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Stolen Touches: Chapter 13

Salvatore

I take a sip of coffee while waiting for Nino and Arturo to take their seats across from my desk. “Bogdan called earlier this morning.”
“I don’t think we need more ammunition at the moment,” Nino says. “The last shipment came in two weeks ago.”
“It wasn’t about the orders. He wanted to let me know that he’d heard Fitzgerald had ordered a shitload of weapons from Dushku.”
“The Bratva won’t like that,” Arturo says. “Not after what happened four years ago between them and the Irish. If Petrov hears Dushku is selling to the Irish on the side, he won’t be happy.”
I lean back in my chair, debating whether to give Petrov a call. “The more important thing right now is what the Irish may be planning to do with all those weapons. Bogdan figures they aren’t for resale.”
“You think they’re prepping to attack us?” Arturo asks. “They don’t have enough men to inflict any serious damage.
“Well, I don’t want any kind of damage at all, Arturo,” I say and turn to Nino. “Double the security on all locations. I want two additional soldiers with each transport. Tell the men to expect trouble. Any suspicious activity needs to be reported immediately. And put a tail on Fitzgerald. On his second-in-command, Deegan, as well.”
“All right.” He nods.
“Where are we on locating the second snitch?”
“He’s lying low. There haven’t been any leaks since we dealt with Octavio.”
My phone vibrates on the desk with an incoming message from Ada. I instructed her to report to me every two hours on what Milene is doing. The message says my wife is currently in the bathroom, trying to give the cat a bath because the idiotic thing spent the night sleeping in the flowerpot.
“How many people knew where that takeover was happening when the DEA showed up?” I ask as I lower the phone back onto the desk.
“Around twenty,” Nino says.
“And how many of them have been with us for less than two years?”
He thinks about it for a moment. “Nine. Why?”
“They weren’t around when we made an example of the last person who blabbed about our business. If they had been, going to the authorities wouldn’t even have crossed their minds,” I say. “Split those nine into two groups and send them somewhere. Make it known that someone from Cosa Nostra will be meeting with Mendoza in person, but provide a different location for each group. Then, we wait to see where the cops show up.
“What will we do when we catch the snitch?”
“We’ll have a little demonstration,” I say.
* * *
I planned to have lunch with Rocco and the construction site’s manager, but that’s been canceled at the last moment, so I leave my tenth-floor office and take the elevator up to the penthouse. I told Ada to prepare lunch for just Milene today, but she usually makes far more food than necessary, and I’m already agitated about the fact I haven’t seen her since yesterday evening. When I get to the dining area, I find the table set for one, but instead of eating there, Milene is sitting at the breakfast bar with her phone leaning against a water bottle, watching a video.
“Is there something wrong with the table?” I ask.
“Nope.” She shakes her head and stuffs a bite of lasagna into her mouth without raising her eyes off the phone.
“So why are you eating lunch here?”
“We were always forced to eat lunch at the dining table back home, even when we were eating alone. I have trauma.”
I take a plate out of the cupboard, head over to the dining room table and grab some food from the serving tray, then sit down on the barstool opposite Milene. She looks up at me but quickly switches her attention back to the phone. Apparently, we’ll be ignoring what happened on the couch from last night.
“I found a how-to video on setting up a charity.” She points her fork toward the phone. “It seems like too much bureaucracy for my taste. Isn’t there anything else I could do?”
“You don’t have to do anything.
She lowers her fork and shoots me an exasperated look. “I told you, I can’t sit here all day.”
“If it’ll make you feel better, I can call some of my men, so you can insert IV needles and such.”
“Ha ha.” She rolls her eyes. “I’m serious.”
“So am I.”
Milene blinks at me, then shakes her head and mumbles something. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think she just called me batshit crazy.
“How fast can you type?” I ask.
“On the phone?”
“Laptop.”
“I don’t know. I’ve never actually timed it, but I’d say average speed. Why?”
“It’ll do.” I reach for the bottle of water.
She takes her phone from its resting place. “What for?”
“If you’re done with lunch, go and change into something more appropriate for business.” I nod at her yellow T-shirt, the name of some band emblazoned across the front. “You’re coming to the office with me.”
“What am I going to do in your office? Water the plants?”
“You have twenty minutes, or I’m leaving without you.”

