Authors: Michelle Hardin
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #United States, #African American, #Romance, #Multicultural, #New Adult & College, #Multicultural & Interracial
Dangerous Beauty Part One: Destiny Copyright © 2014
Manuscript Edit & Review:
Dangerous Beauty, Part One: Destiny. Copyright 2014 by Michele Hardin. All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Though I wish that some of the places were real, they are not. All characters are derived from the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real people is incidental.
One day in a beautiful garden a young half Italian, half Russian boy met the daughter of his father’s African American business associate for the first time. Nineteen years later destiny brought them together for a second time.
After the tragic death of his mother, Nathan Salerno decided to live a life devoid of love. His only goal in life was to live up to the expectations of his highly feared Mafia Boss father and make him proud to have him as an heir. As the anniversary of his mother’s passing drew near Nathan prepared to do what he did every year— disappear. When his childhood friends convinced him to join them on a vacation instead, Nathan’s life was changed forever.
Carter Steele couldn’t remember her mother and thought she would never heal from witnessing her father’s murder. After that tragic night she moved to Hope Beach under a new identity. Her new life was far different from her previous one and hiding her true identity was harder and lonelier than she’d ever expected. That was until she spotted the handsome blond in the BMW.
Will Nathan and Carter’s love survive the obstacles they face?
For Ty-nesha, thank you for listening to me ramble on about my ideas for this book. Thank you for the late night chapter readings. Thank you for encouraging me to send my book to a publisher. Thank you for dreaming with me, praying with me, and joining me on the wild ride my imagination took us on. I couldn’t ask for a better sister. I love you very much.
Anya sat at the kitchen table watching at her beautiful little boy eat his favorite cereal in his spaceship pajamas. He was five years old now, and Anya couldn’t believe how fast he was growing. The sun was bursting through the windows, gleaming off of his shoulder length golden blond hair. It had gotten so much longer over the past few weeks. She made a mental note to remember to cut his hair later.
He looked up at her from his food with his father’s gray eyes, milk dripping from his little chin. “What are you lookin’ at, Mama?” he asked his little voice playful and light. He smiled showing that he had lost yet another tooth, she would have to remember that too.
Anya smiled at her beautiful baby boy. “You lose another tooth
, you must remind me tonight we get ready for Tooth Mouse to come.”
Nathan’s eyes lit up and he bounced in his seat, giggling joyfully. Anya loved making her baby boy happy. He was everything to her, the one thing that gave her life purpose. She looked at her precious little boy wishing that he could stay this innocent forever. She knew it was impossible, but she still made a wish every night. She wished that her son would always be this happy, kind, sweet, and compassionate. She hoped he’d grow up to always live by the many lessons she’d taught. The lessons that she’d taught to try and counter the lessons his father taught. She knew that one day Nathan would have to encompass everything that his father stood for. After all, Nathan was the only son and heir to his father’s empire. But she still didn’t want him to be like Angelo. She wanted him to be better.
Looking at her little boy, sitting across from her at the table, with milk all over his little face, she couldn’t help but smile. Maybe he would be a better man, a stronger man than his father. Anya could rest easy believing that.
While Anya was dreaming, watching her baby boy eat, and listening to him talk about his missing tooth, Angelo walked into the kitchen. She looked over at him, surprised he was even there and not in another country doing God knows what, or who. She didn’t look at him long before she turned her attention back to the little angel in front of her. When she heard Angelo clear his throat to get her attention, she turned her gaze toward him and rolled her eyes.
Nathan hadn’t seen his father enter the kitchen, but when he followed her eyes he jumped out of his chair. “Daddy!” he screamed. Nathan ran to his father and jumped in his arms, showering him with milk coated kisses.
Angelo picked up a towel, wiped his face and laughed. “
Ciao mio bel figlio
, did you miss your Papa?” Angelo cooed.
Nathan giggled and hugged his father tight. “Yes,” he said nodding his head. Nathan smiled wide and pointed to his missing tooth, “Look! I lost another tooth. Mama says the Tooth Mouse will come and get it tonight” he chirped still bouncing in his father’s arms.
Angelo chuckled and kissed Nathan’s chubby cheek, “That’s good son, but right now Papa needs you to go upstairs and get dressed. He has some company coming to the house in a little while.” He lowered Nathan to the floor.
Nathan nodded his little head up and down. “Okay, Daddy.” He ran from the kitchen up the stairs, his little feet making slapping noises against the floor.
Anya looked over at Angelo and frowned. “Who is this that is coming? You promised me you wouldn’t do business in house.” she said.
Angelo looked up from the coffee he was pouring to where Anya was standing. He smirked, “Uhh… could you repeat that? I didn’t quite understand it, your accent got in the way,” he said referring to Anya’s thick Russian accent.
