From Manhattan

Manhattan Protector – Exclusive First Chapter

Only three cranky bodyguard sleeps to go!

One Click:
Check out the standalone series HERE

Some problems needed patience.

Other challenges required a spanking.

It wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet, and I knew which option I was veering toward.

Rounding the corner, my legs ache from exertion, letting me know I’ve probably run more than the usual nine miles, but there’s a little way left to go, so I don’t stop.

Instead, I mull over the dilemma, knowing there’s no solution I can willingly face, or I would have done it at any point during the last two years when the same issues arose. It was as though I enjoyed the tightened noose I’d put around my neck.

Having prided myself on successful assignments for more than a decade of growing my security business, a sought-after firm in New York. The most long-term client we’ve had, is an infuriating nuisance. Though I’ve tried to hand the job off to others many times, it always backfires in my face because she prefers me.

Huffing in the cool morning air as I pound the ground beneath me, the cold sweat clings to the back of my shirt.

Sometimes running helps.

Other times, like today, it’s something to do to keep me steady and in control.

I live a solitary life. Some would accuse I live for my work, and they might be right. Drinking only when I want to, I don’t date, getting what I want from women when the urge takes me. Socializing is kept to a minimum. My family isn’t huge, so there aren’t many gatherings to attend, though I see my nana every week to make sure she’s okay and has everything she needs. Luckily, it’s easy to pay for services to ensure she is taken care of.

I like my life the way it is.

It’s taken me years to get to a place of comfort, unbothered by others.

So what if I’m a workaholic? How can that be a bad thing?

It’s not a disconnect. It’s self-preservation. Or so I thought.

And then this client happened and shot all the shit I knew out of the water.

Having spent my early twenties, as most men do, obsessed with using their dick and getting wasted, chasing pussy and not giving a damn about the future, I’d started my business out small and grew it myself. It centered me, gave me a purpose, and now I’m thirty-seven, it’s hard to recognize that person from a decade ago.

Bodyguarding is a full-time endeavor.

I’d entered Columbus Circle to Central Park more than an hour ago, taking the looped areas most joggers take. But at stupid o’clock, when I prefer to run, it wasn’t so busy that I was tripping over slow bodies.

I’m not fond of mouth breathers being too near when I need quiet to think.

Getting a call at 6 a.m. to let me know she insisted on leaving the apartment. Again. Lying in bed this morning with only enough sleep to stop my brain from malfunctioning, I could feel my blood pressure rising through the fucking roof. Picturing her in those tight pink yoga pants she prances around in each morning. I could only imagine the barista’s eyes bugging out of his young head when he saw her waltzing into the coffee shop, a smile on her face, happy to see everyone and talking like they were old friends.

I put out that fire with one call, but had to come for a run before I knew the next flames would appear.

They always do.

For two years, I’ve been putting out fires left and right.

Not infernos.

Not even raging bonfires.

But flickering flames, every single day.

Every other job I take is a cakewalk.

Senators, celebrities, dignitaries. Nothing goes wrong. I hire only the best ex-military people who know how to handle themselves and protect those we’re paid to keep alive.

Nothing goes wrong.

Not once.

And we’ve all been in dicey situations where our skills came to the forefront. I’ve dealt with enough crazies over the years, and nothing interfered with my professionalism.

She intimidates my people because she’s too nice, too giving, and caring, with no spatial awareness of what personal boundaries she might be crossing.

She wants to know their life story. What makes them tick, laugh, and cry?

She tries to help them, feed them, give advice to better their lives.

I’ve never known anyone to give that much of a shit about another person and not expect a thing in return.

It’s always something, even when I’ve made it known they’re there to do a job, not become her best friend.

If there was a modern-day Pollyanna, then she was it.

And then I feel a vibration at the top of my arm, and a sigh coats out of me as I come to a slow stop, my lungs burning as I rub a hand through my damp hair and yank the phone from the holster sitting on my bicep.

“Yes?” I bark. Expecting what Tony on the other end is going to say.

“Boss, you’re needed.”

Of course, I am.

The groan gusts out of me like a downpour.

I should stop to take a shower first, but I don’t.

It’s as though my feet know where we’re going and take me there against my will. So by the time I was let into the exclusive building in the financial district by the security guards I vetted personally, and took the elevator up to the 10th floor. I’m cold with sweat clinging to the damp, hooded running jacket.

Tony opens the door after checking it is me, and I stride inside, arching a brow at him, silently accusing his pussy-ass of fearing a little girl.

Tony is ex SAS, for fuck’s sake. He’s been to war zones; he guarded the last president and traveled on the tour bus with a one-hit-wonder pop star who caused holy hell with drugs and hookers, but Tony panics around one British woman who likes to chat.

“I should fire you,” I rumble as he scrapes a hand over his dark hair, half-smiling.

