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Kon (Trassato Crime Family Book 2)(5)

By:Lisa Cardiff





C.,

Meet me at Mercantile Restaurant at 6 tomorrow. We need to talk about the future.

-K.



“Fuck my life.” I crumpled the note into a ball and tossed it into the trash.





CHAPTER THREE





Konstantin



More than fifteen minutes late, I scanned the restaurant for Carmela. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get my shit together today, mentally or physically. I drank too damn much last night, and my head throbbed like a motherfucker late into the afternoon. Then there was my visceral reaction to the thought of seeing Carmela, which only played into my reservations about following through with this arrangement.

I thoroughly enjoyed pretending Carmela didn’t exist for the last year. That this whole mess would disappear if I ignored it. That she’d find someone else and my father would open his eyes and finally see the stupidity in this course of action.

Sadly, Evie’s marriage to Gian thrust the bargain into the forefront of my dad’s mind, renewing his interest in furthering our connection to the Trassatos. Now I didn’t have any choice except to open communications with Carmela and hope this whole scheme didn’t end with an engagement, or worse, marriage.

Granted, I had enough leverage to call my dad’s bluff and refuse to follow through with this. Two things stopped me from doing exactly that. First, it would cause an irreparable divide between my dad and me, and he was the only family member still in my life. My mom called me maybe two times in the last year, my birthday and Christmas. She started dating some guy in my hometown, and she wanted to put some space between her past and present, which in her mind included me.

Secondly, my dad was unpredictable. He could go after Evie, and while Evie and I weren’t on speaking terms, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. She was my sister, and after everything we put her through—the lies, the half-truths, and manipulations—I owed it to her to shield her from our dad’s poisonous interference.

This left me with one option. I had to find a way to placate my dad without getting sucked into an unwanted committed relationship. My last relationship demonstrated that nothing good came of welcoming people into your life and your soul. At best, it ended in disappointment. At worst, it left you with permanent scars.

My gaze finally landed on Carmela, and a jolt of electricity rocketed through me.

Damnit.

This was why I’d avoided this woman for months. I wanted her on some primal level, which was fine. I lusted after a lot of women since I kicked Laney out of my life. Hell, I screwed plenty of them, but none of them stuck in my head like Carmela Trassato, and I hadn’t even touched her.

You know that flash of a second when your eyes connect with someone’s and it’s like your souls know each other? Well, I’d swear on pain of death that was what happened the first time I saw Carmela. I dismissed those convoluted feelings and moved on until my dad demanded I accompany him to the Trassatos’ house before Carmela’s dad died.

For weeks afterward, I saw her face every damn time I closed my eyes. Even worse, I smelled her clean, citrusy scent everywhere. As cheesy as it sounded, it was like she had cast a spell on me.

When I thought I had managed to scrub her from my brain permanently, my dad made a deal with her to let Gian pursue Evie in exchange for Carmela condemning herself to a life with me. Then my fixation with her started all over again, albeit this time around no amount of alcohol, fights, women, or near death experiences had helped to scrub her existence from my mind.

“Carmela,” I grunted, sliding into the chair across from her. “You look nice.” I lied. She looked better than nice. She embodied every fantasy I had when I was still a naïve farm boy living the simple life in Nebraska, and not a nasty criminal with a lengthy list of sins.

Exotic amber eyes that reminded me of sunshine. Long dark hair with the right amount of wave. Skin the color of golden honey. Curves that made my hands twitch with the urge to grab a handful. Lips the color of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

And like the forbidden fruit led to Adam and Eve’s ruin, I knew Carmela Trassato would be mine if I let down my guard around her.

“Mr. Trincher.” The measured burn of her stare scraped down my torso and back up again as she dragged her finger through the condensation on her water glass. She wasn’t touching me, yet I felt the swipe of her soft hands all the same. “Sorry I can’t say the same about you. You look like shit. Did you attempt to drown yourself in a fifth of vodka last night or is this a standard look for you?”

Leaning back, I folded my arms across my chest and offered her my trademarked grin. It started at one corner and leisurely spread to the other. “Is that any way to treat the love of your life and your future husband?”

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