Scarless & Sacred - Bethany-Kris

PROLOGUE

Parties should bring happiness. Evelina Conti felt anything but happy as she watched the guests at her eighteenth birthday mill around with drinks in one hand, laughter abound, and all eyes on her. She knew what they were thinking.

The Conti princess.

Finally of age, ready for the Outfit, and just waiting for the right last name to come along.

Evelina found her mother and father in the crowd. Her parents had thrown the biggest bash the Outfit had seen this year. They’d gone all out for Evelina’s birthday. Mia stood at her husband’s side with an honest smile for the crowd and an eye on her husband. God knew if she didn’t keep an eye on him, Riley would run to the first good-looking piece of ass he could find.

Sighing, Evelina leaned against the wall and tried to keep from being noticed. It was hard when the party was for her, and she was supposed to be front row and center for all the people.

When it came to these families, the Trentinis, Rossis, DeLucas, and her own, the Contis, nothing was ever real. It was all for show.

The Outfit had always been like that. Who had the most of what, who was trying to step over who, and who could stay on top for the longest. Sure, they played a good game and made nice at the dinner table like all good mafia families did, but jealousy, greed, and violence were always right around the corner.

Evelina felt like her birthday was nothing more than another day. Only this time, she was her family’s prize. She was their one thing to show off. The only daughter, a perfect daughter. She was at a prime age for her father to begin looking for someone to marry her off to. She could be the Conti family’s way to the top in the Outfit, or another crime Syndicate elsewhere.

Her future was uncertain.

This was not a happy day.

“Hey,” Adriano said, sliding in beside Evelina.

She gave her younger brother a false smile. “Hey.”

“I was outside admiring your new wheels, at least Dad went with a good brand.”

“I guess.”

Riley had handed Evelina over the keys to a beautiful electric blue two-seater BMW that morning. The car sported a huge pink bow on the hood and white leather on the inside with blue highlights. It was stunning. It was also another way for her father to control her.

The car wasn’t freedom as Riley could easily take it away. It probably had trackers on it. Turning eighteen didn’t mean a damn thing, as she was still under her father’s thumb.

“Mom looks happy,” Adriano noted.

“As long as Dad keeps his hands and stares to her, sure.”

Adriano chuckled dully. “Truth. Where’s your friend?”

“Hmm?”

“Lily. Shouldn’t she be here?”

Lily DeLuca had been Evelina’s best friend for as long as she could remember. The two went to the same private schools growing up and had always been close. But graduation had come and gone. The girls had left the boarding school to come back to life. Evelina was the only one to return to Chicago.

“No, she’s not here,” Evelina said.

Adriano frowned. “Where in the hell is she?”

“Dino let her go overseas. She’s backpacking and stuff. Traveling.”

Being free, having fun, and getting away from here.

Evelina loved her friend, but she was jealous of her, too. Lily’s circumstances were not the same as Evelina’s. Lily’s two older brothers raised her while Evelina was forced home, made to pick a college in Chicago, and do her duty as her father’s daughter. Lily’s oldest brother, Dino, had set his sister free to do what she wished.

“She’ll be back,” Adriano said, shrugging. “You can’t stay away from family for long.”

Evelina doubted it. Lily hated the Outfit for leaving her an orphan.

“Whatever,” Evelina said, pushing off the wall. “I’m going to take a walk.”

“Don’t go far.”

Right. Because their father would still want to show her off as much as he could.

“Dad was talking about having a dance with you later or whatever,” her brother added.

Evelina shot Adriano a look from the side, taking her brother in. Adriano looked older than his sixteen years. But that wasn’t what Evelina noticed the most about her brother. He seemed tired of the day, guests, and party.

Since she had returned home from boarding school, she also noticed Adriano was beginning to dip his fingers in the family business. That was the thing about the mafia. Once you got your fingers wet, they pushed you right in the pool head first.

Evelina couldn’t help but wonder if anyone had