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Silent Lies: Chapter 13


The heavy drapery is pulled over the balcony door, keeping the morning light off Sienna who is curled up in bed, hugging a pillow with her arms. She spent the entire night clutching at my forearm while clinging tightly to my side. It was a struggle to wriggle my arm free so I could take a shower and get ready for work.

I move my gaze from her sleeping face down her body, skimming over my T-shirt and pajama pants I put on her last night. She fell asleep in the car on the way home from the club and didn’t wake up as I carried her inside and up the stairs to our bedroom. I expected her to rouse when I started removing her jacket and dress, but nope. She just mumbled something and climbed into bed naked. I went through her clothes but couldn’t decide what were pajamas and what weren’t, so I just clad her in mine. Sienna slumbered through the whole ordeal. This woman could probably sleep through an earthquake. Zero self-preservation instincts.

Some strange primal need stirs inside me at the sight of her in my clothes, urging me to forbid her from wearing anything else when she sleeps. It’s stupid. Still, I can’t shake it off. And I don’t like it. I don’t like these caveman tendencies I’ve developed, such as the compulsion to strangle every man who comes within ten feet of my wife. Another thing I find hard to process is the satisfaction I felt upon realizing I was her first. No other man has touched her before me. And no other will. Ever.

I lean my back on the wall, rubbing my thumb over a small mark on my bottom lip where she bit me last night. My fierce, sparkling beguiler. From the moment I first saw her, I knew there’s so much more to Sienna than she lets others see. It’s as if she has shrouded her real self for some reason, and her guise has been eating at me from the start. I quite enjoy small glimpses of her true nature whenever her mask slips away. But the fact she’s been lying to me all this time is making me furious. It’s been a month, and she still hasn’t tried to come clean to me. I can understand her being wary at the beginning, but it should be clear to her by now that I would never harm her. After all the time we’ve spent together—granted, it hasn’t been a lot, but there were enough opportunities—and yet, she still hasn’t confessed the truth of why she accepted this marriage.

My eyes wander to the nightstand where three thick notebooks with glittery covers are stacked one atop the other. As I stalked her over the past weeks I’ve often caught her scribbling in one of them. The leather sofa in the great rec room seems to be her favorite spot, and I spent a lot of time watching her from the doorway. She would write a few sentences, then giggle to herself before resuming. At first, I thought she was keeping a diary, but when I inadvertently glanced inside one of her notebooks, I realized she was writing stories.

The room suddenly fills with light pouring in through the opened door behind me. I spin around and find Filip standing at the threshold, prattling on about who knows what. I pay no attention to his words and lunge at him.

“Never,” I spit out as I grab his shirtfront and push him into the hallway, “fucking never come into the room where my wife is sleeping.”

“You weren’t answering your messages.”

“I. Don’t. Care.” I pin him with my murderous gaze. “What is it?”

“There’s been a fire at the Syracuse warehouse.”


“An hour ago. One of the security guards reported it, but the connection was lost before he could say more.”

“The damage?”

“I don’t know. Adam took Relja, and they went to check what’s happening.”

I let go of his shirt. “Call Adam. Tell him that if it’s bad, and if the fire department got called, he’s to turn around and head back right away.”

“So, we’ll just leave it?”

“Yes. If the firemen are there, the police will be, as well. There was almost half a ton of Ajello’s cocaine in that building. Unless the blaze can be contained by our men, the warehouse and the product are lost.”

“You think it was Bogdan?” he asks.

“Or Dushku. He came to Naos last night. To test the waters, no doubt. But I’m betting it was Bogdan. Did anyone locate him?”

“No. I’ve had our men searching for him since our driver was killed. So far, nothing. Most of his regular guys have gone to ground. We picked up a few low-level pissants, but they knew nothing of value.”

“Well, that’s enough proof for me that he orchestrated that, too. Send Iliya to have a chat with our informants. Maybe someone has heard something about Bogdan’s whereabouts. Jovan and I will check out the other warehouses.”

“Okay. I’ll message you when Adam reports in with an update.”

“Don’t bother. I left my phone at Naos last night. Have one of the men pick it up and bring it here. I’ll come back as soon as I’m done.”

On my way downstairs, I notice Keva giving an earful to a girl who is dusting one of the paintings in the foyer. I wave her over and nod toward the front door. She follows me outside, and we set off on a path that encircles the house and leads to the garage off to the side.

“Sienna is still asleep. Have one of the girls bring her breakfast upstairs.”

