Femme Fatale Loved (Pericolo #3)

FEMME FATALE LOVED

Pericolo #3

 

Kirsty-Anne Still

FEMME FATALE LOVED

Pericolo #3

KINDLE EDITION

Copyright © 2016 Kirsty-Anne Still

Cover design – Cover It Designs

All rights reserved. Please keep this book in its complete original form with the exception of quotes used in reviews. No alteration of the contents is allowed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means – electronic, mechanical, photographic (photocopying) recording, or otherwise – without prior permission in writing from the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This is a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel recommended for readers over the age of 18 due to swearing, violence and use of attempted suicide. Due to the theme of organized crime and graphic murder scenes, it is in the readers discretion to read this book. You have been warned it is for an older audience.

BY KIRSTY-ANNE STILL

 

The Fire Series

A Fire That Burns
.

Watch What Burns
– SEQUEL to ‘A Fire That Burns’.

 

The Viper Series

Saturdays At The Viper Series
– Book one.

The Runaway Viper
– Book Two.

 

The Pericolo Series

Femme Fatale
– Book one.

Maverick
– Book 1.5. Novella.

Femme Fatale Reloaded
– Book two.

Trigger
– standalone.

 

Heroine Hearts –
standalone dark romance.

Your Little Secret
– Co-written with Bethan Cooper.

 

 

Coming soon:

The Pericolo Series

Femme Fatale Finale
– Book four – expected July 2016.

 

The Viper Series

The Viper’s Bite –
Book three.

Recovery
– sequel to Heroine Hearts.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE PERICOLO SERIES

 

Femme Fatale
(Pericolo #1)
– out now.

Maverick
(Pericolo #1.5)

Femme Fatale Reloaded
(Pericolo #2)
– out now.

Femme Fatale Loved
(Pericolo #3)
– coming June 2016.

Femme Fatale Finale
(Pericolo #4)
– coming July 2016.

Trigger
(The Pericolo Series)

standalone
– out now.

Mobbed
(A Femme Fatale spin-off)
– coming soon.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DEDICATION

 

This book is to all those hopeless romantic readers who have stuck by Amelia and Zane’s love story.

The ride is far from over, but it’s only getting better.

Promise.

PROLOGUE

 

“I wish you could see us now.”

My words are a silent whisper compared to the gush of wind that whips around me. Like always, I lose my force, caught in a devilish whirlwind of emotion and grief that may have gotten easier with time but hasn’t lost its ability to hit me full throttle.

There are times the absence of my baby brother causes me to cave to the inner voices I am trying to forget. Those I have killed, those I have watched die, and those I have seen punished for their misdeeds. They are the makers of my worst nightmares. It’s not every night I am plagued by faces, screams, and pleas, but more often than not, I will be haunted when I find myself missing my brother the most. It is almost as if the magnitude of my grief is so overwhelmingly powerful, and I become a weaker person, prone to every single dark dive my conscience can take.

I feel arms loop around me, the hardness of a chest resting against my back, and Zane’s spicy cologne deliciously tainting the air around me. A smile graces my lips; it’s small, but it’s content.

“I’m going to marry your sister, Manuel,” Zane comments, planting a kiss on my cheek. “It’ll be a day I wish you could’ve been a part of.”

“He will be,” I quickly cut in, putting my hand on Zane’s hands. “Everything we do, Manuel is a part of.”

“Not everything,” Zane quips, a wicked sparkle meeting his gaze. “He doesn’t need to be privy to some things.”

I slap his hand, giggling at what he’s insinuating. “Okay, not everything, but he is there for the important things.”

“When you’re screaming my name because I am balls deep in you, I hold that as a high importance.” Zane’s treading on dangerous territory with this one with his pedantic behaviors.

“Behave,” I say, giggling harder. I turn in his arms, feeling his arms slipping down to envelop my waist. “He’ll be there when we get married, when we have our first child, when we hit every milestone. Even with the others, when they reached those moments in their lives that just seem so surreal to have, he’ll be there.”

“Then let’s start ours now,” he begins, excitement dashing into his tone. “We could elope; have a white trash wedding and kinky sex all night.” His grins wickedly as I chuckle. “I want to call you Mrs. Maverick and make sure the world knows I won the best prize ever. I can’t wait to wake up to next to my
wife
every morning. If I could, I would make it happen now.”

“But I have to say yes first,” I say, a cheeky grin growing upon my lips.

“Oh, you will,” he admonishes, not acting petulant in my inability to say yes to his advances. “I know you will. If I know you like I think I do, it’ll be when I least expect it.”

