Authors: Kit Tunstall,R. E. Saxton
Negotiation: A Mafia Love Story
Amourisa Press and Kit Tunstall, writing as R.E. Saxton, reserve all rights to NEGOTIATION (Triple Threat #1). This work may not be shared or reproduced in any fashion without permission of the publisher and/or author. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters are 18 or over if engaged in sexual activity.
© Kit Tunstall, 2015
Cover Images: Depositphotos.com/innervision
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Sarah Hastings has watched over her little brother most of her life, so when he gets in trouble with the mob, she approaches Roman Rinaldi about settling his debt. He isn’t interested in her first offer and negotiates with a counteroffer—one that has her in his bed and at his mercy. She may be in over her head, but it’s her heart she has to worry about as she starts to warm up to the seemingly ruthless mobster, who finds her equally compelling. Can there be a happy ending for a
underboss and a sweet kindergarten teacher, or is their negotiation destined to end in bullets and heartbreak?
Please note this is a novella-length story featuring a mafia man, but it isn’t as dark as some of R.E.’s other mafia stories.
Sarah struggled to hide her fear and the creeping anxiety as she stared up at the human wall in front of her. The bouncer was a bulging behemoth of muscle, but with an undersized head, only made more obvious by his lack of hair. “I insist on seeing Roman Rinaldi.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, and she couldn’t help realizing how barrel-like they were. “This is a private club, lady. Get the fuck out of here.”
She took a deep breath, reminding herself what was at stake, and smoothed a hand down her stomach in an attempt to calm the colony of butterflies taking flight there. “I’m aware it’s a private club, but I have an invitation of sorts.”
He smirked at her. “Yeah? Let’s see it then.”
She licked her lips. “I don’t have an actual invitation. It’s more of a referral, I guess you could say.”
He cocked his head slightly. “Yeah, really? Who referred you?”
His expression lost some of its sneer, and he reached for his cell phone, blindly stabbing the dial pad but clearly knowing the number he was needing. A moment later, he spoke into the device. “Boss, there’s some broad here you might want to see. Robbie Hastings sent her.”
After a moment’s conversation, the bouncer moved to the side to allow her access to the door. “Go on in and straight to the bar. Mr. Rinaldi will find you.”
She inclined her head. “Thank you.”
The bouncer laughed harshly. “I doubt you’ll be thanking me for long, little miss.” With those ominous words, he stepped up behind her, basically forcing her to step through the doorway and making it clear there was no backing out now.
Sarah had been tempted, but she knew it wasn’t really an option. Licking her lips, she walked down the dim corridor until it opened into a large room. It was tastefully furnished with discreet illumination from an occasional overhead light, but not a tacky disco ball in sight.
She spent a moment looking around, somehow unsurprised the clientele was almost exclusively men, aside from some female arm candy draped strategically on them. This place was bad news and was certainly no place for a kindergarten teacher. She had the urge to turn and flee, but knew she couldn’t do so.
“You were supposed to go straight to the bar,” said a deep voice behind her. The timbre was rich and smoky, and sent chills down her spine.
Her nipples beaded in reaction, and she had too strong of a reaction just to the sound of his voice. She prayed he would be old and ugly as she turned to face the man she intuited was Roman Rinaldi. “I’m sorry. I stopped to admire the place for a moment.”
Nope. He was neither old nor ugly unfortunately, which made him even more irresistible. Instead, he was young and handsome. He was probably around thirty, with black hair, brown eyes the color of whiskey, and scratchy stubble on his cheeks that made him look sexy and dangerous. She had a feeling he needed no help in the last department.
Rinaldi was clearly appraising her with equal interest, taking in her light-blonde hair, baby-blue eyes, and general air of sweetness that she was certain she projected, especially when contrasted with this place. Maybe she should have changed out of her work slacks and button-down shirt, and she was painfully, self-consciously aware of the splotch of yellow paint at the hem from little Mark Gardner’s wild brush this afternoon.
She licked her lips again, but abruptly stopped when she saw his gaze following the path of her tongue and heard him moan softly. It was a nervous habit, and certainly nothing she had ever cultivated to drive men wild. Not that she believed she had actually driven Roman Rinaldi wild with the harmless gesture. She was the girl-next-door type, not the sexpot type—which made her proposition all the more ridiculous, but what choice was there? She had to try, or do, something.
