Home > Rough and Ready (Italian Stallions #3)

Rough and Ready (Italian Stallions #3)
Author: Mari Carr


Chapter One



“Damn. I’ll have what she’s having,” Keeley mused as she watched Penny Beaumont slow-dancing with Gage Russo. She leaned back in her chair and sighed heavily.

She was jealous as hell.

When she’d helped plan this birthday party for Penny, she had no idea her quirky, sweet friend would be swept off her feet by her hot-as-sin, billionaire boss. And while Keeley was over the moon for her, she desperately wished she could find someone like Gage.

Not a billionaire. She wasn’t that type of woman.

No. What she wanted was a man so filled with love that he would crash her birthday party and claim her right there and then, in front of God and everybody.

Her mother would have loved it, would have called it wildly romantic. And it was. It really was. If there was one thing she’d gotten from her mother—well, except for her dark brown eyes and less-than-bountiful tits—it was her hopeless romantic side.

“I want it too,” Liza said, agreeing. “Even if he is a Russo. I mean, how hot is that dance?”

Keeley had been friends with Liza long enough to know she wasn’t the only woman at the table with a green-eyed monster sitting on her shoulder.

The last strains of John Legend’s “Conversations in the Dark” played out as Gage kissed Penny with such passion, Keeley swore she felt it all the way across the room.

Their other girlfriend, Gianna, left the dance floor right after the slow song ended. Her boyfriend headed to the bar while she reclaimed her seat next to Keeley. “I swear to God, that is the dreamiest thing I’ve ever seen. Penny with Gage Russo! Who would have guessed it?” she gushed excitedly.

Unlike Keeley and Liza, Gianna didn’t have a speck of jealousy in her tone. Why would she? She’d been dating her super-sweet boyfriend, Sam, since they were both sophomores in high school. She’d had her life mapped out and planned down to the very second ever since she was fifteen years old and fell head over heels in love with Sam Mannarino.

Gianna had never spent a single second out there in the cold, cruel world, traveling from one meat market to the next, trolling online dating sites, and kissing frog after fucking frog, all in the hopes of finding the one.

Mr. Right.

It was a depressing task. Not that Keeley would ever give up or stop looking. Her prince was out there, and she was bound and determined to do whatever it took to find him.

And, of course, because karma liked to kick her in the ass from time to time to keep her humble…a prince she couldn’t have decided to make his appearance at that very moment.

Gio Moretti, like all the Moretti men, was the living embodiment of tall, dark, and tatted-to-perfection handsome, and as such, he’d starred in pretty much every fantasy—romantic, sexy, and kinky—that she’d had since puberty.

Gio approached their table, scowling, and Keeley didn’t even bother to hide her grin. She knew why he was pissed off. And it amused her to no end.

“Down boy,” she said when he was within hearing distance.

“Did you invite Gage Russo?” he asked.

Keeley shook her head. “No, but Penny might have.”

Gio grimaced. “Yeah. She said she did. What’s going on with those two?”

Liza snorted. “Come on, cuz. You can’t be that thick. I think it’s pretty obvious what’s been going on between them.”

“Did you know about this?” he asked the table in general.

Keeley shook her head. “Not really. They danced together once when we were all at Enigma, but Penny never alluded to anything between them. She definitely didn’t tell us she was sleeping with him, but…wowza. I think that’s pretty much a given.”

“Why were you at Enigma?” Gio plopped down in the empty chair next to her.

Keeley gave him a “seriously?” look. “Where else would we be? We’re single ladies on the hunt for a man.”

“Something incredibly difficult these days. There are no men worth dating in Philly. Period. End of story,” Liza chimed in.

While Keeley was still optimistic about her chances of finding the perfect guy, Liza was a lot more jaded. So jaded, in fact, that she joked her skin fairly shimmered with the blue-green hue.

Gio smirked. “You always say that, and yet I have countless friends, brothers, and cousins who are great guys.”

Liza rolled her eyes. “Fat lotta good that does us. None of you guys will ever go out with Keeley because you’ve shoehorned her into the eternal kid-sister role. And I’m related to most of those yahoos you speak of.”

“Just say the word, Gio, and I’d be yours forever,” Keeley teased, running her fingers up and down his tattooed arm. God, she was a sucker for tats. “Don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’m awesome in bed.”

He was completely unaffected by her flirting. “I’ll take your word for that.”

“Smart-ass,” she muttered.

Gio had never crossed the line with her, despite the fact she’d flirted with him for years. It was a harmless game she played with her brother’s friends because they were all stand-up guys. And just as Liza said, they’d never see her as an available woman because she would always be Kayden’s little sister.

Kayden, who was sitting at a table nearby, yelled out, “Behave yourself, Kee. Leave poor Gio alone.”

His words had the same impact as a dare, so she shifted her chair two inches to the right, ensuring that she was sitting even closer to Gio. She gave him a wicked, come-hither smile, purely for her brother’s benefit. “Break the bro-code. I’ll make it worth your while,” she cooed in her best sex-vixen tone.

“Jesus.” Kayden gave up, shaking his head as he turned his attention back to the people at his own table.

Gio smirked, and then, because he was as shameless and accomplished as she was when it came to teasing, he rested his arm around the back of her chair.

“I took no vow, little one,” Gio said, winking at Keeley in that charming way of his.

She wanted to be annoyed when he called her “little one,” but in truth, it got her girl parts purring like a well-loved kitten. Unwilling to let him claim the upper hand in their game, she shrank the distance between them by another inch or two. “Just one kiss?”

Gio snorted. “You can’t handle me, minx.”

Keeley relented, moving back and crossing her arms. “All you’re doing is proving that Liza’s right. She and I are doomed to forever be the sister mascots for your merry band of men.”

Gio didn’t deny her comment. Instead, he offered a one-shoulder shrug that gave her the tiniest bit of hope he was serious about taking no vow.

Yep. Optimist. That was her.

Back when she was younger, she’d suffered serious crushes on both Gio and his best friend, Rafe Baros. The two men had solidified their places in her heart the night her parents died.

However, over the years, she’d learned to accept that she would always be—for all intents and purposes—untouchable. Not that it stopped her from flirting…and hoping. She’d just gotten to the point where she considered all this playful teasing to be practice for guys she actually stood a chance with.

Unfortunately, as far as single men went in Philly, Gio was right. His friends and male relatives were all very good, very decent men, sexy as sin…and the ideal she’d been using as a yardstick when measuring the men she dated.

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