I Want to be yours
Love demands you surrender all…
Niccolo Darian was a man in conflict. Married for six years to a woman he neither loved nor wanted, and at the same time, friend to a woman he wanted like no other. The tenacious grip he held on his integrity and honor was constantly being tested. Finding his wife in bed with another man should have been painful, but all he could think about was how soon he could claim the woman of his desire.
Mari Quinn knew it was wrong, but she’d been in love with her married boss for years. Accepting that he was beyond her reach, she settled for being his friend and confidant. Respecting his commitment, and certainly admiring it, she was determined not to do anything to compromise his relationship with his wife. But her resolve shattered in one night.
In an effort to console Niccolo, Mari gave him more than a shoulder to lean on. Months later, the consequence of that night irrevocably changed their lives.
Niccolo Darian came to an abrupt stop at the closed door of his master bedroom. Muted, agonized moans and grunts escaped through the thick walls of the room, into the otherwise vacant hallway. Confused by what he was hearing, Nico quietly turned the knob and cautiously stepped into the room. The scene before him made his stomach churn with the bitter bile of revulsion.
He watched in morbid shock as the male’s pasty, pale backside moved with each vigorous thrust into his wife of six years. Celina Darian moaned with unrestrained, audible enjoyment. Her face was a picture of pleasure-pain—eyes closed, flushed damp skin, and mouth opened to emit consistent, loud squeals of delight.
“Oh yeah, baby. So good! Just like that!” Pale Ass implored.
Right before Niccolo’s eyes, their loud, vocal gratifications and ferocious vigor were followed with a gymnastic contortionism that toppled them from the bed. They landed with a noisy thump. Undeterred, Pale Ass continued pounding and grunting encouragements, while Celina screamed in appreciation of his persistence.
Hell no! Not in my house! These fuckers have a death wish! Jolted, Niccolo was galvanized into action.
Treading silently, he walked to his side of the bed, reached into a secret compartment of the nightstand, and felt the comforting weight of his Glock in his hand.
The couple frolicking on the carpeted floor failed to notice his ominous presence lurking over them.
With steady fingers on the gun, Niccolo pressed the cold muzzle of his weapon to the back of the intruder’s head.
“Get the fuck out of my house,” Niccolo muttered icily.
If he’d been capable of the emotion, he might have found the resulting horrified screeches and shrieks hilarious, even more than the interloper’s terrified leap to his feet and his subsequent hopping around in naked, disoriented panic.
“Nico, I can explain!” Celina cried.
Niccolo didn’t take his glare off the tall, slender blond male standing in the middle of his bedroom. With teeth clenched and violence oozing through every pore of his body, he fought hard to control the need to inflict lethal retribution.
“Really? You’re cheating on me with this puny, small-dick, insipid motherfucker?”
“Nico, please, listen to me!” Celina, having retreated to the rumbled bed, clutched the sheet to her bare torso and started crying delicately.
He didn’t look at or acknowledge her.
“Get the fuck out of my house!” Simmering with menacing intent, Nico discharged his weapon, inches away from the quivering, naked captive to emphasize his point.
The man looked around in a frantic search for his clothes. Seeing his prey’s objective, Nico trained the gun on Pale Ass, stopping him in his tracks. He walked across the room, picked up the clothes, and held them with his fingertips. He walked slowly to the open French doors that led to the balcony, stonily gazed back at his prey, and deliberately tossed the confiscated articles of clothing out onto the lawn.
“Please, Nico, listen to me. I love you! He means nothing to me. I love only you, baby!” Celina, on her knees in the middle of the bed, pleaded with him.
“Get out and take this skanky bitch with you,” Niccolo demanded calmly, completely ignoring his wife’s impassioned pleas.
“No, Nico! You can’t do this to me! Don’t do this to us! I’m your wife, you bastard! This is my home, too!”
He ignored his wife’s tirade and pressed the discreet button on his watch.“Gio, get this piece of shit off my property!”
The bodyguard’s bulky figure filled the doorway.
“You sonofabitch! You can’t do this to me! You ignored me for months! I have needs, too! Do your men know you can’t satisfy a woman?” Celina screamed, momentarily abandoning her initial remorseful pleas. Tears drenched her green eyes and leaked down her creamy, porcelain cheeks. In complete disarray, her golden blond hair draped over her naked—surgically enhanced—willowy five-feet-eleven body. Celina looked like any man’s wet dream, as she and her doctors intended. But he had stopped being affected by it years ago. She’d used that body too many times to try to control him. The scheming bitch learned pretty early that he was never going to be led around by his dick.
