Read The Muscle Part Three Online

Authors: Michelle St. James

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #New Adult & College

The Muscle Part Three (2 page)

BOOK: The Muscle Part Three
9.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

his looks great
,” Elia said, digging into the platter of fried plantains in front of him.

“I can’t take credit,” said Isabel. “It’s from that little place down by the beach.”

Luca took her hand under the table. The fact that she hadn’t been cooking said more about her state of mind than any of the words she kept to herself. When Sofia had lived at the house, Isabel had made a point to cook for her and make her lunches, wanting Sofia to have the same kind of love and care that Isabel had gotten when their mother was alive. She had seemed to enjoy her time in the kitchen, laughing and talking to Sofia about her day at school, one spot of normalcy in a situation that was anything but normal.

Now Luca saw the effort it took for Isabel to get out of bed in the morning, take a shower, get through the day not knowing where Sofia was or if she was safe. It was only at night that she came alive. Under his touch and the careful ministrations of his mouth, she seemed able to forget her worry for just a little while.

Or maybe that was just Luca being egotistical. Probably she didn’t forget for even a second. But Luca still tried, grateful to give her what pleasure he could between the hours of dusk and dawn when her worry about Sofia seemed most acute.

“Then you get credit for picking great takeout,” Elia said, shoveling a forkful of food into his mouth.

Isabel smiled and pushed her food around her plate.

“Cruz give you anything today?” Marco asked Luca.

“Not a thing,” Luca said. “Claims Diego’s business is still being conducted, but no one has seen him in the last few weeks.”

“Any idea where he might be hiding out?” Elia asked.

Luca shook his head, hating to admit the visit had been pointless. “Although the guy’s so strung out, I’m not sure he’d remember even if he’d seen Diego himself.”

“I had a couple beers with Aldo today,” Elia said. “He hasn’t seen Diego either, but he did say the man conducting Diego’s business is a small Columbian with a mean streak.”

Luca raised an eyebrow. “Columbian?”

Elia nodded.

“Think it could be Eduardo?” Marco asked.

“It’s possible,” Luca said. Isabel had given the bodyguard named John a nice severance check and sent him on his way, but Eduardo had disappeared the same day Diego took Sofia. “Let’s put the word out on the street. If we find Eduardo, maybe we find Diego, too.”

“Speaking of Columbian,” Elia said, “Aldo mentioned the bad blood between Diego and Sanchez.”

“Anything specific?” Lorenzo Sanchez was every bit as dangerous as Diego, but Luca was desperate for any angle that might help them find Sofia.

“Not much,” Elia admitted through another bite of food. “Just that Diego’s been reneging on their territorial agreement, selling in Sanchez’s territory, then claiming it was a mistake. Shit like that.”

Luca thought about it. “Sanchez going to do anything about it?”

Normally he wouldn’t be anxious for a drug war — especially not a drug war with Isabel and Sofia in the middle of it. But chaos was his friend now. As long as Diego’s operation was unstable, as long as there were variables in play, there was the possibility that Diego would make a mistake. Luca had no way of knowing if Diego had prepared a place in advance, if he was hiding out in a well-equipped safe house or in a hastily prepared apartment. But he hoped for the latter — and for anything that would keep Diego off balance enough that he might make a mistake.

Elia shrugged. “Hard to say. You know how these guys are — they play it close to the vest.”

“Tell Aldo to keep his ear to the ground,” Luca said. “Let us know if he hears anything else.”

“Already done, boss.”

Luca chafed under the familiar term but didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to be anyone’s boss. He just wanted to get Sofia away from Diego and take her and Isabel somewhere they could be safe and happy.

He glanced over at her, taken aback all over again by her loveliness. She was wearing a black dress that only highlighted her pallor — she hadn’t been out in the sun much in the past month — and the sharp angle of her collarbones, but she was still the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Her hair was lustrous, long and loose, falling almost to her ass in dark waves from chestnut to amber. There were shadows under her eyes, but they only made him want to scoop her into his arms, protect her and make her happy every minute for the rest of her life.

He scooted back from the table on impulse, then held out a hand to her.

She looked at it, then up at him. “What?”

“We’re going out.” He glanced at Marco and Elia. “All of us.”

