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Vicious Promise

Vicious Promise

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There’s only one choice for this Sofia Foretti. Marry Luca Romano or die. Dive into this dark mafia arranged marriage romance today!

"The only thought in my head is that she’s mine. Sofia Ferretti belongs to me. And I want her."  Luca Romano

★★★★★  "The angst in this book us 10/10. Love these characters, can't wait to see how this goes! I need some Sophia and Luca love in my life."-Reviewer

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

A deep male voice fills the room, and I spin around too quickly. I feel myself tilt dangerously to one side, but the man strides across the room before I can fall, catching me with broad, strong hands grasping my waist.

I look up into the greenest pair of eyes I’ve ever seen, and my heart flutters in my chest. His features are shadowed, but I can see the sharp line of his nose, the edge of his high cheekbones, the strong jaw. A strange sensation ripples through my body, and I can feel myself warming under his touch. My heart starts to race again, and I can feel butterflies taking off in my stomach, the tingling spreading throughout me, all the way to my fingertips as I steady myself with my hands against his chest.

I glance down, and see the blood on his shirt, crimson stains on white.

I jerk myself out of his grasp, stepping back so quickly that I nearly trip again. He doesn’t move to grab me this time, only watches as I sit down on the edge of the bed unsteadily, then crosses to the other side of the room.

“We’re on the very top floor,” he replies, his mouth still twitching as if he finds my shock funny . “You’re in the penthouse. My penthouse,” he clarifies. “There’s a pool on the roof, and a hot tub, if you’d like to see those.”

Penthouse? In New York? This man must be a millionaire—a billionaire, even. Slowly I get to my feet again, squaring my shoulders and lifting my chin. Whatever is happening here—whatever reason there was for him to be there to pick me up out of that closet, whatever is going on between him and the Bratva, I know for certain that I want no part of it.

I also know that I’m never going to another nightclub in Manhattan again.

“Thank you very much for rescuing me,” I begin, with as much dignity as I can muster. “But if you wouldn’t mind calling me a cab, I’d like to go home now.”

The man chuckles, low and deep. “You’re not going anywhere, Sofia.”

A chill runs down my spine. “Excuse me?” My voice cracks despite my best efforts, the fear of the last few hours coming back full force. “Who are you? How do you know my name? And what do you mean, I’m not going anywhere?”

He’s still watching me carefully with those intense green eyes, every bit as commanding as the men I saw earlier, the ones that made me so uncomfortable, who reminded me of alpha predators surveying their turf.

Waiting to claim their prey.

I’m not entirely certain that’s not what I am to him.

“I’ll begin with the first question,” he says coolly. “I’m Luca Romano, and by the end of the week, Sofia, you will be my wife.”

Vicious Promise is the first book in the Dark Promises series. The series is complete. The reading order is as follows: Vicious Promise, Broken Promise, Ruthless Promise. 

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There’s only one choice for this innocent bride. Marry me or die.

I never wanted a wife.

But when the Bratva tries to take what was promised to me, it’s time to claim what’s mine.

I thought she would be a burden, a nuisance. A wife that I could lock away forever and forget about after our wedding night.

But Sofia Ferretti turns out to be the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Sweet, innocent—and virginal.

Too good for a ruthless killer like me.

I’m not here to seduce her; I’m here to keep her alive. Safe from everyone in Manhattan who wants her dead.

The Bratva are coming.

To take her.

To kill me.But they don’t know how vicious I can be when it comes to keeping my promises. And I've already sworn to myself this: the only one taking Sofia's innocence...will be me.

Chapter 1 Look Inside

“You have practice again? Sofia, it’s Friday night. For fuck’s sake, live a little.”

My best friend and roommate, Anastasia Ivanova, is propped up against the stack of pillows on my bed, painting her nails a brilliant shade of crimson. 

“You’re just going to have to take that off before class on Monday,” I tell her dryly, nodding at the bottle of polish. 

Anastasia, or Ana to me, is one of the top ballet students at Juilliard, where I study violin. We’re both the top in our class, actually, but that’s where the similarities end. Ana is naturally blonde, tall, and impossibly thin, with a list of numbers in her phone a mile long and a date every night of the week. I dye my hair platinum blonde, I’m just shy of 5’6, and although I definitely lost my baby fat when I turned sixteen, I have more curves than Ana does. But beyond that, I can’t remember the last time I was out on a date. I’ve never had a boyfriend. Ana spends every weekend out at the elite Manhattan clubs, flashing her fake ID to anyone who dares question her right to be there, and I spend my weekends getting in extra practice sessions with the rest of the string section.