Not midday and yet already it has been a long fucking day.

Though, most of them are when your entire job is keeping another person alive.

“Nah, you like me around too much, boss,” he jokes. “You know she prefers you. I’ll be outside,” he adds and makes his escape. It was noted he carried a container of food with him. Pussy.

Advancing into the sprawling three-bed apartment, my gaze clocks on the people already here. Her place is rarely empty of bodies. It gets claustrophobic as fuck, but she likes the company.

Today it’s her assistant, a manager, and a publicist. They call out hellos, but I only jut my chin in greeting. Without coffee, I can’t be responsible for the unfiltered sarcasm to come out of my mouth.

And then there she is.

Strutting out of the bedroom.

Grey yoga shorts, a flowing shirt billowing around her stomach.

And a ready smile when she sees me.

At that moment, I feel every one of my thirty-seven years.

Like an old man looking at a rare diamond.

A twenty-five-year-old British bombshell.

Katarina Young. The it-girl in the modeling world. On every billboard and catwalk. Wanted by men, coveted by thousands.

The bane of my fucking life.

Okay, she’s not.

She’s a good client, hardly whines at all, no matter what I tell her to do for her safety.

But it doesn’t stop my back teeth from clenching together the closer she gets.

This irritation isn’t new.

It bore life the week I started guarding her.

Katarina’s smile brightens, and it changes the atmosphere in the room. It constantly changes the mood, especially within my veins.

My teeth clench harder.

My day of solitude has gone to hell. I at least expected to see her in some form of trouble if I had to come in on my one day off this month.

Instead, she keeps smiling, and I scowl.

“Why am I here?”

Her eyes round but don’t lose any of the twinkle. She sips from a tumbler of whatever smoothie it is today. Katarina is big on smoothies instead of actual chewable food. Some dumb advice from one of her shit-for-brains team who hired a nutritionist that told her it would be the end of the world if she dared to gain a pound.

“Don’t ask me. One minute I was talking to Tony, and then he’s crying on the phone to you.” She shrugs.


Fucking wonderful.

That meant she’d over shared or pushed her little nose into Tony’s business and badgered my elite bodyguard to death.

Turning on my heel, I head for the door.

My shadow is behind me as she slurps on the end part of the smoothie.

“Don’t go anywhere,” I warn. “Tony is outside. Don’t bother him; he’s here to work, not get life advice from a little girl.”

“Hardly little, but I won’t talk to Tony, seeing as he’s so sensitive and needs daddy to hold his hand.” I hear the amusement in her voice. When I shoot a glance over my shoulder, she’s looking at my ass. Her gaze travels up slowly until our eyes meet.

“You’re terribly sweaty, Iceman.”

My nickname on her lips goes through me like an atom bomb detonating, and my jaw cracks from how tight I’m grinding it.

“I’ll be back. Don’t move your ass from this apartment, Katarina.”

She laughs at the silent or else tacked on at the end.

Not the first time I’ve had to threaten the modeling world princess.

She rarely listens.
Copyright© V. Theia 2022.

Renegade Souls MC

Darling Psycho – Exclusive first chapter

Are you psycho ready?
It’s the end of an era… hold on tight, fish.
Grab your preorder
Add to Goodreads
Check out the series HERE

“I hear you’re leaving us.”

A voice Lawless recognized as Dillion Dreyers -aka correctional officer and a few times booty call- said behind him.

Being in the exercise yard was the most normal Lawless had felt in almost three years.

Whatever normal felt like.

Anyone knew his wiring didn’t fire in the proper sequence, so normalcy was apples and oranges for him. He’d stopped agonizing over the answers a long time ago. Instead, he’d learned to live with how his analytical brain worked. Lawless felt like a computer that never booted down.

An extraordinarily high IQ and his diagnosed low latent inhibitions meant his surrounding environment constantly stimulated his brain.

Couldn’t shut the fucking thing off.

Being inside a prison with hundreds of boring lunatics meant Lawless had to get used to the low-level din of their noise. It constantly ticked through his white meat, over-stimulating him like a firework that never fizzled out.

Outside under the sky, especially when he was alone, like now, because he’d paid a guard to let him have extra exercise time in the yard, there was only blessed silence.

Two hands in the gray issued sweatpants pockets; Lawless cast a withering glance over his shoulder as Dreyers sidled up to him in his manly uniform, taser included.

“Have you come to say goodbye, Dillion?”

About a year ago, Dreyers transferred to the psych building. Shorter hours, better pay. But he dropped by Lawless’ wing to talk like old friends from time to time. Bags of meat were so pedestrian because Lawless had all but blackmailed the man into giving him access to many parts of the prison not available to low-life prisoners. Yet, it seemed he’d forgotten all about that and made Lawless into a friend.

