Breaking the Limits: Rafe & Nicole Book 2

BOOK: Breaking the Limits: Rafe & Nicole Book 2
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About the Author

CC Gibbs was born and lives in the USA.

Breaking the Limits
is the second instalment in the Reckless series which stars Rafe, a striking playboy heir with a secret, and Nicole – the beautiful and headstrong niece of CC Gibbs’ infamous hero Dominic Knight from her bestselling 
Knight 
trilogy.

Also By

ALSO BY CC GIBBS

THE KNIGHT TRILOGY

Knight’s Mistress

Knight’s Game

Knight Takes Queen

THE RECKLESS SERIES

Pushing the Limits

AVAILABLE IN EBOOK

Forbidden Pleasure

Wicked Fascination

Insatiable Desire

Burning Touch

Lovers and Rivals

Promise Laid Bare

Desire Laid Bare

Temptation Laid Bare

Venus Laid Bare

Touch of Sin

At Your Mercy

At Her Command

Indecent Attraction

Surrender to You

To Please a Lady

Our Bodies Entwined

Title

Copyright

First published in Great Britain in 2015 by

Quercus Publishing Ltd

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ

An Hachette UK company

Copyright © 2015 CC Gibbs

The moral right of CC Gibbs to be

identified as the author of this work has been

asserted in accordance with the Copyright,

Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication

may be reproduced or transmitted in any form

or by any means, electronic or mechanical,

including photocopy, recording, or any

information storage and retrieval system,

without permission in writing from the publisher.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available

from the British Library

PB ISBN 978 178429 085 6

EBOOK ISBN 978 1 78429 059 7

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,

businesses, organizations, places and events are

either the product of the author’s imagination

or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to

actual persons, living or dead, events or

locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1

 

August – Split, Croatia

 

No one said taking down Zou Yao, Director of Cyber Surveillance Unit 21986, was going to be easy. They knew it was going to be a bitch. But the latest news ripped a hole in their initial planning.

‘Fuck.’ Rafe Contini stared at his fixer, Carlos, standing beside him on the airport tarmac. ‘When?’

‘Sometime last night. The Hong Kong apartment was tossed so we’re not the only ones looking for Zou’s mistress and child. Small compensation for missing them, but


‘Useful,’ Rafe said softly.

‘Right.’ A scrap of satisfaction in Carlos’ voice. ‘Zou’s going to be fighting on two fronts.’

Rafe Contini, billionaire CEO of Contini Pharmaceuticals, had just landed in Split and he and his party were waiting for their luggage to be transferred to a chopper that would ferry them to Rafe’s private island where the operation against Zou would be finalized. The two tall men standing off to one side were keeping their voices down. Rafe’s girlfriend – a term everyone would have regarded with irony only days ago – was talking to her mother on the phone, nodding as she listened, responding mostly with yeses and okays, taking her Uncle Dominic’s advice and being super-agreeable.

After a quick glance at Nicole to check that she was still involved in her conversation, Rafe raised a brow in query. ‘Does Ganz have any idea who went after Zou’s second family?’ Zou’s young mistress and child were critical to the success of their mission.

‘Uh-uh. He says the possibilities are endless. Especially with the premier’s new anti-corruption campaign that has everyone covering their asses by pointing fingers at their rivals. Even Politburo membership isn’t protection against indictment, prison or worse. It’s insanity over there.’

‘Understatement. How about word on the street?’

‘So far nothing. Leo’s monitoring the chatter.’

Rafe almost smiled. ‘At least we’re not the only ones with an unpleasant number of enemies closing in for the kill. When Ganz destroyed the unit’s cyber system, Zou’s blood in the water brought out the sharks.’

‘No shit. If we’re lucky, one of Zou’s enemies might take him out first and we can all go home.’

‘Wouldn’t that be sweet,’ Rafe drawled. ‘In the absence of that dream being realized,’ he added, a sudden coolness in his voice, ‘tell Gina we’re putting on a special team of analysts to help her narrow the search for Zou’s mistress and child. Webster’s ready, right? He’s unstoppable. Zou couldn’t have sent his secret family far. He didn’t have time.’ Rafe’s face suddenly lit up as Nicole approached; long-legged, curvy, fuck-me gorgeous in a summery, sleeveless, mini-skirted dress that had him thinking about finding a quiet corner, flipping up that little purple skirt, bending her over and making them both happy. Sucking in a breath of restraint, he smiled instead. ‘So is your mom all content and pacified?’ As she came within reach, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. ‘Everything good back home?’

Looking up, she gave him a relaxed grin. ‘Everything’s cool. Dominic spoke to Mom so I didn’t have to give many details about our holiday. She said to send pictures.’

A lift of one brow. ‘Yeah?’ He’d recently gotten the impression that Dominic Knight thought he wasn’t exactly boyfriend material.

