Blood Bound — Chapter 1

Blood Bound (Dinero de Sangre Book 3)

Blurb:

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past…

Hunted by a dangerous enemy, Ada Pavalos is forced to place her faith—and her life—in the hands of the man who has been holding her captive in his own twisted bid for revenge.

But the truce they’ve forged between them is fragile, impeded by Ada’s struggle to trust where Domino’s loyalties lie—because what if the deadliest threat isn’t Jaguar after all?

What if it’s Domino who will destroy her in the end?

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: The following material is copyrighted.

I’ve never felt hatred like this before—it devours me. My head pounds, my vision blurred by tears. At the back of my mind, I know I’m being irrational.

Insane…

But all I can do is approach her in a way I never have, snatching a slender arm the second I’m close enough.

“Ada? What the hell?” She turns, fixing those green eyes in my direction. They blaze irritation and that smug confidence she always possessed. Like nothing in the world could ever hurt her.

And no one.

“Finally come to show your face?” She wrenches her arm away from me, her teeth bared in a snarl. “I know what you did, you little bitch. Though should I be surprised? You’re just like them. Evil…”

The memory fades as I startle to awareness, unsure of where I am. All I know for sure is that I’m lying on something soft. A bed?

The air is so heavy, scented with an acrid stench reminiscent of beer. I think… The harder I try to get my bearings, the dizzier I feel. It’s like I’m underwater. Every sound echoes, muddled and distorted.

Except for one.

“You shouldn’t have come here.” The hostile tone sends alarm shooting down my spine.

Something’s wrong. What, exactly? I’m not sure.

I think I should be with someone…

“She needed medical attention,” another man replies as if answering my unspoken question. His name comes to me with chilling recognition. Domino.

“And you did too, I suppose,” the first man replies.

We must be in a room. I think I hear the whirl of a fan, and cool air teases my skin every few seconds, lessening the overall heat that has sweat dripping down my forehead. The voices sound nearby, but I don’t see a thing. Belatedly, I realize my eyes are closed, too heavy to lift.

“I see the way you’re shaking like a fucking leaf, Dom,” the first speaker continues. “How long has it been, huh? You think you can go toe to toe with Jaguar while you’re fighting through withdrawal? Spit it out and ask what you really want.”

“Her arm. How bad is it?” Domino demands. I shiver as his voice runs through me. For once, it contained some vague emotion. Concern?

Her arm.

A wave of memories washes over me. My wrist. Pain…

“I set it,” the man replies with a sigh. “She’ll heal up fine enough. I might even have an extra brace around here somewhere. Now, let’s talk about you. How much longer do you think you can go on without a dose?”

“I need you to keep an eye on Inez while I’m gone,” Domino continues. “I mean it, Luis. If anything happens to her—”

“She knows the risks of going against Jaguar better than anyone. Hell, she practically raised the bastard.”

“You think that will stop him from killing her if he gets the chance?”

“Of course not,” Luis replies gruffly. “I’ll see what I can do. But like I said, she knew the risks. The same risks that come with going off painkillers cold turkey without a backup supply.”

A low sigh teases the air before Domino finally bites out, “So do you have any?”

“Not much,” Luis admits. “Enough to get you over the border, at least. Can I ask what your plan is from there? Fuck around and hope that you can traipse through the city unnoticed with Ada Pavalos in tow? What?” he scoffs. “You think I didn’t recognize the face that’s plastered all over the news reports? If you want to buy yourself more time, I suggest you cut her hair, at least.”

Domino’s reply is muffled, as if he moved further away. I find myself straining to hear him. My eyelids twitch, but even that amount of movement is a struggle. More sweat drips down my forehead by the time I manage to pry open one eye enough to see through.

It’s blindingly bright. Only snatches of my surroundings register. White walls. Yellow sunlight. A sputtering ceiling fan, and…

A shadowy figure who looms just out of sight, his silhouette chillingly familiar.

“She should be good for some light travel at least,” the other man, Luis, continues. “But I suggest you get her to a doctor soon. Only a crazy motherfucker could cause that kind of a break with his bare hands. You really want to go up against that alone?”

