KON (Trassato Crime Family Book 2)(8)

By: Lisa Cardiff

“Well, that’s a ringing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one.”

Her nose scrunched up in exasperation. “Why do you care?”

“I don’t.” I scrubbed my hand down my face, trying to wipe away any lingering jealousy, attraction, or whatever else I felt for her. I needed to get my head on straight when it came to this woman. I couldn’t let any ill-conceived feelings get in the way of doing what needed to be done. “In fact, this whole thing could work to our benefit.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let me worry about the details.”

Her eyes veered to the side, and she folded her arms across her chest, calling attention to the soft rise and fall of her chest. “No. I won’t blindly follow along with some scheme you’re concocting in your head.”

“Well, that’s too fucking bad. You should’ve have thought about that before you agreed to my dad’s plan.”

“You’re an asshole.”

“So you’ve said. What’s your point?”

She stared at me in silence for a few moments. It unnerved me sitting across from her after months of simultaneously cursing her existence and craving her. Soft music mixed with the low rumble of conversation floated through the room. Her scent reminded me of the lemon trees in my mom’s greenhouse when they blossomed.

“You know what? I don’t care what you have in mind if it ends with you out of my life.”

“It might if we play our cards right.”

She swallowed, but it looked more like she had eaten something rotten. “When do we start?”

“You’ll meet me at an event in two days. I’ll text you the details.”

“What kind of event?”

“A little something with business associates. I’ll introduce you to some people. We’ll plant the seed that we’re more than friends. If things go to plan, we’ll be able to unwind this whole thing and move on to bigger and better things.”

“Perfect. I can’t wait. Now cancel the tasting menu. I’m leaving.” She stood. “Or better yet, why don’t you enjoy it with Lindsey? It sounds like she’s dying for another round with you.”



It took way too long for me to get ready for my date with Konstantin Trincher. Other than his curt text instructing me to dress up and meet him at a bar on a sketchy block under a bridge at nine sharp, I didn’t have a clue what he had planned.

At eight-thirty, I settled on a red dress with a diagonal cutout around one side of my waist and strappy gold heels. After playing with a bunch of different hairstyles, I parted my hair down the middle and called it a day, reminding myself I didn’t care what that man thought of me.

With one last look at the clothes piled on my bed and jewelry scattered across the top of my dresser, I pulled out my phone, tapped on the closest car available, and jogged down the stairs.

“Carmela,” my mom called out the minute my hand curled around the door handle.

“Yes?” I glanced over my shoulder.

“Where are you off to?”

Fighting the urge to groan, I turned to face her. My dad’s personal belongings were still sprinkled around the house like he was on an extended vacation and he’d be back any day. His black tasseled loafers sat next to the front door. His favorite overcoat hung on a hook near the entrance to the library. His book was on the end table, the bookmark still tucked inside. I needed to get out of this place. It was like someone had waved a magic wand, freezing everything in a permanent cycle of grief, myself included. If I stayed here, I’d never move forward.

“I’m meeting a friend for dinner.”

She looked at me, taking in my appearance. “Nico?”

“No. A friend from design school.”

Her eyes narrowed, and I cursed my bad luck. For months, my mom couldn’t be bothered with me, and now when I truly needed her to be indifferent, she’d decided to take an interest in me. I should have exited through the garage instead of the front door.

“Does your friend have a name?”

“Mom.” I spread my arms wide, my red clutch in one hand and my phone in the other. The gold bangles on my arm jingled. “What’s with all the questions?”

She tucked a glossy covered magazine under her arm. “I know I’ve been emotionally unavailable since your father died. Honestly, I didn’t want to face the reality of spending the rest of my life alone, so I focused all my energy on Gian and Evangeline’s wedding. Now that it’s over, I see that you’ve been hurting too. First Rocco, and now your dad. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for you. I want to be there for you and help you get your life back on track. You’re too young to give up on happiness. Rocco wouldn’t want that. Your dad didn’t want that either. We talked about your future a lot in those weeks before he died, you know.”

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