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Carter bought his way out of the mafia to protect Emma, but when an old ghost returns to the Mauricio Family, a chain of events starts that can harm everyone. While Carter must decide to return to the Mauricio Family or not, a face that is oddly familiar to Emma comes into her life. She’s given the chance to discover more about her family while tensions between the rivaling Mauricio and Bertal Family comes to a head in an explosive way. The truce is officially off, and when the two worlds collide, Carter’s decision is made.
He didn’t start this war, but he will end it.
He will do anything to protect Emma.
Amanda had asked her about it one night at their apartment when I’d gone to the bathroom. I stopped in the hallway when I’d overheard Theresa explain, “It’s not that I don’t like him. It’s just…he’s a killer, Amanda. He’s dangerous. I know he loves her, and I know if anyone is going to protect her, it will be him, but…” She’d sighed. “I don’t know. He’s known as the Cold Killer. It’s hard to get past that, even though I know Emma loves him so much.”
Amanda had asked, “Are you worried for her?”
“No.” She’d hesitated. “I mean…maybe. I’m not worried for her from him, but because of him. He’s with the mafia.”
“She said he’s out.”
“Yeah, well, is anyone really out?”
Amanda had replied, “She wasn’t in trouble before because of him. Emma and I did that all on our own.”
“I know. I really do, and I feel bad, but I’m just on edge with the guy. He’s deadly. Can’t you see it in his eyes?” Theresa got up for the kitchen. “I need a refill. You?”
I had melted backward, back into the bathroom. When she’d crossed the hallway, the bathroom door was shut.
Glancing over at her now, I remembered how her smiles had seemed more forced that night, her laughter a little louder, and the secretive looks she’d sent Amanda’s way. They were roommates. They were going to talk about me. That was obvious, but I’d been hurt, though I knew I shouldn’t have been.
Theresa worried about me. I tried to keep telling myself it was as simple as that.
A tingle started in the base of my stomach, and it rose up, spreading through my body, warming me as it went, until I was almost salivating for him. When I saw him, I needed to touch him. It had been like this for a year, and I never wanted it to end. I always wanted to thirst for him.
He murmured against my skin, “Why is it that your presence can calm me? Your touch can make me alive, and one little sigh from you makes me want to sleep for days in your embrace?”
I smiled, moving to press a kiss to his ear. “Because you love me.”
Pulling me back into his arms, he nudged my legs farther apart, moving closer, and pressed his lips to the underside of my jaw. He whispered, “Never.” Another kiss to the corner of my lips. “Ever.” A third kiss, his lips resting atop mine and he murmured, “I promise. Nothing will ever happen to you.”
“Because you need to understand. It’s time you know more. You’re mine, Emma. My first allegiance is to you. Things are going to happen now, and I can’t control them. The Mauricio family has always followed me."
Suddenly I realized—he was going back in. A tear formed in my eye, and I ignored it. This was what he was telling me. I swallowed over a lump. “What happens now?”
He didn’t answer at first. Then he let out a soft breath of air and turned, his eyes pained. He said one word: “War.”
I closed my eyes and just felt her. She trailed a hand down my face, tracing my lips. That small touch, so gentle, so loving. That was Emma.
No other woman made me feel like this. It was her, only her. Opening my eyes, I found her watching me and smiling as her chest heaved for air.
"I love you," she murmured.
Goddamn. I kissed her and whispered against her lips, "I love you too."
I closed my eyes and held the man I loved. Resting my forehead to his, I placed my arms on his shoulders as he held my hips. His thumbs rubbed back and forth. This. Right here. He was the most powerful man I knew, and he was all mine.
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