Read An Excerpt of Ravage!

Prologue: Alek

Ten Years Ago

“You need to leave. Now!”

I furrow my brow, the cold wind whipping through my many layers of clothing. “Then tell me the truth about why you’re here, Dad! What the hell have you been grooming me for if you’re just going to turn me away, now of all times? I thought you needed me here to—”

“Don’t think,” my father grunts, looking left and right. We’re the only two people standing in this darkened alleyway in Saint Petersburg, Russia. At least, for the moment. Sirens wail in the distance and my spine tenses.

“Go home,” my father says in a terse voice. “It’s not safe for you to be here. You need to be at the house with the girls. I told you not to leave them!”

By ‘the girls’ he means Mom and my sister Tali.

But they aren’t the only ones home.

Mischa, our housekeeper is there, too, with her daughter, Lina.

The girl I’ve been in love with for the better part of my short life.

It’s partly because of her…them…that I’m here in the first place.

I’m Dad’s second in command…but who am I kidding? That title is awarded in name only. 

I want him to take me seriously so that I can learn more about the life we live, the one I’m currently only allowed to watch from the sidelines.

How the hell can I carry on his legacy, protect the family, and grow our empire if he keeps so much from me? I’ll never be prepared to face the unknown unless he lets me strike.

But every time I feel like he comes close to turning over the reins, shit goes sideways and he pushes me away.

Like tonight.

And if he doesn’t take me seriously or trust me to take control, nobody else will, either. 

How the hell am I supposed to grow as a leader if he keeps shit from me?

“Why do you keep pulling me in part way?” I press, raking a hand through my hair. My chest tightens as I hear footsteps thumping over cobblestones. A trickle of sweat drizzles down my back despite the frigid weather. My voice drops to a whisper. “If I’m going to be in this—”

“That’s the problem, Alek. I don’t want you in this at all. Not now. I never wanted any member of my family in this. It’s too dangerous.”

“You made me your number two because you had faith that I could handle things. Remember? That’s what you told me! And you know damn well Kaz and Leo can’t do this kind of work.” 

“Something happened here tonight,” Dad says in a hushed tone. “And it’s about to bring a lot of trouble our way. I don’t know how much longer we have here in Russia, Alek. We may need to leave. And if I don’t make it, I need to make sure you’re safe so that you can protect the rest of the family.”

I swallow hard. “That’s exactly why I need to know what the hell to expect, Dad!” I slam my hands against my jean-clad legs. “I have to be prepared!”

And if I’m prepared…if I get a shot to make these threats go away…then maybe we can stay.

We can thrive.

We can live.

Hopefully to see another day.

“You’re too young. Too inexperienced,” Dad mumbles, shaking his head. “There are too many unknowns, and the situation is more dangerous than I thought. Something bad has happened, something that is going to destroy all of us. I can’t allow you to get involved.”

“Well, what about you? You’re just going to sit here with the rest of those assholes and wait for the shit storm to blow over? Is that smart?” Panic rises in my throat, but I keep it in check. The last thing I want to do is let him know what’s bubbling beneath the surface.

If I want him to trust me, he needs to see I can be as lethal as him.

With no regrets.

And no fear.

The corners of Dad’s lips curl upward into a sad smile. “It may be the only way I can keep you all safe.” He grabs the sides of my head and kisses me on both cheeks before pushing me away. “You need to learn to listen. How to stand down when the situation calls for it. But you…you just rush into things. You take too many unnecessary risks because you want to lead so badly. You don’t understand that in order to be an effective leader, you need to exercise caution. You can’t run into situations ready to fight if you don’t understand who you’re fighting and why.”

“Then tell me!” I whisper-shout. “Be honest with me, Dad! Give me a damn chance to show you that I can handle things for you!”

He lifts an eyebrow at me. “If you want to prove yourself to me, then get the hell out of here, Aleksandr. Stay out of the line of fire for once. And show me that you can take a goddamn order!” 

“But you need me here! I can help!” 

