The sexy and deeply romantic internationally bestselling novel that inspired the blockbuster Netflix movie.
Laura Biel and her boyfriend are on a dream vacation in beautiful Sicily. On the second day of their trip, her twenty-ninth birthday, she is kidnapped. Her kidnapper is none other than the head of a powerful Sicilian crime family, the incredibly handsome, young Don - Massimo Toricelli, who is determined to possess her at all cost. Massimo has his reasons. During an earlier attempt on his life, a vision appeared before his eyes: a beautiful woman, identical to Laura. After surviving the attack, he vows that he will find the woman in his vision and make her his own. No matter what.
For 365 days, Massimo will keep Laura captive in his palatial estate and attempt to win her heart. If she doesn’t fall in love with him during this time, he will let her go. But if she tries to escape at any point, he will track her down and kill her entire family.
Soon Laura develops a fascination with her handsome and powerful captor. But as a precarious, risky relationship forms between them, forces outside their control threaten to tear them apart . . .
Release date: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Print pages: 336
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Listen to a sample
“Do you know what this means, Massimo?”
I turned my head toward the window, looking at the cloudless sky, and then fixed the man with a stare.
“I’ll take over that company whether the Manentes like it or not.”
I stood up, and Mario and Domenico slowly followed suit, assuming their places behind me. The meeting had been pleasant enough, but it was getting decidedly too long. I shook hands with the men gathered in the room and headed to the door.
“It will be better for everyone this way.” I lifted my hand, index finger outstretched. “You’ll thank me for it later.”
I took my jacket off and undid another button of my black shirt. I was sitting in the back seat of the car, savoring the silence and the coolness of the conditioned air.
“Home,” I growled at the driver, scrolling through the messages on my mobile.
Most were business related, but one was from Anna. It read, I’m wet, I need to be punished. My penis stirred in my pants. I sighed, grabbing it through the fabric and squeezing hard. Oh yes, my girl always knew my moods.
She knew the meeting wouldn’t be enjoyable, and that it would only make me weary. She also knew how I liked to unwind. Be ready at eight, I replied, and sat back comfortably, observing the world outside the window as it whizzed by. I closed my eyes.
There she was again. My cock instantly grew hard as steel. God, I’ll go crazy if I don’t find her. It had been five years since the accident. Five long years since the—how did the doctor put it?—the miracle of death and resurrection. Five years of dreaming about a woman I had never seen in real life. I had met her in my comatose visions. I could almost smell her hair, feel the smoothness of her skin—I could almost feel it. Each time I made love to Anna or any other woman, I made love to her. I named her my Mistress. She was my curse, my obsession, and apparently—my salvation.
The car stopped. I grabbed my jacket and stepped out. Domenico, Mario, and the other guys I’d taken with me were already waiting on the tarmac. Maybe I’d overdone it, but sometimes you just need a show of force to catch your enemy off guard.
I greeted the pilot as I entered the plane and sat down in the soft seat. A flight attendant passed me a glass of whisky with a single ice cube. I glanced at her. She knew my tastes. I sent her a blank look, while she blushed and smiled flirtatiously. Why not? I thought, and pushed myself up in a fluid motion.
I seized the surprised woman by the hand and pulled her with me toward the private part of the jet.
“Take off!” I called to the pilot, and closed the door, locking the girl and myself in.
I shot out an arm, clasping my hand over her neck and pushing her against the wall. I fixed her with a gaze. She was terrified. I closed the distance between us, allowed our mouths to touch, and bit her lower lip. She moaned. Her arms hung limply along her body and she stared straight into my eyes. I seized her by the hair and pulled, tilting her head back. Her eyes closed and she moaned again. Such a beauty, so girlish. I required all my employees to be aesthetically pleasing. I liked my things pretty.
“Kneel,” I growled, pushing her down. She did as she was ordered without hesitation. I purred, praising her submissiveness, and trailed a thumb along her lips. They parted obediently.
I had never even talked to this girl before, but she immediately knew what she was supposed to do. I gently pushed her head against the wall and unzipped my pants. The flight attendant swallowed loudly, her enormous eyes still fastened on mine.