“I…” As he speaks, Domino finally comes into view. He’s pacing, his back to me, shoulders rippling with tension, straining the black shirt he wears. With a tilt of his head, his eyes cut in my direction. It’s like I’ve been holding my breath, instinctively waiting for his acknowledgment.

Once I have it, my mind goes blank, unsure of how to process him. Friend?

Or foe.

“She’s awake,” he says, frowning. “Give her another dose. Enough to buy me a few more hours, at least.”

Another dose of what? I attempt to speak—say anything—but I can’t. All I can do is frantically try to meet his gaze, but he looks away. Almost as if he’s deliberately avoiding eye contact.

“Don’t you think you’ve put her through enough?”

“Trust me.” His lips twist into a grimace. “She’ll enjoy the ride.”

“You haven’t said what you’re even after?” Another man appears at his shoulder, fumbling with a small glass vial. He’s relatively short, with graying brown hair and piercing eyes gazing from behind wire-rimmed glasses. I don’t recognize him, but I assume he’s Luis.

“Breaking your cover after so long. Taking on Jaguar directly,” he harrumphs. “You must have friends in powerful places. Rumor has it you’ve been working with the feds to cover your ass when Pavalos’ little empire falls. I shouldn’t have to be the one to tell you how fucking bad of an idea that is if true.”

“Just get her ready.”

“I will… But I hope you haven’t forgotten the only reason I’m risking my neck for you in the first place. Because of Lia—”

“I haven’t,” Domino replies, advancing closer to me. Still frowning, he palms the side of my face, radiating an addictive warmth. “But don’t forget your end of the bargain either.”

“I’ve already secured a truck you can use, and my contact is ready to ferret you across. The only catch is that you’ll be on a tight deadline. You need to reach him within two days, not a second later. Understood?”

“I just need to make one detour. Then I’ll be there.”

“And where would that be? Plan to go sightseeing before you catch a bullet in your skull? Oh, don’t give me that look, Dom. I could have called Jaguar by now if I wanted to turn you in.”

“North,” Domino says cryptically.

“Through Mateo’s territory? He won’t like that.”

“Which is why you won’t inform him,” Domino warns.

Luis shrugs. “Mind if I ask exactly how you plan on traveling anywhere with an injured woman in tow? Besides, what I can spare regarding your little problem will last you only a few days, at most. Then you’ll have to find your own supply.”

“All you need to worry about is making sure your contact holds up. As for the rest… Once I return to Terra Rodea, not even Jaguar can stand in my way.”

He steps closer, and I try to speak. Move—anything—but I’m paralyzed as a sudden wave of exhaustion washes over me.

Was I drugged already?

A violent high could certainly explain the last thing I see as my lids flutter shut—Domino Valenciaga, looming above, the devil, ripped right from my nightmares.

***

When I regain consciousness, I’m still floating in that dreamy state of awareness. Not awake. Not asleep. I hate this feeling. The stupidest things come back to me—memories that should have died a long time ago.

Like Pia…

Her face haunts me, ripped right from the last night I ever saw her, her blazing eyes fixed in a hateful glare.

“You’re just like them,” she hissed. “Evil!”

She lunged for me next, nail drawn. All I could do was throw out both hands, pushing back as hard as I could. The move was impulsive. Instinctual.

But the sickening thud that followed was way too loud. Too heavy.

You’re evil, Ada…

Perhaps, we are; everyone cursed with the last name Pavalos. An insidious nature infects my father’s bloodline, doomed to corrupt all who follow in his path. A Pavalos will do anything to survive—a tenet I embodied in every way—until Domino Valenciaga weaponized that tried-and-true creed against me.

I remember now. Everything responsible for the pulsing anxiety building in my gut, at least. When given a choice between Domino and another monster, I was stupid enough to trust that, even for a second, he had my best interests at heart.

Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that I’m too exhausted to face what I’ve done—not that I find much reprieve in unconsciousness. Sleep continues to come in broken fragments as the noisy, violent world beyond fights for my attention. One persistent sound rises above the rest, giving me some clue of where I am. Near a radio or a television broadcasting a news report:

“…politician Roy Pavalos is still hospitalized in critical condition, while a search is underway for his daughter Ada-Maria. Arriving at the Terra Rodea international airport early yesterday morning, Rodrigo Pavalos declined to comment on the status of either his brother or his deceased sister-in-law…”

Rodrigo? It’s seconds before I finally make the connection—Rodrigo Pavalos—my uncle. I haven’t seen him in years, but any hope I feel is immediately swallowed by horror. If he’s in Terra Rodea, then it’s further proof that at least one of Domino’s claims is true.

My father is alive…

And the broadcaster confirmed another horrifying claim of his—my mother is dead. The sick part is I haven’t found the space to mourn her amid the chaos my life has become. Even now, someone else takes precedence—the owner of the masculine scent flooding my nostrils with every breath.

Domino.

No one so cruel should smell like he does. Like sin. One inhale, and some twisted part of me ignites, despite the million other ways the man repulses me. He’s a liar for one, and a murderer…

More memories return by the second, reinforcing each menacing descriptor—but any real fear is kept at bay by a dreamy, warm cloud separating my brain from the rest of my body. I recognize this feeling. I’m high. But not high enough. What lurks beneath this dizzy euphoria is still recognizable, though dulled and distant. Pain. A lot of pain.

Along with that unshakable sense of unease.

For now, I ignore it all to reassemble more of my scattered thoughts. Think. The most pressing issue, of course, is where am I? My hazy memories provide a clue, uttered by Domino himself, I’m taking you back…

To Terra Rodea—but not in the hopes of a joyful Pavalos family reunion. No. He wants me to find Pia’s body.

The low rumble of a vehicle’s engine reinforces that very scenario. We must be in his car, jostling over an uneven road. Hell, for all I know, we could be in Terra right now.

The noise that first woke me—definitely a radio—continues, fragmented and disrupted by static.

“…no further news on the whereabouts of Ada-Maria Pavalos, but a nationwide search is currently underway. A press release by the office of Roy Pavalos stated that—” Suddenly, the sound cuts off, replaced by a guttural rasp.

“I know you’re awake. Open your eyes.”

His voice serves as the catalyst needed to jumpstart my exhausted brain. I can move again. Warily, I blink, wincing as my vision adjusts to the blinding hot sun spilling in through the windshield. My first observation is that we aren’t in the car I remember. This vehicle is higher off the ground, sporting a narrower cabin and tan, fabric seats instead of leather. A truck?

The landscape visible beyond the windows differs slightly from the desolate fields surrounding his estate. Instead, tan grasses and cacti speckle the earth beyond a poorly maintained dirt road.

Domino doesn’t seem alarmed by the remoteness. With a steely calm, he manipulates the wheel to navigate the rough terrain. His hair hangs loosely down his shoulders, his eyes narrowed with determination. A hot jolt of jealousy shoots through me. I hate how unfazed he always manages to seem.

“Where are we?” I croak, wincing as my throat aches. I’m thirsty.

The last thing I can coherently remember is him putting me in a car after nightfall. Then waking up, though in a room. He was speaking to a man, Luis, referring to my arm, and a “dose” of something I assume is responsible for my current high. Who knows how much time has passed since then?

“On schedule,” Domino cryptically replies. “We only have time for one break, so make it count.”

“On time for what?”

Abruptly, he pulls onto the side of the road and parks. As he wrenches open the door on his end, a burst of acrid air slams into me like a battering ram—followed by fear.

Weakly, I turn in his direction. “What are you doing?”

“I suggest you stretch your legs now,” Domino continues, unconcerned by my discomfort. “That is, if you want to piss without getting bit by a rattlesnake. They come out in droves to sun themselves on the rocks this time of day.”

I don’t know what disarms me more. His uncharacteristic calm—or that his statement doubles as a thinly veiled threat.

“Where are we?” I demand a second time, testing my sore limbs. In the end, I manage to slump closer to the nearest window, but the low hills don’t enlighten me on our location one damn bit. There isn’t a house or building in sight.