Elia downed the rest of his wine and let out a whoop. “You don’t have to tell me me twice!”

“I don’t know…” Isabel looked nervously around, like she was afraid someone might see her even thinking about enjoying herself.

Luca softened his voice. “You’re not doing her any good here, sweetheart. You’ve been cooped up in this house too long. The change of scenery will do you good.” He smiled. “Besides, I know this perfect hotel bar on the beach.”

A little of the lost light came back into her eyes as the corners of her mouth turned up into a smile. It was like storm clouds parting after a long rain, the sun finally breaking through to warm the cold, wet ground.

“I think I know the one you’re talking about.”


he hotel bar
on the beach was busy, full of tourists and business people in town for conventions and conferences. Isabel sat with Luca, Marco, and Elia, watching the way they laughed and talked, giving each other a hard time and reminiscing about old jobs and old friends. She felt a little guilty watching them. They seemed young and carefree, absent the hardness that she’d grown accustomed to since Diego’s disappearance with Sofia. This is how they should be all the time. They were only so serious, so worried, because they’d gotten caught up in her life.

Luca laughed at something Elia said, and she felt the vibration of it all the way in her toes. She loved his laugh. She’d heard too little of it since she’d met him — first because they’d tiptoed around their feelings for each other, later because they’d been on guard around Diego, and more recently because of Sofia’s absence. She hoped she’d get to experience life without something horrible or tragic hanging over their heads. Hoped she’d get to hear him laugh first thing in the morning and again before they went to sleep.

He looked over at her, caught her watching him.

“What?” he said.

She watched him touch the beer bottle to his mouth, tip it, and drink. His lips were full and wet, and her belly tightened, the space between her legs growing wet as she thought about how they felt against the throbbing heat of her sex.

She smiled. “Nothing.”

He returned her grin. “I know that look. That isn’t nothing.”

She reached under the tall bar table, ran her hand along his jean-clad thigh. His muscles were taut under the denim, and the scent of him — musk and something like eucalyptus — made her head spin.

She leaned in, gave him a long, lingering kiss. “I just like looking at you,” she said, her mouth inches from his.

He groaned a little. “And if you keep looking at me like that, I’m going to sweep you off into some dark corner and have my way with you.”

“I might not complain,” she murmured, inching her hand farther up his thigh toward the visible bulge between his legs. The sight of it made her even wetter, and she marveled that with everything that was happening — all her anger at Diego and her fear for Sofia — she could still feel such sweeping lust. It was the kind of lust that set her blood boiling, that obliterated everything else with its heat. Even when she went to bed full of fear, tears threatening to spill over so she had to turn away from Luca in the bed they now shared, one touch from him was all it took to light the fire that seemed to smolder constantly for him.

He leaned in, captured her mouth with his, ran his tongue along her lower lip before taking it between his teeth and tugging. She moaned, touching her hand to his neck as she swept his mouth with her tongue, her panties already soaked from the simple contact.

“Get a room!” Elia shouted.

She pulled away, her cheeks hot. She was still getting used to the easy familiarity of the men Luca called friends. To the way they teased him like a brother and watched over her like a sister. It was an unfamiliar camaraderie, and after months fearing the men who worked with Diego, she had finally come to understand that these were men of a different breed.

Just as fierce, but fair and honorable.

“Shut it,” Luca said. He took her hand and whispered in her ear. “Want to go for a walk?”

She nodded, sliding off the bar stool.

“Catch you on the flip side,” Luca said.

“Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do!” Elia said.

“Which is basically nothing,” Marco added.

“Yeah, yeah,” Luca laughed. He tried to sound annoyed, but Isabel heard the warmth in it, felt his affection for the two men who had put their lives on hold to help him.

To help her.

They headed away from the crowded bar, walking toward the roar of the ocean in the darkness. The beach was empty except for a couple heading back toward the hotel and a lone woman staring out to sea from a rise in the sand. Luca took Isabel’s hand and led her away from the bright lights of the hotel, down to where the water rushed close to their feet.

He bent in front of her, and she was momentarily confused until he placed one big hand around her calf.

“Lift,” he commanded.

She did, and he slipped off her sandal, then did the same with the other one. When he stood, he handed her the shoes and took off his own, then led her down to the waves breaking against the shore.