The words are barely out of my mouth when the sirens blare louder from around the corner. But we both know there are no cops driving those cars. Dad pushes me away without acknowledging my words and backs into the building. “Go now!” He watches as I jump into my car, gun the engine, and peel away from the side of the brick-faced building. It’s only when I look back, once I’m at the top of the alley, that I see the door to the building is closed tight, my dad safely behind it.

At least for the moment.

I say a silent prayer that the sirens keep moving.

I just wanted to hear my father say the goddamn words, to confirm what I’ve already pieced together myself.

I needed to hear him say it, to tell me why all of the men who worked for Denis Manchenko, including him, are gathered in the basement of that building tonight. 

Saying those words would prove that he does have faith in me, that he actually does trust me.

But even though he refused to tell me, I know the answer. I know a lot of things…more than Dad thinks I do.

He doesn’t think that I’m strong enough to handle the dark reality that’s looming.

But he doesn’t realize I’m his best option.

His only option.

One-click Ravage now and find out what happens next!

Vengeful is Live!!!

I’m so excited to announce that Vengeful, Book 3 of the Severinov Bratva series, is LIVE on Kindle Unlimited!

One single gunshot threw my life into upheaval.
An assassination that will bring my family to its knees.
It’s up to me to avenge the murder.
An eye for an eye…that’s my MO.
I have one job to do, and it may be my last.
Find my father’s killer and make him pay
Before he finds me.
But there’s one problem – one incredibly sexy obstacle I never saw coming.
Tali Severinov.
I’ve met my match with this woman.
She’s beautiful, deadly, and more ruthless than I’d ever imagined.
Think with my head?
At least, not with the one attached to my neck.
She thinks I’m the enemy.
Little does she know I’m her savior.

One-click it on Amazon today!

Merciless Is LIVE!!!!

It was a crazy fun weekend, and last night on release eve, I decided to unwind by doing some social media graphics for Merciless. LOL. What can I say? Photoshop helps to calm my nerves. Anyway, here we are, and the Severinov Bratva series has officially kicked off!!! SO EXCITING!!! And since it’s release day, you know what that means.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!! A $20 Amazon gift card is up for grabs!!!
Enter the Giveaway–>

One-Click Merciless–>

Read the Prequel–>

I’m a killer. A bloodthirsty beast.
I never miss my target.
And I always collect on my debts.
Especially when they come packaged in a porn star body.
Hello to my new obsession.
Beautiful and ruthless, Lindy thinks she owns Sin City.
But she’s about to find out that she picked the wrong casino to rob.
And that now, I own her.
She trusted the wrong people, put greed before common sense, and lost everything.
Now there’s a debt to be paid.
To me.
But I don’t care about the money.
I want her.
Need her.
She can be my redemption.
If I can just make her mine.
But of course, I will.
Because I always get what I want.
And I never miss my mark.

Read the Prologue for Merciless!

3 MORE SLEEPS!!!! And then Merciless, Book One of the Severinov Bratva Series, will be HERE!!!!! I’m sure you’ve already read Defiance, the prequel to this amazing new mafia series (WINK, WINK), so how about the Prologue??? Here’s a little taste of what’s to come!

Enjoy! xoxo



I clutch the sides of my head and squeeze my eyes closed. It takes me a few minutes to remember where I even was last night before the sordid sex fest in my hotel suite started. But even in my drunken stupor, I somehow still remembered to charge my damn cell phone.

And when it started blaring with incoming texts from my father this morning, right next to my head, the urge to hurl it against a wall was strong.

Stronger even when one of my overnight guests started to taunt me with her devious lips. They clamped tight around my cock—sucking, tugging, licking until she decided it was time to hop on top of me for one last ride.

I let that damn phone ring and ping for about an hour until my guests left and I was alone again.

By that time, I was definitely in serious need of coffee and a bottle of Advil. 

After a quick shower and a handful of pills, I’m still suffering and there’s no relief in sight.

“You were given specific instructions, Kazimir,” my father growls, pacing his office at the Le MéridienHoteland Casino in Monaco. The place is luxury personified, with its polished marble floors, gold accents as far as the eye can see, and lush foliage lining every corner.

