Authors: B. B. Hamel
© 2016 by B. B. Hamel
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
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One Night SEAL
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ood girls don’t go looking
They don’t go to mob bars and they definitely don’t flirt with bad guys. Good girls don’t go home with strange men.
Maybe I wasn’t good. I always thought I was. I grew up in Ohio, I had a normal childhood, and I never got in trouble. I became a journalist because I wanted to help the world. I was working hard on a story that I thought could help break human trafficking wide open and maybe save a lot of lives.
Instead, I found him. Cocky, tall, and so damn handsome, I felt instantly afraid of how badly I wanted him to drag me into a dark corner and never let me go.
That was the kind of man he was. He was more likely to pick me up and drag me off than he was to smile and politely say hello. I was afraid of him, but there was something else beneath that fear that made me sit down next to him and order a drink.
It was just one drink, I told myself. I was out researching a story, trying to find out about human trafficking in Chicago.
Just one drink turned into so much more.
I’d never forget his eyes as he pressed me against the wall behind the bar.
I’d never forget his words.
“You’re going to be mine tonight, whether you know it yet or not. I already have you begging. I’ll have you doing so much worse.”
That cocky bastard. I never wanted this to happen. I was supposed to be a journalist, and journalists weren’t supposed to get involved with their subjects.
I was supposed to be good.
But when he came around, I found myself being bad. Very, very bad.
Bright green eyes. A grin that made me so angry I could barely breathe. A dirty mouth that swept all of that anger away and left me in a drooling puddle on the floor.
The city was full of dark and light, light and dark, and all the colors in between. I thought I was working for the light, and he was firmly in the dark.
But nothing was ever that simple. In a city like Chicago, there were only the things hiding in between, the things that weren’t easy to stick into neat little boxes. He was like that, a twisted little game wrapped in an incredibly handsome body.
I thought I hated games. He made me realize I didn’t know a thing about myself or about the world.
His dirty, cocky grin again, floating into view. “Come on, girl, quit pretending. Let me teach you a thing or two.”
I bit my lip and looked away. I wasn’t going to let him have me.
“It’s way too late for that. Chin up. Take what you want.”
I didn’t want to be in the places between the dark and the light. But maybe, just maybe, if I went there with him, I’d come back more myself. I’d come back with a story and finally figure out who I was.
Or maybe he’d ruin me completely.
like a spy from a movie.
Well, a really bad spy. I tugged at the hem of my dress, frowning to myself, as I slowly walked across the crowded bar.
I felt eyes drift across my body. I didn’t know anyone here, and nobody knew me, which was dangerous. I was in the middle of the hornet’s nest, way behind enemy lines, and I was totally exposed.
Of course, that was the plan. I’d wanted to wear my sexiest dress, wanted to get attention. I’d thought it all out, went over emergency plans, even brought some pepper spray in my little clutch just in case.
Which was probably stupid. As I nervously took a seat at the bar, I realized that pepper spray wasn’t going to do a damn thing against these men.
“What can I get you?” the barman asked me.
“Um, white wine?”
He nodded and walked away. I nervously glanced at my phone and then took a deep breath.
I had to get myself together. I had a job to do after all. I crossed my legs and took the glass from the barman, smiling at him. He nodded and left as I took a sip.
Just one drink. I’d sit and listen, maybe talk to someone if they talked to me, and then I’d leave. I wasn’t going to expose myself any more than I had to.
I’d been working on this story for so long now that I was beginning to forget I had a life outside it. I had family and friends and coworkers, and I wasn’t just an undercover journalist trying to solve the problem of human trafficking in Chicago.
Or maybe not solve it. Maybe I could at least shine some light on it, write about the major players, get some public support behind the cause. That’d be good enough.
I felt like I was getting close. I’d interviewed dozens of people, but the real breakthrough came a month ago when I met Dasha.
She was intense. Tall and beautiful, Dasha used to be a human sex slave. She told me the story of how she was taken from her village when she was only sixteen, and two years later she ended up addicted to heroin and working in a brothel in the city.
