Pinched by a Grinch
Pinched by a Grinch
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- Mafia Prince
- Curvy Girl Heroine
- Arranged Marriage
- Holiday Romance
The holidays should be a time for celebrating with family and friends. Instead, I’m marrying a stranger. I have no idea what my husband-to-be is holding over my father, but if I don’t go through with the wedding, he’ll put an end to us all. I’ll do anything to save my family—including marrying a monster.
She’s sweet, pure, and an innocent pawn in the dangerous games grown men play. The only way to save her from a fate worse than death is by forcing her hand. I’m the last man anyone would accuse of being soft-hearted, but there’s something about the wide-eyed, curvy beauty that compels me to intervene. Once I own her, she’ll be safe. At least from everyone but me.
Get a Sneak Peek at Chapter 1
Get a Sneak Peek at Chapter 1
“Hold your head high, Tanzy.” My father tightened his grip on my arm. We were standing in the foyer of one of the oldest Catholic churches in Chicago, and I was about to walk down the aisle to marry a man I’d never met.
I took in a deep breath, filling my lungs and trying to steady my nerves. I might not have ever met Aiden Murphy, but I’d heard of him. Everyone in Chicago had. He was the heir apparent to the Irish mob that had been controlling half of Chicago since the days of Al Capone.
And I was about to become his wife.
The doors leading into the church opened, revealing the long, narrow aisle. I raised my chin and stared straight ahead. I wasn’t eager to get my first in-person look at the groom. Thanks to the internet, I knew what he looked like: tall, broad-shouldered, dark blondish-brown hair, and deep green eyes. His good looks had graced the covers of many local magazines, and he was listed as one of the most eligible bachelors and richest men in Chicago.
None of that mattered to me.
I was no one—the only daughter of two Italian immigrants who’d created an honest life for themselves with a chain of pizzerias on Chicago’s north side. Somehow, the Murphy family had something on my father. Something they were using as leverage to force me to marry their mobster prince. I had no idea what he wanted with me, but I’d do anything for my family, including sacrificing myself to save them.
As the hauntingly beautiful music began to play, I took my first step… toward a man I already hated.
The sound of my heels tapping on the polished marble floors echoed through the church. My mother stood in the first row and pressed a lace handkerchief to her eyes. Except for a few close family members who’d been summoned to attend, the pews sat empty. This wasn’t how I’d envisioned my wedding day.
The groom’s sister was my only attendant. Her dark red hair had been swept into an elegant twist. She gave me a shy smile as I reached the front of the church. My father lifted the veil my mother had worn when they married thirty years ago under much happier circumstances. He pressed a kiss to my cheek, gave my hand a final squeeze, and nodded to the man standing in front of the altar.
I forced myself to face forward and finally shifted my gaze to look at my betrothed. He didn’t smile, didn’t offer any words of encouragement, and gave no indication that anything but ice flowed through his blue-blooded veins. I took the arm he offered and let him lead me up the few steps to stand in front of the priest.
The ceremony passed in a numb blur. I heard myself agreeing to love and cherish the stranger by my side but felt nothing. The only indication I had that I was still alive was the brief warmth of his breath on my cheek before he pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of my mouth. Then he linked his arm through mine and led me back down the aisle to the rear of the church where I’d stood with my father not even thirty minutes before.
In the space of less time than it took to bake one of my family’s deep-dish, Chicago style pizzas, I’d become wife to one of the most powerful men in Chicago.
We passed through the doors of the church and into the frigid night air. A huge boulder of a man opened the back door to the black limo waiting at the curb. Aiden held my bouquet while I climbed inside, then slid onto the leather seat next to me.
He passed the bouquet back along with a thick faux fur blanket from the seat across from him. “This ought to keep you warm.”
“Thank you.” I pulled the blanket up around my shoulders, grateful for the additional barrier between us. My father had told me Aiden Murphy was a dangerous man, not that I’d needed the warning. A complete stranger could tell with one glance not to underestimate my new husband.
The car drove a few short blocks, then pulled over to the side of the road. “I’ll have Mick take you back to the condo,” Aiden said.
I didn’t expect us to fall into each other’s arms, but I hadn’t planned on spending my first night as a newlywed alone. “Where are you going?”
“I’ve got business to attend to.” A muscle along his jaw twitched while he waited for one of his men to open the back door.
The same man who’d been outside the church stood next to the limo. “Boss, I can take care of the meeting with—”
“I’ll handle it myself. Take Mrs. Murphy back to the penthouse and make sure she has everything she needs. Understood?” Aiden got out of the car and smoothed his hand over the front of his tuxedo jacket. Light from the streetlamp reflected off the thick platinum band on his left ring finger. I got the impression my new husband didn’t like being questioned when he issued a command.
Huddled under the blanket, my back pressed against the soft leather seat, the truth of my situation pressed down on me. I was now at the mercy of this man.
He leaned down, his gaze seeking mine in the darkness of the limo. “You’ll be safe with my team.”
For a brief moment, the lines around his eyes softened. I almost thanked him but stopped myself. Why the hell should I thank a monster for making me his prisoner for the rest of my life? I nodded instead. At least he wasn’t forcing me to consummate our sham of a marriage. Not yet anyway.
His fist thumped the roof of the limo a few times before he straightened. He might be cold as ice, but the way his body moved under his tailored tux sent a wave of heat rolling up my chest and over my cheeks. The warmth lingered while I watched him slide into the backseat of a big black SUV in front of us.
The man he’d called Mick got into the front seat with the driver, and the limo pulled away from the curb. I had no idea where I was going or what kind of life waited for me as Aiden Murphy’s new bride. The only thing I knew for sure was that I needed to find a way out.
My father refused to talk about the deal he’d brokered, leaving me completely in the dark. Sooner or later, he’d tell me exactly what the Murphy family had on him that made him sacrifice his only daughter. Until then, I’d do my best to protect him.
The mobster prince probably thought he’d secured a quiet, obedient bride who’d be content to follow his command.
He might have the luck of the Irish on his side, but he’d learn soon enough that my blood burned with the fire and resilience of my Italian ancestors. It would serve him well not to underestimate me.