“Luis,” I rasp. A glance behind me reveals no one in the back seat, either. “Where is he?”

Appearing on my end, Domino raises an eyebrow. I’ve surprised him.

Without supplying an answer, he yanks my door open so suddenly I nearly pitch over, too weak to hold myself upright. His grip on my shoulder is the only thing keeping me from falling out of my seat—my right shoulder.

I gasp out, recalling at the same instant that my wrist is broken. Panic surges down my spine as I tense in anticipation of the agony that never comes. Looking down, I realize why—my arm is immobile, supported by a black brace made of sturdy material. It extends from my shoulder to my wrist, lessening some of the pain.

“Look at me.” Domino grips my chin, impatience radiating through his fingertips. “You’ve had one hell of a ride,” he murmurs, tilting my head for inspection.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

Only as his eyes narrow do I realize what he’s doing. Checking how dilated my pupils are. Whatever he finds makes him purse his lips in disappointment. “It’s a damn good thing we aren’t trying to cross now. You’d get us flagged the second any agent takes one fucking look at you. I suggest you take my advice and try to piss while you have the chance. Hold onto me.”

He offers his arm, and I blink.

“You’re wearing your costume,” I croak.

Gone are the casual loose shirts and slacks he sported around his estate. Both have been swapped for jeans and a denim shirt with the collar buttoned. All he’s missing is the wide-brimmed cowboy hat, and he’d be the spitting image of my father’s faithful bodyguard.

His scowl, however, disrupts the façade, proving what it was all along.

An act.

“What you call a costume, I call practical in the heat, Ada-Maria. Now move.” He lunges for me, and I wince, too weak to push him off.

Pain is the only thing I’ve come to expect from him, but all he does is loop his hands around my waist, hauling me from the truck himself—gingerly. The second he sets me on my feet, my knees buckle.

“Lean back,” he growls, shoving me against the vehicle itself. I was right to guess it was a truck. Painful nostalgia brings back bittersweet memories of watching him drive off in a battered pickup. Unlike his old navy model, this one is red.

I’m so caught up in observing it that I miss the moment he palms the front of my jeans.

“W-Wait!” My belly flips, my thighs tensing as I try to bat him off one-handed. Images flash through my brain of the last time he had me in this position, and all I can do is ask, “You’d fuck me now. Like this?”

He chuckles, but it’s not malicious or mocking. Dare I say it even sounds genuine? His teeth flash, bared by a smile that lasts a heartbeat. Then he’s scowling again, focused on the task at hand.

“I want you to piss like this.” He kicks my legs apart, drawing my attention downward. I’m still wearing the black sweater and jeans I took from his closet—but someone added a new component to my outfit while I was unconscious—sturdy black hiking boots.

My first impulse is reckless—all I’d have to do is push past him and make a break for the scraggly hills surrounding us. With proper footwear, I’d probably last longer than my previous escape attempt.

The second feeling washing through me is just more confusion. Kindness is so unsettling from him.

In my experience, it’s only ever followed by violence. A smart woman would run now—though there is the small dilemma that I can barely hold myself upright. My knees tremble, straining to support my weight.

“I need a hospital,” I insist.

“You need to listen to me,” Domino snaps back, shifting so that my shoulders are braced against the side of the truck. Then he crouches, continuing to drag my jeans down my legs.

“W-What are you doing?” My cheeks flush as hot air teases the skin of my thighs, melding with his body heat. The sensation reinforces the reality that I’m at his mercy, helpless against whatever he has in mind. When his fingers twitch over my hip, I suck in a breath. “S-Stop—”

“Relax.” Anticlimactically, he stands and grips my shoulders so that if I did happen to pee, I wouldn’t wet my pants or the shoes.

Or him, for that matter.

Rather than gratitude, his rare display of thoughtfulness spurs my unease. So I retaliate the only way I can. With spite. “Are you going to drag me all the way to Terra?”

“I could.” He lets that statement hang menacingly in the air. “Or I could leave you here as a tempting decoy.”

I don’t miss the underlying threat—yet another reminder that, according to him, I have no one else to rely on.

But he’s wrong.

