Where the Snow Falls is LIVE! #MafiaRomance @LMAuthor - Read Chapter One!
Where the Snow Falls is LIVE.
London and I are very excited to bring you to the second book in the Seasons of Betrayal series. Kaz and Violet are some of the most favorite characters I have written--they've inspired some pretty interesting events in the novels, and more novels yet to come. I can't wait for you to read it.
Buy now on AMAZON.
Blood always leaves the brightest stains where the snow falls.
Fresh out of lockup, Kazimir Markovic is focused on two things only—having Violet Gallucci back at his side, and putting his father in the ground. With his plans already in motion the very second he’s free, Kaz goes after what’s most important. Violet first. Vasily second.
The Russians are out for blood.
The Italians want their blood back.
It’s only a matter of time before someone comes for Kaz and Violet—hiding was never in their plans. And they’ve been waiting for this …
The game they’re playing is dangerous.
Someone always has to lose.
From authors London Miller (Den of Mercenaries) and Bethany-Kris (The Chicago War) comes the second installment in the Seasons of Betrayal series that has readers calling it “A modern day Romeo and Juliet.”
“Sign your name.”
Kaz Markovic grabbed the pen and scrawled his signature across the bottom of the page before his belongings—what little he had on his person before he was brought in—were slid across the counter in a plastic tub.
He barely spared the correctional officer signing him out a glance as he fastened his watch around his wrist, stuffing his wallet and phone into his pocket before heading for the entrance.
Four long months behind bars. Had he been able to pay off the right people, the charge would have only meant a slap on the wrist for him, but a single call had taken away those options. Good behavior had reduced his six-month sentence to four, but it was still four months too long.
Whether Kaz liked it or not, Vasily was still the boss, and his word was law. So if Vasily closed those channels, making sure that no one could do a damn thing about getting him out, he had no choice but to wait it out.
By the time he was walking through those frosted double doors, the pressure that had settled in his chest from the moment he had put on that blue uniform had eased. Compared to prison, the county jail was easy—though he never planned to go back to either—but there was nothing like being free and not having someone on his ass every single moment of every single day.
When to eat.
When to sleep.
Around-the-clock monitoring made him feel like he was living beneath a microscope. And it never helped that the guards were always antagonizing, ready to make an example out of him should he break even the smallest of rules. But Kaz knew the score, and he knew better than to let them get under his skin, especially since he didn’t want his sentence extended.
Sitting on the hood of a white Bentley outside waiting for him was his oldest sister, Vera—the last person he expected to see. Though she had been raised under the hand of a Russian mob boss, his sister wasn’t impressed by their life. She didn’t believe in it. Since the minute she turned eighteen and was no longer forced to live under the same roof as Vasily, she had packed her bags, staying as far away from their Bratva roots as she could—and further away from Vasily.
While all of his children—besides the twins—had problems with Vasily for their own reasons, no one hated him quite as much as Vera did.
Once, Kaz had thought to ask her why. It was no secret that they had a strained relationship, but Vera’s distaste for their father had only become so openly hostile a couple of years ago. If Vasily called on her, she didn’t care who was around to witness it. She made it quite clear she wanted nothing to do with him. But Vera didn’t explain her actions, and he had never pushed.
Plus, he understood.
Vasily could test the patience of a saint, but despite his lectures on the importance of family, he didn’t follow his own preaching. Like the fact he had set Kaz up.
He’d had an idea, especially after seeing Vera yelling at their father that day, but his suspicions had been confirmed when Vasily had made it a point to visit him in jail. He’d only come that one time, but everything he had said, and even the smug look on his face, told Kaz what he needed to know.
But if he thought Kaz was going to accept what he had done without question, Vasily was mistaken.
“You need a shave,” Vera said as she hopped off the car, a smile already forming as she came to him with open arms.
Briefly running a hand through the coarse hair covering his jaw, Kaz accepted her embrace, squeezing her once for good measure. She had been there that day—the day he’d decided to say fuck Vasily’s rules and do what he wanted. While his sister might not have understood why he had been willing to risk everything for a girl he hadn’t known for very long, she had stood at his side regardless.
“How are you?” he asked, touching the top of her head—something he had done since he had hit a growth spurt and grown several inches taller than she was.
