Surrender a house of sin.., p.7
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       Surrender: A House of Sin Novella, p.7

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  Pleasure spiraled inside me. I felt the climax growing. Swelling inside me with every thrust. I was going to be sore tomorrow but I didn’t care. I needed more. I wanted it all. “Oh, God, Marco...”

  “Let go, amore,” he whispered against my lips. “Surrender to me. Let me have all of you, and I’ll take you straight into paradise.”

  Sweat slicked my skin. His teeth scraped my throat. I was so close I couldn’t hold out any longer. I fisted the comforter as I wrapped my legs around his waist. “Yes.” I threw my head back and arched up against him. “Oh fuck, yes, there, there, there. Right there...”

  The orgasm consumed me, exploded like a million fireworks inside my body, dragging a scream from my throat I was sure would wake the neighbors. And just after it claimed me, even though I was still shaking, I felt his cock swell even bigger inside me. I felt him thrust even harder. And I felt his body shake against me as he grunted through his own release.

  He collapsed against me, sweaty, breathless, two hundred pounds of solid muscle that pressed me deeper into the mattress. But I loved it. I loved the little aftershocks still zipping through me. And I loved that I could feel him, still hard but softening slightly inside me. That he hadn’t immediately rolled off me like every other guy I’d ever been with. That he seemed as shaken and overwhelmed by that as I was.

  “Mio Dio,” he gasped against my neck. “I think you just broke me.”

  I smiled and wrapped my arms around his back, tiptoeing my fingers across his sweaty skin. “You don’t feel broken.” I kissed his shoulder—the only part of him my lips could reach. “You feel good. Mm. Taste good, too.”

  He chuckled against me, and I felt the vibrations all through my body.

  Pushing up on one hand, he looked down at me with sexy, sated eyes. “You are a surprise, amore.”


  God, I could get used to him calling me that. I shouldn’t but... I loved the way it rolled off his tongue. And he was the surprise, not me.

  I lifted my lips to his, and when he brushed the sweaty hair back from my face and gently kissed my lips, I gripped his shoulders and opened my mouth, showing him I didn’t want gentle. I wanted more of what he’d just given me. I wanted everything.

  He tasted me deeply but drew back long before I was ready to let him go. “Merda.”

  A wave of worry rippled through me. “What?”

  His brow lowered. “I didn’t make you bark like a dog.”

  I grinned, unable to hold back my delight. “Good thing we have eleven more condoms in that box so you can try to get it right.”

  “Oh, vita mia.” Heat flushed his features and flooded his eyes all over again. “I’m just getting started. And I intend to put every one to good use, trust me.”

  * * * *

  We didn’t use all twelve condoms. Which was a good thing, because after three blinding orgasms, I was afraid I might not be able to walk if we kept going. I was clearly out of practice.

  The sun was just rising as we lay in bed drowsing. Neither of us had gotten much sleep and though I knew I needed it, now that the sexual tension in my body was banked, I couldn’t keep stop thinking about that video.

  “You’re not sleeping,” Marco said, his drowsy voice rumbling in my ear where I lay with my head on his chest.

  “How can you tell? You can’t see my eyes.”

  “You keep tapping your foot against me.”

  “Oh.” I smiled and rubbed my hand over the soft hair on his chest. “Sorry.”

  “It’s okay. I just thought after all that barking you’d be ready to pass out.”

  I pressed my fingers into his ribs. He chuckled and wiggled away from me. “Stop. I happen to be very worn out. It’s hard work making a woman bark.”

  I smirked and snuggled back into him. “Quite proud of yourself, aren’t you?”

  “I am. That’s a first for me.” He ran his hand down my arm. “So? Why aren’t you sleeping?”

  “I was thinking about that video. And your theory that someone is trying to set me and my father up to take a fall. If that’s the case, then whoever sent me to get that file has to be in on it, wouldn’t you think?”