“Something like that. At least now the other C.O.’s will get a chance at winning some money.”

Lawless smirked, looking out at the acres of nothingness that surrounded the prison. To the untrained eye, it appeared huge, and it was. But the size of the prison never mattered. It was all about the bars and the locked doors, which narrowed his world down considerably.

For six long days since his phone call to Archie to get him the fuck out of there, he’d been counting the seconds to when he wouldn’t hear another electronic door slamming shut.

The C.O.’s had been fair with Lawless, so he’d been fair with them. He’d even sat at their gambling tables, robbed them all blind. Fairly.

Lawless never had to cheat.

Until he did.

Now the end had come, his skin was too tight, he felt scratches on the inside of his brain.

Unable to sleep.

He was wired as fuck.



But now, his roadmap had been derailed, and he’d been forced to think outside of the box.

To re-plan everything from the start.

In any other circumstances, he would have been thrilled to play cat-and-mouse games. But all Lawless felt in the last six days was irritation coating the back of his throat.

Irritation at how he’d been blackmailed into a corner like a pathetic animal fighting for its life. It had been a long time since Lawless felt inadequate.

If he were the emotional type, like Snake was, he might have reacted a whole other way to Benz’s blackmail. “Come back to me. Fully, in every sense, be at my side, rule with me, allow me to love you. I’m fucking empty without you there, Penn. And I will leave her alone. She won’t exist to me.”

There was no hesitation when he’d answered: “done.”

That was six days ago.

Six days in which Lawless had felt split down to the bones and sinew, with his guts pouring out onto the floor.

He had very little power for a man who lived by his control.

Benz had thought he’d won, and while he visited Lawless yesterday, he allowed his former lover and mentor to keep thinking so. The man was attractive, cunning and they’d played well together a handful of years ago.

Did it mean Lawless had to be lenient with him because they had a history? Or whatever fondness ordinary people felt? Hell no.

Jay was blackmailing him into being his boy toy/right-hand man.

He could have a King Kong cock and like being choked out during orgasm, and it would still piss Lawless off.

He couldn’t think about Jay yet.

And that’s when he heard the man at his side inhaling the cancer stick. Lawless turned on his feet and started heading toward the door. Dreyers got in step with him.

Two hours and counting.

He needed the stink of the place off his skin. It felt as though it was embedded in areas he couldn’t scrub.

“Looking forward to getting out?”

What? Did the guy think Lawless would miss the place? That he’d choose to stay longer for the shits and giggles?

Not in a million years would he want to be in prison.

It had been his version of Hell being locked up all day long like a dog in a cage.

“You sure as shit made this place different.”

“I can’t stay just to brighten your day, Dillion,” he quipped and made the other man laugh.

“What will you do now?”

“Go back to my life.”

Maybe do a little murdering. Who knows? He’d been without his tools for a long time; he needed some fun.

Lawless looked at the world through eyes that had seen too much. It was predator energy that motivated him.

He liked simple things.

Expensive things.

And things that an average joe would pray on his knees to his Lord and Savior over.

The man at Lawless’ side had a lean body underneath the gaudy uniform, and he was easily manipulated.

If he wanted to, he could probably demand Dillion Dreyers take him to a secluded closet for a farewell fumble.

But Lawless wasn’t interested in him, and once they were back inside, he offered a hand, and Dreyers shook it. “Your wife still trying to talk you into getting a cat?”

Dreyers groaned. “She’ll win; she always wins.”

“Get her two, they don’t like to be alone.”

“I’d tell you to keep out of trouble, Penn, but I doubt you will.”

Lawless smirked and walked through the electronic door into a holding area where he would collect the civilian clothes he’d been wearing three years ago and pick up the only two things he was taking from this place.

His silver wristwatch and a box of unread letters.

Lawless had been inhaling the same Wyoming air for too long, but that first breath as a free man as he was escorted out of the final gate hit differently in his lungs, and his stride didn’t stop as he advanced toward a waiting Hawk and Snake.

“We are not hugging,” he warned a grinning Snake. “Control your emotions.”

Too fucking late. His friend and brother grabbed him like a bear attack and squeezed Lawless’ torso before thumping him on the back.

Once freed, he caught the blank icy stare from the VP. “Don’t expect the same from me.” Hawk arched his blond eyebrow as if it was ridiculous even to suggest he’d get with the PDA. Instead, the pair met their fists in the middle and bumped them. “Good to have you back.”

“Ready to get out of here?” Snake asked. “We got your Harley in a trailer if you wanna ride.”

He did. More than ever. “I need something to eat first, get the taste of this place out of my mouth.”

It would take more than food, but all in good time. Lawless had his standards, and he could settle for a juicy burger first.

They found a diner in town. Hawk stayed in the truck like the antisocial demon he was. He’d missed that fucker and all his silent quips.