“How does it feel, Nico? You’re a nutter if you think you could ignore me! I’m Celina, a fucking supermodel! You can’t just ignore me anymore, can you? You bugger, ignore this! I hate you!”
He stared at her dispassionately. Not even by an eye blink did he let any emotion show.
“Please, Nico, I’m sorry. You know how much I love you!”
He didn’t respond. Nothing Celina said could penetrate the shield he’d put up, upon walking in on this fucked-up scene.
Her slutty ass isn’t worth my neck in a noose.
He glanced at Gio, silently telling him to proceed.
Moving with quiet authority, the muscular six-foot-six, three hundred eighty pound bodyguard quickly and efficiently removed the protesting couple from the room.
“I was never pregnant anyway!” was her screamed parting shot.
What the fuck?
Nico shook his head, determined to not let her send him over the edge. That bitch is crazy if she thinks she can say shit like that and not ensure her end. He’d only married her six years ago because she’d claimed to be pregnant, with tests done to prove it.
He had no illusions about what he had just subjected his naked wife and her lover to. The upscale flat was fully staffed, with two maids, a housekeeper, a butler, his wife’s two-man security detail, and his security detail, including Gio. The couple would be escorted down the stairs, through the vast, elegant foyer and to the elevators leading to the video-monitored underground garage, encountering various members of his staff at every turn along the way.
I don’t give a fuck!
Celina’s betrayal wasn’t as devastating to him as it should’ve been. After all, he had been emotionally cheating on her. He’d had a longstanding obsession with his friend and employee, Mari Quinn, for the past two years at least. Celina had just taken her shit a bit too far, giving him the perfect opportunity to indulge his forbidden lust.
After a helicopter ride to his penthouse, which was situated at the top of his headquarters—the Darian Building in Canary Wharf—and numerous glasses of vodka, Nico had systematically and thoroughly erased Celina from his life. It had taken him but a few hours. The legal divorce would come later, but his team of lawyers was engaged and had already secured his various properties and bank accounts his wife had access to, so she had no further access to him or his assets.
With that done, he inevitably thought of Mari.
He needed to see her, to talk to her.
She was like a breath of fresh air in his world, where deceit, greed and selfish indulgence were rampant. They’d been friends for five years. Other than his father, Mari was the only person he felt absolute confidence in discussing personal and business issues with.
Well, the little, personal issues he’d ever discuss with anyone. He was a very private man.
While her breathtaking beauty captivated him, her honesty, loyalty, and ability to make him laugh kept him increasingly fascinated. She attacked her job as an executive on his team with inexhaustible energy, dogged integrity, and an infinite can-do attitude. He was intrigued by the intelligence gleaming in her beautiful, dark brown eyes, and by the unexpected wisdom from one so young. He could always depend on her to be brutally candid, and bring him in line whenever he was being particularly ruthless, dictatorial, or arrogant.
When had his feelings of respect and admiration for a close friend morphed into sexual desire? He had no clue. It shocked him. Made him feel more alive than he’d ever felt before. Despite the diversity in his own family, she was the only woman of color he’d ever been attracted to. An attraction he had no control over. It was suddenly there, playing out when he was most vulnerable—in his unconscious state. About two years before, he’d begun having steamy inappropriate dreams about her.
The last time he’d had sex with Celina he’d been partially awake, having one of the most graphic dreams about Mari he’d ever experienced. By the time he realized what he was doing, the damage was already done. He’d felt so guilty about it, he hadn’t touched Celina since. So yes, his wife had reason to be pissed with him, but not to the extent she’d taken it.
Bringing that prick in his house, in his bed, in front of his employees, was just fucked up!
Nico had no illusions about how Mari felt about him. How she had always felt about him. When his world was falling apart around him, he needed to be around someone who had always been unwaveringly devoted to him. He knew she looked up to and admired him greatly, probably thought herself in love with him. Those soulful brown eyes always gazed at him with unreserved adoration.
And I am just in the mood to enjoy that shit!
They had become friends almost from the beginning of her employment with his company. As colleagues, they sometimes bounced ideas off each other, and now they were firm friends. Despite being married, he’d always made time for their friendship. It had been a bond grounded in mutual admiration and respect. He had never tested the boundaries of that friendship, had never veered toward the sexual—it would have breached both of their principles.
He had no doubt that Mari was fully committed to him. Anything he wanted done, no matter the inconvenience to herself, she always delivered. It was selfish of him, but he liked that this brilliant young woman obviously idolized him. In a moment of frank honesty, he acknowledged that even if he was free to explore a relationship with her, he probably shouldn’t. She was still too innocent for someone as cynical and set in his ways as he was. For a twenty-five-year-old, Mari was woefully naïve about the complexities of life, the extremes her fellow man would go to in order to achieve an end.
