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“We will stay here for now,” he explains as he crosses the drawing room. A series of closed doors line a short hallway leading deeper into the interior. His sure steps betray a knowledge of the layout that makes me suspect he didn’t just buy it on a whim. “I’ve already had your things from the old suite brought here.”
As he speaks, he opens a door to a room that I assume at first is a copy of my old one. But it’s larger. And instead of white, or his preferred black, these walls are painted a simple shade of gray. An odd feeling of relief eases some of the stiffness in my limbs.
At least it’s not red.
When I breathe in deep, I smell still, scentless air—no salt.
It’s a welcome change from that cold, concrete room dominated by a table stocked with weapons. Here, the main piece of furniture is a massive bed positioned near a breathtaking view of the city. It’s nearly twice the size of my old one—but it’s the open closet that draws my interest.
Of all things to pop into my head, the first thought is fittingly childish after a night filled with death. Daisy would die to own a closet like this—one large enough to fit our entire old house in with room to spare. I can’t take my eyes off of the clothing displayed in meticulous order for some reason though. Most of the options on metal hangers consist of his customary dark shirts and slacks.
But they only take up one half. The other side of the space contains an array of delicate, lacy gowns and dresses recognizable at a glance. Mine.
And a dangerous thought threatens to disrupt our previous boundaries—this room is ours.
Maxim barges into the closet without explanation—as if that little detail means nothing. Sighing, he strips his shirt and the cadence of his voice snaps me out of my shock. “Take off your clothes. Put them with mine. I’ll dispose of them later.”
He does the same, but tension contorts his body into a series of rippling muscles. And I’m hypnotized. His scars gleam in the glow of moonlight, betraying a mere hint of the horror he’s lived through.
I still haven’t moved by the time he throws his wadded shirt to the floor and wrenches open his slacks. “Did you hear me, kotyonok?” He cocks his head in my direction, his gaze indiscernible. “Move.”
I jump, too enthralled by his appearance to turn away. Blood speckles his chin. Even more paints his fingers in violent streaks. When he notices me staring, he turns and reenters the bedroom. There must be a bathroom nearby because I hear water running. A few seconds later, he returns and the blood is gone.
“Look at me,” he demands. But I already am.
He hasn’t bothered to turn a light on and only the glow from the floor-to-ceiling windows bathes him in bluish definition. The contorts of his body create organized chaos from the hulking mass of bulk and muscle that shape him. He’s beautiful, as if hand-carved by an artist intent on crafting a creature somewhere in between a devil and an angel. The only detail out of place is the black binder cinching his waist, obscuring yet another traumatic souvenir from his past.
“Kotyonok…” His eyes meet mine and my heart seizes up at what I find in them. More rage? No. Something far more unsettling. In fact, when his nostrils flare with my scent, it’s the most alarming sight I’ve been faced with all night and I stagger back a step in the opposite direction.
In him, it’s an emotion comparable to a match striking a pool of gasoline. Volatile. Like a predator he advances, herding me into a corner. Within seconds, my back is against the wall and he’s towering above me, rage smoldering off his skin.
But I’m not terrified of what the anger itself does to him. In a way, it’s beautiful to witness its impact up close.
His features shift and meld, seamlessly transforming him from man to beast. Gone is the cold, dispassionate mask. Teeth bared, he eyes me with a ruthless flick of his gaze, and I know he’s here with me fully—not trapped in the past. But then he laughs, and the sound resonates all the way down to my fucking core.
Sevastyn wasn’t the only one to stoke his temper it seems.
“It’s always as though it’s the first time. How you look at me,” he murmurs, reaching for my chin. His thumb brushes my jawline reverently, even as his eyes glow with that unsteady gleam that heralds disaster. My heart lurches with every careful stroke and I know better than to say a damn thing. “Whenever you see me at my worst,” he explains, lowering his gaze to my throat. “You stare at me, with your eyes so fucking wide. Always as though it’s the first time. The first day…”
He laughs again, but it’s a bitter sound.
“Those fucking eyes haunt me. I shouldn’t even give a damn if you’re afraid.” He bares his teeth in torment as his finger presses harder, seeking out the bone beneath my flesh. The second I wince, he withdraws. “But I still see what he did to you. What I let him do.”
My barely healed injuries throb at the reminder, but I don’t welcome this biting sort of pain. It burns, summoning tears I have to fight to keep at bay.
