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A tormented soul on the verge of breaking...
The night we met, I joked about being his cougar.
He said it depended on how much I could handle.
Nothing prepared me for how Sergey Ivanov turned my world upside down.
Borderline scandalous describes the things he introduces me to.
Every limit I reach, he knows to back off or keep pushing.
Each sinful touch is a catalyst for greedy desire I never knew existed within me.
Once I step into his world, it’s impossible to get out.
There’s no retreating from him.
It’s a magnetic pull swirling with pain and kindness unable to be defined.
The world views him as strong and intimidating.
I see love and demons he never should have been exposed to but can’t escape.
Even when he thinks it’s safe, it never really is.
He’s my cruel enforcer…
Before Zamir destroyed our lives, my mother always claimed when one door closes, another one opens. She would say it when we were down on our luck and barely had enough food or the lights would flicker off from an unpaid bill.
Somehow, she and my father always found a way to open the next door. Things in our home would get good again until the subsequent chain of events, so I always took new doors opening as a positive scenario.
Until Zamir showed me reality.
Ever since my father's death, I've seen how the door swings open but isn't full of light or ways to solve problems. All the new entryway represents is another path into some new situation, which seems to create more issues swirling with deeper pain.
Tonight, a new door opens. The feeling of dread washes over me when my phone rings. "Eloise, are you almost through security?" I've been in the airport waiting for her for over an hour. My driver parked in the car lot. According to the arrival screen, her flight landed, but she hasn't responded to my messages. It's not the first time she forgot to notify me when she got off the plane. And it's not always easy for her to get through the terminal, but this is the longest I've ever waited for her.
Over the last few months, Eloise's modeling career has significantly taken off. People recognize her wherever she goes and ask for autographs. While she won't admit it, she loves the attention. She will stop whatever she's doing and sign. I wanted to add a bodyguard to keep her safe, but she refused.
Her thick, French accent comes through the line. "Darling, I'm so sorry. I forgot to call you earlier today. I'm not coming to Chicago this weekend."
The pit in my stomach grows. "Is this a joke?"
Her voice turns to annoyance. "No. There's a new nightclub opening my agency wants me to attend."
I move to the side of the airport, toward the corner where there aren't any people. My delivery is calm, but I'm boiling inside. "I'm in the airport right now."
"Sorry. I got swamped, and it slipped my mind," she snaps.
Meaning, she wasn't thinking about me.
Does she ever?
"My brother's rehearsal dinner starts in an hour. The wedding is tomorrow," I bark.
Eloise groans. "Don't be dramatic. I'll see you next weekend."
My jaw twitches. I run my hand through my hair. "Don't bother coming. We're finished."
"What? Don't be silly. I'll fly in next weekend," she states, as if missing my brother's wedding weekend isn't a big deal.
I've said a lot of things to Eloise over the years. Never once have I told her I'm through with her. I breathe through my nose and close my eyes. "I told you months ago to plan on being here this weekend. It's a big event for my family. You've bailed the last two times, and this time, you didn't even bother to tell me you aren't coming."
"I flew in and surprised you to make up for it."
"Yeah, because you were horny as fuck, and only stayed four hours to get off," I spit out.
She rattles off something in French then says in English, "Stop being a baby. I'll see you next weekend."
"No. You won't. Have a nice life, Eloise." I hang up, text my driver to pull up, and storm outside into the snow. Out of all the nasty things Eloise has ever done, this I'm taking personally.
She's never committed to me. We only see each other when she's in Chicago. But she knows what my brothers mean to me.
I'm already agitated enough. My brothers and I intentionally created a war between the two most powerful crime families. The evidence we planted to set up one of Zamir Petrov's thugs was finally discovered. It linked him to the death of Lorenzo Rossi.
For months, we waited for the evidence to show up. It took all the patience I had to not obsess over it. If anything went wrong, the deal Boris made with Zamir for our freedom would be in jeopardy.
My mother created a debt with Zamir when my father died. My brothers and I were ignorant of it. Then Boris found out. I was twelve when Zamir kidnapped her. He made us learn to torture and kill men in order to save her. I don't remember which night with Zamir it was when my mother could no longer look at me. When he allowed her to return home, she couldn't bear to be in the same room as me.
We didn't get my mother back. We saved the shell of the woman who used to be her. The woman who returned to our home barely spoke to my brothers, but she completely ignored me. Shortly after, she killed herself. I came home and water was seeping under the bathroom door. I broke it down and found my mother in a bloody tub.
For five years, I barely slept. I never knew when Zamir would call. Nightmares haunted me. Men's voices, the smell of their decay, and visions of their agonizing faces filled my every thought day and night. None of it ever went away. Anxiety plagued me. If I fell asleep and missed his call, there would be consequences to pay. I learned the night of my mother's funeral what happens when you don't act on Zamir's wishes. My brothers got a front-row seat to watch.
Then, when I was seventeen, Boris negotiated a deal for our freedom. We aren't really free. Once a year, Zamir still owns Boris. That means he still owns us. Part of the deal is all Ivanovs are off-limits. So far, Zamir has held up his end of the bargain. I don't believe it will last forever. You can't mix with the devil and expect him to keep his word.