“Keep your eyes closed,” I said gently, my thumb moving across her eyelids. “You’ll only open them when I tell you.”
My cock sprang from my pants, rock-hard, almost painfully stiff. It rested on the girl’s lips, and she obediently opened her mouth. Wide.
You don’t have any idea what’s coming, darling, I thought, and pushed my prick all the way in, holding her head so she couldn’t move. I felt her choking, and thrust even deeper. Oh yes, I loved it when their eyes snapped wide open in terror, as if they really thought they’d suffocate. I withdrew. Slowly. Then I stroked her cheek in a tender, delicate gesture. I observed her calming down, licking her lips clean of the thick spittle that came deep from her throat.
“I’ll fuck your mouth,” I said. She was trembling. “May I?”
My face expressed nothing—no smile, no emotion. For a moment, the girl stared at me with those huge eyes, finally nodding her consent.
“Thank you,” I breathed, caressing her cheeks with both hands. I leaned her head further back against the wall and slid myself along her tongue all the way to her throat. She clasped her lips around my cock. Oh yes! My hips began to thrust, hard. I could feel her fighting for a breath, so I gripped her harder. That’s it! Her nails bit painfully into my thighs. At first she tried to push me away, then to simply hurt me, scratching my skin. I liked it. I liked it when they fought when they were helpless against my strength. I closed my eyes and saw my Mistress kneeling in front of me, her jet-black eyes piercing me like daggers.
She loved it when I took her like that. I clenched my hands on her hair even harder, seeing the lust in her stare. I couldn’t last any longer. Two more hard strokes and I froze, while my jizz spurted out from my shaft, filling the girl’s throat, choking her. I opened my eyes and looked at her smeared makeup. I withdrew a fraction, making some space.
“Swallow,” I growled, pulling her hair once more.
Tears rolled down her cheeks, but she complied. I pulled my cock out of her mouth and she collapsed back on her heels, sliding down the wall.
“Now lick it.” The girl froze. “Lick it clean.”
I propped my arms against the wall in front of me and glared at her menacingly. She hoisted herself up again and grabbed my manhood in one slender hand, starting to lick off the remains of my seed. I smiled faintly, watching as she did her best. When I decided it was enough, I pulled away and zipped my pants.
“Thank you.” I offered her a steadying hand as she pushed herself up, stood next to me on slightly shaky legs. “The bathroom is there,” I said, pointing her in the right direction, despite the fact that she must have known the plane intimately. She nodded and headed toward the door.
I returned to my companions and sat, taking a sip of the exquisite liquor, though its temperature had ceased to be perfect sometime before. Mario put down his newspaper and sent me a look.
“Back in your father’s day, they’d shoot us all dead.”
I sighed, rolling my eyes, and clinked the glass against the tabletop with irritation.
“Back in my father’s day we used to bootleg booze and drugs instead of running the biggest companies in Europe.” I leaned back in the chair, pinning my consigliere with an angry stare. “I am the head of the Torricelli family and I got where I am by no quirk of fate. It was my father’s decision. I have been brought up prepared to lead the family and bring it into a new era.” I sighed again, relaxing a little when the flight attendant flitted silently to the front of the plane. “Mario,” I said. “I know you used to like shooting.” The older man, my adviser, allowed himself a slight smile.
“We’ll have an opportunity for that soon enough.” I sent him a grave look. “Domenico.” I turned to my brother, who was stealing glances at me the whole time. “Tell your men to start looking for that whoreson Alfredo.” My eyes traced back to Mario. “You want a shootout? You’ll get one.”
I took another sip of the whisky.
The sun over Sicily was setting when we landed in Catania. I put my jacket on and we exited the plane, then headed out toward the terminal entrance. I pulled out my sunglasses, feeling a blast of the scorching-hot air on my skin. Mount Etna loomed over the horizon—perfectly visible today.
The tourists should be happy, I thought, entering the air-conditioned building.
“The guys from Aruba want to meet with you over that issue we talked about earlier,” Domenico said, walking by my side. “We have to take care of the Palermo clubs, too.”
