Authors: Kirsty-Anne Still
FEMME FATALE RELOADED
FEMME FATALE RELOADED
The Pericolo Series
Copyright © 2015 Kirsty-Anne Still
Cover design – Cover It Designs – Arijana Karčić
All rights reserved. Please keep this book in its complete original form with the exception of quotes used in reviews. No alteration of the contents is allowed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means – electronic, mechanical, photographic (photocopying) recording, or otherwise – without prior permission in writing from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This is a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel recommended for readers over the age of 18 due to sexual themes, swearing and violence. Due to the theme of organized crime and graphic murder scenes, it is in the readers discretion to read this book. You have been warned it is for an older audience.
Also by Kirsty-Anne Still:
A Fire That Burns
Watch What Burns
– SEQUEL to ‘A Fire That Burns’.
Saturdays At The Viper Series
– Book one in The Viper Series.
The Runaway Viper
– Book Two in The Viper Series.
Your Little Secret
– Co-written with Bethan Cooper
Femme Fatale – The Pericolo Series.
The Pericolo Series – expected 2015.
The Pericolo Series – expected 2015.
The Viper’s Bite –
Book three in The Viper Series – expected 2015.
Your Killer Secret
- Co-written with Bethan Cooper.
This is for you, my beautiful readers.
Those of you who are still hanging onto that cliff that Amelia –
not me, never me
– left you on.
Get your tissues ready, have your alcohol on hand, and be prepared to let this Abbiati brood back into your lives.
Expect blood, lust, and death of a personal kind.
Being an Abbiati is a health hazard, after all.
See you on the flip side, my loves.
This could be the perfect life
Sunlight heats my face, adorning me with an overwhelmingly pleasurable amount of warmth. This is the life – an escape from all hell. I’ve basked in this glorious life for almost four months. It was meant as a punishment, but I’ve bettered my tan, bettered my Italian, and bettered my aim with a revolver.
But I have lived it all with half a heart.
I don’t cherish things anymore because I know how easily it can all be ripped away. I refuse to enjoy any part of my life as a mob princess; I just live it. It’s an obligation placed on me before my birth, and I have to learn to cohabitate with this haunting. I don’t have a choice to love it or hate it, I have to lump it.
And as the sun beats down, I wonder if I could escape and just hide in some quaint Italian village and never see a horrible thing ever again. Stumble upon a new community; find an Italian man to love me, and a place to live out of my days. My own skepticism lashes out and I finally open my eyes to my reality. Before me lies the coastline, and while I’m on top of the mountain, I realize there is no escape from this life.
I’ve been living practically on top of the world, but there’s no peace here.
“Amelia!” my Uncle Alberto’s thick, rich Italian accent penetrates the tranquil air and I bristle. Unlike my father – whose American life has weakened his accent – Alberto’s is enough to make your skin crawl. It’s pure, unforgiving, and resonates the old country and all that thrives within. “You can’t stay in there all day!”
“Yes, I can!” I shout back over my shoulder, not even moving from my position. “And I will.”
“We need to discuss things,” Alberto says. I look back to see him standing on the edge of the pool. “You’re requested back in America.”
“Now, is it optional to go back or will I be forced to go back?” I ask, turning to lean my back against the side of the infinity pool. Instead of a glorious view of the shore and stretching sea, I’m met with the historic Abbiati mansion and the stormy expression my uncle always wears. “If I’m being honest, I’d really rather not be bundled into a car then a plane in the middle of the night again. It’s not one of my most favorable experiences.”
“You needed out of that situation, Amelia. It was for your own good,” he tells me, and I just snort. “You’re wanted back on urgent business,” Alberto shouts out from across the pool. He looks all the more irritated as I relax against the side of the water, my feet kicking beneath the surface. “Don’t be awkward about this, Amelia. It’s been long enough. It’s time to go home.”
Home. I’m not sure I even know where that is now. My meaning for it has shaped and morphed so much over the passing years, but now I’m not sure where it is because all the homes I ever loved ended up destroyed, and in a way, I feel to blame. I’m the destructive element in every situation I’ve been in, so if I have to go back to Manhattan, I won’t be polite – I won’t be loving – I’ll just be there. Everything I held so close and dear to me disintegrated in one night, and I ended it all by raising a gun to my father.
I know monsters face no salvation. I realize I will never feel again unless by the hands of a miracle, but you can’t blame a girl for being a dreamer.
“You’re not even listening,” Alberto hisses, snapping me from my daydream. “Get out and get packing, Amelia.”
