12 Alphas 12 Months Made the USA Today Bestsellers List

Latrivia Nelson makes the USA Today Best Selling Books List

Latrivia Nelson makes the USA Today Best Selling Books List

“Despise not small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10
This morning at 6:30 a.m., Bruce pulled me out of bed. “Baby, get up. It’s time to go and work out.” His words echoed in my subconscious, swirling in the opposition of the act.

This idea, to get fit “er” sounded great when he first suggested it, but at the moment, all I wanted to do was hug that pillow and his muscular chest a little longer before I crawled out of bed and got ready for work.

He nudged me again, his sexy southern drawl sounding like silk to my ears. “Come on, baby. You can do it.”

Ever so gently, he pulled the covers from my body and pulled me out of bed. I complained the entire time, but with every complaint put on my clothes, shoes and grabbed some water before we headed out.

By the time when arrived back at the house from the work out, I was laughing and bubbly. Working out does that to you. Endorphins were running rampant. Motivated to start my day, I ran my bath water and then noticed I had several missed calls on my cell phone. Accidentally, I had left it on silent yesterday.

They were from all around the country.

Something was up, and suddenly I was afraid…that was until I saw the text from sister author Yvette Hines. “WE MADE IT TO THE USA TODAY LIST!” I could hear her voice through the text.

I screamed, and jumped and yelled. Bruce by this time wasn’t sure to grab his shot gun or jump and scream with me. I put the phone down and told him. I was now a USA Today Bestselling Author.

TEARS. Happy, big fat tears of joy.

Something like this is the thing that an author dreams of achieving. It’s not a small task and takes a lot of work, and a lot of people believing in you. 11 women come to mind. I have to thank God for the ability to write. His blessings continue to shine down on me. He is my refuge and no, I do not want. He meets all of my needs and very often, He goes above and beyond. Today was another one of his many gifts. Thank you, Father.

 

beautiful-landscapes-1

This project was Yvette’s baby. She led the charge, and the other 10 women in the box set were absolutely wonderful. Despite everything that happened in their personal lives, they were devoted to this project. They were kind and thoughtful, worked together, allowed for life to happen in between. And it paid off.

Our fans are amazing women and men. They follow us on Twitter and Facebook. They post reviews. They uplift us and continue to be supportive. This could not have happened without each and every one of them. They bought and pre-ordered. They posted and reposted. They came out in big numbers.

There are so many books out there now in the bw/wm genre. When you have someone who will give you a chance, you are grateful. You are competing with a world full of insanely talented authors for every book sell.

I’ve been in this business now for seven years. I’ve written countless books, and every single experience is still a new one. I remember selling my first book back in 2008. I remember wanting to be on this list.  And now I am.  It started small, but it has grown…this book dream.  I never gave up.  I never gave in to just putting it aside.  And HE blessed me for it.  I’m not deserving. I know it.  But He does that anyway because He loves me.  I will not despise small beginnings.

I’m celebrating today. I’m happy, and I’m thankful.

Ladies, we made it.

http://books.usatoday.com/usatodaybooks.pdf

Angie Daniels
Erosa Knowles
TJ Michaels
Yvette Hines
Seressia Glass
Serenity King
Michelle Monkou
Stephanie Burke
Aliyah Burke
Maureen Smith
Di Topaz
Latrivia S. Nelson

Seeking Santa Excerpt #2

Seeking Santa by Latrivia Nelson

Seeking Santa by Latrivia Nelson

They drove in separate cars to a small rehabbed wooden, yellow shotgun house just around the corner from the theatre. It was a cute as a button with its blue shutters, complete with a blue door and a small garden with red mulch.  There was a white rocking chair on the porch and an American flag hoisted out on the side.  It didn’t look like a bachelor pad at all, more like a family house.

Parking his Jeep out front on the street, Kennedy ran quickly up the sidewalk to the house, unlocked the door and vanished inside, while Jade waited out in her Audi.

With the music playing and the windows half down to enjoy the breeze, she listened to the radio and waited, feeling very much like a teenager inside.  She had not been on one date since she arrived in Memphis, but this was a great way to start.

A few minutes later, he emerged.  “Told you I wouldn’t be long,” he said, moving quickly.