“Yeah, it will,” I retort, mirthful notes to my voice. “But how will marrying you change the life we’ve got now?” I ask, hoping he’ll bite. “I think we’ve pretty much reached our maximum.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” he defies me, admonishing my statement. “Our first dance,” he begins to say, making a simple statement from such an important milestone in our lives together. “It’ll be the thing that makes you know we’re about to start the new chapter to our life together perfectly.”

“How so?” I ask, crossing my arms over my chest.

“You have no idea how our first dance will be,” he quips, a dazzling twist of tease beginning to ignite. “First, I’ll step forward,” he says and actions his words. “Then I’ll put my hand out for you to take, which you will.” I follow his lead, and his smile grows even more. “I’ll draw you close. My other hand will trail across your waistline to rest on your lower back, and I’ll keep you pressed across my body as the music begins to settle into its pace.” He does as he says. “I take the lead and sway with you as I stare into your eyes, and then I’ll lean in close.” He stops, breaking the intimacy with a bright, cheeky smile. Much to my chagrin, he fucking pulls away. “You’ll have to wait to see for the rest.”

“You’re so fucking mean,” I say, pouting.

We still have that push and pull between us – that banter, that tease, that affection. Everything I loved about round one with Zane Maverick is still very present in round three. Except this time, I see no reason to ruin it. He knows all my dark secrets, I’ve seen him at his darkest, and we’ve walked through it with one another. We’ve found our soul mates, so there’s no need to even imagine looking elsewhere.

“Then marry me, Amelia Abbiati,” he utters softly, freezing mid-sway.

I know it’s cruel to keep him waiting, but so much has happened at such an accelerated pace that I feel, for once, I would love a pace we decide. One where we love being as we are, in this happy state, building toward our forever state.

“No, but I’ll take another reminder of the beginning part to that first dance.”

“Okay,” he whispers, relenting gracefully and without guilt tripping me into feeling bad. “I’ll lead the way,” he says, twirling me around as he does so. “See you later, Manuel. I’m taking our girl home.”

“Bye, Manny,” I whisper, before allowing Zane to lead the way out, proving that when I do say yes, it’ll be the most enjoyable start to another slice of a life I’ve searched so long for.

For the first time in almost a year, I dance my way out of the graveyard, caught in the gentle ease of a melodic life I wouldn’t change for the world.

This love story is one I will be telling my children about –
well, the edited version
.

But even that adaption is enough to make me weak at the knees, skipping a heartbeat, yet still have me falling completely head over heels with the man who sacrificed it all to give me the world.

I want my children to know that story.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Three hundred and twenty-one thousand, three hundred and forty-five dollars
.

I blink once, twice, three times to make those numbers decrease, but they don’t. My bank account remains loaded with real cash that I didn’t put there. There is no way in this world I could make that much money in the lousy job I work. Not unless I worked myself into the ground and prepared myself for an early grave.

I stare harder at the numbers, as if doing so will make the numbers deplete and revert to the original amount. However, they remain the same, and I stare a little harder, begging for answers as to who would deposit such a large sum of money to
my
bank account.

Then it hits me.

Fucking Coglione
.

As rationality begins to settle, I find my head beginning to spin. I sit back in my chair, shock a smothering emotion grasping me in a chokehold, and just watch the numbers seemingly dance across my screen as my mind puts together the mathematics of this.

I might be living a fairy-tale life, but my past was always only a few short steps behind me. Now, it’s caught up with my slower, relaxed lifestyle and is about to drop a cataclysmic bomb that is set to disrupt every inch of my quiet loved-up life.

“Zane!” I yell out as icy cold reality washes down my spine. “Zane! Get here now, please!”

I feel like seconds gravitate into minutes, which transcend into hours. Even as I hear movement through the house, I feel like it is taking Zane longer than it should for him to reach me.

“I thought you were giving me ten more minutes and then I’d get you against the bathroom tiles.”

I laugh, albeit mirthlessly, chuckling to his charm. I look at him, glistening with sweat from his workout, and I bite my lip. How I wanted to jump him no more than fifteen minutes ago, and now, I just want him to somehow send back all the money and forget this day began.

“Look,” I comment, pointing at the screen. I can’t form the words as I stand and walk away from the Apple Mac on the desk.

I start to pace, even before he’s started making steps to the computer. I feel antsy, and I feel a panic I’ve not felt in a long time. The threat of Giovanni wore off as the months ticked by, and now, we’re nearly at the anniversary of Manuel’s passing. It seems apt that all the old feelings I had long since outrun were ready to pick up their pace and catch me.

“So we’re rich,” Zane begins, staggering his words as he drops down into the seat I had only just vacated. “Well ...” he trails off, at a loss for words.

