SUNSET FLARE - Mafia Romance STANDALONE
Rich, Wild, Pampered. Mysterious, dark...dangerous
Izzy Caliendo is a wild child. Born into a rich family, she uses her status as a pampered princess to avoid work, play the field and live her life the way she wants.
Until Gunner Mann comes along, anyway.
Gunner, hired by Izzy’s brother, Marc, to decode their grandfather’s secret files, is mysterious, dangerous and doesn't bow down to Izzy's wild ways.
When Marc traps these two in the basement together to finish the files, sparks start to fly. After Izzy finds out about her own file and is confronted with confusion about her past, she turns to Gunner for help. But Gunner is running from his own past and doesn’t want to involve anyone—especially a Caliendo woman. He is so close to freedom—how can he turn back now?
The more time he and Izzy spent together, however, makes it harder and harder for either of them to walk away. Will they simply finish the files and go their separate ways or will deceit, lies and secrecy actually bring these two people from opposite worlds together?
Gunner’s conclusion: this Caliendo was insane. But, hot damn, the woman sure knew how to kiss.
“They’re going to jump!” The shouts from the wound up troupe sounded closer, diminishing the distance between them.
Gunner took one last glance over his shoulder at the shadows cutting the path toward them. Izzy had left him no other alternative. He jumped.
The cool water swallowed him whole, dragging him into the pit of desolation where he’d once lived. For a brief moment, time stood still, pulling him into that darkening part of his life when he wouldn’t have bothered swimming to the surface, wouldn’t have wanted to, wouldn’t have cared if he never breathed a breath of fresh air again.
Surprisingly, he discovered, today wasn’t that time.
Gunner broke the water’s surface, sucking in the warm summer evening air, and appreciating what he’d once given up. Life. It had been so long since he’d felt alive. He would have enjoyed the moment more if camera flashes didn’t pull him back to reality.
“Over there!” Voices shouted. “I see them!”
Flashlights flickered between flashes, threatening the life he finally appreciated.
Izzy’s voice surfed the waves to him, exposing her hiding spot under a dock. Gunner swam across the wavy river, ducking under the short dock to join her. Hardly enough space allowed room for only their heads to bob above the water’s surface.
Gripping the docks edge with one hand, he scrubbed his free hand over his face, rubbing the water away from his eyes to focus on the dim lights from across the river. The beams hardly touched the middle of the river, so they were safe under the wood slats hiding them. The disappointed voices carried across the water until he heard them give up and head back to camp.
“That was close,” Izzy whispered, both hands also latched on the dock’s edge. Her heavy breathing changed into hysterical laughter. “That was the closest I’ve ever been to getting caught and I’ve been doing this since high school. Figures the first time I don’t bring Abby and I’m almost busted.”
“Doing what exactly?” He heard the hard edge of his tone and felt the tremor of fear pulse through his body. Living alone in the woods hadn’t brought on these levels of stress. He had felt safe there.
Sure, the alarm system around the perimeter helped ease his nerves and, when fear did grip his core, the camera system assured him no one was on the property.
One night out with this woman and his obituary picture had almost been snapped. He wanted—no needed—an explanation.
“I’ll explain when we’re out of the water.”
When one of her hands left the dock, he tightly gripped her wrist stopping her. “You’ll explain now,” he growled.
She shot a quick glance at where his fingers coiled around her wrist before replying. “Threats don’t scare me.” Strength and independence ruminated in her tone. “You want an explanation, try again.” Izzy tugged her hand, but he held the grip.
“Let’s get something straight, right now. I don’t do pictures.”
“You don’t do pictures?” He could hear the layer of mockery under the layers of her annoyance.
“No. You want to drag me on some stupid adventure that gives you some measly thrill in your spoiled life, don’t expect me to smile for a camera, understood?”
“Oh my gosh, I didn’t want you to come. I didn’t invite you. Stop blaming me because you didn’t get the facts before jumping into my canoe.”
“Your stolen canoe.”
“I planned to return it, not that any of this is any of your business.”
“Don’t push me, woman.”
“Push, push, push,” Izzy snickered. “Maybe you can boss around the women back home like this. Do this and don’t do that. Let’s have sex and then no sex. But I am not one of those women.”
Gunner couldn’t pinpoint what sparked his next move. The rush of the chase, remembering how her lips felt against his, or discovering his longing to stay under the surface of the water had vanished. Whatever the trigger, it launched him to pull Izzy close and continue kissing her where they’d left off. He felt alive—because of her—and, truthfully, he didn’t want the moment to end.
Her moistened lips reciprocated the kiss, encouraging him to advance his tongue past the seam of her lips. Dipping inside her mouth, he flavoured all the warm areas she offered. Hot and hard kisses stole the night. When her free arm snaked around his neck, he let go of her wrist, giving both arms access to firmly mold their wet bodies together. Her legs wrapped around his middle, bobbing in the water like one. He felt her long fingers dig through his hair, heard a moan ride up her throat when his hand moved under her shirt and as his flesh trailed her spine.
He hadn’t planned anything further than ravaging her mouth like high school kids hiding under the bleachers. Izzy pulled away first, looking damn sexy. Breathless, a glaze over her eyes, and strands of her damp hair clinging to her face. When her legs slid away, he wanted to gather them back up and own her mouth again. He might have, too, but before he knew what was happening, her open palm sent shocks of pain through his cheek.
“That wasn’t code for sex you…you…Italian goon,” she shouted at him.
Gunner cursed, flexing his jaw and rubbing his cheek. “I didn’t hear you complaining, popsicle.” His smart-alecky remark only further pissed her off.
“Consider this my complaint.”
“You were practically pulling my pants off.”
“You’re a pig.”
“When I’m this hot for you, your insults are a turn on.”
She shoved his chest before dunking under the water, and disappearing below the soft waves they’d made.
Gunner closed his eyes momentarily before following her, deeply inhaling and obtaining control over his body’s reaction to her touch. And not only her touch, but the way she made him feel…alive.
Read the first two chapters here: http://www.shannynleah.com/sunset-flare.php