They drove around the corner to the movie theatre and parked in the packed parking lot.  Jade got out and looked at the sun.  It would only be a couple of hours before the day was given away to night and this perfect day would be over.

Kennedy jumped out of his jeep and walked over to her.  Grabbing her hand, he escorted her inside.

It was the close proximity to him that was driving her insane, and how comfortable he seemed with public displays of affection.  However, all day, he had behaved like a total gentleman, not like the crazed sex animal who had humped her friend or kissed her without knowing her name at Selma’s party.  He was a bit of an enigma to her.  She was expecting all day for him to bring up sex, but he did not mention it one time.

However, the intensity in his green eyes made her think of nothing else.  She kept having to push back thoughts of feeling his body against hers and the way his tongue tasted.  She kept wondering if he’d kiss her again, or if he was a completely different man when he wasn’t Santa.

As she sat by him in the movie theatre, his long arm draped over her to keep her warm, she grappled with her feelings and wondered if he was doing the same.  Every once in a while in between laughing and eating popcorn as they watched some stupid romantic comedy, Jade wondered if the joke was on her.  He didn’t seem the least bit frantic about the situation, where she was two seconds from ripping his pants off.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” he bent to her ear and asked.  His grin was absolutely adorable.

“Very much,” she said, moving closer into his embrace.

“Good.” Bending to her, he kissed her forehead.  “Me too.”

Argh!!!!  Jade was about to go crazy.  He was literally driving her insane.  Don’t kiss me on the forehead, kiss me on my lips, she screamed inside.

Maybe out of habit, he rubbed her arm as he watched the movie.  His fingers lingered on her right shoulder, making her clitoris pound so hard against her yoga pants, she thought she would orgasm right there.

“I’ll be back,” she said, finally unable to handle one more second of his slow teasing.

“Okay.  You alright?” he asked sincerely.

“Great,” she said, moving down the aisle toward the exit.  “I’ll be right back.”

She doused herself with water as she stood over the sink in the ladies room.  Staring at her reflection, she quietly demanded of herself that she get her shit together.  Maybe all of this pent up frustration was coming as a result of seeing him nearly naked already, or maybe it was the fact that in 20 minutes of meeting him, she had already seen his monstrous erection, but whatever it was that had the sex chemical coursing through her veins, she had to get control.

Another thought, one far more sinister, crept through her mind as she reapplied her makeup.  Maybe after talking to her for two hours, any sexual attraction that he had toward her was completely lost.  It might have been the same thing that pushed he who would not be named away.

To Jade that was far more reasonable than any other possibility and suddenly she felt sad.  Pulling herself together and spraying on a dash of perfume, she slowed her breathing and walked back out.

Well, maybe even if he doesn’t like me that way, I may have made a friend, she thought to herself as she made her way back inside the movie theatre.

As soon as Jade approached, Kennedy adjusted to make her more comfortable and as she settled down beside him in her seat completely deflated from her own thoughts and grabbed the popcorn to shovel the entire box into her face, he grabbed her gently and landed a sweet warm kiss on her mouth.  He lingered there a moment with as much passion as the night that he met her.  Stroking the side of her face with his thumb, he stopped when the people behind them started to clear their throats.

Even in the dark as her eyes flashed open in disbelief, she could see that glimmer in his eyes. He was still very much attracted to her.  And she was still very much in play.  Sitting back once he released her from his powerful embrace, he threw his arm possessively over her shoulder and began watching the movie again and laughing.

 

11665533_1857701054455841_4640012684988814631_n

Excerpt from Seeking Santa (part of the 12 Alphas 12 Months Boxset)

Even Super Woman Needs Love (Latrivia Nelson Blog)

Even Super Woman Needs Love (Latrivia Nelson Blog)

 

Chapter One

Everyone is Getting Some But Me

Week of Thanksgiving

Tuesday Morning

 

The alarm blasted into Jade’s ear at 6:00 a.m.  She rolled over and glanced at her phone before she turned it off.  She wanted to hit snooze, but she knew that ten more minutes in the bed wouldn’t help what ailed her.

