Hunter - Blaire Drake

Prologue– Adriana

Ten years earlier.

“Addy, I need you to come with me, now.”

I rubbed my left eye and batted at her with my other hand. “Mamma, go away.”

She grabbed my covers and whipped them off me. “Adriana, I’m not joking.” Her voice was a whisper, but the urgency in it made me roll over and find her gaze in the darkness.

“What’s going on?” I whispered back scratchily.

Mamma took a deep breath and pushed a loose bit of hair from her forehead behind her ear. “I don’t have the time to explain right now. I need to do what I say, exactly how I say, exactly when I say it, without asking me anything. Can you do that for me, scuro?”

Our eyes met through the pitch black room. “Always.”

“Get up.” She stood from where she was crouched at the side of my bed and reached behind her. Black clothes hit me in the face.

I swung my legs out of the bed. My feet hit my cold wooden floor with barely a sound, and I changed without a word.

I knew her. Mamma would never ask me to do something like this without a good reason. I’d obey her—there was no question. My respect for her had always been unquestionable. Everyone’s respect was.

Mamma spoke, you listened. Mamma ordered, you followed.

Mamma held a gun to her head, you did, too.

It was the way we lived.

She was power. She was respect. She was Queen.

I dressed quickly. My pajamas lay discarded on my floor as Mamma grabbed my hand and held one manicured fingertip to her lips. Her movement was the request, the hard glint in her eyes the demand. I didn’t dare make a single sound. I was afraid to breathe as she gripped my fingers so tightly I thought they’d fall off.

A floorboard creaked beneath my feet.

Mamma turned, her lips drawn together in the moonlight streaming through the bathroom window. The door was open, illuminating the hallway and the stairs. Once again, she pressed her finger to her mouth.

It seemed as though hours had passed before she moved again.

We went down the stairs, our backs pressed to the wall, without any more creaks. The way we moved from side to side to middle made me wonder how many times she’d practiced this.

Because I knew she had.

The black bag I’d found myself familiar with was waiting by the front door. It was the escape bag. Always necessary. Always ready.

When you were at both the heart and the top of the mafia, the escape bag was a part of your life. It was the thing that held everything you’d need for a life on the road as another person, from wigs to hair dye to passports and birth certificates. All fake, all forged, all necessary if you needed to… disappear.

I had the most terrifying feeling that was what was going to happen tonight.

We were going to disappear. And I didn’t blame Mamma one bit.

Wordlessly, she handed me a black backpack. I swung it onto my shoulders and wrapped my arms around my waist. She was shaking as she heaved the gym sack onto her shoulder and walked through the mansion to the kitchen. The light over the cooker was on, and from where I was standing, I could see the back door wasn’t fully shut.

I tiptoed my way to her and grabbed her hand. She stilled, turning to me slightly, then I wrapped my arms around her waist and hugged her tightly. Her chest heaved as she took a deep, steadying breath before she released me.

She released me without a word. Before I could speak, she pulled the door open and pushed me through it. After she’d followed me outside, she closed it with the quietest click, locked it, and hurried past me, down the stone path that cut through the backyard.

A flashlight flickered through the scary darkness, and I froze, backing up. I knew we were running. I knew why. I knew this wasn’t good.

“Addy,” the familiar voice hissed. “Quickly.”

Darien’s soothing tone calmed me instantly, and he shone the light right at me, his hand outstretched. But…

“Mamma?” I whispered into the night.

“It’s okay,” she replied from somewhere. “Come on, scuro. Darien is safe.”


I needed it more than she knew.

I wrapped my fingers around Darien’s. The warmth of his hand spread up my arm, filling me with comfort.

He illuminated the path with the flashlight, flicking it up so I could see the waiting car, lights off, engine not running. “Quickly, Adriana. We can’t waste time tonight.”

I ran. It