The best way to keep your word is never to give it.
Not long ago, in a chapel in Vegas, I swore to love Karissa for the rest of my days. But nobody’s promised an infinite number of tomorrows. Nobody’s promised forever. Sometimes, all we have left is today.
Seize the day.
It should’ve been over, we should’ve been happy, but people are making it hard for me to live in peace. I’ve got so much blood on my hands they’ll never be clean, and somebody out there seems to want me to pay for it. Happily Ever After always comes at a cost, one any real man would be willing to pay. But that doesn’t mean I’m just going to roll over and accept these consequences.
Because when it comes to the woman I love" The life I’ve fought for"
Nobody is safe.Books in Series:Monster in His Eyes Series by J.M. DarhowerBooks by Author:J.M. Darhower Books
I’m going to tell you a story, a story about a lion that was killed by a callous hunter not long ago. This lion was the king of his pride, and this hunter" This hunter didn’t even think twice about pulling the trigger, consequences be damned.
And consequences there were.
You see, when a king is killed, anarchy reigns as the next strongest male steps up to take his place. Sometimes that male is considerate, compassionate, but more likely he’s a ruthless beast. To secure his place at the top of the food chain, to assert his dominance in a time of chaos, the lion annihilates anyone he considers competition, starting with his predecessor’s cubs.
His offspring, the ones he created, the ones he raised to follow his lead… one-by-one they fell, victim to the new cruel tyrant, until the former king’s pride was no more. In the hunter’s mind, it was over the second he put down the gun, but in reality, that was when the real trouble began.
It came with a vengeance.
The pride lands were knee-deep in it.
Midtown Shooting Leaves One Dead
I stare through the darkness at the bold headline deep in the middle of yesterday’s newspaper. It didn’t make the front page. Not even close. It was tucked in along with the petty crimes that plague the city, like a shooting means nothing to these people nowadays.
Maybe it doesn’t.
Who am I to judge"
Bullets certainly don’t faze me anymore.
But this one stalled me. This one made me hesitate. My eyes drift from the vague headline to the lone victim’s name: Kelvin Russo.
I know him.
Well, I knew him.
Kelvin is no more.
Once one of Ray’s favorite street soldiers, Kelvin caught a bullet to the back of the skull. He was young, just starting out" couldn’t have been any more than twenty-three or twenty-four. The paper doesn’t say much about what happened, but I know an execution when I read about one.
Another of the former king’s cubs has fallen.
I didn’t pull the trigger this time, but when it comes down to it, I still shoulder the blame. He’s dead because there’s a new king of this concrete jungle, a king that’s sending a message to everyone.
The thing is, though, I don’t kneel for anyone. I get on my knees for no fucking man. I walked away a year ago, before pulling that fateful trigger, but that won’t be good enough for someone like him.
It’s only a matter of time before he comes for me.
Before he wants me.
Whoever he is…
“A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”
Giuseppe Vitale isn’t usually a man to mince words. He speaks in riddles a lot of the time, something his son inherited from him, but his point is always there, front and center. He knows what he knows and feels how he feels, and when it comes down to it, he won’t hesitate to tell you how it is.
A leopard doesn’t change its spots.
He’s talking about Ignazio.
“But he’s different,” I say, my eyes drifting to the small wooden table between us, like maybe subconsciously I doubt my own words. He has been different, that’s true, but I know that doesn’t mean he has actually changed.
Can he change"
I don’t know.
Should I even want him to"
It has been over a year since a bullet tore through me in the foyer of the home in Brooklyn, although my chest still aches like it happened yesterday. The physical wound healed but my heart is another story.
Part of it remains broken.
It probably always will be that way.
Six weeks ago, Naz asked me to marry him. Really asked me, unlike before. This time, when I said yes, I knew exactly what I was committing to. I know what kind of man he is. I know the things he’s done, the things he wanted to do. We said ‘I do’ that very night, in the chapel at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and I’ve spent every night since then convinced I’d made the right decision.
Because he’s different.
But what exactly does different mean"
Giuseppe reaches over, placing his rough, calloused hand on top of mine, squeezing lightly to draw my attention back to him. He’s got a smile on his lips, but it’s not a smile of happiness. It borders somewhere on pity.
I can almost hear what he’s thinking.
Poor little girl, you don’t understand what you’ve gotten into.
“You know, they say if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it’ll jump right back out,” he says. “But if you put a frog in a pot of cool water and steadily raise the temperature, it’ll stay right where it is, like nothing is happening. You get where I’m going with this"”
My brow furrows at the jump in conversation. “No.”
“You’re the frog, girl, and Ignazio" He’s boiling you alive without you even noticing.”
I want to argue against that. I want to tell him he’s wrong. Because he is. He’s wrong. But the only words I can come up with are ‘he’s different’ and I’m not even entirely sure how to explain what that means. He’s still Naz, still the same intimidating Ignazio, but Vitale hasn’t shown his face… not around me, anyway.