I listened to him intently, silently making a list of things that still needed tending to. Suddenly, it was like everything became dark, even though my eyes were wide open. I saw her. I blinked frantically. I’d only ever seen my Mistress when I wanted to. My eyes widened, but she was already gone. Was my condition deteriorating? Were the hallucinations growing stronger? I needed to go back to that idiot doctor to get examined. Later. For now, I had to get things done. Like find the cocaine dealer who had mysteriously disappeared. Well, not “disappeared” per se, but the term was the closest one that fit the situation. We were approaching the car when I saw her again. Fucking hell, but that’s impossible! I stepped into the parked car and nearly pulled Domenico inside when he opened the other door.
“It’s her,” I whispered, my throat constricting. I pointed at a girl marching down a walkway, away from us. “It’s the girl.”
My head was spinning. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Or maybe I was just seeing things. Losing my mind. The car started.
“Slow down,” my younger brother said as we were closing in on the girl. “Holy shit,” he breathed as we caught up with her.
My heart skipped a beat. Her head turned; she was looking straight at me, not seeing me through the reflective window. Her eyes, nose, her lips… It was her—just like I’d dreamed. I reached for the handle, but Domenico stopped me.
A muscular bald man was calling over to my Mistress, and she turned and started walking his way.
“Not now, Massimo.”
I sat there, paralyzed. She was right there! She was real! I could have her, touch her. Take her with me and spend the rest of my life with her.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I shouted.
“She’s with others. We don’t know who they are.”
The car accelerated and I could do nothing but stare at the fading silhouette of my Mistress.
“I’m sending people after her right now. You’ll know who she is before we reach home. Massimo!” Domenico was saying, raising his voice. I didn’t react. “You’ve waited so long—you can wait a couple hours more.”
I pinned him with a gaze so furious and hateful he shrunk away. I could have killed him right there. The quickly diminishing rational part of my brain knew he was right, but the rest—the prevalent part—didn’t want to listen to a word he said.
“You have one hour,” I growled, staring dumbly at the seat in front of me. “You have sixty fucking minutes to tell me who she is.”
We parked at the driveway and stepped out. Domenico’s men immediately walked over, handing him an envelope. He passed it to me, and I headed toward the library without another word. I needed to be alone so I could wrap my head around all this.
I sat behind my desk and tore off the upper side of the envelope, my hands suddenly shaky. I spilled its contents to the desktop.
“Motherfucker!” I clutched my head in disbelief as the photos—no more paintings ordered from various artists—finally revealed the face of my Mistress. She had a name, a past. And a future she had no idea about. I heard someone knocking on the door. “Not now!” I yelled, not removing my eyes from the photos and notes. “Laura Biel,” I whispered, touching her face on the glossy paper.
After about thirty minutes of analyzing all the new information, I got up from my desk and sat down in an armchair and froze, staring at the wall.
“Can I?” Domenico asked, peeking through a crack in the door. I didn’t react, so he entered and sat in the other chair.
“We’ll bring her here,” I said numbly, not looking at him. He stayed locked in place, nodding his head slowly.
“But… how are you going to do that?” He sent me a disbelieving look, as if I were an idiot. Irritating little prick.
“You’ll go to her hotel and tell her you used to have these visions back when you nearly died and that’s where you saw her…” Domenico trailed off, looking at the note lying on the table in front of me.
Yes, I added in my head. Laura Biel, you are mine now.
“I’ll kidnap her,” I said. There was no hesitation in my voice. “Send people to the apartment of that—” I broke off, searching for the name of the bald guy in my notes. “Martin. They are to find out who he is.”
“Maybe I should ask Carlo? He’s right there,” Domenico said.
“Good. Tell his men to get everything on the man. I need to find a way to bring her here as soon as possible.”
“You don’t have to look far, you know.” I shot a glance at the door, from behind which a woman’s voice had sounded. Domenico looked, too.
“I’m right here.” Anna, all smiles, was walking my way in sky-high heels.
Fuck, I swore silently. I had completely forgotten about her.
