What if Bonnie and Clyde were in the Mafia?
From author Jillian Quinn comes a sexy new Mafia duet about forbidden love and the sins of the past that threaten to keep them apart, and I have the Prologue and Chapter One of the first book for you. The First Sin releases on 30 Apr 2018.
I opened my eyes to the darkness that surrounded me, nothing but black. Blinking a few times, I refocused my gaze and saw nothing, no one. A blindfold covered my eyes, the material taut against my skin. My head pounded as if a jackhammer was drilling into my skull. Waves of nausea washed over me every time I was rocked from side to side.
I reached up to touch my face, my hands bound in front of me, held together by cable ties. Using every bit of strength I had—which wasn’t much—I tried to break free of my shackles. All I accomplished was to hurt myself even more.
The restraints were nothing compared to the handcuffs Angelo used on me during sex. I still had the scars on my wrists from all the foreplay over the years.
If anyone knew how to handle pain, it was me.
I could do this.
Acting on instinct, I screamed for Angelo, but my throat was so parched nothing came out. It didn’t matter, anyway. No one could hear me through the fabric that covered my mouth. I listened carefully to the sounds outside my cage, a soft whoosh of cars going past. We were driving, stop and go traffic, causing me to roll into something hard.
My shoulder hurt, but I pushed back the pain. I could deal with the hurt. I’d embraced the rough touch of Angelo’s hands for years. Being with a man like Angelo had prepared me for what I was about to endure.
When the car stopped, I said a silent prayer for help. I never prayed. Sinners didn’t pray. But I needed someone to hear my pleas, have mercy on my soul.
Absolve me of my sins.
My father’s sins.
The sins of our past.
No matter how much power my father had over us, there was no mistake my mother was the queen in our house. She never wanted to know about the family business. Never let it show how much she cared that she married a man with a heart as black as his soul. Because it wasn’t my father’s soul she cared about, it was mine along with my two older brothers.
I strolled into the kitchen with the admissions envelope from Strickland University in my hand. It was thick and heavy, so it had to be good news. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth as I made a beeline toward my mother. Ma was hovered over two stockpots on the stove, too busy stirring the gravy to notice me.
Pietro, my oldest brother, sat at the breakfast bar, eating a bowl of Ma’s famous meatball soup, his eyes pointed down with his usual scowl. Even in sleep, he looked pissed off—just like my father. Everyone in the neighborhood knew my brother as Sneaky Pete, and he lived up to the nickname in every way possible. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him, even though he was my blood.
Pete glanced up at me, without even a nod that I existed, as I slipped behind Ma. I clamped my left hand on her shoulder and moved her dark strands off her face to plant a kiss on her cheek. Startled, she jumped, and a plate of chopped basil she had in her hands fell to the floor. She spun around to face me with a disapproving look on her face. But I had something that would replace her frown in my hand.
“Angelo, you scared me half to death.” She smacked me on my bicep, her touch so light I could barely feel it. “Now, look what you made me do.” Holding back her unhappiness, she stared down at the basil and shook her head. “I was just about to add it to the gravy. That was all I had left.”
“I’m sorry, Ma.” I gave her the same puppy dog face which had earned me the nicknamecucciolo when I was a child. “I have something that might help you forgive me.”
She smiled and wiped her hands down the front of her red apron. I might’ve been a rotten bastard, but my mother managed to bring out the other side of me that I’d kept hidden from the world.
“More basil,” she deadpanned. “Because that’s about the only thing which would help right about now.”
We had jarred basil in the cabinet, but Ma refused to cook with anything other than fresh ingredients. She insisted on picking out the vegetables, a thorough process she’d made my brothers and me endure when we were kids. Ma would take us to the market with her on weekends. Then, she would sit us down at the table and make us chop the vegetables. I was the only one who could peel the tomatoes. My brothers were too rough and usually poked holes through them with their fat fingers.
“Nope. I have something better.” I handed over the white envelope with the blue Strickland University seal on the front, and left Ma to get the broom and dustpan in the closet.
Sinking to the ground to clean up the mess, I glanced up at Ma. She slipped her finger under the tab and flipped it open, pulling out a stack of papers. Her eyes that were once wide with shock filled with tears. “My baby is going to be a college boy,” she choked out.
I nodded. “I start in September if Dad will allow it.”
