Taken - A Gangster Stepbrother Romance

BOOK: Taken - A Gangster Stepbrother Romance
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Taken
A Gangster Stepbrother Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michaela Adams
Copyright 2015 Michaela Adams
All Rights Reserved

This work is not bound by DRM, which allows you as a reader to enjoy this story on any digital platform you choose to use. But please respect the work of this author. No part of this book may be reproduced or copied without permission.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Any similarities to events or situations is also coincidental.

 

Cover Design by LM Creations

 

© 2015 Michaela Adams

All Rights Reserved

Dedication

From every supportive email to every encouraging review I’ve received, this book is entirely to my readers.

Thank you.

 

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Excerpt

Moving so fast she barely had time to register what was happening, Antonio pushed her against the wall. Hard. Her head bounced against the wall, causing her to hiss in pain.

              Stepping in till he was only a breath away, Antonio looked down at her. His eyes swept over her features as if taking in every detail. Emma mentally cursed at herself knowing that he could see her puffy eyes and red cheeks from all the crying she had done.

              “You’re going to eat,” he finally said. “And let me make something very clear. As older son and leader of the Del Marco Clan, you fall under my rule. And I don’t tolerate people starving themselves, least of all you. You will come down to dinner and eat or I will tie you to a chair and force you to eat. Either way,” he said, his eyes gleaming, “you’re eating.”

              Emma forced herself to keep her knees from buckling. Antonio was a forceful presence to wrangle with, especially when pressed up against the wall with your hands pinned together. But she tried to keep her spine straight as she fought against this man who insisted on ruining her life.

              She looked up at him, unable to believe this man’s audacity and dominance. “You’re treating me like some kind of…of…” Emma tried to think of the right word that encompassed her frustrations and futility “…a slave!”

              Antonio leaned forward and grabbed her chin with thumb and forefinger. With eyes that shone gunmetal gray, he said lowly, “Then so be it and learn to follow your master.”

              Turning around abruptly, he dragged Emma out of the room.

Chapter One

              Emma stared at the bulging white package.

 

              It had been stuffed into her tiny mailbox and the edges were folded over to make it fit. Without even pulling it out, she could see from the dim flickering hallway light that there was no return address or even outgoing address. It simply had a name scrawled onto the front: Emma Harper.

 

              But none of that was the unusual part. The unusual part was that there was a package in her mailbox. No one sent her packages. As an orphan who had grown up in various different foster homes, she had not had a stable life till her early teenage years. And by then, she had grown used to not having very many friends.

 

              And now as a grown twenty four year old woman, she could count on a closed fist how many real friends she had in her life. Acquaintances, coworkers—sure. But friends? No. And definitely no friend who would be keen on sending her mysterious packages.

 

              But hesitations aside, Emma wanted to make sure she cleared her mailbox of this obstructive package so her regular delivery of bills, bills, and more bills could be delivered without problem. Plus, she admitted as she pulled out the bulky package, she was curious.

 

              Holding the package, she could feel something bulky inside the envelope. It was about the size of her palm and rectangular. Emma wondered what it could possibly be.

 

              The tiny paranoid part of her brain wondered,
Bomb?

 

              Emma looked up and down the length of her rundown Los Angeles apartment and then snorted. The place already looked like it had lived through a bombing.
Several
bombings.

 

Living on the edge of Lynwood, Emma was right between Compton and Watts. She had gotten some funny looks the day she had gone apartment hunting. Not too many people had seen a white girl around the neighborhood before, especially not young, willowy brunettes who looked like a terrified deer.

 

              And Emma
had
been terrified. It was terrifying walking into such a neighborhood and knowing this would be home. But home it was. It had to be if she wanted to continue her work.

 

              Despite coming from literally nothing, Emma had not only managed to graduate from college but had continued into a masters program for social services, specializing in counseling for troubled children.

 

              And nowhere were there more troubled and traumatized children than right in the heart of south central LA. Having been gripped by the terror of gang violence and drug wars, too many children had seen murders and beatdowns happen on a regular basis.

 

              On one side of Emma’s apartment entryway, someone had graffitied “DMClan” in large bold red letters against the peeling and stained green wall. Her blood alternately boiled and chilled at the letters.

 

              DMClan stood for De Marco Clan, the biggest and most powerful crime syndicate on the west coast. Mob, mafia, gang—people called them all sorts of names but in the end, they were the
law
. For decades now, they had ruled LA with an iron fist. No illegal activity happened on the west coast without the De Marco Clan’s approval.

 

              And their power and brutality was evidenced in all the children Emma counseled. As a graduate student starting her clinical rotations, she had picked the Lynwood area as her first choice. She knew she wanted to be where she could do the most good. And after already having been working there for three months, she knew she had made the right choice.