“Well… I’ll leave you two.” Domenico grinned stupidly, pushed himself up, and headed to the door. “I’ll take care of that thing, and we’ll finish our business tomorrow,” he said.
The blonde approached me. With one of her long, slender legs, she delicately spread my own. Her scent was intoxicating, as always. A mix of sex and power. She drew up her revealing black silk cocktail dress and sat astride me, pushing her tongue into my mouth.
“Hit me,” she pleaded, biting my lip, rubbing her clit on the zipper of my pants. “Hard!”
She licked and bit my ear, and all I could do was stare at the photos scattered on the table. I pulled off my tie, which I had loosened earlier, and got up, pushing Anna down to the floor. I turned her around and blindfolded her with the tie. She smiled, her tongue tracing a line over her lower lip. She found the table with an outstretched arm, stood up, legs spread wide, and bent over the oak slab. She was wearing nothing under that dress. I walked over to her and smacked her on the ass. Hard. She yelped, head turning to the side, opening her mouth wide. The sight of the photos spread over the table and the thought that my Mistress was so close immediately made my dick hard as steel.
“Oh yes,” I purred, gently rubbing her wet snatch, keeping my eyes on the pictures of Laura. I grabbed her by the neck, lifting her for an instant and removing all the papers she had lain over. I let her lie over the desktop again, lifting her arms above her head. Then I arranged the photos so they all faced me. To possess the woman from those pictures… There was nothing I wanted more.
I was ready to come at once. I pulled my pants down quickly and slid two fingers into Anna. She moaned, squirming under my touch. Her pussy was wet and hot and so tight. My fingers started to circle her clit and she grabbed the edge of the table harder.
My left hand shot out to grab her by the neck, and my right smacked her on the ass cheek. I felt an inexplicable relief. I shot another glance at one of the photos and slapped her again, even harder. She screamed, but I hit her again and again, as if it could really change her into Laura. Her ass was purpling. I bent over and licked it. It was hot and pulsating. I spread her ass cheeks and began trailing my tongue around her sweet hole, visualizing my Mistress all the time.
“Yes,” she moaned softly.
I need to have her. Laura. I need her to be mine, I thought, straightening and impaling Anna with my throbbing cock. She bent her back into an arch and then lowered herself to the wooden table, now wet with sweat. I fucked her hard, keeping my gaze fixed on Laura. It won’t be long now. Soon, those black eyes will look at me as she kneels before me.
“You bitch!” I clenched my teeth, feeling Anna’s body go rigid.
I pushed myself inside her hard and aggressive, heedless of the orgasmic waves rippling all over her body. I didn’t care. Laura’s eyes made me want more, but at the same time I couldn’t last any longer. I needed to feel more. Experience everything fully. I slid my cock out of her pussy and slammed it into her tight ass. I heard her scream wildly in pain and ecstasy and felt her tighten around me. My prick exploded with cum, but the only thing I could see was my Mistress.
Eight Hours Earlier
The sound of the alarm clock pierced my brain.
“Get up, honey. It’s nine already. We have to be at the airport in an hour. Our Sicilian vacation awaits. Wakey, wakey!” Martin stood at the bedroom door, sporting a wide grin.
I opened my eyes slowly, reluctantly. It’s the middle of the night for me, for God’s sake. What a barbaric idea to fly at this time, I thought. Since I’d left work a few weeks ago, time of day stopped making any sense. I would go to sleep too late, wake up too late, and the worst of it was that I didn’t have to do anything. I could do what I wanted. I’d spent too much time in the quagmire of the hotel business, and when I had finally gotten my dream position as a sales manager, I quit. I just lost the passion for my work. I never thought that at the age of twenty-nine I’d feel burned-out, but those were the facts.
Working at the hotel had been satisfying and fulfilling, and it was good for my ego. Every time I negotiated a big contract, I felt the thrill of excitement, and when those negotiations involved competing with more experienced people—adepts at the art of manipulation—I was exhilarated. Especially when I won. Each little victory in my financial battles had given me the feeling of superiority.
It satisfied the vainer side of my character. It might sound stupid, but as a girl from a small Polish town who hadn’t even graduated university, proving my value to everyone around was a priority.