“I close my eyes and see it,” he adds thickly. “I can’t sleep without fucking seeing it. Even now I can still hear that motherfucker, taunting me with the threat of you.”
In a sick way, he resembles someone fighting to stay awake. Like Ainsley when she’s resisting a nightmare—but the phantoms in his head consist of horrors no child should ever face. In frustration, his hands unfurl, the nails drawn like claws and he resorts to the one tool he’s relied on until now.
“Did you take my ring out of fear?” he wonders, his accent thickening, his baritone deepening. He’s hunting for a line of attack, I think—desperate for anything to feed his rage. To distract from the truth—he’s losing control. “Is that it?”
“No.” He flinches at the sound of my voice but I finally regain control of my limbs before he can reply. There is only one way to reach him when he’s like this—the only language we both understand.
A startled grunt escapes him as I brush my hands over the front of the jacket draped over me. A tailored silk, the fabric easily slides from my shoulders to the floor.
His eyes narrow, tracking the flesh bared with ravenous interest and that wavering darkness slowly fades in favor of a new emotion. He’s here again, alone with me in this room—not the past.
I swallow back my relieved sigh and brace. Maybe he’s right. In some ways, it really does feel like that very first day all over again. My first exposure to the taste of his brutality. I’m unsure of what to expect from this massive creature who radiates power and control.
And yet for whatever reason, I’m drawn to the flame, even if it burns.
This pain doesn’t hurt the way it should.
“Say it,” he demands, recapturing my chin in his grasp. With gentle pressure he pries my jaws apart. “You are mine. Say it.”
I rush to obey. “I’m yours—”
“Body and soul,” he prompts, each word grated through clenched teeth. His tone alone betrays that they mean more to him than a selfish boast of possession. So much fucking more. They’re the reason why I can watch him at his worst, on the brink of madness, and keep what little shreds of sanity I still have left. Why his hands shake as they grasp handfuls of me—whatever he can reach. Nails drawn, he claims every inch of flesh, his eyes fluttering as I flinch.
“Body and soul,” I tell him, fighting to form a coherent response.
“And you won’t run from this? From me?” He grinds his hips into mine, igniting a tendril of fire in my core. Clamping my thighs together is the only way to stave off the inevitable inferno.
In a blur of motion, he moves in, claiming my mouth as his hands grip my waist. His tongue barely slips between my lips before he draws back and wrenches me around to face the wall. I suck in a breath, the sound nearly drowning out his appreciative groan. His palm smooths over the flat of my belly, aiming between my legs. In an expert motion, he spreads me open, teasing me with the broadness of his thumb.
I barely adjust to the substitute before the real thing batters against my throbbing skin.
One thrust and he’s so deep I can’t even cry out in response. I gasp instead, my lips parted, air trapped in my lungs. Overwhelmed with the feel of him, my brain conjures a million words to describe the sensation—full, so full. Thick. Heavy. Everywhere.
Then he moves, bucking into me, forcing my cheek against the ice-cold wall as his body pins me in from behind. He’s slow at first, ensuring every thrust stings. Burns so deep I’ll feel him for days. Just as the pain fades into a delicious ache, he moves faster. Harder.
The rhythm lacks the brutal tempo I’m used to. My world narrows to sin and skin and the wet heat of his mouth latched onto my shoulder, muffling the animalistic grunts he makes with every single thrust.
My nails uselessly scramble over the surface before me, seeking out stability. Security. Anything.
I find neither.
Nothing in the world is stable enough to anchor myself against him. I have to endure—every ounce of frustration and fury, slammed into me, straining the confines of my body. The emotions roused by the night’s events seep from him, betraying more than words ever could.
Sevastyn rattled him.
But what happened after confused him.
And the sight of that marble ring on my finger…it scares him?
There’s almost too much to make sense of—too much for him to process alone.
So he spills them all into me one by one, until his release drags both of us under. His grip on my hair tightens painfully as he rams into me one final time, so hard my knees buckle.
He’s left holding me, sweeping his hand beneath my knees as he pulls out and lifts me into his arms. Boneless, my head lolls against his shoulder as I find myself focusing on his face first, marveling at what I find. Gone is that twisted, pained expression. I can’t resist stroking my fingers along the corner of his mouth, tracing its shape when devoid of a scowl or frown.