 

              She had had dozens of children sit across from her and cry, scream, or whisper their horrific accounts of watching their father, mother, brother, neighbor get killed or beaten because of something related to the De Marco Clan. Because of their violence and ruthless brutality, she had learned to counsel PTSD patients who hadn’t yet hit puberty.

 

              Shaking her head, Emma tucked the package under her arm and headed upstairs, ignoring the always broken elevator that seemed to solely exist to mock the building’s tenants. Whatever the package was, she would open it inside her apartment. It was never a good idea to stand in open hallways like that for too long.

 

              Throwing down her briefcase of case files and backpack full of school work onto the small dining/office/coffee table of her studio apartment, Emma sat down on her well worn but soft couch and ripped open the mysterious envelope.

 

              Immediately a small black cell phone plopped into her lap.

 

              Emma stared, a little stunned. Who would send her a cell phone? And why
this
kind of phone?

 

              Although it looked quite new, it was an older model phone. Flipping it open, Emma marveled at seeing actual buttons again. No touch screen, no apps, no camera. It was just a small cell phone.

 

              Giving the phone one more curious look, Emma returned her attention back to the envelope. Inside, she found a folded note. Feeling a little unsure as to what to expect, she opened it.

 

             
Emma Harper—

              To keep your trust fund secure and your finances untouched, be in a quiet, private location this Thursday night by 8 PM. You will receive a call on the phone provided. Pick up after the third ring.

 

              Emma stared at the note.

 

              She read it again. And again. And again.

 

              Hands shaking a little as she lowered the note, Emma swallowed. How did they know about her trust?

 

              After bouncing around from home to home, Emma had finally been adopted at fourteen by the Grants, an elderly couple who had given Emma a good home and a sense of stability. They were already well into their seventies by the time Emma had come into their lives.

 

It was unusual. Even social services seemed unsure about approving the adoption. After all, could a seventy four year old woman look after a fourteen year old girl? Could a seventy six year old man understand the difficulties of a teenaged orphan?

 

But the Grants had impeccable records and had insisted on taking in Emma.

 

And for the next four years, Emma had never felt more safe or at home. Thanks to Ethel Grant’s encouragement, she had applied to college and had been accepted by several schools. Doug Grant had assured Emma to pick whatever school felt right to her and to leave the financial matters to them.

 

Feeling emboldened by their reassurances, Emma had picked USC, a prestigious private school in the heart of Los Angeles with a hefty price tag. Once she had accepted their admissions offer, the Grants finally sat Emma down to explain what she could expect.

 

A trust had been set up for her, they explained, and it would cover her tuition and living expenses until she finished school. Then when she turned thirty, she would have access to the entire fund to do with as she pleased. An accountant from the firm of Jameson & Co. would contact her once she became of age.

 

Emma had been bowled over by the news. When had the Grants set this all up? Though never poor, the small family was certainly far from wealthy. Emma would never think there had been enough money to put away to set up a trust fund.

 

But this also meant that Emma was now able to go to school. She could pursue an education, find her footing in the world, and give herself that leg up into a world of stability and roots that she had always stared at longingly from afar. Knowing the Grants and their limited financial reach, the trust would probably be just enough to cover her education, leaving her a bit at thirty to maybe help with school loan payments. But that was enough. That was more than enough.

 

Crying, she had hugged Ethel and Doug, whispering her thanks over and over again through the lump in her throat.

 

Just thinking about that moment made tears prickle her eyes. Emma leaned her head back a little to prevent the tears from actually falling. It had been over two years since Ethel had passed and three since Doug had followed. She missed them with an aching so acute she literally could feel a tear in her heart.

 

But feeling that ache snapped her back to attention. Staring down at the note, she wondered again who could possibly know about her trust fund. She had never told anyone about it. And Doug and Ethel Grant were far from chatty or gossipy. They would never share something like that.

 

To keep your trust fund secure and your finances untouched….

 

Was that a threat?

 

Was someone threatening her through her trust?

 

Fear and anger began to slowly bloom in Emma’s stomach. Although the comfort of knowing a small little nest egg was there for her was soothing, it was more the idea of knowing that Doug and Ethel had saved and planned for years all for Emma that touched her the most. The trust was the only thing left now of the Grants.

 

And the idea of someone touching it or threatening it made her sick with fear.

 

This was too specific of a note to be a prank or a hoax. No one could ever even assume that someone living off the edge of Compton could have something like a trust fund, even if it was just a small one.

 

Emma held up the ancient phone before smartly snapping it shut.

 

This Thursday.

 

This Thursday she would answer that call and find out who exactly was trying to threaten this shaky foothold she had finally gotten on this thing called life.

BOOK: Taken - A Gangster Stepbrother Romance
4.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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