“Food?” She widens her eyes at me. “In your room?”

“Yes. And I don’t want Sienna leaving the compound until I’m back.”

“Why? Did something happen?”

“Looks like the Romanians may have gone on a rampage. I’ll alert the guards not to let her pass if she tries to leave, but I’m afraid she’ll manage to sweet-talk them.”

“No one will dare go against your orders. You know that.”

“Where my wife is concerned, I’ve learned to expect anything. She already has the whole of my crew eating out of her hand.” I step over a garden hose strung across the walkway. “Including my dogs.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“Am I?” I stop in front of the garage and wave my arm at the mansion. “Did you know that Mirko hacked into a website for some sort of boutique and changed someone’s existing order for a pair of shoes to have them sent to Sienna via same-day rush delivery?”

“So what?” Keva shrugs as she says, “He was just being nice.”

“He’s my logistics and surveillance specialist. Not her shopping assistant,” I bark. “And the other day, she made Adam play an idiotic PlayStation game with her. She said it was more enjoyable in co-op mode. I thought I was imagining things when I saw my head enforcer leading a scarecrow on the TV screen, blasting giant chickens with pink sparkly magic.”

Keva grins. “Oooh, someone is jealous. Does it bother you that she didn’t ask you to play?”

“I’m serious.” I throw a quick look over her head toward the mansion. “Cosa Nostra killed one of our men. When I brought Sienna here, everyone hated her. Well, except you. And now everyone seems to be besotted by her.”

She didn’t kill anyone, Drago. And she shouldn’t be blamed for something she had no say in. Besides, no one really hated her.” Keva furrows her brows, then gives a little knowing smile. “Well, maybe a little.”

“I don’t know what it is about her.” I shake my head. “It’s as if no matter how hard people try not to like her, they still end up bewitched by her.”

“Speaking from experience?”

“Yes, damn it.” I grit my teeth. “She’s been providing info to Ajello.”

“Well, you would expect the same if one of our girls married into Cosa Nostra. It’s how things work.”

“Has she been asking around about our business? Fishing for information? Snooping about?”

“No. She mostly chats with me and the girls, and it’s usually about books and clothes. We rarely mention business.”

“It’s not just that.” I sigh. “She understands Serbian.”

Keva quickly looks away.

“You knew?” I snap. “You knew, and you haven’t told me?”

“I suspected.”

“Jesus fuck. Why didn’t you say something?”

“Do you know that your eyes light up when she enters a room?” She takes a step forward. “For years, I’ve watched you bury yourself in work, becoming more and more closed-off. I lost hope that something . . . someone will be able to pull you out of the dark pit you’ve resigned yourself to. You’ve been half-dead, going through the motions, until Sienna moved into this house. And now, it’s like you’re finally coming back to the world of the living.”

“World of madness would be more accurate.” I drag my hand through my hair. “She’s absolutely oblivious to how dangerous the games we play are. If she ended up with someone else, and they caught her spying . . .”

“But she didn’t.” Keva places her hand on my forearm. “Why haven’t you told her about your hearing, Drago?”

“So that she can inform her don of that, too?”

“You think she would?”

“Without a doubt.” I nod and turn to head inside the garage. “I have to go.”




I stare at the enormous bowl, filled to the top with green pods. “I didn’t know peas grew like that.”

“And how did you think they grow?” Keva asks as she peels pea pods from her own bowl.

“I don’t know. I never actually thought about it.” I take a pod and crack it, extracting small green legumes. “So how much do we need to shell for lunch?”

“Oh, these are just to top a salad, so we can stop once we have a cup or two. If it was for a side dish, I would have used the frozen ones because we’d need at least ten pounds.”

My eyes widen. “I don’t know how you cook for almost fifty people every day.”

“The girls help.” She tilts her head to the side, looking thoughtful. “I always wanted a big family but didn’t get the chance. I guess this is the next best thing.”

“How did you end up here, with Drago?”

“I had a friend in New York,” she says but keeps her gaze fixed on her hands. “So, I brought Drago and Tara with me. He was seventeen. Tara was four at the time.”

“What about their parents?”

“They were in the Mafia. A bomb was planted in their house in retaliation for Drago’s father killing some people. Both of them died in the explosion. Drago and Tara survived.” Her voice is strained as she brushes away a tear. “Dina, their sister, died as well.”

My stomach drops, and I press my hand over my mouth but a shocked gasp still escapes me.