“Are you ever gonna draw breath?” Lawless asked when he moved the now empty plate away. His stomach felt better after greasy food. “You haven’t shut up for a second.”

“I’m happy to see you,” smirked Snake, tossing a balled-up napkin on his empty plate.

“I can tell by your wagging tail.”

“You know we weren’t expecting you yet.”

“That’s why it’s called a surprise.”

Making a late-night call to the club last night, he’d informed them Archie had finalized his release and then asked Rider to call an emergency meeting with the core brothers but to keep his release hush-hush for now.

As far as Benz knew, Lawless was still behind bars and would be there in the next two weeks when he visited him.

It was petty.

But nowhere did Lawless ever state he wasn’t a petty motherfucker.

Benz wanted him. Badly.

Maybe he’d make the man chase him like a dirty dog.

“So,” Snake posed, a deep tint to his eyes. “What’s the plan, Law? If we’re killing Jay Benz, I need a heads up. My Winter doesn’t like our date nights interrupted, you get me?”

Lawless believed him.

Snake was entangled with his librarian like his namesake would be around prey. Even behind bars, Lawless heard about their relationship across the table when his friend visited.

Lawless didn’t deal with emotions.

They were pesky ant bites, and he hadn’t been tested, but he was almost positive he was allergic.

He was book smart and emotionally stunted.

Oh, he could pretend as well as the next psychopath.

But even then, he would swear on his Mustang that Snake would rather chew off his head than murder anyone. The last time didn’t work out so well for him.

So, in the event of a bloodbath, he would let his friend have the peace he so needed in his life and not tag him in.

“Your date nights are safe,” he answered in his even tone as he rose, and Snake followed suit, tossing bills on the table. They headed outside, where Hawk started the engine.

Lawless cast a smirk over his shoulder.

“Why would I kill Jay when I’m his boyfriend?”
Copyright© V. Theia 2021.

Renegade Souls MC

Veiled Amor – Exclusive First Chapter

Are you Capone ready?
Grab your Preorder
Add to Goodreads
Check out the standalone series HERE

Kismet. Fate. Serendipity. An act of God.

Whatever you called it, it came knocking on Lucia Mercado’s door that night, and she wasn’t one to look a gift horse in its eye. Eh, mouth. Whatever the saying was.

There was an excitable tremble to her chest she hadn’t felt in a long time.

But when one was escaping, there was no time for reminiscing about a time in her life where she committed a crime that only one other person knew about. And he wasn’t inclined to talk to her about it either.

Clothes flew everywhere as she dragged them out of the tall, white dresser.

Be quiet.

She had to be quiet.

Though, she knew no one would hear.

The house she lived in was the size of two football fields with overlap. Her bedroom was on the east wing, and only the staff came across, but never this late.

It was hard to stay silent as she shoved dresses, panties, bras, and flip-flops into a roller case, because she wanted to bubble with laughter.

Lucia wanted to throw herself on the bed she’d slept in since she was a child, and howl with giddy joy.

Wait. She’d need more than flip-flops. She added sneakers and two pairs of ankle booties along with jeans and sweaters.

The dream played on a loop for some weeks.

Trampling through her subconscious, waking her with sweaty needs humming through her bloodstream. 

It usually drove her crazy and put her in a dreadful mood for the rest of the day.

Not today.

Thank God her subconscious was a filthy bitch.

If not for the dream, she never would have stomped out of her bedroom to fetch a glass of water. And if not for the need for a cooling down, she wouldn’t have overheard a conversation her father was having in the echoing entrance hall.

A conversation about her.

Nicholas Cole, renowned Kingpin, cold-hearted criminal, and the wolf of Miami, was planning to use her as a bargaining chip again in one of his business deals.

It was all Lucia heard before she sprinted back to her room on silent feet and began packing.

So much for fatherly love.

But that had always been in short supply ever since her mom died when she was four-years-old. She tried to tell herself she couldn’t miss what she’d never had. But it still stung to hear him talking about her like she was a thing.

Nicholas Cole’s love always came with a price, and for a long time she’d fought for it.

Her image, obedience and lack of opinion were top of his list.

Vanity meant a lot to Nicholas.

She couldn’t get fat, God forbid. Who would buy her then?

Someone always micromanaged Lucia for every morsel she put inside her mouth or the clothes on her back.

My daughter will make you a great wife; let’s get it arranged as soon as possible.

Not this time, dad.

She’d been there, got the t-shirt and the bad fucking memories.

Being her father, she stupidly loved him. But didn’t like him all that much. Funnily, she discovered she was cut from the same cloth because why else was she trying to escape in the middle of the night if she didn’t have some of her father’s fighting instincts? She wouldn’t lie down and take his dictating anymore.

