Secrets and wars leave the deepest scars.
Evelina Conti has always worn a mask. She is an Outfit principessa, respected and adored. She wasn’t allowed to be anything else. Her father went from a grieving husband to the Outfit boss, and now that Riley heads the family, Eve is more suffocated than ever. No matter how much she hates it, the Conti princess still has a role to play. A little attention from Theo DeLuca seems innocent enough, but nothing is when it comes to him. And certainly not when everyone believes that Theo is out to kill her.
Theo DeLuca has a target on his back. His biggest problem is figuring out who put it there when everyone is aiming at him. He doesn’t need a woman causing him issues, but the Conti princess keeps showing up at the worst times, and he’s the one left saving her. Between the men surrounding him that Theo can’t trust, and the past he can’t outrun, Evelina might be the one thing he doesn’t have to question. But when Riley decides to use Eve as his next move, even Theo might not be able to save her.
The war in Chicago is not even close to being over. This game is deadly. Each hand played cuts another mark into someone else. The Outfit boss is struggling while the men around him are rallying. As the body count continues to rise, the families keep losing.
Sacrifices are a part of war. No one will walk away from this without scars.
PLEASE NOTE: Scarless & Sacred is not intended to be read as a standalone in this series. It is the third book in the series and should be read after the first two books. Trigger Warning: Scarless features graphic violence and scenes of past abuse.
“I saw you at the wedding.”
“Outside,” Theo corrected. “I didn’t actually go.”
“It was enough.”
“I like to keep an eye on things.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“Everything. My family, most importantly.”
That was kind of sweet, even if his frown didn’t give off the impression he meant it that way.
“Lily, you mean?”
“The Outfit,” Theo replied simply. “But she’s a part of the Outfit, so yes, she gets put in that category as well.”
Evelina lifted a shoulder in explanation, saying, “I guess I just thought with everything that happened lately, I figured family would be the last thing you considered the Outfit to be.”
Theo chuckled dryly. “The people and the Outfit aren’t the same thing. Two different entities. Maybe once they were, but now it’s just four families throwing stones at each other’s glass houses whenever they get the chance.”
Sad but true.
“And I’ve been caught in the crossfire enough,” Theo added darkly.
Evelina cringed. “You mean with your uncle and brother being killed.”
“Brother, mostly. My uncle isn’t all that much of a loss. Trust me.”
“You always seemed close to Ben.”
At least, that’s how Evelina remembered it. Whenever she had seen Theo with his uncle before the man’s death, the two seemed to have a better relationship than any of the other siblings had with their uncle.
Evelina waited for Theo to respond to her statement, but he offered nothing at first. Actually, he just stilled and rubbed his right wrist as he rotated it against his palm like it was hurting or something.
“Ben was fond of me,” Theo said finally.
Evelina’s brow furrowed. “And he wasn’t fond of Lily or Dino?”
Theo scoffed. “Lily maybe, but that was only because she wasn’t around a lot. Dino, on the other hand, didn’t follow the rules very well, so no, Ben wasn’t all that fond of him.”
Unsure of what to say to that, because she didn’t have the first clue about what it meant, Evelina chose to stay quiet. Theo rubbed his wrist once more as he glanced down at his coffee.
“Did you hurt your wrist?” she asked.
Just like that, Theo’s cool demeanor was back in a blink. He dropped his hand to the table and moved his right arm underneath where she couldn’t see it.
“No,” he said, “I didn’t hurt it.”
Theo smiled a charming sight. “Nothing.”
Evelina could recognize that shit from a mile away.
“I like my coffee black,” he interrupted smoothly.
Evelina lifted a brow, confused. “I can see that. I can’t imagine why. It tastes disgusting.”
“No, it tastes bitter. It’s dark, it’s heady, and it leaves a thick taste on my tongue. And I like the harshness of fresh black coffee, because I like the way it feels when I drink it down. A little pain is a good thing, as the saying goes. After a while, you don’t even notice the taste anymore because you learn to like the bite it leaves behind and how it wakes you up.”
Something wicked settled in Evelina’s stomach like a heavy weight pressing her down. Maybe it was the way Theo’s mouth curved with a sensual flair or how his gaze caught hers and held it, completely unashamed.
It was coffee, for fuck’s sake.
He was talking about coffee!
So why did she feel like he was talking about something else entirely?
“The only thing that reminds me of what it feels like when I drink coffee is sex,” Theo said.
There it was.
Evelina wasn’t even surprised.
“And why is that?”
“Because I like my coffee how I like my sex. Harsh, hot, and with a little bite of pain lingering behind. So I drink it black, Eve. I don’t need the sweetness or the cream. I just need the feeling.”
Evelina let out a slow breath. “Huh.”
ALSO IN THE CHICAGO WAR SERIES…
Lies and love. This is how a war starts.
A life for a life. That’s the mafia way. Damian Rossi owes his life to a man who is ready to collect. That payment comes in the form of an arranged marriage to the daughter of another leading family in the Chicago Outfit. He’s ready to follow through, even if that means making sure Lily knows she’s his.
Lily DeLuca isn’t being given a choice. Forced home to marry a man she doesn’t know and back into a life she’d rather forget, her world is full of half-truths, buried pain, and uncertainty. But Damian is nothing like she expects. His motives aren’t clear. Her beliefs are being tested.
When it comes to this world, no man can be trusted. Someone is ready to flip the Chicago Outfit on its side all for the promise of something better. But no one runs a clean game and these men play for keeps. When blood begins to paint Chicago red, four families will be divided by loyalty, hatred, and revenge. There is no hiding. There is no safety.
No one is deathless.
Play dirty. It’s the only way to win in a war.
Alessa Trentini follows the rules, or so it seems on the outside. A certain Conti has always been able to sway her inner rebel and keep her out of trouble, but even Adriano won’t be able to get her out of her brother’s mess. In a war, no woman is safe if her hand in marriage can advance her family in the world of the mafia. But mistakes of the past have a way of slipping into the present and Alessa will soon learn that even the most shameful of secrets can get her everything she wants.
Adriano Conti’s loyalties are torn as he’s forced to stand at his father’s side while Riley uses his wife’s murder as a way to get higher. Blood comes first and then the Outfit. The one thing he doesn’t question in the war between the families is Alessa Trentini and even that doesn’t seem possible when he’s forced to watch Alessa be used as another man’s pawn. Adriano has his own role to play to get what he wants.
The families in the Outfit have never been more divided than they are now. Blood continues to spill as revenge takes center stage and more lives are lost. But every man in the family is fighting for something different and no one’s intentions can be trusted. Playing a dirty game might be the only way to stay alive.
Even if that means ruining it all.
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to three 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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