As I watch him all but stomp away from me, I realize I’ve wrangled a lot of bad emotions in him. Apparently, he’s more like my father than either likes to think. I can get under his skin just like I could my father’s and all with just a little burst of rebellion.
I’m not too proud to say I've come to be a hard bitch to work with. My uncle has on many occasions been close to flipping out at my direct disregard to adhere to the powerful hierarchy I was born into. But, so what? I was forced here with no option. I just needed to be put out of sight for pulling a gun on my father and while some have shunned me, more have applauded me for standing up to a man like Salvatore Abbiati.
No one knows that behind closed doors is when the facade drops and the tears fall. I don’t let anyone see that behind the cold, killer glaze to my eyes, I’m actually damaged and irreparable. No one has been there to hug me or care for me. I’ve been left to seek approval in the worse way possible – killing whoever pissed off an Abbiati member – and I only did it so I could belong in a place I know I never will.
Under the killings, the debauchery, and the illegal activities, I’m hoping for a miracle to encircle me and transport me back to a time when I was sheltered to the true nature of my own flesh and blood.
Times have changed.
I won’t ever be more than the girl crazy enough to shoot one of her own.
That ending was all too bittersweet.
There can’t be a winner, but I’m a defiant bitch and I bite hard. I might be going back, but I’m here for Abbiati anarchy. This was meant to teach me a lesson, but it hasn’t. It’s made me tougher, hardened me and sucked every part of my soul away. If this is what was wanted when I was thrown onto a plane and sent away, then that’s what they’re getting. If not, they should be fucking terrified. I don’t play nice anymore. I’m a new Amelia, and if I don’t like her, no one else fucking will.
Everything stems from a broken heart. I was stupid to believe I would die alive and not by the hands of a broken heart, but Zane calmly took that belief and turned it completely on its head. He didn’t even need to shout or curse; he just had to give up on me. I still replay our last moments and how innocently quiet they were. I left after realizing he had reached a point of no return – the realization of who I really belonged to was always a barrier for us. I just never noticed the destructive tendencies the obligations I held would have. It wasn’t until the shit storm rode in and I found myself abandoned and alone in Italy that my anger toward Zane manifested.
I never listened to my father about how destructive true love was and part of me never will. But I changed my ways, put my heart away, and gave up on thinking of a better chance with Zane. I forgot how to care here; there’s no one who deserves it, so it wasn’t hard just to become a cold morsel at my uncle’s disposal. It led me to take on a task I never thought I would – I just don’t fall in love anymore. I’ve built that one boundary up around me. I like people enough to win them over, but they all know I don’t give a flying fuck who I hurt in this life. I showed them all a fair few times that I know my birthright and I will execute at all means.
It doesn’t mean it was easy for me. Nothing in this life has been easy except loving Zane, but I fought hard to rinse suspicion away that I was a defiant brat. Now, I’m one of the top killers and I do it just to make ends meet.
I don’t know what I’ve become, but when judgment calls, I will look at myself and take whatever punishment is owed.
As my head falls to the side and I look over at movement, I’m reminded of how uneasy I became at letting people in. Except one, that is. I watch the tanned, barely damaged assistant to my uncle cross the courtyard. He’s walking down the steps toward the pool area and I’m mesmerized by the mere sight of him. Lorenzo Mancini – he was my rebound and I became his true love. He has a heart of gold and a rock hard cock, and he makes me a masochist because he’s the pretty, Italian equivalent of Zane
But I came here a mess and I thought to myself one thing – if I’m going to be stuck in Italy, I might as well keep myself entertained. What other way do you forget about heartache, betrayal, and hatred than with sex, murder, and sun?
Because that’s all this is to my family – a holiday to get me to kill in true Italian style.
My lesson was to embrace my inner Abbiati without allowing myself to be distracted. Everything I knew was thrown out of the window and I was taught quickly by Alberto that if he saw any hesitation or second thoughts by me, he would punish me like it was raining down hell on Earth. I know what my father was capable of, and Alberto makes any of his previous actions look tame. So I don’t dabble, I don’t test my limits when there’s work involved. Outside of work, that’s another matter altogether. He can deal with my sass and disrespect, but I know when to rein it in.
So, there is no more seduction and a few poisonous drops into a drink. Now, it’s about bloodshed and vengeful manners.
