Monster A Dark Arranged Marriage Romance - Vanessa Waltz
2 oz bourbon
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube
Garnish: orange twist
Vinn went too far this time.
My prick cousin bound my wrists. Threw me in a car. He dared to hood me, as though where we were headed was a big fucking mystery. He was probably taking me to his place in the Quabbin Reservoir, where he buried his victims. My lawyer friend, Knox, would’ve helped me, but Vinn had stolen my phone.
Murdering little shit.
Wheels crunched as the car slowed over bumpy terrain. Doors banged open, triggering images, sensations—snarling fangs, a crimson-soaked leash, my cheek hitting the curb.
Hands wrenched me out. My feet landed hard on a shifting surface, probably gravel. The hold on my elbow yanked. Stumbling, I lost my balance. My ass hit the ground as I made an undignified fall, sharp rocks cutting into my skin.
They pulled me upright and shoved.
“At least buy me dinner before manhandling me. Is this because I won’t go to your barbecues anymore?”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Don’t tell me. It’s another intervention?”
“You’ll find out in ten seconds.”
Vinn had no idea of the storm building within me, of the blind panic and the wrath he’d provoked. If he didn’t let me go, I would hurt someone.
It might be him.
I swung my boot, connecting with a leg.
A hand crashed into my shoulder, right into my scar. The phantom pain pierced me like a white-hot poker. A vicious hatred burned my body before the wind’s salted scent chased it away.
“You took me to your beach house?” A seagull cried as I faced the body dragging me. “The one you bought for your wife?”
I laughed, even though I could’ve killed him. “Jesus, Vinny. Li won’t like that. She’ll never forgive you.”
“Pleading for your life?”
“I’m saving your ass. When she finds out you murdered a family member at your vacation home, she’ll divorce you. Get ready for bitter custody battles.”
He marched me up a lawn, jerking me to his side. His fingers gouged my flesh—predictable, boring idiot. The hood was a stunt made to scare me straight, as if that ever worked.
The bag was ripped off my head.
Cold air stung my cheeks as the world exploded with light. Gradually, a seaside cottage melted into my vision. It stood on a watery shore. My guts clenched as waves lapped the beach. Foam crawled up the sand. A body floated in the water, facedown. Seconds later, it disappeared.
Alarm rippled down my spine.
Vinn jabbed me. “Inside.”
I tore my gaze from the ocean, heart pounding. I strolled through a door into a sprawling living room decorated in red, white, and blue. It resembled my zia Lena’s house—lots of plaid. I stepped in as Vinn sliced the zip ties, freeing my wrists.
Two men stood at the fireplace.
Once, I’d considered them brothers.
My insides blackened from the grim-faced Alessio to Michael’s softer eyes, ice freezing my stomach.
It was an intervention.
They thought I was high. Everything boiled down to the addiction that hadn’t been a problem in two years, and they wondered why I couldn’t stand them.
Christian entered, blocking the door.
My throat tightened. “I don’t need a goddamned intervention.”
“This isn’t about your sobriety. For once.” Vinny grabbed a chair and planted it in the middle of the room. “Have a seat.”
“I’m not. Fucking. Staying.”
Vinn didn’t budge. “You don’t have a choice.”
I hated those words.
Forcing me to do anything provoked my more violent tendencies. I couldn’t handle losing control. It made me unhinged.
I stormed to the door, but Christian blocked me. Hesitation flickered in his hawklike gaze as he squared his shoulders.
He shook his head. “Sorry. I can’t.”
The red haze flashed over my vision, and my hands balled into white, trembling fists. Old-fashioned. I conjured an image of the drink and focused. Two ounces bourbon. Two dashes of Angostura—
“That’s it, Tony. Have a seat.”
Dimly, I registered a touch on my bicep.
My fist whirled, slamming into his jaw. Christian dropped, clutching himself. He moaned. I jumped on him and disappeared in the violence, my body on autopilot. Blood splattered over my numbed hand. A pounding grew in my ears like drumbeats.
Hands tore at my wrist. I snapped their digits. An arm banded my neck, and I hurled him into the wall. A body slammed into my back. I jerked backward. My skull cracked a hard surface, and the body stumbled away.
I wouldn’t give up.
I stopped smashing his face when Michael and Vinn tackled me. Three of them forced me into the chair, and then the fog cleared, revealing a scene of devastation.
A vase had been smashed, showering the ground