Friday, September 12, 2014

SOMEBODY'S ANGEL by Kallypso Masters

SOMEBODY'S ANGEL by Kallypso Masters

Rescue Me Saga Book Four

When Marc d’Alessio first rescued the curvaceous and spirited Italian Angelina Giardano at the Masters at Arms Club, he never expected her to turn his safe, controlled life upside down and pull at his long-broken heartstrings. Months later, the intense fire of their attraction still rages, but something holds him back from committing to her completely. Worse, secrets and memories from his past join forces to further complicate his relationships with family, friends, and his beautiful angel.

Angelina cannot give all of herself to someone who hides himself from her. She loves Marc, the BDSM world he brought her into, and the way their bodies respond to one another, but she needs more. Though she destroyed the wolf mask he once wore, only he can remove the mask he dons daily to hide his emotions. In a desperate attempt to break through his defenses and reclaim her connection to the man she loves, she attempts a full frontal assault that sends him into a fast retreat, leaving her nobody’s angel once again.

Marc finds that running to the mountains no longer gives him solace but instead leaves him empty and alone. Angelina is the one woman worth the risk of opening his heart. Will he risk everything to become the man she deserves and the man he wants to be?



Somebody’s Angel
(c) Kallypso Masters 2013

NOTE: Italics will not show up in this preview sample. Also, some apps for iPad (Kindle, for instance) make the italics disappear, which will make this book more difficult to read and understand.


As Marc D’Alessio followed his girl Angelina Giardano into the bedroom, he tried to shake the trapped feeling that had hounded him all day.
What the fuck was wrong with him? This had to be one of the best Christmases he could remember. He and Angelina had played Santa’s elves to his buddy Damián Orlando’s newfound daughter this morning. Well, that had been a high until the orphaned kitten they’d brought the little girl had triggered an emotional meltdown for her mama. Did witnessing that have something to do with his mood?

Angelina rested her head against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her. He’d found the woman of his dreams a few months ago and couldn’t believe his luck that she was still with him despite a huge mistake on his part. They’d been together almost three months, closing in on his record with Pamela, his last girlfriend.

He crushed her closer to him, as if afraid she’d leave. Or perhaps his unsettled feeling had him worried he’d leave her; he’d certainly done that enough times. How could he even think of doing such a thing? They weren’t even having any issues worth fighting over. Why these unbidden thoughts about someone leaving? They weren’t even having any problems.

Marc decided to make sure she wasn’t sending some vibe he was picking up on. “You okay, cara?”

“Better than okay, Sir. You got me to a very good place, but I’m exhausted.” She pulled away and stared up at him, a bliss-filled smile on her face, before placing her hand behind his neck and dragging him toward her face. Her lips were warm, inviting, and promised this evening wasn’t going to end in them rolling over and going to sleep right away.

Angelina broke the kiss and stepped back. “I’ll join you in bed after I take a shower.” She hadn’t bothered to dress from their time in the tower room. Watching her strut toward the head gave him a renewed sense of pride in the red marks he’d placed on her ass. The sashaying of her hips conveyed her pleasure in them, too. Angelina brought out the Dom in him as no woman had before.

He began undressing and hanging up his clothes as he continued to analyze what had him so off-kilter. Dinner with Angelina’s family had gone well, considering her brothers didn’t think much of anyone she dated. The setting had been the picture-perfect, Italian-American family gathering. Shit, despite his being born in Italy, that dinner had been an eye-opener. Meals with his family were formal, stately affairs—seating charts, waitstaff, and course after course served precisely on time. The Giardanos, however, sat wherever they liked at the table for eight after filling their plates to overflowing from a buffet stocked with enough food to feed a platoon of Marines.

The noise level had been mind-numbing, too. At one point, Angelina interjected a comment into a conversation happening at the opposite end of the table before going right back to her discussion with her youngest brother, Tony, seated next to her. How she had picked up on two separate conversations at once without missing a beat both impressed and confounded Marc.

Still, nothing that would account for the way he felt. They’d come home to top off the day with an intense, satisfying session in the playroom. He loved getting kinky with his girl. It relaxed them both. So why did he feel…disconnected?

