I snorted. “I don’t see the difference.”
“We looked into this guy Vince Fabrizio. We know who he is.”
My heart almost stopped at that. I hadn’t told Dad the truth, or at least I had neglected to tell him one important aspect. Vince was a Made Man in the Italian Mafia, and was part of one of the most powerful families in all of New York. That was what probably drew me to him in the first place: money, power, and excitement. He was so fucking sweet to me when we were dating, but it all turned to shit after. So typical—I had worked to get away from men like Vince, but in the end I couldn’t stay out of his bed. Things had moved so fast between us, and I had made so many mistakes.
I looked away. “It’s fine. He’s not going to follow me.”
“This guy is dangerous. We’re not taking any chances with you.”
I nodded once, still annoyed. But he was right about one thing: Vince was dangerous, incredibly dangerous. And I wasn’t sure at all if he would follow me or not. That was the reason I had left so quickly, abandoning most of my possessions. My dad’s place was the only house in the entire world that I thought I would be safe and where Vince wouldn’t come after me.
But who knew with Vince. He was capable of anything. Especially when he felt like something he owned was being taken away from him, and he definitely thought he owned me, though for a good reason. Another one of the many mistakes of Brenna O’Brian. I hated having regrets, but they seemed to pile up no matter what I did.
After a second, Colin moved away, expression turning back into his grin.
“So, a Mafia guy, huh?”
I gave him a look. “Don’t say a word.”
He looked fake-innocent. “What? Just making conversation.”
“I know what you’re doing.”
“If I were doing anything, I would innocently point out how strange it is that you ripped your father a new one and didn’t speak to him for years, and then ended up with a man just like him.”
I sighed, annoyed. “Yeah, Colin, that thought occurred to me.”
His grin got wider. “Sorry. Just giving you shit.”
“Is this what I have to look forward to?”
“Not like you have any room to talk.”
“You’re not wrong about that.”
“So, how does this work, anyway? You’re—what? My private bodyguard?”
He laughed and leaned back on the counter again.
“No, not at all. I’m just keeping an eye on you, make sure that asshole doesn’t show up here. Unless you want me to guard your body. I’d be more than happy to.”
I made a face. “You’re not funny.”
He grinned. “I’m not joking. I’d love to get close to your body.”
I shook my head and wished he were within arm’s reach. I would have loved to smack that grin off his face, if only to get to feel his firm jaw.
“Anyway, I’m going out for a grocery run. Write down what you want and I’ll get it.” He nodded at a pen attached to a notepad stuck to the refrigerator door.
“What, am I not allowed to leave?”
He shook his head. “You’re not a prisoner. But maybe it’s a good idea to lay low for a few days.”
I hated that he was the one watching over me. I hated that my dad thought I needed a guardian, and I hated that he was right. Because the truth was, I did need a guardian. That was the whole reason I had ran home to my daddy, as much as I didn’t want it to be true. I needed protection and I needed it badly if I was going to get away from Vince. Still, Dad could have chosen someone other than Colin. Really, anybody but Colin. I didn’t need another distraction in my life, and yet there he was, leaning against the counter, looking incredible, and smiling like he owned the place.
“Fine, I can do that.”
“Great. We’ll have a good old time together.”
“Yeah, I’m sure we will.”
“Cheer up. This’ll all blow over soon enough, and you and your dad will mend fences. This’ll be good for you.”
I nodded. I had a knot in my stomach the size of a Redwood tree. I really hoped he was right. I looked at his grinning face and the memory of that night flooded through me again. I could practically feel his hot breath close against my lips all over again, and I found myself blushing again.
Colin as my personal bodyguard. I couldn’t imagine anything more dangerous than that.
Chapter Two: Colin
A few hours earlier
Boss O’Brian sat sipping whiskey from a cut crystal glass behind his huge, red mahogany desk. Although he had become one of the most powerful men in the city in the last few months, not much had changed for him. He had always rubbed elbows with power, and he knew how to flaunt it. Expensive furniture and ornate gilding filled the room, plus pictures of him shaking hands with mayors, governors, police chiefs, and senators. It was mostly for show, he had explained to me once. If you looked like you have strength and wealth then people believed that you did.