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Ruined (Special Edition)

Ruined (Special Edition)

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I thought he was nothing more than a rebellious fling. But now I’m his…with no way out.

Ibiza was meant to be an escape. With my father dead, my brother sent away, and my mother frantically trying to marry me off to anyone who will have me, all I want is to forget all of this is happening. So when my friends give me the opportunity to sneak away with them to the mecca of yachts, parties, extravagance and sin–I take my chance and go.

 I have every intention of leaving my worries behind me in Chicago, and my virginity in Ibiza–and David is everything I want. Handsome, charming, and utterly uninterested in anything beyond our brief fling, the whirlwind romance he takes me on is one I plan to enjoy every second of, taking only the memories of it when I go.

But too late, I find out that memories aren’t all I have left of our time together. And when I discover that the man I’m meant to marry is the same one who swept me off my feet an ocean away, that secret becomes something far worse. It could end our unwanted union–or make it impossible to escape. 

I thought I’d never see him again. But now he’s my reluctant groom–and I’m going to be his ruined bride.

Ruined is a full-length standalone. If you like dark mafia romances, enemies to lovers, or boss/employee dynamics, you’ll love this new book! 

Main Tropes

  • Enemies To Lovers
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Arranged Marriage

Synopsis

I thought he was nothing more than a rebellious fling. But now I’m his…with no way out.

Ibiza was meant to be an escape. With my father dead, my brother sent away, and my mother frantically trying to marry me off to anyone who will have me, all I want is to forget all of this is happening. So when my friends give me the opportunity to sneak away with them to the mecca of yachts, parties, extravagance and sin–I take my chance and go.

I have every intention of leaving my worries behind me in Chicago, and my virginity in Ibiza–and David is everything I want. Handsome, charming, and utterly uninterested in anything beyond our brief fling, the whirlwind romance he takes me on is one I plan to enjoy every second of, taking only the memories of it when I go.

But too late, I find out that memories aren’t all I have left of our time together. And when I discover that the man I’m meant to marry is the same one who swept me off my feet an ocean away, that secret becomes something far worse. It could end our unwanted union–or make it impossible to escape.

I thought I’d never see him again. But now he’s my reluctant groom–and I’m going to be his ruined bride.

Ruined is a full standalone novel!

Click Here To Read An Excerpt

I savor my very first pina colada, the really sweet and very strong beverage that’s a perfect complement to the bright Ibiza sunshine. The moment I find myself thinking I'm ready for a second one, a man appears with perfect timing.

The sun is now eclipsed by his eight-pack abs and tan hand that just so happens to be offering me another cup of the creamy, icy drink. 

“What a nice surprise.”  I offer a smile and glance upwards to find a broad chest with tan skin and blue eyes as clear as the water outside. 

“A pretty girl like you should always have a drink in her hand. And that one looked like it was getting a little low.” If you don’t remember me, I’m Bradley. You can call me Brad.” He flashes his flawless smile, teeth polished to perfection by the dentistry his daddy's money paid for. 

I don't remember him. The majority of the people on this yacht are strangers to me. I'm only here thanks to a friend's spontaneity and my own recklessness. All the hallmarks of a perfect spring break. 

“Amalie.” I turn my head as Brad flops onto the empty lounge chair next to me. I hear the sound of my friend Claire shifting on the other side, no doubt wanting a good view of the conversation that's about to unfold. His smile doesn’t falter. “Can I call you Lia?” There’s a clear flirtation in his voice as his eyes sweep over my figure that's stretched across the lounge chair. 

For once, I'm glad I put so much effort into my looks today. Of course I'd never admit that to my mother, who has always been so relentless about diet and fitness and beauty.

“I prefer Amalie.” I say it with a smile, just enough of an edge to my voice to let him know that I’m not going to make it that easy on him. “You’ll have to get to know me better before we talk about nicknames.”

Now, as Brad’s gaze slides over my perfectly toned body and the black bikini that covers only what absolutely needs to be covered, all the way up to my plump lips and luxurious auburn hair, I’m secretly grateful that my mother encouraged this innate vanity in me.  

He wants me. I can tell by the beginnings of a hard-on I spot growing behind his patterned swim trunks. It only becomes more obvious when his gaze settles back on my breasts. 