He loved Angelina and wanted her in his life more than his next breath—no, not wanted, needed. What was keeping him from proposing? Angelina had made no mention of leaving him, and yet the thought haunted him, as if he expected it to happen any day.

Tonight, he planned to focus on her completely, worshiping her body. Reminded how sore her ass would be, he walked over to her vanity and retrieved the tube of lido.

Beside her hair clip, he noticed her red hairbrush had been replaced by one with a wooden handle and back. A vague feeling he couldn’t even name washed over him, and he picked it up. His friend Luke had branded his artist’s mark on the front of the wooden handle.

“Marco, spazzolami i capelli.” The older woman’s disembodied voice asking him to brush her hair sounded oddly familiar, as if coming from a place deep inside him. Who was she? Definitely not Mama’s voice.

“I’m sorry, little one…you didn’t mean for me to get hurt.”

His chest grew tight, and he dropped the brush as if it had grown red hot. But the voice echoed in his head.

* * *

Angelina, don’t even go there.

Marc had seemed so distant when she’d come out of the shower. He’d applied the soothing ointment to her burning butt. However, before they could make love, he pleaded exhaustion and rolled over. His uneven breathing made her doubt he slept despite the hours they’d lain here, which only left her to wonder what had changed his mood.

The day had been so good. Even her four brothers had played nice at Mama’s for Christmas dinner. Although they never liked anyone she dated, they knew she was more serious about Marc than she had been about any past relationships.

So why did she get the feeling Marc was retreating from her?

From the night they’d met at Rico’s, he’d gone hot and cold on her. Sometimes she wondered if planning a future for them might just lead to heartache. Could he ever commit to something more than living together?

She reminded herself again not to be so pessimistic. Marc just happened to be a very private man. He shared himself with her in amazing ways, becoming more creative the better they got to know each other. Hard to believe they were living together already having only met in September, well not counting that time she had no memory of in August.

Maybe they’d just moved too quickly. She yawned, and her eyelids drooped. She’d give him time…

“Mamma, no!”

Angelina jolted awake and turned to find Marc lying on his stomach, punching at the pillow underneath his head.

“Scusami! Scusami!”

“Marc, wake up! You’re dreaming.”

Her words had no effect. His face turned toward her, perspiration plastering his hair to his forehead. The light from the bathroom showed the torment on his face.

Marc had always been plagued by nightmares but had never called out to anyone in Italian before. Other nights, she’d always thought he was remembering combat duty in Iraq. He’d taught her soon after she moved in here never to touch him while he slept without announcing herself, but his continued thrashing told her he wasn’t hearing her.

Without warning, he rolled toward her and onto his back. His swinging arm sucker punched her. Regaining her breath after a moment, she straddled his waist, her sore butt burning against his skin as he tried to buck her off.

She grabbed his wrists to hold him down. “Marc! Wake up! You’re scaring me!”

His brows scrunched in confusion. Had he heard her now? His eyelids fluttered open, and he stopped struggling. He’d come out of it. Thank God.

“You had a nightmare.”

He reached up to brush the hair from her face. “Are you okay, cara?”

“I’m fine, but you scared the crap out of me. What was that all about?”

His face grew puzzled. “Strangest dream. A woman I called mamma who wasn’t Mama. And Gino and I were in combat but on opposing sides. Then there was a wolf.”

She grinned at him. “No more leftover lasagna before bedtime.” She bent to place a kiss on his cheek before stretching out beside him. She needed to comfort him rather than go back to sleep, as if she could sleep now anyway.

He stroked her belly, and she winced when he touched where he’d punched her.

“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?”

Angelina stroked his chest, fingers running through the sprinkling of hair. “I’m fine, Marc. You scared me more than anything. I’ve never heard you talk in your sleep before. Or scream like that.”

“What did I say?”

“Mostly yelling at your mama not to leave you. You said you had a different mama in the dream?”

He nodded before shrugging. “Maybe not. She looked a bit like Mama, only…younger than I can remember her.”