Between watching my family lay down the law on the Amalfi Coast, I’ve kept myself well occupied with Lorenzo Mancini. He might serve as a visual reminder of the man I still heartbreakingly yearn for, but at least he’s someone I can hold when it gets all just a little too lonely out here.
If anything, Lorenzo is the only man I’m bitterly sweet to. Everyone feels the wrath of a disowned Abbiati. I haven’t had contact with my family back in Manhattan for the entire duration of my stay here, and I don’t see that changing. The next time that I see them will be the first time I hear them, too. I won’t lie, I was forced to leave so quickly in the middle of the night that I never saw their reactions nor did they have the opportunity to fight for me. I dread to think about what their reaction will be when I eventually make it home. A part of me fears they’ll hate me and disown me. The rest of me just wants to run into Enzo’s embrace and allow him to fix everything and make me disappear with the help of Carlo. But I worry I will never see such an outcome. Their lack of contact stole my hope and that last night in Manhattan destroyed everything I had spent so long desperately clinging onto, and for what? Absolutely fucking nothing.
I lost everything in that one night – love, family, and my mind. Since then, I’ve lost more of myself, and it’s a downward spiral leading straight to rock bottom.
“Ciao, Bella!” he cries out his welcome, the Italian sounds phenomenal on his tongue.
I unravel from my inner desolation and look at Lorenzo.
“Buongiorno,” I say, not with as much excitement, but I see it no lessens the smile on his face.
“Bella, you’ve been in the pool too long,” he remarks as he throws a towel down onto one of the loungers. “I’ve asked for lunch to be made ready.”
I give a pitiful pout as I listen to him speak. He tries so hard, but his English remains broken and his translations aren’t on point, but for me, he speaks English all the time – much to my uncle’s dismay. He does it so I feel a little closer to home – and it works.
“Come to me,” he commands softly, sitting down onto the sun lounger.
I listen and push forward in the water, using my feet to propel me through the cool pool water toward the stairs. I keep my head above the water so as not to wet my hair and try to quickly make my way to him. If I’m leaving, I need to relish in what little he makes me feel. I leave the water to be lavished by the fierce heat from the summer sun and grab my towel before continuing toward him.
I catch him watching me as I dab the cotton towel over my scantily clad body and I smile timidly. I have tried my hardest to push Zane to the back of my mind – hell, even out of my mind – but he was the only man who ever truly looked at me with such predator instincts. Lorenzo brings about all these natural feelings, but when I allow myself to swim in them, I don’t think of Lorenzo. It’s always Zane I imagine touching me, kissing me, and fucking me.
He did a number over on me that I can’t come back from. He destroyed me in ways he’ll never know, which is why I keep Lorenzo around. He’s my guilty pleasure, my fuck buddy, even though I know it’s more to Lorenzo. He’s investing emotions in me when I refuse to.
He stands, approaching me with such a look of lust that my stomach flips and releases the butterflies. In doing so, I clamp the towel closer to my body, which only seems to elicit a smirk on Lorenzo’s handsome face.
“You won’t need this,” he comments, tearing the towel from my hands.
Slowly, Lorenzo forces me backwards, his hands caressing my hips as he guides me to a sun lounger and leans in. Inch by inch, I lower onto the bed as he continues to force me back. This time as his hands run up my body and as my back hits the padded pillow of the lounger, he’s towering over me like a stern, Italian god shrouded with bright sunlight.
My lips part, my breath becomes bated, and he lowers his lips to mine.
I cringe at the piercing sound of my name, breaking the moment down to nothing but awkward. I press my hand to his chest more and allow my head to lull to the side. Taking a steadying breath, I pull away, placate a smile on my face, and look at Lorenzo.
“I’ll be back,” I tell him, my tone light and airy. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Oh, I won’t, Bella,” he replies and finally moves from covering me with his body. He helps me stand, and I feel him sit down on the bed, lounging out as he does so.
I slip my black sandals on, grab my yellow sundress, and make the short walk. I reluctantly put the dress on and start to make my way up to the house. I wonder what in the hell my uncle could need with me between our conversation no more than ten minutes ago and now. I swear, the Abbiatis do not understand the term ‘day off.’
I make sure that I stomp my feet up the stone steps, showing my annoyance, but apparently it’s nothing to rival Alberto’s.
“Will you please stop treating my staff like sex pawns,” Alberto chides the moment I walk onto the veranda. He stands with his hands placed on the balcony railing, his body stiff as he looks out across the land and out to sea. “You’ve done nothing but distract Lorenzo the entire duration of your stay.”