And this is just one of my father’s many holdings here. Monaco is dripping with wealth, power, and prestige, and for the patriarch of the Severinov family, it is the perfect place to expand our interests.

It’s been a long and hard few years.

Leaving Russia meant losing a lot of our government protection, and then after losing Mom…

I take a deep breath and fist my hair.

My stomach rolls. I don’t want to think about that right now, but it’s the reason I’m sitting here in Dad’s office. He stomps around, slamming things and yelling, but it’s not until he spews the next words that I actually sit up and focus.

“I can’t trust you! I never could!”

I slowly raise my eyes at him, his face pinched and red. My jaw damn near drops to the floor. A flash of realization takes the place of his otherwise irate expression. He just heard what he said to me. Christ only knows, he’s been thinking it for the last five years. I guess it was bound to come out at some point.

I grip the arms of the chair and pull myself out of it. I need to stand up for this next part. I’ve beaten myself into the ground over it for long enough. 

“I tried to make it right,” I say through gritted teeth. “Do you know how hard it was…and still is…for me to live with myself after what happened? That’s why I went to find Yazov!” I inch closer to my father, ignoring his look of shock. “Not a day goes by that I don’t wish it had been me instead of her. I wish they’d have put a bullet in my fucking brain, Dad! I wish it had been me in that car, not Mom and Tali! I will never forgive myself for letting it happen. And I don’t need you to constantly remind me of how insignificant my role in this family is.”

It takes Dad a minute or two to recover, and rightly so. The pounding between my temples shudders my brain and all I want to do is dive back into my bed, bury my head under the fluffy pillows, and pray for an end to this nightmare.

“You went against my orders,” he says in a quiet voice, staring at me. 

“I tried to do the right thing.”

“Just because it would have helpedyousleep better at night doesn’t mean it would have been the right thing.” He shakes his head. “Typical Kazimir. Always thinking of yourself. Never the consequences of your actions.”

“I haven’t slept in years, Dad,” I mutter, raking a hand through my hair. “I was doing it for you.”

“Well, I never asked for your help, did I?” he hisses, circling his desk and sinking into the chair behind it. He flips open a folder and scans the paper on top. When he looks up at me again, he narrows his eyes. “You need to get away from here as soon as possible.”

“That’s the beautiful thing about being an assassin. I’m everywhere and nowhere. I can be invisible.”

“Well, you’re going to be invisible in America. I want you far away from here. I will handle things in here in Monaco with your brother Alek. You will leave for Las Vegas tonight. I’ve already made the arrangements.”

“What the hell am I supposed to do in Vegas? I’m an enforcer for this family. Christ, I don’t even gamble!”

“You don’t have to gamble. I don’t give a damn if you know a straight flush from a royal. But you need to lay low until the shit storm you caused blows over.”

“Great,” I grumble, stretching my arms overhead. “I can’t wait.”

Dad narrows his dark eyes at me. “You caused this, Kaz. Just remember that. It may not seem like it now, but I’m saving your ass.”

“Why bother?” I shoot back. “According to you, I keep screwing things up for the family. I don’t take instructions, I can’t be counted on, I’m always following my own agenda. Why not let them kill me? It’d save you some headaches,” I seethe, my fists clenched.

Dad lifts an eyebrow but says nothing. “You’ll be taking on the role of Head of Security at the Montepremi Hotel and Casino. It’s under the ownership of a shell corporation I had set up, so you should be able to preserve your anonymity.”

Interesting. Dad never makes a purchase like that without letting the whole world know about it. Maybe he really does want to keep me alive. 

“And what exactly will I be doing at the Montepremi?”

“The casino will be used as a front for our money laundering and trafficking activities in America, which you, Leo, and Tali will manage. Each of you will have your own roles, but I need people I can trust managing the operations. You will work beside your brother and sister and keep a low profile.”

And there it is. The angle. Dad always has one, and he’s always figuring out how to expand his empire. My role is helping him do that. Period. That’s why he’s sending me to Vegas. 