Back in Chicago, all of my mother's worrying about looks felt pointless. She's been

reminding me since I was old enough to hop on a treadmill and pronounce probiotic that it was my duty, as the Leone family’s second child and only daughter, to entice men. Not just any man, but one with the appropriate wealth and family connections to earn the right to slide a diamond onto my finger, preferably as close to my eighteenth birthday as possible. Never mind that I had ideas about things like going to college and sexual exploration and travel and independence. My family–like every other crime family in the upper mid to northeastern States and probably beyond–is permanently stuck in the era of marriage alliances and using their daughters as bargaining chips. I didn’t see the point in my dinner portions being rationed out or the long workout sessions, the biweekly yoga classes or the countless hours at the spa for facials, manicures, and hair extensions.  Why go through all that trouble and wasted time when the man picked for me wouldn’t be marrying me for  my looks. He’d be doing it for the association with my family name, our ties to Sicily, and the considerable wealth that would come with me. 

I might still be a virgin, but I already know how predictable men can be.

I tilt my glass, letting the last of the creamy drink drip into my mouth, leaving the smallest bit on my lower lip. Brad watches, his gaze glued to my mouth, as I lick it away.

“So, uh–”  he swallows, “How are you here, anyway? I mean, who–”

To my other side, I hear Claire stifling a giggle.

“Who do I know?” I look at him innocently. It’s such a crass question, and it’s a clear reminder of the divide between me and everyone else here, that difference between new and old money. My family goes back generations, to some of the oldest Sicilian mafia ties, but that wouldn’t mean a thing to these sons and daughters of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, tech billionaires, and celebrities. They talk about content and cryptocurrency and markets like it really matters, like all of that hasn’t made their families rich overnight. 

Like it couldn’t all disappear just as easily.

That’s why I like it here, though–part of why I was so quick to jump on Claire’s offer. Here, I’m not the daughter of a mafia boss, I’m just Claire March’s friend, tagging along for her spring break adventure in Ibiza, lucky to be asked.

Also, considering my family’s recent misfortune, I don’t have such a high horse to ride on any longer.

“She knows me.” Claire pipes up, rolling onto her side and propping her elbow up. I see Brad’s gaze slide to her–surreptitiously, and only for a brief second. Claire’s boyfriend is never all that far away,and Brad knows better than to get caught checking her out. Although, with her knife-sharp blonde bob, yoga-taut figure and perfectly sculpted cheekbones, Claire is worth getting into a little trouble to look at. “I invited her. My mother went to college with–”

I let the sound of Claire rattling off her family connections drone into the background briefly, while I take another look at Brad. 

Could he be the one? 

I made myself a promise before coming here,,that Ibiza would be where I’d find someone to unburden me of the virginity that I’ve been forced to cling to for so long. 

I didn't dare to lose it in Chicago out of fear that the lucky guy I picked might brag, that word would spread back to my family. It was too risky. But here in Ibiza- 

Here, no one is going to tell. I can do as I please.

“Do you travel a lot?” Brad scoots a little closer to the edge of his lounge, near enough to me that I can smell his lemony cologne and the scent of sunscreen. “What do you think of Ibiza?”

“I’ve been to Italy a few times. My family has property there.” I stretch out, arms up over my head, arching like a cat in the sun. I can see the twitch of Brad’s cock under those too-thin boardshorts he’s wearing, and I know that he’s mine if I want him. I’m not sure yet, though. You’ve only been here a few days, I remind myself. No need to jump too soon. There’s most of the vacation left still. “But nothing so crazy as this. I had to sneak out, can you believe it? But I couldn’t pass up Claire’s invitation.” I reach for the piña colada that he brought me, pursing my lips around the straw. 

“Your parents don’t know you’re here?” Brad’s eyes light up a little–he likes the idea of me being a little rebellious, clearly. If only he knew. “What, you snuck out through the window?”

“Basically.” I laugh, shading my eyes with one hand as I look at him. “I don’t know if my mom has seen through my excuse or not. But I haven’t been looking at my phone, so–” I shrug. 

Brad looks briefly confused. “But how–oh, you’re probably saving all the pictures to post on social media when you get back.” He nods sagely. “One of those girls who doesn’t do candids and selfies. All planned.” From his tone of voice, I can’t tell if he thinks that’s a good thing or not.

“I don’t have social media,” I tell him flatly. 