“Laura! You want cocoa or tea with milk?”
“Martin, please! It’s the middle of the night!” I rolled over on the bed and covered my head with a pillow.
Bright August light illuminated the bedroom. Martin never liked darkness, so even our bedroom windows lacked any kind of blinds. He used to say that darkness caused depression. Well, for him to fall into depression was easier than getting a coffee at Starbucks. The windows were all on the eastern wall, so each morning the sun made it pretty much impossible for me to sleep late.
“I made both cocoa and tea.” With a smug expression, Martin remained standing in the doorway, holding a cup in each hand. “It’s scorching hot outside. I bet you want the cold one,” he said, and passed me the cocoa. Then he began pulling the sheets from the bed.
By that time I was getting pissed at him, but I crawled out of my cave. I knew he wouldn’t relent. Martin flashed his teeth in a wide grin. That was so much like him—every morning he had too much energy. He was a heavily built, bull-like man with a bald head perched on top of a wide neck. People called him a muscle head. Aside from the purely physical aspect, he had nothing in common with that kind of man. He was the best human being I’d ever met. He had his own company, and each time he scored a big hit, he’d transfer a large sum to a children’s hospice. He liked to say: “I need to share God’s blessing with others.”
Martin had blue eyes. They were gentle and full of kindness. His nose was large and crooked—it had been broken in the past. Nobody’s perfect, and Martin hadn’t always been this wise and well mannered. What I loved about him the most were his full lips and his spectacular smile that always disarmed me each time I was mad at him.
His enormous arms were covered with tattoos. His entire body was, in fact, aside from his legs. He was a strong man, weighing a good deal more than two hundred pounds. I always felt safe with him, though I have to admit that at five feet five and 110 pounds, I might have looked a bit mismatched with him. My mom had always told me that sports are good, so I trained in whatever took my fancy at any given time, from Nordic walking to karate. I never stuck to any discipline for long, though. What it ultimately boiled down to was that my body was extremely fit, my tummy was hard as rock and perfectly flat, my legs were slim and muscled, and my buttocks toned and curvy. I must have done more than a million squats to achieve that effect.
“All right, I’m getting up,” I mumbled, then drank the delicious now-cold cocoa in one great gulp.
I put the cup down and went into the bathroom. As I stopped by the mirror I realized just how much I needed this vacation. My dark eyes were sad and resigned, and the lack of anything to do had made me apathetic. My chestnut hair flowed around my lean face and fell to my shoulders. That it reached this length was a success—usually I wore my hair a lot shorter. In normal circumstances, I would have thought myself pretty hot, but I didn’t right then. I was overwhelmed with the burden of my own failings and my aversion to work. I had no idea what to do with myself. My professional life had always determined my self-esteem. Without a calling card and a work phone in my purse, I didn’t feel too confident.
I brushed my teeth, put some pins in my hair, applied some mascara, and… that was about it. I didn’t have it in me to do much else. Besides, it would be enough. A while ago I had splurged on permanent brow, eye, and lip makeup out of sheer laziness. It allowed me to have more sleep and limit the morning bathroom routine to the bare minimum.
I went to the closet to get the clothes I had prepared for today. One thing always remained the same for me, irrespective of my moods and all the things I had no power to change—I had to be dressed as perfectly as possible. Wearing the right clothing made me feel better. Obviously, it made me look better, too.
My mother always said that a woman should always be beautiful even if she is hurting. And if my face couldn’t be as attractive as it was on a good day, I had to take everyone’s attention off it. So for the trip I selected light denim shorts, a loose white shirt, and despite the scorching heat outside, a light, gray mélange cotton cardigan. Planes were too cold for me, and even if it meant I’d boil outside first, at least I’d feel comfortable on board. Well, as far as I could, anyway—I was terrified of flying. I slipped my feet into my Isabel Marant wedge-heel gray-white sneakers and I was ready.