Anya knew he was just being an idiot, he understood what she was saying. “Stop messing around Angelo. I have right to know who is coming to my house,” she said placing her hands on her hips. She hated when he made fun of her Russian accent, she never made fun of his Italian one.
Angelo chuckled and sauntered over to Anya. “My goodness Anya, you sure do look beautiful today, love.” He ran his fingers through her long golden blond hair. “I forget sometimes, when I’m away, how damn sexy you are.”
Anya smacked his hand away from her face, and pushed him back until he was no longer in her space. Angelo’s eyes went wide in shock at her aggression and she glared at him. “Of course you forget Angelo! That’s what happens when you spend your time screwing every whore on God’s green earth! You forget you have wife at home!” she spat.
Angelo’s eyes filled with rage and his jaw clenched, “What the hell is wrong with you? Every time I come home I have to hear the same shit.” he snapped.
Anya rolled her eyes and waved her hand nonchalantly, “Whatever, Angelo I have no time for discussion. Now tell me who you have coming to my house around my son.”
“I have a friend and business partner coming to
house, and Nathan is not just your son Anya, he’s ours— so cut the shit,” Angelo replied through clenched teeth.
Anya let out a derisive laugh, “Fuck you, Angelo. You are not here enough to call this
house, and I’m surprised “
” even remembers what you look like. So
cut the shit!” Anya crossed her arms over her chest, ready for a fight.
Angelo raised his hands in surrender shaking his head side to side. “I can’t fight with you about this right now. Look the man coming over is an old friend I haven’t seen in three and a half years. He has a little girl, but I don’t know how old she is. I just figured you could keep an eye on her, while her father and I do business.”
Anya frowned and raised an eyebrow. “I’m not babysitter for every thug, drug dealer, and killer you do business with Angelo.”
“Enough, Anya! You’ll do it. What I have to do today is more important than your fucking attitude problem!” Angelo stormed out of the kitchen leaving Anya there seething.
She couldn’t stand him. To think, she actually loved the bastard once and she’d thought he loved her too. But that was a huge load of crap and now she knew it. The only thing that made her time with the selfish prick meaningful was her sweet baby boy. Nathan was the only reason why Anya put up with Angelo Salerno.
She was jolted out of her bad mood when she heard little feet walking down the stairs. Her handsome little boy was wearing dark blue jeans and a baby blue shirt, perfectly tucked in his pants. The only thing off was his messy hair, but she purposely told the nanny to save that job for her. She was the only one that knew how to handle her baby boy’s hair.
She smiled and grabbed his hand, “Come
, we cut your hair before the company arrives.”
“Okay, Mama,” he said following after her.
Anya was happy to be done with his haircut by the time they heard the doorbell ring. She hoped this child was well behaved. She hardly had the patience to deal with a rowdy little monster. She wasn’t used to it. Nathan had always been well behaved, and she never had to punish him.
“Come on Mama, I wanna go to the garden,” Nathan said jumping up and down by her bedroom door.
Anya smiled and walked to him grabbing his hand. “Alright,
. We will go to the garden, but first we have to go and meet your Papa’s friend. He has a daughter too, so be nice. Are you ready?”
Nathan nodded. “Is she going with us to the garden?” he asked looking up at her with his innocent gray eyes.
Anya leaned down and kissed his chubby little cheek. “Yes, she is. So you have to be extra sweet today, a gentleman. Can you do that?” She pinched his cheeks.
Nathan giggled and nodded, “Yes, Mama.”
“Okay, let’s go.” And they started for the stairs.
Once they made it downstairs they walked into the living room where Angelo stood talking in hushed tones to a tall, incredibly handsome African American man. Anya had to blink to make sure he was real. It seemed ridiculous for a man that handsome to be in the type of business Angelo was in. The man should be a model posing in underwear on a billboard in New York City. Anya was sure he could pull it off. But then again maybe not, there was something about him, something that kind of scared her. The man was very beautiful but he also seemed very dangerous. Anya shook her head and focused. This was no time to be ogling some handsome stranger in her living room. Once she fully focused her attention on her surroundings she found that both men were staring at her. She blushed. She had been staring at the handsome stranger much too long.
She cleared her throat and straightened herself up. “Hello,” she greeted in a soft voice. The stranger smiled at her.
“Hello,” he replied. His voice was smooth, deep, and a bit hypnotizing.
Angelo cleared his throat and glared at her. “Anya, this is a friend of mine, Spook. Spook, this is my wife, Anya, and my son, Nathan.”