I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Whenever Boris gets the text from him, warning he's going to require him to do whatever sadistic thing he has planned, my fixation on killing Zamir and destroying everything he's a part of intensifies. My insomnia can last weeks. Sometimes it'll stretch past a month. Screwing Eloise was the one thing to calm me. Except for the last few months. The few times I've seen her, the spark I usually feel for her isn't there. She begs me for my dick as she always has when we're together. In some ways, she's more desperate than ever for what I give her.
The problem is, her confidence, which I usually admire, has morphed into ego and snobbery. The remarks she usually reserves for others have found their way to me. While I control her in the bedroom, I would never want her to be a doormat in public or private. Somehow, she's under the impression it's okay to treat me like one. I'm not sure when it changed. So much is going on, I didn't notice it until recently.
When Boris called a meeting and told us the war had started, a calm went through me. You would think a war would do the opposite, but I could have just had a mind-blowing orgasm and smoked a joint after, I felt so much peace. Then he dropped another bomb. And the ticking in my jaw and tightening of my chest started all over again.
The head of the Polish mafia, Bruno Zielinski, visited Giovanni Rossi in prison. Giovanni is Lorenzo's father and the head of the Italian mafia. It makes me uneasy. If they form an alliance against the Petrovs, it will be harder to keep things in equilibrium between each side. The war could backfire on us.
My mother's words, "When one door closes, another opens," ring in my ears, but I'm not sure I like what I see on the other side. One thing I've learned is you need to choose your door wisely. Eloise standing me up for an hour at the airport during my brother's wedding weekend is just the icing on the cake.
Everything about our relationship is about her. I should have ended things with her a long time ago. I kept thinking we were too good together for her not to eventually drop her I don't do relationships act and commit to me.
All she wants is my cock.
Sure, everyone close to me thinks she's a bitch. She's a strong woman. I like that about her. She can stand up for herself and doesn't let others take advantage of her. In public, she's a piranha. She'll eat you up and spit you out just for looking at her the wrong way. It's a quality I wish my mother would have had. Maybe then she wouldn't have fallen prey to Zamir.
I never reprimand Eloise for her actions. It turns me on watching her alpha attitude with others. Not the times she is nasty for no reason but the ones where others underestimate her. One time, someone commented on us being together since she's black and I'm white. It was a woman, so I couldn't show her my wrath like I would have had she been a man, but Eloise put her right in her place.
Alone in the bedroom, she can't do anything without asking for my permission. Usually, it's while she begs. She's submissive. I'm the opposite and demand full control. Experiencing her morph from the powerful, take-charge woman she shows the world to one who fully trusts me to determine her every move is something I get off on. The first time I showed her who was in charge confused her. She wasn't used to it. No one had made her succumb to their every wish or made her give up her control. She didn't understand how she could love it so much. It created an addiction within her for more. I saw it. It's a side of her no one else gets to see.
Well, not many.
I know she dates other men when she's not in Chicago. I'm free to see other women, too. I rarely take advantage of my freedom and don't ask Eloise details about the times we aren't together. I did once, and it ruined our weekend. So I stay away from the topic, pretending it's not happening.
But it is. She admitted it to me drunk one night. She also confessed she loves me, how I'm the only man who truly gives her what she needs, and how she wanted to only be with me.
Then she woke up sober the next morning and conveniently forgot everything she blurted out. She hopped on the first plane out of Chicago, and when I tried to discuss getting serious again, she told me she was drunk and didn't mean a word she said.
Things were tense between us for a while. I decided to stay away from her and tell her we were through. Then Boris pursued Nora in secret, we started getting pulled into the O'Malley's issues with the Rossis, and Zamir texted him. When he disappeared, I felt like my skin was crawling. Then Eloise showed up at my door. So I spent twelve hours controlling and fucking her until it was time for my workout with my brothers. I went to it, came home, then woke her up. I repeated tormenting her until she lost her voice from all the pleasure I gave her.
She left for her flight, and I felt calm again. It's then I decided to once more overlook her inability to commit to me.
The next time I saw her, I took her to a grand opening for a restaurant my brothers and I invested in. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. Then it hit me. She was annoyed to be with my family. She didn't want me to take her out to a nice dinner or spend the evening with people in my life. She was only here for my cock.
Her bitchy attitude was getting to me when an altercation with Lorenzo Rossi occurred. So she got her wish. I took her home and gave her what she wanted. But it didn't calm me how it usually did. That was the last time I saw her.
Now I get to be at all the events on my own this weekend.
I get in the car and light up a bowl. I need to calm down. I can't go into Anna and Dmitri's rehearsal dinner anything but happy for them. This is one of the rare times my brothers and I get to celebrate. I'll be damned if I let Eloise spoil it.
The ride to the restaurant isn't long. I pop a mint, rub lemon hand sanitizer on my palms, and try to cover up the scent of my weed as best as possible. My insides are still in turmoil but not as bad as at the airport.
I arrive and go through the motions. When Maksim turns up by himself, I'm surprised. I don't ask him where Aspen is, and I'm grateful no one asks me why Eloise isn't with me.