While my father had groomed me to become a member of his organization, it was my mother’s dream to see me go to college. She wanted me to be the first Morelli to ever attend, let alone graduate. Most of my family members barely made it out of high school. I killed myself in high school, all while pretending to have no interest in gaining an education. What I did in secret was for my mother. Her sacrifices had to count for something.
“You’re going to this school no matter what,” Ma promised. “I will kill your father myself if he tries to stop you.”
Pete nibbled on a piece of bread, unimpressed by the news. He never gave two fucks about anyone but my mother. And maybe my dad. It was hard to tell if Pete was loyal to my father out of love or obligation. Most people feared my dad and with good reason. He was sicker than the devil himself, with far more demons he needed to address.
I laughed, pushing myself up from the floor with the dustpan full of basil. “No need to kill anyone. Dad said I could go if I got in.”
“That’s because he never thought you could do it,” Pete shot back with a smirk. Asshole.
“Knock it off, Pietro,” my mother yelled. “Don’t ruin this moment for your brother. If you can’t be happy for Angelo, then eat your soup and keep quiet.”
She looked worn out, sweat dotting her forehead. After all the hours she worked during the week at the restaurants my family owned, I felt guilty she still prepared a meal for us, one I unintentionally ruined. We should have been catering to her, not the other way around. But my mother was a proud woman and would never allow anyone to lift a finger in her kitchen. She had no reason to work, yet she refused to take a day off.
Everyone had a place in our family, my father made sure of it. While Ma had a choice, my older brothers and I never had one. The five years which separated me from Pete gave him the right to succeed my father as the head of the organization. Marco was three years older than me, and he loathed the fact that Pete was my father’s heir apparent. Same as our father and almost every man in our family, we were built for a life of servitude.
“I’m so proud of you, cucciolo.” My mother pinched my cheek between her fingers. “We should celebrate. Marco and your father should be home soon. I need to finish the gravy. Would you mind running around the corner to the market?”
“Of course, Ma.” I emptied the contents of the dustpan into the trashcan, set it on the floor, and then glanced down at my watch to check the time. The market was open for another thirty minutes. “Do you need anything else while I’m there?”
She tilted her head to the side, mulling it over. “No, I think that should do it.”
“Get some cannoli on your way back,” Pete growled, sounding harsh and demanding as usual. I hated taking orders from him, but there was a hierarchy in our family I had to follow.
“Mmm… that sounds good,” Ma chimed in, licking her lips. “Get enough for all of us.”
“I’ll be back in ten minutes.” With a quick nod, I walked out of the kitchen, through the small dining room that ran into the living room, and out the front door.
We lived in what they called the Italian Market section of South Philly, where everyone knew each other and your neighbors treated you like family.
At the market, they sold everything from curbside fresh fruits and vegetables to fish and meats. You could sip coffee right on the sidewalk at the cafes, drop by the butcher shop to pick out your steak, and stop at one of the vendors for a sample of lunchmeats and cheeses.
In less than a minute, I reached 9th Street on foot. Brightly colored metal awnings—mostly red, green, and white—covered the storefronts. Produce tables, boxes, and carts lined the streets and sidewalks. People sat outside at café tables sipping coffees and eating pastries. As usual, the market was bustling.
Running my hands down the front of my jeans, I walked over to the produce vendor on the corner. A twenty-something girl with sandy blonde hair flipped her long strands over her shoulder as I approached the table.
I felt like a dick for not remembering her name. Everyone knew our family around here. They practically rolled out the red carpet, yet I couldn’t even recall the first letter of her name. In my defense, there were only two women in my life worth remembering—Ma and Gianna Carlini. No woman ever compared to either of them.
I winked at her. “Hey, how’s it going?”
“Can’t complain.” She tucked her hands into her apron pockets, blushing. “What can I get for you?”
I scanned the green vegetables and came up empty. “Do you have any basil?”
She shuffled through the overcrowded table, picking up heads of lettuce, celery, and a few others, and then held up a bushel of basil, victorious. “Last one.”
“I guess it’s my lucky day.” I flashed a quick smile, and she giggled.
As I reached into my jacket pocket, about to pull out my wallet, she stopped me. “Mr. Rizzoli said your money is no good here. It’s on the house.”
“Right. Of course, it is.” I slipped my wallet into my pocket.
My family offered the vendors in our neighborhood free protection from other gangs to ensure none of the business owners had the threat of our competition. Still, I believed we should pay for what we ate. No one would expect me to whack someone for free. For men like Mr. Rizzoli, it was about honor and pride—two things our family understood well.
