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Marco Donati is rich, ruthless–and more often than not–indiscriminate. Interested only in satisfying his sexual needs casually and frequently, he has no intention of changing a thing about his life. Natalie Lambert is alone, broke, and new to the city when a chance encounter leaves her under the power and control of Marco Donati. As the story unfolds, tensions mount and trust is tested between two people who can’t manage to stay away from each other.
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Marco Donati threw on the brakes in rush hour traffic and heard the squeal of tires and the crunch of metal against metal at the same exact moment he felt the vicious jerk from behind. He expelled a breath as he negotiated a quick turn onto the shoulder of the freeway and waited for the car that had rear-ended him to do the same.
Hissing a curse for the delay and pain in the ass this was going to cause him, he glanced in the rearview mirror to see the small car pull onto the shoulder and come to a stop.
He didn’t think the impact had been substantial enough to cause any bodily injury to the other driver, but he slid out of his car to make sure anyway.
As he walked to the back of his vehicle, he briefly inspected the mangled fender of his custom-ordered Audi A-8 that had, until minutes ago, been pristine. A streak of fluorescent green paint on the previously gleaming black enamel was a further insult to the sleek lines of his car.
As Marco approached the driver’s side of the ancient green compact, he saw that it held only one person, a young female, and with an exaggerated hand gesture, he motioned for the window to be lowered.
The girl inside rolled the window down and Marco saw a face already white from shock. He couldn’t see her eyes–they were covered in huge, dark sunglasses that almost completely dominated her small face.
He so didn’t have time for this shit right now. “You all right?” he asked. The girl seemed shaky, but not in any pain that he could see.
“Yes. You didn’t hurt me.”
“I didn’t hurt you? You slammed me from the rear,” he interjected harshly.
“You stopped so fast!”
“Are you serious? We’re on a freeway in rush hour traffic. Get real. Hand over your insurance information and driver’s license and we’ll get this over with.”
She continued to watch him while her lower lip trembled and Marco thought she looked extremely young, although he couldn’t pinpoint any one thing about her that gave him that idea. She could have been a teenager–or a woman full grown. There wasn’t really any way for him to know with those huge sunglasses covering her eyes. He shifted his weight from one foot to the next as unease spread through him. There was absolutely no reason he should be feeling any guilt about this. There hadn’t been a damn thing he could do to stop the collision.
“I realize that technically it was my fault. But I–” She stopped speaking when a eighteen-wheeler zoomed by. Her voice lacked strength as her eyes remained glued to the traffic speeding past and she made no move to give him the information he had requested.
Feeling his muscles tighten and his jaw clench, he made a swift decision, refusing to be moved by a pretty face, and slipped his phone from his pocket and began to punch in numbers.
“Wait.” The word was a plea from the heart and he made the foolish mistake of pausing and looking into her face once again.
“Who are you calling?” she asked on a whisper.
“The police.” The words were abrupt as the line of his mouth flattened.
“Please don’t do that.”
Her words were beseeching, and Marco found himself having to grit his teeth against them. “Why shouldn’t I? Somebody’s sure as sh–” he assessed her possible age once more and swiftly cleaned up his language. “Somebody’s going to pay for the damage to my car.” He quickly took in the state of her clothing and determined the approximate year of her vehicle. Everything he could see indicated a lack of money. He was so fucked. She probably didn’t even have basic liability insurance. Receiving a citation from the police would put her in the wrong, guarantee her insurance would pay–if she had any–and it would make him feel so much better.
Her face paled and she began to shake her head. “It’ll be okay, I promise it will. Just don’t call the police. Please. That will only make matters worse.”
He hesitated only fractionally. “Maybe you should call your father.”
Her face froze in lines of tension that hardened almost imperceptibly. “I don’t have a father. This is my cousin’s car.”
Two lone tears made tracks down her face and she lifted her hands and scrubbed at them quickly, obviously trying to get a hold of herself. The tears made her appear heartbreakingly fragile and made him feel like a supreme dick. Marco hesitated another fateful moment as he watched her, his guts tightening. No doubt it would make matters worse for her if he called the police. He was a bit incredulous that he actually felt sorry for her, but at the same time, he was suspicious she might be playing him. “Let me see your license,” he said in a voice that softened only minimally.