He stares at me for a moment before he realizes I’m not joking. “What? Wait, you’re serious–”

I shrug again. “Not allowed. My parents are super strict. And it just never bothered me that much. You’ve got to pick your battles, right?”

“Um–yeah. That makes sense.” It’s clear that Brad’s three brain cells are all struggling to grasp what I’ve just said, and I sit up a little, taking another drink. He’s not very smart, I think as I watch him out of the corner of my eye. But does he need to be?

I don’t entirely know what I want out of my first time, exactly. I know I want it to be good–as good as it can be. I know I don’t want my partner to know I’m a virgin–I don’t want to make a big deal of it. But other than that–

I almost think I’d prefer someone a little older. Someone closer to thirty, at least–not so close to my own age. If I had to guess, I’d put Brad at twenty-three or so…still the age when I’m pretty sure guys don’t really give a shit about anything beyond their own pleasure. When I go home, the specter of an arranged marriage will still be haunting our house, waiting for someone to give my mother the win she so desperately needs. And when that happens, I doubt there will be very many thrills in my marital sex life.

Those thrills are going to have to happen now, in this place of pure hedonism and vice, if they’re going to happen for me at all. Which means I have to be careful about my choice.

Or I could pick more than one. I bite my lip, considering. There’s merit to that, too. If I fuck Brad tonight, it could be someone else tomorrow. My ‘slut era,’ as Claire so eloquently put it when we talked about this on the flight over. A brief one, for sure, but shouldn’t I take advantage of the little freedom I have?

“How do you know Claire?” Brad’s voice cuts in, as he steers the conversation back to what is, apparently, the most comfortable territory for him. “Your parents, or–”

“College. We’re both art history majors. She’s better at note-taking than I am, so…here we are.” I flash him another smile, just as Claire gets up from her lounge chair, unfolding her lanky, slim body and turning to look at me.

“I’m going to go get us shots,” she says with a grin. “We’ll be going out to dinner in a few hours–we should pre-game! And then the club after that.” She glances at Brad. “You’re welcome to come if you want.” 

The invitation is given off-handedly, as if Claire couldn’t care less if he comes along or not, which is the absolute truth. She’s just giving me a chance to seal the deal if I want, which I appreciate. At the very least, it’ll give me more time to decide.

“Anyway–” I shrug, laying back down. “We studied together a few times, and really hit it off.” Hit it off is an understatement–Claire is the first close friend I’ve ever had. I grew up around the other mafia daughters, but there was always an underlying competition there.As the daughter of one of the more prominent families, there was always the question of whether or not they were just using me to get closer to what my connections could offer them. But for Claire, there’s none of that. Her goal as my friend became to find ways to temporarily break me out of what she called my “claustrophobic life,” and over the past year, she’s accomplished that in a number of ways. “Studying” was always an excuse that got me out of the house. After that, it was just a matter of slipping out of Claire’s house with her undetected by my security, and out to whatever party or concert or event she decided I needed to experience. But this–

Ibiza is something else, altogether.

I take the last sip of my pińa colada just as Claire sways back up with two shot glasses in her hands. I feel a little fuzzy around the edges already–the most I’ve ever had to drink when I’ve snuck out with Claire back home is a couple of beers, for fear that I’d be hungover the next day and my mother would figure it out.

Claire hands me one of the shots–pointedly, she didn’t bring one for Brad–and tosses hers back as I take a sip of mine. “Do the whole thing at once!” she chides, another one appearing out of nowhere that she tosses back just as smoothly as the first, and I try not to make a face as I try to do the same.

It’s lemony and sickly sweet, with a sharp burn at the back of my throat, but somehow I manage not to cough. Claire grins, flinging herself back onto the lounge chair, her gaze somewhere off in the distance, watching the others spread out across the deck of the yacht. 

My gaze drifts back over to Brad, now ensconced in conversation with two other guys by the railing, and I wonder if anything will come of it tonight.

I wonder if I want it to.

One nap and a luxurious, eucalyptus-scented shower later, I find myself jostling for space on the bathroom counter with Claire as we get ready for dinner. I borrowed more than a few things from her closet for this trip, and I’m so in love with the dress I borrowed for tonight that I want to keep it. It’s a jewel-blue minidress, tight in the front with a loose, draped back, coming just to the tops of my thighs, with delicate silver chain straps at the shoulders. Claire is running a straightener through her sharp bob, the candy-sweet smell of hair gloss filling the humid room. My heart flutters in my chest, every ticking minute bringing me closer to whatever tonight will bring. 