She placed the basil into a plastic shopping bag and handed it to me with a cheeky grin, her blue eyes wide and full of life. “Have a nice night.”
I took the bag from her and slipped it over my wrist. “You, too. See ya around.”
“I sure hope so,” she said.
I turned to leave, my back facing her when I heard a commotion, followed by a woman screaming, “Thief!”
I looked at the girl who waited on me. She had her finger pointed at someone wearing a dark hoodie and jeans running down the street. We had an obligation to Mr. Rizzoli to protect what was his just as he looked after us. Without another thought, I took off down the street, dodging people as I ran. Not until he reached an alleyway did he slow down.
I came up behind the person, pushed him into the brick wall, and pulled the hood from their head. A smirk tugged at my mouth, my hand reflexively going up to her cheek. “Gia,” I muttered, out of breath. “What the fuck?”
Gianna Carlini was the only girl who ever made my black heart beat. She made me feel things I never thought were possible. My entire world was full of darkness, nothing but sin and ruin. Nothing and no one ever got under her skin. Gia could handle my lifestyle because her father was part of it. She grew up eating dinner with Made men. While everything about our lives wasn’t normal, she was the one part of my world that made sense.
Tilting her head to the side, Gia brushed her cheek against my hand, planting a kiss on my skin. She looked up at me with those grayish blue eyes I easily became lost in. “I knew you would do the right thing, Angelo. It’s like you can’t stop yourself.”
I stepped closer, slid my other hand behind her back, and pulled her into my chest. “Why do you say that?”
“Because you’re not the hardened criminal your dad wants you to be.”
“Only you and Ma see the good in me,” I confessed. It was the truth.
“If only you could see it for yourself.”
I’d loved Gia for most of my life. We met when we were babies, though neither of us had any memory of meeting before we were five years old.
“I have good news, G.” I stroked my thumb along her jaw, and she smiled so wide it reached up to her eyes.
“You got in, didn’t you?”
I nodded. “I’m going with you.”
She threw her arms around my neck and squealed. “I knew you could do it. See, you don’t have to be like your brothers. I told you.”
“Gia, c’mon. We talked about this already. You know college is only a detour until the inevitable.”
Her eyes that were filled with happy tears turned to sadness. Even though Gia helped me with some of the shit I never should have allowed her to do for me, she still held out hope I would go straight. No such thing when you were a Morelli. I had one path, and mine was chosen for me at birth.
I lifted Gia up, and she hooked her legs around me as I pressed her back into the wall, digging my growing erection into her thigh. There were two times in my life when I felt something—when I was with Gia or committing a crime. I got turned on, even more, when I was doing both things at the same time. Fucking Gia after—or even during a crime—was a high unlike anything else. It was a rush of adrenaline she understood as well as I did.
“I need your help tomorrow,” I whispered against her lips.
“Is it something illegal?”
Her voice had too much enthusiasm. I hated the fact she insisted on helping me with the jobs my father forced me to do for him. Gia had no business getting involved. A girl like Gia deserved so much more than a Mafia Wiseguy like me. I would become a Made man after college and my father’s consigliere—his most trusted advisor. There was no denying the reason he’d agreed to send me to college. It was for his own selfish reasons.
I nodded, my forehead touching hers. “Yes.”
She sucked in a deep breath and let it out, her body trembling in the process. Without slipping my hand into her jeans, I already knew her panties were wet. Gia’s heart pounded for me, especially when I was doing something wrong. She loved it, and I loved her even more. Sometimes, I wondered if I did the bad shit for her more so than for my father.
“I want to kiss you,” I said, remembering Ma was waiting for me to finish dinner.
She licked her lips, inviting me to taste her. I wanted to do just that. “What’s stopping you?”
“Because once I kiss you, I won’t be able to stop.”
She dug her heel into my ass. “Shut up and do it already.”
I shook my head, amused, and clutched her tighter. Her warmth leeched into my body, sending a wave of heat down my thighs. The only thing I craved in that moment was Gia, but Ma would kill me if I didn’t get my ass back to the house with her basil.
I tucked a dark curl behind her ear. “Are you hungry?”
“For you or food?”
“I already know the answer to the first part of your question. For food.”
“I can eat,” she said, nonchalant. “But I’d rather have you.”
I lightly brushed my lips against hers, missing her heat the second I moved away from her mouth. “Good. Because I’m starving.”