Because he needs me. Not because he gives a shit about me. 

“So why are you sending me?” I can’t help but take the dig. I know I’m here because I screwed up, but it doesn’t mean I’m going down easy. “Leo and Tali are pretty good order takers. They don’t need me out there to mess things up.”

Dad scrubs a hand down the front of his face. “Kaz,” he says in a low voice. “You will do what I ask and not question my reasons. I think you know better than anyone that I never make a move without a good one.” He points a finger at me. “You will go to Las Vegas and you will do what I ask of you without another question.” His lips stretch into a thin line. “Consider this your final directive.” 

It’s Live!!!!!

OMG, guys! Crushing the Mob is finally LIVE!!!!

I’m so excited for you to read Kat and Rocco’s story! It’s equal parts sexy, snarky, and super suspenseful! And it’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Want to check out the first three chapters?

Click here to get started!

And if you LOVE IT, you can one-click it here on Amazon!

So Many Holiday Weekend Surprises!

I hope you had an awesome 4th! My back is scorched and I’m a little bit hungover, but it was a super fun day with family and friends! I also got my very first keratin treatment on Wednesday, so I spent a lot of time panicking yesterday that wearing a ponytail was going to permanently dent my hair. LOL!

It didn’t…

So today, I’m sitting here with my freshly washed and still pin-straight hair to tell you that there are 12…not 2, not 5, not 8…but 12 FREE books and an awesome giveaway waiting for you!

AND it gets better. 

One of the free books is SCREWING THE MOB! All of these hot mafia and MC romances are free from July 5-8, so you can get my series starter and binge the rest right in time for the release of CRUSHING THE MOB on Monday!!!!

Can I get an OH YEAH?!?!

Enter Giveaway Here —>

🖤 Screwing the Mob by Kristen Luciani 🖤


🖤 King’s Return by Xavier Neal 🖤


🖤 Vengeance by Kathy Coopmans 🖤


🖤 Love At Last Series Boxset by K.L. Myers 🖤


🖤 Blood and Lies by Bella J 🖤


🖤 Convict Me by J.L. Beck  🖤


🖤 Whiskey Renegade by HJ Bellus 🖤


 🖤 See Jayne Play by Jami Denise 🖤


🖤 Compass by Mary B. Moore 🖤


🖤 HOOK (The Duplicity Duet #1) by Elisabeth Grace 🖤


🖤 Warning (Part 1) by A.D. Justice 🖤


🖤 Ghostface Killer by M. Never 🖤


Enter Giveaway Here —>

Read The Prequel Now!

The Severinov Bratva Series is about to launch! Merciless, Book 1 of the new Russian-Italian crossover series, releases on July 22! Bt you can get a little taste now.

Click here to read Defiance, the prequel for FREE!

Here’s the blurb! And the COVER…*swoon!*


One single phone call.

That’s all it took to shatter my world and turn my future into a never-ending nightmare.

I’ve waited a damn long time for this night. I’ve trained my whole lifetime for it.

Just a little farther…just a few more minutes…just a few more steps…

And then, justice will finally be served.

It won’t even begin to even the score or fix what’s long been broken.

But it has to be done.

Everything is in place.

And I have to be the one to pull the trigger.


I had a sheltered life. Cushy, comfortable, and perfect, as far as I knew.

But it was one I didn’t choose, one that was filled with lies and deceit, and one that nearly came to a screeching halt as a result.

Never again will I leave my fate in the hands of people who think they know best, only to find out that they don’t.

I can’t ever go back.

As of tonight, the past no longer exists. I need to do things my way from now on, not their way.

Their way almost killed me.

Want to WIN???

Check out the Goodreads giveaway I’m running for my upcoming release, Crushing the Mob! It’s the last standalone of my Mob Lust series, and it kicks off a whole new Italian-Russian mafia crossover series I’m launching later this month!

Enter the giveaway here—>

Join the release event here—>

Release Date: July 8

Screw the consequences. She belongs to me.


