Aiden Black thought he’d left his past behind when he abandoned the church. He channeled his desire to help others by creating WGA — Chicago’s premiere matchmaking agency. Aiden’s the expert at finding true love for his clients but he’s put his own needs on hold for a Very. Long. Time.
Violet Accardi doesn’t want to settle down and be a Mafia princess – she’s busy building her own sportswear company. Problem is her family’s a bit controlling: Mom wants grand babies. Uncle Vincent promised Violet’s hand in marriage to the son of a rival family and attempts to kidnap her at the WGA Christmas party.
Aiden shuts down the first kidnapping attempt by pretending to be Violet’s fiancé. He’s smoking hot, such a gentleman, and their chemistry is through the roof. Violet wonders what could it hurt to pretend to be in love with a gorgeous, classy, romantic guy — for just one night?
But Uncle Vincent calls their bluff, popping them both on a private jet headed to the Accardi home in Sicily for the holidays.
Life for Violet and Aiden is about to become more complicated…
“Bless me Father for I have sinned…”
I swirled my bourbon in the short crystal glass, took a long sip, and glanced around the room. Platters of colorful food were lined up on two banquet tables, the aromas of sauces, freshly baked breads and spices wafting through the air. A ten-foot-tall Christmas tree sparkled in the corner. White Glove Matchmaking Agency’s holiday party at Positano Trattoria was in full swing. Clients, friends, and employees laughed, flirted, and enjoyed themselves. Everything looked perfect. And yet I could feel in my bones that something wasn’t right.
This was the agency’s night to shine. With the exception of Valentine’s Day—this was our Super Bowl. I co-owned this business with my sister and her wife, but they were silent partners. Therefore, I chose the venue, the menu, and selected who was on the guest list. This year, at the urging of my therapist, I ceded some control, delegating the selection of the Christmas tree and the music to my assistant.
If the stars aligned tonight—guests’ eyes would meet and linger, sparks would flicker, and a match would be made. Within a year I’d be attending an upscale wedding, paying the Agency’s bills with a bonus check from the client who had found true love due to our agency’s expertise or at the very least, because of our exclusive roster of brilliant, beautiful, and moneyed members.
Which is why it jarred me when I spotted the petite, raven-haired beauty throwing a punch at a beefy red-faced guy who was twice her size. Her fist connected with his jaw but he barely flinched. He just stood there and blinked, appearing as dense as an over-cooked meatloaf.
“Not very lady-like,” the muscle head said to the young woman. “Come with me.”
She jammed her fists into the small of her waist. “No.” She strode away from him, her cocktail dress swirling. He followed, breathing meatloaf fumes down her neck.
Physical fights were a thing of my past. I’d had my share of back alley scuffles when I was a kid before I’d entered the church. But fist fights didn’t happen at White Glove events. I slammed my crystal glass on the bar and pushed my way through the crowd toward the young woman.
“Awesome party, Mr. Snack.” A guy slurred and raised his glass toward me.
“Name’s Black.” I edged through the sea of partygoers.
The bruiser clamped one beefy hand on the petite woman’s shoulder. Shivers raced up my arms. Should I call the cops?
“Vaffanculo!” She cursed the bully, swiveled, and kneed him in the balls. His face turned green. He groaned and keeled over clutching his groin.
Perhaps she was used to taking care of herself.
A few well-coiffed heads swiveled in their direction. Who was in charge of this party?
That would be me.
I reached for my phone to alert security when a woman whose boobs threatened to explode out of her low-cut dress seized my arm and slurred, “The appetizers are divine, Aiden.”
“You’re welcome.” I shrugged out of her grasp and pushed through the crowd toward the fireball in the cocktail dress with the mean right hook. I racked my brain, trying to remember who she was. The guests attending tonight’s bash included employees, friends, clients, and their spouses and dates. The gorgeous girl looked familiar. Client? Friend of a client? Fuck. I needed to update details and photos in my phone. Have this information just one Siri question away.
Beauty backed away from the beast, her velvet skirt swishing around her shapely calves. She shook her finger at him. “Don’t you ever, Salvatore—and I mean ever—try and kidnap me at a Christmas party again.”
Kidnap? Maybe I should call the cops. Yeah, that never worked out all that well for me in the past. Bing Crosby crooned “White Christmas” from invisible speakers and I ran smack dab into a bottleneck of partiers. My assistant shoved a squat glass into my hand. “Merry Christmas Mr. Black!” Hailey knocked back her shot. “Your turn!”
