Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 1


(Alexei; 32. Isabella; 25)

“Let’s drink,” I say to Demitri as I turn away from the drug dealer we’re interrogating.

Since I’ve taken over as head of the bratva, it’s been one shit show after the other. The past year, I’ve been focused on instilling fear in my enemies and solidifying alliances while building the bratva back up from the ashes.

Demitri, my right-hand man, has been by my side every single day during the past ten years. He’s my custodian, but if we’re honest with each other, I don’t need him to protect me.

No, he’s not just my custodian. He’s so much more.

Demitri’s my partner. My best friend. He’s the only person on the face of this planet I trust.  

Leaning back against the armored SUV, I pull a flask from the inside pocket of my coat and take a sip of vodka. Handing the flask to Demitri, I let out a sigh as my eyes settle on the Columbian. Diago. I only know his name. The fucker is more resilient than a cockroach.

“You think he’s going to talk?” Demitri asks.

“I’ll make him talk,” I murmur while I take in the broken state of the man.

Like I don’t have enough shit to deal with since becoming the head of the bratva, now there’s a new cartel trying to worm their way into the underbelly of crime. They made the mistake of moving into the area I’ve made my home.

Everyone knows to stay out of California.

“You sure he’s not one of Terrero’s?” Demitri asks as he hands the flask of vodka back to me.

Fucking Terrero.

Sonia, the Queen of Terror, is the bane of my existence. She deals in human trafficking and drug smuggling. Flesh peddling is something I hate with a vengeance, thanks to my father.

Tilting my head, I stare harder at the man.

Also, there’s an unspoken line drawn between Terrero and me. She rules over South America, Africa, and Asia, where North America, Europe, and Russia belong to me. It’s a line she’d be stupid to cross.

The only reason I haven’t killed her yet is that she’s fucking powerful. She’s the only one who’d be able to cripple the empire I’ve built. And vice versa. Hence the unspoken truce.

If Terrero’s stepping over the line, I’d have to call in every favor owed to me. It will be a fucking war between the north and the south. 

It will be a massacre.

Letting out a sigh, I tuck the flask back in my pocket and push away from where I’m leaning against the SUV. Diago tenses when I stalk toward him.

Coming to a stop in front of him, I tilt my head and lock eyes with him. I’ve been beating the shit out of him in this warehouse where I have him hanging like a carcass.

The black eyes staring back at me are empty.

He’s willing to die. 

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Lifting my left hand, I wrap my fingers around the side of his neck, and then the corner of my mouth lifts.

“Diago, let me make myself clear.” I lean in, my features settling into a coldblooded expression. “I will hunt your family. I’ll hang them from bridges for all of Columbia to see.”

It’s not how I do things, but the cartels love displaying the mangled bodies of those who crossed them. It’s a language Diago will understand.

There’s a flash of anger and fear in his eyes.


“But I won’t kill you. I’ll let you go, so there’s someone to bury your family as I kill them one by one.”

“Everyone knows you don’t kill the innocent,” Diago sneers at me, the fear starting to take root inside him.

People love getting that fact wrong about me. I let out an amused chuckle. “We must have different definitions of innocence.” Shaking my head, I say, “Your family is part of the cartel, Diago. They’re not innocent.” My smile widens as doubt joins the fear on his face.


Taking a step back, I let my eyes drift over the blood and gashes covering his body. “As entertaining as this has been, I’m growing bored. Which cartel? Tell me, and I won’t touch your family and put you out of your misery.”

His lips part, and I slowly shake my head in a silent warning for him to think twice before he answers me. “Refuse, and you’re free to go. I’ll give you a head start of seventy-two hours before I begin hunting your family. Those are your only choices.”

I didn’t become as powerful as I am by showing mercy. Yes, I have moments where I’ll help someone, but only if I’ll gain from it. Everyone knows this about me.

Mercy is for the weak.

Diago realizes this fact, and I watch as the last of his fight drains from him. “Terrero.”

The single word explodes in the air.

Fuck, I was hoping to hear Gaviria. It would be easy to take out Pablo Gaviria’s cartel. Child’s play compared to Terrero.

“Why is she moving into my territory?” I ask as I pull my gun from behind my back. My fingers flex around the engraved steel of my Heckler & Koch’s handle while I wait for Diago’s reply.

The last of the strength flows from his body until he hangs limply from the hook I have him tied to.

“I don’t know. We were just told to expand into the US.”

Nodding, I lift the gun and train the barrel between his eyes. “Your family is safe from me.”

Diago lets out a burst of humorless laughter, and then I pull the trigger.

Demitri immediately makes a call to Mr. Wan, my cleaner, who’ll dispose of the body and take care of removing any trace we were here.

I stare at Diago’s body, feeling nothing for killing the man. Instead, anger begins to simmer in my chest.

Sonia Terrero, you made a big mistake. I’m going to tear your world apart.

Demitri ends the call, then looks at me. “How do you want to handle Terrero?”

“Same as any other hit,” I murmur, my anger shimmering through in my tone. “We’ll watch her for a while before we plan the attack.”

Demitri places his hand on my shoulder, and letting out a sigh, he says, “We knew this day would come.”

Slowly, I nod, and then I tuck the gun behind my back.

It was inevitable.

Just like with my father, it’s time to end Terrero’s reign of horror.





I learned at a young age, everyone wears masks. For example, take my mother, Sonia Terrero. She’s known as the Queen of Terror, violent and cruel. She tortures and kills without blinking an eye. She takes pleasure in destroying things.