“Right now, I need you to man up and take charge. Not act like some cat’s got your tongue and you’re an idiot unable to form sentences.” I can hear how this amount of money has launched a distress into my voice I’m not used to. “You’re supposed to come in here and fix this, and instead, you become shell-shocked!”

“It’s been a long fucking time since I’ve seen figures quite that high in either of our bank accounts, sweetheart. Sorry, if I’m astounded by someone’s generosity.”

I look at him, my entire expression fallen, deadpan to say the least. I cross my arms over my chest, tilt my head, and give him one look I know he can read the easiest – the ‘
are you a fucking idiot?
’ expression.

“Someone’s generosity?” I retort, quipping at him with sarcasm. “For a New York detective, your savvy is pretty fucking low!”

“Okay,” he says, admitting defeat by throwing his hands up in the air. “Can we safely assume it’s your father?”

“Who else?” I query, furrowing my brow into one. “Giovanni hasn’t made contact, nor has Alberto, so I can only assume it’s Sal trying to start to make some sort of amends with us.”

“He really has never met you, has he?” Zane asks, jokingly trying to lighten the mood.

It works as I crack a smile and appreciate that Zane is one of a few who understands and knows me like the back of their hands.

“That money changes nothing. Okay, we could probably take ourselves on a cruise around the world several times, expand our home, and retire early, but it changes nothing.” Looking at the bank balance displayed on the screen, I watch as his eyes go wide for a moment before he looks back. “It’s got to be Salvatore. There’s no one else it can be.”

“I know,” I mutter under my breath. “And that’s what scares me, Zane.”

I feel like my world has been spinning on an axis all too perfectly. As if the undercurrent was teasing us by not dragging us under the water’s surface all this time. We were granted a chaste moment in heaven, and now, at the drop of a dime, someone declares the honeymoon period over. I’m not prepared to leave this domestication we’ve found because of some form of happenstance. This twist of fate can quite happily fuck off back to its owner – when we finally find him.

Zane stands back up, approaching me. He puts his hot and deliciously sweaty arms around my waist, drawing me close until we’re practically chest-to-chest and staring at one another.

“The Amelia who left that house a year ago is not the Amelia who moved into a home with me. She’s no longer the person her father made her, and that’ll kill him to know. I won’t allow him the opportunity to corrupt whatever progress you’ve made to resolve all the demons you carry.” I watch his face darken, his eyes igniting with an exuberance of strength that makes me feel safer than ever. “He lost his chance, and I won’t allow him a second chance to draw you back into a life that almost killed you.”

I could sigh happily right now and melt into my savior’s arms.

Life is but a dream. Like all stories, sadness and grief have tinged it. But the infusion of happy memories, high hopes, and a spellbinding love story have only ever been part of my wildest dreams.

And I had only just reached its beginning.

“Salvatore Abbiati is a man with still a lot to lose.” There’s a sound to Zane’s voice that I haven’t heard for a while – that desperation to keep me safe at all costs – and it reminds me that we are part of a bigger game. However, it’s one Zane seems to imagine us not losing. “If he put that money into your bank account, then it is more fool him. We’ve learned to live on minimal wage and adapt to a normal life. I don’t know what he’s spent the last year doing, but we’ve spent it working toward a future we only ever dared to dream of. Amelia, I won’t allow him to cause any upheaval in that. I won’t allow you to ever feel sadness because of him.”

“I’m trying not to let him,” I reply feebly, hating myself for the feelings that seeing money has caused me to feel. “I feel like whatever I do, whatever we do, he just has to click his fingers, and I commit to him. I fucking hate it.”

“I know the hold he has over you is always going to be something you struggle with, but I will be here to make sure you never fall for whatever game he wants to play.” Cupping my chin, Zane forces me to look at him. “Whatever he has planned will be stupid when he is confronted by us. We’re a stronger family from what happened.”

“I just don’t like the time of year,” I mumble, my eyes dropping away from his. “It’s got my head all messed up.”

“And if we know your father, that’s his plan.” Extending his thumb, he strokes my cheek to urge me to look at him. “Now, sweetheart, we can’t let him win, can we?”

“No,” I reply, my tone soft.

“And why not?”

I sigh, biting my lip before I speak. “Because we’re not the same people who left him behind.” I speak with an exasperated tone, loathing that I let my insecurities make me get to this point of worry.

People may find it an insane notion, but I felt a part of me die the moment we left the house and my father. For all he had done, the abandonment we thrust upon him still haunts me. Yet rationality gets the better of me and reminds me of everything my father did to me. A jolt of reality reminds me what it was my father really wanted from his only daughter – a killing machine. While the term makes me cringe, I know I was saved from a fate worse than death, and I would never regret that. The loneliness I hope my father enjoys now is one he brought firmly upon himself.

