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His right eyebrow lifts as he takes the tumbler of whiskey from me. “May I ask why?”

I take a sip of the vodka, savoring the quick burn. “The girl just lost everything, Luca. She has nowhere to go.”

“She can go to the Cosa Nostra.”

Shaking my head, I let out a humorless chuckle. “Not happening, brother. Drop it.”

Luca's eyes lock with mine, concern tightening his features. “Just don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

My family is known for a lot in the criminal world, anything from dealing in arms and assassinating high-value targets to cybercrimes and money laundering. But we don’t hurt women, and we sure as fuck don’t condone sexual slavery. Aunt Isabella’s spent her life bringing down sex trafficking syndicates with the help of Uncle Alexei.

I give my friend a look of warning. “The safest place for the girl is with me.”

Luca nods before finishing his drink. “I’m going to get some sleep. Try to get some rest.”

Nodding, I swallow another sip of vodka, my eyes following Luca as he opens the front door and leaves. I set the tumbler down and slowly turn my head in the direction of the stairs.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with Rosalie Manno. I took her to protect her, but I’m pretty sure she’s not going to see it that way.

After she turns eighteen, I’ll let her go. Until then, I’ll feed and clothe the girl.

Pulling my phone from my pocket, I dial Sacha’s number. He’s been with the bratva since before I was born and is my most trusted man. The man is practically family. I instructed him to get all of Rosalie’s belongings, so she’ll at least have something familiar while staying with me.

“Viktor?” he answers after the second ring.

“Did you get everything?”

“Yes. I’m on my way back.”


Letting out a sigh, I tuck the device back in my pocket and head to my bedroom so I can shower and change into comfortable clothes before facing off with the Sicilian princess.

While standing beneath the warm spray of water, my thoughts are inundated with the day’s events. Rosalie’s fear when I licked the tear from her cheek was palpable. It created an inferno of protectiveness and possessiveness inside me.

No woman has ever had this effect on me.

Sure I feel protective of the women in my family, and I’d die for any of them in a heartbeat.

But Rosalie triggered different emotions within me.

Not ready to figure out why, I shove the thoughts down and step out of the shower so I can dry off.

After pulling on black sweatpants and a t-shirt, I grab an extra shirt and walk to the guest room. There’s silence behind the door as I unlock it, and when I shove it open, it’s to see Rosalie leaning out of the open window and staring down at the garden below.

“If you jump, you’d probably break a leg,” I mutter as I walk into the room. “Or two.”

She spins around, her chest heaving as her fear quickly tightens the air.

I drop the shirt on the bed. “There are guards all over the grounds, so you won’t get far.”

Her tongue darts out to nervously wet her lips, her eyes glued on me.

Christ, she has the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen.

There’s nothing I can do to stop myself from taking in her petite body. She has curves in all the right places, and the fucking V between her legs makes my cock stir behind the fabric of my sweatpants.

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