Lucia would take a running guess that her second arranged marriage wouldn’t be quite the same as her first. That slimy goat downstairs would insist on her giving him children.

Double ick.

Once she was packed, she tossed her PJ’s on the bed before she dressed in patterned yoga leggings, a tank top, and a white hoodie. Next, she slid her feet into a pair of Michael Kors tennis shoes.

Her father might lack giving affection and genuine love for his child. But his one good grace, as you might call it, was he’d never been skimpy on anything she wanted. She had an unlimited credit card, only because he refused her to work.

It was degrading to know she was twenty-six and had no say in her own life.

She felt sick admitting she was a trophy. A thing. Not treated as a person.

The plan to spend a lot of his money, until he insisted she earn her own, backfired because he’d smirked over the dinner table and told her. “You had a good month, Lucia.”

Ugh, like he was proud of her frivolous ways.

But of course, a man like Nicholas Cole would equate fun with spending thousands.

She was stifled in a privileged life many would kill to have.

If only they knew.

She lived in a gilded cage, did Lucia.

Her leash was only so long.

Couldn’t date.

Couldn’t travel without her father.

Not permitted to work or have an apartment. Even during her brief marriage, she lived in an estate villa with guards always close by.

In part, it was because of her father and the danger his lifestyle brought.

But why should the daughter pay for the father’s sins?

She refused to be his chess piece again.

Santiago was dead.

Her then nineteen-year-old husband was dead because of her father.

The entire Mercado family was dead.

All except for one man.

The one who might have saved her life again tonight.

She missed Giancarlo like it was a gaping sore.

At times, she fooled herself into pretending that night didn’t happen so she could breathe without it hurting.

That haunting, unforgettable night burned into her memories, staining her soul, flaying her sexual organs.

The night she buried her husband and slept with his brother.

There was a lot that people didn’t know.

A lot that Giancarlo didn’t know either.

If he did, then maybe he wouldn’t hate himself. Or keep distance between them.

But some things weren’t her secrets to share.

God. God. Stop thinking about him, Lucia. She chastised, zipping her case closed.


Or Capone, as he was known now.

Biker. As dangerous as her father.

But yet not to her.

To her, he was her haven and had held her heart since she was eighteen.

Not that he wanted it. Ouch. Unrequited love, what a fucking bitch.

Some might say Lucia was a typical, ditzy blonde and dependent on daddy. Only suitable for pushing out babies and doing as she was told.

She lived in the modern world yet governed by olden-day fashions where women had no rights and opinions of their own.

To him, business was business, and there was no room for emotion with money.

She remembered the night she was brought back to her father’s house, after Santiago was killed. She’d known it was his doing, of course. But there was no show of affection. Go unpack, Lucia. We won’t speak of this again.

And that had been that. As if she’d returned from a trip and not from the police station.

Lucia knew the one remaining man from that whole devastating saga wanted to be as far away from her as possible. If anything, Giancarlo felt obligated to her because of guilt. However, she’d absolved him of any wrong-doing long ago.

Slinging a messenger bag around her back, Lucia picked up the roller case and padded soundlessly to the door while her heart thudded.

She’d always had a nervous laugh when in situations where laughter wasn’t the right thing to do. It couldn’t be helped. The nervous tick tried to work its way up her throat, and Lucia pushed it down. She was on the other side of the house, but it would be her bad luck if someone heard.

It was fast work down the winding staircase, creeping through the corridors, hearing the house staff in the kitchen. Holding her breath, Lucia tiptoed into the garage. She didn’t bother flipping on the lights for fear they triggered a warning in the staff quarters. Luckily, Lucia knew the two rows of eight cars and quickly grabbed the BMW keys from the lockbox.

So sure she’d be caught as she started the electric engine, the reason for the choice when it didn’t make a sound.

It was only when she depressed the gate control Lucia let out a breath, also freeing a bubble of laughter from her chest.

She wasn’t out of the woods yet, but it was the closest to freedom she’d ever felt, and she was euphoric as she increased her speed, taking her further away from the compound.

Life was about choices.

Or so the saying went.

Not for Lucia.

Never for Lucia.

Follow orders, obey the rules, and never ask for anything not already offered.

Until now.

Refusing to be a pawn any longer.

“Screw that,” she declared aloud. “I’m my own woman with my own choices. And I choose my life, my way.”

Unknown to what that life was yet.

She drove.

And she laughed while the distance between her old life grew bigger.

It wouldn’t be long before her father realized she wasn’t in the house.

Oh, boy. He’d be fit enough to piss fury.

She’d seen his temper taken out on others and had no desire to face it head-on.

Hoping to be far enough away he couldn’t ever find her.

Lucia was free.

And once a caged bird was free, there was no putting it back.

She’d rather be dead.

Yeah, she was dramatic.

