I'm the Don's daughter. A mafia princess. He's my father's right-hand man.
When Carlo catches me taking my clothes off in a strip club,
he wants to haul me into my father's office.
I suggest an alternative–one more pleasurable for both of us.
He can handle my punishment. Dominate me the way he's always wanted.
Take care of my needs and, most importantly, keep my secret.
But we're playing with fire.
Every day, I fall a little more for the underboss
and if my father finds out...
It won't just be my future destroyed.
It could mean Carlo's life.
This stand-alone romance is has no cliff-hangers, no cheating. HEA guaranteed.
Release date: December 13, 2022
Publisher: Burning Desires
Print pages: 218
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Don't Make Me: A Bad Boy Mafia Romance
Four Years Later
I grip the pole and extend one leg up into a perfect split. A lifetime of ballet lessons is finally paying off. Heh. Well, it’s not like I can perform for real anymore, not since my injury.
I consider stripping at The Candy Store to be a form of sex therapy. That’s how I framed it to my best friend, Maggie, anyway.
I don’t strip for the money, and it sure as hell isn’t to meet nice guys. But I like the sense of power it gives me. Or is it the objectification? Either way, each time I take the stage and twirl around the pole, it repairs a small piece of my shattered sexual confidence.
I have my asswipe ex-boyfriend John to thank for my new career. Every night I work, I feed off the lust in the men’s eyes and send a psychic f-you to the guy who found me so unappealing. He barely managed to have sex with me once a month. When I found out he was cheating on me with multiple women—sometimes three different women in a week—I was ready to give up men altogether. But this is better.
So long as my father never finds out. Because Alberto LaTorre, don of the LaTorre Crime Family, would never recover from learning his spoiled principessa is taking her clothes off for money. He has some very old school Catholic ideas about women—they’re either whores or the blessed Virgin herself, and nothing in between exists. And, obviously, he wants me firmly in the blessed virgin category.
I pull off my short plaid Catholic school girl skirt to the applause of the crowd. The white blouse is already off, leaving me in nothing but a bikini top and lacey white G-string. I crawl forward on the stage and accept a five-dollar bill between my tits, giving the man who offered it a nibble on his earlobe as I murmur “Thanks.”
Standing to twirl around the pole again, I grip it and flip myself upside down with my legs in a forward split. Rotating my legs, I open them to a center split, then wrap both ankles around the pole and slide down to land on my back with my knees bent up and spread wide.
In my periphery, I see a couple guys enter through the door. Maybe it’s the well-tailored suit that makes me look twice. Maybe it’s just my instincts kicking into gear, but when I glance through the low-lit club at the faces of the men, I go cold.
My father’s right-hand man. My drool-worthy, sexy Sicilian foster-brother of sorts, walking in like he owns the place. I recognize the face of the guy with him but don’t know his name. One of Carlo’s soldiers.
I spin to hide my face, praying he didn’t see me. He’ll probably head straight up to the VIP section for private dances. He certainly has the money and seems like the type who prefers that. Hopefully he won’t even give the stage the time of day. Thank heavens no one around here will object to the sight of my ass instead of my face. I put my two hands on the upstage wall and roll my hips and head in concentric circles, letting my thick brown hair fall down my back. I wonder if I could just stay back there, pin to the wall until my set is over. Two more numbers, and I’ll be off the stage, and then I’ll tell my boss I’m not feeling well and split.
But already some young frat boys are hollering to me, waving their five-dollar bills in the air for me to come over. I pretend not to see them.
“Hey, over here,” one of them calls. “What? Our money’s not good enough for you?”
“Milan.” My boss, Sam, grunts my stage name, jerking his head toward the guy. I toss my head around as I strut toward him, letting my hair fall over my face. Crouching down, I pull out the waistband of my G-string for his offering.
With my back to the audience, I go back to the pole and wrap one leg around it, humping the stainless steel. Going for another high kick, I slip and stumble back. It turns out sweaty palms present a serious impediment to pole dancers. To recover, I strut around the perimeter of the stage, trying to keep my hair over my face.