Grunting, she rolled over and kicked her legs from under the comforter.  Everything was hazy and cold.  But that was intentional.  She always turned the air down to 65 degrees before she went to bed.  She liked snuggling under her covers in the dark in a perfectly clean room.  Something about it was comforting.  But in the morning when she woke, it was always the same.

Cold. Dark.  Lonely.

Standing up beside her bed, she grabbed her glasses and slipped them onto her face, instantly going from nearly blind to 20/20 vision.  Turning on her lamp, she looked around her large master bedroom.  She always looked around every morning, scanning for anything that might be out of place.  Besides work, she had nothing else in her life.  So, keeping her house clean as a whistle had become an obsession. Healthy or not, it was all that she had.

Meandering through the long hallway, she made her way to the kitchen.  Turning on the television in the corner atop her countertop, she poured herself a cup of coffee from the Keurig she had bought herself the previous year for her birthday and stared at CNN reporting on another violent eruption in the Middle East.

Then it hit her.

Today was her birthday. How could she forget that?  Or maybe, she hadn’t forgotten at all, maybe she had pushed that date to the back of her mind until she had no choice but to deal with it.

Well, here it was.

There was something that went instantly sour in her stomach.

She was thirty-five today, and still she was single.  Absolutely, positively single.  How could a woman with a 775 credit score, thousands of dollars in the bank, no children, no STDs and no behavioral disorders be single at 35 when Honey BooBoo was juggling two men?

She didn’t even have a male friend in this city. Hell, at this point, she’d take an affair on Tinder to have someone to talk to.  She was…pathetic.  She had moved to Memphis from Manhattan one year ago to work for Koch PR firm, a move that she thought would help her find peace in her life.

Two years ago, she really had been in love.  And she thought he was in love too.  That was until he accepted a job with a bigger PR firm in Toronto and broke up with her to further his career.  He called it an opportunity of a lifetime…like she was just something to do.  Six months later, he was engaged to someone else, someone new. It only took six damn months. She saw it on Facebook.  How tacky?  And the woman had been far less pretty, in her biased opinion.  The least the jerk could have done was block her as a friend before dropping the news on everyone and making her look like a complete ass.

Or maybe she should have looked at all the signs.

He said that he loved her…her knight in shining armor.

He said that he wanted to be with her. But he never moved in.

He said that they would spend their lives together, but he had never popped the question.  She had been waiting, but it never came.  She couldn’t even name how many times that he had taken her to dinner at a five-star restaurant and she thought, this is it, only to be disappointed by it turning out to be a celebration of some other special moment in his life. A promotion.  Closing a deal.  Paying off his student loan.

But he couldn’t seem to promote their relationship or close the deal with her.

FUCK HIM.

He became him who would not be named.

And according to him who would not be named, she had one fatal flaw that he could not get around.  She was a classic workaholic.  Unfortunately, he lived in the world of man, where a woman could make as much money as her man just as long as it didn’t affect their personal time together.  However, if she worked one hour longer or went in one hour earlier, then she was accused of cheating – her job was the other man in her life.  The punishment…breakup.

Never mind his own business trips.  Never mind his own untimely emails and phone calls.  Never mind his emergency weekend meetings at the office.  Those were looked over and chalked up to being reasonable while her job was treated like the elephant in the room.

So after the breakup and the new woman, she moved.

As accused, she had settled into her new job as the Director of Social Media and began slaving away and climbing the proverbial latter.  Only, in the process of trying to prove herself, she had lost any semblance of a personal life. With no one on the weekend to occupy her time, she had nearly forgotten what it was like to have weekend plans or birthday plans or holiday plans or any plans at all.  She had none.

No friends – except work acquaintances.

No boyfriend.

Not even a damn dog.

In six months, the only thing that she had managed to build was her portfolio.  But who really gave a shit, when there was no one to enjoy retirement with?

“I need to stop feeling sorry for myself,” she said aloud, cutting out thoughts of sorrow.

Reaching to the back of the cupboard, she grabbed the slightly dust covered whiskey bottle and poured a little something special into her morning coffee.  “Happy fucking Birthday,” she said, headed to the bathroom to get ready for her perfectly boring day.

