She’s guilty, but she’s still mine.
I’ve wanted Maddie since I first laid eyes on her. She always kept me at a distance, her unknown past a barrier between us.
But once my father is murdered, I know I need her help. The deeper we go, the darker our desires become, until my belt and boots become her sanctuary. It becomes harder and harder to resist making Maddie mine forever.
Then I find out her truth.
There’s danger lurking between us. Falling for her will destroy the mafia.
But I need Maddie completely. Her body. Her mind. Her future.
There is no other way.
Author’s Note: Dangerous Command is the third and final interconnected standalone in the dark mafia series, The Adler Brothers. The couple has a HEA, and the mafia plot concludes. This book contains dark and disturbing content. Reader discretion is advised.
Triggers: heroine with a child born from rape, sexual abuse (by secondary characters, between family members), graphic violence, murder, dubious consent
Kinks: boot worship, cigar play, dubious consent, impact play, toys
Interconnected Standalone: The couple gets their HEA, but the mafia plot concludes with this book.
six months earlier
Everything seemed perfect at the Adler House, but I still couldn’t let go. Earlier, the brothers had destroyed the Midnight Miles Corporation Headquarters with Miles Muro still inside of it. For the first time in a long while, we had reasons to celebrate, but I wasn’t used to this. Still, I leaned against the wall and forced the tension away, because the three Adler brothers were relaxed in front of me, so I knew I should be too. The youngest brother discussed blackjack strategies with his wife, and the next brother put his arm around a young woman with faded unicorn hair. The oldest brother, Derek, looked at me with a gleam in his eyes, as if he wanted to tell me something important. Despite my worries, I smiled back, because there was no reason for any of us to dread the night anymore. Not even me.
Derek handed me another glass of white wine, opening up a can of beer for himself. We clinked our drinks together, both of us more tired than tipsy, but neither of us wanted to end the night of celebration. His hair matched his brown eyes at that moment, dark and haunting. His broad shoulders flexed as if he could shield his family from evil and carry them up to the top of the world.
“How long have you been working for us?” Derek asked.
“I don’t know,” I laughed, throwing my red hair over my shoulder. “A year? Maybe more?”
He beamed at me like he had been keeping track of every second since I had first walked into his penthouse.
“You’re good, you know that?” he said, resting on the wall next to me. The woodsy scent of eucalyptus came from his body, heavier now that we were drinking late into the night. I wanted to bury my nose in his neck, to never let go of that scent, that overwhelming sense of security. Protection. Safety. Derek would die to make sure his family lived, and somehow, I knew he would do the same for me.
I wanted to give in. And now, with Miles Muro gone, maybe I could.
“I’m good?” I asked, a sly grin crossing my lips. “Tell me the ways, Mr. Boss.”
“Mr. Future Boss,” he corrected. “My father hasn’t retired yet.”
“You run the show already,” I said. I shoved his shoulder playfully. An electric wave of heat zapped from my hand to my neck, making me flush. His eyes twinkled down at me, proud of what he had done for his family’s business. Proud that I had been a part of it.
“You’re dedicated. Loyal to my family. And you’re incredible,” he said, his eyes drinking in my body. “And no matter what I do, you never play into this.” He gestured between us. “Why is that?” He leaned in, our faces so close that his breath tickled my lips. “There’s something here, Mads. We both know it.”
Mads. He was the only one who called me that, and only when we were alone, like it was our secret. It gave me chills. Was it irritating that he was so confident in himself? Or was it hot that he knew I wanted him too?
“You like your women to bow down to you,” I said, blushing all over. “I can’t do that.”
“Not bowing,” he said. “Kneeling.” He tucked a finger under my chin, making me look up at him. “And there hasn’t been another woman. Not since you first came here.”
How could that be true? He could have had anyone.
“You’re just saying that,” I stammered.
I studied his expression. He was in line to take over his family’s mafia. Women must have thrown themselves at him. I didn’t want to believe him, but somehow, I knew it was true. Derek didn’t falter. He wasn’t afraid. He knew his truth. My breath caught in my throat, his gaze capturing me. I wanted Derek, more than I had ever wanted another man in my life. But I had responsibilities, someone who depended on me, and I couldn’t give in. Not until I could guarantee everything would be all right.