  “Yes, possibly. Do you know who sent you, or was it just someone with the resistance movement?”

  “Oh, I know who sent me, I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around his setting me up.”


  “Because it’s my Uncle Callum. My father’s brother.”

  Marco pulled his arm out from under me and slowly sat up. “I didn’t know your uncle was active with the resistance movement.”

  “Most people don’t.” I fluffed my hair against the pillow and rolled to my side, looking up at him. “He’s very secretive about it. It’s not the kind of thing he wants getting out. I shouldn’t even be telling you about him, it’s made wonder whose side he’s really on.”

  “Is he your father’s brother?”

  I nodded.

  “And there are no other siblings?”


  “So if your father were to be overthrown and you and Jasper were out of the picture—”

  “He’d be installed as head of House Merrick.”

  “Has he ever acted as if he wanted to lead your House?”

  “Not that I’ve ever seen. He’s never acted jealous, if that’s what you’re asking, but people in this world are good at hiding their intentions. We all know that.”

  Marco looked around the room, which was growing brighter from the morning’s sunlight. “We need to get the original video.”

  “What are you talking about? We have the video.”

  “No. We have a copy. And I’m pretty sure it’s been altered.”

  I grabbed the sheet and slowly sat up. “What are you talking about?”

  “I returned a call when you were sleeping. That’s why I was out on the couch when you found me. I’ve got a university buddy who works at Interpol. We keep each other up to speed on things happening in our corners of the world. I emailed him before you showed up at my hotel last night and he left me a voice mail.”

  My eyes narrowed. “And you were going to tell me this...when?”

  “Relax.” He reached for my hand and squeezed. “I was planning to tell you about it after he got back to me. He wanted to double check with the agent who was involved in the handoff of the file. Plus, you just distracted me out on the couch before I could tell you. Very well, I might say.”

  Okay, I could cut him a little slack there. “So how do they know the video we have was altered?”

  “Because he said your father wasn’t the one who made the handoff. It was someone else.”


  “He wasn’t sure. All he had was the description in the file, no picture. But he said the guy was definitely shorter than your father, softer around the middle, and he had a Cockney accent.”

  I caught my breath.

  “What?” he asked, eyes narrowing on my face.

  “My Uncle Callum is shorter than my father, chubby around the waist, and I’ve heard him do a Cockney accent multiple times. In fact, he pulls it out at family parties. Thinks he’s hilarious with it.”

  He stared at me for several seconds, then said, “I think maybe we should go check your uncle’s house and see if we can find that file.”

  Oh, I definitely planned to drop in on my dear old uncle’s estate and take a look around. But as I stared at him, I realized there was no reason for him to join me.

  “What?” he said again.

  I scooted back and clamped my arms around the sheet so it wouldn’t fall. “I appreciate all the help with this, but now that we know this is about my uncle, you don’t have to stick around. It has nothing to do with House Salvatici.”

  “I’m not here for House Salvatici. I’m here for you.”

  “That wasn’t why you were originally here.”

  “Things change.” He fingered a lock of hair near my shoulder. “What’s really
going on, Felicity? Why don’t you want me to go with you to find that file?”

  “Because I don’t want you to get in trouble, that’s why.”

  “With who?”

  “Anyone from my House who happens to see you.”

  “No one will know who I am.”

  “Anyone who listens to you can tell you’re Italian.”

  “I fooled you with my Spanish accent. I’ll use it again.”

  I huffed. “I knew you weren’t Spanish.”


  “Because you kept lapsing into Italian when we were together in that room.”

  “Only because you distracted me.” He pushed my hair aside and brushed his nose against the curve of my jaw and breathed hot over my neck, distracting me. “Admit it. You like having me around.”

  I did. More than I should. Especially because no matter how fabulous this...thing...was between us, I knew it wouldn’t last.

  It couldn’t. He was House Salvatici, I was House Merrick. We didn’t blend. Not to mention the fact that I was a realist, and he was very clearly a romantic.