 

Want to read more?  Purchase 12 amazing stories for less than a dollar.  http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VS8UJT0/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=1AH7A8XEK5YJG5E351QV&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2128432422&pf_rd_i=desktop

 

Banner

12 Alphas 12 Months Box Set to Be Released July 7th!! Pre-Order Your Copy Now!!

Banner
This is the month. July 7th we drop the box set that we’ve all been waiting to read. For me, it’s exciting because I get to read my sister authors’ work. No, I haven’t had the opportunity beforehand, so I’ll be digging into the pages with you.
This has been a great project led by my friend, Yvette Hines. She has worked tirelessly on this project and keeping me in line, which is a very hard thing to do. Plus, the price is just unreal for only $0.99, you get 12 great reads. Now, here is the ask. Not only do we want you to buy the box set, we want you to pre-order it. Please, if you have time, go to your kindle now and make your purchase.

Here is the link to purchase now: http://www.amazon.com/12-Alphas-Months-Contemporary-Calendar-ebook/dp/B00VS8UJT0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435760711&sr=8-1&keywords=12+Alphas

Okay, so what is the box set about? Good question.

11665533_1857701054455841_4640012684988814631_n
LIMITED TIME ONLY! .99
USA Today, Amazon, National and Multi-published Bestselling Authors bring you sensual contemporary romance stories of…
ALPHAS: Military/Vets, Shifters, Blue Collar, Business Men, Athletes, Smoke Jumpers, Doctors and more… This is the YEAR of your dreams. 12 Alphas 12 Months come and get your calendar men!

ALL NEW STORIES…with a connection. That’s right. These stories all have a main theme that unites them. Tamela Harvin is a nationally syndicated radio host who left the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to use her fame helping out those less fortunate. She loves a cause. When she’s contacted by a listener about a grave concern close to her heart; widower fathers struggling to find emotional support and care for their children after a loss of a wife, Tamela gets to work. Calling in all her community activist across the continent and one sharp photographer, Braden Niles, she creates a calendar of hot sexy men to raise money and support.
From one story to another, men are stepping up, and taking it off to help fathers and children in need.

Don’t you want to do your part? One click and you’re in. .99 cents for a limited time. (878 pages)
Meet your men:
Mr. January
Beg for It by Angie Daniels
Three wild erotic nights will have her begging for more…
~
Mr. February
Got your Six by Erosa Knowles
In the end, the only words he needed were hers in Reclamation: Got your Six by Erosa Knowles.
~
Mr. March
Succulent by TJ Michaels
Twilight Teahouse ~ Choosing something decadent from our menu…
~
Mr. April
Stalking Nayla by Yvette Hines
Nayla is being hunted. Shimar has to keep her safe, but convincing her she’s his mate is the real challenge.
~
Mr. May
Prescription for Love by Seressia Glass
She’s just what the doctor ordered in Prescription for Love
~
Mr. June
Solomon’s Quest by Serenity King
He’s determined to protect her, but the secrets she keeps may destroy her.
~
Mr. July
One Hot Dare by Michelle Monkou
When to serve and protect escalates into a sexy dangerous game.
~
Mr. August
All The Small Things by Stephanie Burke
The more unbearable the pain, the richer the rewards
~
Mr. September
Inferno by Aliyah Burke
Sometimes the flames aren’t meant to be put out.
~
Mr. October
Wicked Games by Maureen Smith
Some games are too dangerous to play.
~
Mr. November
The Ultimate Goal by Di Topaz
Will Justice and Angelique put their difference aside and go for the Ultimate Goal?
~
Mr. December
Seeking Santa by Latrivia S. Nelson
Alone during the Christmas holidays in a new city, Jade sets out on a mission to find happiness.

USA TODAY Highlights The Fabulous 9 authors of the Scandalous Heroes Box Set

Scandalous Heroes Amazon

You know, I really should update this thing more. I’ve found that it’s a way to purge. The only problem is that there’s only 24 hours in a day and I need 48 to complete all of my work. LOL. Things could be worse. I could be doing nothing at all. And with my very “special” mind, that would drive me crazy.