The water was already warm, the sand soft between her toes. After the last month of being cooped up in the house, tense twenty-four hours a day as she waited for word about Sofia, she had to resist the urge to sigh when her feet sunk into the soft, wet sand.

Luca looked down at her and smiled like he could read her thoughts. “Good?”

She nodded and closed her hands around his giant bicep, leaned against his arm. “Good.”

They walked in silence, the hotel lights and music from the bar receding behind them. When they were well into the shadows near a small cove, Luca stopped.

“Let’s sit.”

They dropped onto the sand just beyond the rushing waves. The moon was full and high, casting a column of light on the water from the horizon almost all the way to shore. Isabel wondered about all the people around the world doing just this — sitting on a beach somewhere, looking out to sea, feeling small in a way that was somehow comforting. It didn’t lessen the pain of being without Sofia, of not knowing if she was okay or if Diego was treating her well, but she felt the tiniest spark of comfort at the thought that she wasn’t alone. Luca had been right, she’d needed the change of scenery. She exhaled, then inhaled the briny air and exhaled again.

“Thank you,” she said softly.

He put his arm around her and squeezed. “You’re welcome.”

He hesitated, and she had the sense that he wanted to say something else. It was another revelation — that she could know someone so well. That he could know her just as well.

“What is it,
” she asked him.

He shook his head. “Nothing.”

She reached up and placed a palm against his cheek, turned his face toward her. “That doesn’t look like nothing.”

He smiled, then looked out to sea. “I was going to apologize, but then I realized you’d only feel the need to comfort me, so in the end it would be selfish. I don’t want you to comfort me. I want to comfort you.”

“You do that every day, Luca,” she said softly. “But what reason could you possibly have to apologize?”

If he hadn’t come to work for her brother, she’d still be living as a prisoner, still believe there was no way out for her and Sofia. It was true that Sofia was gone, but that wasn’t Luca’s doing. And in some ways it had rallied a strength in her she hadn’t known she had and made her more determined than ever to fight.

He reached down into the sand, scooped up a handful, and let it sift through his fingers. “I should have found her by now. Brought her back to you.”

There was so much she wanted to say. So many things she wanted to ask. She had the feeling his sense of guilt wasn’t simply about Sofia. That he’d always taken on too much, made himself responsible for everything that happened around him. She had a feeling it had something to do with his childhood, but he had yet to open up to her about it, or about anything having to do with his upbringing. She knew he’d had a rough time of it, that he’d been on his own until Nico took him into the Vitale crime family, but that was all he’d been willing to share. It hurt her heart to think of him bearing the burden alone, or worse, being too ashamed to tell her about his background, but she knew he would tell her when he was ready. Pushing him would only hurt him, and that was the last thing she would ever do.

“Luca…” She squeezed his arm. “This isn’t your fault. Haven’t Marco and Elia asked every source they have about Diego? Haven’t you?”

“That’s not the point,” he said, his jaw tightening.

“It is the point,” she insisted. “You’re doing all you can. It’s all anyone can expect.”

“It’s not enough.”

She got on her knees, turned his face toward her again, and tenderly kissed him. “It’s enough for me.”

He was careful at first, responding gently to her kiss, but a moment later she slipped her tongue into his mouth and he groaned, his hand snaking into the hair at the back of her neck as he tilted her head to take the kiss deeper. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her upper body against his, thrilling at the feel of his hard chest against her breasts, her nipples already taut, ready for his hands and mouth.

It was a kind of euphoria, the kind she only used to feel when she was doing something crazy — something that would make Diego mad and make her feel alive. But she hadn’t needed to do any of that since she’d met Luca. He made her feel all kinds of alive, lit a fire in the center of her body that burned only for him, that only grew larger and hotter each time her naked body was pressed against his. He was enough, but the memory of her former desperation made her want to do something unexpected just for the fun of it. Here there was no one to tell her she was behaving like a whore. No one to tell her she was acting crazy.

She pulled away and stood, then stripped off her dress as she headed for the water.

“What are you doing?” he asked behind her.

She looked at him over one shoulder while she unhooked her bra. “Going swimming. Are you coming?”