“While I expect my woman to kneel, I always treat her like a goddess,” he murmured. “You know that.”
Those words caught me. Maybe now, now that everything was fine, it would be okay. To give in to him. To us.
Just this once.
He stepped closer, dipping a hand behind my back, cupping my ass. A shiver ran through me. Derek and his family terrified me. Most of the time, they were good people, but everything could change in a second and I couldn’t let that happen.
But I wasn’t sure about that anymore. I closed my eyes, ready to let it happen. To finally let him take me like I had been dreaming about for months. To see if his lips felt as soft as they looked. If he could make my heart stop with that gaze while he fucked me.
“What’s holding you back?” he whispered. He leaned down to me, about to meet my lips.
“You,” I breathed. “You don’t want to screw your employee. You have your rules.”
“That’s right,” he said to himself, remembering those rules he had told me. “But you’re not working right now.”
“Mads,” he leaned closer, his lips almost brushing mine.
My phone buzzed in my front pocket, vibrated against Derek’s leg. There was only one person who would be calling this late.
“You need to get that?” he asked. He pulled back but left his hand on my ass.
“I do,” I said. It was past three a.m. “I’ve gotta go anyway.”
“Don’t leave,” he said.
The truth was that I didn’t want to leave. I could take the call and stay the night. Experience what it was like to have that trimmed facial hair against my bare skin. Fall asleep in his arms, one of the safest places in the world. Protection I had never experienced before. Not before him.
I glanced at the phone. I had missed the call. I needed to go.
“It’s urgent,” I said. They wouldn’t have called otherwise.
Derek nodded, accepting my answer. “You’re in town for the next few days?”
“Your dad has me cleaning while he’s off with his ladies.”
A small huff came out of Derek’s mouth; he didn’t care for the fact that his father was married to his mother but openly had a mistress, but it wasn’t his place to decide his father’s romantic life. Instead, Derek made it clear that he would never be like that. Loyalty to his family mattered above all else.
“I’ll walk you to your car,” he said.
In the driveway, Derek opened the car door for me. I slid inside, then rolled down the window, leaning on the door.
“See you tomorrow?” I asked.
“Tomorrow,” he said. His hand lingered over mine, his eyes focused on my lips. “Take care, Mads.”
“Night,” I said.
He watched as I reversed out of the driveway. My heart sank as I crossed out of view. I quickly called back. There was no emergency, nothing that would require me to drive all the way home that night. But it was better this way. If I was going to sleep with Derek, I wanted it to be on our terms. When we weren’t high from the victory. When it was only us. Because we wanted to.
Still, I fantasized about him as I drove. Those soft lips. His strong jaw. Hair I could run my fingers through. A body so hard and intimidating, I didn’t know where to start.
At the extended-stay motel, I went to the second floor to my room for the last few months. It wasn’t much, but it was cheap and gave me a place to crash. I liked the view of the woods beyond the parking lot. Setting my bags down, I looked out of the large window. The pine trees stretched up toward the dark sky. They reminded me of Derek, of the woods that surrounded the Adler House, where Derek’s presence alone made me want to kneel. Because the sight of me kneeling would bring him to his knees too.
The window curtain fluttered beside me. Had I opened it earlier that day and forgotten to shut it? I closed it quickly, then checked the room, making sure that nothing had been stolen. The closet looked the same. The shower stall too. There was hardly any space in that small room to hide, and yet my skin crawled.
Still, I went through the motions; I laid down in bed, then turned off the light. You opened the window earlier to get some fresh air, I told myself, It’s nothing. It had been storming recently, and I wanted to bring in the sunshine.
I stared at the ceiling, then closed my eyes. I thought of Derek. And once I felt safe, like his arms were wrapped around me, my mind started drifting off to sleep.
The bed creaked. I opened my eyes.
“You thought you could hide from me?” a familiar, raspy voice asked.
Then a knife dashed across my cheek.