I went to the living room, which was connected to the kitchen annex. The apartment had modern decor—cold and minimalist. The walls were covered with black glass, the bar was illuminated with LEDs, and instead of a table like you’d have in a normal home there was a small counter with two leather-covered stools. An enormous gray corner sofa sitting in the middle of the room was a testament to its owner’s size. The bedroom was divided from the living room by a great aquarium. It was clear that a woman hadn’t designed this apartment. It was the perfect fit for a committed single, which the lord and commander of this particular apartment had been until recently.
Martin was sitting with his nose in his laptop as usual. It didn’t matter what he was doing at any given time—working, on a call, or watching a movie—he always kept his laptop close by. It was his best friend and an integral part of who the man was. I hated it with a passion, but it had always been like that, so I really had no right to change it. Even though I had appeared in his life more than a year ago only owing to that little device, it would be hypocrisy if I suddenly wanted it out of his life.
I remember it had been February, and I hadn’t been in a relationship with anyone for more than six months. I was growing bored, or maybe lonely, so I decided to set up a profile on a dating site. It turned out to be fun, not to mention that it ended up boosting my already high self-esteem. During one of those sleepless nights, browsing through hundreds of men, I finally stumbled on Martin. He was looking for a loyal woman to fill his world all at once. Anyway, we clicked and thus a petite girl tamed the tattooed monster. Our relationship wasn’t your run-of-the-mill affair. We were both the strong, dominant types and were prone to explosive outbursts. We were also both intelligent and had significant knowledge of our respective professions. It pulled us both to each other, intriguing and impressing us. The only thing our relationship was lacking was the animal magnetism, the unbridled attraction and passion that had simply never been there. As Martin had once said, he’d already had his share of fucking. I, on the other hand, was a volcano of sexual energy threatening to explode at any time. I had to search for release by masturbating on a daily basis. But still, I felt good at Martin’s side. Safe and calm. It was more important than sex. Or at least that’s what I thought.
“I’m ready, honey. I just have to zip up my travel bag, which is not going to be easy, and we can go.”
With a laugh, Martin pushed himself up, stuffed the laptop into its bag, and headed toward my luggage.
“I think I’ll manage, baby doll,” he said, squeezing my gigantic suitcase. “It’s the same thing all over again, eh? Excess baggage, thirty pairs of shoes and half the closet flying with us while you’re not going to wear more than, like, ten percent of all that.”
I frowned and crossed my arms.
“At least I’ll have choices!” I retorted, putting on my sunglasses.
I always felt apprehensive and anxious in airports, afraid even. I had claustrophobia and hated flying. Besides, I had inherited my mother’s pessimism. It was always doom and gloom for me, so I tended to overthink things that at least theoretically might end up in some kind of trauma. So a flying can with a pair of engines strapped to the sides wasn’t something I’d likely trust without a shadow of a doubt.
We were traveling with Martin’s friends, who were already waiting for us in the brightly lit departures hall. Karolina and Michal had been together for years and had chosen our destination. They were thinking of getting married, but at least for now, thinking about it was enough. He was your typical womanizer. With short blond hair, a deep tan, and blue eyes he was also pretty good-looking. All he was ever interested in was boobs, though. He didn’t even try denying that. She, on the other hand, was a tall, long-legged blonde with a delicate, girlish face. Nothing special at first glance, but when you came to know her, she became remarkably interesting. Karolina all but ignored Michal’s bothersome inclinations. I wasn’t sure how she managed it. With my possessiveness, I wouldn’t be able to stay with a man whose head turned every time he glimpsed another woman. I swallowed two antianxiety pills to be sure I wouldn’t have a full-blown panic attack on the plane.
We were supposed to have a stopover in Rome. An hour’s break and then another hour flying straight to Sicily. Last time I had been to Italy I was sixteen, and since then I didn’t have a high opinion of Italians. They were noisy, intrusive, and didn’t know a word of English. And English was like a native tongue to me. After all those years spent in various hotels, there were times I even thought in English.
When we finally landed in Catania, the sun was already setting. The guy at the car rental office took his bloody time handling customers. We got stuck in the queue for an hour. Martin was hungry and edgy, and his foul mood was rubbing off on me, so I decided to take a look around the place. There wasn’t much to se
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