Just imagine if you had no choice or say in your future. And just imagine if you were required to marry someone you didn’t even know. The Hamptons are home to the rich and powerful, the elite amongst politicians and corporate moguls. BUT… There is a community who truly holds all the power.
They also have requirements that MUST be followed.
I’m also thrilled to say this is my 40th release with Stormy Night Publications, a true honor.
The second to Given, this is Matteo’s story.
Take a taste of…
I couldn’t stop shaking, my hands numb from the tight grip on the steering wheel. I’d never felt the kind of fear that snaked around every vein and muscle, twisting and yanking, a beast clawing at my system. My family had betrayed me, my mother and father pretending for years that I could make my own choices, securing the kind of life that I wanted. Me. Their only child.
I’d been a good girl my entire life, playing by the rules, never once crossing the line between right and wrong.
Now this? What had I ever done to deserve this kind of horror? I could still feel the guests’ imploring eyes as they gawked at me, could almost hear their whispered words. I could swear they’d been chanting words of encouragement, much like when Matteo had made certain I realized this was my only choice. The entire community was nothing but a cult. The fear and rage from realizing the entire situation had been planned for some time had brewed into an explosive combination. I was out of my mind with desperation to get away.
Even though I knew I would never be free of them.
Members would catch me, punish me. Then they would place me in a cage.
I was nothing but property now, at least according to the sanctimonious Sacred Sect. To hell with them.
Please. Please. Please.
“You will adhere to our rules.”
“You will obey.”
My father’s sanctimonious words had been said with a smile.
I had to find a way out of this nightmare.
I could barely breathe as I pressed down on the accelerator. I’d only managed to grab the cash I’d been given inside the ugly Box, the wad of hundred-dollar bills nothing more than blood money, a bribe to keep me quiet.
That wasn’t going to happen.
I wrapped my hand around the beautiful necklace surrounding my neck and yanked, opening the window and pitching it. How many times had I begged my mother to allow me to wear it? The lovely piece was one of the expensive items that had indentured my mother into her arranged marriage. I knew I was tossing thousands of dollars out the window, but what the hell did I care? I refused to wear a collar for anyone.
Including my intended husband.
It was nothing more than a noose.
How could he? The bastard had actually tried to befriend me, pretending he was nobody.
Not a revered god in the community.
Not a beast who could destroy people’s lives.
Now I knew exactly who the asshole was, ugly memories flooding my mind.
Matteo Capodanno was considered one of the most powerful and dangerous men in the country. His influence hovered over various cities and organizations like a black veil of death. I’d read enough about the entire family to know how connected they were.
The Capodannos would do anything to protect their own.
Including Matteo’s soon to be wife.
But only after punishing her into submission.
Me. That was supposed to be me.
“No!” I hissed as I stared into the rearview mirror, able to see the headlights coming closer.
I refused to marry anyone against my will, especially an arrogant asshole.
Everything had come tumbling back to me, including the stories my father had told me years before. Anyone who betrayed the sect was punished, several facing a horrible demise, any possible identification removed from their bodies before being dumped into the ocean.
Or set on fire.
Their families had been shunned, their wealth and power stripped from them, never to be seen again. He’d told me that very story the first time I’d attempted to run away. I’d been dragged back by the same asshole who’d come to pick me up at the airport only hours before.
I would never forget that horrible time. I’d learned at that moment my life was far from a fairytale, my parents abiding by a system that I couldn’t understand and refused to learn more about.
I’d been locked in my room like a prisoner for four weeks. Then I’d been told the story, even shown graphic pictures.
All in an effort to protect me, to help me understand the way of life within the Sacred Sect.
At least according to my parents.
Then everything had returned to normal as they attempted to soft-sell the requirements, prattling on how happy they were even as tears had filled my mother’s eyes.
Everyone was rich within the community, their wealth measured in millions. Stocks. Bonds. Land. Incredible properties in several locations. Jewels. There was nothing that any of the members could want for, no luxury that hadn’t been supplied.
Their price? Allegiance.
Yet I knew they bathed in the blood of others, destroying anyone who stood in their way.
The men of the sect also held power up and down the East Coast, capable of putting the fear of God into everyone from politicians to members of law enforcement.
I rubbed the tears from my eyes, trying to focus on the road. I’d stolen a car. The thought made me laugh out loud. My God, I’d swiped one of the guests’ precious Mercedes.
You will face their wrath.
This was certainly a punishable offense on several levels. I could only imagine what would happen if they caught me.
I would never let that happen. I’d run far away. I’d change my name. I’d lose myself in some fucking jungle if I had to. I no longer cared. I just wanted to get the hell away from them.
To live my life.
The lights were getting even closer. Oh, God. Oh, God. I hunkered over the steering wheel, trying to pay attention to what was in front of me, but the emotions rolling through every inch of my mind were horrific.
All I’d ever wanted was a normal family with a mother and a father who were proud of me. I’d never pretended that I’d find an incredible knight or a hero of any kind who would sweep me off my feet, taking me to a magical land. That wasn’t me.
Now this. No. No!
I’d never gotten close enough to anyone to share aspects of my colorful life. To everyone who knew me, I was a simple girl from a modest family, paying her way through college like so many others. They didn’t need to know anything else. What did it matter now? Everything I’d worked for was likely already gone.
I knew how members of the sect worked and what they could do within hours. I had cash and I had my freedom.
For a few years, I’d believed my parents no longer cared about the ritual, the requirement of all girls who reached the age of twenty-four. After the day I’d been freed from my home prison, they’d never mentioned another word about the tradition or the requirements, even allowing and encouraging me to go to nursing school in another state. What had changed? Had my parents been threatened?
Or was this all about their greed?
A powerful Council. Five men dedicated to keeping a tradition over a century old. Five men prepared to do what it took to harbor secrets. They held absolute control over dozens of industries, with the ability to destroy anyone who refused to play by their rules.
Even after betrayal had almost destroyed everything they’d created.
Only their firstborn sons were allowed to take their place.
The majority of people went through life never experiencing the concept.
They never feared for their lives or those of their loved ones.
Danger was something seen on the media, tragedies happening to others.
They believed they were safe from the treachery of ruthless monsters.
But they were wrong…
The Sacred Sect was still watching.
What do you think? I so hope you enjoyed. HOT off the presses and as always, FREE to read if you have a KU Subscription.
Kisses and spanks…