Home > Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1)

Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1)
Author: Karina Halle

PREFACE

Once upon a time, a troubled young con artist fell in love with her mark, the drug lord with ties to the man who had ruined her life as a child.

It did not end well.

In fact, it didn’t really end at all.

Years later, the con artist tried to go straight, live a good and pure life, free of crime and inner torment.

That didn’t go well either.

Instead, she got hopelessly tangled with her old childhood friend, a friend who never stopped looking for the good in her, never stopped loving her.

Love is a funny thing. It can cause all our demons to go away.

But there was one demon who wouldn’t.

The mark.

What followed was a reckless, raw and duplicitous journey for three people who were often more bad than good, people who let love and lust and revenge compete for the same space in their hearts, people who had to fight tooth and nail for their happy ending.

But life doesn’t stop at a happily-ever-after.

And as far ahead in the future as you might be, the past is never far behind.

You just have to look over your shoulder.

For the ones who love my black and tender heart

I was doomed from the start

Doomed to play, the villain’s part

“Up Jumped the Devil”

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Chapter One

Violet

SAN FRANCISCO - THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE

Everything I know is a lie.

That’s the thought that strikes me at night when the lights are off and my room is dark and my mind keeps tripping over itself, regretting how I wasted the day and worrying about the day to come.

I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, I know I’m not a lie. But if I was raised in a house of them, by people who aren’t who they say they are, what does that make me?

It’s ridiculous. I turned twenty a few months ago. I know my parents love me and my brother loves me, even though we don’t always see eye to eye. I know I have a good life and a bright, if not uncertain, future. But that doesn’t erase this unease I’ve had since I was a young girl, that things aren’t quite what they seem.

When I was nine, I remember catching my mother outside the house in one hell of an awkward moment. This was back when we lived above the beach in Gualala, just north of San Francisco. I shouldn’t say just north, like it’s a simple hop, skip, and a jump. It’s a long, winding, nauseating drive along Highway 1 to get there.

Anyway, I remember this because I thought she had gone down to the beach to take pictures. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house on my own (the cliffs were a danger, so they said) and Ben was inside with my dad talking about something in the kitchen. My mom and dad just had a fight an hour before and I was worried about her, the way that daughters are when their mothers sulk off somewhere. The same kind of fear when you see an injured animal slink off to die.

In general, my parents didn’t fight all that much, which is something I try not to take for granted. I’ve heard horror stories from my friends about the ugly divorces and custody battles, or the parents who stayed together for their children, even though their kids would have been happier with them split, rather than being exposed to a hellish home life. Though my parents are pretty odd, I know they’re happily married and have a lot of love for each other. Maybe too much at times.

But that didn’t mean they didn’t fight, and when they did it tended to be about things I wasn’t privy to. It was never about me not doing my homework or Ben staying out too late or even that dad forgot to do the dishes. It was always over something whispered in the dark. Something that had my parents checking the corners of every room they entered. Something that sat above them like a dusty cobweb on the ceiling, always there, holding something ugly in its depths, ready to drop.

When I saw my mom go outside that day, I’d never seen her so upset. Usually she kept everything bottled up inside, swallowed it down with a stiff smile. My mom is pretty hardened and cynical, for reasons I don’t always understand. But that time she was sitting on the ground by the side of the house, half-hidden by a manzanita tree, her knees up to her chest. Tears were streaming down her face, leaving black trails down her cheeks.

I tried to hug her but she shooed me away, told me to leave her. But I couldn’t. I’d always sensed my mother’s vulnerability, even at that age, but had never seen it. To be honest, I felt nothing but awe.

So I stood there, watching her crumble inward. I was struck with the thought that I was terrible because I wished that she could be like this more often. I felt like I was finally seeing something real and true, a glimpse at a hidden self.

“I’m a bad mother,” she said, and I remember it so clearly because the words sounded painful. “I’m nothing but a fraud.” She said this a few times between sobs, shaking her head until finally she began to calm down.

Then she looked at me, warily, like a caged animal. Like she was afraid of me. The whole time I hadn’t said a word.

“Why don’t you go inside?” she said with a forced smile. “I’m not quite myself right now.”

And so I did. My dad asked me where she was and he immediately went outside after me. They talked out there for a long time. I wanted so badly to listen to what they were saying but Ben told me to mind my own business.

A few days later I told my mom she wasn’t a bad mother. That she was the best there ever was.

She flinched at that, and when I brought up the part about being a fraud, she said she didn’t remember saying that. Then she gave me a hug, smoothed my hair, and told me she loved me. There was such a strange desperation in her eyes that I dropped the subject and never asked her again.

   
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