I don’t ever want this week to end.

We end up seated outdoors at a tapas-style restaurant, the warm, humid night air wrapping around us as laughter and conversation fills the air. I don’t know most of the people at the table–some of them I saw on the yacht today, and some of them I’ve never seen before in my life–but I don’t care. A model-gorgeous girl across from me with a mane of tightly curled black hair is asking me about my art history degree, and I answer the questions without really thinking. What does it matter if I tell the truth? I think with a sort of giddy glee that almost feels like a high. I’ll never see her again anyway

I reach for a carafe of sangria, refilling my glass, and hand it to Claire. There’s fruit floating on the top of it, and I catch one of the lemon pieces with my teeth at the rim of my glass, enjoying the sweetness as it bursts over my tongue. I can feel Brad’s eyes on me, his hand grazing along the side of my bare thigh, and he leans over, whispering in my ear.

“Claire said you’re all going out dancing after this. Mind if I come along?”

I turn my head to look at him. He’s close enough to kiss, and I have the wild thought that I could do that right here. Not exactly my first kiss–that was some drunken band member at an underground show in Chicago that Claire took me to–but close enough. 

“Do whatever you like,” I tell him flippantly, letting my gaze flick from his ocean-blue eyes down to his mouth and back up again. Playing hard to get is fun, I’m finding, especially with someone so willing to chase. I want to make him work for it a little more, even if I decide to let him catch me in the end.

I have no idea who pays for dinner. A pile of credit cards are thrown into the middle of the table, and I avoid tossing mine into the mix this time–I’ve tried not to use mine too often, in case my mother checks the transactions. Claire grabs my arm as I get up, steering me towards the waiting car.

“Is he gonna be the one?” she asks me in a hushed whisper, a giggle behind the words. “You can take him back to our room later if you want. I’ll go stay with Jean. But you have to call me if you need anything, okay? Don’t let him push you into anything–”

“I don’t know yet.” I keep my voice low too, resisting the urge to glance back. “Maybe I’ll meet someone else at the club tonight. Who knows? I’m not ready to decide–”

Claire giggles again. “You’re not marrying him, silly. Just let loose and have fun. Besides–” 

She lets out a squeak as Jean slides into the car next to her, his hand sliding up her thigh despite the fact that the rest of us are right here. I can see his fingertips dancing along the inside of it, just under the hem of her dress, and Claire’s already alcohol-flushed cheeks blush deeper. 

Jean leans over, murmuring something in her ear, and she lets out another gasping squeal as he pulls her into his lap. Next to me, Brad is pouring champagne, handing me a flute as he nestles closer. I’m next to the door, and there’s precious little space. I can feel the heat of his broad body seeping into my skin, the lemony scent of his cologne filling the air as his hand lands on my leg, squeezing just above the knee.

“You’re gonna like this place we’re going to,” he tells me, draining his champagne flute and filling it again. “It’s the best club in Ibiza. There’s a whole light show–you’ve never seen anything like it. And plenty of spots to sneak off to.” His hand slides a little higher, and I glance over to see that Jean has Claire facing forward on his lap now, her hands on his shoulders as she squirms a little. My own face flushes as I realize that I’m pretty sure he has his hand up her skirt–that my best friend might be getting fingered right now in front of me. I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or aroused, and I suddenly, desperately want some air. 

Brad’s fingers are making circles on my inner thigh, his voice droning on in my ear about what he considers to be the top five party spots in Ibizabut I can’t take my eyes off of Claire and Jean. She’s kissing him, her knuckles almost white where she’s holding on to him, and as her hips move I know for sure that I’m watching him get her off. 

That could be me. I could put Brad’s hand up my skirt and he’d do the same thing, if I wanted him to. I sit there frozen, feeling an insistent pulse between my thighs that makes me ache in ways I’ve never felt before, and I’m suddenly very certain that I’m going to sleep with someone tonight. I’m still not sure if it’s going to be Brad, but it very well might be.