‘Not you.’ Nicole smiled at the dark-haired, wildly handsome man looking at her, his amber gaze watchful. ‘Even though you light up my world. But I know you like your privacy. I just said there’s a bunch of us here. No lie, right? Anyway, my mom likes scenery. She’s never been to Croatia.’

For a man who’d been in the front ranks of eligible bachelors his entire adult life, it was a novel experience to be invisible. It wasn’t a problem, just a data point. He understood. ‘Scenery we have,’ Rafe said with a warm smile. ‘Picture postcard stuff, I’m told. It looks like the chopper’s almost loaded. Give me a minute to say goodbye to Milo. He’s always accommodating.’

The small group looked like anyone else on holiday; the men in shorts and T-shirts, Nicole’s designer dress simple enough to have come off the rack, everyone in sandals – including the pilot. It wasn’t even so unusual to fly in on a private jet; the Adriatic was popular with the privileged set in August. Not everyone had a 1.2 billion-dollar helicopter at the Split airport, however, or a personal acquaintance with the young customs official who’d greeted them. But then Rafe actually liked Milo and he travelled here a lot. The buildings on his island had been more or less under constant construction for years. He was one of the major employers in the area.

Rafe explained to Milo that he had a large contingent of guests arriving; Milo smiled and agreed that a good many had already flown in. ‘It’s high season,’ Rafe said with a little eye roll. ‘Try to keep them away, right? Are you playing at the music festival next week?’

‘Wouldn’t miss it.’

‘Good. No one handles a keyboard like you. Thursday, right? I think Simon’s bought tickets for us. Thanks again for your help. It’s always appreciated.’ They had an arrangement: Milo never asked for passports or went through their luggage and Rafe had seen that a large gambling debt Milo had incurred with the wrong people had been paid. Leaving Milo’s fingers intact.

*

Twenty minutes later, the helicopter banked steeply to the right and the pilot pointed as Rafe’s private island rose out of the Adriatic Sea and spread slowly across the horizon – a sizeable expanse of mountainous landscape visible through the shimmering mist, a faint silhouette of a distant castle materializing out of the haze.

Nicole’s brows shot up in surprise. ‘A
castle
?’ Leaning in close to Rafe so he could hear her over the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of the rotors, she felt a spiking shiver run up her spine. ‘You didn’t mention a castle.’
Castles had dungeons!
Kink and dungeons were practically a stereotype
,
her overactive imagination pointed out, even as a flashback of images from way too many horror films suddenly had her heart tripping.
Jesus, get a grip!
She was on holiday with the most ridiculously beautiful, shamelessly loveable man; life couldn’t be better. Okay?

‘It’s not exactly a castle yet.’ Rafe smiled. ‘It’s closer to a rock pile that’s burning through money. I call it my hobby. My accountant calls it a nightmare.’

‘Speaking of nightmares,’ Nicole said, apprehension flaring again at the reference to things that go bump in the night. ‘Reassure me about dungeons. Don’t ask. It’s stupid, I know, but . . .’

Taking note of Nicole’s trepidation, Rafe chose a marginal lie rather than argue reality versus her wild imagination. ‘No dungeons. Don’t worry. And you’ll love the room that’s been restored in the tower,’ he offered, avoiding further discussions of dungeons. ‘You can pretend you’re a twelfth-century demoiselle. I’ll pretend I’m the crusader who never reached the Holy Land, built this castle instead and chose the lucrative life of a pirate.’ He grinned. ‘So wanna play? I’ll make it worth your while.’

A small frown mirrored her lurking anxiety. ‘I don’t know – maybe, probably, let me think.’ Rafe’s unencumbered views on wealth always gave her pause to consider – how he could buy anything and anyone, for pleasure and perversion alike, no hassle, no questions. And the words pirate and play weren’t particularly reassuring as they approached this remote island with its spectacular limestone cliffs, wind-swept, twisted pines and medieval ruins.

‘Maybe?’ A teasing query.

‘Look, if you must know – and don’t you dare laugh – your castle ruin is kinda creepy. It reminds me of Frankenstein monsters.’

Rafe’s brows rose. ‘Seriously? You believe in that shit?’

‘I’m trying not to. Oh God, is that the tower?’ As the distance to the island narrowed, the castle tower loomed, half derelict, dark and gloomy against the blue sky. She squinted, took a small breath, muttered, ‘That’s scary.’

He stared at her. ‘You’re kidding.’

‘Okay, how about it makes me a little unsettled?’

‘Good.’

His smile was so wide his goddamned dimples showed. ‘Meaning?’ she said, half guarded, wishing she hadn’t watched so many spooky movies.

‘Come on, pussycat, relax,’ he said, pleasantly. ‘I promise you’ll have fun.’

Nicole gave him a hard, steady look. ‘No offence, but I’m in the middle of fucking nowhere. I’m allowed to wuss out.’

He flicked a glance at the passengers behind them. ‘You’re in the middle of nowhere with beaucoup bodyguards. You’re safe as hell.’ A small smile. ‘If that’s what you want.’