I’ve got great news to report. The USA Today did an excellent article online about the Scandalous Heroes Box Set, released on July 6th. It features Yvette Hines, Serenity King, Bridget Midway, Tiana Laveen, Pepper Pace, Erosa Knowles, Sienna Mynx, Aliyah Burke and myself. 9 authors, 9 new stories all for 99 cents. Crazy right?

We’ve had an amazing kickoff. Readers have been so supportive and positive. The reviews have been awesome and let’s face it; this project was historic. It won’t happen again. It won’t last forever, for everyone is living in the moment – enjoying being a part of the experience.

On July 7th, after a serious lack of sleep, we woke up to the USA Today article that I’m sure made all of us smile and proud.

 

Scandalous Heroes boxed set (Excerpt from USA Today.com) Michelle Monkou, Special for USA TODAY
Nine authors — Sienna Mynx, Latrivia Nelson, Pepper Pace, Bridget Midway, Serenity King, Aliyah Burke, Tiana Laveen, Yvette Hines, Erosa Knowles — offer up a great array of stories with the common theme of “scandalous heroes.” From the sensual to the erotic, these men represent all backgrounds with passion for life, passion for their women and hearts big enough to fall in love.
These nine great stories have something for every taste — alphas, shifters, Doms, billionaires, blue-collar hunks and urban heroes. Stories include Raw Exposure by Aliyah Burke, Vasily’s Revenge by Latrivia Nelson, Double Trouble: Men of 3X CONStruction by Erosa Knowles, Tattooed Moon by Tiana Laveen, Last Call by Bridget Midway, The Wrath of Michael by Serenity King.
In addition, I have to give a few shout-outs for these captivating stories: Rallenti by Sienna Mynx with its Sicilian enforcer, Renaldo Cracchiolo, and his sexy and beautiful shoemaker, Kyra Okeeno. Great introduction to the Battaglia Mafia series with fast-paced, vibrant and sexy romance, coupled with a great cast of characters that add the right amount of drama, humor, and suspense.
Everything Is Everything by Pepper Pace surprised me because it wasn’t the run-of-the-mill romance. Pace’s creatively unique style had the power to pull me into the lives of these teens. Set in the ’70s, neighborhoods, lives, and individual consequences collide. These young adults have grown-folk-size issues to deal with on a daily basis, and yet, their hearts still seek love and hope. A truly compelling tale with a cliffhanger ending, but the emotional investment is solidly there at the end of the story.
Sieged by Rym by Yvette Hines is a wickedly sexy brew of paranormal, science-fiction and erotica. The battle of the sexes feels like a tennis match between the elite — thanks to Hines’ artistry with suspense and sexual tension.
So you can imagine that I was big smiles and hugs after this article. Please go to it and share it on your Facebook and Twitter pages. If you have other social media platforms, share them there as well.

We really want to get the word out. If you’ve never purchased a book online, take the leap of faith with us and purchase ours. After all, it’s only 99 cents.

More to come….

Share the link

http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2014/07/07/recommended-reads-brown-scandalous-heroes-boxed-set/12267679/

 

Vasily’s Revenge – Part 1 (Scandalous Heroes Box Set Due July 6th)

Vasily's Revenge Cover
I am very happy to announce that Vasily’s Revenge will be out as a part of the Scandalous Heroes Box Set on July 6th.

 

Vasily’s Revenge Synopsis Vasily Kavlov is head of security for the most feared and revered Russian mafia organization in the free world, The Medlov Crime Family. A quiet henchmen with no family, no love life and unyielding loyalty to his bosses, the thirties something bad boy is all work and no play. However, his past quickly comes back to haunt him, when the woman he nearly gave his life for ten years ago is threatened once again by an old enemy. Going to Lilly Rasputin’s aid won’t just be a journey down memory lane, it’s also a jolt to the system when he learns that he’s the father to her child.

Will changing everything in his life, give him new lust for it? And can he trust a woman who was the cause of his near death before?

Excerpt from Vasily’s Revenge
Latrivia Nelson (c) 2014
Please do not copy without expressed permission from the Author or Publisher

Prologue
Manhattan, NYC
Ten Years Ago

 

Prologue

Manhattan, NYC

Ten Years Ago

 

Even from downstairs in the Upper East Side three-story, luxury brownstone, Vasily could hear Lilly and his boss Leo arguing.  The sound of raised voices and heavy objects hitting the wall and breaking were like nails on a chalkboard for him, reminding him of his less-than-fortunate childhood and the grizzly scenes that had unfolded at his father’s hand.

