TITLE: Dark Secret
SERIES: Darker Daddy Bodyguards Book 2
Author : Sue brown
RELEASE DATE: July 28, 2022
Universal – https://readerlinks.com/l/2534945
Series Link – https://readerlinks.com/l/2534946
He killed his father. Now he expects to die in the cave. Alone. No one knows where he is. No one cares. The only thing keeping him from falling apart is the sound of a heartbeat in the darkness, strong and there for him.
Paolo killed his father, the head of the ruthless Acierno Mafia family, and fled the family home. Now he’s been kidnapped and held hostage, but he doesn’t know who kidnapped him or why. All he knows is he expects to die, alone in a cave.
Tiger’s tired of doing protection detail for Z-list celebrities and stroppy teenage kids of politicians. He’s also exhausted, his dreams full of cold and pain and a faint heartbeat reaching out to him.
Then he’s offered an assignment by Nico Acierno, the Prince of Darkness, to find his missing twin brother. He doesn’t want to take the assignment, but he’d like to sleep again without these dreams.
Will Tiger find Paolo before it’s too late?
Book #2 in Sue Brown’s Darker Daddy Bodyguard series, a Mafia Daddy Romance.
I killed my father with one shot. The second I raised the gun and fired at Don Giovanni, the head of the Seattle Mafia Acierno family, I signed my own death warrant. I thought I’d meet my end at the hands of the Prince of Darkness, my twin brother, Nico, even though I fired to save his life. Instead, I’m going to die alone in this cave. Left to starve to death, locked in a cage by a man who never speaks to me.
I have no idea why I’ve been kidnapped, no idea why I’ve been left for so long. I know no one cares enough to rescue me. Not even my twin. Especially not my twin. Not one person gives a damn if I live or die. No one knows my dark secret.
The only thing that’s kept me alive so far is the sound of a heartbeat, strong and sure in the darkness. It never falters, never fades away. I listen to its regular beat. Male, I’m sure of it. Strong. It keeps me alive.
The sound of running water woke Paolo Acierno from his restless dreams. He spent most of his time asleep now. There was nothing else to do.
“Ow! Hell!” It was barely more than a cracked whisper. His throat was dry, his voice almost non-existent, after an eternity of being held in the cave.
It must have rained. Paolo leaned toward the stream of water that ran down the wall of the cave to capture some in his dry mouth. An increase in the flow of water was one of the few changes Paolo noticed. He wondered whether it was raining now. Before he’d been kidnapped, he barely glanced outside the window. Now it was one of the major things he thought about.
When it rained heavily the water puddled in his cage. Paolo hated that as he couldn’t get away from it. He sat in one corner of the cage which had been his prison since he woke up from a drugged stupor and discovered he had plunged into the hell of eternal darkness. His wrists were bound, and he couldn’t break the zip ties. The cage was large enough for him to stand and move around for a few paces, but that was it.
At first, he’d made sure he exercised regularly. The next time his kidnapper came near him, Paolo would be out of there. But the kidnapper was a pro and Paolo never found a chance to escape. Now he huddled in the corner and never bothered to try, his spirit broken. His wrists were raw from the zip ties and moving hurt like hell.
Paolo slaked his thirst with a few mouthfuls of water. The water had felt like a slow form of torture for a man used to bottled water. It was disgusting, earthy, and heavily laden with minerals. As Paolo was bound, he couldn’t move away from the constant drip. Now the water was the only thing keeping him alive. One day he would stop drinking and wait for death.
When he was first kidnapped, Paolo had dreamed about the rich dinners and excellent coffee he’d left behind. It all seemed a distant memory now. His whole life had narrowed down to this cage, the dripping water, and the strong heartbeat in his mind. Paolo had thought he was going mad, the da dum of the heartbeat in sharp contrast to the drip drip of the water. He’d thought it was his own heartbeat until he realized how strong it was. Then he’d wondered if it was Nico’s, but he and his twin had never had a psychic connection. Paolo spent hours listening to the heartbeat. It kept him sane. He laughed at the thought that a phantom heartbeat was the only thing keeping him tethered to his humanity.
Even after all this time, Paolo didn’t know where he was or who had kidnapped him. He knew it was one man who coughed and spat on the ground. At first, he’d visited every few days with food which Paolo crammed down his throat. Paolo had swiftly learned not to antagonize him, or he would be beaten. By now Paolo barely noticed how cold and hungry he was. He accepted the food to keep him alive. The days between the man’s visits grew longer, the food barely a few mouthfuls, the beatings harder. The man was angry about something.
They—whoever they were—were keeping him alive. He didn’t know why. But Paolo knew he didn’t have long left to live. If the cold didn’t get him, the lack of food would. He was weak and exhausted. He stank and soiling himself was inevitable. Every so often, the man would uncuff his wrists and force him to wash in ice-cold water and change into another cheap hoody and sweatpants. Once, Paolo would have attempted to kill the man. Now he wanted this to be all over.
He’d given up wanting to live ages ago, not that he had much idea of how long he’d been down here. There was no night. No day. He could only measure time in the visits of the kidnapper, the speed of the running water, and the heartbeat in the darkness.
Paolo tugged on his wrists, trying to break the bond. But what was the point? Even if he got his hands free, he would still be trapped in a cage. In a cave. There was nowhere for him to go.
If only he hadn’t killed his father. If only he’d let his father kill Nico as he’d intended, then he wouldn’t be down here, alone and starving to death in a cave. But while Paolo Acierno was a bastard to his brother, he would never have let another kill him, not even their father, the head of the Acierno family. Don Giovanni had made two mistakes. No, three. He’d underestimated Nico’s brutal bodyguard. He’d underestimated Nico’s desire for power. And he’d underestimated Paolo’s rage for just about anything.
Paolo laughed to himself in the darkness. It was his rage at the unfairness of it all that had kept him alive all these weeks. That, and the heartbeat of a man who didn’t know he existed.
“Who are you?” he whispered.
Who was the man who kept him from tumbling into the eternal darkness, who could exposed his dark secret?
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Sue Brown is a Londoner with a dream to live on a small island. Coffee fuels her addiction for writing romance with hot guys loving each other, and her Adorkadog snores in harmony as she creates.
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Email: [email protected]