We are thrilled to share an excerpt of Dark Mafia Prince by New York Times bestselling author, Annika Martin! Releases on June 28th!
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.
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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?”
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About the Author:
Annika Martin is a NYT bestselling author who enjoys writing dirty stories about dangerous criminals! She loves helping animals and kicking snow clumps off the bottom of cars around the streets of Minneapolis, and in her spare time she writes as the RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.
Connect with Annika:
Annika Martin site: http://annikamartinbooks.com
Dirty quote newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/AnnikaMartin