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Where is Kiro?
He’s the lost Dragusha brother, heir to a vast mafia empire—brilliant, violent, and utterly savage…and he’s been missing for years.
I’m supposed to be doing simple undercover research at the Fancher Institute for the Mentally Ill & Dangerous, but I can’t keep my mind off Patient 34. He’s startlingly young and gorgeous, but it’s not just that. He’s strapped way too tightly to that bed. And there’s no name or criminal history on his chart. What are these people hiding? My reporter’s instincts are screaming.
Here’s the other thing: the staffers here believe he’s so sedated that there’s not a thought in his head, but I catch him watching me when nobody’s looking. Our connection sizzles when I enter the room. When our eyes meet, I know he understands me in a way nobody else ever has.
I’m supposed to follow my editor’s orders—I have secrets, too—but everything about Patient 34 is suspicious. How can I not investigate?
“They’re ready for 34,” says Donny, creepy king of the orderlies.
“Come on,” nurse Zara says.
“Patient 34,” Zara says. “Come on.”
He doesn’t get a name? I grab the cart and push it down the hall to where three orderlies are assembled with stun guns out.
“We go three on standby for hellbeast,” Donny says, looking at me a little too hard. In addition to neon running shoes, Donny has several empty ear piercings and a strategy of showing you who’s boss by looking really hard at your tits. His eyes are small and frontally placed. Predator eyes.
He opens the door and the three of us file in.
I turn to the patient.
And the breath goes out of me.
Patient 34 has a violent halo of dark curls and a short, unruly beard. Sooty lashes line his amber eyes. His energy is…intense, wild, like he was created in some brilliant hellfire. I feel him like I’ve never felt anybody. He’s gorgeous in a furious way. A stunning, suck-you-in-and-spit-you-out way.
The highest restraint is a four-point restraint, but Patient 34 is in more like eight points, arms to waist, waist to bed, wrists to bed, ankles to bed, neck to bed.
He stares at a fixed point on the ceiling like the other B-52-medicated patients, but he feels utterly different, utterly alive. This guy is not blank.
I look up to find nurse Zara watching me sternly, like she caught me doing something wrong. Did I stare at Patient 34 too long?
I get ready to take his vitals, though I have half a mind to look around for a camera crew, like this is one of those elaborate joke shows where they play tricks and see what people do. He’s just…not at all like the others.
According to 34’s chart, he’s on B-52 plus a few muscle relaxants and something extra I don’t recognize. Enough medication for an elephant. I wrap the BP cuff around his shockingly muscular arm. Shocking, because this is the kind of guy who’ll be unhitched from that bed exactly twice a day. When and how is he working out? And what did he do to get himself this level of restraint?
The history section of his chart is blank. There’s no age, though I’d put him at twenty or twenty-one. I can’t even find his goals program chart. “Where’s his goals?”
Donny laughs from the corner. “He doesn’t get goals. He will never have his meds reduced, he will never have his restraints reduced, and the only way 34’s getting out of this room is feet first.” If I have anything to do with it is the unspoken part of it.
Donny returns his attention to his iPhone.
This guy—so heavily sedated and restrained with a man like Donny hating on him. How does he endure it? I lay a hand on his arm and feel the warmth of him through my latex glove.
“Escape artist,” Zara mumbles, not looking up from her phone. The people working on the wing aren’t supposed to have their phones, but they all do. They know how to avoid the cameras when they’re on them.
“What’s his escape technique?” I ask. “Does he turn into The Incredible Hulk?”
Neither of them responds. Well, I thought it was funny.
I slip the cuff around 34’s arm, rest my gloved hand on his forearm, and start pumping it
I look at his face again.
And the world stops.
Because 34 is there—really there. He’s watching me with intelligence, lips quirked like he thought my Hulk comment was funny.
My heart pounds madly. “Hey, I’m going to take your BP, and we’ll draw a little blood, okay?”
“He doesn’t know what you’re saying,” Zara says from the corner, like I’m this huge idiot. “He’s not going to answer. Read his chart.”
I read the fucking chart, I think at her. Why don’t you look at his fucking face? But when I look back down, 34’s eyes are blank again, and the shadow of a smile is gone. Was I hallucinating? “It seemed like he was there for a second.”
“He hasn’t had a coherent thought in his head for months,” Donny says. “And he never will again.”
Asshole, I think.
I look back down. His gaze is fixed on the ceiling. Back to being a heavily sedated lion.
Start the series now!
They destroyed his family, stole his kingdom, hunted him to the ends of the earth.
Now the beautiful prince is back as a dark killer, ready to take everything.
And it starts with her.
Don’t look at me like that. So trusting.
Like you think I’m not a monster.
Like I won’t wrap your hair in my fist and bend you to my will.
Like I won’t sacrifice you, piece by bloody piece, to save my brother.
I’m the most dangerous enemy you’ll ever have.
Because every time you look at me, you see somebody good. That friend who died.
And when you look at me like that, I die again.
I spent years making myself invisible. A good girl, apart from the noise.
Then you returned, beautiful and deadly in your Armani suit.
Don’t look at me like you still know me, you say.
But I remember your smile. And I remember those sunny days.
Before they lowered your small casket into the ground.
Before they told us the prince was dead.
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She’s trapped in twisted brothel, stuck behind a webcam…or is she? Viktor doesn’t need to see this mysterious nun’s face to know she’s the woman he once loved…the assassin he once killed.Viktor
You were the love of my life, beautiful and deadly.
Then you betrayed our mafiya family—the only family either of us ever knew.
Heartbroken, I did the honor killing. I threw you off a cliff.
When I learned you were innocent, it ripped me apart.
Now, years later—somehow, impossibly—there you are, alive.
The nun who never shows her face, trapped on the other side of a computer screen.
How can it be? My brothers think I’m obsessed. Imagining ghosts. But I’ll always know you. And I’m coming for you.
Annika Martin is a NYT bestselling author who enjoys writing dirty stories about dangerous criminals! She loves helping animals and kicking snow clumps off the bottom of cars around the streets of Minneapolis, and in her spare time she writes as the RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.