“May I buy you a drink?”
She nodded, realizing she could use some liquid courage, along with something to lubricate her dry throat. She was surprised when he extended his arm in a chivalrous gesture, and she slipped her own through it cautiously. She walked beside him as he led her to the bar, and she started to climb on a stool, but his arm clamped tighter around hers, preventing her from moving away from him. She looked up at him questioningly.
“I have a feeling we’ll be talking in private.” He leaned closer, his voice lowered. “Besides, I don’t think I want to share you with anyone out here.”
Her stomach tightened with a mix of anxiety and apprehension, and perhaps a tinge of excitement. She knew why she was here, and she was encouraged that he found her attractive obviously, but it was still scary.
After acquiring their drinks—something amber in a cut glass for him, and an aromatically sweet white wine for her—he handed her the glass, still keeping possession of her arm as he led her through swanky bar and down another corridor, this one also dimly lit like the entryway. He turned into a doorway on the left, pulling her inside before closing the door.
He locked it with an ominous click before gesturing toward the arrangement of furniture in the large office. “Have a seat, mystery lady, and then you can tell me why you’re here, and what’s your connection to Robbie Hastings.”
She was tempted to take the lone armchair, but that wouldn’t fit in well with her plans. She took a sip of the wine as she sat on the couch, surprised when he sat down on the leather beside her, close enough that the heat of his body seeped into hers, but not quite touching. It was still an appropriate distance for strangers, but the air was fraught with the possibility that there wouldn’t be any distance between them for long. Or was she imagining that in her giddy state, made practically hysterical with nerves and hint of arousal?
“My name is Sarah, and Robbie is my brother.”
His expression tightened, going from flirtatious to cool. “So you’re related to that sack of crap?”
She frowned at him. “He’s not a sack of crap. He’s a young boy.”
Roman laughed, but it wasn’t a sound of amusement. “He’s over eighteen, right?”
She nodded. “He’s twenty.”
“He’s an adult and responsible for his actions. Your little brother stole from me.”
She blinked, stomach fizzing renewed anxiety. “Wow, that’s not what I heard.” She swallowed the lump in her throat, wondering if she had bitten off more than she could chew. Why hadn’t she had the forethought to doubt any of Robbie’s story? “He told me he lost a shipment. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but he told me he was in serious trouble.”
“He lost the shipment by diverting it to the Lithuanians with the help of his idiot girlfriend, Audra Vydūnas. He was entrusted with my guns and decided to sell them, but didn’t even have the common sense to get out of the city after ripping me off. I’ve dealt with the girlfriend, but your brother has gone to ground. And now he sent you here to face his punishment? I’d say he’s a huge sack of crap, Sarah.”
She nibbled on her lower lip. “Actually, he didn’t send me. I pieced together what he told me and figured out you must be here. I came on my own initiative, hoping to work out a payment arrangement or something with you.”
He started. “You expect me to let your brother pay me back a hundred thousand dollars? It would be one thing if the Lithuanians had stolen it from him, but the little fucker handed over the crate and stole from me. A hundred Gs is small change, but the lack of respect is what he has to pay for. This was his audition, and he blew it in a big way. I can’t let that go unaddressed. You might not understand our ways, but surely you understand that I’m in charge of this operation, and I can’t appear weak to anyone. Your brother has undermined me.”
She nodded. “Yes, I think I understand that. I’ve watched those mob movies.”
Roman laughed at her, and his flashing white grin made his already devastating looks even more charming. It caused her stomach to flutter, and she hated that she was attracted to the mafia man.
“Sweet Sarah, those were movies, and my life is a lot different. I guess they did get the respect thing right though. Your brother fucked up, and he’s going to have to die. That’s the only way to address the situation.”
She licked her lips again, freezing when she remembered how much he seemed to appreciate the gesture. After a second, she finished the motion, but moved slower. “If you take something of greater value, won’t that settle the debt?”
He snorted. “It would have to be exceptionally valuable for me to risk appearing to be negotiating with a little shit who stole from me. I highly doubt Robbie Hastings has anything that valuable.”