She’d earned it.

She was fucking free at last.

Switching on the radio, she sang along loudly, and went into the unknown.


Copyright© V. Theia 2021.

Renegade Souls MC

Prince Charming – Exclusive First Chapter

Are you Tag ready?
Add to Goodreads
Check out the standalone series HERE

It felt good to sweat.

Even better when Marianna Yahnotov knew it was because she had exerted herself in the kickboxing class. She ached in muscles she didn’t know she had as she swiped wetness out of her eyes and reached down to grab the sports bag.

Though she waved to a few of the girls in her class, that was as social as she got.

 She glanced at them in an animated huddle and felt a ping of envy.

She once had girlfriends to hang out with, do silly things with like coffee dates, but not anymore.

How crazy she’d forgotten how to make friends.

With her shoulder length black hair knotted in a messy bun, she pushed her arms into a white, faux fur hooded coat, leaving the women only class as unnoticeable as she arrived.

The chilly air of the early November day hit her full in the face.

In Russia, where temperatures regularly plummeted to below 20 degrees, the cooler Colorado days were virtually summer on her face.

It snowed on and off in September. Now it was bitterly cold, and Marianna smiled as she crossed the street to the diner.

Each store front along Main Street was recognizable, now she’d been in Armado Springs as a free woman almost a year.

Free, yet not free because she had no actual legal papers.

And no solution in sight.

Marianna lived under the radar, fearful of everyone’s motives.

It was a town like thousands of others. She could have gone anywhere, but she felt safe here. And that was why she stayed.

Not the only reason.

After picking up a small bag of homemade cheese crackers from the diner, and a flat white coffee, she turned right on the corner, heading for her apartment. A police cruiser car parked outside of the hardware store had her feet stopping quick.

Marianna felt nausea going through her body. The police officer behind the wheel wasn’t even looking at her, he was reading a newspaper and drinking from a to-go cup, and yet she felt the flee instinct take hold.

Turning around, she took the long walk around the block instead.

Only when she was out of sight of the police car did her heart return to a normal pattern.

Marianna didn’t cause waves.

She didn’t get into needless arguments with people in the grocery store over the last pumpkin spice cronut. Nor did she jaywalk or do any other number of infractions that may attract attention. She flew under the radar and was not risking her identity and lack of legal papers to trip her up now.

Sending a wave to the sweet old lady inside the flower shop, before she took the stairs at the side of the building to her apartment. The scent of fresh lemon greeted her as she snicked the three locks behind her and slid the security chain into place.

The four rooms were not all that big, but she loved this apartment, it came fully furnished, which had helped her penniless state at the time. It boasted high ceilings with white panel walls, hardwood floors and offered Marianna security enough that she felt safe each night when she went to bed.

It was thanks to her boss she had both a job and a roof over her head, not questioning why at the time when he offered his help. A despairing woman will take the hand of anyone when she’s drowning.

Marianna waited ever since for him to call in his favor all these months later.

Men expected a woman to pay for their generosity.

That’s how it’s always been in her life.

Nothing came for free.

Pushing that specific man out of her mind, she slid out of her coat, hanging it on a peg by the door, then tossed the bag of crackers on the two-person table in the kitchen.

Lana Del Rey sang when Marianna pressed play on the second-hand stereo, turning it up loud before she headed for a much-needed shower.

Afterward, she finished the coffee and crackers, then she blitzed her already clean apartment because she hated being idle. Having nothing to do meant she focused too much on her unhappiness.

No, that was not altogether right.

She was no longer miserable as she once was.

Despair made a person do reckless things in pursuit of better.

One poor decision after another meant she now lived with the consequences.

It was easy to channel her emotions when she was scrubbing the kitchen tiles.

While her hands plunged in hot soapy water, it was easy to forget the life forced upon her and to dream of the life she wanted.

She was a mother, and no one here knew that.

Her heart ached for the day she would hug and kiss her children again. Until that impossible day came, she worked hard.

She hoped she got decent sleep tonight.

Insomnia and heartbreak made for a very good team.

They were long-term friends to Marianna.

Ah, damn, she’d invited herself to another pity-party. The fourth one this week.

Marianna was not unhappy.

She was just not happy either.

Existing in a place between here and there.

There was a gaping wound in her chest and one she would not make the focus of her day. Not only because she hated being tearful, but it was also the day she got to talk to her babies.

It motivated her to keep working as diligently as she could.

As Lana Del Rey, Marianna’s favorite singer, continued, she dusted the brown coffee table in front of a cream couch, then fixed a small salad to take with her for lunch later. And then she dressed in warm leggings, an oversized blue knitted sweater and comfortable white tennis shoes.

Funny how things change so drastically in a decade.

Marianna was now thirty-one years old.