She felt his heartbeat returning to normal under her hand. “Oh, and you kept saying you were sorry about something.”

He stopped breathing. “Did I say who I was speaking to?”

“No. Do you remember from the dream?”

He shook his head. “No, I don’t remember much of anything now.” He turned on his side and pulled her against him. “Sorry I woke you, cara. Let’s go back to sleep.”

A kiss on her shoulder blade sent a thrill down her spine. Did he really want to sleep—or was he finally going to make love to her the way she’d hoped he would after her shower?

The way his arm grew heavier gave her the answer. Soon his breathing was slow and even.

At least one of them could sleep. Visions of a wolf now invaded her thoughts—specifically, the wolf mask Marc wore the night he rescued her at the club. She hadn’t told him what she’d done to it yet. He hadn’t replaced it, thank goodness.

Maybe Marc’s days of wearing a mask were over. Dio, she hoped so. Slowly over the months he’d given her more and more tiny glimpses into his soul while still keeping so much to himself. The man was more private than anyone she’d ever met.

What secrets does that mind of yours hold back from me, Sir?

Chapter One
Angelina’s heart fluttered wildly as she got out of Marc’s Porsche. She stared up at the imposing resort lodge while Marc gave the keys to the valet. So far out of her league. What if they didn’t like her?

“Breathe, cara,” Marc whispered, wrapping his arm around her waist and holding her against his side.

She gained courage from his touch but couldn’t remain plastered to him all weekend. With a smile, she glanced up at him. “I’ll be fine.”

“They’re going to love you, amore. Stop worrying.”

Easy for him to say when he belonged here. He’d grown up in this place; she was the interloper. What if his family thought she’d just latched onto Marc for his money? Or worse, that she was a kinky deviant? After all, they already knew about his predilection to kink, from what Marc had told her.

Had he told his mama where he’d met Angelina? Her heart thudded to a momentary halt. They weren’t going to like her. Not one bit.

“Here they come.”

She spotted a doorman approaching before noticing Marc’s gaze was focused on the driveway where Savi Baker’s car was pulling up, driven by Damián. Reinforcements. They could help convince his family she was a nice, normal, loving person.

Of course, as the Masters at Arms Club’s sadist Service Top, Damián might not be the best one to vouch for normal. She smiled, remembering the first time she’d seen Damián at the club that disastrous night Allen Martin had taken Angelina there to introduce her to his twisted brand of BDSM. Now she understood Allen’s actions were nothing short of abuse. When she shuddered, Marc drew her even closer. She’d been forbidden to think about Allen again, so she’d let him believe she was just chilled by the mountain air.

Luckily, their friends provided an excellent distraction. With a wave, Damián handed his keys to the valet and immediately moved to the open trunk to remove his family’s luggage before the bellman came back with a cart.

Marc cleared his throat. “Damián, why don’t we all get checked into our rooms and meet down here again in about two hours?” He squeezed Angelina’s hand and grinned at her before leaning down to whisper in her ear. “That should give us time to relieve some of your tension, amore.”

Angelina’s clit sparked to life as heat infused her face, and her body began anticipating his offer of some much-needed release during those two hours. At the thought of being turned over his knee for an erotic spanking, she relaxed a little and grinned. She’d come to love those for…stress relief. Just what she needed—provided her screams didn’t bring any family members running to the rescue.

She turned and watched Savi brush Marisol’s bangs away from her eyes. What a beautiful little girl. Savi turned her gaze toward Angelina and Marc. “Perfect. Mari’s been so wound up about this trip; she could use a little rest before we take to the slopes or whatever it is you all want to do.” She looked at Damián, who only nodded. Skiing wasn’t an option for him, but the proud new papa insisted that Marisol take a lesson or two from Marc on the bunny slope.

Twenty minutes later, they were upstairs in their suite. Angelina released a huge sigh. Everyone in the lobby had seemed to be watching her. Uncertain which were Marc’s family members, if any, and which were hotel staff or resort guests, she’d felt even more lost. Apparently, the family hadn’t been alerted about their time of arrival. Odd, but it wasn’t as if they had shown up unannounced at Mama’s little house in Aspen Corners. The Bella Montagna resort was huge, opulent even by Aspen standards. They could probably hide out on the grounds for a week without being found.