She shrugged, not giving an answer. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” she asked, circling the car to climb into the driver’s seat. “You were the one locked up, after all.”
He waved his hand dismissively. Even if his time hadn’t been as easy as it was, he still wouldn’t have burdened her with the details of it. “I’m fine.”
Vera didn’t look convinced, but she had always been rather good at reading what he wasn’t trying to show. “We both knew Vasily would punish you, but this … He went too far.”
Vasily was notorious for his acts against those who displeased him. He rather enjoyed the theatrical way he exacted his retaliation for whatever slight he deemed worthy enough. Usually, Kaz didn’t care much for whatever shit his father wanted to involve himself in, but now that he was on the receiving end of it, he was pissed.
Pissed and suspicious.
Kaz had never expected that his relationship with Violet, the only daughter of the Gallucci family, would cause Vasily to betray him the way he had. Usually, Vasily was doing everything he could to keep Kaz around, forcing a relationship even as Kaz pushed him away. But this … Vasily was making sure his message was clear when it came to Kaz and Violet.
They didn’t belong together.
If it were anybody else, he might have thought his father was doing it because the woman wasn’t the status he preferred, or maybe she was even promised to someone else, but something about his vehemence for her made Kaz suspicious of it all.
He had so many unanswered questions that while he wouldn’t have stayed away from Violet even if they put a fucking gun to his head, now he wouldn’t because his father was trying to keep them apart for a reason. And he was ready to know why.
“I underestimated him,” Kaz found himself saying but not elaborating on it. “It won’t happen again.”
He doubted next time he would be as lucky.
Vera had always been a careful driver, even with growing up in one of the worst fucking cities to drive in, but today, she seemed to be obeying the street laws a little too much, as though she were trying to avoid any and all attention.
He didn’t have to question why—not when she made it quite clear with her next words.
“I talked to Rus …”
That could mean a number of things, but only one was of concern to Kaz and that was whether Rus had revealed his plans.
While Vasily had thought his stint in jail would magically cure him of whatever spell Violet had him under, it had only managed to make him want her more. When the other inmates kept him up all night with the sounds of their fighting, yelling, and late night musings, just hearing her voice was enough to keep him going—to keep him sane.
Even as he knew he would need to figure his shit out with Vasily—and he didn’t trust that the man hadn’t been making plans while he was away—he needed to get away to clear his head and think about how he wanted to proceed.
And to do that, he was leaving the state.
The idea had come to him a little more than two months ago. When Rus had come to visit him one early Friday afternoon, he had run the idea by his older brother, hoping that he thought the idea was a good one, and more, if he would be able to arrange any of it. Kaz didn’t doubt that his father was looking through his shit and trying to find any evidence of what he was doing, so he had asked for Rus to handle it—because the two avoided each other as much as possible.
And because Rus ran a successful nightclub where people from all different walks of life came strolling through, he brushed shoulders with people who could get anything done with a single phone call.
That was all Kaz had needed.
“Yeah?” Kaz finally responded to Vera, glancing in her direction.
She worried her lips between her teeth, tapping her thumbs against the steering wheel, one other thing they had in common. “I don’t know what the two of you have planned, but I don’t want you to do anything stupid—or at least not more than what you already do.”
Though Kaz wasn’t always prone to outlandish things, he also had a habit of pushing as hard as he could to see how much it would take to break someone. But this decision wasn’t one he had made lightly.
“I’m just taking some time away, letting the waters settle before I’m forced to meet with Vasily. He’ll give me that. And even if he doesn’t, he won’t step foot where I’m going.”
It wasn’t fear, Kaz knew—Vasily didn’t fear any man—but his father made a point to avoid certain people. In his quest to get to the top, he had made plenty of enemies along the way—a hazard of the job, some would say, but most had been because of his own doing.
And when he had decided to cross the Boykov family in Chicago, he had made enemies for life. But they still had a decent relationship with Kaz, despite their hatred for his father.
Enemy of my enemy and all …
They had been all too happy to extend an invitation for Kaz to come to their city. He had been more than happy to accept, letting the eldest son know an approximate date he would be in town.
As long as Rus had done his part, everything would work out fine … As long as he was out of the state before Vasily caught up with him.
“You have to be careful, Kaz,” Vera said as they finally crossed the bridge to Coney Island. “It’s not just our father who has it out for you now.”