She didn’t keep watching to see if he would answer, but a moment later he was beside her, his body naked in all its beautiful, muscular glory. He looked like a Roman god, with impressive lean muscle in all the right places. His shoulders were twice the width of her body, his pecs smooth and hard, tapering to rippled abs that her tongue knew only too well. Below them, a trail of dark hair led the way to his impressive cock, and she had a sudden memory of him poised at her entrance, his crown thick and wide as he drove into her.

She turned back to the water and rushed headlong into the waves, knowing it would do little to cool the heat already boiling in her body. She shrieked as a wave crashed near her, then dove under the next one. When she came up, Luca was next to her, his blue eyes shining like shards of sea glass in the moonlight, water beading his shoulders.

“Feeling dangerous tonight, are we?” he asked.

There was no malice in the question. None of the hidden meaning that always laced Diego’s words. In fact, he was smiling a little, like he might actually enjoy this side of her — probably because he hadn’t had to dive unwittingly into a swimming pool to save her this time.

“Maybe a little,” she said, letting a small wave buoy her body off the ocean floor as it swelled under them.

He reached for her, and she laced her legs around his waist, wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Not because you need to feel free, I hope,” he said.

She shook her head, kissed him gently and tasted the salt on his lips. “No, my love. Because I already feel free. I already feel alive.”

She felt like a traitor saying it. Sofia was still out there somewhere with Diego. maybe she was scared or hungry, or god forbid, even hurt. It wasn’t right that Isabel should have even a moment’s pleasure before her sister was brought safely home.

Luca reached up, smoothed her hair. “It’s good that you feel free,” he said. “You can’t be miserable all day, every day. Sofia wouldn’t want it, and it doesn’t do her any good anyway.”

“Worrying about her is all I can do for her,” Isabel said sadly. “When I’m not doing it, it feels like I’m doing nothing.”

“You’re doing everything that matters,” he said. “You’re sticking around, waiting for her to come home. Making sure you're there when she does. Not everyone would do that after everything you’ve been through. Sofia is with her big brother. One of her legal guardians. Plenty of people would take their chance to get away while they could.”

“I would never leave without Sofia,” she said fiercely.

“Which is one of the many things that makes you amazing. Now stop being so hard on yourself. Besides, you dragged me out here into the ocean naked. I demand that you enjoy it.”

She laughed a little as another wave rolled under them, and Luca’s hands cupped her ass, holding her securely as she locked her legs around him. She felt the press of his erection, long and hard against her clit. The sensation was erotic — the water moving under them in primal rhythm, his manhood jutting perilously close to her already wet pussy, their slightly shallow breathing.

He tugged on her ass cheeks, spreading her a little until his cock nestled against her folds, the tip pressing against her clit. She moved against him instinctively, seeking out the source of her pleasure by moving him up and down against the tiny bundle of nerves.

He dropped his mouth to her neck, and she dropped her head back, letting the water capture the long strands of her hair as his breath blew softly against her collarbone, her legs still locked around his steely hips.


“What is it, baby?” he asked. “Tell me what you want.”

She’d passed the point of being surprised by the question. It was one he asked most often in his attempt to teach her about her body, to rid her of the shame Diego had saddled her with in the wake of the assault he’d orchestrated, then video taped to use as blackmail. Now she thrilled a little in the question, in knowing that she could tell him every dirty thing she wanted and he wouldn’t flinch. Her words would only arouse him further, make him harder and more ready for her.

“I want you to put your fingers inside me,” she said as he trailed kisses up her neck.

“Yeah?” He continued without waiting for her response, his voice a murmur against the corner of her mouth. “I bet you’re already soaking wet for me, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she moaned, wiggling her hips, half-hoping his cock would plunge inside her instead.

He held onto her ass with one hand while the other one slipped between their bodies. She felt the loss of his cock against her, but it was replaced a moment later by his hand, cupping her pussy like it was something to treasure while he found her clit with his thumb.

Her head fell back again of its own accord, eyes closing as he made circles around the little bud, the water as calm and warm as a giant bath. The large waves had been replaced by a set of smaller ones, each one lifting their bodies the slightest bit as it made its way to shore. It was a primeval rhythm, one matched by the slow stroke of his thumb against her clit until she felt the rumble of her orgasm build at the center of her body, a warning of what was to come.

BOOK: The Muscle Part Three
9.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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