Today I am so pleased to welcome Vera Leigh to Joyfully Jay. Vera has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Revolver. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
All throughout dinner, Francesco paid half attention to his pasta, veal cutlets, and grilled eggplant. He kept glancing across the lawn to where Aiden sat with the staff from the Trattoria Napolitana. Every time he looked up, he saw Aiden laughing or talking with his hands, a big grin on his face. Francesco was glad he was enjoying himself.
When the dessert cart came around to Aiden’s table, Francesco watched as he piled sweets onto his plate. Aiden plucked a single struffolo from the cone, glanced in Francesco’s direction, and winked.
Francesco smirked in return. The nerve of that guy, flirting so openly. Didn’t Aiden know he was trying to keep things professional between them? His smirk turned into a genuine smile as Aiden returned to his conversation and attacked his overflowing dessert plate.
Aiden refused coffee, cigars, and digestive liquors, so Francesco walked over to him. “I want to show you something. Grab as many of these wine bottles as you can.”
After filling their arms with bottles, Francesco led Aiden to the shell of a house next door. The exposed beams cast long shadows on the dusty floor. He pulled a crate into the center of the vacant living room and lined up four bottles in a row. “You ever shot a gun before?” he asked.
Aiden raised his eyebrow. “No. And why should I? I thought you needed me for close quarters.”
“I do. But it’s a useful skill. There’s enough light for me to teach you the basics.”
“I don’t know.”
“Just try it. It feels good.”
“How can shooting feel good?”
“You have no idea.”
Francesco drew a revolver from the side holster under his jacket and handed it to Aiden. Aiden looked shocked. “You mean to tell me you carry that around at your father’s birthday party?”
“I always have one on me. Sleep with one in my bedside table. I brought extra ammo too. I thought in case you got bored we could do this instead. And no, I don’t carry extra ammo on me…all the time.”
Aiden shrugged and took the gun. “All right.”
Francesco pretended he had another pistol and pointed at the bottles. “This is the correct stance. Legs apart slightly. One foot in front of the other. Knees and arms bent. Can you do that?”
Aiden mimicked the position. Francesco ran his hand along his arm. “You’re too stiff. Relax.”
He got behind Aiden and perched his chin on his shoulder. Then he positioned Aiden’s arms and hands correctly. “You’re afraid of it. I can feel it in your stance. It can’t hurt you if you hold it correctly.”
“What if it backfires?”
“It won’t.” He leaned in closer and whispered in Aiden’s ear. “It’s like holding your cock. Too firm and you get hurt. Too soft and it’ll fall out of your hand. But when you get the pressure just right. Fireworks. See the three raised pieces on top? Those are the sights. You line ‘em up to aim. Then when you’re ready, give that trigger a little pull.”
He let go of Aiden and stood back. Aiden closed one eye, cocked his head to the side, and shot. The bullet sparked against the concrete floor.
“No one gets it on their first try. Keep both eyes open and your gaze straight ahead.”
He tried again. This time he put a hole in the crate.
“Better. Let me show you.”
He grabbed the gun from Aiden. Taking a deep breath to still the adrenaline pumping through his veins, he took aim. When he felt the familiar itch in his trigger finger, he pulled it four times. For bottles shattered, all in a row.
“Wow,” said Aiden. “Where’d you learn to do that?”
“Shooting range. Where else?” He opened the barrel and filled it with some bullets fished from his jacket pocket. “I go whenever I feel like a fuckup. It’s the only place where I always hit my target.”
“Why would you feel that way?”
“Never mind. Family drama… Can I ask you something serious?”
“If God makes no mistakes, why did he make men like us?”
Aiden ran his hand through his hair. “Do I look like a philosophy professor? I haven’t a clue.”
“But surely you’ve wondered.”
“Course I have. But in the end, we’ll never know.”
“Do you think he put us on Earth to punish our parents for some sin they committed? To become broken branches on the family tree?”
Aiden was quiet for a moment. He kicked the ground. “I don’t think we’re broken branches. Maybe we’re here to help the other branches grow. Raising kids is hard. Too hard for parents to do alone sometimes. I think Franklin can only benefit from the undivided affection of his uncle.”
Francesco’s throat tightened, and he swallowed. “I’ve never thought of it that way.”
The sky darkened overhead. “Is there a chance any of that struffoli is left?”
“I doubt it.”
“What was that long, round thing with the creamy filling inside?”
“That’s a cannoli. You can thank my parent’s Sicilian cook for that one.”
“Mmm. I ate three. I bet those are gone too.”
Francesco shook his head. He created a sugar-gobbling monster. “Let’s go check,” he said, holstering his gun.
Francesco didn’t intend to mix business and pleasure…
Smuggling illegal liquor is dangerous work that earns Francesco more enemies than friends. When a mission goes south, he needs to hire a bodyguard. At first, he thinks the boxer Aiden O’Connor is just a pretty face with a body to match. Francesco just needs him to keep thugs off his back so he can focus on his big plan. But then they develop the kind of bond Francesco desires but never had time to peruse. Images of his muscled figure keep weaving through his dreams, tempting him to cross the employer-employee boundary. And Aiden’s dominant streak has Francesco more than a bit curious.
But Francesco has a secret. His family doesn’t know he likes men, or that he supplies most of the city’s gay bars. And as his feelings for Aiden grow, that secret risks being blown wide open…
Aiden didn’t intend to fall for the target…
The objective was straightforward enough: go undercover as a gangster’s bodyguard, seduce said gangster in order to blackmail him, earn enough money to get his mom and siblings out of the slums. But he soon learns Francesco Napolitano isn’t your average criminal. Beneath his hard exterior is a kind man who wants justice for the people in his neighborhood. And not only is he gorgeous, but he has submissive tendencies and wants Aiden to show him the ropes. What began as seduction under false pretenses starts to feel very real.
As Aiden’s attraction builds, so does the pressure to turn Francesco over to the feds. But by deciding to protect him at all costs, he may be putting them both in harm’s way…
Revolver is an action-packed, high-heat, mafia romance set during the prohibition era (1920s). If you like men in three-piece suits with concealed weapons, light BDSM, and the idea of seducing Irish men with Italian food, this novel is for you.
Buy Link: Amazon
Vera Leigh is an American who lives in The Netherlands with her Dutch boyfriend and Spanish cat. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling around Europe, visiting museums, or watching arthouse films.
Vera writes gritty, working-class protagonists. She’s fascinated by the daily struggles of urban life in the early 20th century, especially those of immigrant communities. Her dark romance novels explore themes of social class, ethnicity, and found family, with a dash of wry humor. Though her characters may hurt, the redemptive power of love always saves them and leads them to a better place.
Welcome, Vera, and thanks for sharing the excerpt of Revolver!