A bead of sweat trails down my spine. I’m acutely aware of whose company I’m in. Joseph Moretti eats his pasta at the head of the table, flanked by his goons and children.
Why am I at a table with a man who’s known for lying, cheating, and stealing from innocent people? The answer in all such cases is usually a woman, and my story is no different. The problem is, I’m such a sucker that it only took Ashley Moretti, daughter of the notorious Mob boss, a matter of minutes to convince me to help her family. Other than helping a pretty girl, I had no idea what I was signing up for, but over the last twenty minutes of conversation, I know I’m in over my head here.
“You’ll help then.”
It’s not a question but an order, and I know it. The hair on the back of my neck stands at the sound of his voice alone.
“Jimmy, give him the books,” the old man says, controlling the room without even glancing up from his meal.
A stocky guy about five feet something pushes back from his chair at the dinner table. The chicken marsala sits untouched on my own plate, having lost my appetite at the introductions.
The guy, Jimmy, tosses a black duffle bag on the ground beside me with a thud. The room is quiet, so still, you could hear a pin drop. Actually, the pin would probably be as terrified as I am right now, and you wouldn’t hear it either. I’m not a small man. At over six feet tall, I usually intimidate men, but I’m a math nerd, not a fighter. I humble myself in a restaurant full of gangsters and crime lords.
“He’ll do it, Daddy,” Ashley says, snapping my attention back to the present. I nod in agreement and busy myself by digging into my meal. I push it around until other conversations start around me. I guess everyone was waiting to know if they needed to persuade me or if I would agree so they can eat.
“Thanks again. You’re the best guy ever,” Ashley says, then squeezes my arm. I swallow the bile that threatens to rise at her touch. What attraction was there is long gone now, and I just want to get the hell out of here. It’s hot. My polo is now so damp from sweat it’s sticking to my back and making me even more uncomfortable than the redhead next to me.
My legs bounce nervously under the table as I look around the small Italian restaurant. Outside the private dining room we’re seated in, unknowing bystanders dine with the world’s most wanted, and they don’t even realize it.
The bell above the front door chimes, and my gaze follows the sound, locking eyes with the most gorgeous creature I’ve ever seen. With tight blonde curls my fingers suddenly itch to feel and plump red lips that match her dark coat, the woman stops in her tracks. We stare at each other, unable to break eye contact until someone comes in behind her, pulling her toward them, forcing her to look away, finally breaking our connection.
I keep watching as she stumbles around a group of people. Her cheeks turn red, and she tucks her curls behind her ear. She’s so damn cute, all woman, with curves that could bring a man to his knees, but with an innocence I can’t describe. As she walks further into the restaurant, she glances my way one last time before disappearing behind a wall that separates my company from the regular diners. My sour mood instantly lightens until someone points the barrel of a gun in my face.
“He keeps scratching his collar, boss. We sure this guy isn’t wearing a wire?”
My heart jumps to my throat, and my life flashes before my eyes. This is it. I am going to die in a family restaurant at the age of twenty-eight, just because a pretty girl asked me to do math for her. What the fuck was I thinking? My damn dick is going to get me killed. I swallow hard, afraid for my life when the boss speaks.
“Leave him.” His husky order is clear, and the man in front of me lowers his gun and reluctantly backs away without another word. I loosen my grip on the arms of the chair, pretending to be relaxed while I’m freaking the fuck out inside.
“You can go now, Mr. Andrews.”
The goons stand as if given a secret command to escort me out, and I happily do the same. My shoe kicks something, and I look down at the black gym bag. A dozen rocks feel like they’re piling up in my stomach. When the boss clears his throat, I spring to action, taking the bag and leaving. I don’t dare a glance back at the room full of faces tracking my every move. The relief of being out of that room is short-lived when the two goons lead me toward the alley outside the restaurant.
The prickling at the base of my neck increases, and I stop.
“Move.” One of the goons tries to push me.
Thank God I’m a big dude and stop walking a few feet from the busy sidewalk. There is no way I’m going any further into a dark alley with these two.
“Yo, Danny, Jimmy says to get rid of him,” Goon with a goatee says while looking down at his phone.
“Wait. No,” I say, backing up. “You guys heard the boss, and look, he gave me the bag.” I hold it nervously; my back is literally against the wall when suddenly I hear an angel.
“Hey,” a woman calls out to me, effectively stopping the guys from approaching any closer. “There you are.”
My head snaps to the beautiful blonde with bouncing curls coming toward us, eyes locked on mine like she’s on a mission. As she closes in, she steps right up to me, tucking herself tentatively under my arm. The goons look at each other confused but step back, obviously not wanting to make too big of a scene out on the street. One of them sneers.
“I’ve been looking for you.” She smiles up at me, and I notice her bright blue eyes for the first time. Even in the dim light, they seem to glow.
“Hi,” I say, awestruck that the beautiful stranger is here pretending to know me.
“Ready to go?” She asks, pulling me toward the main road.
“Um…yeah,” I say, “Excuse us, gentleman.” I follow her lead, mesmerized. We quickly make our way onto downtown Bourbon’s busy sidewalk, where we blend into the crowd seamlessly. I faintly hear someone yell my name somewhere behind us, but I keep walking with her tucked under my arm, relief flooding me.
“You just saved my life, you know that right? To who do I owe my gratitude?”
“Blair Honeycutt. Happy to help,” she says with mischief twinkling in her eyes.
That sexy smile of hers hits me square in the chest. My heart pounds with fury, and I can barely breathe. It’s like cupid strikes me right there on the sidewalk. I’m a goner. Something deep in my bones is telling me she’s the one. As crazy as it sounds, having only set eyes on her tonight, I know I’ve fallen in love at first sight. This Christmas Angel saved my life, and claimed my heart in the process. The question is, what am I going to do about it?
The Holiday Set Up – Book One in the Curves for Christmas Series https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09895R35B
Meet Heather Lauren
Heather Lauren is a polly pocket size mom of three who only takes her book boyfriends seriously. She lives in sunny Arizona and enjoys writing steamy contemporary romance and romantic comedies with a strong cup of coffee or a sweet cocktail in hand. Listen along to your favorite book characters on the made for you playlists on Spotify and watch out for Easter eggs in all her books.
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Free book Rum and Records