Even knowing this, it didn’t hamper his obsession with her. Everything about her called to him, deepened the fascination.
He had hated it a few years ago when she’d started dating one of the managers in the trading room. His jealousy had been irrational but his feelings for Mari had always been unreasonable. Nico knew he couldn’t have her, but he also couldn’t stomach anyone else with her, either. Which was crazy, of course. He had been married long before he’d even met her.
That didn’t stop him from being happy when a few months later, it appeared the romance had died a swift death. A year later, she still didn’t seem to be dating anyone. Checking periodically, on the pretext of ensuring she was content, he would ask her about her dating status. To be on the safe side, he kept her with him as much as possible.
This obsession with his employee was getting ridiculous. He was like a teenage boy with his first crush.
At thirty-eight, I should be shot for even contemplating violating such an innocent kid.
Impatient with his self-analysis, Nico looked at his watch and gritted his teeth in resignation. He knew Mari would still be at the office, even at this time of night. He sauntered to the elevator with a determined stride.
The words on the computer screen seemed to blend together. Mari sighed as tiredness invaded every bone in her body. Her joints ached from sitting too many hours hunched over her desk. She loved being a part of an elite five-member executive team; it was invigorating. But at that moment, she felt like she was eighty years old.
Late nights in the office were a normal occurrence, but tonight the exhaustion was different. The hectic pace and rush of adrenaline from a highly technical and complex job was usually revitalizing, but Mari’s focus wasn’t on the mental exercise of her job.
All the other staff members had left the office hours ago. It was going on eleven p.m. on a Thursday, and after twelve hours of trying, she was still unable to break into the secure firewall of the Cayman Islands bank. Knowing she couldn’t signoff on the purchase until she identified all offshore accounts of the CEO, Mari resigned herself to spend a few more hours trying. With a nine a.m. deadline, she had very little choice.
The members of the team were currently at Darian Headquarters in London, and had been for the past two weeks, which was in itself a rare occurrence. They were all used to the hectic fast-paced travel schedule required in their operation, and were anxiously awaiting the return of their boss, Niccolo Darian, the Chairman and CEO of Darian Group. The Group was a consortium of financial, media, and property companies.
The team, created about three years before, was Nico’s brainchild. In that time, the team had proven to be extremely successful, more than doubling the company’s net worth. Their numerous acquisitions, while not hostile, were certainly not always friendly, either. Once Nico decided he wanted something, he ruthlessly pursued it. The diversity and expertise of the team ensured his success by clearing all obstacles in his single-minded path. They were a close-knit unit. The loyalty among them and to Nico was absolute.
Each member of the team was among the elite in their chosen fields. The members consisted of Jarrod Holland as the financial analyst and Carvine was the international corporate lawyer. Brad Larson was their expert economist and marketing specialist, and Mari specialized in everything IT, including cyber-security. In addition to ensuring that the Group’s data walls were impenetrable, Mari was the technical analyst who helped procure data about companies and individuals who’d taken great pains to hide their secrets.
Their five office suites and office of the chairman occupied the floor below Nico’s penthouse at the Darian Building. They were the only executives, along with Nico and his personal assistant, on that floor.
Not having heard from him in days, she missed Nico. He was scheduled to return from vacation next week and that seemed like a long time away. It was the first vacation he’d taken since she’d started working for the company, and she had to call in the big guns to force him to take it.
She’d called his mother.
Mari had never met her, but had spoken to her a few times over the phone. The woman knew how to get her four children to obey her.
Nico loved his mother and would do anything for her.
Mari was used to working with him and at least having a meal with him once a week. This was usually dinner after a long day of work. They used their time away from the office not just to appease their appetites, but to bounce ideas off each other. Although they worked closely with the other team members, their friendship and trust was something special. She found working with Nico challenging and always educational.
She was disgusted by her obsession with her boss. She knew this was probably why she felt so tired—emotionally tired, depressed and out-of-sorts. Why she couldn’t think clearly and concentrate on the project at hand. And that had been happening more and more frequently.
He’d been her friend and confidant since she started with the company, right out of university five years before. Each day her admiration and awe of him grew. And there was plenty for her to admire. Many in the financial world respected Nico’s reputation as a born leader, a titan in the business world, and a brilliant strategist. Nico had made his first million by the time he was twenty-one years old and took over the reins of the company from his father at the age of twenty-eight. By then, he was already a well-respected figure in the business arena and turned a small, locally-owned family institution into an international conglomerate. In her eyes, there was no man greater than him.