She told me who to look at. She told me to try this bar.
It was a mafia bar, she said. Everyone there would be mafia, more or less. She said I needed to be careful.
I was being careful. I sipped my drink and strained to listen, but the conversations around me were all pretty mundane—sports, stocks, business, the usual boring stuff. The men were loud and some looked like wise guys, but it was really hard to tell.
When I first started, I didn’t know anything about the mafia, but now I felt like I was intimately acquainted with the Barone Crime Family. I didn’t know all the members, but I knew the key ones.
Arturo Barone was the leader and an awful man. Lucas Barone, his son, was an up-and-coming leader. There were other men, like Vincent Mori and Gian, bosses in their own right.
But for as close as I felt to the mob, there were still huge gaps in my knowledge. As I looked around, I realized that I didn’t recognize a single face in the sea of faces, and that was probably bad.
I should have known at least one person. I was supposed to be an expert on this stuff, and yet I didn’t know a single person while sitting in the mob’s own bar.
Just then, I felt someone sit down next to me. I glanced over and then back to my drink, and then I did a double take.
He smirked at me. Green eyes, handsome face, stern and delicious lips. He was tall, easily over six feet, and covered in muscles. His sleeves were rolled up, revealing intricate tattoos.
“You’re looking around like you’re lost,” he said.
“I’m not lost.”
He shrugged. “Good. This isn’t the kind of place you want to get lost in.”
He gestured at the barman and ordered a whisky.
“Lots of bad men in here. But I think you knew that already.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
He nodded at me. “That dress. The way you’re sitting alone, looking around. Are you looking for bad men?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
He smirked again as his whisky came and he sipped it. “What’s your name?”
“Jessica,” I lied, using the name I had chosen in advance.
“Jessica, I’m Rafa.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“I don’t think it is nice to meet me. You don’t know me yet, girl.”
“Are you a bad man, Rafa?” I asked, leaning toward him.
He laughed. “Depends on what you think is bad.”
“What do you think is bad?”
“I think you’re a fish out of water, and that interests me.” He leaned toward me. “You’re going to be mine tonight, whether you know it yet or not.”
I blinked, surprised. Coming from any other man that would have been so offensive, but for some reason Rafa just . . . pulled it off. I couldn’t explain it. When he said it, I believed him.
And that scared me. I quickly took a drink to cover my embarrassment.
He laughed and slammed back his whisky. “Don’t be so fucking shy, girl. You came here looking for trouble. I decided I’d give you a taste.”
“I don’t want trouble. I just came for a drink.”
“Okay, a drink.” He nodded at my glass. “Drink up.”
“I’m okay for now.”
He laughed and ordered another whisky. “What do you do, Jessica?”
“I work in PR,” I said, lying again.
“What company would hire a girl like you to do their PR?”
“What does that mean?”
“Look at you. Short dress, perfect fucking legs, eyes that scream sex, sitting in a bar surrounded by dangerous men. You’re trouble; I can already feel it.”
“Do you like trouble?” I asked him.
“I do,” he said, smiling. “But I’m not sure you really know what you’re playing with.”
He slammed his drink back again, and I was impressed at the way he laughed at me again. Toward the back of the room, two men stood up and began to argue loudly.
He turned toward the commotion. I realized most of the room was staring at them, watching their voices getting louder. I couldn’t understand what they were arguing about, but I got the sense that it was a business deal that had gone wrong.
The whole atmosphere shifted in the room. There was an edge to the people as they leaned forward in their seats. I felt like I was suddenly surrounded by a bunch of hungry wolves, and they were all about to attack.
I was afraid.
Rafa stood up. “Come on,” he said.
“What?” I asked.
He took my hand, pulling me from my seat. “Come on.”
He started walking, letting go of my hand.
I glanced at the front door. I could have turned around and gotten out of there. I could have walked out into the night and just kept walking. I could have never looked back, never thought about following Rafa, the handsome stranger.
