Cross + Catherine - Excerpt!
Catherine giggled. Her amusement faded fast. Like the second Hugh grabbed her arm in a tight
grip, and stopped her from walking further.
“Last name?” he asked again.
She tugged her arm to free it from his grasp, but he didn’t let go. She looked down at his
hand pointedly. “That’s a no.”
“Shit, what’s your problem? I’m just asking who the hell—”
“Let me go,” Catherine said.
She was polite.
It was the only warning he was going to get.
“Tell me your name, then.”
“This isn’t a tit for tat,” Catherine replied. “I said no, and that means—”
Catherine didn’t even see the fist coming before it smashed into Hugh’s face. Hugh let go of
Catherine’s arm with a holler, and she almost tripped over her gladiator-style sandals in an effort
to jump back.
“Means fucking no,” the guy Catherine had been admiring earlier said, as he stood over a
now bleeding Hugh. “Coach said to move your ass, so move, Hugh. Stop bothering girls—didn’t
you get enough of that shit last year?”
“Donati!” someone yelled from the field.
“Jesus Christ, Cross,” Liliana muttered.
That was all Hugh got out before he kicked out a leg and dropped Cross to the ground. In
full football gear, but for the helmets, the two boys started laying into one another. Each fist
smacking into a body or gear made Catherine cringe. She was pretty sure someone was bleeding,
too, in between cursing and name calling. The players and coaches on the field started heading
their way fast.
“Okay, time to go,” Liliana said, making sure to tug Catherine along.
She kept up with her cousin easily enough.
First day, and already starting fights.
Yeah, she really missed her old school.
“Donati did you a favor there,” Liliana said as they came closer to the school.
“Who?” Catherine asked, peering back over her shoulder.
“Donati. Cross Donati.”
That surname seemed familiar to Catherine, but she couldn’t quite pull out why.
“Hugh is a creep,” Liliana said, oblivious to Catherine’s confusion. “He doesn’t understand
the word no, and if you ask the right girls, they’ll all tell you not to leave a drink unattended
when he’s around. Seriously, Cross did you a favor.”
She couldn’t help but look back over her shoulder.
Catherine found a pair of dark eyes looking in her direction before they locked onto hers.
His fist crashed down into Hugh’s bloody face one more time before the coach reached the
fighting boys, and pulled them apart. He was still staring after Catherine, though.
Cross smiled at her, then, showing off white teeth stained red by his bloody mouth. He
didn’t seem a bit bothered by it, really. She smiled back.
Catherine thought, years from then, when people asked …
She would say that was when she fell in love with Cross.
All the while, he smiled at her.
And she smiled back.
That was when she fell in love with Cross Donati.
Even if she hadn’t known it then.
“You didn’t answer me. How have you been, babe?”
“I’ve been okay,” she replied.
Cross smiled, but he thought maybe she was only saying that for his benefit. “Still running
for your cousin?”
Catherine had always been good at three things: loving him, hustling drugs, and lying. Cross
doubted much of that changed.
“Sure you are. Why else would you be here?”
Catherine waved at her plate. “Delicious food.”
Before he could think better of it, Cross reached across the table and grabbed Catherine’s
hand. The dozens of bangles on her wrist jingled against the tabletop. He found her skin was still
soft, warm, and all his. He squeezed her hand and ran the pad of his thumb across her knuckles.
Her fingers trembled just a second before she tugged her hand away.
“Don’t do that, Cross,” Catherine said.
She didn’t want him to see the way she hid her hands from his sight. It was too late; he
couldn’t possibly miss it. Only once in their long relationship had Cross truly missed something
Catherine wanted to hide from him, and it had been their ruin.
He was never going to make that mistake again.
“Still as stubborn as ever, I see.”
“You liked it,” she retorted, unable to stop her grin.
“I might still.”
Catherine’s eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
“What are you doing this weekend?”
He was going to get his ass shot.
He had been warned.
Cross didn’t drop his gaze, or move an inch.