Wishing such a thing was useless, though. Sooner or later, she’d have to face his family. Dinner tonight, Marc had said.


Angelina looked up at Marc, furrowing her eyebrows. “Enough what?”

“Enough worrying. They are going to love you as much as I do, cara. This tug-of-war in your head has to end. Now.”


“The only butt I want right now is yours over my knee. Strip.”

Her heart thudded, and her coat puddled at her feet. “Yes, Sir.”

She pulled the heavy sweater over her head, hearing the static crackling through her hair. He’d insisted she go braless this morning—and he’d copped a few feels on the drive to Aspen. In seconds, she was half naked. His gaze lowered to her breasts, and her nipples puckered.

Marc reached out to touch one. The buildup of static electricity discharged, causing her to inhale sharply and jerk away from the pain. He laughed. “We’ll have to explore the violet wand in the playroom or club sometime.”

While not on her list of hard limits, she’d never liked the idea of Marc using kinky electricity on her body. If that tiny spark had hurt so much, imagine what it would feel like with heavier currents coursing through her!

Angelina shuddered, reaching for her pleated skirt’s waistband before he stayed her hand. “Leave the skirt. Lose the tights.”

Her pussy muscles tightened. Mio Dio. At the thought of his hand on her bare butt, her breathing became rapid and shallow. She needed this badly after stressing since Christmas over meeting his family. Well, she’d stressed about it long before Christmas.

Reaching beneath her skirt, she snagged the waistband of her black tights with her thumbs and quickly shimmied them over her butt to her knees. She plunked down on the four-poster bed to remove her shoes and take the tights the rest of the way off. She wore no panties, another of Marc’s commands this morning cluing her in that he intended to play at some point today. But on cold days like this one, he allowed her to wear tights if they’d be outside.

He always seemed to know how uncomfortable and unsteady she was in fuck-me stiletto heels, though, and never asked her to wear them. A very considerate Dom.

When she dropped the tights onto the floor, his gaze roamed over her bare breasts and legs, heating her.

“Stand and present yourself.”

Angelina stood, cast her gaze to the floor in front of her, and planted her feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. She grasped her elbows behind her back, causing her breasts to jut out. Marc’s warm hands cupped them, and he pinched her nipples until she hissed.

“I love your tits.”

So I’ve noticed. “Thank you, Sir.”

Marc lowered his mouth to one, taking the nipple between his teeth and tugging until she nearly lost her footing. He straightened and sighed, as if he, too, regretted not having time to continue his exploration. Walking over to his toy bag, he pulled out one of his paddles. She almost took an involuntary step back. The paddle? Why? She hadn’t been bad.

Marc sat down on the edge of the mattress and laid the wooden paddle beside him. The turquoise-colored duvet enhanced the mirror image of the word “M-I-N-E.” That word would soon be imprinted on her butt. She hated the sting of that paddle. Damn Luke for making it. But she couldn’t put all of the blame on him; Angelina had chosen to present the gift to her Sir on Christmas night. She could have withheld it, but the sentiment seemed sweet at the time. Someday she would get her revenge on dear, sweet Luke.

“Kneel.” He tossed a pillow from the bed down in front of him, between his feet.

She was permitted to use her hands to get into a new position, so she released her elbows and eased herself down onto the pillow. Once steady, she clasped her hands behind her back again.

“Remove my shoes and take care of your clothing.” She reached out to untie and slip off the Guccis he rarely wore, setting them aside. Then she neatly folded her coat and sweater and placed them on the chair before resuming her position. Marc was particular about not leaving things lying around.

After reminding her of their safeword, as if she’d need it for one of his spankings, he said, “You need to take your mind off dinner tonight. Please me with your mouth.”

Releasing her elbows again, she eased down the zipper of his black Armani pants and pulled out his penis. She’d never grow tired of the sight of him, large and stiff for her.

Leaning back on his elbows, he grinned down at her. “No hands.”