She didn’t have to remind him that now the Italians—or rather the Gallucci family—wouldn’t be as understanding if he showed his face in Brooklyn. They would make him bleed.
But where was the fun if he didn’t cause a little mayhem before he left?
Instead of the club, Kaz had given Ruslan an address to one of the few places that Vasily didn’t know about. Though it was usually known which businesses Kaz had his hand in, he had kept this one to himself.
As Vera turned the wheel, easing into the parking lot and circling the building, Kaz dug his phone out of his pocket. Turning the device over in his hands, he checked for a missed call or text. Nothing. He was almost tempted to send one of his own but decided against it. Violet still had a choice, and he didn’t want to take that away from her.
So he would wait, even if it killed him.
They had a plan, one that had been in the works for weeks now, and he just needed to see it through.
Shifting the car into park, Vera sat back with a sigh, staring out the windshield at the view of the harbor. “Are you sure this is what you want to do, Kaz? Is she really worth all this?”
Kaz didn’t offer a response, not initially. He knew that Vera didn’t actively dislike Violet, but she was skeptical, especially considering Violet’s family. Despite only being a year older, she worried about him just as much as his mother did, even when he didn’t need her to.
Glancing over at his sister, Kaz reached over to turn down the radio. “We wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t.”
Vera looked at him then, really looked at him, as though she would find an answer to her question in his expression. After a moment, she nodded and looked away.
“You know how to reach me if you need to,” she said softly.
Kaz leaned over to press a quick kiss to her cheek before he climbed out of the car and strolled to where Ruslan’s car was idling. His brother was still inside, his shadowy form just visible through the tinted windows, but as Kaz drew closer, the door swung open.
“Alive and in one piece … With as much noise as you’ve been making these last few weeks, I’m surprised you’re still walking around unscathed.”
Kaz didn’t bother showing him the new scar on his side because, by now, his brother should have heard about the incident.
“You know, there are easier ways to go out,” he said once he was standing at Kaz’s side, a thick manila envelope in hand. “If you want, I can shoot you now. Right between the eyes and it’ll be over in a second.”
“Because when Vasily finds out what you’re doing—and that fucking bastard always finds out—nobody will be able to save you from him.”
Kaz shook his head. “He won’t come where I’m going.”
“No? But what about when you come back? You won’t be able to hide there forever.”
“Who said anything about hiding?” Kaz asked. “When Vasily comes to you, I want you to tell him exactly where I went. I want him to know.”
Ruslan looked at Kaz like he’d lost his mind. “You want him to know what?”
“That he started a war, and I plan to finish it.”
Violet Gallucci smiled falsely right along with the greeting she offered her father. She much preferred to address him by his given name—Alberto—now, but that wasn’t what would make him happy. More than anything, she had to keep Alberto Gallucci happy.
At least for a little while longer …
Alberto stood, pulling out the chair adjacent to his at the restaurant table for his daughter to sit in. Violet took the seat and pulled it up to the table as a server came with plates of stuffed chicken and pesto in hand, already sliding one in front of her before Alberto had even sat back down.
She wasn’t sure which annoyed her more.
That her father had called her to the restaurant to eat knowing she preferred to keep a distance from him lately, or that he hadn’t even allowed her to choose her own meal for the dinner.
Both were annoying, to be sure, and they each held a certain air of manipulation. One controlled her time and with whom she spent it, and the other decided what she could and could not partake in, even if it was just … food.
It was never just food with her father.
A certain Russian had yanked off Violet’s rose-tinted glasses, and she just couldn't let herself forget, no matter how much her father demanded she do so.
She no longer saw her father the same way she did as a child. Back then, Alberto had been almost a god of sorts to a younger her; she thought him invincible when he was put up against the world.
But the truth was a great deal dirtier than she had wanted to admit.
Her father wasn’t the hero she’d always made him out to be—he was just as much the bad guy as anyone else.
Violet had simply come to a point where she decided Alberto Gallucci wasn’t going to choose which bad man she would hand over her loyalty and love to in her life.
And it wasn't as if she had gone into this blind, after all.
Not where Kazimir Markovic was concerned.
“You could smile a little more, dolcezza,” Alberto said, flipping out a napkin to cover his lap.
