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Dangerous Desires (Dangerous Beauty #2)
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He’s everything she has ever desired. But there’s only one way to keep her man alive: let him go.
With Nasir’s life on the line, Eva makes a deal with the devil. She slips away to return to Dimitri, the mob boss who held her captive for years, only to step into a new world of trouble. Abducted by one of Dimitri’s most cunning adversaries, Eva finds herself an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
When Eva disappears, Naz is prepared to do anything to find her. Tracking her to the remote regions of Portugal is just the beginning of the hunt. Bewitched by Eva’s beauty, the darkly seductive spy who abducted her now has more than business on his mind, but the only way for the trio to defeat Dimitri is to work together…despite the explosive desires threatening to consume them.
With a game so deadly and the stakes so high, Naz and Eva’s love will be tested in ways neither of them could foresee…or perhaps survive.
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A woman is like a tea bag. You can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. But as I step aboard the sailing vessel Silver Shadow in the cool, misty darkness before dawn, I’m wondering if he missed the point.
Love’s true power isn’t in the strength or courage it gives, but in the selfishness it strips away.
I’m almost certainly going to my death, yet the only sadness I feel is for Naz. When he discovers what I’ve done, it will break his heart.
Better heartbroken and alive than dead.
Better me than him.
“Miss Evalina, I presume?”
The man who materializes from the dense shadows cast by the tall black sails is unfamiliar. Slight of build, wearing a tailored dark suit, he has silver hair and smiling blue eyes. He projects the air of a professional concierge, though I doubt he specializes in making dinner reservations.
“Yes, I’m Eva. Who are you?”
“My name is Raphael.”
“Like the Renaissance painter.”
He smiles pleasantly. “Quite so. He was my mother’s favorite artist, hence my namesake. He was also killed by a fever after an excessive night of sex, if you can imagine. One wonders at the stamina death by copulation would require.”
He has a precise, almost fastidious way of speaking that hints at too much formal education and a fondness for small, overbred dogs. Paired with a French accent, it lends him a sophisticated air. I’m inclined to like him, but I know only too well how deceiving appearances can be.
I slowly release the breath I’ve been holding. “Are you going to hurt me, Raphael?”
If he’s startled by the bluntness of my question, he doesn’t show it. He simply clasps his hands at his waist and says softly, “Oh no, my dear. Not I.”
Emphasis on the word I.
His meaning becomes clear when a man steps out from behind him, appearing silently from the same dense shadows. But this man isn’t a suave sophisticate with a polite demeanor. He’s the exact opposite. Tall, tattooed, and heavily muscled, he has messy dark hair that brushes wide shoulders, a severe brow, and large hands that look made for crushing skulls.
Unsmiling, he gazes at me steadily with cold eyes and a ruthless slant to his mouth.
Hysteria threatens the edges of my forced outward calm. I steel my nerves, because I volunteered for this. I can’t crack yet. Dimitri will give me ample opportunities to crack before he finally breaks me.
Or I break him.
I turn my attention back to Raphael. “Where’s Dimitri?”
Raphael takes a moment to consider my question. “That I cannot tell you, but I am at liberty to disclose that I have been charged with taking you to him. And—please forgive the unfortunate intrusion on your privacy, but I’m sure you understand—I will advise Mr. Ivanov of your disposition throughout our journey.”
Translation: I might be friendly, but we’re not friends. Don’t forget who’s in charge.
“You should also know that Killian”—he gestures to the silent goon—“has been given instructions by Mr. Ivanov to punish any . . . unacceptable behavior.”
Killian’s hard mouth curves into a faint evil smile.
Oh God. This is new. Dimitri must be incredibly angry with me to sanction this. I pause to get my breathing under control before I answer. “I understand. Thank you, Raphael.”
He beams at me. I know it’s not my imagination that Killian looks disappointed that I’m being so accommodating, but I don’t have time to dwell on that because he’s moving toward me, reaching out with his big, meaty hands.
I flinch when he grabs me by my shoulders and hate myself for it. Then he’s yanking my arms away from my body so he can search me for weapons.
He’s thorough and rough. Hard fingers dig into my most tender parts—armpits, belly, thighs—making me wince with pain. When he slides a hand under the hem of my dress and moves it higher, toward my crotch, I twist away with a panicked yelp.
“That will do, Killian,” says Raphael, sounding slightly nervous.
Killian rises. From under lowered brows, he stares intently at my face with the look of a predator stalking its prey. I look away, but from the corner of my eye, I see his evil smile appear again.
Raphael clears his throat. “Now that all the introductions have been made, we’ll get underway. Welcome aboard, Miss Evalina.”
He turns and disappears inside the main cabin, leaving me, Killian, and his hungry stare alone.
The lights of Hell’s Kitchen glow against the dark night sky. The murky waters of the Hudson shimmer under a three-quarter moon. Though it’s not yet Halloween, there’s a sharp, foreboding chill in the evening air, a harbinger of the coming winter.
This is my final moment of freedom. Once I walk through the open cabin doors, I relinquish all that I was before. All power. All privilege.