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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT
Sergio: a Dark Mafia Romance by Natasha Knight

I’m fuming. It’s late and I’m sitting on the bus and can’t even see straight, I’m so mad.

My phone rings. It’s Sergio again. He’s been calling for the last half hour. This time, I switch it off altogether.

The bus pulls up to my stop about thirty minutes later. I get out, and, carrying my large, cumbersome portfolio, I walk the six blocks home. The streets are busy, it’s the dinner hour, but for some reason, I find myself looking over my shoulder more than once, unable to shake the feeling I’m being followed. That’s got to be Sergio’s influence on my life. He’s a mobster. What he does he proved tonight. He beats people up. Hurts them. It’s what he knows.

Is it all he knows? With me, he’s been so gentle. So generous.

I shake my head. Trying to reconcile these two sides of him is giving me a headache.

The first thing I do once I’m inside my house is slip off my shoes, leaving them as I walk to the kitchen table to set down the portfolio. I realize it’s strange Pepper didn’t greet me tonight. I’m later than usual and she’s probably hungry.

“Pepper, I’m home. Sorry I’m late. You wouldn’t believe my day.” I walk around the table to open the cabinet under the sink and get her food. “Come on, honey. Dinner.”

Nothing. Not even when she must hear the sound of food filling her bowl.

I stop. “Pepper?” My heart races. Shit. She’s so old.

I get up, head into the living room, switch on the light and let out a scream because I’m not alone.

Sergio’s here. Sitting in the middle of the couch, arms spread wide, eyes hard.

And right now, he looks like a fucking Godfather.

Pepper’s on the floor, her head on his shoe, sleeping.

“I fed her.” He’s pissed, I can hear it in his voice, feel it coming off him. There’s a half empty bottle of whiskey on the coffee table.

“What are you doing here? How did you get in?”

“She was hungry.”

“How did you get inside?” I repeat. I can match his anger.

“I told you I had a key.”

Fuck. That’s what he’d meant last night. “You can’t have a key. I never gave you one.”

“You switched off your phone.”

I walk over to Pepper, squat down to pet her. I don’t look at him when I answer. “Because I didn’t want to talk to you.”

“When I call you, you answer.”

“Doesn’t work that way.” I say, standing, spinning on my heel. I’m about to walk away when he captures my wrist, his grip firm, more firm than he’s ever been with me. I make a sound, try to pull free, but he tugs on my arm, kicks my feet out from under me so I fall face down onto his lap. “What are you—”

He slaps my ass hard ten times in succession.

I’m gasping, instinctively reaching back to cover the spot. He captures my wrist, so he has both now, and holds them in one of his hands. I crane my neck to look up at him. He keeps his eyes locked on mine and rubs one hand over my ass, then spanks it again, ten more times on the other cheek.

“Stop!” It fucking hurts.

“When I call you, you answer, Natalie.”

I tug at my arms, but his grip is vice-like.

“Do you understand?” he asks.

“Let me go.”

“Do you fucking understand?”

“Yes!”

He gives me one more hard smack before releasing me, and I stumble to my feet. I feel hot, embarrassed, and I’m clutching my ass.

“I just want you safe.” He gets to his feet.

I step backward.

He’s wearing a suit, the jacket of which is hanging over the back of a chair. He gently moves Pepper’s head off his foot before he walks toward me.

I’m mute as he approaches.

There’s a darkness to Sergio Benedetti. It clings to him, like a shadow. It’s the one thing that scares me about him because I trust that he won’t hurt me. And I believe that he wants me safe. I may not understand it, but I believe it.

But this shadow, it’s not one he casts. The opposite. It seems to cast itself over him. To have a claim on him. Some strange, powerful hold over him.

“You shouldn’t have hurt him,” I say when my back’s against the wall and he’s standing inches from me.

“You couldn’t protect yourself so I did it for you. Besides, this isn’t important. That idiot isn’t important.”

“No, it doesn’t work that way. I didn’t want—”

“How does it work?” he asks, one corner of his mouth curling upward. He looks me over, leans his forearms against the wall on either side of my head. “Huh?” He dips his head closer, inhales, touches the scruff of his jaw against my cheek. “Explain to me how it works.”

I look up at him, at his midnight eyes. I smell his aftershave, remember what we did last night. My body remembers too.

“How does it work, Nat?”

I hate the nickname. Always have.

“Huh?” he continues. “I stand back while some asshole intimidates you into his bed?”

“I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I’m not fucking stupid. And I don’t need someone to protect me. I don’t need some knight in shining armor and I’m not looking for a hero.” Tears warm my eyes. I hate them, hate the weakness. But what I’ve said has made him stop. Confused him almost.