I don’t want to invite the devil back in, but if he’s prepared to let himself back in, I have to be prepared.

“So what do we do?” I ask, meekly wondering if we tell my brothers later when we’re all in one place, or if I contact my bank to declare an incorrect credit in my bank account.

“We remain blissfully unaware and go back to our plans. At least, until we’ve cleared our heads.”

I begin to feel the smile pull at my lips. “What plans would do that, then?”

“We’d have to go and find out,” he whispers, lowering his lips onto the bare skin of my shoulder, trailing upward until he’s pressing kisses to my pulsating jugular. Slowly, with gentle ease, he’s tracing his lips across my neck and my jawline until he reaches my ear. There he pauses, bracing my body with strong hands. “They’re in the bathroom.”

I allow him to show me the way – back to happiness and away from the dread I’ve managed to force myself to forget.

This issue can be solved later.

 

***

 

“Wouldn’t keep that face on if I were you,” Allana breaks into my reverie. “It might become permanent.”

“Sorry,” I utter and push myself away from the kitchen counters to seek out the bottle of wine I had placed in the fridge for tonight. I stop as I press the door shut after grabbing the bottle and take a deep breath. “Someone deposited a large sum of money into my bank account today,” I tell her, turning back as the worry increases.

“How large is large?” Allana asks, skeptically to say the least.

“Like three hundred grand large,” I reply, waiting for the reaction. However, she just stares at me, her jaw slowly dropping. “I’m dreading bringing it up because all I can think is that one person is behind this.”

“Sal,” Allana mutters, and I nod. “It’s plausible. I mean it’s been nearly a year.”

“A lot’s happened in a year, though. Nothing makes up for the mistakes that cost us Manuel. Giving me any amount of money is not going to lessen my hatred.” I busy myself finding glasses and pouring the wine, but my mind is racing. “I can’t imagine what logic he’s working with, but whatever he’s thinking terrifies me.”

There’s a deliberate silence as Allana mulls over the repercussions of whatever plan someone is putting into action to drag us all into. We are a true family unit. Once pulled apart by obligations and absolution, death brought us together.

“What has you two stuck out here away from the fun?”

Here it is … that all-important moment of truth. The moment I’ve been dreading talking about, but I know the elephant in the room is only going to grow the longer I ignore the matter that is now entering our lives.

“Enz, we have to talk.” I speak, placing my wine glass down. I go to admit what’s wrong, but when I exchange glances with Zane, I lose my cool. “Let me show you.”

I leave the kitchen, hearing them all following me as I rush through the house and into Zane’s and my study. I sit down at the computer and turn it on. There’s a tense moment as everyone files in and I feel as everyone has their sights set on me.

“Is she going to show us a designer pair of shoes she got on eBay for cheap?” Carlo asks, joking. “I’m not sure I could stomach a girlie moment.”

“Watch,” Zane remarks solemnly. “It’s a lot worse than staring at a pair of heels.”

I ignore the gang behind me and bring up my bank’s webpage. I drag up the transaction before sitting back to allow them to see the screen displaying the ridiculous credit against my normal bank account allowance.

“I got this amount deposited into my bank account this morning as well,” Enzo admits quickly and lets out a deep, worried sigh. “I was hoping this wasn’t going to be something we were all dragged into, but it seems someone wants our attention.”

“And we don’t have to think far as to who sent it,” Carlo remarks, his voice lowering to a tense octave. “That fucking bastard just can’t stop, can he? Why does he think he can creep out of whatever rotten woodwork he’s kept himself hidden in now? He knows how hard this first anniversary without Manuel is going to be.”

“I don’t mind taking a ride over to the old palace,” Bruno remarks, mocking our old home. “I’d like to see how good ole Sal is doing.”

“No,” Enzo argues, shaking his head. “That’s what he wants. He wants us to play right into his lap with this one. He wants to think he has some sort of ownership over us. Now is our chance to really show him how little he means to us.” Enzo leaps up, taking complete control. “First, we need to see if Carlo got any money and you too, Bruno.”

“Why would he give me money?” Bruno queries. “I’m the bastard son who left for my better option.” As if to back up the claim, he puts a hand around Allana and draws her close. “He doesn’t care about me and my wife and kids.”

“He has no one,” Enzo reiterates the fact we all had a hand in creating. “He’ll try and get anyone on his side if he can. That includes you, his son.” There’s a somber air in the house, one we all revel in as Enzo speaks. “What did you do when you found it?” Enzo asks me, breaking the silence.

I exchange looks with Zane, blushing before I reply.

“Nothing. I didn’t know what else to do but leave it.”

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