“My uncle is looking for me,” I blurt, merely to gauge his reaction. I so desperately want to see him flinch. Frown. Something.

His eyes narrow, but I can’t tell if it’s out of irritation or amusement. “I wouldn’t go looking to Rodrigo as a savior.”

A part of me quivers. I know my father is no hero, but is my uncle no better?

“If anything happens to your father, who do you think will be next in line?” he adds, feeding on my doubt without me voicing it. “Your uncle. Your brothers. They aren’t your allies—merely claimants to the throne. Loyalty means nothing when power is up for grabs.”

“You should know,” I hiss.

“I do know. Which is why I suggest you don’t take my protection for granted.”

He sounds so damn smug—as if he’s dancing around something unspoken, daring me to voice it. Rather than ask outright, I deflect, “Because you’re the one who has my best interests at heart? Would that be before or after you had me kidnapped?”

“Because I’m the one with your life in his hands.” He flexes said hands at his sides, cracking the thick knuckles one by one. “After all, you’re the one who put it there.”

“Not by choice,” I bite back—but it’s a lie.

Gradually, bits and pieces of that last night at his estate return, putting the truth into blinding focus. I did choose him over Jaguar—but Domino made a monumental choice of his own. He left the estate without Jaguar’s permission, taking me to only God knows where for only God knows what.

Though, to be fair, he did give me a hint. He’s aiming to get back to Terra Rodea, a task that involves a border crossing. Suddenly the fake passport I discovered in his closet makes more sense.

I wonder if that’s how he smuggled me here in the first place.

“Who is Luis?” I demand a second time, changing the subject. “A friend of yours?”

“You have four seconds to piss before we need to move.” As he angles his head toward the sun, I see a genuine hint of alarm cross his gaze. He’s worried.

“I could always leave you here,” he adds in the same breath. “Cutting the deadweight would keep Jaguar off my scent for a few more hours. At the rate you’re going, he’ll catch up by lunch, just in time to break more than your wrist.”

As much as I try to suppress the fear, I can’t. Neither can I ignore the pressure in my bladder and the million other pressing concerns my body chooses now to make known. I’m starving—but this hunger isn’t the same bastion of control I’ve clung to for the past decade. It hurts. The gnawing ache in my belly makes it harder to think. Harder to reason. Harder to find the strength needed to resist the man before me.

Shame sears my cheeks, but I close my eyes and relieve the one discomfort I can on my own.

“It’s about damn time.”

I open my eyes again as Domino advances, withdrawing something from his pocket that he unceremoniously swipes between my legs. A dry rag. Satisfied, he yanks my pants back up and fastens them. Then he retreats, waltzing toward a thicker patch of grass—presumably to follow his own suggestion.

Alone, I inspect our surroundings more closely. This landscape varies from the region around his mansion in more ways than one. It’s drier, the air liable to suck every ounce of moisture from my throat. Given the rugged terrain, I don’t think Domino’s quip about rattlesnakes was merely to unsettle me.

“Come on.”

I jump as he reappears near the back of the truck, zipping his fly. My gaze tracks the motion, and I swallow hard as he draws close. Easily, he lifts me into my seat before returning to the driver’s side. When he reclaims the wheel, he slams his foot on the gas, kicking up a swell of dirt as we go.

I inspect the truck’s interior, noting that on the back bench is a black duffle I recognize from his estate, along with an unfamiliar burlap sack.

“What’s in there?” I ask, eyeing him guardedly.

He doesn’t even take his attention off the road. “I suggest you put your energy into preparing to walk.” Apparently, he isn’t in a mood to reveal any more secrets.

“Don’t you think you owe me answers?” I ask, trying a different tack. “Something? After everything you’ve done—”

Abruptly, he flicks the dial for the radio, triggering a barrage of upbeat mariachi music. “It’s at least a six-hour drive where we’re headed. Then we’ll need to move on foot. Focus on that. Here—”

He reaches across me, wrenching open the glove compartment. From it, he snatches what looks like an energy bar and tosses it onto my lap.

“Eat.”