After so many years of being around constant and abhorrent violence from a toddler to a grown man, he knew trouble brewing when he heard it.  He also knew when a man was headed toward a vehement eruption, and based upon the growl in his boss’s voice and aggressive words coming from his mouth, Lilly would be in trouble soon, if they both didn’t calm down.

Lilly was a voluptuous woman, the kind who looked like she was born to be a centerfold pinup. With a large, double-D bosom, a freakishly small waist and wide sculpted hips, she had captured everyone’s attention in the house, including

Vasily’s but he never let on about it.

There was something charming about her raspy, seductive voice and smooth coco skin, the way her lips curved into a heart and her almond-shaped, brown eyes always showed all of her emotions. Her hair was like soft black feathers and the dimples in the sides of both of her high-cheeks seem to explode every time that she smiled at him.

And Lilly smiled often, despite his attempt to be as dull and quiet as possible around her.

In fact, he often avoided her just so that he wouldn’t have to take in her intoxicating scent or try to hide the primitive reaction she caused in him.

Fresh out of hair school and going nowhere fast, she had fallen into Leo’s arms at an upscale night club in Manhattan where she was a waitress. His romance of her was quick and to the point. He wanted her. So, he took her.

In exchange, she got this…

A lesson in the fact that all that glitters is not gold.

Looking up at the crown molding ceiling of the parlor Vasily shook his head at the vibrations coming from above.

They were not calming down. If anything, they were ramping it up.

Another vase slammed against the wall upstairs, this time knocking down a painting with it. The clanging of the objects was only magnified by the constant name calling, not by her but by him. Leo berated her loudly, using his tongue instead of his hand for the moment to tear her down layer by layer.

There was only so much of this that Vasily could take, but the men sitting around the table with him seemed to be able to ignore it as they cleaned their guns, loaded their magazines and watched television like nothing was going on.

Some of them even ate their dinner and had sidebar conversations, never flinching as a woman just up the stairs screamed to the top of her lungs. To them, such a thing was typical, if not expected. Many of them had come from homes just like his, but had no better ideas of women than the men who had beat them and their mothers.

Vasily, on the other hand, swore to never hit a woman and never to allow one to be hit in his presence. Sure, there were evil women, no different from evil men in the world. But if he had to kill one, he did just that—respectfully with a bullet.

Taking a deep breath, he set down his Uzi on the round wooden table carefully and stood up, pushing his chair a few feet away in frustration.

Most of the men sitting around the table did not paid attention to him. They could not possibly fathom that he was actually about to do something as stupid as intervene between their boss and his girl. Besides, they were supposed to be getting ready for a meeting tonight where money and microchips would be exchanged at an undisclosed location, not dealing in things domestic.

“Don’t do it,” Yakov warned his friend in a thick Russian accent. He sat beside him at the table, watching Vasily’s demeanor change with each and every scream. “It’s not worth it.” He looked up at Vasily with old wisdom in his young features and shook his head, begging him to mind his own business.

Yakov had been with Leo longer than Vasily and knew his boss’s hellish temper and his history with women. What was going on upstairs was nothing new for the house. There had been many women before Lilly and would probably be many after her.

A hiss escaped him in anger. “I can’t just sit down here and listen to this,” Vasily said, clenching his square jaw. He looked up at the ceiling again impatiently. “He could be hurting her this time. Every argument gets one step closer.”

“They are just arguing. No big deal. Tomorrow they’ll be better,” Yakov promised. “Besides, she’s not your girlfriend. But he is your boss. Remember that.” He pointed at him to add levity to the situation. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Lilly yelled again, this time louder. The door to their bedroom flung open. “Fuck you, Leo!” she screamed. “I am so sick of dealing with your shit! You are not my father!”

“Get your black ass back here,” Leo ordered in a thick Russian accent, bolting out of the door after her with his black Armani shirt open to show his sinewy muscles and a tattooed chest.

