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Authors: Nikki Winter

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The Beauty and the Brawler (9 page)

BOOK: The Beauty and the Brawler
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          Luciano dropped the ultrasound and caught Samara as she launched herself at him. The tears made him feel like an asshole of epic proportions. Stroking a hand down her back, he took a seat on the bed with her in his lap, arms wrapped around her.

“Either you’re happy, or you think our kid is bringing the apocalypse with him when he arrives,” he murmured into her hair.

She cried harder and he winced. “I’m sensing quiet time is needed right now.” Luciano pressed a kiss to her temple as he kicked off his boots and scooted backwards until he was far enough up the bed to lie down with her resting on top of him. Soon enough, the crying died down until it stopped completely, and the sound of soft sighs filled the room. Soft sighs that sounded a lot like... Looking down, he felt a smirk curve his lips. He flies in the middle of the day to talk to her, and the first thing she does is fall asleep. Nice.

His smirk faded when he noticed the discoloration under her eyes. She hadn’t been getting enough sleep, and she was thinner than when he saw her last. Fingertips lightly pushing into her side, he felt around to make sure her ribs weren’t apparent and let out a small breath of relief when all he felt was soft flesh.

“Exactly what have you been doing, beautiful?” Luciano whispered, brushing a tear track with his thumb. This Samara was...vulnerable. Something he wasn’t exactly used to. No, his Sammie was abrasive and brutally honest and uncaring of who didn’t like it. But when she’d looked at him moments ago all he’d seen was fear. Christ. Exactly what reaction had she been expecting from him?

No, they weren’t a couple of, well, anything. But Luciano felt
for her. Something that went past a friendship. Something slightly possessive and a little needy of her approval. That didn’t make him weak, did it? Maybe it did. Maybe she
made him into her bitch. Or maybe he knew enough about life to understand when something truly precious was dangling in his reach, grasping at his hand. It would make him weak to walk away from this. Obviously his emotions had gone way past that one night. Obviously he was totally and completely obsessed with her in a way he hoped didn’t land him with a restraining order or a Taser to the dick. He’d heard that really hurt.

Luciano’s palm slid over Samara’s T-shirt-clad belly and pulled at the fabric until it lifted enough for him to see the creamy, dark, velvety shade of her tummy. He stared. It didn’t
any different, but the small, three-dimensional image he’d seen moments ago had clued him in to the fact there was literally a whole
growing in there.

His index finger traced her belly button in wonder as he remembered how his tongue had been there...been everywhere. He shifted a little to relieve the tension building in his groin.

“Not now. That type of behavior is what got us here in the first place,” Luciano muttered.

He traced Samara’s face with his eyes again, stopping at her mouth. That mouth had been the cause of many fantasies on his part; many nights spent with him exercising his right arm in an extremely unholy way. Now that mouth was a mere few inches away from his own, and he had to clench his left hand and bite the inside of his cheek to resist the temptation it offered.

It wasn’t an easy task. He deserved a fucking pat on the back...a medal...some cheesecake for this shit. When she sighed and rolled until they were chest to chest, her breasts flush against him, he stared at the ceiling and gasped, “I’m coming, Elizabeth.”

He didn’t think it possible, but she’d marked him in just a few short hours, and there was no escaping the need to be inside her. Not only that, but the need to see her smile or flip him the bird...or threaten his balls with castration by stapler gun. Luciano needed her eating and talking, even if it was just to rant. He needed her and their baby healthy because it would keep him sane.

With a sigh he placed a kiss to her lips, trying not to linger, and gently moved her from his arms to the mattress, tucking a small throw blanket over her before he padded out of the room.

Sansone and Nyssa sat on opposite ends of the couch, glaring at each other like teenagers from the seventies ready to shoot over the last dirty magazine at the library. It was...creepy.

“You two,” he said, heading for the front door. “Up and out.”

Both heads jerked in his direction.

          “Wait...whaa?” the pair asked in unison.

          “Sammie is peacefully sleeping in what I would guess is the first time in weeks. I don’t need the bellowing to recommence,” Luciano continued, swinging open the door. “Because I’ll call your mother.” He pointed to Nyssa, who looked utterly horrified, then to Sansone. “And I’ll simply stab you in the face multiple times before sending your soul on to your master Beelzebub.” Then he gestured to the hallway. “Out.”

          There was a lot of angry muttering before they did as they were told.

“I’ll call you later, Nyssa,” Luciano called after Samara’s sister.

Sansone stopped, staring at him expectantly.

“The fuck do you want?” Luciano barked.

“No phone call for your brother, you prick?” Sansone barked back.

“The fuck am I calling you for? Your name Samara? You carrying my perfect, angelic seed? I don’t think so.” He slammed the door in his sibling’s face.  A few seconds later he reopened it, and said sibling was still standing there. “You gonna help me look for places on the Upper East Side?”

Sansone took out his phone. “How many rooms?”

“Four. I’m gonna need to hide from my pregnant girlfriend at some point.”

“Oh...she’s your girlfriend now,” his brother said in a drawn-out, sing-song tone.

“Kiss my hairy Italian ass and find me a home for my family, man-whore.”

“I feel so much love emanating from the two of you,” Nyssa stated, her sarcasm quite apparent.