  “I really think...”

  He lifted his head and pinned me with dark, sexy eyes. Eyes that made me falter because as they gazed into mine, so intense, so focused, I had the strangest sense he was seeing all the way into my soul.

  “You think what, amore?”

  Dammit. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him yet.

  “I...think the best time to search my uncle’s estate would be in the evening. When he’s preoccupied with his mates. Or his mistress.”

  One side of Marco’s sensual lips curled. “I think it’s a great idea. But it’s still morning. What could we possibly do until then?”

  I slid my hand around his nape and pulled him down with me into the pillows. “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”

  His grin widened. And just before he kissed me, he said, “I’m pretty sure we just did.”

  Chapter Seven


  Felicity’s uncle’s home was an estate in the countryside of Wales not far from where her parents lived. The house was huge—not quite a castle, but not a simple farmhouse, either. At this time of night—close to ten p.m., she was sure her uncle would be out at the local pub, a place he frequented most nights now that his wife had passed.

  I was skeptical about just showing up, but Felicity assured me Christine, his live-in housekeeper, wouldn’t think much of it. She’d called earlier in the day to tell Christine she’d be stopping by to borrow some books from his library, an excuse I found extremely flimsy but which she thought was rock solid.

  “Stop worrying,” she said to me as we parked and climbed out of her car. “We Brits like to read. Trust me, if he shows up, he won’t find it odd that I’m here. And once you see his library, you’ll understand.”

  I still wasn’t sure, but I tucked my hands into the pockets of my jeans as I followed her across the drive toward the double front doors. We’d swung by my hotel and picked up my things. My weapon was tucked safely at my lower spine, just in case, but a shiver racked my spine, and I shrugged in my sweater, wishing I’d thought to grab a jacket. September evenings in the UK were considerably cooler than they were in Italy.

  She rang the front bell and waited. I moved up behind her and inhaled a deep whiff of her gardenia scent, already thinking about what we’d do once we had the video in our hands. Clearly, we needed to take it right to Felicity’s father so he was aware his own brother was trying to doublecross him. But once we’d done that, I wanted to find a romantic hotel out here in the countryside and repeat those things we’d done this morning when we’d been killing time.

  I glanced down at her sexy auburn hair and her stiff shoulders in the fitted leather jacket as she stared ahead at the door. I really couldn’t get enough of this woman, and that was new for me. Usually one tumble through the sheets, maybe two if it was good, was enough to satisfy my craving. But with Felicity, every time only made me hungry for more.

  The door pulled open, and a thirty-something brunette with her hair wrapped up in a bun smiled at Felicity as she wiped her hands on a dishtowel. “There you are,” she said, pushing the door open wider so we could enter, her accent not quite as refined as Felicity’s. “Was beginning to think you changed your mind. I was about to head to bed.”

  “Sorry we’re so late.” As we stepped into the entry of the immaculate house, Felicity said, “Christine, this is my friend Marc. He’s Spanish and doesn’t speak much English.”

  That wasn’t what we’d discussed, but I played along. Reaching for Christine’s hand, I brought her knuckles to my lips for a kiss and said, “Buenas tardes, señorita.”

  The brunette blushed. At her back, Felicity narrowed her eyes at me and scowled.

  I shot her a grin as I released Christine’s hand, recognizing that look as pure, unadulterated jealousy. And boy, did I like it.

  “Don’t feel like you have to wait up for us,” Felicity said when Christine only continued to gaze up at me.

  Christine finally tore her eyes from me and looked toward Felicity. “What?”

  “Bed? You said you were tired. We’re just going to grab the books and go. No need for you to wait up. I know how early Uncle Callum expects you to rise.”

  “Oh. Sure.” She glanced back my way with a lingering look. “G’night, Felicity. Goodnight...Marc.”