How she remains the shoo-in for the next prima of the New York City Ballet, I’ll never understand, other than the fact that she’s ridiculously talented. I’ve seen her dance a handful of times, and it takes my breath away every single time without fail. Watching her dance is like watching a fairytale come to life.

All fairytales have a dark side.

For a brief flash of a moment, I hear my father’s words echo in my head, in his deep and kindly voice, and a shiver runs down my spine. I bite my lip hard to keep my eyes from welling up. It’s been eight years, but I still can’t hear my father’s voice in my head without wanting to cry.

“Did someone walk over your grave?” Ana asks, glancing up at me with the brush hovering over her finger. “You look like you saw a ghost.”

“I’m fine.” I pull my hair back into a ponytail, still watching her. “Your teacher is going to have a fit, Ana.”

“I’ll take it off before class.” Ana insists. “But I’m not going out with bare nails, or worse, painted some frumpy pale pink.” She swipes the brush over her pinky nail, caps it, and then sits up, waving her hand in the air. “Come on, Sofia,” she says again, her voice pleading. “We never go out. And it’s my birthday month.”

I can’t help but roll my eyes. “You don’t get a whole month, Ana. No one does.” I gingerly lay my violin in its case, carefully setting the bow beside it and zipping it up. “I’ll go out with you for your birthday though. I promise.”

“I’d rather you go out with me tonight.” She pouts, pursing her lips, which are painted with the same shade of lipstick as the nail polish. “Come on. You can borrow something out of my closet.”

“Nothing in your closet would fit me,” I point out. “There’s not a chance.”

“You’re still thin. Just because you have boobs doesn’t mean you can’t fit into anything I have. There’s one dress that I always wear a pushup bra to fill it out—”

“Ana, no. I promised my group—” My phone goes off then, and I dive for it before Ana can pick it up off of the nightstand. The preview of the text on the screen makes my heart sink.

Ana catches the look on my face before I can smooth it over. “They canceled, didn’t they?” she asks triumphantly. “Now you have to go with me.”

Desperately, I try to think of another out. It’s not even just that I don’t want to go out, even though that’s part of it. It’s that I know the kinds of places Ana likes to go—the fanciest, most expensive clubs and bars that Manhattan has to offer. It’s not that I can’t afford it, either. It’s just that I don’t want to spend the money.

Every month, like clockwork, an embarrassing amount of money shows up in my bank account. I don’t know where it comes from or how, and I’ve tried every way that I can think of to dodge it. I’ve changed banks multiple times, but it always shows up again. I’ve tried to get a job, so that I won’t need to use it, but most of the time I never even get a call back, even for the simplest of retail positions. When I do get a call, the position somehow is always filled before I can go in for an interview. 

And then there’s my tuition to Juilliard. Every semester, it’s paid in full, before I can even try to call and set up a payment plan of my own. When I tried to get the receptionist in the registrar’s office to tell me who had paid, they’d said it was an anonymous benefactor. Even when I’d tried to move into the dorms, I’d gotten a call the day before telling me that a two-bedroom apartment in an expensive pre-war building near campus had been leased in my name, with the first year’s rent paid in full. 

It was all very mysterious, very frustrating, and made me feel both anxious and curious as to who, exactly, was providing all of this. I’d spent one night alone in the too-big apartment before putting out an ad for a roommate, which Ana answered almost immediately. Since the place was already paid for, I just asked her to chip in for groceries and utilities, which she was more than happy to accept. All I wanted was a quiet roommate who didn’t party, didn’t disturb me, and didn’t have boys over very often if at all.

That didn’t turn out to be Ana in the slightest. But somehow, despite the fact that she’s as extroverted as I am introverted, as much of a partier as I am a homebody, and could rival an opera singer with her moans every time she brings a guy home, we rapidly became friends. Part of it, I think, is due to the fact that I don’t have any other friends, and part of it is that Ana, with her slight Russian accent and willowy frame, reminds me of my mother, just brunette instead of blonde.

Ana taps her fingers on the nightstand. “Earth to Sofia. Come on, I know they canceled. Are you really just going to stay in tonight instead of going out with me and seeing the most eligible bachelors that Manhattan has to offer?”

“I’m not interested in dating,” I say almost automatically. “You know that.”

“Yeah, but I am.” Ana hops off of the bed, linking her arm through mine. “Come on. You can be my wingwoman. Drinks are on me.”