They gave me an order.

My instructions were crystal clear, the threats painfully real.

Find the people who shattered her world.

Keep her safe.

Don’t lay a finger on her.

And don’t even think about falling in love.

That last part was all me.

Mission not accomplished.


I’m a cold-blooded killer.

An assassin by trade.

I hunt those who have taken from my family.

Our list of enemies is endless, my quest for revenge never complete.

Eight years gone, and the memories of that day still fester.

Just like the guilt that poisons my soul,

The grief that haunts me when I close my eyes at night,

And the rage that fuels my hate.

The scars run so deep, and 

Only one person has the power to heal them.

But I’m just another task on his list, a job to complete.

I’ll never be anything more.

He could never love me.

Not after what I’ve done.

Nobody could.

Who Really Is Deadlier???

I want someone to hold me, to tell me it will be okay, that it really wasn’t my fault, that I’m not to blame for everything. I need to hear that, need to believe it, if I have any hope of ever recovering from that day.

So when he pulls me into his arms, I allow myself to fall into them, breathing in the scent of his cologne until it makes me dizzy. The tears flow from my eyes and his arms tighten around me in response. It only makes me cry harder. 

Time pretty much stops, and I don’t care if I stay here wrapped in his embrace forever. He holds me, rubbing a hand down my back as my sobs finally quiet. Even after I told him…actually, screamed at him…that I hate him.

Is he a glutton for punishment or what?

He doesn’t speak at all, and thank fuck for that because I have no idea what is happening to me and I’m afraid of what may come spewing out of my mouth if I open it. His fingers stroke the back of my neck and my spine suddenly morphs into a limp spaghetti noodle. Ohhh…what is he doing with those magical fingers? He’s making me forget, distracting me from the toxins flooding my veins, all by innocently targeting an erogenous zone I never even knew existed.

My knees buckle, my arms tentatively reaching around his muscular back. 

I’m not a hugger. At least, I’m not anymore.

But this…I could get used to this. 

His head drops on top of mine, his warm lips resting against my hair. Goosebumps shoot up my arms and down my legs, despite the fact that they’re covered in velour. I’ve never been so affected by…sentiment.

Holy crap. 

Who the fuck am I?

Crushing the Mob is coming to your Kindles on JULY 8!!!

Click here to add it to Goodreads!


Thanksgiving, Six Weeks Ago


A deep, ominous chill settles into my bones as I walk down Decatur Avenue in the armpit of Brooklyn on this frigid night. I flip up the collar of my coat to form a barrier against the heavy wind that nearly blew my car off the Verrazano Bridge a little while ago. Sidestepping puddles of half-melted ice from the last snowstorm, I peer around at the darkness consuming the dilapidated buildings, trying to make out any shapes that are lurking in alleyways, ready to pummel, but there are none.

I guess criminals celebrate Thanksgiving, too.

Nico would kick my ass if he knew I was here. Alone, no less. 

It’s been a rough few months for him, dealing with his dad’s recovery from the hit that the Cappodamo family put on him and then taking over as boss. It hasn’t been easy, and he’s been damn stressed. But yet here I am, ready to pile on that stress and fuck shit up without his permission.

My phone vibrates against my leg. I glance left and right before pulling it out to read the text from Sloane.

Where are you? We just finished dinner, and I made your favorite for dessert. Is everything okay?

I tug down the rim of my worn Yankees baseball cap and shake off the useless guilt that’s been hovering over me ever since I made a sudden turn in the opposite direction…away from Sloane’s house and toward the New Jersey Turnpike. 

I should be with Sloane right now, sitting in the dining room at her dad’s house, eating her tiramisu…the best damn tiramisu on the planet and the one she always makes any time I come over. I’m so fucking deep in the friend zone that the only thing I can get out of her is dessert. Or Raisinets when I show up at her apartment with the bullshit excuse that I want to play Fortnite. Video games. That’s the only way in, so I’ve been reduced to fucking Player Two. 