Milene

I put on a classy, navy dress I haven’t worn in at least two years and look at my reflection in the mirror.
Salvatore didn’t mention the couch fiasco. Good. As far as I’m concerned, it never happened. He caught me by surprise. What the fuck is wrong with me, grinding my pussy like an animal in heat against the cock of the man who destroyed my life? Who does that?
If he needs recreational sex, he can find it elsewhere because he won’t be getting any from me. That . . . episode was a one-off. I have to live here, but that’s all we’ll do—cohabitate. I’m sure he has a long list of women, all lined up and waiting to be summoned and fucked. He can do as he wants. It doesn’t bother me at all. Not even a little. It will probably be some tall, sophisticated type. They can discuss art and other aristocratic shit I have no clue about. Maybe he’ll take her to his auctions. Buy her million-dollar trinkets.
I grind my teeth and fasten the wide white belt that goes with the dress. I don’t care. He can fuck whomever he wants. I pull the belt so tight I almost bruise my hips.
“‘You have twenty minutes, or I’m leaving without you,’” I mumble, imitating Salvatore’s abrupt tone when he issued the order to me earlier. What a control freak. If I wasn’t dying of boredom, I would have told him exactly what I thought about his offer. But I’ve been going out of my mind in this ridiculous penthouse, and I’ll do anything to escape, if only for a few hours.
The dress is a little loose around the hips, but it’ll do. I quickly collect my hair in a low bun, put on my white heels, and grab my purse before rushing out of the room. It can’t have been twenty minutes, but when I reach the living room, Salvatore’s already leaving.
“Wait, God damn it!”
He turns and watches me approach, checking me out from head to toe.
“Does your business highness approve?” I motion with my hand down the length of my outfit.
“I approve,” he says and exits through the front door, leaving me to follow.
I’d assumed he had an office somewhere downtown, but when we get inside the elevator, he presses the button for two floors down. The doors open to reveal a wide entry hall decorated in white marble and dark wood. Immediately in front of us and close to the wall, a desk is positioned with a computer and several stacks of folders sitting on it. A woman sitting behind it jumps to her feet once she sees us exit the elevator.
“Mr. Ajello.” She nods and remains standing, staring at me with wide eyes. She’s pretty, in her late twenties, and impeccably dressed in a coral pantsuit and white shirt, which is so perfectly pressed you could cut your finger on its lapel.
To the left, there is a long hallway with several doors on each side, but Salvatore heads in the opposite direction toward the large ornate wooden door, nodding to the woman at the reception desk as he passes. He holds the door open for me, and I enter the office dominated by a massive wooden desk next to impressive floor-to-ceiling windows. The right wall is composed entirely of bookshelves, while on the other is a plush leather sofa and two matching armchairs. A painting of a sunset hangs on the wall above the sofa.
Salvatore walks around the desk to power up the laptop, then sits down on his office chair and motions for me to come over. I approach the desk, intending to take one of the two guest chairs set up before it, but he shakes his head.
“Come here.”
Raising my eyebrows, I walk around the desk. As I move to stand next to him, he grabs me around the waist and pulls me down to sit on his right thigh. I yelp and look at him in surprise, but he just rolls the chair closer to the desk while still holding me with his arm and slides the laptop in front of me.
“Open the email app,” he says.
I reach for the mouse and lean forward to search through dozens of icons scattered around the screen for the one that will open his email. The desktop is a mess and completely at odds with Salvatore’s personality. He lifts his right hand off my waist and covers mine, moving the mouse toward the upper left corner of the screen.
He clicks on the envelope icon to bring up the inbox window. “Let’s start with emails that arrived today.”
I find it rather hard to feign indifference while sitting on his lap with his arm again wrapped around my middle, but somehow, I manage to keep my cool and open the first unread email from the list.
“That’s the paperwork for another lot I’m planning to buy,” he says next to my ear. “Forward it to my lawyer. Greg Atkinson. Tell him to make sure he checks whether everything’s clean. I don’t want a repeat of the situation from February.”
“What happened in February?” I ask as I type.
“The previous owner’s illegitimate son surfaced, claiming ownership.”
I finish the email, send it, and open the next one.
“I assume you don’t have an uncle in South Africa who needs money for brain surgery.”
The arm around my waist tightens. “No,” he says, his lips lightly brushing my earlobe.
I need him to stop touching me. It’s making me crazy.
So why don’t you tell him to stop, then? I’ll tell you why. Because you’re a hypocrite, Milene. You like it, just admit it.
I’m not admitting it, not even to myself. Shut up! I tell my inner voice, mark the email as spam, and move on to the next.
“That one’s from my banker,” Salvatore says. “Forward it to Greg, as well. Tell him to make sure he reads the new contract and checks whether they’ve offered better conversion rates, as we requested. If they haven’t, he can let them know we’ll be closing all our accounts by the end of the month.”
As I type, I cast a quick glance at his gloved left hand resting next to the laptop. He probably can’t type with it, or if he can, it likely takes ages. How did he end up in a situation where someone smashed his fingers to smithereens with a hammer? Jesus, it must have hurt like a bitch.
I open the next email and skim over the list of renovation supplies and the prices listed next to each item. “You plan on redecorating?”
He doesn’t strike me as a DIY guy, but why else would he need tiles, paints, and the other things listed there.
“Not exactly.” He angles his head to the side and his nose ends up pressing against my neck. “Tell them we’ll take the same amount as last month, except for the white metro tiles. I need triple the quantity of those, and I want a better price. Include Arturo on the CC.”
