Don’t look at me like that. So trusting.
Like you think I’m not a monster.
Like I won’t wrap your hair in my fist and bend you to my will.
Like I won’t sacrifice you, piece by piece, to save my brother.
I’m the most dangerous enemy you’ll ever have because every time you look at me, you see somebody good. That friend who died.
And when you look at me like that, I die again.
I spent years making myself invisible.
A good girl, apart from the noise. Then you came back, beautiful and deadly in your Armani suit.
Don’t look at me like you still know me, you say.
But I remember your smile and those sunny days.
Before they lowered your small casket into the ground.
Before they told us the prince was dead.
I plead repeatedly for news of my father, if only to know he’s still alive. My captor just texts.
A crash from inside our mansion. They’re wrecking the place.
“This is pointless.” When he doesn’t acknowledge me, I grab his wrist. “What does this get you? Come on!”
He looks at my hand and then looks up at me. For a moment I think he, too, senses the weird familiarity between us. Like we know each other from another life. He drops his phone in his pocket and takes my wrists. “You need to stop focusing on your beautiful life in there and start praying that Daddy decides to come through.”
“Ow,” I breathe.
“Good. That’s you getting with the program. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get my brother back. Do I want to hurt you? No. I don’t. Will I?”
My heart races.
“I get it,” I whisper.
His grip is too tight, his gaze too intense, like he sees everything inside me. People rarely look too hard at me. When they look at me at all, they accept the version of me I serve up to them. The shopaholic Mafia princess. The dedicated lawyer in glasses.
“Dad’s innocent. He’d tell you if he knew anything else.”
“Wrong, Kitten. Dad’s playing the odds.”
A ping sounds. He lets me go and pulls his phone out of his pocket. A twenty-first century general waging battle.
Whatever the person on the other ends has texted him, it troubles him.
That’s my chance—I take off running, tearing for the main road.
I get maybe ten feet when guys seem to materialize around me, taking me by the shoulders. I twist and fight. They lift me right off the ground, practically carry me back.
The strangely familiar intruder is still on the phone, eyeing me with that intensity, watching me struggle. A model between photo shoots if you didn’t know any better.
They put me back in front of him. He lowers the phone and addresses me quietly. “Do it. Go ahead, Mimi, do it again. See what happens.”
He blinks, waiting. “Do it, go for it.”
Mimi. Only one person ever called me Mimi—Aleksio Dragusha. My childhood friend. But Aleksio and his family were slaughtered by a rival clan back when we were kids. I was wild with grief. They had to sedate me.
Five caskets lowered into the ground. Three small, two large.
I focus on the familiar freckle on his cheekbone. This man is so much bigger. So much harder and meaner. But his freckle…his eyes... “Aleksio?” I say in a small voice.
“Ding ding ding, we have a winner.” He says it off-handedly, keeping his eyes fixed on the mansion with its majestic stone wings. The house where he once lived. Prince of a mafia empire.
“Oh my God. Aleksio!”
Still he won’t look at me.
“We thought you were dead. We buried you.”
“You buried a few rocks. Maybe some boiled cabbages, who knows.”
I can’t believe he’s being so…flip. “Aleksio! We buried you.” I’m repeating myself. “I thought they killed you…” If my life were postcards on a bulletin board, the image of Aleksio Dragusha’s casket being covered up with dirt would be central, affecting everything around it. He was my best friend. I doubt I was his. Aleksio had lots of friends. Everybody loved Aleksio.
He focuses on his phone, running his soldiers.
“We went to your funeral. It was so, so…” Sad isn’t the word. Sad barely touches it. We were adventurers together, bonded together, carving out a sunny niche inside a world of darkness and secrets we sensed but didn’t understand. I think that’s what made us friends—the feeling of being refugees at the edges of something evil.
“Aleksio, you’re being crazy!”
He looks at me now like I’m a little bit crazy. “You need to stop thinking you know me. You knew me once, but I promise, you don’t know me anymore. Got it?”
(Mature Content, 18+)
The way he uses me is violent. Primitive. Demeaning. And all I can think is, don’t stop.
He warned me he was going to be rough. He warned me I’d feel alarmed when he shoved his cock all the way down my throat. I was ready for that.
I wasn’t ready for the names he would call me.
Or to be so wildly turned on by it all.
It’s as if we crossed over to the right side of wrong, and everything is too hot, and his cock is too huge, and I have too many clothes. I want him to lay me out and use me. I want him to do anything to me. Everything to me.
I pull back, knowing he’ll shove my head back onto his cock, and he does, fingers digging into my scalp.
My nipples rub on his legs, heating—from the friction, maybe—and I nearly get off. It’s pure madness. Usually I need a lot of help.
But this is Aleksio being Aleksio. He always went too far, and I always loved him for it.
I feel when he’s going to come.
“No teeth. Don’t you fucking…” He jerks into my throat. The orgasm goes on forever. He holds my head firmly in his grip, panting.
I move my tongue a tiny bit and he clutches my hair. “God! Don’t move.”
I feel dazed. Heart pounding. This was the wildest and most powerful sexual experience of my life and I didn’t even come.
“Okay,” he whispers after a while, gently extracting himself from me. I sit on the coffee table, wiping my mouth and striking the tears from my cheeks.
His eyes shine, and I know he felt power of what just happened. The mad connection. Deep down, I know that neither of us have been here before. He reaches out and brushes my hair from my forehead.
That’s when I see the gun in his other hand, dark and cold and black.
He was holding a gun? Why? Why would he need a gun?
“Don’t worry, the safety was on.” He puts it aside, eyes averted, and then he swipes his phone off the floor. He presses something. A red light goes off.
My mouth falls open. “What the hell? What did you do?”
“Saved your finger.”
Red. A record light.
He tucks himself in, zips himself up.
He recorded us? Why record us like that? With him holding a gun? Why would he want to make it look like he was being a violent asshole, forcing me to do that?
Suddenly everything in the room gets too bright, too real. “No!” I go for the phone.
He grabs my wrist, hauling me up off the couch with him. “Leave it.”
“You’re going to show that recording to him? No!” I try to twist free. “You can’t!”
He can and he will.
I’m flooded with shame for how much I enjoyed it. And Aleksio made a movie out of it! To frighten Dad!
“Fuck!” I jerk and twist, trying to get at the phone. “You can’t! Please.”
“Oh my God!”
That’s when Viktor comes in. He regards us calmly, like it’s no big deal Aleksio is manhandling me. Aleksio tosses the phone to his brother. “Play it.”
Viktor taps the screen.
“Don’t watch it!” I go for Viktor now, but Aleksio has me.
“You can’t send Dad that clip.”
“We’re not sending him your bloody finger, isn’t that what you wanted?”
Aleksio. So cool, so smooth. Like it meant nothing to him. And me like an idiot, getting off on his rough treatment. Making myself vulnerable to him. Showing him something I never even showed myself. I want to die.
Viktor pockets the phone. “Her severed finger would be more extreme. More urgency. But this is more pain for the old man.”
“You guys are animals!”
Aleksio tightens hold on me. “You need to be done going crazy or we’ll handcuff and gag you.”
“You have to erase it!”
“You prefer the finger? That’s what you’re saying here?”
I trusted Aleksio. I followed him somewhere extreme, and he ripped my heart open. Cutting off my finger seems tame in comparison.
“You’re thinking about it? Fuck! No. Fuck that.” He turns to Viktor. “Call and see if the sack of shit’s awake.”
Releases on June 28th!