Sansone looked up from his phone. “Got three places listed. Emails sent. I want a pay raise, dickface.”

“Why don’t you pay raise a pair of huge ba—”

“And that’s where this conversation will be ending,” Nyssa cut in, grabbing Sansone’s arm and tugging him behind her. “You two...Jesus...”

Luciano was still laughing when he closed and locked the door. That laughter died as he turned around to find something small and feline with its head cocked, staring at him with what could only be described as the eyes of Satan himself.

“Okay, this is how it’s gonna go,” he said quietly. “You stay outta my way, and I won’t have you neutered and hemmed up in a cone for two weeks unable to do what most men wish they could.”

The cat blinked then slinked away.

Rolling his shoulders, Luciano headed for the kitchen. Both of his babies needed to eat. He’d be taking the initiative to make sure that happened. He had a game plan here. Feed her. Get her compliant. Lay down that law.

Yeah, even he could admit only two of those would go over well.

Chapter Seven


“I’m sensing there’s something you wanna say to me, Sammie.”

          Samara raised her eyes from the food that had been unceremoniously placed before her the moment she’d wandered from her bedroom in a slightly sleep-drunk waddle after the scent of pancakes had reached through her partial coma and bitch slapped her awake. The one to place said pancakes before her? Oh, just the unnaturally large male, with the beefy yet surprisingly gentle hands, who was sitting across from her, eyes tracing her face. He was still here. Luciano was still
He hadn’t gone screaming into the night or hitchhiked all the way to Vegas to become a showgirl in order to escape his past.

He’d stayed...with her. Had even made pancakes—which were like proof that the good Lord himself had mercy on her soul, because she hadn’t gagged even once since forking in her first bite. But there was silence. A heavy, awkward
silence that left Samara fidgeting, a knot in her throat and playing with her food like an anxious five-year-old. The only thing that kept her from bolting from the room was the fact she’d been watching Luciano and Manfred sneer at one another for the last twenty minutes, and she was afraid if she left them alone together, she’d be burying one
of their bodies tonight…which one, she wasn’t sure.

          Not only that, but she had the distinct feeling some flimsy piece of wood—meaning her bedroom door—wasn’t going to stop Luciano any time soon. No, the man was obviously on a mission here. He’d proved that much already, hadn’t he? She’d slept all through the night, occasionally waking up to him behind her...spooning. It was foreign, the spooning. Even stranger was the way he always seemed to know when she opened her eyes. He’d rub her belly in soft circles, kiss the back of her neck, and tell her to go back to sleep.

          The first three times she’d taken exception to it until he murmured, “Would you rather talk about our forbidden, unrequited love instead?” Then she’d quickly closed her lids and did as she was told. Anything to keep him from riding the elephant in the room. Didn’t seem like that’d be working too much longer. When she’d gotten up this morning, he’d been moving gracefully around her unimpressive kitchen space, flipping pancakes and whistling, nothing on but his dark jeans, unzipped and leaving the top of his boxer briefs very visible.

          Samara shivered a little as she stared at the hard chest she’d been sleeping on most of the night, wondering how he’d managed to get her body to do something even she, the controller of said body, hadn’t accomplished. Utter insanity. What had begun to drive her a little crazy was the way he kept looking at her. It wasn’t impatience in his gaze or even annoyance. Just the opposite. The man stared at her like he had all the time in the world to be here, tending to her.

          She expected a lot, most of it wrong, but fixing pancakes weren’t on her list of things Luciano might do in light of the discovery of their love-child.

          “Sammie?” he prodded again, still as patient as ever.

          She finally set her fork down and leaned back in her chair, holding his gaze, deciding she wouldn’t look away. “You’re here,” Samara stated simply.

          His brows rose as he sipped from a coffee mug. “Where else would I be?”

          Shrugging, she answered, “A hotel room. One of the condos I’m sure you have for rent here...someplace getting smashed with Sansone...”

          He snorted. “Meanwhile you, my pregnant girlfriend, would be doing what

          She swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. “Since when am I your girlfriend?”

          Luciano glanced down at the watch on his wrist. “Since about six years, eight hours, ten minutes and, thirty-
seconds ago.”

          Samara sucked in a deep breath, lifted her braids from her neck, and decided maybe eye contact wasn’t
such a good idea. “Funny, I wasn’t aware we were dating all those times I informed you I’d be removing your testes with a thumbtack and a melon baller.”

She heard the smile in his voice when he replied, “I find that statement way too easy to pick up and run with.”

          Sighing, Samara sat back. “I’m not your girlfriend, Luc. Let’s be completely honest here.”

          “Oh, I am,” he stated adamantly. “The words may not have been spoken, but sweetheart, you were mine from day one.” His eyes caught hers again. “Stupidity will make you stop yourself from admitting when you really want something.”

“You don’t really want me,” she argued. “You’re happy about the baby. You’ll look up a week from now and—”

“Are you Luciano Vincent Antonelli? No. Then you can’t tell me what I think or feel.” He rolled that mug between his palms, obviously resisting the urge to squeeze it if the way his shoulders had tensed was any indication. “Don’t project your insecurities onto me.”

BOOK: The Beauty and the Brawler
10.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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