Authors: Cristina Grenier
Tags: #mob romance
He was never distracted.
It was one of the reasons Giorgio favored him so highly. Vicente Acconci always got his man.
Women, however, seemed to be a different matter. He couldn’t believe the tiny girl they’d ambushed in the park had attempted to run from them. She was half his size at best, and dressed in a ridiculous outfit that barely allowed her to move properly. It was no surprise that she hadn’t gotten far before being captured, or that she’d been so frightened on the car ride to their hotel that she’s fainted.
Getting her back to the hotel had been a neat trick concocted by their contacts in Boston – they’d snuck her in wedged into a large cello case procured from an orchestra friend. The orchestra player was completely legit, and so there was no reason for them to be suspected carrying such a large case into the hotel; So, just like that, they easily had Grace tucked safely inside.
She’d only been out for about twenty minutes or so, and the bitters he’d placed under her nose had woken the girl almost immediately. She was still frightened – that much was easy to tell from her nervous, darting movements and the way she gazed at he, Giovanni and Matteo as if they would devour her at any moment. Vicente was of the opinion that a healthy fear on the part of the captive was normal – even desired.
He’d sat with some very chatty women who were convinced they were the centers of the universe, droning him into boredom and beyond. They, of course, had already been initiated into the lives that their fathers, husbands, and boyfriends had chosen. The sight of guns didn’t give them pause, and violence seemed almost second nature – at least, if it wasn’t happening to them.
Grace Trellis, however, was different.
He’d known it the moment he’d taken in her wide blue gaze, utterly horrified at the guns they had out in their room. It was, he realized, as if she’d never even seen one before; something he couldn’t even fathom considering the extent of the gambling ring her father ran. Surely, she must have encountered someone – a patron or a business associate - who had toted a weapon into her presence.
Rather than being cowed by her captors in and of themselves, Grace seemed more frightened by the situation she found herself in. She fairly trembled when she looked at them, trying desperately to think of a way to extract herself from her dilemma. In her position, many women automatically blamed those they knew in positions of power, while Grace’s mind had turned immediately to herself.
The mere idea that she might think they assumed she had half a million dollars was nothing less than utterly ridiculous. The woman had a day job. Where would she get that kind of money from? Nonetheless…the look on her face…for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Vicente found himself wanting to take a woman into his arms – to taste those full lips and burn away her fears with his incessant, hungry caress.
Such thoughts, he knew, would get him no-where. It mattered not if Grace was a decrepit old woman on her way out of this world or the finest woman he’d ever encountered, Giorgio had sent him here to do his job – and that was exactly what he would tend to. This girl, she was no different than the rest who had passed through his hands. Prettier, softer spoken and more frightened, but that was all.
So why did he lay awake in the wee hours of the morning, thousands of miles away from the man who caused all of his sleepless nights? If anything, he’d thought his time in Boston might be a reprieve from Giorgio’s watchful eye, but instead, Vicente merely found himself pondering the young woman in the room next door to his.
He, Giovanni, and Matteo had taken shifts in the room adjoining hers. Of course, before they’d even brought her back to the suite, anything that she could possibly use to injure herself or cut her bonds had been removed from the room. There was little more than the bed, a dresser, a single chair and a hairbrush.
Giovanni had said that she hadn’t moved around much during his shift, while Matteo had cited hearing her shifting on the bed every ten minutes or so. Now, things were quiet once again, and Vicente wondered: was she sleeping? Stretched out across the queen sized bed in her scant silver dress, her lovely dark locks fanned out on the pillow as she slipped into an exhausted slumber?
It would be nothing to unlock and slip through the door adjoining the two rooms – to indulge himself and watch her as she slept, tempted by the heaving of her bosom and the soft invitation of her breath…
Biting back a groan, he turned onto his side, willing away the erection that had begun to tent his silk pajama bottoms.