But when she’s with her custodian, Hugo, she becomes nothing more than another love-starved woman, and it’s given Hugo more power than he should have.

Then there’s me. The Princess of Terror who’s expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Stepping into a pair of Stuart Weitzman stilettos, I check my reflection in the full-length mirror. I look like the perfect socialite in a shimmering black, backless gown with a plunging neckline. It’s a risqué dress with a split skirt and cut-away sides.

It fits my act as the silly little Princess of Terror who likes to dress up in the most expensive clothes.

That’s if anyone recognizes me at the party I’m planning on crashing at the exclusive club. Thanks to it being Halloween and the sugar skull makeup I have on, I doubt I’ll be caught. If I was in Columbia, my so-called friends might recognize me, but here in California, I’m just another girl with too much money looking for some fun.

A slow smile curves my lips.

It’s all about the risk for me. The adrenaline rush of walking into the unknown and not knowing what the next second holds in store for me.

I live for the rush.

It’s the only thing that makes me feel alive in the cesspool of death and depravity I’m stuck in.

No, not stuck. I’m no one’s prisoner.

I can walk away right this second, but I won’t. I’ll keep playing the dutiful socialite. The selfish and stupid heir to the Terrero cartel who spends her mother’s bloodstained money on all the luxury life has to offer.

It’s all for them. The girls and boys the cartel keeps luring and snatching off the streets. I don’t care about the drugs my mother floods the world with.

I only care about the innocent lives she destroys.

My smile grows as I lift my chin, my brown eyes filled with the courage it’s taken to become my own mother’s worst enemy. I’m destroying her from within. I’m the Trojan horse she never saw coming.

She’s never abused me. Never sold me. I was sent to the best private schools in the US. I attended St. Monarch’s in Switzerland for the best training. It would be natural to follow in my mother’s footsteps.

Only it isn’t. Not for me. I’ve seen too much horror. Too many children broken and used until they were killed. Seeing an innocent being torn apart leaves a stain on your soul, and I’ve seen enough to coat my soul crimson.

I’d like to think I take after my father even though I don’t know who he is. When I used to ask about him, my mother would just say she was with too many men to know which one was the father.

The anonymity gives me the hope that somewhere in my ancestral line, there was a good person. Someone I take after and that this evil isn’t the only blood flowing through my veins.

I’m expertly skilled in both masks I wear. The Princess of Terror – who only cares about the luxuries the cartel can give her.

Then there’s Isabella Terrero – the woman who spends her nights freeing slaves. The trained fighter who never misses a shot. The daredevil who knows no fear.

During the day, I drive around in my Audi R8 Spyder, and at night I go against the cartel with my Yamaha motorcycle.

Like I said, everyone wears masks.

Turning away from the mirror, I pick up my Jimmy Choo clutch that holds my credit card and phone. Walking out of my hotel suite, I take the elevator down to the lobby, leaving my two so-called bodyguards behind, blissfully unaware of my plans for the evening.

They’re probably stuffing their faces with food in their hotel room, thinking I’m tucked safely in bed. Jorge and Rico aren’t the best guards. Far from it. They’re more for show than anything else, which makes it easy for me to come and go as I please. My mother figures if I get myself kidnapped or killed, I don’t deserve to be her heir.

As I make my way to the exit with the grace of a princess, eyes follow me. The women watch me with envy and the men with lust.

The hotel arranged a limousine for me, and as I step out of the building, the chauffeur hurries to open the back door. Elegantly, I slip inside, and a couple of seconds later, I’m driven to the club.

I have no idea whose party I’m crashing. During lunch, I overheard two women my age gushing over this party being an event not to miss.

If it turns out to be boring, I’ll leave early. Hopefully, it won’t be a waste of time but an exciting thrill.

When the limousine pulls up to the club, I wait for the chauffeur to open my door, and then I step out right in front of the entrance. I don’t bother looking at the line snaking along the front of the club but walk toward the bouncer, who looks more like an ape than a man.

His eyes scan over me, and then he unclips the golden rope and nods at me. Inside, tiles gleam beneath my heels as I’m stopped and searched before being allowed to enter the first floor, where the elite are getting drunk and rubbing more than just shoulders. Music makes the air tremble, and colorful lights flash over the interior. I glance at all the tables, most already occupied.

Lifting my gaze to the second floor, where the VIP area has been cordoned off for the party, I watch as a woman dressed as a vampire hugs another woman who looks like an Egyptian princess.

I don’t see any bouncers vetting the guests, and it makes the corner of my mouth lift into a pleased smile.

Glancing to the right of the second floor, I take note of the narrow hallway that’s been decorated for Halloween.

I walk toward the stairs that go up to the second floor and fall in behind a group of four people. When we reach the top of the stairs, the four begin to greet their friends, and it gives me the perfect opportunity to slip past them.

I make my way to the bar and order red wine. When the bartender slides the glass over to me, I take hold of the stem and then turn to look at the private dance floor where a group of women my age is dancing and laughing.

Just as I take a sip and the wine bursts over my tongue, the hair on the back of my neck rises. I feel a strong presence coming from my left as someone stares at me. Slowly turning my head, I keep my demeanor calm. Then my eyes collide with dark ones, and the immense intensity coming from them delivers a punch to my abdomen.

The man is also wearing sugar skull makeup, sitting like a king at what seems to be the main table.

The music instantly fades, and my heartbeat begins to speed up as I meet the gaze of the thrill I’ve been craving.

You’ll do.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode