Their Cartel Princess: A Dark Reverse Harem Romance Box Set, page 107
But he wasn’t planning on letting her out of his grasp. Not now, not ever.
His options were clear: he could take the DEA badge out of his pocket, flash it in her direction, and lead her off the dance floor. Or, he could see how much she would confess to when she thought him just another of her blind followers.
His fingers twitched. He had a pair of handcuffs in his suit, too. He could make sure they were nice and snug around her wrists.
But the game of cat and mouse he’d been playing the whole evening had aroused a sense mischief in him. How long before she realized he wasn’t on her side?
Fredericks had told him more than once that he should stop putting the cart before the horse.
This time, he’d weigh his options before acting. He’d try and get as much intel from her as possible without arousing her suspicion.
From the way she’d been kissing that bodyguard of hers, he already knew how to grease the wheels.
“But I recognize you,” he said, stepping forward so he could bring his mouth to her ear again.
Again her chest hitched.
“You’re the new capo, aren’t you?” he murmured into her ear as the DJ’s track dipped in anticipation of a break.
She took a hurried step back, which gave him just enough room to fall to one knee. When he looked up, her eyes had transformed into golden saucers.
He drew out the gift box, flourishing it to her like a knight to a queen.
Eleodora grasped his wrist, trying to tug him to his feet. “What are you doing?” she whispered, glancing around wildly.
“Happy birthday, Eleodora,” Kane said airily, proffering the gift.
“Get up, get up!” She tugged hard, sending the gift box to the floor. Shock flickered over her painted features. “Shit, I’m sorry.” Then she was the one on her knees, hunting through a sea of legs for the gift box that had bounced away.
Kane rose to his feet, chin on his chest as he watched her hunting around on the floor.
It was exactly where the capo of a cartel belonged — on her fucking knees, begging for mercy.
Finn had radioed almost every person on the cartel’s guard roster. No one had seen Lars. The only place left to check was the kitchen. He moved past a steady stream of waiters — some with crates of alcohol to restock the bars, others bearing trays of bite-sized desserts.
As soon as he crossed the threshold, he ripped off his mask so he could better scan the interior.
The kitchen looked like a kicked over ant nest. Penguin-suited staff bustled across his field of view, an impossible din of shouts and clashing crockery filling the air.
He grabbed the first person who wasn’t moving past him at full tilt, and pulled her to the side.
“You seen someone wearing one of these?” he yelled over the noise as he hoisted his mask for the woman to see. “Tall, blond hair?”
She gave a quick nod. “Outside,” she yelled back, pointing across the kitchen.
Finn snatched his radio from his belt, lifting it to his lips. “Bravo, this is Mike, come in.”
He held the radio to his ear as he attempted to navigate his way through the kitchen without getting a pan, tray, knife or elbow in his stomach.
The saying, ‘bull in a china shop’ suddenly carried so much more significance to him.
“Bravo, come in for fuck’s sake!” Finn yelled into the radio. “Over!”
“This is Bravo,” came Bailey’s staticky response. “What’s going on, over?”
“Might have a lead on Lars. Checking the back of the kitchen, over.”
“Need me to get there, over?”
“No. Stay where you are.” He gritted his teeth. Worms moved under his skin. His eyes were agitated. And his beast had long since began pacing, claws tick-tick-ticking over the basement of his mind. “But if I don’t check in after five minutes, then you get down here. Over.”
“Roger that. Over and out.”
Finn clipped his radio back on his belt as he pushed open the door leading outside.
Full night had fallen, hardly dispelled by a full moon and a light dusting of stars.
“Lars?” Finn bellowed, scanning what little he could see. There was a light on outside the kitchen’s back door, but it highlighted little more than the front of an overflowing dumpster. “Lars!”
He moved to the left, but a wall soon cut him off. He turned back, about to head back inside the kitchen.
Lars had probably come outside to smoke a joint. Maybe the waitress had not seen him come back inside and cut through the kitchen. It was fucking busy in there, how could she? He had to be inside—probably jiving on the dance floor. He loved dancing after he’d smoked; said it was almost as good as getting high and fucking.
Pale moonlight gleamed off something, catching Finn’s attention. He narrowed his eyes, stepping to the right.
There, in a tangle of weeds on the other side of the chain-link fence spanning the hotel’s perimeter, lay an empty bottle of soda water.
Finn hurried forward, and ducked his head around the corner.
His heart sunk into his feet, which was why they were suddenly so heavy and clumsy that he half-fell, half lunged forward.
Lars lay on his side, one hand outstretched, the other trapped under him.
Skin as gray as moon dust.
* * *
Bailey cracked open his sixth beer of the evening. It was weird; whenever he turned around, a waiter came by with a tray of his favorite brand and paused to offer him one.
Then again, it was a popular brand.
Five minutes, Finn had said. It had been less than two, but he already felt edgy. Maybe it was the crush of people around him, although he’d never had an issue with crowds before.
Either way, he had to get back to Cora. He took a long sip from his beer as he walked toward the crowd on the dance floor. Shouldering his way inside took some effort, but eventually he’d made it far enough in he should have been able to see Cora and Ana.
His stomach tightened when he didn’t see her at first. His casual saunter through the crowd gained momentum, until he was shoving people aside, his heart beating furiously.
And then Cora popped up out of nowhere, like she’d been crouching on the floor. He was still about three yards away from her, but relief made his fingertips prickle.
“Fucking hell,” he muttered to himself as he again headed for her.
Where was Ana? Shit, had the girl gone and left Cora alone?
But no…Cora wasn’t alone.
As he came closer, he saw a man standing in front of her, his back to Bailey. Cora was talking to him, gesturing furiously.
A brave cocktail girl made her way up to Cora, and held out a bottle of tequila. Cora made a shooing gesture toward the man in front of her, and then tipped her head back so the waitress could pour a shot into her mouth.
It looked like the last shot too; when someone beside Cora asked for a drink, the waitress shrugged and wriggled the bottle.
What the hell?
When he glanced back at Cora, it looked like she was dancing with the stranger. Not like she and Bailey had—Cora flush against him so he could feel every curve of her body—but a foot away from each other.
This brought him to a stand. He’d been gone less than a minute, and she was already dancing with someone else?
Confusion surged up inside him, but he stamped it down with ruthless determination.
Why the hell was he surprised? She’d made it damn clear that despite loving him she was happy to make him share her with two other men. And he’d been okay with that. Fuck, he’d been ecstatic that she’d ever consider him as anything more than a hired gun.
Dancing with a stranger? What was next?
Bailey’s hands bunched into fists. People bumped into him as the music grew frenzied, but he hardly noticed.
He’d be happy to have just a sliver of her, if it meant he could be with her. It was fucking ridiculous—he was a grown man—but it didn’t make it any less true.
His heart ached for her love, even if that love was just a fragment of the whole.
Fuck, maybe it was all he deserved after his betrayal. But that wouldn’t stop him kicking the living shit out of the guy who thought he could try and make a move on her.
He surged forward, but a crackle from his radio made him pause. He hurriedly unclipped it, raising it to his ear.
How much time had passed?
“Mike, this is Bravo, come in!”
The DJ decided it was the perfect time to drop the bass.
“Milo, can you hear me?” He held the radio to his ear.
Cora was facing the DJ box now, arms in the air, yelling. The man behind her was standing a few paces away, but he wasn’t looking at her anymore. Instead, he was scanning the crowd.
Of course; he’d probably mistaken Cora for someone else. She wasn’t the only woman with a sugar-skull painted on her face; he’d seen a handful of other girls wearing similar makeup and outfits tonight.
“Hold on,” Bailey yelled into the radio. “I can’t hear you, over.”
He shouldered his way out of the crowd again, ignoring the cusses thrown his way.
When he reached the outskirts, he radioed in to Finn again. This time, the man’s reply was clearly legible.
“Man down! Get Cora the fuck out of here!”
The beer fell from Bailey’s fingers. He spun back, this time sending party goers sprawling to the floor if they didn’t move out of his way fast enough. Shocked cries and angry yells traced his path of destruction through the crowd.
He fought his way to where he’d last seen Cora.
She wasn’t there.
“Cora!” He didn’t care if anyone heard. He had to find her. “Cora!”
Bailey spun around, rising to his toes to give him as much height over the crowd as possible.
But he already knew what he’d see.
Cora was gone.
Eleodora Rivera turned away from Kane, dismissing him as if he was begging for change. His lips thinned, anger rippling its way through him. He grabbed her arm, spinning her back to him.
“It’s rude to turn away a gift on your birthday,” he said, talking over the music.
“No it’s not,” the girl countered with a scowl. “Go away.” She gestured at him to leave with a rough sweep of her hand, as if irritated by his presence.
But it wasn’t annoyance brimming in those pretty eyes.
Eleodora Rivera was scared. Scared of him. Scared of his insistence. His obsession.
She’d expect her bodyguards to deal with people like him. But now she was alone, stranded in a sea of people that didn’t know who she was.
Who didn’t know who he was.
That was the problem. If she knew who he was, she wouldn’t be acting like this. She’d be even more terrified. He wanted to smell the sickly-sweet aroma of terror on her skin. Just the thought made his dick harden. How would she sound, whimpering as she pleaded for him not to turn her in?
Mother Mary have mercy, he couldn’t wait to find out.
A cocktail waitress wearing a fanciful mask popped into their small clearing. “Want some?” she yelled, grabbing Eleodora’s arm and showing her a bottle of tequila.
Eleodora glanced at the woman, and then at Kane. “Yeah, I need it,” she yelled back. She shooed him away with her hands and tipped her head so the woman could pour a shot in her mouth. It was a brand he wasn’t familiar with; the bottle was dark, almost black, and had a sugar skull on its label, but no brand name.
Some of that blue tequila trickled down the side of her mouth. Eleodora swiped at it with the back of her hand, smearing her makeup even more.
She turned away from him again just as the music swelled and crashed over them in an ephemeral wave of energy and vibration. She sprang up, yelling at the DJ box. Kane caught her arms, yanking them down. Then he slid a hand around her waist and dragged her against him.
He doubted she could feel his erection through the many layers of her skirt. Pity—that would have terrified her even more.
Lifting his mask to the top of his head, Kane brushed his lips against her ear. “I don’t like your attitude, Eleodora,” he murmured.
She tried to look at him, but he grabbed her chin and forced her to look forward.
“I think it’s best we go somewhere quiet, where we can talk.”
“Fuck you.” She jutted her elbow into his stomach. Then her stiletto crunched down on top of his shoe.
The elbow to his belly hurt more than the blow to his foot, but he released her in surprise. An instant later, she was gone, slipping away through the crowd like a fish disappearing between seaweed.
Kane inhaled deep. A thousand different smells came to him; sweat, deodorant, shampoo, tequila, cigarettes, weed, new clothes, body lotion.
But her unique scent hung in the air like a tracer, and he followed it through the crowd.
He caught up with her a few seconds later, when she’d just broken free from the crowd and had swung back to see if she’d lost him.
Her eyes went wide in shock when he stepped out of the throng of dancers, sliding his mask off his face as he drew near.
“It is you,” she said, taking a step back and tripping over her dress. She would have landed on the floor if he hadn’t caught her.
A few party goers looked over, but he waved them away with an apologetic grin. Repeatedly swiping a stiff hand in front of his throat, he made the universal gesture for ‘she’s had too much to drink.’
And that was all it took to get everyone to lose interest.
Leaving him alone in the shadows with the intoxicated capo of the El Calacas Vivo cartel.
Spread your legs
Cora tried to pull herself free from the man’s grip, but he held on despite how she tugged. She sagged, her legs suddenly too heavy and clumsy for her to walk with.
This was the drunkest she’d ever felt, and she’d only had two glasses of champagne. And a shot of tequila, which had burned her throat like liquid fire.
The man from the restaurant slid an arm around her waist, maneuvering her into one of the alcoves studding the ballroom. It was furthest away from the bar and the crowd, but much closer to the DJ box. Here, the music was so loud that it made her clothes shiver against her body.
Something soft under her—a booth—and then a warm body flush against her urging her deeper inside the dark well.
“Who are you?” she asked, when she should have been yelling for help. But, for some reason, she didn’t feel in danger. Not right now. Her body was warm, the air fuzzy and thick around her. Like a hug.
“Simon,” the man said, speaking into her ear.
Simon says, ‘spread your legs, bitch.’
Simon gave her a quizzical look, his brown eyes glittering as a strobe light caught them.
He snatched up her hand, feeling her pulse. Then he leaned close, thumbing back her eyelids in a smooth, practiced motion.
“How much have you had to drink?” he asked, his voice different now. No longer soft and sensual, but brisk and business like.
She’d preferred the man who’d dropped to one knee with a gift in his hand. If he hadn’t done it in the middle of a crowded dance floor, letting everyone in the vicinity know who she was, then she’d have accepted it.
It would have been the first present she’d received today. The first present in the last ten years that hadn’t come from her father.
She held out her hands, cupping her palms. “Give it,” she said, but
Clumsy fingers couldn’t hold their grasp, and her hand slipped into his lap.
He was hard.
Her hand flinched away, but he grabbed it back and lay her fingers over his dick, urging her to stroke him through his suit pants. He slid closer on the bench, and took the gift box from his pocket.
“Looking for this?” Simon asked, his mouth right by her ear.
His voice had gone soft again. It sent a shiver through her.
He drew her hand off his lap, and levered open the lid of the box. In the darkness, she couldn’t quite make out what was inside, but when cool metal brushed her skin, she knew it was jewelry.
“Thank you,” she said, her mouth garbling the words into something unintelligible.
Simon tugged at the bracelet as if to make sure it was securely closed. Then he turned concerned eyes back on her.
“What did you take?” His voice was stern again.
She shrugged, and then shook her head. No, she hadn’t taken anything, had she?
Dios Mio, he was so much hotter than she remembered. Flawless skin, thick long hair, and such intelligent eyes.
Simon ducked his head, and pressed his mouth to hers. A shock coursed through her, sending a warm, tingling wave between her legs.
What the hell was she doing?
Cora tried to push away, but she had no strength in her arms. Simon deepened their kiss, forcing his tongue into her mouth, sucking at her, urging her to respond.
Was she having an out-of-body experience? Because things were happening that she had no control over.
This was wrong. This guy could be DEA, FBI, anything, and she was sitting here making out with him?
But it didn’t matter how tumultuous the thoughts were racing through her mind; she just got wetter and wetter.
Simon pulled back, panting into her mouth. “Christ,” he murmured into her ear as he grasped roughly at her breast. “I should be arresting you. But all I want to do is fuck you.”