The Fall

House of Sin, Book Two

Read an Excerpt

I don’t remember sleeping.

I do remember holding Natalie most of the night. Naked, skin to skin, her cheek resting against my chest as she slumbered, her hair tickling my shoulder while her legs entwined with mine beneath the sheets.

She was fire and flame warming the coldest spaces inside me. I couldn’t get enough of her, and my appetite wasn’t just sexual.

She’d done something to me. She’d awoken a part of me no one had ever touched. I’d given her the chance to leave. I’d done everything to push her away, and yet she’d stayed. And now that she’d broken through my walls and shone her light over the darkness inside me, I couldn’t let her go any more than I could sever a limb.

Of course, that was going to cause major problems within the family.

I didn’t want them anywhere near her. I didn’t want her innocence tainted by their corruption. I’d have to keep her hidden from them, and that meant separating my two worlds. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, but I couldn’t see another choice. Now more than ever it was vital to both our survivals that she did exactly as I said.

She stirred in the bed and rolled to face me where I sat in the chair across the room. The sheet rode low on her belly to expose her gorgeous breasts to my view. Sunlight slanted through the windows, bathing her pale skin in ribbons of gold.

I sipped my coffee and watched her, remembering the way she’d given me that body last night in the living room. Again in the shower where I’d carried her after she’d destroyed me on the couch. And then in my bed until we were both absolutely weak.

I couldn’t wait for her to give me everything again—but from here on out, I needed to be firm that it happened on my terms, not hers.

Her eyes fluttered open. She focused on me across the room, and I watched confusion draw her brows together to form adorable creases in her forehead that faded quickly into a sweet smile I ached to kiss from her lips. “Good morning.”

Buongiorno.”

She shifted one hand under her pillow and stretched, pressing her breasts out toward me in a way that made my mouth water. “What are you doing way over there?”

“Drinking my coffee and watching you.”

Her smile widened, and a familiar heat seeped into her sleepy blue eyes. “I like you watching me.”

My cock stiffened. “I know you do.”

A blush rose in her cheeks, and she pulled her gaze from mine as if embarrassed by my bluntness. She glanced over my slacks and dress shirt rolled to my elbows and open at the collar. “How long have you been awake?”

“A few hours.” I rose, moved to the table near the window, and poured her a cup of coffee. She watched me in silence as I stirred cream and sugar into her cup, and brought it to her in the bed.

Tugging the sheet up to her breasts, she fixed the pillow at her back and sat up.

Her hair was delightfully rumpled, hanging in scraggly curls around her face, and her skin was void of makeup, but to me, she’d never been more beautiful. All I wanted to do was slide back between those sheets with her, but I couldn’t. From now on, I needed to lead her where I wanted her to go, not the other way around.

Grazie,” she said as I handed her the cup. She lifted it to her mouth and sipped. A smile pulled at her luscious lips as she glanced up at me. “You were paying attention.”

“I pay attention to everything, gattina.” I set a plate of breakfast pastries on the table beside her. “Eat.”

She reached for a croissant and lifted it to her lips. “What does that word mean?” she asked between bites. “You used it several times last night.”

Gattina?” When she nodded, I said, “It means kitten.”

“Oh.” Unease drifted into her eyes.

For a moment, I thought I was seeing things, but then her shoulders tensed and she set the half-eaten croissant back on the plate.

She obviously didn’t like being called kitten. I knew she couldn’t understand the real meaning of the word—she was too innocent for that—and usually I hated it too, but it fit her. Especially since kittens had claws, which she very clearly did.

I moved back to the table so I wouldn’t be tempted to grab her and lose myself in her sweetness. “I need you to get dressed.”

“What time is it?”

“Nine o’clock.”

What?” Fabric rustled in the bed behind me. “Why didn’t you wake me? You were supposed to meet with Versace at eight thirty.”

I slid my hands into the pockets of my slacks and turned toward her. She’d set the coffee cup on the nightstand next to her. The sheet was still clutched to her chest, but one bare leg was now extended to the ground, as if she were about to bolt out of bed. “I cancelled the meeting.”

Her eyes lifted from the floor where she seemed to be searching for something. “You did?”

I nodded. “I still need you to get dressed. We have another meeting in an hour.”

“With who?”

I didn’t answer.

She stared at me with both confusion and a whisper of unease.

I saw it. I knew I could alleviate her worry, but I stayed silent. The little power struggle between us had to end. I needed her to know who was in charge. It was the only way I was going to keep her safe now that this thing between us had combusted.

Several seconds passed in silence, then she said, “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”

“No.”

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