Home > Dirty Promises (Dirty Angels #3)(7)

Dirty Promises (Dirty Angels #3)(7)
Author: Karina Halle

Did she hate herself for losing her heart to a monster?

“I’ll get clean sheets,” she said, her voice small. She started for the door, seeming to forget that she was naked and bleeding.

I quickly walked over to her and put my good hand on her shoulder. She looked at it in surprise, the generosity of my touch. “No, you go clean yourself up,” I told her. “I’ll deal with the bed.”

She blinked, then gave me a timid, grateful look.

“Thank you,” she said, then walked to the bathroom. I watched her go, her back bloodied, yet she wore it like a cape.

And I knew she was thanking me for more than that. She was thanking me for being intimate with her. She was thanking me for waking up, even if just for a few minutes. Even if I brought her a lot of pain with some of the pleasure.

I hoped I had the strength to never let it happen again.



I dreamed about Alana again.

It’s always the same fucking dream.

It was the last time I saw her. Wal-Mart of all damn places, just outside of Durango. Figures it would be in a fluorescent-lit hell. She’d met me and Luisa there, looking frightened and vulnerable. Lost. A cast on her leg. She thought her brother could save her. She’d survived an assassination attempt. Two, actually, if you counted her getting hit by a car. And the third attempt, the one that blew her and my boat up, that’s the one that got her in the end.

I could have done more for her. Maybe that’s why the dream didn’t stop. Why I kept seeing her crumpled face, why I kept hearing myself say the last thing I said to her.

“I will take care of you, you got that? The only way I know how.”

I would hear those words of mine when I was awake, too. They mocked me.

Because I failed. Because I didn’t take her seriously enough. But I never did, did I? The only person I ever took seriously was me.

What I thought at the time was that Alana was a trail straight to me, my compound, my cartel. I assumed that the reason she “survived” so many attempts on her life was because they never meant to kill her, whoever they were. They just wanted to scare her, right into my arms.

And it worked. I brushed her off. Of course I didn’t turn her out to the wolves, but I certainly didn’t trust the situation, nor her so-called Canadian boyfriend. I needed to get away from her, for my sake, for Luisa’s sake. And yes, for her sake, too. Because when I was caught, when I was killed, what would happen to her? As long as I was unattainable — safe — she, in a sense, would be too.

But I was wrong. About everything.

I hadn’t heard from her for a week. I thought she was going to call the number I gave her. I thought she would have trusted me to take care of her. But she didn’t. And now I couldn’t blame her.

I got a phone call at five in the morning from the chief of police in Mazatlán, someone who was already on my payroll. He said there had been an explosion in the Sea of Cortez, and the crew who went out to investigate found wreckage of my mega-ketch, blown to smithereens. Ironically I had named the boat Beatriz, after one of my other deceased sisters.

I had no idea what was happening, and it wasn’t until they reviewed security footage from the marina, which showed a group of men, presumably dressed like old sailors, pushing a few wheelbarrows down the docks. One of the men stopped and pulled back a blanket that was lying across the wheelbarrow.

It was Alana’s face. She was curled inside, unconscious or already dead.

The man kept his back to the camera, fuzzy grey hair sticking out of his sailor’s cap that could have been real, could have been fake, but Alana was kept in full view. The man wanted us to see her.

He wanted me to see her.

The next thing they found was footage of Beatriz sailing out to sea.

Alana was on it.

Two horrible days later, while Luisa and I had hunkered down in Mazatlán, I was approached by the coroner. He had bad news. Alana’s remains were found among the wreckage. They ran her through DNA testing and it was a match. They were one hundred percent certain that my sister was dead. And the police had no idea who was behind it. Even when they were paid handsomely by me, they still couldn’t come up with any leads, and the police down in Jalisco, where Alana had lived, were worthless as well.

I didn’t feel anything at first.

I remembered Luisa gripping my hand.

The breath being knocked out of me.

But it was all rather fitting. I recall thinking, this figures. Because it did. Violence, the cartel way of life, had taken my parents from me. My sister Beatriz. My sister Violetta, who I saw explode in a car bomb before my very eyes. Now Alana. The only Bernal left was her twin, Marguerite, who chose to stay as far away from me as possible, who wanted to forget that I was her brother. She lived in New York and had cut all ties with me, not only for her own safety, but because she wanted to pretend I didn’t exist. My only family left hated me.

I hated me. Because this had all been my fault. Each death was on my head. From the years as the right-hand man to Travis Raines and his cartel, to overthrowing him, to starting my own, and then to overtaking Salvador Reyes, up, up, up to the top. They all died because I kept climbing.

Family is everything. That is the creed in this country. But that creed gets others killed. And it slowly kills you. Your family is the first thing you’ll lose. Your soul will be the last.

Luckily, I didn’t have much of either anymore.

I had Luisa, of course. She had become my family, my confidante, my lover, my friend. She had become everything to me, in bed and outside of it. But she was a weakness, my weakness. She was what they would go after next, the last thing I could possibly lose.

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