Home > Pure Temptation

Pure Temptation
Author: Jordan Marie


Chapter 1






I sit across from Niko’s desk, looking around his office. The room is full of stainless steel and dark woods. Black and marble dominate but the pops of blues are an unusual highlight that draw your eye—almost as much as the view of the Miami skyline behind Niko’s desk.

The place screams money and tasteful decor. He definitely has the first. He acquired the last through a high-priced interior design firm. Niko has worked his ass off to achieve everything he always swore he would have. I knew he would achieve his goals. I just never realized how successful he would be.

I turn my gaze back to the man in question. He’s sifting through the folder I gave him. The crease in his brow reveals that he’s engrossed in what he’s reading. The air in the room feels tense, and I want to let him finish it, but it’s starting to get to me. I let the silence stretch for a second before releasing a heavy breath.

“What are you thinking?” I finally ask.

“It’s everything I asked for,” Niko says, running a hand over his manicured beard. His distracted tone hints otherwise.

“Why did you want that paperwork drawn up?” I ask curiously. “You’re only thirty-three. I don’t understand why you want a will to give your entire fortune to Emilia when you’re not even married to her yet.” Niko looks up at me over the folder, not saying anything, just staring at me intently, so I continue. “Emilia doesn’t even seem to like you that much,” I add incredulously.

“That’s beside the point,” Niko says, waving his hand as if to knock the words from the air. “She belongs to me, and I need to ensure she’s taken care of.” Niko closes the folder, tapping the pad of his finger against his desk. He’s here in the office with me, yet he seems like his mind is elsewhere. “The contract Emilia’s father drew up says I can’t claim her until she’s twenty-one, and I agreed with it at the time, but that was four years ago when Emilia was untouchable. She needed time to grow into a woman. Now, I regret my decision. If something happens to me, Emilia is left unprotected.”

I want to tell my friend that his concerns are unwarranted, but we both know his business ventures into the dark side of this world. He deals with men and women who not only bend the rules but also live above the law. I can’t argue that it’s a good possibility.

“Does Emilia know that you care for her?” I ask. Being an attorney, I’m used to putting people on the spot and asking uncomfortable questions to understand the complete picture before me. Niko has grown accustomed to my inquisitive nature, but I can tell he doesn’t quite like that I’ve asked.

“One cannot be a man in this business and lead with his heart. Emilia is innocent and needs protection from her money-hungry family. If something happens to me, they will use her, and I need to ensure that’s not a possibility.”

“The will should do that in theory, but Emilia’s choices are her own. You can’t protect her from that if you’re not here,” I counter.

“That’s where you will have my back,” Niko says, looking at me pointedly.

“I always have your back. You know this,” I tell him dismissively.

“I’m serious, Callan. If something happens, I don’t care if you must keep me alive by machines. You must find a way and be my proxy to ensure the marriage to Emilia is done.”

“This is crazy talk,” I tell him, shaking my head. “You’re in the prime of your life.”

“We both know in my world that no one is safe—especially someone who is considered an outsider and yet has made it as far as I have in the family.”

“Have there been threats?” I ask, suddenly a bit worried. We’ve had these discussions before, but this seems more imperative than any discussion we’ve had before.

Niko spent years as a grunt for the mob, doing things we won’t even speak of today until he eventually made enough of a name for himself to catch the eye of Consigliere—Emilia’s father. Once that happened, deals started to be made because Emilia’s father was looking for someone to entrust his daughter to—someone in the same line of business. Given Niko’s age and willingness to climb the ladder, he was the ideal candidate. It would ensure the Consigliere’s daughter’s safety and make a great business deal. Owning several premiere businesses—most notably, Skyline Ocean Casinos—Niko is a critical player in pushing and laundering the mob’s money.

“There are always threats,” Niko says. “I need to be prepared and know that Emilia will be taken care of regardless. You know I’m not used to being responsible for someone else. This is important.”

“Bullshit,” I tell him. “You took me under your wing from day one in the orphanage and never had a second thought about it.”

“That’s different. We had each other’s backs. We survived that hellhole together.”

“True enough, but you wouldn’t let me follow your footsteps within the family,” I add. “You put me through law school. You did everything you could to ensure that the only person I would ever owe is you.”

“You owe me nothing.”

“You’re wrong. I do, even if you won’t let me pay you back.”

Niko waves me off with the flick of his hand. “I pay half of what you charge others, and don’t bother denying it.”

I shrug, knowing it’s true. Hell, charging Niko at all feels wrong. There’s no way he would let me get by with him not paying, however. I also know that if I hadn’t given him a bill, he would have paid triple what I normally charge clients.

“Do this for me and put a rush on it,” Niko says, sliding the folder back to me.

“We need Emilia to sign it, and then I can file the necessary paperwork. After that, I will keep the will and everything else to do with it in my vault. That way, her family will never have access to anything.”

“Good. I’m taking Emilia and her best friend out to dinner tomorrow night. We’re celebrating her graduation. Join us then. I have a reservation at Salsa at six. We can have her sign the papers then,” Niko suggests.

I can't tell by his stoic mask if this is good or bad. The slight crack of a smile in his usually somber face tells me he’s looking forward to seeing Emilia. The truth is, he would do just about anything that woman asked of him. I doubt she knows that and it’s probably a good thing.

“I hate Salsa. It’s a damn tourist trap, not a restaurant,” I tell him, frowning.

“It is, but it’s where Emilia wants to go, and she gets what she wants.”

“One day, you will have to admit that you care for your charge.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Niko says with a grimace, making us both chuckle.

“Eventually, you may even have to admit that you don’t have a heart of ice,” I warn as I get up with the folder. Niko’s grunt of denial follows me out.

I smile, hoping Emilia manages to break through my friend’s cold exterior one day and gives him happiness.



Chapter 2





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