Angelina scooted closer to better control the depth at which he could penetrate her mouth. No point letting her gag reflex steal the scene. As if licking a melting ice-cream cone, she let the tip of her tongue trace the engorged vein along the length of him before returning to the head. His hiss and the bobbing of his penis told her she’d pleased him. Maybe he was a little tense about this visit, too, and needed this session as much as she did.

Banishing from her mind all thoughts of meeting his family, Angelina leaned forward as far as she could and wrapped her lips around the head of his penis. Her mouth pulled him toward her as she sucked him deeper. At this angle, it would be difficult to bring him as deeply down her throat as she’d like, so she concentrated on flicking her tongue around the rim and paying special attention to the sensitive notch on the underside. His cock bobbed again, and she tasted his salty pre-cum. She grew wet thinking about having him inside her. Soon, she hoped.

“Your mouth is so hot, amore.”

Emboldened by his words, she sucked him harder, and he hissed again, pumping his hips up until the tip of his penis hit the roof of her mouth. She loved pleasing her Dom this way.

Suddenly, he placed his hands on either side of her face and moved her off of him. Puzzled, she blinked and looked up.

“I don’t want to come in your mouth or on your face. We don’t have a lot of time to clean up before you meet my family.”

The man’s ability to postpone coming was much stronger than hers. She hoped they’d have time for her to reach orgasm.

“Stand, pet.”

She maneuvered herself to her feet and took a step back before resuming her presentation stance, unsure what he wanted her to do next.

Marc stood as well, kicking away the pillow and unbuckling his belt. He released the button and dropped his hands to his sides.

“Remove my pants.”

Unclasping her hands, she hooked her thumbs in the waistband of his pants and lowered them, taking his boxer briefs in the same motion. His penis bobbed out, fierce and erect, surrounded by tufts of dark curly hair. Impulsively, she placed a kiss on the tip as she continued to remove his pants.

“You did not have permission to do that, pet.”

“Sorry, Sir.” Not really.

Marc sat down so she could shuck the pant legs the rest of the way off. She fought the urge to straddle him, because they were being formal now. Living with him these last few months, she’d learned a lot about discipline. He’d trained her to do as she was told during a scene, not to allow her impulses to get the better of her and not to clutter her mind with thoughts that pulled her out of the scene. Otherwise, there would be consequences. She glanced at the paddle again. Sometimes, though, she couldn’t help letting her inner brat out to play.

“Across my lap. Now.”

Angelina swallowed hard as she lay across his lap, his penis poking into her stomach. Her body was evenly distributed on either side of his thighs, hair hanging loose and curtaining her face. She grew wet anticipating the sting of his hand on her butt. He always started with his hand.

“Hands flat on the floor.”

Shit. She didn’t like that position, because it left her with very little control—so open and vulnerable. However, she did as he ordered. His penis now pressed against her pubic bone, and each swat of his hand would send a jolt to him, as well.

He lifted her short skirt and his warm hand caressed her butt. She squirmed when his fingers traced a path from her crack to the swollen folds of her pussy. “So damned wet for me, pet. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Sir, for making me wet.” Her voice sounded breathless to her ears. Hurry, Sir. I need this!

His finger slid into her opening, and she squeezed him in welcome. They hadn’t made love this morning, and she wanted him inside her so badly. However, it wouldn’t happen for a while at least. Perhaps not for hours—even days. Sometimes he preferred to leave her on edge for long periods before he gave her the relief she craved desperately. As he removed his finger, she hoped he’d touch her clit and give her release.


Not expecting the spanking to start so suddenly, her breath hitched in surprise.


His hand came down on her other cheek equally as hard, and she squeezed her butt cheeks together. Several more swats rained down on her in quick succession, and she held her breath as the familiar warmth spread over her bottom.

“Open wider for me, pet.”

Oh, no. She hated when he struck directly on her pussy or clit. Knowing it would only be worse if she didn’t respond quickly, she angled her left leg toward his knee, exposing herself to him fully. He must want to send her straight into subspace.


“Ow, mio Dio!” His hand struck directly on her clit, and she jerked, trying to avoid the next blow. Swat! No such luck. Tears ran down her nose. The release of tension as he continued to spank her left her sobbing; then the familiar euphoria sent her floating.



