Read One Step Closer (Erotic Romance) Book 1 (The DeLuca Brothers) Online

Authors: Lucinda DuBois

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One Step Closer (Erotic Romance) Book 1 (The DeLuca Brothers)

BOOK: One Step Closer (Erotic Romance) Book 1 (The DeLuca Brothers)
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One Step Closer

DeLuca Brothers Book One - Frank

 

by Lucinda DuBois

www.LucindaDuBois.com

 

PUBLISHED BY:

Lucinda DuBois

Copyright © 2013

All
rights reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be
copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise,
without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.

 

This book is a work of fiction. All
characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's
imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

Chapter 1

Ten
years.

A
decade.

That's
how long it had been since thirty-five year-old Frank DeLuca had been home. It
was strange how little had changed in the old neighborhood. He glanced in the
rearview mirror. He supposed he didn't look much different than he had back
then. His coal black hair was still thick and free of gray. A few small lines
had appeared at the corners of his mouth and his dark blue eyes, but his six
feet, four inch frame was still lean and muscled, courtesy of his athletic
lifestyle. He wasn't sure why he'd expected the neighborhood to have changed so
much. Things here rarely did.

His
childhood home seemed smaller, somehow, even though it looked exactly the same:
a two-story, four bedroom, two bathroom, brick Cape Cod with a small front yard
and a slightly larger fenced-in back yard. His mother's prize azaleas filled
the flowerbeds under the two front windows, a wash of pink and fuchsia and red
that had only shifted in spectrum. The sidewalk that led up to the front steps
was clean, the grass around it neatly trimmed. At least his little brother was
keeping up with the yard work. Frank couldn't see it from his car, but he felt
safe in assuming that the third stone from the steps still had a small chip out
of one corner where he and his brothers had dropped their Uncle Leo's bowling
ball one hot summer night. Uncle Leo had been furious but their mother had just
laughed.

 The
blue-and-gray Cape Cod to the left of the DeLuca house looked a bit shabbier
than it had before, but if the same people were living there as had been when
Frank had left, they had to be getting well into their seventies. Charles and
Lydia Rizzo had always been nice enough, but a bit odd. Maria had often
referred to them as having only half a deck of cards between the two of them.
The house to the right, where the DiNozzi family had lived through most of
Frank's childhood, appeared to belong to a much younger couple now, judging by
the sheer volume of toddler toys cluttering the porch and front yard. Whoever
they were, they'd kept the same black and white color scheme even though the
paint seemed new. A few other houses on the street had changed colors, but
there was still a sameness there. No additions or removals. Some new cars, but
nothing that seemed out of ordinary in the middle-class neighborhood. If it
wasn't for the abundance of satellite dishes, Frank would've sworn he'd stepped
back into his childhood.

One
house, in particular stood out as being unchanged. It was smaller than the
DeLuca house, but there had only been one child in the Bianchi family. Frank
shook his head. He didn't want to think about her, the girl he'd last seen
eight years ago. Still, unbidden, her face rose in his memory, the way she'd
looked the last time he'd seen her as fresh as it had been all those years ago.
Her long, dark brown waves still mussed from bed. Her dark violet eyes full of
love. Or, as least what he'd thought at the time was love. Frank raked his
hands through his hair and then flexed his fingers. He could still feel her
silky skin beneath his palms, the way her body had curved to fit his, as if
they were two halves of the same coin...

“Pull
your shit together, DeLuca,” Frank muttered. It took more concentration than he
liked, but he was able to turn his thoughts from her to his family. Well, his
immediate family anyway. He didn't want to think about his cousin Gio. That led
right back to her since they were both responsible for what had happened.

Instead,
he thought about his mother. Maria Russo-DeLuca, a northern Italian with thick
blond curls and navy blue eyes. In her early fifties, Maria had been widowed
young. Frank had been only ten, his youngest brother still two months from
being born, when their father died. The life insurance had been enough for Maria
to pay off the house and she'd continued teaching and doing after-school
tutoring, whatever it took to put food on the table. Frank had always thought
his mother was a superhero. After his father had died, he'd known it for
certain. After all, only a superhero could raise the five DeLuca boys and stay
sane. They were all strong-willed, stubborn and intense, a dangerous
combination to have under one roof.

He
was the oldest, the protective older brother who was the only one allowed to
torment his younger siblings and the only one other than their mother who was
allowed to boss them around, even if they didn't like it. And, for the most
part, they'd listened. He helped them get ready for school, had walked with the
younger ones to and from the bus stop. Even though he'd lost his faith in his
religion, every Sunday, he made sure his brothers were ready for mass. He went
through the motions of catechism because he knew how much it meant to his
mother, and when his brothers came to him with their own doubts about the
Church, he never steered them away. As far as he knew, all four still attended
mass regularly.

Despite
his extra responsibilities, he'd set the bar both academically and socially –
honors classes, valedictorian, captain of the football team, star quarterback,
senior class president and prom king. His grades and athletic ability had
earned him a full ride to NYU and he'd used it to get an MBA and make the
contacts who helped him start his adventure business. His career path had also
been something to which his brothers could aspire. When he'd started his 'plan
your own adventure' business, only his mother had thought he'd make anything of
it. Now, it was a global company that made him worth half a billion dollars.
The only reason he hadn't moved his mother to a million-dollar home was that
she refused to go. Part of that, Frank was sure, was that all of her memories
of his father were in this house. They'd married when she was just seventeen.
She'd never expected to be a widow before thirty.