They're probably relieved.
It's not a secret my brothers don't like her. They've never said anything, but I'm not stupid.
I do my best to forget about Eloise and enjoy my family. At the end of the night, Maksim swiftly comes over to me and growls, "I need you to come with me."
I raise my eyebrows. "Seriously?" The Cat's Meow is a co-ed stripper nightclub. It has everything you could ever want for a night of trouble.
"This your way of trying to get over whatever is going on with you and Aspen?"
"Not funny," he barks.
I hold up my hands. "Easy there. All right. I'm not doing anything exciting. Guess it's a night at the Cat's Meow. But do you want to tell me why we are going there?"
He scowls. "To get my woman."
My anxiety only gets higher when he tells me Aspen and her friends are in Wes Petrov's VIP suite.
When we bust through the door, Zamir's son, Wes, and his three thug friends each have a woman on their laps. Adrian headlocks their guy on the door right away. I only glance at Aspen and can see she's drunk and not overly excited to be on Wes's lap. Her fear from the current scenario of us barging in with guns and knives pulled is evident in her expression.
I ignore the other women. All I see are a room full of Petrovs I want to slice and dice and toss to the lions to enjoy.
After throwing out some threats, we get the women out of the room. Adrian and I are left. We slowly back out and hightail it out of the club. Maksim is standing outside his car, and relief fills his face. Adrian and I get into the back of the other vehicle with three of Aspen's friends.
Like Aspen, they're all beautiful women. One has magenta hair and slides on top of Adrian the minute he sits. "Thanks for saving us," she says.
He stares at her.
The blonde woman twists her fingers and winces. "Thank you. Sorry about that."
I'm about to respond to her when the woman next to me slides her hand on my thigh. Electricity races straight to my cock. I turn and remind myself to breathe.
She's stunning. Her dark skin glows against the dim light in the car. Her hazel eyes pierce me. They swirl with confidence, but it's different than Eloise's. Hers has a warmth and coldness to them. It's a polarity I've never seen before. Her lips are lush and pouty. I think of a dozen different things I want to do with her mouth.
She puts her face right next to mine. "You're the youngest Ivanov brother?"
"Last time I checked."
She looks me up and down, and a stirring in my belly ignites. She tousles the top of my hair. "So you're a young silver fox?"
"Kora!" her blonde friend mutters.
I don't respond. Out of all my brothers, I started getting gray hair the soonest. I only have a little mixing into my black locks. Maksim's hair is the closest to mine out of all my brothers. Boris has only a few strands of silver. Dmitri shaves his head. When I made a comment about my hair, Maksim told me not to worry about it, claiming it's made women even more attracted to him.
Kora ignores her friends and leans even closer. The scents of tequila and flowers mix in my nostrils and send heat down my spine. Her eyes focus on my lips then she slyly drills her eyes into mine. "What do you think of cougars?"
"Kora!" the woman reprimands again while putting her hand over her mouth and laughing.
I lick my lips, studying her, and she inches her hand closer to my groin. I reach for her hair. I almost groan at how soft it is with just a hint of coarseness to it. I twirl it tight around my fist. I grip her hand on my thigh, move it to her other hand and secure my fingers around her wrists. "It depends on what the cougar can handle."
- Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
- Narrated by: Aaron Shedlock & Zara Eden
While I maintain privacy at the club, never letting anyone watch, I had an itch to build my own a year ago. One of my properties had a tenant moving out. I thought it was best to build it there so whoever I invited over wouldn't know where I lived.
I've never used it. All my activities are still at the club, and I wasn't sure why I held off. Then Tristano looked at me. It was the same hungry expression he directed at other women at the club.
And that's another issue. I know more about the Marino men and their conquests than anyone. I've seen every one of the brothers in action, including Tristano, whether it's a woman giving them a blowjob in their suite or their activities in the dungeon.
I know Tristano's always been a Dom. He's one of the best I've watched. He stays emotionally connected to his sub, and it's fascinating. So his ability to submit probably doesn't exist. Yet, I can't get the itch to dominate him out of my mind.
Since earlier today, when we had our make-out session in the SUV, it's only bugging me further. Besides reprimanding myself for crossing the line with him, I can't stop the urge from intensifying. Kissing Tristano was like another new surge of power. Maybe it's because we're both into dominating, but it's as if we were both challenging each other. I've never felt anything like it. And my desire to win at whatever game we were playing was like a shot of heroin. I'm chasing that high tonight, trying to find it, but everywhere I look is a dead end. No one even seems worth my time.
Find out what happens next in Carnal
You should listen to Carnal if you love:
- Dark Mafia Romance
- Secret Friends to Lovers
- Bosses Brother
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Omg Maggie Cole has done it again. I couldn’t put this down. Tristano’s and Pina story has you hooked from the start."-Reviewer
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Once again Maggie Cole has written a suspense filled, edge of your seat story centered around the Moreno Mafia family in New York. The Moreno men are dark, ruthless, protective, and Alpha. They protect their family and those they deem family ruthlessly and tirelessly."-Reviewer