The paddle landed on her left cheek and surprised her, stinging her sore skin and bringing her back to the present with a vengeance. How long had she zoned out?


The pain burning in her butt from the impact of the solid wood caused her to clench her cheeks together, making the fire burn even hotter. New tears flowed.

Cool air blew over her burning butt; Marc had finished with the spanking. His breath only caused gooseflesh to break out, increasing her pain. He knew it, too, damn him. She jumped as the cold ointment he applied after spankings made contact with her sore ass, but it soon eased the sting away. His hand stroked her back in a soothing manner as he waited for the ointment to dry. She hiccupped.

“Shhh, pet.” Marc helped her up, and she melted against him as he sat her on his lap and enfolded her in his arms. Her butt stung worse with the friction against his legs, but she needed to be held. He stroked her hair, and she laid her head against his shoulder, accepting his gentle ministrations.

“You’re mine, pet.”


“Always, Sir.”

A peaceful calm came over her; her eyes drifted shut, and she relaxed…

“Time to wake up, amore.”

Angelina blinked awake and found herself still in Marc’s arms. “I’m sorry, Sir.” She tried to sit upright and felt the sting in her butt. His hand held her tightly in place.

“Talk to me. How are you feeling now?”

“Better. Extremely relaxed.”

“Good girl.”

“Just one problem.”

He grew tense. “What’s that?”

“How am I supposed to sit down through dinner tonight? You really walloped me.”

“Brat. You know you loved every stroke.”

“Yes, Sir. I did. Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

“You’re the one to thank. I can’t imagine what my life would be without you. You have given me something I didn’t even know was missing.”

“What’s that?”

He thought for several moments before shrugging. Would he elaborate or was she digging too deeply? “A need to…be needed, I guess you could say. You need me. I like that.”

Angelina, needy? Hardly. She’d fought too long to gain independence from her big brothers only to let this man steal her heart away. Ready to argue the point, she opened her mouth.

“But it’s mutual, Angelina.” He leaned back and gazed into her eyes. “You also take excellent care of my needs, cara. You fill a void in my soul.”

His acknowledgement of her need to nurture, one of her best traits in her opinion, reminded her why this complex, sometimes infuriating man was worth loving. One day she hoped to see beyond the mask he wore to protect himself—or to hide whatever he didn’t want to face.

Marc controlled and kept his emotions hidden most times. So private. Every now and then she’d catch a glimpse of yearning coming from him, a look telling her something remained locked inside. Often, those times came after a restless night with him where he was tormented by something from the past that he never could name upon waking. Maybe someday she’d help him identify and release that pain, just as he’d helped her find release from so many hurts in her life.

Angelina couldn’t understand how he could have grown up male in a big Italian family without feeling he had the world on a platter. She reminded herself that his family was very different from hers, though.

Thoughts of meeting his family tonight sent another flurry of “what ifs” rampaging through her mind. What if she couldn’t impress them and…

“Why did you tense up again just now?”

Shit. She really could have no secrets from him. He read her body like a book. “I’m sorry, Sir. I let my mind wander where it shouldn’t.”

Marc sighed, stroking her cheek. “Mio angelo, please stop worrying. My family will love you.”

“Yes, Sir.” But she still had a niggling feeling of doom. If they didn’t accept her, she could lose Marc. So much was riding on this meeting with his family.

She couldn’t wait for this dreaded dinner to be over.

* * *

“Marco! Marco D’Alessio!”

In the lobby of the condo building that adjoined the resort, Angelina turned. A curvaceous Italian woman approached, long black hair fluttering loose over her shoulders, and her enormous boobs arriving a half-second before the rest of her. Something in the way she devoured Marc with her eyes raised Angelina’s hackles. The woman was drop-dead gorgeous, but her eyes were empty, cold, and calculating when she cast a disdainful glance Angelina’s way.

Marc tensed as well, causing Angelina to shift her focus to him. His nostrils flared as he narrowed his gaze. Angelina curled her fingers around Marc’s elbow before realizing she was being territorial. Not to mention more than a bit insecure.

