He was supposed to kill me.
I had done the unthinkable. I called the cops on him, on his family, but he let me live. We became friends, and then... we fell in love.

Lucy Ives is a foster kid, running from her turbulent past. On her first night in New York City, she accidentally calls the cops on the mafia. But when their fixer comes to kill her, he ends up sparing her life in exchange for a favor—be his fake fiancĂ© or die.

I let us simmer in silence for a moment before I say, “You love me.”
His eyes widen, but he doesn’t deny it.
So, I ask, “Why?”
When he takes a seat on the bed and gestures for me to join him, I do.
“Remember when I drove you home for the first time?” After I nod, he continues, “You were so scared of me, yet you managed to demand something in return for this arrangement. I couldn’t believe it.”
“And you loved me then?” I ask, dubiously.
He shakes his head. “No, but I’d be lying if I say I didn’t like what I saw. I started paying better attention to you after that, noticing your random bouts of bravery. Despite your fears, and there are a lot of them,”—I snort—“you’re able to overcome everything. I’ve never seen true courage like that before.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen Romano soldiers go into battle knowing they’re as good as dead, but those men aren’t afraid. They don’t have to overcome their fears in order to get the job done. But you have to, and it’s beautiful.
“And when you stuck up for me, you didn’t even have to stop and consider it. You just acted. There was something so pure about your instinct to protect me that I couldn’t help but give you a piece of my heart that day. After that, I was pretty much a goner. I fell in love with your compassion and your courage and your strength and yo—”
I cut him off with a kiss, pressing my lips against his with surprising urgency. When I pull back and say, “I don’t want to go slow anymore,” I might as well have said, “I love you.”
Because I do.
My God, I really do.

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