“There were some relatives who could have taken in Drago and Tara, but I couldn’t let them stay in Serbia. It was a blood feud, and I didn’t want to risk the killers coming after them. I had their passports forged to say they were mine, and we came here.”

I stare at her. Moving to a strange country on her own with two kids that weren’t even hers? I don’t know anyone who would have done something like that. “But, you were once married to their father?”

Keva lifts her eyes to mine. “Sometimes, love doesn’t end with the end of the marriage, Sienna. Or life. The man I loved was dead, but his kids weren’t. And they were in danger. I did what needed to be done.”

I look down at the bowl in my hands. Drago’s relationship with Keva makes so much more sense now.

“Did Drago get you more of those . . . glass crystals?” she asks.

I shrug. “Nope. Why?”

“You should ask him for more. I love what you did with them.”

“Do you know where Drago is? I haven’t seen him this morning.”

“He left early. Something about work.” She side-eyes me. “Missing him already?”

“I most certainly don’t miss that hypocritical boar.” I grab the next pod and crumble it between my fingers.

The man referred to our marriage as a necessary sacrifice, making it very clear that he doesn’t give a damn about me. And what did I do? I let him fuck me against a wall, enjoying every second of it. And, as if that wasn’t enough to show how pathetic I am, I woke up this morning yearning for more, only to find him gone. I still can’t decide if I’m mad at him for not being there, or at myself for feeling disappointed.

“Hypocritical boar?” Keva reaches for the cup of coffee on the table and raises an eyebrow at me.

“Yeah. He discussed my replacement with some guy, and then told me that he’s going to send his hitman to kill anyone who may wish me harm.”

Keva bursts out laughing. “It looks like the two of you are getting along just fine.”

The kitchen door opens and one of Drago’s men, Iliya, walks inside. “Drago’s phone. He left it at Naos last night.” He places the device on the table in front of Keva and leaves. A big crack has split the screen diagonally, a myriad of small lines like a delicate spider web over the rest.

“Drago never leaves his phone behind.” Keva wipes her hand on a towel and reaches for it. “Especially when we’re expecting a new shipment to arrive, and there’s one coming today. Drivers always send updates to him, so if there are problems, we can . . .” She gapes at something on the screen.

“Is there a problem?” I ask because the expression on her face is really strange.

“No. Not at all. It’s just, I didn’t know his phone was broken.” She puts the device back down and takes a sip of her coffee.

“Drago threw it away so he could grab my ass,” I mumble. “I lost my virginity pressed to a wall at his club while people were still traipsing around us.”

Keva spits out her coffee, dark-brown drops spraying all over the wooden tabletop. “What?” She wheezes amid a coughing fit.

“Yup. And then, when I woke up this morning, he wasn’t there.” I glance down at the bowl of peas so she can’t spot the tears in my eyes. “I’m done with my batch. Do you need me for anything else?”

“I can take it from here.”

I stand up and turn to head toward the door, taking a couple of steps before Keva calls after me. “Sienna. Can you take Drago’s phone upstairs and leave it in your bedroom?”

“Sure.” I take the device from her outstretched hand and rush out of the kitchen.

When I get to the bedroom, I throw the phone on the bed and turn to leave again, but then halt at the threshold. Don’t do it. I take a deep breath and peek down the hallway. The fourth floor appears to be deserted, so I close the bedroom door. There’s no lock, unfortunately.

Don’t do it. My consciousness yells at me as I walk back toward the bed. You’re better than that.

I climb on the bed and sit in the center with my legs crossed, staring at my husband’s phone. Does he have photos of his exes on it? What do the women he’s attracted to look like? Tall and sophisticated, dressed in those god-awful boring-colored pantsuits? Drago doesn’t strike me as a man who’d keep images of his girlfriends on his phone, but there have to be at least a few. Breaching someone’s privacy is something I normally would never do, but this thing is taunting me so badly. What if I only take a quick look? Just go into his gallery and scroll through the last few photos. No. I’m not doing it.

I resist the temptation for a whole five minutes. Then, I grab the phone and hit the power button. The screen lights up. And it’s unlocked. I close my eyes for just a moment and take another deep breath.

His background is a photo of someone, but I can’t see the image clearly. The entire home screen is covered with app icons, but I can tell it’s a woman. Lying in bed! I didn’t even need to go into the damn gallery. I can’t believe he still has an ex-lover’s picture as his phone background! I swipe at the screen maniacally, trying to find a window with fewer icons so I can see what the bitch looks like. The first three screens are all cluttered, but the fourth is icon-free, and the photo is fully visible. My heart skips a beat.

