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(White Monarch #3) Violent Triumphs
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The highly anticipated conclusion to the “emotional, steamy, and dangerous” USA Today bestselling White Monarch series.
I’ve become a queen to the forsaken, a leader to thieves, and the wife of a man who instills fear in all who cross his path. He was the husband I didn’t want. Now, I can’t fathom life without my king.
I should’ve been ready for anything. Like the caterpillar that feeds on poison during metamorphosis, I was raised in the dangerous world of cartel crime. But nothing could’ve prepared me for Cristiano de la Rosa, his brother’s poison, or the Calavera cartel.
This is still a story about a love strong enough to topple households, unite enemies, and divide brothers. Resilient enough to bring down those who would try to destroy it . . . and selfless enough to make the ultimate sacrifice.
But I was warned, and so were you. Death’s day always comes. This time, it will find what was once a caterpillar is now a butterfly—and hell hath no fury like the White Monarch.
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I suspect you might even like the feeling of surrender.
Cristiano’s distant words echoed through the darkness falling over my mind. He hadn’t meant submitting to death, but the hands around my neck demanded that.
The back of my skull throbbed where it’d been slammed against the tile floor. One moment, I’d been trying to tell Cristiano something important over the phone. The next, dragged through our bedroom and pinned on my back by an immovable weight.
Now, pinpricks of white light pierced the black. Stars in the night sky, promising peace. It wouldn’t be difficult to walk toward them. The dark had always been a fierce presence within me. Unknown. Ever-inviting.
Surrender would be simple. My body and my training had failed me—I hadn’t even fought back. Or maybe nothing up to this point had been real. Maybe this had all been a dream, and I was being torn from sleep.
As my windpipe closed under the grip around it, my screams relented. The shrill house alarm faded into a peaceful buzz. My fear ebbed, an ocean of tranquility rising in its place.
Mamá waited with open arms.
Go to her. Be with her again. Submit.
I wasn’t waking up; I was dying. Cristiano was the last person I expected to see at the gates of Heaven, but there he was, waiting in his suit and tie. Thank God. Wherever I was going, Cristiano was there, and he wouldn’t let anything hurt me.
He and my mother would be the light, the serenity, the prize for giving in to death.
All I had to do now was succumb. Go to him . . .
“Cristiano is dead.” A scratchy male voice took hold of me the way strong hands locked around my throat. “You have nothing to fight for,” he said. “Go to sleep.”
The word scraped through the dregs of my consciousness. Dead.
That was why Cristiano waited for me at the gates to eternity.
But he could not die. He was untouchable.
What was a world without Cristiano de la Rosa? Grief flooded me, but just as quickly, it ebbed. And in its place, fury swelled. Someone had killed Cristiano.
The voice above me thought I had nothing to fight for, but it’d just given me a reason.
Nobody—nobody—would get away with murdering my husband.
Fight, Natalia. Surrender is not an option.
Reality flickered. Carotid arteries. No oxygen. I forced myself out of the encroaching darkness. Clawed at the tightening fingers around my neck. I arched my back until I was looking upside-down in the bedroom mirror propped against one wall. My first night here, we’d stood in front of it—Cristiano wrapping his arms around me from behind, demanding my submission. I hadn’t given in then. And over time, I’d grown stronger. Mentally, emotionally—and physically. Under Cristiano’s guidance.
I wanted those moments with him back. For him to survive so I could look him in the eye and tell him I’d resisted, and I’d won.
Because he’d taught me how. He’d taught me strength.
With a clicking noise, I struggled to turn my head and see where it was coming from, but my vision blurred. Moonlight glinted off metal. A knife? Fuck. I began to thrash under him.
“Shh,” he said. “This won’t hurt.”
I had no defenses against a knife. No weapon. Nothing on me but flimsy satin pajamas and plenty of exposed skin. But my breath . . . it was coming back.
Change your mindset, Cristiano had told me. You’re in control . . . you can take down an attacker . . . you can fight for your life and escape.
That was all I had to do. Escape. Run. I wasn’t at the level I needed to be to win, but I had the will to survive on my side—and the fact that he’d removed a hand from my neck to pick up the blade. I only needed to incapacitate him long enough to outrun him and get to the panic room.
My first self-defense lesson on the lawn had taught me more than hand-to-hand combat. There was the art of diversion. The magic of distraction.
Have you ever been to Disneyland? I’d asked Cristiano as his bar of a forearm had locked around my neck from behind.
The sound of Cristiano’s answering laughter heartened me.
Words scraped from my throat. “Cristiano . . . isn’t . . . dead.”
The attacker’s face bent toward mine, giving me my first close-up glimpse of him in the dark. Crooked nose, foul breath, beady eyes. “What?”
“He’s not dead. I can”—I let my voice falter—“take you to h-him.”
He leaned closer. “¿Qué?”
I rammed my forehead into his mouth, and blood burst from his lip. “¡Cabrona!” he cursed.
The butt of my palm slammed into his trachea. Plastic clattered to the ground. I only had enough strength to shock him, but it was all I needed. He loosened his other hand around my neck, and I punched him in the same spot, harder this time.