“Merry Christmas, Hailey!” I slugged it back, handed her the glass, and continued to elbow my way through the crush until I had a clear view of the beauty and the thug.
“Signorina Accardi,” the man said, running his fingers over his front teeth, I assumed to make sure they were all there.
I squinted. They weren’t.
“Ms. Accardi,” she said, backing away from him.
“Miss Accardi.” He stood and towered over her once again.
He was huge, looked threatening, and I felt the blood pounding in my ears. Beat. Beat. Beat. Something primal and masculine surged inside me and my throat tightened with the need to save this girl. I was torn between throwing myself between them or just going old school and tackling this asshole.
“Ms. Violet Accardi,” she said. “Not Signorina. Definitely not Miss.”
“Your uncle instructed me to bring you to him.” The ogre snapped his fingers.
She shook her head. “Uncle Vincent does not get to decide what I do or don’t do.”
“You are to meet your betrothed. Don’t make problems.”
She stamped her stiletto heel. “I am not meeting some random guy Uncle Vincent wants me to marry. Besides, do you even know where we are? Hello? White Glove Agency holiday party? I signed up for a matchmaking service. How do you know I haven’t met the right man already?”
“I would know.” He smirked. “Everyone in your family would know if you’d met the man you were supposed to marry. Your mother would stand on top of her roof, bang the soup pot with a spoon and announce it to the entire neighborhood.”
“Wrong. Mom stopped doing that when Raffi got engaged to Cheryl.”
“So, fiery,” he said, fanning his face.
“So, stupid,” the young woman said. “It rained the night before. Mom slipped, lost her footing, and slid down the fucking roof. Thank God she caught herself on the overhang before she fell off or I would have been attending her funeral instead of holding her hand after meniscus surgery.”
He crossed himself.
“She promised me, ‘Violet, if I don’t die on this stupid, cold, hard table with an ugly cap on my head that’s totally not my color, never again will I climb onto the roof and bang a pot. I’ll just post the news on Facebook.”
“‘That sounds like a plan, mama,’ I told her.”
“Still fiery,” the thug said.
I squirmed through the last of the people who had been sneaking glances at the pair, but for whatever reason hadn’t intervened. I caught my breath and stared at her.
Violet was mid to late twenties, petite, and in great shape. My eyes ran up her body. She wore black high heels, her calves lithe, defined. She was short, a little curvy, her thick brunette hair twisted into a soft updo secured with a rhinestone pin, her lips ruby red.
I strode to her side. “Violet. Sorry I’m late.” I took her hand, raised it to my mouth, and brushed my lips against the inside of her wrist. Her skin was soft, like the velvet on her dress, her perfume, sexy, intoxicating.
“Right…” She squinted up at me.
“Always your Aiden, my darling.”
“You’re not just ‘late,’ Aiden.” One eyebrow arched toward her hairline suggestively. “You’re horribly late. Where have you been?”
“Busy putting out fires. Making sure the drinks were flowing, the food was on track, and the party was perfect.”
“Is it?” She stared at me, a hint of a smile tugging up the corners of her lips.
Beauty was a risk-taker and frankly that was a turn on.
“Now it is.” I stared down at her, my dick waking up, throbbing against the confines of my dress pants. Beat. Beat. Beat. “Now that I’m with you.”
Salvatore glared at me. “Who are you?”
“You’ve never met?” Violet asked. “Might I introduce you to my favorite man in all of Chicago.” She swiveled and leaned in toward me. She stood on her tiptoes, her skirt brushing against my legs, causing a chill to zip down my spine before it detoured into my cock and then my balls.
She kissed me and my heart plummeted. Her mouth was soft, her breath warm. Her long hair brushed like silken strands across my face and I inhaled deeply. I was tempted to put one hand behind her narrow waist and draw her flush against me. But she pulled away, and stared up at me expectantly with large, chocolate eyes.
“Oh, Violet. You remembered the favorite part of my day.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Kissing you, love. The favorite part of my day will always be kissing you.”
“Oh.” She blinked.
I extended my hand to the beefy man who towered over me. “Hello. Nice to meet you.”
He stared at my hand like I had leprosy. “How do you know Violeta Accardi?”
“You haven’t heard the news? I’m the luckiest man in Chicago. Maybe the entire world.” I matched his stare. “Pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m Aiden Black. Violet’s fiancé.”
The Matchmaker: A Playing Dirty Rom-Com Copyright © 2017 Pamela DuMond ~ All rights reserved.