“I refuse to recommend this read, instead I’m telling you to get this phenomenal series and get busy reading it today!”
The third book in a gripping, new-adult mob series.
Being free from the mob is complicated…but so is loving Jack.
Jack and Franki are safe for now, but The Familia isn’t the only thing keeping them apart.
Our barrier is written as plain as the words tattooed beneath the red and beaten skin, the discoloring that has nothing to do with the bruises, but everything to do with the man. That when I read them have a pit forming in my belly.
Death before Dishonor
Justice before Mercy
Vengeance above all
Who is this man? Can I trust him? And, in all honesty, do I really want to know?
And so it begins… Read the exciting conclusion to MI FAMILIA Part III NOW!
I gradually drag myself up to awareness. Feelings of peace and a sense of security have me snuggling down deep into the covers. Beneath half closed eyelids, I can tell dawn is throwing a soft pink light through the white curtains, and if I listen closely I can hear the birds chirping in the garden outside below.
A hand brushes my bare hip, and I still. Several thoughts flash through my head at the same time.
Hand. Naked. Man. Bed.
I sit straight up, taking the covers with me to hide my naked breasts.
My breathing is fast as I glance toward the man lying next to me. He’s on his stomach, arms splayed out of front, either sleeping or in a coma, and I wonder when the last time he’s had a full night’s rest.
In sleep, Jack seems younger, way less of the criminal I witnessed last night, and more of the man who bribed me with French toast and bacon so I’d finish a green drink, and I take the opportunity to study him.
The early morning sun is kind to his face, smoothing out the angles and keeping some of the bruises and cuts in the shadows. Long lashes flutter at his cheeks. His nose is straight and angular despite the swelling, and I wonder how he got it set since coming up from the dungeon. His cheekbones are high, lips fuller than mine.
And I finally accept what I’ve been denying since I first laid eyes on him—Jack is gorgeous. Not pretty boy, gorgeous, but sharp, exotic features that should be chiseled in marble or painted on canvas to be preserved for all time.
Unlike me, Jack seems unencumbered by modesty. The covers have been kicked off or I’ve taken them for myself, and he’s fully on display for me to feast my eyes on. He’s lost weight since I’d seen him last back in Texas, as if all excess has been burned away leaving only definition and strength behind. The muscles in his legs are thick and corded. The bruises and cuts doing nothing to diminish the mocha coloring of his skin.
In this quiet moment, I find the courage I couldn’t have mustard if he’d been awake. I trace my fingers over his back, enjoying the contrast of my white hand against the richness of his skin. Back in my home town, a town as small as the minds that live there, I know this wouldn’t be accepted—black and white together. But I don’t think of him like that. To me, he’s just Jack, and I’m just Franki, and I wish it was nothing more than simple skin color that separates us.
Instead, our barrier is written as plain as the words tattooed beneath the red and beaten skin, the discoloring that has nothing to do with the bruises, but everything to do with the man. That when I read them have a pit forming in my belly.
Death before Dishonor
Justice before Mercy
Vengeance above all
Who is this man? Can I trust him? Do I really want to know?
I think about the long string of men my mother dated—the losers, the users, the abusers—and I have no compass. No template I can put Jack up against to see if he’s a good man or not.
I shift through my memories as I try to figure it out, instead images of last night trickle through my awareness, and I’m so relieved that Jack sleeps on.
Throughout the night, I’d fallen asleep only to be haunted by nightmares of big brown eyes, snapped necks, and muffled screams. But no sooner had the images started that Jack had been there, whispering in my ear, running his hand down my side, over my breasts, in between my legs. He made love to me slow and gentle one time, and then hot and fast the next. My dreams became mingled with his face, touch, words, that even now, I’m having trouble remembering what was real and what had been a fantasy.
Please Jack, please.
Tell me what you want, beautiful girl. Tell me how to take the pain away.
Images of me withering underneath him, rubbing my backside against his hardness, no shame, no sadness, just the driving need to get lost, to forget, to feel nothing but him, and pleasure, and desire.
Images of him holding me, drying my tears with his lips, moving inside of me slowly and carefully like I was a national treasure, and whispering words I could’ve only dreamed of because Jack didn’t talk like that. Didn’t think like that. Isn’t a man who whispers tender things in my ear to take away my guilt. To make me feel better.
My beautiful, sweet girl. I’ve got you now. I’m never going to let anything happen to you ever again. Let me take the blame. Let me carry your pain.
If only he could.
The shame and guilt that have been put on hold now comes rushing back. I flip off the covers and see the smear of blood between my thighs and the sign of my choice on the sheets.
A knot forms in my stomach, and my eyes start to sting. Quickly, I make my way across the room on bare feet to the bathroom. And carefully, so carefully, not to wake him, I close the door and lock it. I turn the shower to full blast, knowing that no amount of hot water could ever thaw the pit of ice in my stomach.
What have you done? What have you done?
I close my eyes and let the water run down my face wishing the images behind my eyelids could be washed away as easily. The sins I’ve committed pile up in front of me seemingly high enough to reach the heavens. I take the one out that I can deal with right now. The others will have to wait. The others will have to stay buried until I no longer break at the sight.
Instead, I examine what I’ve done with Jack last night. How I appeased my conscience and slacked my guilt with his body. How I broke my main rule, and not only kissed a criminal, a full-fledged member of the drug cartel, but had sex with him. And it had been me who’d thrown myself at him.
I trace the event backwards wondering where I’ve gone wrong. What was the first misstep that broke the bargain I made with God all those years ago? Was it the curse I uttered underneath my breath watching my mother stagger into the trailer drunk and broken? Was it the jealousy I felt over Juanita’s linen suit or the strong pang of envy over the purse full of money? Was it when I put Elixir into Roberto’s drink or when I lied to Esperanza, telling her it would be okay all the while sending her down into the lion’s pit to die?
Or was it when I fell in love with Jack? When I forsook all others…including my God…for him?
I muffle the sob that rips from my gut, and slide down the glass shower door. What have I become? What have I become?
And I hear the answer loud and clear, as if a voice from heaven parts the clouds and whispers in my ears.
You’ve become your mother.