Gangsters and Dolls Book 1
by Khardine Gray
Genre: Mafia Romance
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P R O L O G U E
I usually did what I wanted. As I damn well pleased, never caring what people thought.
After all, I was Claudius Morientz, now the new leader of the Chicago Mafia.
Proud owner of everything. A billion-dollar fortune inherited from the great Raphael Rossi. I got the business and everything that came with it.
Money and power.
Yes, I had it all.
I had everything… Except the girl.
This day was always bad. It always felt the same no matter how much time passed.
This day always got to me. It got to me because it was a yearly reminder of what I’d lost, and what I couldn’t have.
I stood in the bell tower of the church overlooking the grave site. My wife’s grave site. My wife, Marissa. Kneeling next to the grave was Ava. Her twin sister. And like every other year, I did the same thing. Cemetery first thing in the morning. Then stay in the shadows of the bell tower watching Ava and her family mourn. Stay in the shadows watching Ava spend those last few moments with her sister after her parents left. Allowing and respecting her time to be alone with the one person who’d
shared everything with her.
I must have been a hundred feet away, but I could see the sadness in her. I could feel it. I could almost touch it. Sadness and confusion. Sadness for her loss and confusion over what had really happened.
What had happened to us.
Mine was a story that I was certain would confuse the shit out of a lot of people.
It confused me sometimes. One thing was certain though.
My feelings for her had never changed.
The sun was low, and the place had that feel about it. That feeling of anticipation.
Ava stood up and looked around. I knew she could sense me. It was almost like magic. There was a time when I’d look at her and I didn’t have to say anything. She’d know what I was thinking. She was the only woman to truly tame the beast in me.
The only woman to reach that place in my soul and make me want to try to be anything other than I was. The standard mobster who was ruthless to the bone.
It was happening now. The lure of her. It grew stronger the more she looked around.
I was sure he was here. I could feel him.
He’d always leave a single white rose on Marissa’s grave.
Always before anybody else came. Ma and Pa would bring dahlias. I’d bring lilies. The pink Calla lilies Marissa had loved so much.
The minute I saw the rose, I knew he’d been here, and I knew he still was. My parents and I got here
an hour ago. Like always, I’d asked for time alone. Time to grieve and talk to my sister. But admittedly, I wanted this time to feel him too. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that. I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t accept the truth of the matter.
His presence was so strong, he could have been standing before me.
And there was the confliction that would always fill my soul.
What was I supposed to think after the last time?
What was I supposed to feel?
It was simple. I knew the answer was simple. I needed to forget. That was it. Forget.
A person couldn’t keep living in the past. Worse when all the memories were just figments of what my heart wanted.
Forget everything and move on. Not just from four years ago when Claudius and I had last seen each other. It needed to be the whole thing. The whole damn thing from start to finish.
Us, before him and Marissa.
Forget it like it never happened.
I needed to forget him. It was making me feel like a hypocrite.
How was I supposed to grieve for my sister and at the same time fight the inner turmoil that roiled within me for her husband?
It sounded like a colossal mess.
One damn mess that no one could really fix. I looked around for him, and my stupid heart betrayed me as I thought of last time.
Last time was a mistake. I shouldn’t have…
I just shouldn’t have gone there again with her, but I did. I didn’t regret it. I just hated that I fell prey to my selfishness. It made the situation so much worse and confusing.
More confusing for her.
More painful for me.
I didn’t know how I stayed away for so long, but it was for the best. It was torture to see her, torture to be with her, torture to think that we could be more than we were right now.
She should hate me.
She should at the very least hate me because it was my fault her sister died. Everyone could tell me I shouldn’t blame myself, but it was my fault.
Four years ago, I was selfish. I changed things up and made the situation messier than it already was. I needed to stay away from her.
I hated what happened, and I should hate him for crushing my heart. But mostly, I wished he wouldn’t stay away.
“Claudius… why do you still do this to me?” I whispered against the cool breeze that rustled through the willow trees. It lifted the ends of my hair, pushing the white blonde strands to the black velvet sleeves of my dress.
I looked ahead to the old bell tower on the top of the church and brought my hands up to my heart.
My heart was breaking again, and I really needed to move on.
Some things were best left alone. Forever.
She was one of them.
As she looked ahead to where I was, we could have been staring right at each other.
I hoped she hated me. It would be easier. I’d put her in danger once before, and it nearly cost her, her
It was better this way.
She’d be safer.
Better to hate me and live than for her to love me and die. I was a selfish man, but I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
Not with her.
Once was enough.
Khardine Gray is a contemporary romance author who lives in England with her husband, two kids, and three crazy ferrets.
She is well traveled, cultured, and a woman with a passion for dancing and ice skating.
When not writing you can catch her shopping, indulging on pizza and hot chocolate, or hanging out with her family and friends.
No need to spend money on an airline ticket. Simply pick up one of Khardine's books to become immersed in the fascinating stories and characters she creates.
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