Instead, I looked back at his attractive frame sliding through the room and hurried to catch up.
We passed through the crowd, back toward the bathrooms. He pushed open an unmarked door and we walked into a storage room. There were boxes and racks of food, spices, and drinks all over. Toward the back, there was another door. He walked directly toward it and pushed it open.
We stepped out into the alley behind the bar.
“It was getting hot in there,” he said.
“What were they arguing about?”
“The same thing they always argue about,” he said. “Business.”
“What kind of business?”
He stepped toward me. I backed up until my back pressed against the door. There was no handle on the outside. I could feel the cold metal against the bare backs of my legs.
“You ask a lot of questions,” he said. “I’m tired of questions.” He stopped inches away from me, and my heart was pounding in my chest.
“What are we doing out here?”
“I thought you’d like a breath of fresh air.” He smirked, and I knew I should run away, but I was frozen.
It was his eyes. Both mocking and intense, I couldn’t look away from them. I realized that I was leaning closer to him, tipped in toward his body almost as if he had some kind of gravity yanking me closer. I wanted to touch his muscles, feel the hardness of his arms and trace the tattoos along his skin. I wanted to touch his lips.
Oh my god, I realized. I wanted to touch his lips.
“Thanks,” I said lamely.
“Don’t thank me yet. If you want, I can give you something to thank me for.”
“Maybe I should go.”
His lips grazed my neck. I stood completely still.
“Maybe,” he said. “I bet you want to run away. But you’re not moving, are you?”
“No. I’m not moving.”
“I don’t know.”
“I know. It’s because you want to know what it would feel like.”
“Like what would feel like?”
And then he kissed me.
I spent a lot of time thinking about my journalistic ethics. I knew that kissing someone who could be a subject of my story was crossing that ethical line, and that there was no going back.
That didn’t stop me. I kissed him back, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him against me.
He crushed his lips against mine, kissing me hard, pressing my body against the metal door. I wanted him to push hard as his hands grabbed my hips, pulling me against him. Our tongues rolled through each other, and I loved his taste, loved his strong hands, the way he grabbed me and took me. I realized that I was dripping wet and completely, totally, utterly out of my mind.
The kiss felt like it lasted forever. Until I felt the door behind me start to open and I stumbled forward.
Rafa pulled me against him, stepping back. The door swung open and a man stood there, blinking out at us.
“There you fucking are,” he said. “Ernesto wants us.”
“The fuck does he want?”
“Boss said we have somewhere to be.” He glanced at me. He was heavier, with dark hair and dark eyes. “Who’s the fucking girl?”
“How about you don’t fucking worry about it. Yeah?”
The guy shrugged. “Whatever. Get your ass in here. Get rid of the fucking slut.”
Rafa pushed me aside gently and stepped toward the guy. “Fuck off now, Jimmy, before I fucking break your neck.”
The guy turned and quickly walked inside. Rafa jammed his foot in the door before it shut completely.
He turned toward me, holding the door open. “Give me your number,” he said. He handed me his phone.
I nodded and quickly typed my number in. I had no clue why, but I gave him my real number.
“Good. See you later, Jessica.” He slipped his phone into his pocket and then disappeared back into the bar. The door clicked shut behind him.
I stared at it for a second and then released a breath. I shook my head like I was coming out of a dream.
What the hell had just happened?
I came to the bar to try and do some research for a story on human trafficking. I knew these men were mobsters, and I knew they were my enemy.
But Rafa seemed different. I barely knew him, and yet I’d found myself following him into a dark alley and making out with him.
It was totally crazy. But the way he looked at me, the way he talked to me, it pushed me over the edge. I went from rational and professional to a total, crazy mess in only a few seconds.
I needed to stay away from that man. Instantly, I regretted giving him my real number, but it didn’t matter. I was going to leave and forget about him. There were other ways to try to get some insider information.
I quickly walked down the alley, feeling strangely disappointed.