‘They’re
your
bodyguards.’ Her eyes grew wide. ‘Jesus, don’t look at me like that.’

His smile was pure bad-boy brilliance. ‘Like what?’

‘Like you’re going to eat me alive.’

‘As I recall, you like


She put her hand over his mouth then because the pilot was grinning and she wasn’t anywhere near as blasé as he was.

He licked her palm, she jerked her hand back and tried to glare at him, but he was smiling at her now like she was the best thing that had ever happened to him and her frustration fell away before the flat-out beauty of his smile.

Recognizing her capitulation, he leaned in, tucked a dark curl behind her ear and kissed her cheek softly. ‘Consider me your guardian angel,’ he murmured and, at her sceptical look, amended it to, ‘Personal guardian – how about that? And we’ll have privacy once we land.’ He flicked a glance toward the pilot. ‘Just you and me. No one else.’

‘Except for those down there.’ She pointed at a small village of white-washed, blue-roofed houses spilling down the hillside from the castle gates. ‘And the staff required for that.’ A sprawling peach-coloured Venetian-style palazzo surrounded by gardens came into view beyond the castle walls.

Rafe touched her ear with his lips. ‘Everyone will keep their distance. I’ve given orders. So you’re free to scream as loud as you like, wherever and whenever you like.’

She turned, grinning. ‘Appreciate your foresight and planning.’

‘I’m here to make you happy, Tiger.’ Dropping a kiss on her nose, he turned to the pilot as the landing pad came into sight. ‘Take it easy, Davey. No showboating.’

The pilot gave Rafe a thumbs up. And instead of skimming the tops of the large palms bordering the pad as usual, he set the chopper down so gently it practically floated to earth.

The small party alighted into the brilliant sunshine, Rafe first so he could help Nicole down. Then Ganz, Rafe’s childhood friend, Mongolian hacker extraordinaire, and current target for Shanghai’s assassination squads. Carlos stepped out next, followed by Dominic and Rafe’s security men – Leo and Simon respectively.

After deplaning, Simon glanced at Rafe. ‘I’m assuming guests are allowed up to a point.’

‘As long as she’s willing to leave on short notice.’ Simon had a girlfriend in Split.

‘Understood. Not a problem.’

‘Go for it then.’ Rafe nodded at Carlos. ‘We’ll see you tomorrow. My phone’s on.’ He’d insisted on twenty-four uninterrupted hours with Nicole, or as uninterrupted as possible considering the circumstances. Rafe gave Ganz a narrowed look. ‘That means you’re not to bother me unless the sky’s falling. Got it?’

Ganz frowned, looked at Rafe through a tumble of straight black hair. ‘Am I allowed to decide when the sky’s falling or am I at the mercy of my minders?’ Jerking his chin up, he flipped his hair out of his eyes.

‘All you have to do is limit the blow, dude,’ Rafe drawled, ‘and you won’t have minders.’

‘If only,’ Ganz drawled back.

Rafe laughed. ‘Gotcha. Then listen to Carlos. And if you need coddling, I believe some of the women at the spa might be willing to help you out.’

Ganz flashed a broad smile. ‘You really do love me, don’t you?’

‘Fucking A,’ Rafe murmured. ‘You’re the love of my life. Now play nice with the ladies and behave, okay? I know you can do it.’

Nicole was always touched by the warm, teasing affection between Rafe and his friends. It was rare and unselfconscious.

‘Ration my blow, behave, don’t piss off the women at the spa. Fuck, I’m gonna have to set my timer so I know there’s an end to the fucking rules. Twenty-four hours, right?’ Party to Rafe’s conversation with Carlos, Ganz punched his timer icon a couple times and shoved his cell phone toward Rafe.

Rafe arched one brow. ‘Cute. Now remember to eat something.’ He took Nicole’s hand. ‘Come on, Tiger. We’ve got things to do.’

‘Such as?’ she murmured playfully as he drew her away from the men.

His grip tightened on her hand. ‘Such as anything your little heart desires. I’m all yours.’

She glanced up. ‘For twenty-four hours.’ She’d noticed the grim-faced look on Carlos when Rafe had said,
We’ll see you tomorrow.

Rafe shrugged. ‘It’s a half-assed deal. My phone’s still on.’

‘You don’t have to coddle
me
. I understand you’re dealing with . . . ’ She paused, quickly discarded several comments on precarious reality. ‘Lots of stuff.’

‘It can wait until tomorrow.’ His smile was a slow unfurling of tenderness. ‘That’s my gift to myself. Twenty-four hours. Fuck the world till then.’

‘I shouldn’t be so selfish, but thanks. Really.’ Her heart beat harder and faster because she knew how little time they had. ‘Thanks a lot.’

‘I’m totally selfish myself but, hey, why change now,’ he said with a grin. ‘Ready for a climb? I’m going to take you to the best view on the island.’

BOOK: Breaking the Limits: Rafe & Nicole Book 2
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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