The Final Hour
Trained to fight and born to lead, Emilia can handle anything the sexy Irishman throws her way—except love.
Sean McGregor, the handsome and protective Irish billionaire, was once the king of one-night-stands, but when a beautiful and courageous Italian comes into his life, everything changes. He only wants her—the one woman he can’t have.
As one of the leaders of the world’s most powerful secret society, Emilia Calibrisi can’t afford to believe in fairy tales, not when so much of her life has ended in tragedy and heartache. The last thing she has time for is falling in love, especially with Sean McGregor.
Trapped by loyalty and family tradition, rules and promises are in place to keep Sean and Emilia apart. But unable to resist the pull of fate, Sean finds himself fighting for Emilia’s heart while he fights by her side to dismantle a dangerous criminal organization. And slowly, Emilia falls victim to his charms. His incredible strength. Those big blue eyes and sinful accent.
Sean and Emilia’s insatiable need for each other has them playing with fire and blurring the lines by which they are bound.
But when the sins of her father come to light and secrets are revealed, Emilia and Sean don’t know whom to trust. Is their happiness attainable, or will Emilia once again choose duty over love?
In this thrilling new pulse-pounding addition to the Dublin Nights Series, everything will be on the line in the final hour, including their lives.
Release date: January 7, 2021
Publisher: EmKo Media
Reader says this book is...: action-packed (1) high heat (1) strong chemistry (1) strong heroine (1) year's top 10 (1)
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The Final Hour
Extract taken from the second half of the Prologue
Las Vegas, Nevada (Ten Years Ago) - EMILIA
“Ridiculous, right? Not allowed to drink until twenty-one, but you can die for your country at eighteen.”
I stilled at the sound of the deep voice behind me, that sexy Irish brogue wrapped around me like a warm caress. The man radiated “confident alpha” without the slightest hint of arrogance and had my nipples standing at attention. Good thing I was wearing sticky nipple pads beneath my halter.
“I would have to agree.” At least my voice worked this time. I slowly turned and faced the Irishman with the incredible eyes from the arena. “Did you follow me here?”
“I’m torn about how to answer.” He didn’t set a hand on the bar and lean in like most men probably would have. He kept his distance as though sensing I was a woman who liked my space. But he was close enough that the smell of his cologne fluttered to my nose. “If I say no, then it appears fate brought us together again, but I hate lying. If I say yes, then I look like a stalker.”
Or a hitman, but I quickly shelved that idea as being paranoid because the man had me smiling right now. “I happen to value honesty.”
“Then I ditched the boring businessmen and searched all the clubs at the hotel in hopes you’d be in one.” The booming surround sound muffled his gorgeous accent. “Because it’s not every day a woman knocks the breath out of me without actually doing anything other than look my way.”
It was just as hard to see in the club as it had been in the arena, the darkness fractured only by intermittent flashes of colored lights. But we were facing each other now, so I took a tour of his body with my eyes, drinking in the sight of him.
Black trousers encased his long legs. A crisp, white dress shirt, top two buttons popped, with an open jacket. A casual business look.
He had money, but he didn’t flaunt it. I’d been around plenty of wealthy men in my life, and there was definitely a stereotype out there, but he didn’t fall into that category. But I liked what I saw. My body responded, electricity zipping to every erogenous zone. I grew even hotter whenever our gazes collided.
“Your accent, I’m guessing Italian. Have you been here a long time?” he asked when I’d yet to summon a response to his confession. “I’m—”
“No names.” Safer for us both. Besides, being a Calibrisi wouldn’t tether me to the ground tonight. I wasn’t the daughter of a feared and powerful man. “Can we be two strangers who happen to share a moment and leave it at that?”
His brows tightened, and his bottom lip rolled inward for a brief moment. “So, you felt that, too, huh?”
“Hard not to,” I admitted.
“Hey, here’s your birthday drink,” Jason called from behind the bar, and I mentally willed him not to give away my name.
The Irishman checked his watch. “Ten more seconds until midnight.”
“Well, technically I was born a minute after twelve.” My lips twitched into a smile, which caught me by surprise since the subject of my birth never usually resulted in happy thoughts—no mother and all that. But I didn’t avoid celebrating my birthday because that would mean I had . . . well, feelings about it, but . . .
“Fairy tales. You a fan?”
I set my drink down alongside my clutch, momentarily confused about his question until I remembered he’d probably overheard Chanel’s words back at the arena. “Do I look like a woman who buys into fairy-tale nonsense? Am I a damsel in distress in need of a hero?”
“No, you look like a woman who can handle herself.” Nevertheless, he took one step forward and banded a hand around my waist, evidently deciding to throw caution to the wind.
