Take Me Higher (Castaletta Syndicate #1) - Ali Parker


Darkness pulled around the edges of the night, the moon half-hidden behind the clouds and casting an eerie glow. Vivian reached up and pulled a long curly strand of her dark hair behind her ear. The sound of her heels clipped against the sidewalk as she picked up her languid walk to a hurried almost-jog.

Joe would kill her if he knew she was in the worst parts of town that late at night. If her husband was anything, he was overly protective where his family was concerned. A smile touched her lips as she thought of his doting. The hardest bastard in all of the city, and yet with her he was nothing but a softy, a lover.

She turned her head subtly as the sound of someone taking a step behind her caused her heart to jolt. She was tough and had been taught to fight alongside the other members of their syndicate, but her fear was palpable nonetheless. Being the Don's wife left her open to danger around every turn. She wouldn't have given it a second thought if the events of the week hadn't led her to worry about one of their own being after them.

She needed to talk with Joe, and wanted to put him on alert. If a knife landed in his flesh, it would be in the strong muscles of his back, because there was a rat. She finally had all of the evidence to prove it and she would — that night.

"Give me your purse."

"Go fuck yourself, creep." Vivian swung her purse toward the behemoth that stepped in front of her, the guy moving with ease. The hoodie he wore covered his face, dark hair falling across the shadows of his forehead. No way was she giving him the bag that held the perfect present for Joe. She'd been searching for days for the cuff links that he wanted, and the mugger in front of her was close to getting a bullet in his skull if he didn't back off.

"I'd rather fuck you, beauty." He moved forward, reaching toward her and pushing hard. She lost her footing, stumbling backward in to a dark alley, the half-moonless night doing nothing to help her gain her bearings. She tried to lift her hands, but a small crack in the dilapidated concrete beneath caused her to lose her balance.

She yelped and fell backward, the sound of her high heel cracking pissing her off. She hit the ground, and he dove forward, his large body crashing into hers. As she opened her mouth to scream, thick fingers covered her mouth, and her dark hair was yanked to the side, exposing the long line of her neck. She gagged against the smell of burned popcorn and musk.

The hot press of his tongue dragged across her throat, and she jerked away from him as bile rose up her chest. Not thinking too much about it, she pressed her mouth against his fingers and sank her teeth into his flesh. The taste of skin left her needing to empty the contents of her stomach.

He removed his hand for one minute, and she yelled into the night. "Do you know who my husband is? He's going to fucking slaughter you."

The guy laughed and slapped her hard across the face. The force of his strike smacked her head against the concrete beneath, stealing her breath and blurring the world.

Through hazy eyes she watched him reach down to undo his belt as he grunted low in his chest. A few other shadows crossed their path, but she couldn't make out if it were others coming to join them or not.

"I hope he'll try. You, my little doll, are just the bait we need. Moan if you like. This is the last fuck you'll get this side of the alley."

"Help," she whispered as dizziness pulled her into the darkness. Warm liquid coated the back of her head. She tried to reach out and slap him away as he tugged at her dress, exposing her thighs to the cold night air.

She whispered for help again as confusion washed over her.

Why was she on the ground? Who were the men standing around her laughing?

A few faces registered somewhere in the depths of her mind, a remembrance at seeing them at her dinner table at the mansion.

Her eyes closed as a large man lifted her up from the ground, her arms and legs limp. Air was so difficult to access, and the world closed in around her. Darkness raged