The Darkest Lies Trilogy, #2
Publication Date: March 29, 2021
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime. Erotic Romance
Google Play: Coming Soon
Roman Avdonin has always lived life on the edge of reason—hiding an unstable woman while officials knock down his family’s door and a mafia war brews really doesn’t seem that crazy, all things considered.
But everything about Karine Yazov is a beautiful, dangerous lie. And they’ve not even learned the worst of it.
All she knows is how to survive, and put into the hands of a man who seems like her wildest dreams, why would she fight? His stare lights her on fire, he gives her the safety she craves, and Karine can’t stop herself from falling …
Even if she knows the monster chasing her will never let her go.
Promises like his shouldn’t be broken, but secrets like hers could get them all killed.
The Promise is book 2 in The Darkest Lies Trilogy. The Trilogy is standalone; the books should be read in order.
The mind was a messy thing.
A fickle thing.
Karine’s was even worse. Her hair blew in the breeze coming through the rolled-down window, while she kept her face turned away from Roman because she didn’t want to meet his eyes. The intensity she always found staring back from the striking blue gaze distracted her in ways she couldn’t explain, and the last thing she needed was to drown in them.
She was already drowning in herself, after all—in her mind, the hellscape was a dying carcass circled by the vultures that were her thoughts. Things she didn’t want to see, others that she’s worked so hard not to know … she couldn’t possibly deal with an overwhelming man, and the violent currents inside her mind at the same time.
Karine also didn’t know what to say to Roman without it sounding like an attack. Instead, she remained silent, her stare locked beyond the window at the passing scenery whether she was actually seeing it, or not.
So did Roman.
The only sound came from Masha’s soft, rhythmic inhales and exhales from the backseat. She seemed content to sleep, probably the longest stretch of rest she had for the first time in decades. It was also entirely possible that she had helped herself to the pills she used to ply Karine with—they did say what was good for the goose was good for the gander.
Every time Karine glanced in Roman’s direction, she found him glaring at the black patch of road stretching on ahead of them. A hardness had set into his handsome features that made her pause with each glance she stole his way. He gripped the steering wheel tight until his knuckles turned white, and his mouth shut. The entire drive had been that—it felt like.
She didn’t know how much further they had to go—never mind where he planned for them to end up. He rolled into her life at the worst possible time, seemingly unaware but too curious and interesting for his own good, and she barely knew him at all.
Except she wanted to.
A dangerous thing for someone like her.
Karine almost had to wonder what was broken inside Roman Avdonin that made him do the things he’d done. What he still was doing, even. It would have made sense—maybe—if the other woman who hid within herself was one who had lusted after and seduced him, and then spent the night with him.
Karine would be lying if she said a part of her didn’t blame him. That didn’t change how she felt sitting beside him, not knowing where they would go—safe. She had no choice but to trust him now.
What else could she do?
“Are you scared?” Karine suddenly asked, breaking the silence that had become something else that was just too much for her to handle. Yet, it was also something she could control.
And maybe if he talked, then that loudness in her head might quiet. If only for a moment … God, she’d take a single second.
Roman didn’t have a particular reaction to that question—almost like he had been expecting it. “Scared of what?”
The way he grumbled the words had her blinking back in response. His rumbling annoyance didn’t seem to be directed at her asking, but she still shrunk subtly back like it might be. Roman chanced a quick look her way, his shoulders gently rising at the tilt of her frown, before he continued to concentrate on the road ahead.
“Sorry—I’m just tired,” he said.
Karine let out the breath she’d been holding and nodded. From the corner of her eye, while she stared at his chiseled profile, she noticed the New York State sign zoom past.
“I meant them—back in Chicago,” Karine replied, softly. “Are you scared of them?”
That was all she needed to say for him to know exactly who she was talking about. She didn’t really think he needed a clearer picture.
“I didn’t realize I had any reason to be afraid of them,” Roman murmured.