I could have easily twisted his arm behind his back and brought him to his knees in an instant for setting a hand on me.
But I didn’t want to. No, I wanted his hands all freaking over me.
Ah, the midnight kiss. Now I recalled Chanel’s earlier words and realized that’s what he was suggesting. I nodded, permitting him to do exactly that.
Bright lights danced all around us in time with the bass as he palmed my cheek, clearly waiting for 12:01, wanting it to be official.
Drawing nearer to me, his lips gently pressed to mine, and when I placed my hand on the hard planes of his chest, a rumble of appreciation vibrated through from our connection.
It was soft and sensual, nothing too naughty, as though he were the prince waking Sleeping Beauty. Just enough to draw my attention, yet reserved enough to declare respect, acknowledging that the next move was mine to make. Essentially, it was perfect.
His lips lingered close to mine once our mouths broke apart, but his eyes remained closed as he released a quiet sigh. It was almost as if he were processing a storm of emotions created by our downright sinfully chaste kiss. It felt that way for me, at least.
“Do it again,” I commanded, rooted in place, the loud music fading away to the distant background. “But put your tongue in my mouth and taste me this time.”
“I’ll need a name for that, love.” His breath tickled my lips as our bodies remained close but not touching. The beats of our hearts nearly mingling. Who am I now? A poet?
“How about we choose names from a book?” For some reason, Charles Dickens popped into my head. “Great Expectations.” I was stuck on the ride of pleasure from that kiss, and I didn’t want to get off. Well, retract that line. I did want to get off. Very, very much.
“I’m not a Pip,” he said with a laugh, and God, he had a gorgeous smile, and he probably won a lot of hearts with it. He was currently winning mine over. Well, he was winning over my body. Still, it wasn’t an easy feat. “What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Unless you think a good time ends with someone stabbing themselves or drinking poison—”
“Point taken.” He smiled. “Favorite Vegas movie, then?”
“You pick,” I prompted.
“Ocean’s Eleven. I’ll be Clooney.” He certainly had the grace and charm of that actor. They didn’t look alike, and he was probably half the man’s age, but it would work.
“I guess that makes me Brad Pitt.” I smirked, drawing a chuckle out of him as he pressed his forehead to mine.
“I think you’re more of a Julia,” he countered, though I looked nothing like the redheaded actress.
Julia Roberts and George Clooney. Two strangers, eschewing the confines of our true identities, who desperately needed another kiss.
But damn it, he stepped back, and his hands disappeared into his pockets. That was the opposite of what I wanted. “Do you want to go somewhere and talk? Take a walk? I’d like to get to know you, Julia.”
“I don’t talk about myself,” I warned, reaching for my drink. “Besides, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of an alias?” I shifted to the side, accidentally touching some big guy next to me, drawing his immediate attention.
“Hello, hello.” The man’s eyes became laser-focused on my cleavage. “How much are you?”
Yeah, wrong movie, asshole. I wasn’t playing Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and this guy was two seconds away from meeting my fist, but Clooney reprieved his role of the prince, setting a hand to the big guy’s arm as he stepped alongside me.
“Apologize and back off,” Clooney growled, eyeing the guy with sharp confidence even though the man looked to be a professional weightlifter.
“Thank you,” I said to Clooney, “but I can handle myself.” Remember? I lifted my chin and pinned my gaze to the idiot. “How about you take the cash you saved up for this little trip to Vegas that you were probably planning to spend on blow or poker, maybe both, and—”
“I’d rather f*ck you.” The stupid asshat kissed the air and circled his hand around my wrist.
I closed my eyes, warning myself not to strike him and draw attention. Chanel is in town.
But at the sound of a thud and the Irishman rasping a curse, my eyes flew open as Clooney drew his fist back from the man’s jaw.
Jason had security on us in a flash before the scene turned into a brawl.
“I need air.” Snatching my clutch from the bar top, I strode in search of Chanel, who was now making out with the man she’d been dancing with earlier, clueless to what had just happened.
“Be right back,” I told her after she came up for air.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I informed Clooney once we were in the hall outside the club. “Let me see your hand.” I turned and faced him. “I thought you weren’t a fan of fighting.” I held his clenched fist between my palms. His knuckles were red, but the skin wasn’t broken.
“You heard me say that?”
I lifted my eyes to meet his, and his intense blue gaze had me forgetting why we were standing out in the hall. The memory of his lips on mine spontaneously painted a picture in my mind of all the other places on my body I’d like to feel his mouth.
“If you don’t like fighting, why’d you nearly start one back there?” I let go of his hand and took a few slow steps forward, tucking my clutch under my arm.