Now was not the time. They had two more days before they were set to leave to Italy, and Grace couldn’t possibly remain in his keeping if he couldn’t control himself.
Vicente’s life was a series of tightly controlled scenarios. He controlled who he was with Giorgio. He controlled how he acted in his role as assassin and enforcer. He controlled all of his captives and those who worked beneath him; but now, he found himself struggling to control his body. He hadn’t had such a trivial problem since he was a boy.
He would have to take measures to resolve the problem; the first of which being that goddamned dress. Tomorrow, he would have one of their female contacts buy Grace some more suitable clothing – something that wouldn’t attempt to burn itself into his mind every time he laid eyes on her lush, mouthwatering form. Then, of course, there was her penchant for unexpected bursts of laughter.
That had come completely unexpected – high and almost desperate – at the news that they planned to ransom her.
There is no way my father is going to pay
. She had been so vehement – so much so that he almost believed her. But, how was a girl like her to know? Fathers were often so enamored of their daughters that they let them walk all over them – anything to gain their respect.
Trellis would pay, and that was a fact. He would pay, or his daughter would die.
In Giorgio’s world, things were that simple – and Vicente lived in Giorgio’s world.
He turned onto his other side, on the cusp of drifting off, when a soft, feminine sound reached his ears. Stiffening, Vicente sat slowly upright in bed, pressing his ear to the wall at his right to listen more closely. At first, he thought he might be hearing Grace talk in her sleep, but the harder he listened, the more that he realized her hitching breath and whimpers were very obviously the sounds of her grief.
She was crying.
Soft and reserved, but weeping nonetheless.
It was something he’d never seen in anyone they’d ever kidnapped – not even children twelve and thirteen years of age. They were little princes and princesses, used to getting what they wanted, and Vicente and the others were always charged with keeping them happy and healthy. Elder captives tried to charm their way out of undue harshness, never showing weakness they feared in themselves.
But Grace, it appeared, was an entirely different breed. She was quite obviously frightened, and Vicente found himself faced with a powerful urge to belay that fright. However, instead of going to her, he merely rose from bed to leave the room, blocking the sounds from his consciousness. It was nearly four in the morning, and time for Matteo to start his second watch. Perhaps in the living room, away from Grace’s influence, Vicente might be able to sleep better. At least, that was what he hoped.
The last thing he needed right now was a woman he couldn’t shake – not with half a million dollars of his stepfather’s money on the line.
He passed a restless night, and the next morning, Vicente longed for proper Italian espresso to galvanize his alertness. Of course, he had to settle for some piss poor off brand American coffee that only made him more irate. Giovanni took one look at him over the breakfast table and shook his head, his expression concerned. “Are you alright, Vicente?”
“Fine.” The gray-eyed man massaged a headache beginning in his left temple. He needed a bottle of aspirin and a halfway decent pastry, and quickly. “Just had a bit of a restless night.”
“Really? In these beds? I slept like a babe.” The blonde man grinned across the table at his companion. “Though of course, that was helped with the notion of little
next door.” He made a lewd motion indicating exactly what he had done to the tune of the young woman shifting in bed and Vicente scowled, reigning in his tempter.
“I doubt she was doing anything exciting, Gio. May I remind you that her hands are still bound.”
“Doesn’t mean a man can’t dream, my friend.”
“What are you two babbling about?” Matteo settled at the table across from them, his eyes red from lack of sleep. “I’d need another hour or two to be able to decode it.”
“You had trouble sleeping as well?” Giovanni arched a brow, sipping from his own coffee before wincing at the acrid taste. “I suppose I’m the only one here used to luxury.”
“Bite your tongue,” Matteo’s retort was sharp and sardonic, “You’re just used to passing out on a full stomach. After one of your mother’s meals, you could sleep through the apocalypse.”
“I don’t deny it.” Gio smirked, leaning forward conspiratorially. “But if our sleeping
summoned me, I might contemplate fitting her into my schedule.”