The question of how—with only one hand—crosses my mind. Rather than ask for help, I grab the bar with my good hand and bring it to my mouth. Thankfully, I manage to tear the package open with my teeth, but then I hesitate.

I wait for the disgust. The nausea. The desperate need to cling to this gnawing, aching hunger and seek that fragile grasp on control I’ve come to rely on.

Instead, my stomach growls, and in three bites, I consume half of the bar outright.

“Where are we going?” I demand after swallowing, raising my voice above the noise.

If he hears me, he doesn’t bother to answer.

Good. He had a point—I should focus—like on what the snatches of the broadcast I heard as I woke up revealed. My uncle is in Terra. While he lacks the political pull of my father, Rodrigo has influence and money of his own. If I could find a way to contact him…

“There is a search for me,” I say carefully, watching Domino’s reaction from the corner of my eye. “My uncle. The police. How do you plan to get me into Terra without drawing notice?”

He makes a show of scanning the road, still silent, but I know he’s listening.

“Either you talk to me, or I leave.” To bolster the threat, I muster enough strength to swipe at the door handle.

“Stop.” He shuts the music off, leaving only the hum of the engine to fill the quiet. Finally, he sighs. “Do you have any idea what I’ve done?”

He lets the silence resonate for a handful of seconds before answering his own question, “Jaguar claimed you. I took you anyway. He’ll see that as a direct challenge. Do you have any idea what that means?”

His tone chills me to the core. I swallow hard, weighing my response before replying. “That you’re a selfish bastard?”

“No,” he says softly. “That I let five goddamn years of planning go down the shitter because of you. He won’t stop. Not if he feels I need you—that I want you for some other purpose. Fuck—” he strikes the wheel so hard I jump. “If you’d waited another fucking day at least to have your petty little outburst…”

I must be more out of it than I thought—either that, or he’s lost his damn mind. “So, this is my fault?”

Riling him is a dangerous game, but I’m too exhausted to dance on eggshells anymore.

“You did this,” I remind him in a hiss. My eyes burn. I frantically blink, but there’s no stopping the tears that fall. “You sold me to that sick bastard! What the hell did I ever do to deserve that?”

“You haven’t been listening.” Real emotion colors his tone; he’s angry. Furious, in fact, though he’s managed to disguise it until now. “I suggest you pay close attention, Ada-Maria. Jaguar will kill you if he thinks your death will affect me. Congratulations. You did the one fucking thing sure to provoke him.”

“What?” I demand.

“You chose me over him,” Domino growls. “You might as well have wrapped a noose around your neck.”

“What was I supposed to do?” I ask, genuinely curious. “Hop onto his cock?”

“You were supposed to shut your fucking mouth and do what I say.”

“Oh really?” I watch him, but fury isn’t what I find straining those handsome features into a frown. This is something far more unsettling. My pulse surges as if warning me to back down. I don’t think I want to know the answer to this riddle.

“Maybe I should have stayed with Jaguar?” I suggest, choosing to play with fire. “At least he was upfront about what he wanted from me.”

“Damn you.”

The truck veers off the road in a cloud of dust, and we stop so suddenly I jolt forward, forced to brace my good hand against the dashboard. Any pain I feel vanishes in the face of his cold scoff.

And terror instantly replaces it.

“So fickle are your affections, Ada-Maria,” he snarls. “I guess pain is what truly gets you off. Maybe I shouldn’t stop myself the next time I feel the urge to wrap my hands around your fucking throat—”

“You’ve done that,” I counter breathlessly. Reaching up with my good hand, I trace the flesh in question. It’s still tender, smarting from his use of a collar. “You think you’re so different from him?”

His eyes flash, and I recoil against my seat. The way he looks at me… It’s an expression somewhere in between shock and hate.

“You don’t know how many fucking times I’ve gone against my better judgment when it comes to you.” Gone is the false calm. This is the Domino I remember.

The same twisted figure who held me captive for weeks.

“I could have let you die a million different ways by now, Ada-Maria. Don’t think I haven’t considered it. From that very first day your boyfriend offered your head to Jaguar on a silver platter, I could have let you go to him then, and I can tell you for a fact that more than your wrist would be in pieces by now.”

