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Reckless Prince (Corrupt Kingdom #1)
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I’m in love with a monster.
Angelo Morelli is the son of the most powerful man in the city, and I belonged to him the second he laid eyes on me. He says I’m the only woman who has ever made his black heart beat. The only person who reminds him of his humanity.
Until my father made a mistake that cost us everything. A misstep that forced me to pay the ultimate price.
*Also know as “The First Sin”.
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I opened my eyes to the darkness that surrounded me, nothing but black. Blinking a few times, I refocused my gaze and saw nothing, no one. A blindfold covered my eyes, the material taut against my skin. My head pounded as if a jackhammer was drilling into my skull. Waves of nausea washed over me every time I was rocked from side to side.
I reached up to touch my face, my hands bound in front of me, held together by cable ties. Using every bit of strength I had—which wasn’t much—I tried to break free of my shackles. All I accomplished was to hurt myself even more.
The restraints were nothing compared to the handcuffs Angelo used on me during sex. I still had the scars on my wrists from all the foreplay over the years.
If anyone knew how to handle pain, it was me.
I could do this.
Acting on instinct, I screamed for Angelo, but my throat was so parched nothing came out. It didn’t matter, anyway. No one could hear me through the fabric that covered my mouth. I listened carefully to the sounds outside my cage, a soft whoosh of cars going past. We were driving, stop and go traffic, causing me to roll into something hard.
My shoulder hurt, but I pushed back the pain. I could deal with the hurt. I’d embraced the rough touch of Angelo’s hands for years. Being with a man like Angelo had prepared me for what I was about to endure.
When the car stopped, I said a silent prayer for help. I never prayed. Sinners didn’t pray. But I needed someone to hear my pleas, have mercy on my soul.
Absolve me of my sins.
My father’s sins.
The sins of our past.
No matter how much power my father had over us, there was no mistake my mother was the queen in our house. She never wanted to know about the family business. Never let it show how much she cared that she married a man with a heart as black as his soul. Because it wasn’t my father’s soul she cared about, it was mine along with my two older brothers.
I strolled into the kitchen with the admissions envelope from Strickland University in my hand. It was thick and heavy, so it had to be good news. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth as I made a beeline toward my mother. Ma was hovered over two stockpots on the stove, too busy stirring the gravy to notice me.
Pietro, my oldest brother, sat at the breakfast bar, eating a bowl of Ma’s famous meatball soup, his eyes pointed down with his usual scowl. Even in sleep, he looked pissed off—just like my father. Everyone in the neighborhood knew my brother as Sneaky Pete, and he lived up to the nickname in every way possible. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him, even though he was my blood.
Pete glanced up at me, without even a nod that I existed, as I slipped behind Ma. I clamped my left hand on her shoulder and moved her dark strands off her face to plant a kiss on her cheek. Startled, she jumped, and a plate of chopped basil she had in her hands fell to the floor. She spun around to face me with a disapproving look on her face. But I had something that would replace her frown in my hand.
“Angelo, you scared me half to death.” She smacked me on my bicep, her touch so light I could barely feel it. “Now, look what you made me do.” Holding back her unhappiness, she stared down at the basil and shook her head. “I was just about to add it to the gravy. That was all I had left.”
“I’m sorry, Ma.” I gave her the same puppy dog face which had earned me the nickname cucciolo when I was a child. “I have something that might help you forgive me.”
She smiled and wiped her hands down the front of her red apron. I might’ve been a rotten bastard, but my mother managed to bring out the other side of me that I’d kept hidden from the world.
“More basil,” she deadpanned.
We had jarred basil in the cabinet, but Ma refused to cook with anything other than fresh ingredients. She insisted on picking out the vegetables, a thorough process she’d made my brothers and me endure when we were kids. Ma would take us to the market with her on weekends. Then, she would sit us down at the table and make us chop the vegetables. I was the only one who could peel the tomatoes. My brothers were too rough and usually poked holes through them with their fat fingers.
“Nope. I have something better.” I handed over the white envelope with the blue Strickland University seal on the front, and left Ma to get the broom and dustpan in the closet.