❥¸.•´*¨`*•✿ ❥SNEAK PEEK! ✿ ❥¸.•´*¨`*•✿ ❥
Working on Mafia Daddy so I can get you all some ARCs, and I think it’s time for another teaser. Here’s where Prince Charming meets Cinderella. ❤
Looong EXCERPT (subject to change in the editing cave!):
“I needed to be someone I wasn’t, for just a little while… or maybe the truth was, I needed to shrug off the facade and be who I really was.
I skimmed down to just my worn Levis and my t-shirt, a threadbare Guns and Roses t-shirt I’d had for years, and felt my adrenaline surge as I took out the keys to my bike. I needed to ride, feel the wind at my back, to shake off the hold my father had on me. Spread my wings a bit, even if it was just for the night.
God, it felt good to swing my leg over the side of my bike and lean into it, feeling that heady rush of impending freedom as I gripped the familiar handles in my hands. I revved the engine, and the power rumbled beneath me. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew it had to be to a place that really did sleep, that had streetlights that went on and off, and stars that twinkled in a real nighttime sky. A place where I could breathe in fresh air and see green grass for miles.
I rode for a full hour, until the sun began to set and the wind picked up, though the air was still as oppressive as ever. May in Vegas was hot as fucking Hades, no matter what time of day. But the breeze felt nice.
Maybe I’d find a place to stay for the night, where no one knew who I was or who my father was. Maybe I’d stay for a week.
Maybe I wouldn’t go back.
I only entertained the idea briefly, though. I knew I had to go back.
Just as I was about to pull over to look at my phone and find a place to stay, I saw her.
Jesus Christ, she was beautiful.
Long, blonde hair so light it was nearly white, hung to her waist in waves, and when she turned her face toward me, I could see her high cheekbones, perfect, full lips the color of strawberries, a willowy figure that conveyed grace and gentility. She held a purse in one hand, and her phone in the other, and as I pulled up toward her, she smiled at me, a full on smile revealing a pair of gorgeous dimples. I was close enough to see her eyes now, a pretty green framed with long, dark lashes, set beneath delicately arched brows.
“Oh, thank goodness,” she said, in a sweet, clear voice that stirred something elemental inside of me. “I was afraid I’d have to walk the whole way practically barefoot, and my phone is dead. Do you have a phone, mister?” She blinked at me with those fetching green eyes and I wanted to kiss her.
I’d never wanted to kiss a woman. I’d only ever wanted to fuck them senseless. This girl was…different.
“Of course,” I said, but as I put the kickstand of my bike down, I felt a twinge of protective anger surge within me. “But before I give you my phone, you need to tell me why a young girl like you is all alone this far from civilization. What the hell happened to you?”
She looked down bashfully and twisted her toe in the loose gravel by the side of the road. “Well…” she began. “I was here with my sisters. You see, they’re not really my sisters but step-sisters, and we had plans tonight to go to a concert. Only problem was, Violet had a boyfriend and Elenora had a date, and we could barely squeeze into the car. We made it work, but then they decided they needed more room because one of their friends could come after all.”
“So… they kicked you out?”
“Ummm…yes…pretty much. And, well, I missed the bus I was planning to take, and it appears my charger never did charge my phone like it was supposed to.” She shrugged. “And then my flip-flop broke.” She gestured to the cheap, broken flip-flop and sighed. ‘And that’s about it. I’m stranded because I’m stupid and naive and ill-prepared.”
I shook my head, handing her the phone. If she were mine, she wouldn’t be allowed to call herself stupid. And she sure as hell never would’ve been out here alone with an unreliable phone and no method of getting home, wearing cheap flip-flops no less. Who was I kidding? If she were mine, I wouldn’t let her out of my fucking sight.
I grunted as she looked in surprise at my phone. It was showy, crazy expensive, and big. Whatever. People had snazzy phones in Vegas, and I wouldn’t make any excuses.
“Not sure how to use this,” she murmured awkwardly. I took it from her, and my hand brushed hers, a current passing through us that shot straight to my gut, taking me by surprise. Shit, she smelled so fucking good too, like caramel and vanilla. I wanted to get closer to her. I wanted…
“Here,” I grumbled, getting a grip on myself.”Push this and dial.”
“Thank you, Mister…” she halted, not knowing my name.
“Dante. You can call me Dante.” Dante Villanova. Would she know my name? I waited, looking for signs that she knew me, recognized my identity.
“Thank you, Mister Dante.”
I chuckled. Cute. “No, just Dante,” I said.
She nodded her head eagerly. “I am so grateful, you have no idea.”
I warmed at that, shoving my hands in my pockets, and covered up my pleasure by being gruff with her. “Make the call.”
Her hands trembled a bit as she dialed, then held the phone up to her ear.
She put her hand over the mouthpiece. “I’m just calling my step-mother,” she whispered, her wide green eyes looking into mine.