Things between us fell apart the last time because my priorities were fucked up. Funny how shit comes full circle. I’ve been dicking around for the past couple of months, trying to figure out how to tell her that I want to give this thing between us another shot, but something always stopped me from saying the words.

That was gonna change tonight. I was gonna lay it out there for her, to see if there’s a future for us, to see if I can get the second chance I’ve been waiting for. And here I am in Brooklyn with my priorities all fucked up again. Maybe it’s a sign that she’s better off without me and my jacked priorities.

But that phone call…how the hell could I have ignored it? I know being here violates all sorts of rules, but I still came.

You always repay your debts.

Besides, I’d never let those bastards win their sick, sordid game either.

When they violated our territory and went after our business, they fucked themselves.

I’m just here to finish the job. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at.

Except this time, I don’t have backup. 

This is something I have to do by myself. I put Layla in this position, and now I need to get her the fuck out of it.

I mentally flip through attack strategies, squinting at the numbers on the buildings along the desolate road. There could be anywhere from one to five guys inside, based on what she whispered into the phone.

They’re baiting me. I know they’re not gonna do what they threatened to do. But Layla wasn’t taking that risk, and now I’m here to save the fucking day.

I stop short, my ears straining to hear what sounds like very determined footsteps approaching me from behind. My throat tightens, and I stuff my hands deep into my pockets, gripping the handle of my trusty switchblade.

I pick up the pace, knowing I’ll have milliseconds to pull out the blade, swivel around, and lance the fucker. The footsteps get louder and heavier, splashing through puddles. 

The dipshit isn’t even trying to be stealth anymore. 

I glance left and right, and still, the street is empty.

Save for two people.

At least.

The bar is up ahead on my left. If this prick is one of theirs, I don’t want to take him out here in the open, so I dodge left and dart between two buildings, crouched low so I can spring at the bastard when he comes for me.

My moves take him by surprise, and he sprints toward me, hood pulled over his face. I can only make out a profile, but I’ll slash first and ask questions later.

As always.

I grip the blade in my hand and release its gleaming metal tip. Ready to slice.

“Max!” A male voice whisper-shouts my name. “What the fuck?”

I furrow my brow. “Gabe?”

Gabe pulls off his hood. “Yeah, man. What the hell is wrong with you? I could have been a cop, for fuck’s sake!” He points at my blade. “You were just gonna fillet me without even finding out who it was?”

I retract the blade and stick it back into my pocket, letting out a deep sigh. “This is a shithole neighborhood, if you haven’t noticed. And if the cops came down here more often, it probably wouldn’t be as bad as it is. So, yeah, if someone is following me in this place, I’m slicing first, worrying about it never.” I lower my voice. “What the fuck are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be at your mother’s house right now, sleeping on the couch after stuffing your face with enough food to feed a third-world country?”

“Screw you.” Gabe grinned. “I already did all that. And now I’m all fueled up and ready to bust some fucking skulls. Where are they?”

I nod in the direction of the dilapidated building. Layla didn’t have an exact address, but she sent pictures. I did the rest with the help of one of my younger guys, Sammy, who also happens to be a tech genius. Fucking kid. He could do so much more with his life than be a hacker for the mafia, but then again, nobody ever asks if you’re gonna join the party. 

It’s just expected that you show up.

And never leave. 

“I’m gonna kill Sammy,” I grumble, adjusting the gun in the waistband of my pants.

“If he didn’t call me, it’d be your funeral. I don’t know why you needed to storm this shit show by yourself.”

Gabe doesn’t get it. But it’s not like I can make him understand. I know what people say about me. I know what they think.

This time, I wanted to tell a different story, one where I’m the one who takes care of things, not just the one who carries out a fucking order.

I’m nobody’s goddamned errand boy, but that’s what they all see.

Because that’s the picture Nico paints. 

My best friend. And my boss. 

He claims he wants to help me rise through the ranks, to get me involved in the business end so people don’t just see me as a thug and start taking me seriously. But being his fucking peon isn’t gonna erase that image.