“My brother.” He surprised me with a response after a few quiet minutes of taking in the scene as we strolled through the massive hotel and casino. When MGM first opened its doors, it was the largest hotel complex in the world. It was also originally decorated in an Emerald City à la Wizard of Oz theme. The hotel was going through another round of renovations, but for the most part, the newest Hollywood theme was draped in Christmas from end to end.
My heels came to an abrupt stop in front of the famous MGM lion, who wore a Santa hat and was surrounded by a bed of red poinsettias.
Clooney pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “My brother likes to fight. Underground stuff back in Dublin. He doesn’t do it for the money. He just likes that MMA shite, I don’t know.” He released a ragged breath. It was obviously a sore subject.
“And you’re worried he’ll get hurt?”
“More like I’m worried he’ll kill someone.”
His words stung more than he could possibly know. Because someday, I would be a killer.
Sure, The League had its own prisons for the scum of the earth. Lowlife human traffickers, murderers—people The League couldn’t trust in a regular prison, worried their ability to commit crimes would happen even from behind regular prison bars.
But there were times when death was the only option. I didn’t know how many lives Sebastian had taken in the name of my father, or other billionaire League leaders, or how many deaths I’d rack up when it was time.
His eyes dropped to the hand he’d used to clock that guy when he’d saved me the trouble.
“For a second in that club, you understood your brother’s desire to strike, didn’t you?” I whispered the realization.
He immediately looked at me as if I’d caught him naked.
I stepped closer, drawing the distance between us to barely a whisper of space. “It felt good to hurt that man.” My attention skated to the movement of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed hard. “There’s something inside you,” I began, pointing to his hard chest, “something innate that made you respond like that. And if you’re beating yourself up for despising your brother’s life choices all the while wishing you could track that asshole down and do more damage to his face—”
Lips fused to mine in a hot second, cutting me off.
This was not soft or gentle. It was raw and intense. Fierce. Exactly what I needed.
Pleasure rolled and wrapped around every part of me as my chest tightened and need grabbed hold of me—spectators be damned.
I groaned against his mouth when his tongue slipped between my lips.
Yes. This. This was what I needed for my birthday. A moment of truth only found in the honesty of such a passionate kiss. You can’t hide from a kiss like that.
“You’re . . . different,” he said after easing his lips from mine a few heartbeats later. “There’s something about you.”
Yeah, you have no idea.
Our eyes connected, our faces still close enough to lean in for another one of those delicious kisses.
I looked left and then right, realizing we were too out in the open. Sebastian may not have been in the casino, but that didn’t mean my father hadn’t sent one of his men to watch over me. “You want to go to my suite? We can have a drink and talk there.” And hopefully I didn’t read you wrong, and you were sent to kill me.
“I don’t normally hesitate to go to a beautiful woman’s room . . .” He shook his head and briefly closed one eye. “Well, that came out bloody wrong.”
“Are you turning me down?” A surprised but playful smile touched my mouth.
He scratched the back of his head, another wave of discomfort crossing his face. “I just—”
“You just what?” I asked, captivated by this handsome man becoming tongue-tied.
“Like I said,” he began while reaching for my hand, “you’re different, and I think you deserve more than whatever I can give you.”
I splayed my palm on his firm chest, noticing how my short, blood-red nails stood out against the stark white of his dress shirt. “And what can you give me, Clooney?”
His hand reached around my body and landed on the small of my back. “Multiple orgasms.”
I wet my lips. “What’s wrong with that?” I was a bit dizzy from the bright lights, the way-too-cheerful holiday music, and the heady desire pouring through me.
“I’m heading to Dublin in the morning. And I have the distinct feeling that if I go to your room, I won’t want to leave. And I’ll want a name and number. And I don’t do the after stuff or the numbers.”
I didn’t even care that he’d just admitted he was a player. Wasn’t I one, too? I didn’t have boyfriends, and I certainly didn’t draw hearts around men’s names while waiting for them to send me flowers and chocolates.
I scared him, didn’t I?
He felt the same thing I was feeling. That strange, hypnotic lure I couldn’t explain.
And it terrified him because it chipped away at his fear of intimacy and attachment.
I wasn’t so much afraid of those things as I knew they weren’t in the cards for me anytime soon, especially since I was about to follow in my father’s footsteps and own my birthright, but I could understand his desire for walls. After all, I was the one who didn’t want to share my name.
“I promise you I won’t give you my number even if you ask.” Why would I? Why subject anyone to the darkness of my world? Once that door opened, once someone saw what really went on in the world, they’d never be able to unsee it. Sometimes ignorance was bliss. Papà made sacrifices, along with other League members, so men like Clooney wouldn’t be subjected to the true darkness of the world. It was a powerfully heavy burden and one I was destined to carry.
