She yelled something, but I didn’t hear her. It was lost in the music.
I looked across the floor.
That was the first time I saw him. I caught his eye, completely by mistake, and that mistake would change my life.
It felt like a chill ran down my spine. His face was chiseled and his eyes were a slate blue, his dark hair cut short. He was wearing a suit tailored perfectly for his muscular body, and his full, perfect lips turned up into a slight grin as he returned my look.
Then Pacey was back, dancing with me again.
I shook my head, getting the man’s image out of my mind. There were hundreds of people in the club, so I figured I’d never see him again.
I was so, absolutely wrong.
Five minutes later, I felt someone’s hand at the small of my back. I saw Pace’s face begin to contort into her normal dirty look, but she suddenly stopped. I turned and looked.
It was him, the man in the suit. He smirked down at me. “Dance?” he asked.
I looked at Pacey. She just stared, dumbfounded.
I knew I had already made the decision as soon as I felt his hand on me. It sent shivers along my back, and one glance in his eyes only confirmed it. He was stunning, handsome, and serious looking, the kind of guy I always imagined but never actually met.
And I had decided to say yes. No more avoiding fun because I was scared of being like my mother.
“Okay,” I said.
He pressed his body against mine. Pacey melted away into the crowd, disappearing from view. For some reason I didn’t care, though, and I began to dance with my handsome stranger.
“I saw you staring at me,” he said in my ear.
“I wasn’t staring.”
“You were. It’s okay. I like that you want me.”
“I don’t want you.” He was being so forward, so cocky.
“What’s your name?”
“Natalie. I’m Lucas Barone.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
I could feel his cocky smirk against my ear. “I know it is.”
We kept dancing, our bodies pressed together.
I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I didn’t care, and I refused to think about it. Instead, I was letting myself have fun, letting myself finally relax.
And Lucas seemed nice.
Handsome and confident, maybe even cocky, but nice.
Boy was I so wrong about that.
“You know you’re the sexiest thing in here?” he said to me. “That dress makes me want to tear it off. It makes me want to taste you,” he said. As we danced, he said things to me that nobody had ever said before, things that made my knees feel weak and my body feel electric.
Finally, after what felt like forever, when he asked if I wanted to see more of the strip, I knew I should say no.
He was a total stranger. I didn’t know him. But he was so confident, so cocky, and he had that irresistible swagger and body.
So instead of doing the responsible thing, the right thing, I said yes. I sent a quick text to Pacey, and then I let him take me by the waist and lead me out into the cool Vegas night.
I didn’t expect the limo. Or the bodyguards.
I didn’t expect anything at all.
How could I have known?
Chapter Two: Lucas
“You’ve been a liability for this family for too long, Lucas.”
I stared at the old man, keeping my face passive, trying not to let him know how much he disgusted me. The room smelled like polished wood and cigar smoke, just like he did.
“You think you can take over the business the way you’ve been behaving?”
“I’m efficient.” I smiled slightly.
“You’re brutal and violent. That’s what the captains say, at least. Yes, you get your job done, and you often do it very well. But you bring far too much attention to the family and you know it.”
It was the same argument I had heard time and time again.
My father was old. He was part of the old guard, and he was getting up there in years. No matter how many young girlfriends he had, he was still an old man.
“You need to settle down,” he said. “You need to become a respectable man.”
“I have respect,” I said softly.
“Not the kind that I care about.”
I wasn’t interested in my father’s respect. I had the respect of the bosses, of the muscle, of the captains. And if not their respect, then their fear. I ran my operation seriously and brutally, and nobody questioned me.
Nobody except my father, the head of the Barone Crime Family.
“Son, you cannot take over my position the way you’ve been acting. It simply cannot happen.”
I sneered at him. How dare he tell me that I couldn’t take over the business? I’d been running the business essentially single-handedly while he grew fat on his lazy ass. I was out in the streets hustling for him, for the business, day in and day out. Maybe he disagreed with my methods, but the results spoke for themselves.