The bitch . . . is me.

I’m wearing my favorite zebra-striped pajamas, tangled up in the sheets, lying on my side and clutching a pillow to my chest. He keeps my picture on his phone.

I swipe back to the home screen and click on the gallery icon. More pictures of me—some of me sleeping, but most are taken from afar, without me knowing. Me—standing in front of a changing room, trying on a dress. Me—taking a selfie next to a rose shrub behind the house. Me—crouching next to a doghouse while Zeus licks at my face. There are more than fifty photos and—

“What the fuck are you doing?”

I jump, startled. My husband is standing in the doorway, staring at the phone in my hands.

“I . . . I . . . I was just checking on the screen,” I mumble and quickly click the power button to put the phone to sleep. “It’s broken.”

Drago reaches the bed in a few long, powerful strides and snatches the phone from my hand.

“Were you reading my messages so you could report to Ajello?” he barks into my face.

“What? No!”

“Really? Why not? From what I’ve gathered, you can understand Serbian rather well.”

My heart sinks to the pit of my stomach. Oh my God, he knows.

“Tell me, mila moya, did you know Serbian before? Or did you learn it specifically for this marriage?”

I close my eyes and drop my head. “I learned it,” I whisper.

“Fucking look at me when you’re speaking to me!” he yells and my head snaps up.

“The don ordered me to learn it!” I scream into his face.

“So it wasn’t a coincidence. It was planned well in advance. How long did it take you to prep for your spying mission? Six months?”

I take a deep breath, trying to keep the tears from spilling. “Two.”

Drago’s eyes flare in surprise. “Two fucking months. How the fuck did you manage to accomplish that?”

“I have a thing for languages,” I whisper. “That’s why the don chose me.”

“Did he threaten you? Because if he had, I’m going to gut that motherfucker.”

I grip the bedcover between my fingers, squeezing it with all my might, and close my eyes. Ajello did threaten my brother, but I never believed he would ever actually hurt Arturo. All things considered, I accepted to be a part of this scheme for my own reasons.

“No one threatened me.” I meet my husband’s piercing gaze. “It was my decision.”

Drago’s body goes stone-still. His eyes hold mine as anger brews in their green depths. “I want to know what you have told Ajello so far.”

“I . . . I told him that you have some problems with the Romanians. He asked about some deal you’ve made, but I said I don’t know anything.”

He leans in, getting in my face. “What else?”

“That most of your people live here, in your house.”

“How dare you put my family at risk.” His voice is dangerously low as he says it, infused with so much disgust that I cringe. It’s so much worse than yelling. “Gather your stuff and get the hell out of my room.”

I watch Drago’s retreating form as he crosses the bedroom and slams the door shut behind him. My body jerks at the sound. After getting off the bed, I pull the duvet down to the floor and spread it in front of the closet. With numb limbs, I start throwing my clothes on top of it. One of the guys took my suitcases to the storeroom on the ground level, and there is no way I’m going there, no way I’m going to risk facing Drago again.

Once I’ve gathered a good part of my clothes on the duvet, I pull the corners together and drag my load toward the room at the end of the hallway. I repeat the ordeal twice more until I have everything moved out of my husband’s suite.




I can’t believe how absolutely unperturbed my wife is. She’s sitting next to me, chatting about some nonsense with Jelena with a wide smile on her face. Mirko throws in something, and she laughs. Not a care in the world. In fact, she seems to be enjoying her dinner.

I, on the other hand, spent the whole afternoon berating myself for snapping at her and ordering her out of our bedroom. It’s not like I didn’t already suspect she’s been providing info to her don. Confidential business matters are rarely discussed in the house, so she could have only learned and relayed inconsequential things, most of which, Ajello can easily obtain by other means. Seeing her snoop through my phone, however, made me lose my shit. It’s one thing if she passed some of the info she’s gathered along the way. It’s a completely different matter to purposely dig for more details. And the fact that she wasn’t even coerced into spying on me, made the bitter taste of betrayal ten times worse. What makes me even more pissed off is that she probably also saw the photos of her on my phone. Fuck!

Without saying a word, I rise from the table intending to head outside when my gaze falls on the fish tank in the corner. Three of the four orange fish are zooming inside the bowl, but the remaining one seems to be floating on the surface. I cross the distance and look inside the aquarium. The fish is dead, bobbing upside down.