Jean looks over Claire’s shoulder, breaking the kiss as she buries her face in his neck, and his eyes lock with mine for just a moment–just long enough to see the smirk on his face as he realizes I’m watching. I see her hips shudder, see his other hand clamp around the back of her neck as he drags her mouth back to his–to stifle the sounds, I realize with a fresh wave of desire and embarrassment–and I realize she’s coming, just as the car rolls to a stop in front of the club. 

We all pile out as the doors open, but Jean and Claire hang back. I get one glimpse of her sliding to her knees on the floor, her hands reaching for the front of his shorts, before he shuts the door and the wave of my newfound “friends” carries me inside the club.

“I’ll get us drinks!” Brad’s voice carries over the noise, as I glance back towards the entrance. 

“I should wait for Claire–” I bite my lip nervously, feeling suddenly thrown off. I hadn’t expected her to not be here with me the whole way–there’s no one here that I know as well as her, not even the few other friends from our Chicago group who came along. The club feels huge and a little scary, and I take a deep breath, trying not to be upset with her for leaving me like this.

“Don’t worry, she’ll be back in no time.” Brad grins at me. “I bet Jean won’t take long to get his dick sucked. Come on, Lia. I’ll buy you whatever you want to drink.”

“It’s Amalie.” I glare at him, emphasizing it, but from the look on his face as he draws me towards the bar, I don’t think it sank in.

He was right about one thing. I barely have my drink in my hand–some kind of sugary, fruity concoction–when I see Claire making her way towards me. She’s dabbing at the corner of her mouth with one hand, and she grabs me the moment she’s within reaching distance.

“Come with me to the ladies’,” she says, peeling me away from Brad, who looks more than a little miffed. I follow gladly, drink still clutched in my hand, and Claire shuts the door behind her as soon as we’re inside the luxuriously appointed ladies’ room.

“Sorry about that,” she murmurs breathlessly, looking in the mirror as she takes her lipstick out of the small clutch she’s holding. “Jean likes to watch and be watched–it gets him off, you know? He was feeling a little frisky. I didn’t want to leave him hanging.”

“It’s fine.” I laugh tightly. “If anything, I’m a little jealous.”

“Well, that’s why we’ve got to find you someone!” Claire grabs my hand as we headback out of the bathroom, towards the bar and dance floor. “Someone who’ll do all the crazy things you can imagine this week, where everything stays here and nothing matters.” She grabs a glass from a passing shot tray, downing it and dropping the glass on a nearby table. “Come on!”

Claire loves dancing. We’ve ended up at concerts and clubs more than anywhere else when she’s convinced me to sneak out with her back home, and Ibiza is no different–just a more frenetic pace and more freely flowing vice. The crush of bodies on the dance floor is warm and pulsing, and Claire and I lose ourselves in the middle of it. The heat flows through me, making my dress cling to my skin and my hair stick to the side of my neck, a cloying feeling that I find strangely exhilarating. Claire spins around, gyrating against me as she flings her head back against my shoulder, her blond bob tickling my neck as I look around the seething dance floor.

Who am I going to pick? Brad is seeming less and less like the option I want to go with, but he’s been monopolizing so much of my attention that I haven’t really noticed anyone else. As Claire and I break away from the dancers, going in search of some water for her, I scan the bar, my pulse beating a little faster in my throat as I consider the possibilities. 

And then I see him.

At the end of the bar, surrounded by three, no, four other women, is a man more breathtakingly gorgeous than anyone I think I’ve ever laid eyes on. In a club full of men in shorts and t-shirts and tank tops, half of them shirtless already in the thickly hot air, this man is wearing suit trousers and a button-down with the top two undone, his sleeves rolled up to showcase muscled forearms darkly inked with tattoos that I notice from all the way down the bar. He has thick, swept-back dark hair, a sharp jaw and chiseled cheekbones, and even though I can’t see the color of his eyes, I’m willing to bet they’re every bit as gorgeous as he is.

“Claire.” I tug on her arm, and gesture to the man. “Do you know who he is?”

Claire peers forward, a little unsteady on her heels, and shakes her head. “I don’t know everyone in Ibiza, Amalie,” she says teasingly. “Now come on. I need water, and Brad and Jean–”

But I’m not listening any longer. Something went through me when I saw him, like an electric jolt down to my toes, and I’ve forgotten about Brad. I’ve forgotten about anyone else I’ve met since I’ve been here. 

I shake off Claire’s hand, and I start to walk to the end of the bar, with only one thought in my head.

I need to meet him.

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