Spook? What the hell kind of name is Spook
The stranger chuckled deeply, probably from the look on her face. “It’s just a nickname given to me about four years ago, right before my daughter was born. An old friend of mine constantly spoke about how frightening I could be at times,” he explained sweetly. “I guess he had a point. I have been known to be a little scary when I feel the need to be.” He looked at Angelo with a devious smile. “Isn’t that right, Angelo?”
Angelo chuckled nervously, which made Anya release a small laugh. The strange man was funny, especially when he made Angelo nervous. That was Anya’s favorite part. When the stranger looked over at her his smile went from devious to amused, and sort of sweet. Anya blushed again. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen in her life.
Angelo cleared his throat. “I still haven’t met a man who hasn’t quivered at the mention of your name old friend,” Angelo said capturing their attention.
Anya rolled her eyes. He was such a kiss-ass sometimes. She hoped the handsome stranger was ready to hear a load of bull, because Angelo obviously wanted something from him.
When Anya looked over to the handsome stranger again he was watching her with amusement in his gorgeous brown eyes. Anya smiled shyly and looked away. She heard him chuckle again. Was he flirting with her? He had to be flirting with her. It made Anya want to giggle like a smitten little girl.
She really needed to pull it together.
She looked at the handsome stranger, ignoring the glare Angelo was sending her way once again. “I’d love to meet your daughter,” she said softly. “Where is she?” she asked because she thought the guy was supposed to have a daughter, but she didn’t see a little girl anywhere.
“Anya and Nathan are going to keep Carter with them, while you and I go to my office and handle our business,” Angelo said waiting for Spook’s approval.
Spook nodded his head but his facial expression remained impassive. He turned his body and kneeled down to the floor. “Carter, I want you to go with the nice woman and her son. I’ll be back soon.”
Anya heard a small whimper, and then heard a tiny voice say “No” as firm as her little voice could.
“Enough, Carter. We don’t cry remember? Now, do as I say.” Spook reprimanded softly.
From what Anya could hear the little girl had to be quite young, so she understood her fear of being with strangers, but she still couldn’t see her.
Anya heard a small sniff and another whimper, “But I want to stay with you,” she whispered. Her voice was so soft and so sweet, Anya almost didn’t hear it. She wanted to go over and pick up the sad little girl and hold her tight in her arms.
Anya noticed some movement next to her and she looked down to see Nathan trying to get out of her grasp. Once he twisted free, he walked confidently over to Spook and the hidden little girl. Nathan walked in front of Spook, where Anya assumed the girl was standing, and the three adults looked on curious to see what Nathan was going to do.
Spook stood up and moved to the side, and Anya got her first glimpse of his little girl. A stunning little hazel eyed girl, who couldn’t be more than three, stared up at Nathan with sad eyes and a tear stained face. Her skin was a gorgeous chocolate shade of brown, and she had the most beautiful thick black hair. It cascaded down her back and ended at her waist. She was so small, and so sad, that Anya wanted to do anything she could to put a smile on her beautiful little face.
Nathan approached Carter slowly with a smile on his handsome face. “Hi, Carter. I’m Nathan,” he said waving at her. The little girl smiled, it was a small sad smile, but a smile nonetheless.
Nathan walked a little closer to Carter. Without another word, he held out his hand for her to take, and Anya was a little shocked when her tiny hand took his without any hesitation. Nathan held tight to her hand as he led her through the living room over to where Anya was standing. He looked up at her. “Are you ready Mama? Carter’s gonna love the garden.” Nathan turned and looked at Carter. “I’ll give you a pretty flower and then you won’t be sad anymore, okay?” Nathan said looking into Carter’s sad eyes. He moved her long hair from her face.
Carter nodded her head and put her thumb in her mouth as Nathan led her to the garden, still holding tight to her hand. Anya had to smile. Her little boy was a gentleman, just like he said he would be. Anya looked up and noticed a small smile on Spooks handsome face as he watched the kids leave the room, and Angelo’s smile was all “Proud Papa.”
“Have a good meeting. We will be out back in garden,” Anya said as she turned to leave the room.
“Thank you, Anya. She’s a good girl and she shouldn’t cause you any trouble. Still, I appreciate you keeping an eye on her for me,” Spook said genuinely.
Anya was touched by his gratitude. “You’re very welcome,” she replied and she turned and left the room.
Anya needed to catch up with the kids, but she knew they were safe in the garden so she took her time. She quickly ran upstairs to retrieve her camera. She didn’t want to miss anything adorable. She wanted to have future evidence of how sweet her Nathan could be for teenage years reinforcement. She would make sure he remembered how to be a gentleman even if it killed her. It was either that or risks him being an asshole like his father.
After making some lemonade and snacks for them to have in the picnic area, Anya made her way to the garden.