Grabbing her by her slender arm, he swung her around and slapped her across the face all in one motion.

Instantly, she fell to the carpeted floor, grabbing her face and crying. She was stunned that he had actually hit her this time. With wide eyes of disbelief, she looked up at him deathly afraid.

The hit echoed as the men went silent in the room below.

His heart strained. “That’s it,” Vasily said, voice going sharp as he headed through the doorway.

“Vasily, no!”

Yakov was immediately torn. Vasily was his best friend and like a brother to him, but Leo was his boss and he was his second-in-charge. He knew that Vasily wasn’t wrong for wanting the fighting to stop. Lilly, after all, was a good and decent girl, but it was not their place to save her from a situation that she had put herself in.

Yakov stood up to go after Vasily, but gave him a moderate and intentional start. This was going to happen at one point or another. It might as well happen while he could help Vasily. He knew, while never saying anything, that Vasily had a thing for Lilly, but he also knew that his friend had never made one advance toward her. Vasily wasn’t like that. He was more honorable than any other man that he knew in the Vory v Zakone. And it would be his honor that would be his ultimate downfall.

“What do you want us to do?” one of the other men asked, not really alarmed by Vasily’s outburst.

Yakov motioned for the men to stay seated. “I’ve got this,” he said, refusing to put his friend into danger without cause.

Everyone sitting at the table was the shoot now, ask questions later type. Even if they had to kill Vasily, they wouldn’t care. He was one of them, but not really. He was newest to their small crew and only close to Yakov.

Headed up the elaborate alabaster wood staircase toward Lily’s cries, Vasily saw Leo look over the banister at him. He rushed as fast as he could, moving up the stairs two or three at a time, seeing red, determined to make the man stop his shouting and hitting.

As Vasily arrived on the third floor, heaving furious breaths, Leo scowled at him. His penetrating gray eyes were like a wolf locked on his prey. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he asked in a deep baritone, still standing over Lily like he was ready to attack again.

He looked down at the woman, wearing only a torn pink satin slip, lip bleeding and long black hair covering her bruised face. Unable to help himself, Vasily reached out for her. All he wanted to do was to protect and keep her safe, only he didn’t know why. “Get up,” he said to her with both authority and concern.

Leo snorted in response. “Are you serious?” He frowned; looking around like someone was playing a practical joke on him. “What is this?”

“She’s had enough,” Vasily snarled. “I’m not disillusioned by what kind of men we are, but we don’t beat women.”

Leo’s mouth dropped open when he realized that Vasily was serious. “I do whatever the fuck I want to do,” Leo reminded, hitting his chest like a caveman. He stood between Vasily and Lily, purposefully guarding his territory.

Leo was a big man, not easily pushed around or intimidated. Nearly as wide as Vasily, he boasted a thick, muscular chest and bulging arms and bottomed out with legs as large as tree trunks that were covered in tailored black slacks and leather dress shoes. His low black crew cut outlined his chiseled features—gray eyes, wide-lips, tanned skin, thick black brows and a splash of freckles across his face. He was menacingly handsome and overtly dangerous.

Leo gestured at the quivering woman while keeping his eyes on Vasily. “You’re fucking her, aren’t’ you?” He wiped his nose and planted his feet ready for a fight.

Vasily stepped closer. “No.” His tone was bitter and unapologetic. “If I were, I would not have let you lay the first hand on her.”

Lily pushed to her feet, forgetting the pain in her face for a second. She wiped her bloody mouth. “Leo, don’t. Let’s just go back inside and talk this out. There is no need to get anyone else involved.” Her voice nearly failed her. She didn’t want anything to happen to Vasily because of her. She liked him, more than he knew.

Leo laughed. “Oh, this is rich. You and my fucking foot boy? Really?” He looked between the both of them and put his hand on his hip in contemplation.

“Vasily has never touched me,” Lilly answered.

“I just don’t like men beating women,” Vasily said, eyes narrowing. “I don’t care who you are. I’m not going to let you put your hands on her again.”

“Is that a fact?” Leo’s fangs began to show. He was amused somewhat by the ridiculous attempt.

