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.
“Eve,” Theo greeted as he saddled up beside her at the bar.
“She’s very good,” Evelina said, nodding at the dancer.
Theo shrugged. “I suppose. I’m not the one who vets the dancers before they get the job.”
Evelina glanced at him. She was only shorter than him by a couple of inches in her heels, but it was enough to make her need to look up through those thick lashes of hers. “You don’t watch them while they work?”
“Because I’m here to work, Eve, not get my rocks off on lap dances and strip teases.”
Evelina smiled a tiny smile. “Huh, imagine that.”
“I think all those rumors about you and women are a load of crap, especially if you spend a lot of your work time in a strip club and can’t even be bothered to taste the spread. I’m sure they would be willing.”
Theo laughed deeply. “Probably.”
He’d had a few offers.
Not that he took any of them.
“Since when do you frequent strip clubs?” Theo asked, curious.
Evelina winked. “Since someone told me to have a little fun a few years ago.”
“Strip clubs was where you found that? This isn’t necessarily the kind of place where an Outfit daughter should be hanging out, Evelina.”
“Not necessarily, but I learned that everybody has a job to do, Theo. This is just one of them and it’s a paycheck like anybody else’s nine-to-five.”
“Are you going to send me away now?” Evelina asked.
Theo watched her from the side, taking in the curves of her body underneath her black dress and the way her legs looked to be a mile long standing in those heels. The demure look she wore only added to the fact he found himself reacting to her just by being close. The scent of whatever perfume she wore was a mixture of heady and sweet, and it soaked into his lungs instantly.
Yes, he was going to send her away.
Because she looked like sin and she was standing in a place meant for it.
Theo did terribly well with sinning.
“Yes,” Theo murmured.
“That’s a shame.”
Evelina flashed her white teeth in a sinful smirk. “Because you never gave me the chance to thank you, Theo.”
His confusion climbed higher.
“Keeping me from getting shot.”
“Eve, there’s no need to thank me for that.”
“I know,” she said, “but it seems like everyone wants to blame you for it and I wanted you to know that I don’t. I wanted to tell you directly, so you could know, Theo. People think I’m deaf or something, or maybe they just think I won’t repeat what I hear. It doesn’t matter really, because when you showed up at the dinner, I figured out enough from that, anyway.”
Theo blinked, surprised. “How did you find out I was here tonight?”
Evelina lifted a single shoulder in response and tilted her glass up to her lips to take a sip.
“Eve,” Theo pressed.
“Maybe I got Alessa to get some information out of Adriano. But who knows?”
Theo chuckled. “Yeah, who knows?”
“You shouldn’t be here, Eve,” Theo warned quietly.
“I know. I left my car a couple of blocks into the Conti side of the territory line and grabbed a cab. So even if someone comes looking, they won’t find me. Thanks for that advice on the GPS, by the way. It came in handy after all.”
Theo swallowed hard, wondering what kind of game this woman was trying to play with him. “Did you think that this might get me into a hell of a lot of trouble, too?”
“Maybe, but I just needed to do something different tonight.”
“And you came to me.”
Evelina shifted on her heels, still watching the stage and the dancer. “Why not?”
“I have a dozen reasons why not, Eve.”
She tilted her head just enough to catch his gaze again. Evelina held it, her stare never wavering. There was something in the hard expression she wore that told him something was wrong.
Theo wouldn’t ask.
He couldn’t care.
Not right now.
“They’re going to turn me into someone I don’t want to be,” Evelina said quietly.
He didn’t even have to ask what she meant. Theo knew. The Outfit. It was always about the Outfit where they were concerned. Someone did that to Theo once, too.
“I learned to like the changes,” Theo murmured.
Evelina sighed. It came out breathy and tired, but it still made Theo ache. No, he couldn’t deny his attraction to Evelina Conti. But what he could do was control himself in her presence.
Never think with your cock or heart.
DeLuca rule number one.
Evelina wet her bottom lip as she looked him over. “I think I figured something out way too late.”
“Yeah. I don’t want to be a princess.”
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.
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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.
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About the Author
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. To keep up-to-date with new releases from Bethany-Kris, sign up to her New Release Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bf9lzD