For once, he moves free of tension, crossing the room to another door that I hadn’t noticed. The bathroom? He shoulders the door open and I realize that my suspicion was horribly off base.
“I will admit that I prefer to use the club whenever I can,” he admits as he steps over the threshold. “But in the interim, this will make do for when I need you.”
This. A space enclosed by ebony walls and gray marble floors, containing more careful details than the rest of the suite. There are no windows to the outside world. Just closeness and shadow and him. The only real item of furniture is a table in the center made of solid black marble, polished enough for me to make out my reflection as he sets me onto it.
It’s cold. A hiss escapes my mouth and he tugs me closer in response, dominating the space between my legs. Leeching off his heat, I watch him silently explore the surface beneath me. For my benefit, I realize—it’s a silent tour of sorts.
Beneath my position, a small ledge extends from the side of the table. I follow the line of his gaze as he runs his hands over the objects strategically placed there, all within reach. One object is a pool of thin, black fabric.
A blind fold? Alarming enough—but the other items are seared onto my psyche even if I don’t dwell on their purpose for now.
An unlit candle.
A pair of metal handcuffs, lined with black leather.
And lastly a knife, sharpened and ready. Maxim grasps the weapon first, testing the weight against his palm.
“Do you know when I first knew it?” he wonders against my scalp. “That you were mine? Do you?” His finger returns to my jaw, urging me closer with a beckoning caress. “It was that first night you climaxed. Do you remember?”
I do, and my throat goes dry at the memory.
“It’s not the fact that you got off that made me consider snapping your fucking neck right then and there.” His thumb teases the throat in question, tracing the hollow of it as I suck in air, too enthralled by his words to release it. “I could feel it…your greedy cunt gripping me tight. For the first time, fucking wasn’t satisfying an urge, no more intimate than pissing or breathing. Your body wanted more than a fuck, wringing every ounce it could from me.”
The awe in his tone resonates down to my core. Deep inside, muscles clench in response, my brain buzzing.
“You don’t understand it.” He looks down at his hands and curls them into fists. “What it feels like to go your entire life satisfying those primal fucking urges out of necessity and nothing more. Before you, I rated the quality of sex based on how efficiently I could get it over with. How much blood I could draw and gasps I could wring from the whore beneath me just to know… I was still there. Still alive. Still connected to my body. Pleasure didn’t matter. Lust was a mere byproduct of biology. I was always in control. But that night with you…” His lips purse as he lowers his hand to his glistening cock. “You forced me to feel it, didn’t you?”
His eyes cut up to mine accusingly.
“You made me see you. Even now, at the edge, when I can feel myself so fucking close to slipping. When all I should crave is to go numb. To rage, and maim, and kill. You…” He laughs in disbelief, shaking his head. The manic gleam in his eye reassures me despite how my heart seizes up. The terror is still there, building in my blood, but that one, searing expression keeps me from succumbing to it.
Because it means he’s still here in this moment. Still Maxim.
And he reaches for me like a lifeline, his nails biting into my skin, sealing in his possession.
“I still feel you,” he admits. “Like no one else. So hear me now—”A searing pain in my ear is my only warning as he bites down over the sensitive lobe. “Mine,” he rasps. “You were made for me. And I will ensure the world knows it. No matter the fucking cost.”
COMING APRIL 14TH!
In the final round of their twisted game, Francesca and Maxim have the ultimate choice to make: surrender to their dangerous attraction, or succumb to the many dangers driving them apart.
With her heart at stake, Francesca must weigh her family’s safety over her own, and trust that Maxim can truly triumph over his past trauma…
Or it will be game over for them both.
In this dark mafia romance: she assumed he was just another client–but this vicious billionaire doesn’t just play the game.
He makes the rules.
Pain is the most potent drug and Frankie Marconi is addicted to the burning sting of it. Maxim Koslov, a deranged crime lord with a tormented past, is more than willing to deliver the dose she needs.
But when lust becomes obsession, Frankie begins to realize that there is only one way out of this dangerous game of Russian Roulette…
And Maxim never loses.
Under the dangerous Maxim Koslov’s spell, Frankie Marconi finds herself falling deeper and deeper into a world of violence and sin. But the rabbit hole of chaos can only go so far. When cruel reality threatens her cocoon of pain, can she rely on Maxim to help her withstand the onslaught?
Or will she goad him into finally ending their twisted game…