Home > Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1)(6)

Black Hearts (Sins Duet #1)(6)
Author: Karina Halle

“I say that a lot, don’t I?” he says, his mouth twisting into a crooked smile. He’s watching me closely, as he always does. Trying to figure me out, trying to see if I will ever measure up. The thing is, I don’t want to.

“About keeping promises?” I say after a sip. The drink is smooth and bracing all at once. I take a drag of the cigarette and blow it toward the ceiling fan which disperses it toward the open window. We’re in the jungle, the compound well hidden beneath the thick canopies but close enough to the Pacific that we still get the breeze. It’s one of a dozen houses I’ve grown up in. Drug lords can’t stay in one place for too long, and my family is extra diligent.

Or I should say, was. It’s been five years since our cartel lost its footing as top dog. There was a while there, when the wall was being built, that people were panicking. My father was the first to use submarines to send drugs into the US and Canada, and our cartel became more wealthy and powerful than you could ever imagine.

Then the wall was only partially completed. A scar across Texas. The Zetas made deals with the DEA on the other side. We were nearly wiped out. We haven’t been able to best them since.

It’s not all horrible. It means we haven’t moved around so much, from place to place, because not as many people want us dead. That’s something. It’s an inkling of stability.

But it means that my father and his injured ego have been searching for a way to claw itself back.

It means me.

I’m the prodigal son, the one who is supposed to take over when my father commands me, the one who is supposed to get things rolling again. He says that I’m almost the age when he first started being the right-hand man to one boss. The boss he would eventually kill.

But I would never kill my father, and it certainly wouldn’t be for the fucking cartel.

I don’t want it.

I’ve been trained for it, I’ve grown up in it. I killed my first snitch when I was fourteen. I killed a few more since. I’ve sat in on deals, I’ve made decisions, I’ve gone in place of my father sometimes, much to my mother’s dismay. If it wasn’t for me flying to Germany and Italy and the UK to meet with buyers, I wouldn’t speak so many languages, know how to deal with so many different, dangerous people. Or know how to disappear. That’s the most important one.

I’ve had a taste of the power, the glory, the respect, and the money.

I’m not saying I don’t want it.

But I want it my way.

Not his.

And he knows it.

“Yes. Worthless promises,” he says, his mouth tightening before he throws back the rest of his drink.

He needs me and I think he hates me for it. He’s got a few men who have stuck by him over the years. There was Diego, who was by his side for decades, and then there’s Barrera, Parada, Tio, Nacho. They’ve got my father’s respect but not his truest trust. My dad learned a few hard lessons about trust, and it’s only in family, in blood, that it exists.

“Vicente,” he says slowly, tapping his fingers along the redwood desk, the lamp throwing spidery shadows from his hands. “I’ve done some thinking. About your plan.”

I don’t say anything. I know never to interrupt him. Always let him deal the deck first, every last card, before you throw yours down.

“I’ve talked it over with your mother. Your sister also.” He pauses and his fingers do too. He clears his throat, his eyes shadowed and focused on nothing at all. “I can’t figure out why you want to leave but your mother thinks it would be good for you to get it out of your system. To see how the other half live so you’ll be more grateful than ever to have the life you have here.”

His eyes swing to me, squinting softly. “You know that this is what you were born into. That you would be crazy not to want it.”

I nod. I never said I was sane.

“That this is in your blood. You’ve got the brains and the guts for this job, dare I say even more than I did at your age. But there’s a lot to learn and you have to be willing to learn that from me.” The room seems to grow darker. Outside, a rooster crows. “Time goes by fast. Too fucking fast. It seems just yesterday that you were born, and now you’re a man. You know this, yes? You see how each day changes things. We don’t have the luxury of time in this business. No one does. We have to act now. We should have acted yesterday. So, while I give you permission to go to California, or wherever it is you wish to go, it is just for two months. Then you must return.”

And if I don’t? The question is on the tip of my tongue but I don’t dare ask it. The truth is, I’m relieved. I didn’t think he’d let me go at all, and if I dared to leave Mexico without his permission, I wouldn’t get very far.

I may have everything I want, but I don’t have freedom.

Not yet.

“Just tell me,” he says. “What are you hoping to find out there?”

Pieces of buried truth.

I give him a quick smile. “An American girl.”

Not a lie.

I watch him carefully for his reaction, not expecting one. But there is a tic of muscle along his jawline. It’s not much but it’s enough.

“You better watch out for them,” he tells me, and though his tone is light, his words come out slow and deliberate. “They never stick around.”

I press my luck. “And do you have experience with that?”

He raises a brow, gives me a withering look. “Son. Please. You know I was in the states for a long time.”

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