Read an Excerpt
"Come to Papa, hot mama!"
"I got something big and hard for you, sweet cheeks!"
Serafina Luca fumed as she marched stoically past the line of construction workers. It was unfortunate her morning timetable required her to leave her building just as the laborers were taking their break. They sat around on the temporary barricades, stuffing egg sandwiches or doughnuts into their mouths, washing down the food with coffee, sodas or Red Bull.
She stared straight ahead, ignoring the rude bellows, and hefted her perpetually overloaded leather satchel higher on her shoulder.
"If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"
They weren't even imaginative in their misogynistic catcalls. She'd have given them points for originality if they hadn't just rolled out the same old drivel she'd been listening to for months.
It hadn't been quite so bad during the blustery winter months. By then they'd completed the exterior of the building, and were at work on the interior, so the men had stayed inside during breaks to keep out of the wind. She'd bundled up with her hat down low over her face and barreled past any of them who happened to be braving the weather for a smoke. With the April weather bursting out all over, they'd emerged. The Big Apple was basking in the moderate temps and she'd pulled on a deliciously light dress. Now she found herself longing for pants and an overcoat as the men leered. It was an ugly feeling to be objectified.
One of the men heaved to his feet and thrust himself into her path. The protective barricades around the sidewalk, coupled with the width of the man's beefy frame, effectively cut off any escape. She dispensed with any idea of turning and retreating back up the block. She lifted her chin, her expression studiously chilly, and looked up at him.
"Ooh, don't you just talk pretty. But I like my girls talking nasty to methat gets me going. How 'bout you say something nice and dirty? Tell me how you like it, huh? You like it nasty, I bet. All you fancy ladies like it nasty."
He moved closer. It seemed he wasn't a fan of mouthwash. Or deodorant. He loomed over her and fear took hold. There was no one as far as she could see. Her early class started at eight a.m. and now at seven-thirty, her neighborhood was still deserted. Worse, the entire block between 50th and 51st Streets had been gutted for the construction, so there were none of the typically crowded delis or coffee shops in the area. She took a small step back as he came closer. The man's nostrils flared and he looked more like a predator by the minute.
He reached out and took hold of the strap of her bag, giving it a yank.
"Watcha got in here, lady?" She clutched her bag and fought back the lump of fear in her throat. She looked at the other men. Some seemed disconcerted, but none appeared willing to stand up to the guy.
"Hey, Boxer, you asshole! Back the fuck off."
She blinked as her harasser was pulled backward by a guy even bigger than he was.
"What the fuck?" Boxer turned, an expression of incredulous fury on his face. When he caught sight of the man who had grabbed him, however, his face fell into a mask of angry belligerence.
Freed from his meaty grasp, she took a step backward and turned to look at the worker who had intervened. He was red with rage and so powerful he actually managed to shake the behemoth who'd accosted her.