Oh, as if that’s something new.

Angelina glanced back at the woman and caught another cold glare aimed at her.


The word popped into Angelina’s head, surprisingly accurate.

“Melissa. How are you?” Marc’s cold response and stiff posture told Angelina all she needed to know. He didn’t like her, whatever their history might have been. Plus, the perfect globes protruding from the woman’s chest had to be silicone.

Okay, now who’s being the bitch?

Angelina plastered a smile on her face and squeezed Marc’s elbow. As if suddenly remembering her presence, he stared down at her but didn’t smile as he made the introductions.

“Angelina Giardano, meet Melissa Russo. She was Gino’s fiancée.”

Gino’s? With the emotion sizzling between these two, something more than an engagement to his dead brother lingered between them. But did she really want to know about the women in Marc’s past?


No! As long as they remained old flames and in the past tense, she didn’t need to know.

When the woman tried to kiss Marc, he turned his face away, and her red-slathered lips branded his cheek. Angelina released his arm—uncertain whether she was trying to put distance between herself and them or to deck this brazen bitch making a move on her man. But Marc wrapped his arm around her waist and drew her closer.


Angelina relaxed.

“If you’ll excuse us, Melissa, we have dinner plans.”

Ignoring Marc, Melissa glared at Angelina again before adding, “Mama asked me to join the family for dinner tonight to welcome you home.”

Marc’s arm jerked reflexively against her back before he relaxed it again. Angelina wished the floor would just open up now and swallow her whole if she was going to have to sit through this meet-the-parents meal from hell with not only Marc’s intimidating family but a woman who might be an old flame, too.

Ever polite, Marc held his arm out to indicate that Melissa should precede them across the lobby. Angelina got the full impact of Melissa’s perfectly shaped ass and fuck-me stilettos as the woman undulated toward the elevator alcove. Melissa didn’t wobble at all on the heels; Angelina would have fallen flat on her face.

Brass-encased, filigreed mirrors on three walls of the alcove made it impossible to look anywhere without seeing Melissa’s absolutely stunning body. Tearing her gaze away from the woman’s perfection, Angelina looked up at the floor numbers above the elevator doors, watching as one of two cars made its way slowly to the first floor.

She wished she’d gone with Damián and Savi to dinner at the lodge, not wanting to be here. The red floor numbers blurred, and she blinked away tears of frustration and trepidation. When the bell dinged and the door opened, Melissa walked into the elevator with her head held high, as if she owned the place. She turned and pushed the button for the floor she obviously knew by heart, giving Angelina a smug look that clearly stated, “I belong here. You don’t.”

When Angelina would have followed her into the elevator, Marc’s arm around her waist held her back. Puzzled, she looked up at him as he grinned at Melissa. Angelina followed his gaze.

“Tell my mother we’ve been detained a bit, but we’ll be there shortly.”

The doors began to close on a glaring Melissa, who realized too late she’d been outmaneuvered. Angelina smiled back at her as the doors closed.

“Come, cara. We need to talk.”

Oh, Dio. Her triumphant joy was short-lived. Would he tell her what this woman meant to him?

Leading her back toward the lobby, he guided her into a secluded corner where burgundy velvet covered an expensive-looking empire sofa set between two matching wingback chairs. The furniture surrounded an inlaid mahogany coffee table. The Aspen cityscape shimmered beyond the windows. Marc turned her toward him. Seeing Melissa’s lipstick still marred his cheek, she quickly reached down to pluck a couple of tissues from the box on the coffee table before wiping that woman’s mark off her man’s face.

Memories of the marks he’d placed on her ass from her earlier spanking made her smile.


Her smile softened the muscles in Marc’s jaw, which had been hard as steel under her ministrations. The corners of his eyes crinkled as he grinned. “What questions are scurrying through that busy mind of yours, cara?” Angelina looked down, but his hand on her chin forced her to return her gaze to his face. “Ask me what you want to know, and I will answer your questions.”