I may not be Mr. CEO, but I do know how these jerkoffs operate. Nico can barely hold a fucking gun, much less fire one. If I told him about this, he’d have gathered all the guys together, had a fucking brutally long meeting about the pros and cons of how and when we should attack, blah, blah, fucking blah. This isn’t the time to play around with our dicks. And now is the time for me to make my move and prove myself to those assholes who talk shit behind my back, betting on how long it’ll take before one of our enemies finally pops me.

Sorry, to disappoint you, dickheads. It ain’t happening.

Not tonight, anyway.

But still, a nagging voice needles me. 

Grandpa Vito wouldn’t be happy about this. 

I grit my teeth as Gabe cocks his gun. Vito was the head of the Salesi family and Nico’s grandfather. The big guy. The one who oversaw everything. He’d always been my champion, even after the divorce. That’s what we call the falling out between my dad and Nico’s. A lot of shit went down back then, but Vito always supported me, even when nobody else did. 

Now he’s gone. It’s been almost a year since he died of a heart attack, and sometimes I feel like nobody has my back anymore. I’m a liability. They don’t want to take the risk on me since I’m such a loose cannon. 

At least, that’s what I hear. 

The mental taunting continues.

Is that why Grandpa Vito got Nico to give you a job? Or was it because he didn’t trust you either and needed to get you a babysitter?

Shut the fuck up, voice!

I clench and unclench my fists, the memory of Layla’s whimpering making my chest tighten. “Are you ready yet, for Christ’s sake?”

Gabe tucks the gun back into his jeans and nods. “Yeah. Let’s do this.”

I put a hand on his chest before he takes another step closer to the door. “Wait. You didn’t need to come here tonight. But I want you to know I appreciate it. And I’ll make sure her father knows you showed up, too. Now keep your eyes open. I don’t need any more blood on my hands, got it?”

Gabe lets out a snort. “Fuck off, bitch. Worry about yourself.”

I roll my eyes and shove him aside, inching closer to the dingy metal door. With a throbbing pulse, I pull open the door; the stench of stale cigarette smoke tinged with scotch assaults my nostrils. I nod toward Gabe, and he covers the other side of the door. I creep inside. A few lights hang over beaten-up pool tables, marijuana smoke swirling through the air. A jukebox sits silent in a far corner. 

The silence is deafening.

And fucking excruciating, if I’m being honest.

A piercing scream shatters the eerie stillness, and I dart in the direction of the desperate pleas. 

It’s Layla. 

I pull out my gun and point to Gabe, directing him to cover me as I run toward a back room. I have no fucking clue what waits for me beyond that door, but my friend is in trouble. Serious fucking trouble. 

Her father, Antonio deVincenzo, was the only other person in the family who’d believed that I had more to offer the family than smashed up skulls. He was the only one who gave me a real shot at my own business, until that asshole Rocco Lucchese fucked us both, leaving me with nothing but this dead-end job under Nico’s watchful eye. 

I never forgot what Antonio did for me. 

And I owe him plenty, even in death. Lung cancer drained the life out of him last spring, but I’m still paying back the debt. 

Feels like I’ve been paying it back for a long time. 

But this is the last installment. I can’t keep putting my ass on the line. I need to think about my future, meaning I’d like to havea future. 

Gabe does a quick check and waves me toward the door a minute later. “All clear,” he mouths. 

I don’t like this one bit. 

This place looks like a fucking bloodbath waiting to happen. Something is wrong…very wrong. Why isn’t this place crawling with thugs? Where the fuck is everyone?

Napping because they ate too much fucking turkey?


I inch closer to the door, shooting out a hand and shoving it open to find Layla squirming under some beefy dipshit who didn’t have the foresight to lock the front door. He has one hand under her skirt and one hand slapped over her mouth. He turns around, his eyes red and bloodshot, face dripping with sweat. He drags himself to his feet, a shit-eating grin on his pock-marked face. His belt is undone, jeans hanging around his ass. Layla scrambles into a corner. Her face is streaked with black eye makeup, her teeth chattering so violently, she can’t even speak. Her eyes are filled with terror, her body shaking uncontrollably.