Sienna already lost a pet once and she will probably be distressed when she sees it. It’s a fucking fish! They die all the time. She’s not a child to be seriously upset over a dead fish! Yes, but I can’t stomach the idea of having my wife unsettled over anything, even just a little. Even while I’m fucking furious at her.

Throwing a glance over my shoulder to confirm that Sienna is still occupied by the conversation with Jelena, I take out the slippery body and, keeping it hidden inside my fist, leave the dining room.

“Take a picture of this,” I say to Iliya, who’s on guard duty at the front door, and hand him the dead fish. “Send someone to find an identical one and put it into the fish tank.”

Iliya takes the fish by the tail and looks it over. “I’m not sure pet stores are still open.”

“I don’t fucking care. Make sure it’s done,” I spit out and make my way outside to clear my head.

The fifteen-minute walk I planned to take ends up being an hour-long drive across town to where my sister rented a studio apartment in a six-story walk-up. I give a slight chin lift to Tara’s security detail. The guys are keeping an eye on her place from a car parked on the other side of the street. I slip inside the building and climb the stairs to the top floor.

“If I knew it was you, I would have pretended not to be home,” Tara snaps when she opens the door. “What do you want?”

“I’ve decided you had enough time to cool off and came to check on you.” I walk in, taking a look around. It’s a nice, modern place, decorated in tones of white and dark brown.

Tara shuts the door and comes to stand before me with her hands on her hips. Her voice hasn’t changed much since she was a kid, retaining its high pitch. I always need to read her lips when we talk.

“I’m fine, as you can very well see. Now, feel free to go back home to your Italian wife.”

“This animosity you have toward Sienna is unfounded. She had nothing to do with Petar’s death.”

“Oh, you’re defending her now?”

“Stop acting like a brat.” I sigh. “Did you check the rocks?”

Tara’s eyes twinkle as they always do whenever we talk about work. Nothing has ever kept my sister’s focus for long. She transferred colleges a couple of times and couldn’t settle on a major, eventually dropping out altogether. Four years ago, after watching her waste her days, I decided she needed to do something with her life, and brought her in to handle the logistics for my business dealing in precious gems.

“Yes, everything is good except for the tanzanite. It should have been dark blue, but we only got pale ones. Absolutely unprofessional.” She shakes her head. “The emeralds we got for the Arabian Prince are fine, thank God.”

I nod, step around my sister, and approach the dresser against a nearby wall. On top of it is a picture set into a small silver frame. It’s a photo of Tara and Dina, holding hands on their first day of kindergarten. I take the frame and trace the tip of my finger over Dina’s smiling face.

Tara lays her hand on my arm. “Are you okay with me taking it? It’s the only photo we have.”

“Yeah,” I say.

It hurts too much to look at it, anyway. Every time I see this photo, I spiral into self-doubt and can’t stop reexamining that night, wondering what I did wrong. Would Dina be alive today if I tried to break the window in their room instead? Or if I had been faster?

I put the frame back on the dresser. “Come over to the mansion and meet my wife. Lunch or dinner. You can pick the day.”

“I’m not setting a foot in that house while that woman is there.”

“I wasn’t asking, Tara.” I pin her with my gaze. “You’ll come. And you’ll be polite. End of discussion.”

Tara grits her teeth. “Fine.”

I turn to leave when my eyes snag on the bookshelf in the corner. One of the books has been left leaning against the back of the shelf. On the cover, a woman in a white vintage dress is embracing a shirtless, long-haired guy, who seems to be suffering from constipation. I’m pretty sure I saw that exact book on Sienna’s nightstand, right next to another one with a half-naked guy howling at the moon.

“I have a feeling you and my wife will get along beautifully,” I throw over my shoulder.

When I return home, I head directly to my bedroom. A small part of me hopes I’ll find Sienna there after all, but when I open the door, my bed is empty.

I take a quick shower and then lie awake for nearly an hour, resisting the urge to seek out my wife and bring her back to my bed. Eventually, I lose the fight and leave my room, making my way down the hallway to the room at the far end of the floor.

Sienna is asleep, curled up into a ball, clutching a pillow to her chest. This bed is too small for both of us, so I slide my arms under my spellbinding wife and carry her back to my own.

Yes, her sole reason for coming into my home was to spy on me. Yes, she went as far as snooping on my phone to read my messages. And yes, I’m still angry as hell.

But I’m not spending a night without her in my bed. Not a single night. I lower her onto the bed, then lie down behind her and wrap my arms around her sleeping form. She might be a sneaky, scheming little spy, but she’s my spy.


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