In her twenties, she’d lived for fashion and the frivolous things she deemed so important. Living her twenties being inseparable with her friends.

Partying, laughing, doing incredibly irresponsible things.

There was very little money, and what she had, she wasted. If only she’d been a little more money savvy, she wouldn’t be in this mess now.

One by one, her friends left their wild lifestyle behind. They got married, had children.

Her village of only five thousand people didn’t offer much career wise.

The hair salon she’d worked at for five years earned her very little.

While she did not get as far as a marriage license, her two babies have always been Marianna’s pure light. 

She would never regret her children.

Even if it meant reliving those appalling four months she was dating their father. 

Marianna didn’t have hang-ups about her looks or her weight.

She’d always been pretty okay with both.

She wasn’t what you’d call academic. Though, she’d strived to better herself in whatever she was doing. Her goal from the age of sixteen was to learn English, the language of the free world. Lack of funds meant she had to teach herself in whatever way she could. Finding solace and education from books.

No, her flaws were not about vanity or her education.

If only they were. 

Seeking adventure and fulfilment was perhaps the biggest mistake of her life.

It would sit inside her dark places forever.

One bad mistake snowballed, and now she was in a country illegally because she was brought by men who promised her a lucrative life.


Lies upon lies.

Promises broken.

Used as a commodity, she’d forged on as best as she could.

No woman ever thinks she’ll be that one who gets her life stolen.

Marianna was one of many the Bratva used. She had it marginally better in comparison with some of the other girls who were repeatedly drugged and sold.

Treated like a pet in a cage.

She hated herself for being taken in by lies and assurances.

Unexpected rescue came from a group of bikers. Only when she became lucid from whatever drugs they had forced her to take, she stole clothes from the hospital and sneaked out before the authorities could speak with her.

She’d never looked back.

Within a few short hours, snow dusted the sidewalk as she bundled into her coat and took the short walk five blocks away to Charming Souls gym.

There was a spike to her pulse when she entered the sprawling building. She nodded to the receptionist, Molly, but didn’t stop to chat. Afraid to get close to anyone in fear of what she might tell them. She was there to work hard, not make lifelong connections.

Office management was her job description. But she did a little of everything, including cleaning down the machines when lazy members wouldn’t do it. She restocked vending machines and refilled coffee and juice stations. She made sure the dirty towels were put out for the laundry service to collect at the end of each day.

Keeping busy made sense.

“Yo, Marianna?” She heard, and the fine hairs at the back of her nape stood on end.

The voice was baritone deep. It was a growl, the voice you expect to see belonging to a madman.

But it was her boss when she turned around.

An unsmiling boss.

“Yes, Sir?”

Wearing blue denim and scuffed biker boots on the bottom half. The top half of Tag was covered by a long-sleeved undershirt, and his Renegade Souls leather vest with the Grim Reaper trademark sewn into the back. She’d looked at that vest many times when avoiding the oceanic blue eyes. She knew it said Colorado Chapter on the front and below that patches read: Sergeant at Arms, and One percenter.

Usually he flashed her a smile.

They were not friends, but not-not friends either.

He’d helped her, provided her with a job and a place to live.

She’d visited him many times in the hospital when he was badly injured and temporarily blinded during one of his cage fights.

Sometimes he bought her lunch for no reason. Or dropped off groceries with little explanation. It’s only food, Marianna.

It was not only food to her. Nothing came for free.

But her aversion to growing closer to anyone put them in a weird place of boss-employee. Friend-not friend.

She approached, and he jutted his chin for her to follow him into the office.

Her tummy muscles clenched together, whining out a protest to turn around and leave.

She was used to the fight or flee instincts, you could say it kept her alive many times.

Was she in trouble?

Did he discover her secret?

He’d given her no reason to fear him.

The opposite, in fact. He wanted her to trust him.

Tag was the man who carried her from her nightmare.

If she allowed herself to trust anyone here, it would be him.

A year ago she’d been tricked into boarding a boat to the States. And forced into a sex ring. She was no longer that woman.

Pain healed.

Secrets remained.

There was only one way to find out why he looked so sullen.

With her shoulders back, Marianna let Tag usher her into his square office ahead of him.

The bluest eyes she’d ever seen, watching her every step.
Copyright© V. Theia 2020.

|Friends to Lovers | Burning slow |

From Manhattan

Manhattan Muse – Exclusive First Chapter

Only two rock star sleeps to go!

Check out the standalone series HERE

It’s the rustling of the white hotel sheets that wakes me.

Turning my head on the pillow, there’s no roiling gut or slice of pain through my skull.

In my messier drunk days, being stoned would have been a good excuse for waking up in bed with a woman.

There’s only one reason I’m here. And it has nothing to do with narcotics and everything to do with the sweet-smelling woman beside me.

