Page 1 of 53 - Merger (Takeover Duet #2)
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Chapter One




Settling between Lauren’s legs, I twist my hips and grind my cock against her softness. “I’m not ready to say goodbye.”

Her fingers tangle in my hair as she wraps her arms around my neck. “We still have a few hours.” She gazes up at me with a sinful smile.

The sun streams through the windows, illuminating the bed and bathing us in warmth. The distant claps of thunder mingle with the waves crashing near the shore as if serenading us to stay. I’m not ready to face reality or the people we are once we step foot off the island.

The hardness I’d seen in Lauren inside the walls of Interstellar has vanished in the last two days, replaced by the beautiful, delicate creature underneath me. “Let’s stay another day.” Burying my face in her neck, I breathe in the saltiness of her skin before pressing my lips against her.

She turns her head, giving me free rein to feast on her flesh, but she doesn’t speak.

I slide my hand down her side before gripping her hip in my palm and repeating the words. “Let’s stay another day.”

“We can’t,” she whispers, peering up at me, and I know she’s right although I don’t want to hear it. “We have to go back.”

Leaving the island will put the wall back between that has been eroding. Slowly, brick by brick, the real Lauren has emerged, showing me parts of her I never knew existed. The woman underneath is tough as I expected, but her dreams aren’t her own. She’s driven by the memories of her father, and she’s burying herself in her work instead of living life.

My lips skim her neck before finding her mouth. “Promise me things won’t go back to the way they were,” I say, staring into her eyes, searching for affirmation that the entire weekend wasn’t just a ruse.

“Antonio, I…”

I crush my mouth to hers, sealing whatever she was going to say inside. They’re words I’m not ready to hear because I know the wall will return as soon as we step foot off the beach. The only thing I can do is remind her of what it’s like to be one. How truly compatible we are and how together we can make magic happen.

She moans as my fingers slide underneath her ass, tipping her hips upward for better access. Every moment she’s been in my presence I’ve had to fight the urge to bury myself inside her because it is the only time I feel at peace and truly fulfilled.

When I push my cock inside, she wraps her legs around me, holding me close. I open my eyes, gazing down at her as our bodies are one. I wish I could freeze time. This moment is pure perfection, but just like everything, it’s fleeting and impossible to capture for eternity.

I slide in and out of her, relishing the feel of her body tightening around mine with each sweep. There’s no denying what’s between us. No matter what she says when we land in Chicago, I feel the way her body craves me. I know in my bones that she’s just as in love with me as I am with her.


“Find out everything you can about Trent Moore,” I bark into the phone.

Less than an hour ago, I arrived at Interstellar to get Lauren’s decision on the merger between our companies. It was the only way I could think to keep our relationship alive and salvage the mess that’s become of the Cozza-Interstellar takeover. I’d given Lauren the day to think it over and share it with her team before she’d give me the final answer to bring back to Cozza.

But Lauren was nowhere to be found. Cassie hadn’t seen her for at least 3 hours, and there’s nothing written in her datebook that gives any of us a clue as to where she may be. I scoured her office, searching for some shred of evidence, but I found nothing.

Slowly, panic crept in, and my worst fears were realized. Lauren isn’t the type to disappear without a word, especially not when the future of Interstellar is on the line.

Panicked, I did the only thing I could. I called the head of security at Cozza and made finding Lauren a top priority. I didn’t want to involve her team because that would set off alarm bells throughout the company and cause widespread panic, and it wasn’t something either of us could afford. Maverick, my head of security, is usually busy keeping our company secrets safe or tossing trespassers from our testing facility just outside the Chicago city limits, but nothing is more important than finding Lauren.

“Give me an hour,” he tells me.

“You have thirty minutes.” I hang up before Maverick can reply.

I’m done wasting another second discussing the details when he should be searching for her and Trent. With each passing minute, she’s moving farther away and becomes harder to find. In the possible few hours she’s been missing, she could be hundreds of miles away and even harder to trace.

I slam my cell phone down on Lauren’s desk, filled with so much rage I could easily crush it in my palm. “Goddamn it.” The screen splinters into a hundred pieces under my palm from the impact.

The only thing that matters now is finding her, and I won’t rest until she’s found alive.

But Trent is smart. Finding him won’t be as easy. With his head start and ability to hide his digital footprint, my team is going to have to be creative and hope he fucks up somehow.

But there’s one thing I know. I will find him. I will not stop until he pays for what he’s done and I have Lauren back in my arms. If Trent harms one hair on her head, his punishment will be a hundred times more painful than what he did to her.

My phone rings, a shard of glass pricking my finger as I answer. “Yeah?”

“You better come over here,” Cassie says.

I did not want her to go there alone, but Cassie insisted on going to Lauren’s apartment in hopes of finding her there. I knew the likelihood Cassie would find her was almost zero, but I wasn’t going to stop her.

“She there?”

“No, but…” Her voice trails off, and she whimpers.

“Cassie?” I stalk toward the elevator, ready to kill Trent and anyone else who is involved in Lauren’s disappearance.

“Someone destroyed her place. It’s like something out of a movie, Mr. Forte.”

I stab at the button inside the elevator, smearing my blood across the L. “Don’t call the police. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“Yes, sir.”

The last thing I need, or Lauren needs, for that matter, is to have her disappearance become media fodder. It would be a nightmare both personally and for our companies. If the police were to investigate her whereabouts leading up to her kidnapping and find out about our trip to my private island, the media will have a field day with the knowledge that the CEOs of both Cozza and Interstellar are romantically involved.

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