“Go out with me,” he said.
Catherine didn’t blink. “Um.”
“Come on, Catty, you always had a quick response for everything I or anyone else ever said.
Don’t disappoint me now.”
“Catherine, hey.” A man wearing a chef’s jacket that Cross didn’t recognize—and didn’t
fucking care to—strolled up to their table. He wore a cocked eyebrow and an irritating smile.
Cross considered stabbing the man with the knife on the table just because he interrupted. That
shit was rude. “Andino was asking if you were still here. He wants you to head back to the office
for a few.”
Catherine blinked up at the man, clearly recognizing him. Cross certainly didn’t like the way
the man looked at Catherine like the two were … familiar.
He didn’t know.
Cross would bet the man certainly wouldn’t want to know what he would do to him if he did
“Who is this, Catherine?” the guy asked. “You haven’t mentioned having a friend.”
Cross didn’t miss the man’s resentment in his words. Definitely something there, he thought.
He met the man’s gaze for a brief second, and then dropped it just as fast. Whoever the fuck he
was, the guy wasn’t important to Cross.
“Thanks for letting me know about Andino, Jamie.” Catherine let out a sigh, and stood from
the table leaving her unfinished plate and Cross behind. “Cross, it was nice seeing you.”
Cross smiled and murmured, “Likewise, Catherine.”
She stiffened a bit. Something that looked a hell of a lot like memories flashed in her eyes.
Then, she was gone.
Jamie, the irritating chef, stayed behind. “Can I help you?”
“Sure,” Cross said with a flick of his wrist, “by fucking off somewhere.”
“I said what I said, so go.”
“I don’t know who the fuck you are, but—”
“Andino does, so run back and let him know I’m here.”
“And who are you exactly?”
“Cross Donati.” He looked up at Jamie and smirked. “Or you might know me as the reason
you couldn’t keep Catherine interested long enough to get anywhere good.”
Jamie’s face whitened.
Cross flicked his wrist again. “Now do as I said, and fuck off somewhere.”
The man fucked off.
Parents fell in two categories where their marriage and sex life was concerned. They either
learned to get creative and make time, or they dried up like an old well.
Given how busy their life was, Catherine had been terrified her and Cross would fall into the
latter category after Cece’s birth. Clearly, the two of them were a lucky pair.
That, and they liked sex.
Catherine’s fingers curved around the edge of the kitchen counter, while her body arched
into the delicious sensation of Cross’s lips teasing at the column of her throat. Lower, she
thought she heard herself say. Lower, lower, lower.
It was hard to tell.
They also learned to be quiet.
Cece wasn’t exactly a light sleeper, but still. She also tended to sleep in their damn bed, or
she would just make her way there come morning.
Whether or not Catherine actually said the words didn’t seem to make much of a difference
to her husband. He knew what she wanted. He always knew what she needed. He was the
musician between the two of them, after all. She didn’t mind being another one of his
instruments to play.
Especially not when he played her right.
Dark eyes flicked up to meet hers. His tongue traced a circle around her navel. He bared his
teeth like the goddamn tease he was when he grinned.
Catherine let out a breath through her nose while she abused her lower lip with her teeth.
What else could she do? At this point, it was Cross’s game. She was collateral damage.
It would still be all kinds of fun.
“Here?” he asked.
“You know damn well—”
Lower he went, kissing a spot over her pubic bone. “Here, babe?”
Goddamn, she sounded whiney.
Well, she was.
Cross’s husky chuckles washed over her senses like a tidal wave of lust and want. He knew
exactly what he was doing to her, and planned on continuing for as long as he could. Catherine
had two problems with that.
One, they didn’t have time.
Soon, little feet would be pattering down the stairs.
Two, she didn’t have the patience.
Catherine knew exactly what would get Cross moving and out of his little teasing kick. She
had been holding the info in her back pocket for a couple of weeks while they dealt with getting
their home ready for Christmas.
★*✩*★♕CONNECT WITH BETHANY♕★*✩*★