Then he laughs. “You think I’m trying to be the hero?” A moment later, he drops his head. His forehead creases and he’s looking down for a long time before he shifts his gaze back up to mine, searching mine as if it holds the answers. “I’m not the hero, sweetheart. I’m the fucking monster.”

Our Review

“I’m just a man, Natalie…flesh and bone…and you make me want.”

Dark Mafia Romance: there’s something about the gritty, edgy stories with a menacing anti-hero whose heart beats for the woman he loves that make our book hearts race! These type of reads are our weakness, and whilst we do have our ‘go to’ authors who always deliver the rawness, the danger and the intense passion required in this theme, it’s also one of our thrills to discover new authors, and we thank Natasha Knight, a new to us author for Sergio, a standalone Mafia romance.

This is our first read by this author, and not only did she deliver all the above, but she dug deep and delivered Sergio’s story the way her characters wanted their story told; she didn’t hold back putting her characters, and our hearts, on the line and for that, we applaud her.

‘The darkness, it’s a part of me. And it’s not that it belongs to me. No. I belong to it. Always will.’

Sergio and Natalie’s story was a romantic tragedy in the making. Throughout Sergio, there is a sombre timbre that kept our hearts on a knife edge, as Sergio Bendetti, eldest son of Mafia King, Franco Benedetti, and the next man in line to take over the family Mafia business, questions the life bequeathed to him. The danger, duplicity, revenge and the control for power all pose a threat to his life on a daily basis, making Sergio examine his own mortality. Wondering if he will one day pay for his sins, for the blood and violence enacted by his hand.

‘My father’s right about fear. But there’s more to it. Ruthlessness. It’s what truly gets you respect in this business. He is ruthless. And I am my father’s son…….’

You could say Natalie and Sergio were destined to be together, fate certainly must have had a hand in their meetings, not to mention luck on Natalie’s side! This lady somehow attracted danger and Sergio was there to save the day. And whilst Sergio’s feelings for Natalie were fast and fierce; the intensity of their feelings moving at breakneck speed, we didn’t get that ‘insta love’ vibe as we understood Sergio’s reasoning’s, and so the way he fell so hard for Natalie made perfect sense.

We witness many sides to Sergio’s persona – the dangerous and deadly, the brave and commanding, the fearful and vulnerable, the possessive and protective, shrouded in a cheeky sarky humour that delighted us and lifted the morose mood. We loved Sergio and the way he kept us on our toes.

Natalie blazes into Sergio’s life like a shooting star, giving him hope, love and purpose, yet he worries his violent lifestyle will put her at risk, but he’s powerless to stay away. In a world where no one is indispensable, where power is the currency, can Natalie and Sergio build a future?

“There are consequences to actions. A price to be paid. That’s all. And you shouldn’t’ romanticize it.”

Natasha Knight warns readers off the bat that Sergio and Natalie’s love story is not a traditional romance, and for Natalia to insinuate herself into Sergio’s life, means turning a blind eye to his life and accepting the danger posed.  But will their love come at a cost?

‘There’s a darkness to Sergio Benedetti. It clings to him, like a shadow.’

Natasha Knight delivered a gripping, page turning Mafia Romance with all the elements we demand in these stories. Grit, passion, suspense, romance, and not only that, she took a chance by telling her story in a gut churning dual POV, that proved to be sheer brilliance as she brought one part of the story in particular, to the reader, ensuring we felt a part of every heartbreakingly devastating moment. And we did! With tears streaming down our faces, we guarantee you, we felt it all!

Fans of Mafia Romance, we’re thrilled to welcome a new author to our ‘must read’ Mafia list, and you should do the same!

Synopsis

Dark Mafia Romance

I’m the first born son of the mafia king. The favorite. Destined to rule, I’m a dangerous man, a ruthless one. But in my world, you have to be.

Then Natalie stumbles into my life. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Twice, fate put her in my path.
Twice, fate placed the innocent lamb at the mercy of the monster.

I gave her a chance to walk away. Told her it would be better for her if she did.
But she didn’t listen.
And now it’s too late.
Because I’m not good. I never wanted to be. And I won’t let her go anymore. See, I’m not the hero. When I touch her, it’s with dirty hands.

I know my reckoning is coming though. I know I’ll burn for the things I’ve done, the sins I’ve committed. And I don’t deny hell is where I belong, but I want my time first. I want my time with her.

She’s mine.
Forever.
No matter what.

Author’s Note: Sergio is a steamy standalone mafia romance set in the Benedetti world. Themes are dark and may not be what you expect.

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