I can see that I’m not getting out of it. And a tiny part of me, ever so tiny, is curious. I’ve never been in this world that Ana inhabits on the weekends, full of expensive cocktails and glamorous men and women and neon-lit clubs. It doesn’t really appeal to me, but shouldn’t I experience it just once? The spring recital is only two months away, and just after it, graduation. Then I’ll be leaving Manhattan for good, and that means Ana, too.

So maybe it wouldn’t hurt to indulge her, just a little. 

“Okay,” I relent, and her entire face lights up.

“Yes!” She claps her hands excitedly. “I’ve been wanting to make you over since I moved in. Come on, we’ll dig through my closet.”

“O—okay.” I can tell there’s no use in arguing, as Ana eagerly drags me out of my room and down the hall towards hers. 

Half an hour later, I don’t quite recognize myself. The black dress that Ana stuffed me into is Gucci, with a bustier-style top that I more than fill out and lacing up each side, giving a peek of a sliver of bare skin through the lacing from my breasts all the way down to the hem. It means I can’t wear a bra with it, and although the cups in the front are supportive enough, it makes me feel more bare and vulnerable than I’ve ever been. “If there’s a stiff wind outside, you’re going to be able to see my nipples through this,” I complain, but Ana just shrugs. “And it’s so tight.” Thankfully my stomach is flat enough that the dress lays perfectly over it, but it hugs me so tightly that you can see every curve. “You can see my underwear lines.”

“So wear a thong.”

“I don’t own a thong,” I retort plaintively. “And don’t tell me I can borrow one of yours, that’s going way too far.”

“So go without.” Ana shrugs.

“What?” I turn a shade of red that could rival a stop sign. “I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can.” She grins at me, fishing two pairs of heels out of her closet and bending over enough that I can see the flash of a lace thong up her skirt. The dress she’s wearing is the same cherry red as her lips and her nails. She called it a “Hermes bandage dress,” which means nothing to me, but is evidently a big deal, based on her tone. 

A moment later, Ana emerges with the shoes, a pair of silver sandals for her and black pumps for me, both with the red bottoms that even I recognize. “I can’t wear these,” I protest. “What if I fall? What if I break a heel? These probably cost as much as a month’s rent.” 

Actually, if anything happened to them, I could technically more than afford to replace them. But I don’t like admitting that. I’ve felt weird about the money in my account since the day I turned eighteen and it started appearing, and I don’t feel any less uncomfortable about it now. If I told Ana about it, she’d rightfully have a million questions, and there’s no way for me to explain it when I don’t even have the answers.

Of course, I’m talked into the shoes and out of my underwear exactly the way I’ve been talked into everything else, and as I totter to the bathroom in my new six-inch stilettos and an uncomfortable awareness that I’m wearing absolutely nothing under this dress, Ana prepares to do things to my hair and face that I’ve only ever seen in movies. There’s products spread across her entire bathroom counter, from one end to the other, and I stand mutely in front of it as she goes to work.

When she’s done, I have to admit, I look incredible. My hair is curled into thick spirals that fall loosely around my face and make my hair look twice as thick as it ever has, and she’s done something to my eyes that makes them look huge and full and round, with a thick, sharp cat eye at each corner. Topped off with the same cherry red lipstick, I look like a Hollywood actress.

“You look gorgeous.” Ana looks thoroughly pleased with herself. “You’re going to be the envy of every woman in Manhattan tonight.”

“I’m pretty sure those women have panties on,” I mutter, gingerly touching one of the fake eyelashes that she applied. They feel heavy and strange on my face, but I have to admit they make my eyes stand out. 

“I wouldn’t bet on it.” Ana gives me a cheeky grin. “I already called our Uber, so we’ve got to head down.” She caps the lipstick and tosses it into her small silver purse, then hands me a sleek lacquered black clutch. I open it to see another tube of lipstick, a thin sleeve of tissues, and nothing else.

“Don’t I need an ID? I’m not old enough to drink for another two months—”

“You’ve got nothing to worry about,” Ana says confidently. “No one will question you. You’re with me tonight.”

Something about the way she says it makes me nervous. I shrug it off as anxiety about going out, and it’s not until we’re already in the Uber and headed into downtown Manhattan that I recognize the feeling. It’s the same one that I had eight years ago, when a man I didn’t recognize brought me a letter from my dead father.

That feeling is a warning.

I just don’t know why, after all these years, I’m feeling it now.

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