Witness to Passion

By: Naima Simone



A dark eyebrow winged high. “In a semi-lighted place where anyone could either be leaving the apartment or arriving? They didn’t even try to accost or rip you off. Their purpose was to take you out. It wasn’t a mugging, Fallon. It was a failed assassination attempt. And only two reasons why come to mind. You are the only eyewitness to a hit. And they want to make damn sure you’re not alive to testify.”

She shot to her feet, crossing her arms and rubbing her skin through her white shirt. Three months ago, she’d never heard of Jonah Michaels or the Lords of War. She’d had no clue that a daily stop in a coffee shop would end up in her witnessing a turf-war execution. Terrified but resolved to perform her civic duty even in spite of Michaels’s threat the day of the shooting, she’d picked the hit man, Jonah Michaels, out of a lineup and agreed to testify with the promise from the Boston PD and district attorney that her name and personal information would be kept under wraps.

“I don’t get it. Three months have passed and no sign of trouble. Why wouldn’t the cops contact me?”

“It’s possible it took Jonah Michaels and his crew that long to find out your name. Or it’s possible the detective on your case and the DA don’t know your identity has been compromised. But damn it, Fallon, the police force is known for leaking like a sieve.” His eyes narrowed. “Which brings me to my next question. Why did I have to hear about your witnessing a murder that happened three months ago from my sister instead of you? Why didn’t you come to me? Three months ago.”

Really? She fought not to laugh in his face. Oh, it could be the fact that if Shane could help it, he didn’t remain in the same room with her for any length of time. Ever since The Kiss, he’d avoided her like Montezuma’s revenge.

The kiss.

Their relationship could be separated into two eras: BK and AK. Before Kiss and After Kiss. High on turning eighteen and officially emerging out of the jailbait category, she’d cornered Shane in his family’s kitchen, fisted his shirt, plastered her breasts to his chest, and crushed her mouth to his. With him home on leave, she’d refused to pass up the opportunity to find out how her girlhood crush kissed. For one blissful moment, his firm mouth had softened, parted. His tongue had breached her lips, sweeping inside, and taking control of a kiss that segued from fumbling sweetness to blistering hot in under a nanosecond. God, even now she could feel those blunt fingertips digging into her hips, dragging her close as he ground the steely, freaking huge length of his cock against the pad of her pussy, directly over her clit. Like then, she shuddered. He’d been hot and hard for her. Her. Delighted and breathless, she’d pressed closer, moaned, then—nothing.

One moment she’d been drowning in her first real taste of sensual pleasure, and the next she’d been left standing alone, stunned, aching, and trembling with his terse “Not interested” ringing in her ears. He’d crushed her that night. If not in words, then definitely with actions. Her parents had told her they weren’t interested her entire life. With Addy, Shane, and their mother, Trudy, she’d believed she’d finally found people who were. Especially Shane, who’d become her knight in shining armor, her fairy-tale prince whom she’d been in love with for years. His rejection in such blunt terms—it’d cauterized a hope and dream that had been fragile but so sweet. From that night forward, her head and heart had registered Shane’s dismissal. But her body had yet to get on the same he’s-just-not-that-into-you program.

Really, in hindsight, she should be thankful he torpedoed her fantasies of “forever.” But just like Shane didn’t “do” her, she didn’t “do” forevers.

Long ago, Addy had confided in her about the wear and tear her and Shane’s childhood had taken on him. He’d become an adult way too early, compensating for a mother cursed with Peter Pan syndrome. As a result, he desired what he’d been deprived of as a boy. A home—a real home. With a wife and children.

Exactly what she could never give him.

Or more accurately, what she didn’t want to give him—or anyone. Marriage was for other people whose earliest memories weren’t of their parents arguing over their mother’s boyfriends—plural. Marriage was for the people whose mothers didn’t switch husbands as often as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. For people who didn’t mind risking their heart and emotional heath on someone and then face total devastation when the other person left. Because if she’d learned one thing from her parents’ marriage and her mother’s merry-go-round relationships, it was that someone always left.

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