Taken by Storm (Give & Take) - By Kelli Maine Page 0,1

and spice.

He remembered that summer. Two whole weeks without Maddie. She was the only bright spot in his life back then. His best friend, before she became even more.

His grandfather, Enzo Rocha, The Puppet Master, had kept MJ under his care and his thumb since he was born. MJ had been shipped from nanny to private boarding school, then another boarding school and another when he got kicked out for fighting, but he was never wanted under this roof—his grandfather’s roof—this fucking mansion of a house where his grandfather would never even have had to see his face if he didn’t want to. MJ’s stays had been limited to short visits during summer and winter breaks.

And Maddie had always been there. The house manager’s daughter. Four years older and wiser. Four years more experienced—a college girl when he was in high school. It was Maddie who had taken his virginity and his heart. It was Maddie who had destroyed his trust and ruined him for any other girl.

MJ’s eyes roamed her face and down her body. The body that used to belong to him. His palms tingled with flesh memories of holding her breasts in his hands. The image of her naked was seared into his mind like it had been branded there. The way he made her sigh. The way he made her moan and whimper his name. His mouth watered, knowing exactly how she would taste, her lips, her skin, her… he had to stop himself. She wasn’t his. She’d broken her promise. She’d left him.

“Where are you going?” Maddie asked him. “Can I come along?”

“My life is none of your business.” MJ shot her a stony glare. “Why are you even here?” He threw up a hand to stop her from answering. “You know what? Never mind. I don’t even care.”

He shoved the key into the ignition and fired up the engine. When she didn’t step back from the car, he glanced up at her to find her staring down at him. He tried to look away, but couldn’t. She’d always had a way of seeing inside him to the pain and hurt. She could always make it go away, and damn it, he needed her to. So he kept his eyes glued to hers like she was a fucking life-line until he felt something shift and crack inside him.

Fucking Maddie.

“You’re not doing this to me again.” He put the car in reverse knowing, it was too late, his words were a lie.

Maddie slowly strolled into the backyard. She hated hurting MJ. The hurt in his eyes, mixed with anger and something close to loathing… it was more than she could bear.

She wrapped her arms around her stomach and took a few deep breaths to calm her nerves. She should’ve found somewhere else to go.

Maddie laughed silently to herself. She’d asked MJ if he was running away, but she was the one doing the running. She fingered the diamond ring under her shirt hanging on the chain around her neck and felt the familiar sting of anxiety shoot up from her stomach to her throat. Talan had been so understanding when she told him she needed time to think. She wasn’t sure she deserved it.

The night he gave her the ring, the city skyline in the sunset took Maddie’s breath away. Across the table from her, Talan’s hazel eyes didn’t leave her face. His expression held so much love and sincerity. She had a feeling she knew what the special night was about, why he brought her to Coach Insignia all the way up on the seventy-second floor of the Renaissance Center. A romantic, sunset dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town could only mean one thing.

They’d finished their dinners, and Maddie’s dessert sat half-eaten on the plate in front of her. She couldn’t eat one more bite.

She knew it was now or never.

Then the waiter approached their table with a bottle of chilled champagne and two flutes.

Maddie swallowed. Hard. Was this really happening?

She wasn’t ready to be married. She wasn’t ready to be with Talan for the rest of her life. Was she?

Purposely avoiding looking at Talan, Maddie watched the waiter walk away.

“Maddie?” Talan said.

She turned to him. He balanced a black ring box in the palm of his hand. She held her breath and studied his warm face, a sprinkle of freckles across his nose, amber flecks in his eyes, auburn hair to match the sunset outside the windows.

Talan was everything a woman wanted.