I’m Vanessa Barsetti, the daughter of the infamous Crow Barsetti.
My father taught me how to fight. If a man lays a hand on me, I’ll put him in his grave. As a Barsetti, I’m proud, stubborn, and don’t take nonsense from anybody.
I walk home from a bar and take the wrong path.
And witness a brutal crime.
The murderer won’t let me go. He’s handsome, lethal, and terrifying. With tattoos on his forearms and a presence full of threat, he’s a shade of evil I’ve never encountered. And then he tells me the most terrifying thing of all.
His name is Bones.Books in Series:Lingerie Series by Penelope SkyBooks by Author:Penelope Sky Books
The last two weeks had been busy.
I caught up on my school work, finished the painting I was working on, and finally transformed my apartment so it didn"t contain the scent of the man who took me hostage.
What kind of name was that"
Sapphire and I texted almost every day, and she told me she and my brother were still finalizing their wedding plans. They wanted to do something small at the house, just family and lots of wine.
I loved both of those things, so I was down.
When I went to the market the other day, I ran into a handsome guy who reached for the same box of cereal. We exchanged a few words, and it turned out, he didn"t even like that brand of cereal. He just wanted an excuse to find out what my name was.
Then we went to dinner. Anytime a guy asked me out, I always insisted we meet at a casual caf". Big, romantic dinners were overrated and just awkward. I didn"t want a man to try to impress me by buying me an expensive meal. Wealth wasn"t impressive to me. I wanted a man who was all man, someone who couldn"t hide behind money or success.
His name was Tony, and he was nice enough. He worked at an investment firm, taking people"s savings and putting it in the stock market. He was young for that line of work, and it sounded like it was his first year working there.
The date was pleasant but nothing special.
It was never special.
Sometimes I met a guy and we really hit it off, but then the chemistry didn"t go beyond sex. We just got off on each other and enjoyed passionate nights of good and sweaty sex. But there was nothing substantial there, so I stopped calling. Then he stopped calling.
And then it was like it never happened.
But this guy didn"t do anything for me, so at the end of the night, I paid my half of the bill, said goodnight, and then walked home.
After the incident with Knuckles, I was a lot more paranoid than I used to be. How did he figure out where I was living" Did he follow me on my way home" Or did he simply do some research online" Whatever the answer was, I always took a different route home, just in case I was being followed.
When I turned the corner and walked down the quiet street, it began to snow. Small flakes floated from the sky, and the white color contrasted against the darkness of the evening. I stopped to let one touch the tip of my nose. I let it melt before I kept going. I preferred the heat of summer, but I still thought the winters in northern Italy were gorgeous. When the streets were blanketed with snow, it was a sight to behold. It was a pain to walk in it on the way to class, but it was still beautiful to see.
I stopped again when I heard a sound I would never forget.
A guttural sound, like someone drowning in their own blood.
The thud of a dead body hitting the ground.
And then the smack of a pipe cracking someone"s skull.
I stopped and turned my gaze down the dark alleyway, even though I knew there was nothing I wanted to see. That"s when I saw the dark outline of a man looming over a corpse on the ground. The victim had just died, so the freezing temperatures hadn"t turned his warm body cold yet. The shadow hid the stranger"s face, but he was the size of a monster. Tall, muscular, and large, he made Knuckles look pathetic.
I quickly faced forward again and kept walking, not wanting the monster to know I"d just witnessed a murder.
A fucking murder.
It happened so fast I didn"t think to call the police. I didn"t have a knife or a weapon to intervene. But I knew it would be stupid to put myself in harm"s way when I didn"t even know what was going on.
They could have been two homeless men fighting over a dumpster.
It wasn"t even nine in the evening yet, but there was no one out because of the cold.
Why did I have to be the only one out there"
I didn"t hear a single sound, so there was no way for me to anticipate what would happen next. I had a strong instinct and could feel things around me before I saw or felt them. But this guy was no average man, and he snuck up on me without his boots crunching against the snow.
His hand slapped against my mouth, and he silenced me before I could even scream.
Then the knife came. The steel blade was ice-cold against my throat. He pressed it hard into me, telling me he meant business. His voice was cold like the knife, icy like the air burning my lungs. The snow started to fall harder now, blocking my view of the nearest apartment building. It was the perfect coverage for something like this. "Make a sound, and I"ll slit your throat. I"ll let you bleed out like a pig at the slaughter."