Of
his four brothers, two had at least attempted to follow in their brother's
footsteps to make their adult lives be something of which they and their mother
could be proud. One was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do. And
then there was Anthony.

Two
years younger than Frank, Anthony had generally resented his older brother's
authority after their father had died and, as he became a teenager, had turned
to other members of the DeLuca family for guidance. With his short jet-black
hair, dark brown eyes, and rugged good looks, he was the spitting image of his
father. He was the same height as Frank, but wider. His bulk had made him a
prime candidate for an enforcer with a known crime family.

The
crime connection was a major source of contention for the middle DeLuca child
and his older brother. At thirty-one, Vincent was among the youngest Special
Agents in the NYC branch of the FBI. He seemed to strive to distinguish himself
from his brothers by keeping his blue-black hair nice and neat, though not as
short as Anthony's. While he had the light brown eyes of his father's side of
the family, his features were much more fine like his mother's. He was the
shortest of the brothers at just under six feet tall, but had an authoritative
air that garnered him respect. Out of all of his brothers, Vincent was the one
to whom Frank was the closest, and they hadn't spoken in nearly eighteen
months.

Two
years younger than Vincent was the DeLuca's most eligible bachelor, Sergio. As
the pediatrician assigned to the emergency room at Mount Sinai Medical Center,
he made a decent living but wasn't wealthy. However, the prestige that came
with the job made up for the extra he would've made elsewhere. Add in wavy
ebony hair and chocolate brown eyes, a tall, lean frame and rugged good looks,
and Sergio was constantly fending off passes from single – and some not so much
– moms as well as offers from Maria's friends who wanted him to meet their
single relatives. Frank seriously doubted if that particular brother would ever
settle down.

Then
there was the baby of the family. Salvatore, called Sal by everyone but Maria,
was a full ten years younger than Frank and looked almost like a younger carbon
copy. His coal black hair was wavy and his eyes bright blue rather than dark,
but the resemblance was eerie. As the youngest, Sal had the burden of following
his successful, ambitious and, to an extent, intimidating brothers, but he
seemed to take everything in stride. While he had his less than gracious
moments, he was, by far, the most easygoing of the boys. Maria had always
referred to him as her blessing, a final gift from her late husband. The four
older boys had just rolled their eyes and picked on Sal all the more. After
all, what else were brothers for?

Sal
had been only fifteen when Frank had left home, a sophomore more interested in
having fun than doing his schoolwork. Sergio had left for college earlier that
year, still a year away from declaring himself pre-med. Like Vincent, Sergio
had opted to live in the dorms rather than at home. Anthony hadn't gone to
college, rather he'd already been in the city working with the family. Frank
had refused to leave at first, making all of the same excuses he'd made since
graduating from college: he could run his business from home, Ma needed someone
to help with Sal, to help around the house. Maria, however, had calmly told him
that she was perfectly capable of handling one fifteen year-old boy. In the
end, it had been her insistence that had prompted Frank to finally leave New
York and follow his financial backer to Los Angeles to take his business idea
global.

Frank
had called home every week that first year, always promising to come back for a
visit, but never able to make a trip fit into his busy schedule. His mother had
understood and never tried to make him feel guilty for not coming. He still had
though at the beginning, and Anthony had never missed an opportunity to press
the issue on the few occasions they'd spoken. The other guys hadn't said much
on the subject at all. She had been his main contact with the family those
first couple years. By the time he'd flown her out to California that least
time, the guilt at staying away had mostly gone, replaced by the desire for
bigger and better things. She hadn't understood it, but his mother had. Maria never
complained, not even when the calls dwindled to once a month or once every few
months. Finally, he'd stopped promising to come home and she'd quit asking when
she'd see him again. He did send her cards with flowers or gifts on Mother's
Day and Christmas and Valentine's Day. For her birthday, he always made sure to
call, even if his assistant had to remind him.

Frank
wasn't sure why he'd finally decided to come back after all this time. It
wasn't a holiday, though those weren't far off. His family was, as far as he
knew, happy and healthy. None of them were ill and none were in any sort of
trouble. Anthony, while still involved in less-than-legal activities, was smart
enough not to get caught. Sometimes, Frank thought that Vincent was the only
one who'd be able to put together a case on Anthony, which was probably why
Vincent steered clear of the organized crime unit. Vincent may not have
approved of Anthony, may have even been ashamed of their familial connection,
but unless he knew for sure that Anthony had pulled the trigger on someone,
Vincent would never go after his brother. Likewise, Anthony would never have
sent anyone after his little brother. None of the DeLuca boys, no matter how
much they may have disapproved of what the other ones did or how pissed off
they got at each other, would ever do anything that could hurt their mother.

As
his thoughts came back around to his mother, Frank was surprised by the sudden
wave of guilt he felt. His mother had never said anything, true, but he'd
known, hadn't he, that she was hurt. Wasn't that the real reason he'd finally
come back after all these years? To show her why he'd stayed away, to show her
all that he'd accomplished? It wasn't like there was anyone else he wanted to
see. He'd told himself that lie often enough that he was starting to believe
it.

BOOK: One Step Closer (Erotic Romance) Book 1 (The DeLuca Brothers)
8.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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