Karine swallowed the lump that formed in her throat, promising to keep her fears locked tight in her chest, thumping there with every beat of her heart. He didn’t know what he was talking about—he still said it with enough confidence to convince someone else he might.
But not her.
Even if she wished he could.
Maybe he genuinely didn’t know how things operated in Chicago, but Karine’s entire life had been an unfortunate lesson in the topic. Her father might be distracted with the plot to assassinate him, but it was only momentarily. She was supposed to marry Dima in two days—agreements like those weren’t broken without someone answering for it, too.
Last night, the risk had seemed worth the choice, but as the sky cleared with the light of the morning breaking through the dark clouds, she sat in the passenger seat unsure of herself.
Of her decisions.
She had grown up around those men—she doubted the ones he came from were the same. Even though there were times of her life that she couldn’t remember, she didn’t wonder at all about this. Those men weren’t going to let her simply escape into the sunset. A deal had been made, and there were men who would make sure she kept her end of the bargain, one way or another.
Karine hadn’t gotten away with anything in her life—she certainly didn’t think the universe was going to start now.
Despite a sheltered life, she had in fact lived long enough to see a woman face the consequences of not seeing an arrangement through. Her wedding to Dima might not happen when it had been originally planned, but that didn’t mean it was anywhere near void.
Roman hadn’t even mentioned the wedding.
How could she trust this man?
What did he have to gain by saving her—or was it keeping her? Was it possible that he would do all of this just because they slept together once?
Same body, different girl, came a cackling glee from somewhere in the recesses of Karine’s mind. She blinked away the taunt, but it lingered all the same.
She forced herself to talk so that voice wouldn’t. “I’m supposed to get married tomorrow. Do you realize that?”
Roman said nothing, but his narrowing eyes while he continued to stare straight ahead said he was listening. That didn’t mean he liked what he heard.
“I don’t think you truly understand what that means. They’re going to come looking for me,” Karine said, the steady stream of her thoughts tumbling out in fast sentences she couldn’t control. “It’s not like they’ll sit back and file a missing persons report with the cops or something.”
A dark cast washed over Roman’s face while he acted as though the feverishness of her rambling wasn’t concerning. He was so good at doing that, she’d noticed.
It only urged her to continue.
“Dima expects his bride to show up, to get what he wants, and if he doesn’t—”
“The wedding isn’t going to happen,” Roman interjected, the calm in his tone belying the coldness that settled in his gaze. “Not too many people know about it, anyway. I don’t think most of the Yazov bratva even knows, only those involved directly within the city limits. They had only just started delivering the invitations. By hand, mind you. There’s time for them to make a decision that doesn’t include returning you.”
But not likely.
Karine wasn’t dumb.
A mess, yes.
Dazed, at times.
Not stupid, though.
“Everything was set up,” she whispered, picking at her fingernails to soften the sound of her own voice saying things she hated. “We were going to exchange vows in the rose garden. The wedding dress was picked out for me, I didn’t even have to think about it. Masha was going to do my makeup.”
Karine spoke mechanically, aware of how she sounded but unable to stop repeating everything that she had been told by others. Her father. Dima. Even by Masha. Over and over again.
She had spent a lot of time preparing herself for her marriage to Dima. There was no real choice presented to her, she couldn’t stop the wedding—it was out of her hands.
Karine had already been sworn to Dima, and there was no escape from that. No matter how far she ran.
“I’m going to say it again,” Roman said, turning to meet her gaze with a clenched jaw and expressionless. “Know it will be the last time I say it, Karine. There will be no wedding tomorrow. You’re not marrying that motherfucker. Not ever.”
She swore every muscle in his body tightened and coiled in the seat next to hers—like a snake ready to spring. If the conviction he spoke with couldn’t convince her, his anger that flared at the suggestion certainly might.
Karine sucked in a sharp breath, shaking her head as she told him, “I don’t know what you’re doing, I don’t understand it at all.”
Roman didn’t even blink when he replied, “Neither do I.”
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
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