Alberto lifted his gaze, his head tipping to the side slightly as he watched her. Months earlier, years ago even, Violet might have shrunk under that gaze, terrified of disappointing the man who proclaimed to love her entirely just because she was a piece of him and nothing more. She would have been heartbroken to see his anger directed at her—as he assured he loved her unconditionally.
But his love did come with conditions.
That was all it ever was, but he had always made sure to wrap it in such pretty paper that she never looked far enough beyond the surface to see what really lay beneath it all.
Violet learned that far too late.
Unfortunately for her father, Alberto forgot that Violet was cut from the same cloth. She came from him, after all. She was his daughter.
So maybe, he should have seen her pleasantries and fake smiles for what they really were—her own brand of manipulation.
A good child—his child—lived to please him, and nothing more. It was something he wanted so badly that he was willing to overlook the blank stares and dull answers only because he still wanted to see and hear it, if not a little lackluster in delivery.
Violet wasn’t living for her father now.
She was just waiting on somebody else.
At that thought, she passed a look toward the large, decorative brass clock that dominated an entire far wall of the restaurant. Plated on glass, it showcased the time. She did the math in her head, having already tallied the time it would take for Kaz to drive from his destination to his next stop.
Today was important.
He was out.
She wasn’t going to have to keep pretending she gave a fuck for much longer.
“Waiting for something?” Alberto asked.
Violet’s gaze snapped back to her father instantly. “Pardon?”
He cut into his chicken, never looking up from his task. “Your food is going cold, Violet, and instead of eating with me like I invited you here to do, you’re too busy watching the clock. Are you waiting for something?”
Alberto did lift his head that time. “Oh? Do tell.”
A lie was already on the tip of her tongue. “New fad diet. You shouldn’t take your first bite of your heaviest meal before four-thirty in the evening. Something about the carbs and all from your last meal weighing down digestion.”
Violet nodded at the clock. “Three minutes to start, Daddy.”
“Little strange, isn’t it?”
She didn’t answer him.
She didn’t have to.
“What are your plans after this?” Alberto asked.
Violet shrugged as she picked up her fork and cut a piece of chicken. It was two minutes early, according to the clock, but her father didn't seem to notice the slip. “Going home, and I’m sure Tony will be close behind to let you know I get there safely.”
Alberto didn’t even deny her statement about the new enforcer who drove her to and from wherever she needed to go, never mind tailing her while she was out and about doing things. It wasn’t as if her father had given her a choice in the matter, and Violet wasn’t exactly in a place to argue.
However, Tony did make some things difficult.
Violet’s hand ached with the urge to fish her phone out of her pocket and scroll to the contact list. All it would take was one single message—that was it.
I’m here. I’m ready. Come get me.
Anything of that sort would work just fine.
But she couldn't because she was never alone. Even when she thought she was, she wasn’t. She had learned that one night when she woke up from a dead sleep. After having spent the majority of the evening hours on the phone with Kaz, she’d decided to take a walk outside of her building and had found Tony waiting right beyond her front door.
She didn’t ask how Kaz had gotten access to a cell phone while locked up, and he didn’t offer the information. She simply had accepted the package left at the front desk for her one day, securely wrapped in packaging that didn’t allow for tampering without it being very obvious.
The package hadn’t been touched.
For once, her enforcer didn’t seem to care.
Maybe he had thought she had just ordered something online. It wasn’t—it had been a simple, pretty cardstock wishing her good tidings on the outside. But inside? Inside was a phone number, a date when to expect a call, and a familiar K signed right below it.
She only recognized Kaz’s signature, or rather, how he signed the initial of his first name because he always seemed to have something on the go or lying out where she could see it when she had gone to his place.
That number had been her lifeline for those first thirty days after her father had ripped her from Kaz’s side, and she watched from the media’s perspective as her lover was put behind bars on a bullshit charge.
And then he called.
And he called again.
Every night, if he could. And sometimes, a text in the day, if possible.
Violet had a quarter of her chicken gone before she realized it. She wasn’t hungry but chewing and swallowing was comforting in a way, even if the fact she was staring at the clock again lessened her desire to eat.
Kaz was out.
All she had to do was call him, and she could leave.
Violet passed a look over her shoulder and saw her enforcer sitting two tables over, sipping on a cup of coffee. Her father was still eating away, oblivious to her inner war.
All she had to do was send that message.
But it wasn’t that easy.