Yakov came up the stairs behind them, assessing the situation quietly. He looked over at Leo with faux-confusion. “What’s going on?” he asked, although he already knew.

“Are you fucking her too?” Leo asked Yakov.

“No, boss.” The look on Yakov’s face, a mix of surprise and denial, made Leo turn his attention back to the six-foot-four wall of muscle that was Vasily.

“Let me explain something to you,” Leo said walking over to Lilly and grabbing her up by her neck. “This is my property.” He pointed at Vasily. “You are my property, and if I choose to beat her or you then it’s my fucking business. Until you are boss, you don’t have a thing to say about it. Do I make myself clear?”

Vasily could feel the heat growing under his collar. “Let go of her,” he demanded. “I won’t say it again.”

Lilly’s brown eyes were filled with shame and fear. “Stop, Leo, please!” she begged.

Leo rubbed his jaw in contemplation. “Let go of her?” he asked, pushing her body against the banister as if he would push her over. “Here?” He pushed her harder and she screamed. “Or here?” He almost smiled at the reaction on Vasily’s face.

As half of Lilly’s body dangled over the edge of the railing, Vasily went for the gun in his holster at lightning fast speed.

Pointing it at Leo’s head with his finger on the trigger, he heard the distinctive click of a weapon behind him.

“Don’t do this,” Yakov begged, gun pointed. His friend had pushed his hand, leaving him no choice but to protect his boss.

“You throw her over, I pull this trigger and Yakov pulls his. Three people die. Won’t be the first three; won’t be the last. It’s that simple,” Vasily said without blinking. His greenish-blue eyes were intense under dark lashes and arched brows. “I really don’t give a fuck if I live or die as long as I take you with me. But one thing is for sure, if you push her over that railing, you’re next.”

Lilly screamed, crying for her life and looking down three floors at the daunting marble floor beneath. Her two-carat diamond necklace broke and fell below as Leo squeezed her neck. There was no doubt that if he pushed her over, she would fall to her death.

Pushing her hands against the railing to keep from going over, she struggled. “Please, Leo. Don’t do this? I’m sorry. God, I’m sorry, just please let me go!”

Vasily gripped the gun tighter, a bead of sweat forming at his left temple. “I’m waiting,” he bit out.

Leo calculated the impending risk. In all the time that he had had Vasily under his employ, he’d never known him to bluff. This was not an idle threat, nor was it a good situation for him.

Yakov’s hand shook, not because he was afraid to kill, but because he didn’t want to kill the person in front of him. “Vasily, think of what you’re doing,” he said in a calm voice.

“I am thinking,” Vasily said, not taking his eyes off of Leo.

Leo wasn’t exactly anxious to end his life over a woman that he’d only met the year before. And there was no way that he wanted to be shot by one of his own men. There was no honorable death in that. He’d be the laughing stock of the Vory v Zakone in New York.

Snatching her back over the banister, he threw her on the floor against the wall.

Vasily looked down at her and reached for her again. “Come with me,” he said softly. “Don’t stay here and put up with this shit.”

Lilly looked at his hand and started to cry. She wanted to leave more than anything, but she was afraid. Where would they go? Where would they hide from a man like Leo Rasputin? He was everywhere and knew everyone. He would find them and kill them.

Vasily’s face was awash with disappointment and rejection as he watched her recoil away from him.

Leo laughed, already acutely aware of the outcome. “You see, you’re the only one here who doesn’t know his place.” He put his index finger over his lips as he gave a crooked smile. “But let me remind you.”

Suddenly, a gun went off behind him as a man, who had gone unseen the entire confrontation, standing in a few feet back from the four of them in the hallway released a round that went straight through Vasily’s back.

It seemed as though time slowed down.

As the bullet exited his chest, Vasily dropped to his knees and looked across at Lilly one last time. Falling forward on the carpet, blood splattering out of his mouth, he finally released his gun.

As Vasily wheezed a gurgling violent last breath, Leo spit on his open wound and kicked the gun across the floor. “Get this peace of shit out of here,” he said, stepping over him.

Even as the light faded from Vasily’s eyes, he could hear Lilly’s screams. She cried as Leo drug her down the stairs out of the view of the man who had tried and failed to protect her.