“Who…” Angelina cleared the frog in her throat and started again. Over the past few months, Marc had insisted she tell him truthfully whatever was on her mind. He’d be forthcoming with her as long as she asked the right questions. She’d never needed to ask the right questions more than now.

“Who is she? What does she mean to you?” Did. She meant did, not does.

Dio, please don’t let the woman mean anything to him anymore.

Marc’s warm fingers brushed a stray hair off her forehead. “She’s nothing to me now.” He glanced away, making her nervous. “But there was a time I almost proposed to her.”

Mio Dio. Angelina didn’t want to know that he was attracted to someone that perfect. That beautiful. Angelina could never have a body like that without serious reconstruction. She wouldn’t do that for any man. Not even Marc.

Marc grabbed her upper arms as she struggled in vain to pull away.

“The operative word, cara, is was. I found her in bed with Gino the day I planned to propose.”

She searched Marc’s gaze. More relief than regret showed, so she let herself relax a little more. “Did you love her?”

He grinned and shrugged. “I was young and horny and mistook that for love. In these past few months, by exhibiting real love you’ve shown me how stupid I was back then. Let’s just say I was a young man unable to get beyond the woman’s surgically enhanced body to see the phony person inside.” A glint of mischief shone in his eyes. “Besides, you know I prefer yours to plastic ones.”

He reached up, and Angelina looked toward the hallway as she hissed, “Don’t you dare!”

Marc ignored her embarrassment and tweaked her nipple sending heat pooling to her core. “Marc…”

He lowered his face to hers and captured her lips in a searing kiss that only left her wanting more. His teeth pulled at her lower lip, sucking it into his mouth. Their tongues tangled before she broke away, drawing ragged breaths.

He’d already left her on the edge of an orgasm once today. If she made it through this dinner without yanking him into the bathroom for a quickie, it would be a miracle. She could just imagine how swollen and well-kissed her mouth must look now. She hoped it was obvious to Melissa when they got upstairs.


“Bella, I love everything about your body, because it’s real, not the result of multiple surgeries. But most importantly, I love who you are on the inside. You’re nurturing and kind, incredibly sexy in and out of the bedroom, and cook like a goddess—everything a man could want. Everything this man wants.”

He gave her a peck on the cheek and took her hand. “Now, be prepared for Melissa to say things that will upset you, but please don’t take her word for anything. She’s never been particularly honest. If you have questions, our signal will be that you will touch the necklace you’re wearing. When I see that, I’ll know to find us a quiet place to talk before you let that fertile imagination of yours go hurtling off a cliff.”

Marc understood her insecurities so well and always tried to allay her fears. She wished she could keep her mind from automatically discounting herself, because she saw only acceptance, encouragement, and love in his eyes.

“Thank you, Marc. I needed that—and I’ll try not to yank you away from the dinner table more than once every fifteen minutes or so.” She grinned.

His pupils dilated, as if he was thinking along the lines of having that quickie she’d been fantasizing about a few minutes ago.

“We’ll get away as early as we can, amore. I believe there’s the unfinished business of one beautiful woman’s orgasm that needs to be taken care of.”

Her clit pulsed as he bent to nibble the side of her neck. Mio Dio, how was she ever supposed to sit through dinner when all she wanted to do was sit astride Marc’s lap and let him fill her completely as they both rode toward a satisfying climax?

Marc broke away, breathing a little harder himself. “We’d better go before Mama thinks I’ve tied you to the bed and am having my way with you.”

“Marc! You don’t think she knows…well, how we met, do you? I mean, that I…we…like to…you know…” Angelina looked around and whispered, “…do bondage and stuff.”

Marc laughed long and hard as he took her hand and steered her back toward the elevator. “I think my mama assumes anyone I’m with is into that after my little brother told her about an…incident I was involved in here at Bella Montagna in my younger days.”

Angelina wondered what type of incident, but he averted his gaze, giving the impression it was better not to ask. Heat crept into Angelina’s cheeks as perspiration broke out on her forehead thinking about the implications for her. Oh, mio Dio. She really wasn’t going to be able to look his mother in the eye now.

Maybe there would be a supply of good wine to ease her discomfort.

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