Mari rolled her shoulders and continued tapping away at her keyboard, determined to complete the task at hand. Just as she achieved her goal, capturing the relevant data, she was interrupted by a loud crash.
Mari raised her head in surprise. All of the offices, except for Nico’s, had glass walls. The circular layout gave her an unobstructed view of all the other offices. No one had crossed the floor from the elevators in more than two hours. The only other entry point was Nico’s private elevator, inside his office.
There shouldn’t be anyone on this floor at this hour of the night. The cleaning crew had been in and left hours ago. However, somewhere on the executive floor, the muffled explosive sound of glass shattering, followed by an eruption of masculine expletives could be heard. Mari quickly got up and raced into the hallway. A light was on in Nico’s office, visible from beneath the door. She stood for a moment in front of the closed door, undecided.
Should I call security?
Mari could hear some indistinguishable muttering and another crash.
She quietly opened the door without knocking. She gasped, surprised to find Nico standing with his back to the door, facing the double-paneled windows overlooking the wharf.
Nico didn’t turn around. Still as a statue, he only moved to lift the vodka bottle to his lips.
There was shattered glass scattered on the floor and on the countertop of the bar in the corner of the office. It was evident a few beverage glasses had been thrown against the wall. The office smelled like a distillery.
What’s going on?
Nico was supposed to be at his family’s estate in Kent in the English countryside for much needed R&R. The estate had been apart of the Darian holdings for centuries, and was where their initial wealth and enterprise had begun—the Darian Castle Vineyard. Nico’s brother, two sisters, and their spouses operated the winery. His parents currently lived in the modernized castle, and his siblings lived with their spouses and children in manors on the massive property. The estate stretched on hundreds of acres of land and was equally divided among the siblings. Nico was the only member of the family who lived in London.
“Out!” Nico said with quiet authority. His back remained to her, his muscles tight underneath his expensive shirt.
Mari was about to comply, but stopped as he took another large swig of vodka from the bottle in his hand. She was terrified of this Nico; that alone gave her pause, as she had never been afraid of or intimidated by him.
“Why are you still here?” He muttered, clearly irritated.
“What’s going on? What happened?” Mari asked as she slowly moved farther into his office. Her question fell like a stone in the silent room. He didn’t turn or respond.
He was a big guy, at six feet four inches tall and over two hundred pounds of pure muscle.
Nico was an extremely beautiful man, with an olive complexion inherited from his Italian mother, as well as the rakish blue-black, slightly curling hair, which reached his collar in the back. An unruly lock in the front tended to fall across his right eye when agitated, or when he moved suddenly. He had a straight, sharp nose. His silver blue eyes were fringed with overlong lashes most women would envy, and his lips were deliciously full and too sexy, Mari often thought. Of course, he’d inherited his frame from his very English father, which he kept firm and chiseled with an exercise regimen that was as brutal and consistent as the dawning of a new day. He ran a few miles every day, and participated in martial arts training several times a week with his two faithful bodyguards. Arrogant authority was evident in his rugged, square jaw line and the commanding width of his broad shoulders.
His thick hair was tousled and the dress shirt he had obviously worn all day was wrinkled and hanging out of his dark grey slacks. Despite his disheveled appearance, he exuded an aura of masculine elegance.
Mari had never seen him this unkempt and out of control. He was her tough-as-nails boss, who let nothing ruffle his emotions. She had witnessed him in many tense, volatile situations, and he’d never unraveled under any applied pressure.
“Leave.” His voice seemed tired as he turned to face her.
His blue eyes were more hostile than she had ever seen them, the silver dominant and pronounced. Mari was stunned by the cold, cynical stare directed at her. She was sure the dark anger in those eyes couldn’t have been intended for her. And he’d never spoken to her in that voice! His appearance definitely indicated something had gone seriously wrong. There was no question of her staying and helping him. He’d always been there for her—kind, extremely patient, and encouraging. He was her friend.
“Nico, I can’t leave you like this. What’s going on? Please talk to me.”
He stared at her intently before taking another swig from the bottle.
“Why? Are you going to kiss me and make it better?” Nico asked conversationally.
“Ah…no, but I can listen?”
“You need to leave now,” he said again, impatiently.
Mari didn’t move a muscle or utter a sound. She simply waited.
“I shouldn’t have come in here.” His voice was hoarse with emotion. He turned again to gaze out of the window. “Why don’t you get the hell out of here? I can only take so much of your come-fuck-me looks. Leave before I take what you’ve been offering me for years.”
Mari gasped in abject horror, stunned by the quiet menace in his voice.