Cutting a gaze to the nightstand, I see it’s after 10 a.m.

Every second from the past seventeen hours comes back in a rush.

I’m hoping for an explosive pint-sized reaction when she realizes what’s happened.

I smirk, scrubbing a hand over my shorn dark hair.

Watching her sleeping form, I feel so many things.

With a hand tucked beneath her chin, she looks like cotton candy wouldn’t melt in her angelic mouth. Whereas I know she’s the devil’s apprentice, expelled out of Hell to torture mortal men under her heel.

Hell will be raised when she wakes, that much I know. I might even want it more than anything I’ve ever wanted. To see her react.

She’ll paint me as the bad guy in this situation. Huh, maybe I am. Did I try to stop what we did? Not even once. I went full steam ahead with hardly any provocation.

I used to be foolishly reckless, trying to live up to a rock star reputation and hide who I am at the same time.

My name, my family legacy and fame.

You don’t get to be where I am—I don’t mean in bed with a blonde demoness—without a lot of irresponsible decisions. Helped by Johnnie Walker and Jameson. I’ve made so many, you can stack them up on top of each other and they’d reach into the clouds.

Looking across at who I’m in bed with … some would say it’s reckless. but I know it’s the best decision of all.

I don’t feel stuck in my life anymore.

That’s progress as ma would say.

I’m almost twenty-eight but feel one hundred most days. It takes the right incentive to learn how to slow the fuck down.

I don’t touch her. Nor do I reach out and move the strands of hair from her cheek, though the need is there. I watch for a couple of minutes. She shifts under the sheet, baring a tanned leg like a seductress sent to drag every man to purgatory. Me especially.

She’s going to be so mad, with her verbal violence aimed my way.

I can’t wait to handle her and calm her down. I’m enamored in her bursts of spontaneous temper.

Miss Professional, with her endless rules and bossy ways, didn’t plan for this but it was entirely her idea. I’m twistedly looking forward to seeing how she responds.

A little dark chuckle escapes. Checking she’s still fast asleep, I slip out of bed.

Something catches my eye and I glance down at my left hand. A day ago, I wore a hand of silver rings I’ve collected over the years.

Now only a black band sits on my finger.

I glance her way, feeling a new pull in my shoulder blades.

With her around, I’ve felt a lot of pulls, some stronger than others.

Possessiveness seems to be the forerunner.

But there’s no denying she’s been my biggest inspiration for a long time.

I’m the son of a crime boss. Anything can disappear. This is an accepted fact, not that I’ve utilized that privilege. My father would be overjoyed if I did. But when it comes to her, I’ve learned that logic means nothing, and she wins every time.

She stirs, and the sheet falls lower. My abdomen tightens to a fist as my eyes follow the shape of her exposed leg and now bare stomach.

She’s wearing underwear. I’m not a complete pervert, though I know every inch of her body already.

My eyes betray what I feel by roaming over her like I own her.

I’m sitting at the round table when she finally surfaces. A zombie groan mutters from her and I hide my smile in a coffee mug.

“Oh, god.” She groans.

Poor hungover baby.

She’s going to explode in seconds. Eyes I know as well as my own search around the room. She scoots herself up against the headboard, clutching the cotton sheet to her chest. Pity, she has beautiful tits. They feel perfect in my mouth.

I’ve had those killer hangovers before. I know the pain her skull is in, from too much champagne. What kind of gentleman would I have been if I didn’t indulge her last night when she wanted to celebrate?

She knows better than most I am not a gentleman. Far from it. I’m a hungry bastard with an appetite for one.

A left-handed diamond glints on her finger. It’s a chore to hold in a genuine grin, but I can’t distract myself with humor, not if I want to witness her awakening.

“What… the…. ugh.” She croaks, finally seeing me.

Her face is a wash of feelings. She never hides it.

Oh, though she’s tried to these past few days, by attempting to put distance in the way.

“Tommy? You know you shouldn’t be here… are…are you in your underwear? What are you doing in my room in only your underwear?”

I place the cup on the table, half turning toward her blazing eyes.

Ah, it hasn’t sunken in yet.


I was hoping she’d fly across the room and put her mouth on me.

All in good time.

I’m patient as the next asshole with numerous Grammy’s and accolades to my name.

“This is my room,” I tell her. And for good teasing measure, I add. “And you’re in my bed.” This is all true. She hasn’t been in my bed in days. Such long days, punishing us both.

Her eyes widen. I see she’s trying to find answers.

I have them all here for her.

So, I start with the most important one of all.

“Good morning, my wife.”

I’m positive the hotel guests from five floors away hear the loudness of her stare when she arrows it in my direction.

I grin my fucking delight.

This woman. My woman.

She’s not so in control now, is she?

I’m ready for what comes next, especially if it includes Raene and her biting little claws.