MATEO CAPUTO (The Unseen Underground #2) by Abigail Davies – Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: April 14, 2021
Cover Design: Pink Elephant Designs
Photographer: Marx Chavez
Model: Franco Garcia
Genre: Mafia Romance
Trope: Marriage of convenience, protector romance
She’d taken the blame, and now I was her only savior.
My entire life had been unpredictable. But in the chaos I’d found moments of solace.
I was sixteen when I dropped out of high school to take care of my baby brother. A couple of months later I became a soldier in the Beretta Mafia. And I’d finally found the one place that felt like home—a family.
No two days were the same when your boss ran a criminal organization, yet it still hadn’t prepared me for her…
The girl with the soulful eyes.
The girl with lips that begged for my touch.
She hadn’t been part of my plan, but now it was impossible to get away from her.
My plate was full. I was on track to get us away from the mayhem at home. And I couldn’t let anything veer me off that.
If only it was that easy.
Luna had made a mistake. She’d tried to do the right thing. Only she had no idea the darkness she would face as she stepped into Lorenzo Beretta’s office as the enemy.
I was her only way out.
Her get out of jail free card.
But should I risk it all for her? Or let her face the consequences alone.
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My lungs sang as I breathed in the fresh air. It was stuffy in there, but also the sickly sweet smell of whatever they were smoking was starting to cling to my skin. I needed a shower, but there was no way I was going to do that while there were strangers in the house. Yet another reason why I should have moved into the dorms on campus.
Everything was happening for a reason though, I firmly believed that. Maybe I was meant to be here to help me realize that they were never going to change.
I wrapped my hands around the railing to the balcony, trying to think of something other than my parents. My attention moved to the cracked concrete ground below, and as soon as I saw Cardo and Chiara running around, I grinned. A voice in the back of my mind told me that it was pathetic going down there to talk to them just because I didn’t want to be at home, but I pushed that aside. I needed something different to what was inside those four walls.
My boots clacked on the steps as I tried to take my time going down there so I didn’t seem too eager. I had to play it cool, like I was already heading out and ran into them instead of what the truth was: that I was seeking them out.
I halted at the bottom step and watched them for a couple of minutes, wondering what it would have been like if I would have had a sibling. Would things have been different? I would have had someone who understood me. Someone who could have shouldered some of the pain. Someone who would have cared about me.
A lump formed in my throat but I swallowed past it. I couldn’t think like that, not here, not now. Those kinds of thoughts were saved for when it was dark outside and I was alone in my bedroom. For now, I had to put on a front. One that made out I was doing great and not breaking apart inside.
I pushed my shoulders back and took a step forward. “Hey Cardo!” I greeted, waving my hand in the air. I screwed up my face at the move, cringing at myself.
“Luna!” He darted over to me with Chiara hot on his heels. “I haven’t seen you in forever.” He dragged the last word out, and I couldn’t help the pull at my lips.
“I know.” I crouched down in front of them both. “I started my new college a few days ago.”
“You go to college?” Chiara asked in her sweet little voice. Her eyes were wide, the bright hazel pulling me in and threatening to not let me go.
“I do.” I nodded. “I don’t have classes today though.”
“We finished school already,” Cardo announced, pushing his chest out. “I learned my timetables today.”
“You did?” I tilted my head, listening intently. He was proud of himself, and for some reason, so was I. School had always been my savior. It was the one place where I wasn’t surrounded by chaos.
“Yeah, want to hear them?”
“Sure.” I stood as my thighs burned from crouching. “Let’s go sit down.” I looked around, spotting the curb that separated part of the make shift parking lot from the small patch of grass. I pointed at it and they both ran toward it.
Cardo stood with his hands on his hips and Chiara waited next to him, her gaze flashing from me to him and then the curb again. She was waiting to see what to do. My stomach dropped, seeing so much of myself reflected in her. I didn’t know these kids, not really, and yet I felt like my soul did.
I sat down on the curb and patted the spot next to me as I stared at Chiara. “Come and sit.”
She glanced at Cardo, and when he nodded, she slowly walked toward me and sat down. Cardo stared reeling off the timetables that he’d learned, walking around in a circle as he did. I wasn’t sure how long we listened to him, but when Chiara shuffled closer, I looked down at her.
Chiara raised her hand, her small fingers running over the braid in my hair. “What’s this?”
“A braid,” I whispered, keeping half of my attention on Cardo as he jumped in the air and slammed his feet on the ground.