She gathered her courage, swallowing the lump in her throat. “He has me.”
He arched a brow. “Unless you’re an heiress, Sarah, I don’t think you’ll be able to cover his debt.”
She’d hoped he would gather her meaning, but apparently she was going to have to be blunt instead of subtle. “If everyone thinks you’re taking his sister to repay the debt, that will satisfy the revenge aspect, won’t it? Then there’s just the matter of paying you back the hundred thousand dollars? He said it was just a small shipment, and he didn’t think you would notice it had gone missing.”
“I notice everything, but especially when it’s the first time I entrust something to a new associate.” His gaze seemed to bore through her. “So you’re offering to whore yourself out to me in exchange for your brother being given leniency?”
Her eyes widened. “No, of course not. I just thought that if you were seen with me in public a few times, and people thought you had taken me to satisfy his debt, that would be the end of it. I don’t have a whole lot of money, but I can sell the jewelry my grandmother left me and cash out my 401(k). I could probably scrape together at least seventy thousand now, and then work out an arrangement for the other thirty thousand, if you’re agreeable?”
He turned slightly, pressing his knee against hers as he looked at her in a forthright fashion. “What do you do, Sarah?”
She cleared her throat. “I’m a kindergarten teacher.”
He chuckled. “Of course you are. Let me get this straight, just to make sure I understand what you’re offering. You want to…what, pretend to be my mistress in public while you pay me back privately for your brother’s crime? In return, I let the little shit continue to breathe. Is that what you want?”
She nodded, hoping there was some decency in him. “I know it’s a lot to ask, Mr. Rinaldi, but you appear to have a generous side too. I researched a bit before I came here tonight, and I know you donated a wing to the hospital, and you also provided a grant to the Head Start program.”
He shook his head “No, that was the Rinaldi Foundation, which was founded by my mother. I support their work, but my brother Luka heads up that. I had nothing to do with those directly.”
Her heart sank a little in her chest, but she forced her expression not to betray her disappointment and renewed spark of anxiety. “Even still, you support the deeds, so you must be a good person deep down.”
He chuckled starkly. “Very deep down, Sarah. Would you like to hear my counteroffer?”
She licked her lips, bracing herself to hear something outrageous, like a hundred thousand dollar-interest charge on top of the hundred thousand her brother already owed him. “Yes, Mr. Rinaldi.”
“If I’m prepared to indulge this insanity—and I haven’t committed to the idea yet—there will be nothing pretend about it. You would be my mistress, which is an old-fashioned word, but applies perfectly well to our arrangement.”
She gasped, opening her mouth to protest, but he pressed on before she could speak.
“I’m not going to take your 401(k) or your grandmother’s jewelry, but if we negotiate an arrangement, what I will take is every inch of your body at my bidding. You do what I say when I say, and for how long I say.”
Her eyes widened, and she licked her lips. “Basically, you want me to be your sex slave for however long in exchange for letting my brother off the hook?”
He scowled. “Robbie isn’t off the hook under any circumstances. There’s nothing you can negotiate with me to make that happen. What I’ll do is send the little shit far away. He’ll get another shot with a different branch of the family, which is far more than he deserves, but will also be watched like a hawk. He fucks that up, he’s dead. You’d better emphasize that to him.”
She clutched the strap of her purse tightly in her hand. “What will you do to me if I agree to this, Mr. Rinaldi?”
He stared at her in that appraising fashion, but there was a predatory gleam in his eye. “You have this whole innocent sweetness vibe going on. I have to admit, it’s pretty damn sexy. I especially love the idea of ruining it, wrecking you, and leaving you looking like a wanton slut instead of this virginal persona you project.”
She took a gulp of her wine, uncertain if admitting it wasn’t a persona would be beneficial to the situation or not. Perhaps it was though, since he seemed to like the whole idea of ruining her. If she revealed he would be completely ruining her, it might be incentive to get him to capitulate and stick to the agreement, or perhaps even set a timeline.
If she could go through with the agreement. In the back of her mind, she had considered the idea that the gangster whom her brother was in trouble with might want more than just a pretend arrangement, and she tried to brace herself for the possibility, though uncertain she could really go through with it.