“So why didn’t you?” My heart pangs, betraying just how badly I crave an answer to that question. Why? Even if it’s a cruel, selfish reason—which it must be—I still need to hear him say it.

“Why?” He lashes out, fisting his hand in my hair so hard stray hairs rip from my scalp. Pain isn’t his motive.

Control is—he wrenches me toward him, bringing my face within inches of his.

“I told myself how easy it would be. To watch you die. To see him fuck you. Hurt you. Sell you.” He ticks the horrors off one by one, his voice devoid of any emotion. But when he brings his free hand to my jaw, it trembles—and that rare hint of instability chills me to the bone.

“Some men have to commit horrific crimes to know they’ve crossed some moral line, Ada. Kill men. Women. Children. Not me. I’ll let you in on a little secret. You were always my gauge—”

“What does that even mean?” I snap.

Irritation radiates from him so fiercely I can feel it on my skin, hear it bitten into every word.

“My pretty, Ada-Maria… As long as I didn’t give a fuck as to what might happen to you, I could face Don Roy on even ground. No one could stand in my way. Not even his daughter with the perky ass and Bambi eyes. God, you make it so easy to hate you.”

As if to prove it, he drags his fingers through my hair, tugging on random strands as he goes. Hard. Harder. I wince, and he changes tack, stroking my forehead with terrifying care.

“I knew that I could step aside and let Tristan play his little games at your expense. I could use your body to settle an old debt and never think twice. You meant nothing to me.”

I hate the tears that spring to my eyes. It’s one thing to experience his hatred firsthand—but it’s torture to hear him state it so plainly.

“Then why not kill me?”

“Why? Five years,” he says hoarsely. “Five damn years. That’s an odd time to plot revenge, Ada. Have you asked yourself why I would act now? Or why that time frame? After everything I’ve done for Don Roy, what could make me finally act against him? Believe me or not, five years wasn’t anywhere near long enough—” the look in his eye cements the conviction in his voice. He means every word. “I would have worked for that bastard for ten decades if that’s what it took. Why ruin the life I built up, huh? I knew Jaguar’s stupid ass stunt wouldn’t kill him. I had to beg that bastard to help me in time. I had to scramble to get the resources in place to bring you to me. Why? What might force me to tip my hand? I’ll tell you…”

He flicks his tongue across his bottom lip. Then, in a voice like sin, he grates out the answer, “You.”

He adjusts his grip, grazing his nails carelessly against my scalp, using the pain to reinforce his next words. “I wanted to spare your feelings before, but no more. That bastard ordered me to kill you. Not Tristan. Not some nameless cartel. Me. You were meant to die that night—but by my hand.”

Ice-cold, his eyes don’t hold a shred of remorse or pity. Just endless hate.

“Do I have to spell it out for you? Your own father wasn’t just willing to sell you,” he says gruffly. “He wanted you dead.”

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past…

Ten years after a devastating betrayal, revenge has come back to bite Ada Pavalos.

Literally.

Once her family’s trusted bodyguard, Domino Valenciaga is out for blood.

Or her heart.

Whichever goal takes more violence to achieve…

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past…
As Ada adjusts to the hellish predicament she finds herself in, one thing becomes painfully clear—Domino isn’t the only monster with her life in his hands.
And by no means is he the most dangerous.
Jaguar brings with him a wealth of mystery—and violence—that threatens to rock what little ground with Domino she’s managed to gain.
In the end, Ada will have to make a choice with both her life and her body on the line.
Only one man can offer her mercy should he choose to.
The other…
Doom. 
If only she knew which fate would hurt less—losing her freedom, or losing her heart?

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past…

Hunted by a dangerous enemy, Ada Pavalos is forced to place her faith—and her life—in the hands of the man who has been holding her captive in his own twisted bid for revenge.

But the truce they’ve forged between them is fragile, impeded by Ada’s struggle to trust where Domino’s loyalties lie—because what if the deadliest threat isn’t Jaguar after all?

What if it’s Domino who will destroy her in the end?

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