I stop typing midsentence and turn to him, my eyes wide. “You’re ordering drugs via email? Are you insane?”
With his finger under my chin, Salvatore gently tilts my head. My heartbeat quickens as his eyes focus on my lips.
“Maybe,” he says, then lowers his hand and focuses back on the laptop again. “Let’s proceed.”
We spend almost four hours going through his emails before he moves my hands from the keyboard and closes the laptop. “That’s enough for today.”
I get up and pick up my purse off the desk, trying to ignore the sense of loss at the break in contact.
“Well, I’ll head back upstairs,” I say.
“Okay.” He leans back in his chair. “I have to make a few calls, then I’ll be up as well.”
“Yup. See you later.” I leave the office in haste, as though getting away from him might help suppress the crazy urge to leap back onto his lap and press my lips to his. I can’t sacrifice my integrity at the altar of this maddening attraction. I want to hate him, damn it, not imagine him screwing me senseless every single night.
Fucking hell.
* * *
After a long bubble bath, I spend an hour sorting through my clothes, setting the appropriate business attire to one side. If Salvatore decides that I should continue helping out with his emails, I’ll need to go shopping because my pile of business-suitable clothes consist of two dresses, four blouses, and one pair of black pants. I haven’t really had the opportunity to wear suits or skirts in the past couple of years, and most of my wardrobe is jeans, shorts, and casual tops. There are a few dresses I bought on a whim and wore maybe once when I went out, but those aren’t suitable, either.
I put the clothes back into the closet, shoo Kurt off my pillow, where he’s been sleeping for the past hour, and head into the kitchen to grab something to eat. Hopefully, Salvatore has already eaten, and I won’t run into him. Yes, I’m chickening out, but it’s easier to avoid him than to resist the insane attraction I feel whenever he’s close. The thing that frustrates me most is he knows exactly how his proximity affects me. He’s been playing with me for days, all those “I-want-to-fuck-you” looks and stolen touches, followed by feigned indifference. And I’m not sure of the rules of this game.
Thankfully, the kitchen is empty, so I inspect the contents of the fridge. There are leftovers from lunch, but I decide to have a lighter meal and reach for the box of strawberries on the top shelf. I’ve almost finished washing them when I sense Salvatore behind me. I don’t even have to turn to know it’s him. And it has nothing to do with the fact there are only two of us in the penthouse. I have a tingling sensation at the back of my neck every time he’s near. My body’s strong reaction to him is unnerving.
“Those look sweet,” Salvatore’s velvety voice echoes next to my ear. “Can I have one?”
I take a deep breath and turn around slowly. My eyes land on the sculpted form of his bare chest, mere inches from my face, since he’s wearing only sweatpants. I lift my head and catch him watching me. He must have had a shower because the scent of woodsy body wash clings to him. His hair is wet and in a state of complete disarray, as though he’s passed his fingers through it a couple of times and considered it combed. I find it hard to believe, but he’s even more sexy like this than when he’s all polished and dressed in a suit. I clear my throat and lift the bowl of washed strawberries between us.
Salvatore cocks his head, then pins me with his gaze and slowly blinks. My heart rate quickens, and I barely stifle a sigh. It’s ridiculous, how such a small act can make me weak in the knees. He looks down at the bowl in my hands, takes a step forward and cages me against the counter with his arms. I press my lips together, take a strawberry from the bowl and lift it to his mouth. His eyes never leave mine as he wraps his lips around the berry, sucking the tips of my fingers into his mouth in the process.
“What’s your agenda, Tore?” I ask.
“My agenda?”
“I’m not going to sleep with you, so you can stop with this seduction thing you have going on. Playing with me, walking around shirtless. It won’t work.”
“This is my home, I can do whatever I please.” He leans forward and bends his head. “And if it won’t work, does it matter whether I’m shirtless or not?”
His eyes remind me of a hawk’s, sharp and focused, with prey in their sights and preparing for the kill. He’s doing this on purpose.
“It doesn’t.” I shrug. “I’m absolutely indifferent where you’re concerned.”
One corner of his lip curls upward a little. I wouldn’t have even recognized it if I wasn’t so accustomed to seeing him with a face that’s constantly grim.
“I can’t wait to have you in my bed, Milene,” he whispers, and a shudder passes through my body.
“That will never happen. I don’t even like you.” I turn my back to him, place the bowl of strawberries on the counter, and pop one into my mouth, pretending to be focused on the cityscape visible through the window.
Salvatore’s body leans onto mine, and his hand comes to my waist. Hard lips press to the side of my neck, then teeth, biting lightly at the sensitive skin.
“Are you sure you’re indifferent toward me, cara?” he whispers and bites at my neck again.
I grab the edge of the counter and close my eyes. His mouth is now on my nape, kissing and nibbling. I need to fucking move away from him, but I can’t make myself do it.
“I’m sure,” I choke out and will my eyes to open.
“Let’s test that conviction of yours. Shall we?”
He moves his hand down my belly and inside my shorts. I take a deep breath and concentrate on the path his palm is taking. It feels so good I almost crumble.
His hand travels lower to between my legs and applies pressure onto my pussy. I suck in a breath, then exhale slowly as his fingers keep stroking me over the drenched fabric of my panties. Jesus. I close my eyes again, wondering where my composure has gone.
“Liar,” he whispers into my ear as he gently takes my earlobe between his front teeth. “Good night, Milene.”
Gently, he withdraws his hand from my shorts, and a few seconds later, I hear him leave the kitchen. Only once I am sure he’s gone do I open my eyes and bolt toward my own bedroom.

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