I swallow hard, breathing deep to control my heartbeat. My hand is steady, trained on the bastard who’d just dry humped his last victim. He should be thanking his lucky stars that his dick is still inside of his pants. 

Otherwise, I’d have shot off the head in his pants before blowing off the one on his shoulders.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Blood and bits of brain and bone splatter all over the wall before his body crashes to the floor with a loud thump. A shriek that can shatter glass follows, and I sideswipe Layla’s attacker, holding out a hand to pull her up.

But she continues to cower in the corner.

“Layla, babe. It’s okay. You’re safe now. Let me help you up.”

Still, she just shakes her head, stuttering something I can’t make out, shivering and huddling closer to the wall.

“Layla,” I say again, louder this time. “I need you to come with me. Is there anyone else—?”


A single gunshot explodes from behind me.

“Gabe!” I shout, jumping to my feet and twisting around…

Two seconds too late.

A thick hand grasps my neck, dragging me to my feet. Layla’s weeping turns into full-fledge screeches as my back is slammed against the wall, the fucking bloody, brainy wall of horrors.

Mikey Bonnaro. Sonofabitch. He’d been one of Frank Cappodamo’s soldiers, but his ‘career’ came to a screeching halt last New Year’s Eve when Frank had kidnapped my sister Shaye. That was a fucking brutal night. It didn’t end well for any of Cappodamo’s men, including Frank himself. Before that bloodbath, Mikey had been positioned as a captain, and Frank was about to give him the drug distribution business for all of his territories. But shit went sideways for Cappodamo’s whole crew once we stormed the deserted warehouse where they’d taken Shaye. Some of Frank’s crew, including Mikey, were able to get away. But Mikey’s brother Gianni wasn’t so lucky. I slashed his tires and dropped about fifty grams of heroin into the passenger seat of his car before we busted out of the parking lot. He’s been behind bars since that night, and it looks like Mikey is still pissed off that his promotion never went through. 

“Shut up, bitch!” Mikey shouts at Layla before he turns back to me with an evil grimace. “Happy fucking Thanksgiving, Oriani. It’s not very polite to crash someone’s party. Didn’t that cunt mother of yours teach you any manners?”

“Is this your plan, Mikey? You think kidnapping her is gonna win you points with those dipshits you work with?” I wheeze, trying to pry his fingers away from my throat. “You think it’ll give you power over them? You think they’ll follow you now because you got one of ours?”

“Loyalty doesn’t come cheap. They know what I can get them.” He shrugs. “It’s all about what you can deliver, right, Maximo? What have you delivered? Oh, right. Nothing. That’s why you’re Nico’s bitch now. He needs to keep tabs on the weak link, right?” He lets go, and my body crashes to the floor like a lead pipe. 

Speaking of lead pipes, I’d love to have one in my hand right about now.

My hand flies to my neck, and I choke, trying to swallow as much air as my lungs can handle.

Mikey crouches down next to me and ruffles my hair. “Did you think I was gonna kill you, Max? Were you scared?”

My eyes dart behind him to where Gabe lies in a pool of blood right outside the back room. 

More blood on my hands. 

So much blood.

There doesn’t ever seem to be a shortage of it, that’s for shit sure. Gabe was a good guy. He showed up, and because of me, now he’s fucking dead.

On Thanks-fucking-giving.

Mikey follows my gaze and shrugs. “Collateral damage. You know how it is. I didn’t want to kill anyone. I only wanted to give you a message.” He waves over at Gabe, barely acknowledging his limp and lifeless body sprawled on the floor. “That’s your fault for being too big of a pussy to show up alone.” He taps my temple with the barrel of his gun. “You’re getting soft doing all this businessy shit, aren’t you? You’d have come in here shooting the place up back in the day. You would never have dropped your gun before popping off a round or two.” He points his piece to where mine hit the floor minutes earlier and then points it to Layla. “But maybe this will make you remember…keep you focused. For next time. Because lucky for you, there will be one.”


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