His attention went to the floor, his jaw tightening. He was fighting an internal war, one I knew so well. When he redirected those gorgeous blue eyes back on me, I realized he was going to give in to desire. “Julia and Clooney, huh?”
“Yes,” I mouthed, wishing for one night where I could close that door and forget everything I’d witnessed in my life. Shut it all out. Just tonight.
In one fast movement, he pulled me against him and crushed his mouth to mine as if the Titans or gods themselves couldn’t keep him away.
We broke apart at the ding from the nearby lift doors opening. And thank God it was empty because he pulled me inside and had my back to the wall in an instant. I let go of my clutch when Clooney took hold of my wrists, raised my arms, and trapped them above my head. Holding both wrists with one large hand, he used the other to cup my chin, then moved in for another searing kiss.
Once we arrived at my floor and exited the lift, I sputtered in a hurry while snatching my clutch, “My suite is this way.” Our clasped palms felt somehow as intimate as when our bodies had been fitted together moments ago.
He released my hand when I stopped in front of my door and indicated I needed to search for my keycard. But as soon as I retrieved it, he hoisted me up and had my legs wrapped around his hips, my back to the wall next to the door, and he held me there as our tongues dueled.
The need had taken over.
It was otherworldly.
I felt it, too.
But . . .
Something was wrong. That knot of concern in the pit of my stomach that’d bothered me in the arena earlier came back, and when I shifted my ear to the wall, I heard indistinct sounds coming from within my suite. And it sure as hell didn’t sound like Chanel having sex, either.
I lowered my red heels to the floor. “One second,” I told him as he brought a hand over his mouth, covering my smeared lipstick around his lips.
I swiped the card as quietly as possible, then slowly peeked my head into the room.
Oh God. My eyes connected with a man towering over a motionless body lying on the floor, a knife in his hand, blood dripping onto the tan and maroon patterned carpet. He looked up, relief in his eyes at the sight of me.
Sebastian was in Vegas. And now there was a dead guy in my hotel room.
A hitman? I quickly slammed the door shut and spun around to face Clooney in the hall. “You have to go. Now.” Fear constricted my throat.
“Oh.” He stepped back, blinking in surprise.
“The, um, person I was with tonight, she’s inside and sick, and I-I need to be with her.” The lie rolled clumsily from my tongue. I was worried Sebastian would open the door any second. “I’m sorry. But maybe you were right—this shouldn’t happen.”
I wanted to grab his shirt. Fist the material and kiss him goodbye. But the dead body inside stopped me. The fact Papà had sent Sebastian, the most dangerous of all League fixers to Vegas, stopped me.
“Goodbye, Clooney,” I said, the words feeling like shards of glass and sounding painfully broken as they caught in my throat. “Thank you for the birthday kiss.” It would have been a perfect night.
His fingers twitched at his sides as if he were itching to reach for me. “I guess it’s goodbye, then, Julia.” His brows dipped inward, and it had my stomach sinking. He was a stranger. It shouldn’t feel this sad to walk away from him.
But what choice did I have? A dead body and a powerful League fixer waited on the other side of the door.
I finally willed myself to turn away so I could confront another Irishman.
My shoulders collapsed in defeat once I was inside my suite, not finding Sebastian anywhere in sight. I tossed my clutch and maneuvered around the dead body staining the carpet. We’d need to call a special team to remove it and all evidence of what happened.
Sebastian exited the downstairs bedroom and stalked my way with purposeful strides.
“What’s going on? Who is this guy?” I pointed to the dead man ruining the carpets.
Sebastian reached for my shoulders when my focus moved to the bedroom door he’d closed. “Your father and I have been trying to reach you all day. We got word there’d be an attempt on your life tonight.” He kept hold of my shoulders but sealed his eyes tight. “Why were you with the daughter of Simon Laurent tonight? Her family is Alliance, Emilia,” he seethed. “What were you thinking? And why in God’s name was she in your suite?”
“Was?” My stomach roiled when pain stabbed me every which way. Terror clawed and scratched. “Where’s Chanel?” I tried to move around him to get to the bedroom, but he was tall and a dominating force. When his eyes met mine once again, I saw the kind of worry there a man like Sebastian didn’t often display.
“Don’t make me drop you to your ass,” I warned.
Sebastian may have helped train me, but I would get around him one way or another.
“I can’t let you go in there,” he said in a throaty voice as he continued restraining me.
I stopped fighting him, knowing the horrible truth as to why he didn’t want me in that room. Chanel must have come back to the suite while I was off with Clooney.
“No.” Tears welled in my eyes, and I sank to my knees. “No, no, no.”
“I’m so sorry. I think they assumed it was you in the room, and then I showed up.” He lowered to his knees before me and urged me to look his way. “Emilia, it’s time to come home.”
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