Determined to avoid the violence that claimed her family and friends, Carissa Elliott flees her hometown with a dangerous plan. She has proof that Calum DeMateo killed her father—now she just has to catch him. To do so, she’ll have to transform herself from small-town ingénue to New York crime boss.
When her path crosses with Alec McLean, the sexy stranger with whom she once shared a steamy nightclub kiss, things take an unexpected turn. Alec heads his family’s criminal organization, the kind of made man Carissa should want nothing to do with. But he also has a plan to take down Calum, and the flames that flicker between them are irresistible.
Will their vengeful quests jeopardize their chance at lasting love?
“Ladies, you’ve been invited to a VIP table.”
Carissa whirled around to face a tall, dark-haired man whose muscles went past impressive to
downright intimidating. Dressed in a black T-shirt one size too small and tight, dark pants, the man screamed security guard.
“Not interested.” Carissa turned back to Mel, whose eyes bulged in an are-you-out-of-your-damnedmind?
The security guard tapped Carissa’s shoulder. “It’s Noah’s table. He says you would be more
comfortable there since you’re taking a break from dancing.”
The guard pointed to a roped area where a man sat watching the dance floor. She couldn’t see his
face. Only his thick, wavy hair. “Who’s Noah?”
The guard tilted his head toward the dance floor. “The man your friend is dancing with. That’s his
brother at the table.”
Mel leaned toward her. Her smile was sweet as an ice cream cone in the summer, but her voice
carried the dual edge of a Katana sword. “You’re turning down a VIP invite? Who does that? I’m giving you two choices. Come back to the dance floor with me, or go make eyes at that sexy piece of man meat over there.”
Carissa could stand at the bar until the girls finished dancing, fending off drunks with hot breath and zero self-awareness, or wait sitting down. She burned Mel with a glare and turned to the security guard.
“Fine. Lead the way.”
She followed the guard around the dance floor to the cluster of white chaise lounges under canopies.
Each was tied with drapes—some untied, providing an intimate ambiance for the occupants. It was all very risqué. The guard lifted the rope, and she made her way to the canopy covering the lone man.
Her deep-red, ankle-wrap stilettos were not meant for the long walk to Club Retreat or long periods of dancing, so the heeled soles were fighting back with vicious intent. She sat on the tufted chaise lounge, a slight moan escaping her lips. She wanted to marry that chair.
Noah’s brother didn’t bother to look at her. Carissa didn’t bother to introduce herself.
Instead, she searched for Mel among the crowd. With black curls tumbling over her shoulders and her emerald dress, she was easy to find. Carissa spotted her laughing next to a tall guy with pants designed to show his blessings. On the other side of the lit pool, Gia swayed against Noah in slow, coordinated moves.
“My brother’s really into your friend.”
Carissa’s hand flew to her chest. Immersed in her own thoughts, he’d caught her unaware. In the
sultry moonlight, his features were striking. His eyes were not one shade, but the exact place where blue met green.
“He’s not alone,” she finally said. Was that really her voice?
“What’s your name?”
His voice, a smoky baritone, stroked her ears, and Carissa’s gaze lingered on his made-for-kissing mouth. She tried to remember the name she’d made up before leaving the hotel. Her memory blank, she used the first name that came to her.
His eyes narrowed, his lips dissolving into an I’m-not-buying-that-bridge smirk. “I guess that would make me . . . Tony?”
Heat spread up her neck and over her face. He saw right through her lie. “I’m sorry. It’s from the
movie I was watching before we left the room.”
He laughed. “I was watching that too. It’s one of my favorites.”
She rolled her eyes and swept her hair over her shoulder. “Isn’t Scarface every guy’s favorite
“Are you saying I’m not special?” He raised an eyebrow and moved closer to her on the wide sofa.
The smell of the ocean with hints of citrus teased her nostrils. The satinwood undertones caused a flutter in her chest. She wasn’t going to flirt with him. She couldn’t. “That’s not what I meant . . . ”
He mirrored the side-to-side movement of her head. “No?”
Carissa laughed and flipped her palms up. “Everyone just seems to love that bad guy.”
“He was a complex character.”
She crossed one leg over the other and hugged her knee with both hands. “Really? He was a
criminal, a drug dealer who hurt people.”
Noah’s brother braced his hand on the seat a few inches from her. “True, but he was also relatable.”
Carissa tilted her head to one side. “In what way?”
“Take his relationship with Elvira, for example.” He lowered his head toward her as if he intended to confide something. “It took one look, and he had to have her.”
A string pulled her chest tight, tight, tight. She cleared her throat. “She was his boss’s girlfriend. Not very ethical if you ask me.”
“Ethical? You said yourself he was a drug dealer. You’re not from Miami, are you?”
Stay cool. There’s nothing wrong with a little light flirting. “No, I’m from Eden Rose, a small town in Maryland.”
A slight frown ghosted over his forehead. “Are you here on spring break?”
“No. I’m not in school anymore. I’m here on a mini vacay. What about you?”
“I’m here on business. What do you do?”
Carissa shook her head. “Nothing yet. I’m looking for work.”
“What field?” he asked.
“Human resources and entrepreneurship.”
“I’m impressed.” His voice got deeper. “What do you want to do?”
He edged his hand closer to hers, distracting her. “I . . .I want to find grants for people to make
money doing what they love, using what they know, what they’re good at.”
“That’s a big dream for a first job out of college.” He gave her a small, patronizing smile as if she were a pageant contestant wishing for world peace.
“If you’re not going to dream big, why dream at all?”
About J.L. Lora
J. L. Lora was born in Dominican Republic and came to the United States just at the age of 13. Her goal in life was always to be a writer. As a child, she told stories to her family and friends and wrote fiction about historic figures. Today, her stories explore the dark side of good characters, people living in the gray areas of life and how they cope with the cards life has dealt them. She loves strong heroines and their equally powerful love interests. She currently lives in Maryland while pursuing her dream of writing compelling, sexy, can’t-put-down stories about empowered, badass alpha heroines and take-your-breath-away alpha heroes.