Matteo leaned back in his chair thoughtfully, munching at a croissant. “She’s a pretty thing. It would be a shame for Giorgio to get to her in a mood.” He, too, winced at the flavor of the coffee he sipped before continuing. “The sooner her father pays, the better.”
Vicente couldn’t agree more. The girl was already giving him a headache and he’d hardly spent more than half an hour in her company. Of course, the first full day of babysitting had fallen to him as well. It was regulation in their organization. He would spend the first twenty four hour period with a captive to feel them out; then he would be able to warn Gio and Matteo if she was a flight risk or harbored any dangerous tendencies.
While it was Vicente himself who had set the system into place, he now found himself cursing it. More time in Grace’s company was not what he needed at the moment – and if he was going to be able to endure it at all, he was going to need to get the young woman something else to wear.
“You two should finish up.” The words escaped Vicente only reluctantly. While they were in Boston, they shouldn’t lie idle. There were a number of smaller duties Vicente had instructed them to see to in the city that couldn’t be put off. Gio and Matteo would spend the majority of their day downtown while he dealt with Grace. “You’re supposed to be meeting Ivan in half an hour. You’ve money to collect from him as well as reports to gather.”
While the three of them were on fairly amicable terms, one of the attributes Vicente enjoyed most about Gio and was that they knew when it was time to fool around, and when it was time to work. At the mere mention of the tasks Giorgio had laid out for them, both men hurried through their breakfast, anxious to remain on schedule.
Nine o’ clock came and went, and soon enough, Vicente was alone in the suite, facing the door behind which lay the woman who had kept him up all night. Now, there was naught but silence from her room, and Vicente prayed that he would catch her sleeping, not because he found the notion indulgent, but because he wasn’t quite sure he could bear the open terror in her frightened, hypnotizing blue gaze.
Before he could face her, he had to do something about the way she was dressed. Their contact wouldn’t be able to get him anything for her until later on that afternoon, but for now, he’d have to provide her with
. One of his shirts should suffice. She was such a little thing that it would, no doubt, dwarf her completely, saving him from the mental torture of creamy thighs and her ample bosom.
Steeling himself, Vicente returned to her door to knock once, brusquely, before unlocking it to let himself in.
The sight that met his gaze went straight to his nether regions, clenching his gut in almost painful arousal. Grace lie in the center of the bed amidst the mussed sheets, her hair disheveled from sleep as she stared at him blearily, her hands and feet still bound. Her dress had shifted to an even more indecent position than the night before, the neckline now dipping low enough to expose the edge of a dark aureole.
For a moment, the young woman stared at him in confusion before memory dawned in her gaze. Sleep must have blissfully robbed her of last night’s memories – which would, of course, come rushing back now that he’d woken her.
Standing in the doorway, he waited for the fear and apprehension to flood her expression – waited for her to tense in anxiety.
But she didn’t.
Grace only stared at him, her eyes still foggy from sleep, before she sighed, extending her bound hands before her and speaking in a voice hoarse from tiredness and grief. “May I please go to the bathroom? I really need to pee.”
Vicente’s eyes widened in shock. Was this the same woman who had been so terrified the previous day? Who had tried to run from him when he’d captured her in the park? He might as well have been an early caller she wasn’t prepared for as much as he was her kidnapper. However, whatever she now saw him as, he didn’t want her to have an accident in the hotel bed.
Moving over to her, he withdrew a knife from its sheath at his belt, the weapon glinting wickedly as he twirled it expertly before raising it for her to see. Immediately, the young woman flinched, revealing to him that her composure was not quite as un-riled as she’d appeared at first glance. “I’m not going to hurt you.” He quickly assuaged her fear before taking hold of her wrists and slicing through the tape that held them together. “However,” Vicente continued as he carefully peeled off the industrial strength binding, “You only have five minutes to do your business. The adjoining room is locked. At the five minute single second mark, you’ll have company, whether you’re finished or not.”