#Teaser of Shattered (The Russian Guns, 5) - Coming Soon
One last teaser to share before the release of Shattered. It's just a couple of days away! I'm so excited. So, here's a look into Claire and one of the issues she has to deal with about her own family. It'll give you a little bit of insight to her character.
Love made him this way, but life makes him stay.
Turning on the chaise, Aileen set her wine glass to the small table and clapped her hands loudly. “Kissa!”
Without making a single sound, a young girl who was maybe eighteen emerged from the shadowed corner of the room with her head down and her hands clasped below her waist.
She didn’t make eye contact with Claire or Aileen as she asked, “Yes, Ma’am?”
“Get us some water, would you? Something to wash this back. Claire doesn’t like the taste, but I think she just needs a better palate.”
Kissa nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.”
Claire barely held her disgust in as Kissa scattered from the room as quickly as she’d shown herself. That child—because, at her age, that’s exactly what she should be called—was one of the things that turned Claire’s stomach inside out when she thought about her family … and even Liam.
Modern day slaves.
Claire didn’t know where they came from. She didn’t know how they were taken or what came of them when they disappeared. She was never allowed to ask. Voicing an opinion on the men, women, and sometimes young children who showed up on her family’s doorstep over the years looking tattered, malnourished, and sometimes beaten only earned her a thrashing, too.
After a while, Claire learned to stop questioning and just pretend like it wasn’t happening.
It was impossible. She couldn’t pretend, but she learned to be more observant about her family when she helped the people or talked to them in private. While she couldn’t make the situation better for people like Kissa in her own home growing up, she had given them a friend and a confidant to talk to.
Claire never hurt them, not once. If she could, she took the blame for certain things that had been a slave’s fault so they wouldn’t have to face the consequences.
It was not okay.
It was not right.
She didn’t know what more to do for them without getting everyone killed and that made her even guiltier.
Her heart broke knowing the people she was related to sold humans like they were nothing more than commodities to be traded and bartered on. Souls—living, breathing, bleeding people.
And they were treated like livestock.
Claire took a small sense of comfort in knowing Aileen in particular took good care of whoever came into her home. Some, like Kissa, were simply more skittish than others because Aileen wasn’t their first owner and the last likely didn’t treat them well at all.
Not that it made it any better.
Claire didn’t excuse or justify her aunt, uncle, or the rest of her family. There was nothing worthy of use to defend them. Not that they deserved for her to try.
She couldn’t help but think of the Avdonins, too. She knew they didn’t deal in human trafficking, not even prostitution. They also weren’t good people with one hand in the drug trade and another in arms trafficking.
It wasn’t as though she thought one family was better than the other, but she respected Anton for his position on the fact that in no way was it acceptable for his Russian family to dabble in the trafficking of souls. He also didn’t give rationalizations for why he did do the things he did with substance and weapons. Instead, he said if he didn’t, someone else would.
Without a doubt, Claire knew he was right.
Unfortunately, the same thing could be said for the Dolan and MacBride families. She knew that if Anton succeeded in his goal of killing Liam, someone else would take the man’s place and continue with this way of life. Stealing lives and selling them for others to use and abuse however they saw fit.
This wasn’t going to fix that. It would take a hell of a lot more than just one woman to correct that and make it go away—maybe it never would, according to some. But at least one more monster would die.
Claire figured that made the rest worth it.
It wouldn’t ease Claire’s guilt for the person she had failed to protect from those closest to her, but it might help someone else. Somehow, hopefully. That’s all she wished for.
“She’s doing so much better,” Aileen said under her breath, drawing Claire from her troubled thoughts.
Claire did flinch that time. “You know I don’t approve—”
“Yes, yes. I know. I was just observing, that’s all. Anyway, she is. And thank God, because you’re uncle has been in a rage for a good month.”
Claire knew if she pressed the right buttons on her aunt, she would get some of the info needed to please Anton. “About what?”
“Nothing for you to concern yourself with, dear. But if it keeps up, I’m afraid Liam might make a trip to New York to settle things out himself.”
A shiver worked its way up Claire’s spine, chilling her to the bone. “Oh?”
“Well, maybe Brian can get it worked out without Liam’s help.”
“Should I be extra careful, or something?”
When it came to women and the mafia … well, they weren’t supposed to know a thing. Claire was mindful about how she posed the question to her aunt. It seemed like she was asking if someone might come after her, but what she would gather from her aunt’s answer would be a tell if her family knew the Russians were slowly working in on them to draw Liam out from safety.
“Mmm, no, I don’t think so.” Aileen smiled tightly. “Besides, Brian is gathering everyone for a meeting of some sort.”
“Not us, of course,” her aunt responded. “I’m sure whatever this is will pass. We haven’t had any problems since Cavan, you know.”
Claire tried to seem surprised. “No, I don’t know. What happened?”
Aileen made a face. “Nothing, dear. He just found himself in some trouble and Liam took care of it.”
Apparently trouble meant death.
God, it was sickening how her family still swept Cavan’s brutal, awful nature under the rug even with him dead. Like they had to continue protecting him, for whatever reason.
Something fell over up above them, followed by the sound of Brian’s heavy cursing.
“Oh, bloody hell,” her aunt muttered. “He needs to lay off the whiskey, the fool.”
Claire decided that was her cue to make a hasty exit. Standing from the couch, she made a point of glancing at her watch. “I should go.”
“You don’t have—”
“No, I should. I have a shift tomorrow.”
Aileen frowned. “You and work. At least you’re staying out of trouble, Claire. Next week?”
“Sure.” Claire gestured in the direction where Kissa had gone to get them water. “Apologize to her for me running out without cleaning up my mess?”
“God, why? She doesn’t need your apologies, dear. It’s her job.”
No, it was her sentence imposed by someone else. One the poor girl hadn’t asked for and certainly didn’t deserve. Kissa was human, too, regardless of how the people around her acted. Claire wouldn’t see her as something to be owned like the rest of her family did.
Claire forced herself not to snap back at her aunt when she said, “Just tell her, okay.”
“Whatever you need, Claire, but she won’t care.”
Yeah, she doubted that.
“Don’t fall in love with me. I ruin beautiful things.”
Love made him this way, but life makes him stay.
Life doesn’t give a redo. There’s no rewind or pause button to take you back or stop time. Once something happens, it happened. The most tragic of those times in his life, the ones he wouldn’t get back and the moments he could never fix, reminded Demyan Avdonin of a bullet meeting glass.
The impact of the bullet doesn't break the glass into pieces, but instead, leaves behind a single hole surrounded by a spider web of cracks. Fragile cracks that, when handled with the utmost care, would splinter into shards of what used to be.
Demyan thought he had been broken beyond repair once, four long years ago.
He was wrong.
She touched the glass, unknowing of the cracks holding him together. These are the broken pieces of a shattered man and the woman who made him live.
Life made him this way, but love makes him stay.
Demyan's Story: The Final Russian Guns Novel
An erotic romance with organized crime and suspense elements.Shattered can be read as a standalone in the series but it is recommended Demyan & Ana be read first for full effect.
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