READ AN EXCERPT BELOW
I know what I am. A monster parading around in an Armani suit. Nico Costa—the perfect monster.
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He was like a jungle cat with its eyes on its prey, stalking forward with jaws wide open. At least, that’s what it felt like. In reality, the man coming toward me was the most handsome man I’d ever seen. Tall, broad-shouldered. Even dressed in a suit, it was clear he was all chiseled planes underneath. He had short, dark hair with just enough length to it to look perfectly styled. His emerald eyes somehow seemed to be penetrating through me.
And he was heading straight for me. Maybe it would have been less intimidating if he’d actually been a jungle cat. I’d feel no less urge to turn around and run, but at least I wouldn’t have felt like a fool for doing it.
I had no doubt this was not a good idea. In fact, it was the worst idea. About as good an idea as hopping into a shark tank with bloody fish tied around my neck. Nico Costa. A knife was his weapon of choice. He’d used it to carve up dozens of men, maybe hundreds.
He stopped right in front of me, not so close he was touching me, but close enough I could feel the heat radiating from his body. It should have repulsed me. It should have scared the heck out of me. It should not have been sending a strange tingling sensation through my body.
“You look lost, signorina,” he said, throwing me for a loop.
“I’m exactly where I want to be,” I crooned then cringed inwardly. Maybe I was pulling up my inner Greta better than I’d thought.
He flashed me a grin that made my insides clench. “I’m glad to hear it,” he said. “I’m Nico.”
“I’m Raven,” I told him, ignoring the strange breathiness in my tone.
He smiled a lopsided grin that would have had Greta dropping her panties. Then he nodded toward the bar and started in its direction. Was I supposed to follow like a dog behind him? I wondered incredulously. I glanced around, trying to find Greta, and there she was across the room, giving me the thumbs-up as a tall, sandy blond pulled her onto the dance floor.
Nico flagged down the bartender and signalled for the man to bring us two drinks. Greta had said it was douchey for a guy to order for his date, but was I supposed to object? Insist on ordering my own drink? Then again, what was I supposed to order? Piña colada, virgin. Like me.
The bartender returned with a whiskey glass half-full of amber liquid for Nico and a wide-brimmed stemmed glass full of orangish liquid that he placed in front of me.
“It’s a sidecar,” the bartender explained before I could open my mouth to ask. “An excellent cocktail for newcomers to darker alcohol,” he added matter-of-factly.
“Tommaso here is a bit of a genius when it comes to drinks,” Nico explained with a grin. “Hasn’t gotten one wrong yet.”
Praising the bartender? That didn’t sound much like a murder-y thing to do.
“Thank you, Tommaso.” I smiled at the too-intuitive bartender then took a sip of the strange drink. A very good drink, in fact. Orange and lemon flavors with a faintly floral undercurrent.
Nico took a sip of the amber liquid in his glass, but I could feel his eyes on me. His gaze was so hot, it prickled my skin and sent tingling sensations down my spine. Holy crap. This guy was way out of my league. I needed an easygoing—less lethal—Costa to pull off my charade.
The problem was, I didn’t want to leave. I’d never been in a nightclub with the sexiest man alive sitting next to me, looking at me like I was exactly what he wanted.
“You’re not from here, Raven,” he observed while desire pulsed hot and heavy through my veins.
“No, I’m not,” I answered.
It scared me a little—feeling attracted to this man. I’d always kept guys at arm’s length before because of Vito. And I had a feeling Nico was exactly who Vito was warning me about.
“Does that mean you’re here for business or pleasure?” The way his lips wrapped around that last word sent a fresh rush of arousal through me.
I gulped back the rest of the fruity orange drink.
“For pleasure, of course.”
A complete and total brain meltdown, maybe.
He smiled like the devil himself, but then it vanished.
“Where is it you’re from?” he asked, calm, cool, and collected like there weren’t sparks snapping in the air between us.
“California,” I replied, a little dazed.
The smile peeked through again, but disappeared just as quickly. “And what is it you do in California?”
“I’m going to school to become a nurse.”
His eyes grazed over me, and the smile made a reappearance. “I imagine you’d make one hell of a nurse.”
If he was trying to keep me off-balance… Wait, that was exactly what he was doing. Sex personified one second, and the next, chatting me up with boring questions. But why?
“Why are you doing that?”
The words slipped out of their own volition, but it was too late to take them back. Worst case scenario, he left and I went back to looking for the Costa I was supposed to find here. Or he gets mad and cuts you up into tiny pieces, a voice whispered from the back of my mind, sending a cold shiver down my spine.
He smiled. Not the devilish smile, but one that actually held a modicum of respect. “You’re not like other women, are you, Raven?” he seemed to muse aloud.
“I don’t know,” I confessed. Was that a stupid thing to say to a dangerous man?
But instead of watching the fire in his eyes fizzle out, it seemed to burn brighter.
He opened his mouth and shut it as he turned his head toward the right. Something had caught his attention out of the corner of his eye.
I turned my head to see whatever gorgeous blonde he was checking out—a wave of relief should have washed over me, not a flood of disappointment.
Then I froze.
A lone man stood across the floor, almost exactly where I’d been just a few moments before. Not just any man.
My brother. Dominic Luca.