“Can you do that to my hair?” she asked. Her eyes fluttered shut, her body rigid. A normal person wouldn’t have seen the way hope flowed through her, but I saw it as clear as day. It was the same hope that shone in my eyes every time I looked in the mirror.
“Of course.” I turned to face her fully. “Turn the other way.”
Her eyes popped open, her lips lifting into the biggest grin I’d ever seen. “Okay!”
She spun so fast she knocked herself off kilter. Her giggle as she saved herself from falling completely had my own lips lifting into a smile. And I realized that since I’d been out here, I hadn’t thought about my apartment and what was happening inside it even once.
I pushed my fingers through her hair, finger combing it, then split it into two sections. I started at the top of her head, knowing that she was going to look so cute with two braids.
“See?” Cardo said, walking back toward us. “I’m a math genius.”
I chuckled, nearly finished with the first braid. “You are.” I glanced back at Chiara and tied off the first braid with an elastic from my hair. “Do you know the next one?”
Cardo shook his head. “My teacher hasn’t told us that yet.”
Biting down on my bottom lip, I wondered if I would be overstepping if I told him. I opened my mouth, about to reel off the next timetable, when tires squealed behind us. An SUV pulled into the lot, and Cardo spun around as Chiara sat up straighter, but neither of them moved. We all stared at it as it reversed into a self made spot.
“Who’s that?” I whispered, not sure who I was talking to, but no one answered me. I quickly tied off Chiara’s second braid and spun to face the SUV.
The door opened, a dark-gray pant covered leg appeared, and I tracked it down to pristine black shoes. By the time my gaze travelled back up the body and over the buttoned up white shirt, I was completely captivated. My breaths came faster, my cheeks heated.
He slammed the door shut and stood there for several seconds, just enough time for me to see his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, displaying his tan skin and muscular forearms. I blinked, trying to take him all in. I’d never seen someone dressed like that here. He looked out of place.
Maybe he was lost?
I gasped as his head whipped around to face us. His gaze was fixated on us, Chiara in particular. I shuffled closer to her, my instinct to protect her kicking in. I didn’t think about it too much because I was afraid if I did, I’d open a pandora box of memories I kept buried deep down where they’d never see the light of day.
He moved toward us, and I wasn’t sure whether it was just me, but I was sure it was in slow motion. Each of his movements were measured, as if he didn’t do a single thing without thinking about how it would look or come across. He was hyperaware of himself, that much was obvious. And I…I couldn’t look away.
His attention moved from Chiara to Cardo, and then finally landed on me. For a second, I was sure that Chiara and Cardo didn’t know this guy, but as soon as he smiled down at them, they both halted from where they were, ran toward him, and pounced on him. They wrapped their arms around him and squeezed as hard as they could. He didn’t hesitate to grab hold of them and pick them both up, causing his muscles in his arms to tense from the movement. I seriously couldn’t look away from his arms.
Slowly, I stood, wiping the back of my jeans off as I went. “Hi,” I greeted, lifting my hand in an awkward wave. He looked over at me, his brow raised, his dark eyes captivating me even more than his arms had. “I’m Luna.” I blinked, waiting for him to say something, but when he stayed silent, I continued, “I moved into the third floor apartment a few weeks ago.”
“She braided my hair,” Chiara supplied, looking up at him with stars in her eyes. She doted on him, and when he met her gaze, it was clear to see that he doted on her too. His eyes narrowed on her hair and my stomach dropped. I didn’t know how he knew Cardo and Chiara, but I was starting to wonder if I’d crossed some kind of boundary I hadn’t realized was there.
“Nice to meet you,” he finally spoke, his deep voice echoing around us. I opened my mouth to say something—anything—but it was too late because he was turning away and heading to their apartment.
And I was alone again, just like always.
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LORENZO BERETTA (The Unseen Underground #1)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abigail Davies grew up with a passion for words, storytelling, maths, and anything pink. Dreaming up characters–quite literally–and talking to them out loud is a daily occurrence for her. She finds it fascinating how a whole world can be built with words alone, and how everyone reads and interprets a story differently. Now following her dreams of writing, Abigail has found the passion that she always knew was there. When she’s not writing: she’s a mother to two daughters who she encourages to use their imagination as she believes that it’s a magical thing, or getting lost in a good book. If she’s doing neither of those things, you can be sure she’s surfing the web buying new makeup, clothes, or binge watching another show as she becomes one with her sofa.
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