I don’t look at Carlo. He climbed the stairs into the VIP section, but he’s sitting at the balcony, looking down. It’s probably just my imagination that he’s staring straight at me. When I round the corner, I dart a glance in his direction.
We lock gazes, and my stomach twists.
Carlo’s lips flatten. Surging to his feet, he jogs down the stairs and stalks toward the stage. Jimmy, The Candy Store’s ex-marine bouncer, flexes his muscles and steps forward.
I dart toward the stairs to intercept. As the daughter of Jersey’s largest crime family don, I probably know even less than your average American about the workings of the mob, but there is one thing I understand: Family men don’t take shit from anyone. Like any apex predator, they’re dangerous when provoked.
“It’s okay, Jimmy,” I say breathlessly as I navigate the stage steps in my heels.
“Milan, what the hell are you doing?” Sam calls from the other side of the stage.
I send an apologetic glance at him and try to push past Jimmy, who put his body between mine and Carlo’s. He extends an arm to hold me back.
“What do you want?” he demands of Carlo.
Carlo ignores him and lifts his chin at me. He doesn’t need to speak. I know he can only have one agenda--to haul me out of there as fast as possible, before anyone else sees my scantily-clad body.
“It’s okay, Jimmy.” I grip the bouncer’s bulging bicep.
Carlo looks at the place where my hand connects with Jimmy’s arm, and his lip curls into a snarl.
I snatch it away. “I’m going to leave with Carlo. I have to go.”
“Is this guy giving you problems? You don’t have to go anywhere with him.”
The stupid bouncer’s going to get himself killed. Why can’t he leave it the hell alone? “No, no. You have it all wrong. He’s family.”
With a capital F.
“He’s my ride, and I have to go now.”
By this time, Sam’s shoved another girl on stage. He makes it over to us, looking irate. “What in the hell is going on here?”
“I’m sorry, Sam. I have to quit. You can keep my last paycheck. I’ll just get my stuff from the locker room.” I say the last bit to Carlo who acknowledges it with an almost imperceptible nod.
Jimmy catches my arm. “Are you in some kind of trouble?” he asks in a low voice.
“No! I’m not. I’m really not. But I do have to go. I’m really sorry.” I pull away and rush off toward the locker room, carrying my clothes from the stage. I throw on my plaid skirt and white blouse and grab my purse from the locker.
Carlo and his soldier wait in the hall. Carlo stands out from the rest of the men who frequent The Candy Store. Tall, expensively-dressed and darkly handsome, he caught the attention of all the women working the place, but right now he’s looking only at me, and he appears lethal. Something about seeing Carlo as such a badass makes my entire body vibrate—and not just from nerves. I scoot past them, not wanting a scene in The Candy Store, and head out the back door with my two bodyguards—or in this case, prison guards—behind me.
“You drive my car back.” Carlo hands his keys to his soldier. The guy disappears, afraid enough of my father to avoid looking my way. Carlo follows me to my car.
“Are you going to tell me what in the fuck is going on?” His sexy Italian accent sounds thicker when he’s mad. His green eyes flash.
I shiver and shake my head.
“No?” He cups my chin. Despite the hard lines and the anger on his face, his touch is gentle. “What were you doing in there? You can’t possibly need the money.” He gives me a questioning look.
“No, it’s not that. I like dancing, okay?”
“Dancing?” He snorts. “I’ve seen you dance. You have more talent than every stripper in Jersey combined. That’s not dancing. Give me the damn keys.”
I search in my purse and produce them. “Are you going to tell my dad?”
He snatches the keyring from my hand. “Of course, I’m going to tell him. I’m going to drive you to his house right now, so he can straighten you out.”
The thought of my father’s reaction brings on a wave of panic. It’s not that I’m afraid of him. It’s what this would do to him. I’m his little princess. His perfect girl—the ballerina, the straight-A dance major whose parents hoped would someday marry a doctor or lawyer and be as straight-laced and square as they are marginal. I don’t want to ruin my parents’ little fantasy.
I block Carlo when he reaches to open the car door, getting a whiff of his cologne and, underneath it, his decidedly masculine scent. He towers over me, his hard-muscled body so close heat registers along my skin. “Don’t tell him.”
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