  She wandered down the hall away from us, but she kept looking back, and I encouraged her with a little wave.

  As soon as she rounded the corner, Felicity smacked me in the arm with the back of her hand. “Stop egging the poor woman on.”

  I chuckled and reached for her hand. “Something tells me you’re jealous.”

  “As if.”

  She tried to pull away from me but I tugged her up against my chest and lowered my mouth to hers. She resisted all of a half second before melting and opening to my kiss, drawing me into her sweet and succulent mouth.

  Not nearly as satisfied as she thought, I drew back. “Admit it. You’re wild for me.”

  “I’m not sure what I am. Every time you kiss me, it crosses the wires in my brain.”

  “That’s not exactly a bad thing.” I tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.

  “It is for me. My life is very structured. This”—she waved her hand between us—“whatever it is, is a complication neither of us needs.”

  “Before yesterday, I’d have been inclined to agree with you. But now...”

  “Now what?”

  I smiled and wrapped my arms around her waist. “Lightning.”

  “Are you for real? Marco, our Houses do not blend.”

  “According to who? Look, I’m not saying we need to define it or anything. I just think we should give it a chance. See where it goes.”

  “It has nowhere to go.”

  “I’m not so sure. I also know lightning doesn’t strike twice. And no matter how much you want to deny it, you felt it too.”

  She stared at me for several heartbeats, and I saw the internal struggle in her soft green eyes—between what she wanted, and what she thought would never work. Then she looked away and quickly wiggled out of my arms. “Why are we even talking about this? We need to get that file.”

  She turned and disappeared down another hallway, and as I followed, I realized she was scared. Not of our Houses or what our relationship would mean to the Entente. No, she was scared of taking a chance. Of trusting someone with her heart. Scared that if she believed in the fairytale and it didn’t actually come true, it would leave her worse off than she’d been before we’d ever met.

  Did I believe in happily ever after? I did. My parents had lived it. Did I think this was that? I had no idea. But I was willing to take a chance. I just needed to find a way to convince her I was worth taking a chance on.

  She turned into a large study with dark wood paneling, leather furnishings, bay windows that looked out over the dark y
ard, and a massive mahogany desk. Rounding the desk, she flipped open the laptop and sank into the deep green leather chair. “I’m going to guess he’s got a digital file on his computer or in his cloud, but look around and see if you can find a memory card or something.”

  I doubted it would just be lying around, but I checked the desk drawers and file cabinet as she fiddled with his computer. “You don’t know his passwords, do you?”

  “No.” She typed in a series of keys and hit Enter. “But my younger brother Jasper does. He’s got a photographic memory and he’s devious about watching people key in their codes. I called him earlier and got him to give me what he had.”

  “I thought you said he wasn’t that smart.” I perched a hip against the desk and looked down at the computer as she keyed in the second set of codes.

  “He’s not street smart. He’s nerd smart. Big difference. And if this works, I’m going to owe him big time, which he will make sure I don’t forget.” The screen unlocked. “Bingo. The kid can be useful now and then.”

  She opened his files, and we both started scanning. She clicked on three different ones she thought might be right, but none were. I checked file sizes, searching for one that was similar to the size on that memory card.

  “Try that one.” I pointed toward a file labeled with numbers near the bottom.

  She clicked it, and a video screen popped open. We both watched as she clicked the play button, and a portly man walked across a parking garage toward a tall man in a fedora and long wool coat.

  “Damn.” Felicity sat back in her seat. “It really is him. I was sort of hoping we were wrong.”

  I placed my hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Feli—”

  The door to the library pushed open, and we both glanced that way as Felicity’s uncle stepped into the room.

  “Well, well,” he said as Felicity pushed the chair back and stood. “I wish I could say this was a surprise, but it’s not. Not really, anyway.”

  Two more men moved in behind him, both taller and darker than Felicity’s balding uncle, wearing expensive dark suits. And I stiffened because I immediately recognized both.

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