With his conscience gone, and in a bid to save his city from his wrath, he plucks an exquisite distraction from her world and tucks her away in his. Only then does he allow his demons free reign.
Even as Yasmeen once more finds herself fighting to hold onto her self-worth, the draw towards the darkness soon becomes too strong to resist. Will she be able to hold tight to her new owner as he freely drifts beyond her reach? Or will Lucian surface long enough to realize he’s pushing his precious pet too far to allow for forgiveness?
**ATTN: GRIEVOUS can be read as a STANDALONE. This book is the first part of Lucian and Yasmeen’s story. It DOES NOT have a HEA. The completion of their story will come in book #7 in the Wanted Men series, scheduled for release in 2017.
“Would you like a tour?”
She got up. “Uh, okay. I was assuming you’d throw me to the floor and I’d have to suffer through hours-long sex with my jailor, but a tour sounds cool.” She just about jumped out of her skin when her arm was touched. She spun around to find an older woman standing there. She was smiling as she held a tray up, offering Yasmeen a tall glass of what looked like iced tea, complete with the sprig of mint.
“Oh, God. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were there. Please forgive me. That was so inappropriate.” She threw a glare at Lucian. Idiot! He should have told her they weren’t alone. ‘I didn’t know you were there,” she repeated as she swiftly took the glass and a cocktail napkin. “Thank you.” Her face. Was. On. Fire.
The woman just continued to smile as she left through the same door Sorin had used. Fucking secret passages? She downed the entire drink in one go, wishing it was laced with something that would prevent her from getting behind the wheel after consuming.
“You couldn’t have warned me we weren’t alone?” As she struggled through a brain-freeze from hell, she banged the glass down on the table—making sure the napkin was beneath it so she didn’t leave a ring. “I just embarrassed both of us. The poor woman.”
“How was I to know you would beg to have hours-long sex on the floor the moment you saw me?”
She stuck her tongue out and tried not to swoon at his ghost of a smile.
“Do not worry. Teodora was too busy admiring your beauty to bother translating. She speaks maybe three words of English, and two of those are curses her grandson taught her.”
Funny how he could sound so normal sometimes. “Oh.” She rubbed at her temples as the ache subsided. “Well, still. She scared the shit out of me. Is that a secret passageway? Are there others? Do you know for sure if this place is haunted?”
“It is your average back corridor, there are many, and I would assume we are surrounded by spirits even as we speak. If nothing else, you and I will certainly entertain those who inhabit our room.”
A shiver rippled down her body. Caused by talk of ghosts or the X-rated entertainment she and Lucian would supply she didn’t know. She looked around, peering into the corners. “As long as you don’t want to join in, I have no beef with you,” she said to any spirits that might be hovering.
Lucian put out his hand. He was eyeing her body again. “The tour?”
Did he have an interest in anything but her limbs? “Sure. Then what? I mean, will you be going back to work? What kind of days do you put in when you’re having an episode like this?” Too harsh? she wondered when his eyes snapped to hers. At least it got them away from her breasts. “I’m still wearing the pasties if that’s what you were trying to determine.” She felt a niggling of guilt for being mean, and she skipped her way over to apologetically slip her hand into his.
“I’m not sure how much work I will get through during this episode. As this is the first time my brother was murdered, the way of things is still a mystery to me.”
Oh…shit. Instantly contrite, she stepped into him and cupped his expressionless face. Going on her toes, she pressed her lips to his. “I’m so sorry.” She gave him three soft kisses that he didn’t return. “It’s just that you keep looking at my body, and my brain isn’t down there. It’s annoying. But that was so bitchy of me. Of course, you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ll try to remember and not be so insensitive next time.”
He held fast to the back of her head when she went to pull away, and he kissed her. Though his was much more than a few affectionate pecks. He dominated in seconds, and she let him. She opened when he swiped along the seam of her lips. She met his tongue with hers and swirled them together, dancing for a brief moment. She instinctively stepped forward and felt every spot of connection when he snaked an arm around her waist to draw her even closer. By the time he lifted his head, she was achy, breathing heavily, and her fingers were tangled in his silky hair.
“Do not fool yourself into thinking I am not fully aware of exactly what I am doing, draga. My mind may be warped, but it is clear.” He traced the curve of her ass with his palm. “Mmm. You are correct. There is no brain down here. Funny how this mindless area captures my attention nonetheless. That must be where my interest currently lies, hmm?” As a sick feeling presented in her stomach, he whispered one of those ghost kisses on her cheekbone. “You asked yesterday; draga means ‘my darling’ or ‘my dear.’”
The sick feeling dissipated like candy floss in water and Yasmeen suddenly felt special. Needy and pathetic, but unmistakably special.
She smoothed his hair down and gave him a smile, hoping to receive one in return. “Okay. You’re clear but kooky, and you’re going to admire my ass for the next day or so. Got it. Now you can show me around this mausoleum.”
He released her after giving her a look that made the hair on her nape prickle. “Would you like to see the ballroom?”
“Sure. Show me your ballroom.” They walked out and crossed the foyer to travel along a passage lit by sconces that resembled flickering candles. “Why did you buy a castle, Lucian?”
“I did not buy it.”
“Oh. So this is like an extended B & E? Are you transferring all the re-sellable goods to a warehouse somewhere and we’ll leave a thank-you note on the door when we leave?”
He made a quiet sound of amusement, and murmured, “You did grow up in back alleys, didn’t you?”
That had her grinding to a halt. “Excuse me?”
He looked down at her. “Hunts Point. Correct? Just now, you spoke freely. When you do that, your roots come through.”
When she told someone where she grew up, she always said the Bronx. She never specified which neighborhood because of the judgment that inevitably came with it. He knew. Lucian knew she’d played in abandoned cars and empty lots filled with garbage. Had he gotten details? Did he know she and her friends used to run errands for the local pimps? If they ran to the store for smokes? They walked away with a dollar they didn’t have before. If they got soaked in the rain running to the KFC on the corner? They’d get a chicken leg as payment.
She was standing in his fucking castle, wearing an outfit that would cover a couple of months rent for any of the families she’d passed through, and Lucian knew exactly where she’d come from.
Nancy Haviland, author of the bestselling organized crime series, WANTED MEN, writes about her alpha mobsters and their ladies from her home near Toronto, Ontario. She fights for space on her keyboard with her arrogant kitty named Talbot, and adores her Tim Horton’s coffee; as any self-respecting Canadian would. She writes contemporary romantic suspense but will happily read anything that involves two people smooching.
A member of Romance Writers of America, Nancy is represented by Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates, and is published by Montlake Romance/Amazon Publishing.