“Of course,” I said, suddenly feeling magnanimous. “Whatever you need.”
She smiled widely and mouthed thank you, then spoke into the phone.
“Oh, hello, Mabel. How are you? How is little Ellie faring?”
What the fuck? She was making small talk? I frowned at her, but she ignored me and kept jabbering. “Oh, I’m so glad. I was afraid she’d caught that nasty flu that was going around. Yes, I wasn’t working tonight. The girls and I were going to a concert, but we ran into a bit of trouble, you see. Oh, yes. I know. Yes, you’re right! Ah-ha. Mmm. Well, that’s true,” she said.
I touched her arm, and she jumped as if she just remembered I was there. Covering the mouthpiece of the phone with her hand, she leaned over to me. “Just a minute. I’m so sorry, but it’s important I engage her in conversation and not just ignore the fact that she had a little girl ill last evening. Am I using up your cell phone minutes, or taking up your time?” Her green eyes blinked up at me, and I almost smiled at her.
People still had phones with minutes on them? “Well, no,” I grumbled. It wasn’t about my minutes or my time. The girl needed help.
She nodded. “Good. Thank you!” She hissed, and then she removed her hand from the mouthpiece and spoke into the phone. “Oh, that’s so true. I understand. I believe in good, old-fashioned remedies, too!”
Old-fashioned remedies my ass. I’d give her a good, old-fashioned remedy right over my knee if she didn’t hurry it up already. I crossed my arms and gave her the sternest look I could muster.
It did the trick. Her jaw dropped and her voice rose in pitch as she spoke. “Mabel? Please fetch Agatha, will you please? I must speak to her at once.”
She had such a funny, quaint way of speaking. It was adorable. But then, her face fell, and just like everything else about her, her features betrayed her feelings. “Ohhh. I’m sorry to hear that,” she said with a sigh. “No, no, no need to bother her then. I’ll talk to her when I get home. I’m sure I’ll find a way. Goodnight!” She hung up the phone and handed it to me, not meeting my eyes.
“And?” I asked, tucking the phone in my back pocket.
“Agatha has a client she’s meeting with,” she said, “and gave strict orders not to be interrupted.”
God, this girl needed to be taken care of. She needed a keeper. She should not have been stranded on the side of the road where any crazy fuck could pick her up, and use her.
It seemed fate was working its magic tonight.
“Alright, then,” I said. “You ever ridden on the back of a bike?”
She blinked up at me again. “Excuse me?”
“A bike, honey. Like my motorcycle.” I gestured toward the seat for emphasis. “You ever ridden on one?”
She shook her head from side to side with wide, innocent eyes, her lips parted like a child on Christmas morning. “No,” she breathed. “Never. Oh my God. You’re going to rescue me?”
And before I could respond she legit squealed out loud, bouncing on the tips of her toes, and clapping her hands, before she practically leapt at me, throwing her arms around my neck and squeezing tight. On impulse, I hugged her back, folding her into my embrace. She was tiny, and so fragile, and she fit as if she were meant for me. I would see her home safely.
A little voice, unbidden, whispered in my ear…She could be the one. The one that you need.
But just as quickly as the voice surfaced, I shoved it away.
No. Fucking. Way would I bring a girl like this anywhere near my father, and even if I wanted to, I could tell with one glance at her she didn’t fit the bill. She was too poor, for one. Too young.
And way, way too innocent.
I let her go before I did something stupid, like kiss her breathless. She threw her bag over her shoulder and tried to leap straight onto the bike.
“Whoa, now, honey. Easy does it. I hold the bike steady for you, and you get on, you hear? You could hurt yourself climbing on that big thing all by yourself.” Something about her made me feel like a knight or something, like I was someone who had to take care of her. I held the bike steady as she swung a leg up. She was so cute, her legs dangling on either side, her eyes bright and shining at me.
“Yes! Let’s do this! Let’s go! Wooohooooo!”
I laughed out loud, the laughter so unfamiliar to my own ears, the deep bark of it nearly startling me. “Hold onto my waist,” I instructed, as I swung my leg over the bike in front of her. “Hey, do you have a name?”
“Gabriella,” she answered.
“Hang on tight, Gabriella,” I said over my shoulder, gunning the engine to life. My laughter died into the wind along with her shrieks and hoots and hollers. I wasn’t sure where I’d go or where I’d take her, but I’d enjoy every minute of this while it lasted.
“Excuse me? Do you have to take me right home? Or can we go for a teensy little ride first?”
I grinned. “We can do whatever you want, Gabriella.” The night was young. Magical, even. It would not hold us back. Yeah, I was going to rescue her, this little, green-eyed girl I’d found stranded on the side of the road. For one night…until the clock struck twelve, like a goddamned fairy tale…I’d pretend I wasn’t me.
Just for tonight, I’d be her Prince Charming. “