Guzzi Legacy, #4
Publication Date: October 7, 2019
Genres: Adult, STANDALONE, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime. Erotic Romance
Chicago has never been more fun, or dangerous …
Sent away with his identical twin to get their wild ways under control, Beni Guzzi expects nothing to change. Same crap, new city, right? But if the boss of the Chicago mob can’t set the principes straight, then nothing will.
And then she rolls into town.
Stuck in a job that seems intent to keep her working behind a desk, August Rivera hopes a trip to the windy city for an assignment will make the magazine finally give her a spread. But getting to see her best friend, well, that’s just a bonus.
And then she sees him from across a club.
With a gang causing trouble for the Outfit, and a Capo’s crew in shambles, Beni has a million other things to focus on except the beautiful New Yorker who keeps finding her way into his bed. The thing is, when he’s with August, everything is better—easier.
Falling in love while handling family drama and mafia affairs is anything but simple … and in this business? It only takes a single mistake to lose it all.
That lesson can’t be taught, and it always comes too late.
NOTE: Beni is a standalone novel within The Guzzi Legacy series. It can be read as such.
Spinning around while taking a sip of the hot coffee, August came face to face with a smirking Beni. Damn, he looked good today. Gone were the dark wash jeans, leather jacket, and the Converse shoes. Oh, sure, she liked him in that, too, but today he had settled on something a bit more … classic, and fancy.
Black slacks, and a white button down that was rolled up to the elbows. A blazer hung over his arm, forgotten, likely because of the current summer heat sweeping through Chicago. No tie, she noticed, but that was okay because he’d left the top two buttons of his shirt undone, giving her a peek at the golden skin of his throat, a couple days’ worth of facial hair covering his jawline, and the way his Adam’s apple bobbed when he looked her over, and swallowed.
So good looking.
Did he know how he looked?
Because Jesus …
At least, August didn’t feel underdressed standing in front of him, considering she had thrown on a black dress with elbow-length sleeves, a scoop neck, and a pencil skirt that fell to her knees. Black pumps matched the dress, and she went for a simple, rose gold necklace and matching earrings to draw attention to her little makeup, and the braids she had piled high on her head in a spiraling bun.
She did have a meeting today—one that involved talks about a possible job. She had to look professional, didn’t she?
“No work today?” she asked.
Beni flashed her another one of his sinful smiles. “Nah, I had better things to do.”
Was she one of those things?
He was here.
So … yep.
August liked that.
There was something about a man that made a woman his priority that did it for her. Beyond sex, a man that cared enough to put in effort … it was all about the fucking effort with a woman like her.
She appreciated it.
“And you didn’t answer me,” he said. “Is this the second date?”
She gave him a look. “We didn’t really have a first.”
“That was not a first date.”
Beni chuckled, shoving his hands into his pockets as he looked her over from head to toe. There was something about his slow perusal that had her heating up from the inside out, butterflies beating hard in her stomach all the while.
What was he doing to her?
“So, we consider this a first date, then?”
August nodded. “And depending on how it goes, well, we’ll see about another one.”
His dark, husky laughter coated her in something sinful and wicked as he stepped alongside her to wrap a strong arm around her waist. He pulled her into his side for a one-armed hug, his mouth coming down to press a quick kiss to her soft line of baby hair along her forehead.
“Never stop doing that,” he told her.
August tipped her head back so that she could stare up at him. “Do what?”
“That—keeping me on my toes. Nobody ever does that anymore, and I like it.”
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
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Adapting to the openness had taken awhile. In prison, he’d been alone, despite the crowd. But here, he was out in the boondocks with the crickets croaking and the coyotes yapping, echoing and prolonging the eerie silence afterward.
He loved it. But after his release, he dreaded every moment. The silence. Feeling incredibly alone. He’d considered a pet, but the upkeep was more than he was willing to handle at the moment.
He jumped when the door slammed and Lauren waltzed out.
“I love jalapeno poppers,” she said. “Can’t remember the last time I’ve grilled some of those.”
“I’ve got the makings if you want to do it.”
She clapped her hands together. “Yes, let’s do that.”
“I picked enough jalapenos this morning, but we can always grab more from the garden if you want.”
“Too dark and I’m afraid of snakes. I’m sure you have plenty.”
She prepped the poppers and he prepped the fire, and they drank another margarita while the food cooked. They sat around the fire under the stars instead of the deck, near a large oak tree that had been the focal point of many parties with friends and family. They chatted about the weather, the river and the current news. Once the poppers were done, they ate a few and chatted more, but nothing too serious.
“You wanna just eat jalapeno poppers and margaritas tonight?” he asked, never wanting this night to end.
He grabbed a stick and thrust a wiener on it. “How about we at least roast wieners?”
Laughing, she seized the stick and jabbed it in the fire. “I thought I had already roasted yours.”
His loins jumped. “That you did.”
She removed the burning wiener from the fire and blew on it. As she took it from the stick she muttered. “Hot, hot, hot.”
He grabbed a paper plate and placed it under the wiener, where she let it fall. “Of course, it’s hot silly. It just came from the fire.”
She set the plate on the table and blurted, “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you.”
“You didn’t trust that the hot dog was hot?” He took his from the fire and blew, but laid it across the plate before sliding it from the stick.
“No.” She swept her hand through the air. “About everything else. For years I thought you had slaughtered my sister. How can I step away from that and remember what things were like before?”
Shadows skimmed Lauren’s body. The dim light from the fire and from the deck’s lighting flickered around her, enough to discern most of her features. He leaned closer and brushed a finger across her cheek. “Knowing me the way you did, how could you even think I would do something like that?”
Lauren shrugged. “Maybe I had a few doubts, but I called it wishful thinking. Then I went through such pain and heartache I didn’t have room for doubts. Everyone convinced me. Your cap. Your knife. Your motive. Clint…” Her voice bubbled, a tenuous thread of something he couldn’t name. Regret? Remorse? Confusion?
Luke jerked away. His muscles tensed, gut twitched.
“We became friends. Not like you and I were, but he was there for me—”
“Of course he was.” His voice was harsh, hot like the fire steaming from his pit.
“As Laramie grew up, he became her godfather. But she didn’t like him and never wanted to be alone with him. She never accused him of anything, but she steered clear of him. Even her instincts were right and I couldn’t see through my pain.”
He stood. Yes, they should have this conversation. They needed to have this conversation at one point. And now was as good a time as any. But it was too hard to sit. Too hard to face the demons that Lauren’s mistrust in him had stirred.
“If I had doubts, I…I—”
“You had too many people lying to you.”
She stood and planted her palms on his chest. “But you never lied, did you? You were the only person who didn’t.”