๐Ÿ“•๐Ÿ“˜๐Ÿ“™Black Skies by Catherine Wiltcher’s ๐Ÿ…ฒ๐Ÿ…ท๐Ÿ…ฐ๐Ÿ…ฟ๐Ÿ†ƒ๐Ÿ…ด๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿ…ก๐Ÿ…”๐Ÿ…ฅ๐Ÿ…”๐Ÿ…๐Ÿ…›! Coming July 28th! โ„™โ„๐”ผ๐•†โ„๐”ป๐”ผโ„ โ„•๐•†๐•Ž ๐”ธ๐•๐”ธ๐•€๐•ƒ๐”ธ๐”น๐•ƒ๐”ผ @kidsversuscopy1 @GiveMeBooksPR

Title: Black Skies Riviera
Author: Catherine Wiltcher
Genre: Mafia Romance
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Blurb
They call this place the Billionairesโ€™ Playground.
I, Aiden Knight, staked my claim the minute I arrived.
I crossed every line.
I painted their Rococo ceilings with blood.
Now my casino is the hottest church in town,
And vice is the only confession required.
My house.
My rules.
Until the past comes calling with an offer I canโ€™t refuse:
One week to seduce and break her.
All this for the name of the man who killed my father.

Issa Dubov is the queen of cloudy diamonds:
Sheโ€™s a hard truth concealed beneath a pall of lies.
Iโ€™m an Armani black suit of spades:
Determined to bury both her and my demons.
I never asked to see the shape of her heart.
I never asked for her to fill the blank spaces of mine.

But the mafia wants her secrets.
I wasnโ€™t the first she betrayed.
And Issa? Sweet, not-so-innocent Issa?
Sheโ€™s gone and left me with a debt no sinner can pay.

Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Chapter
Have you ever noticed how the mesh bits in lace look like the intersecting bars of a prison cell?
I did. Five minutes ago. As I was sat on the edge of a strange bed in a strange room, in a strange wedding dress, with a strange perfume smothering my senses like a designer rag.
My fingers wonโ€™t stop playing with the delicate trim on the bodice. Itโ€™s as if Iโ€™m trying to find a weakness in the yarn so I can plan my escape.
Itโ€™s beautiful.
Beautifully oppressive.
Itโ€™s a Dorian Gray mirror gone askew. The material is stupidly fussy and over-detailed, and it makes me look about twenty years older than I am. Still, at least it covers the bruisesโ€ฆ
โ€œCome, Ielena. The car is waiting for you.โ€
Marie enters the room clapping briskly, as if the force and sound will unchain my heavy heart from the bed and propel me to my feet. Her face is a painted mask of encouragement, but it reminds me of a colombina I bought in Venice once. The initial dazzle concealed the flaws. The cracks in the porcelain grew wider and more obvious as the truth clawed its way to the surface.
That was the day I learned that nothing is what it seems.
Marieโ€™s claps grow louder in my ears. โ€œUp! Up, lazy girl! What are you waiting for?โ€
A knight on a white horse?
A miracle?
Reluctantly, I stand for her inspection. Iโ€™m not sure when or how Marie first entered my fatherโ€™s life, but her presence is more front-and-center than my mother’s these days.
I loathe her.
She’s brittle and calculating, and our relationship is a Ping-Pong match of mutual hostility. Unfortunately, since Karina disappeared, Marieโ€™s winning most of the shots. Sheโ€™s subtle about it, though. Her words are well-fed piranhas. Theyโ€™ll take tiny bites here and there, leaving me stung and permanently unsettled.
She stops in front of me, a smoky swirl of coral-pink chiffon, and I brace myself for more teeth.
โ€œOh dear.โ€ She casts a critical eye over my wedding dress. โ€œOh dear, oh dearโ€ฆ Still, itโ€™s the best I could do at such short notice. You have no idea the strings I had to pull to get you something suitable in time.โ€
If she expects me to thank her for it, Iโ€™d rather choke on the lace.
Her assessment moves up to my face and she tuts out even more disapproval. โ€œGood grief. Your make-up is abysmal. Antoinette!โ€ Her maid appears in the doorway like a dutiful pet. โ€œShe needs less rouge on her cheeks. And that red lipstick is wrong. She looks like a whore, not a virgin bride.โ€
There goes my one shot at individuality.
Is this really happening? Has it really only been twenty-four hours since Papa announced I was to marry a man Iโ€™d never even met? A one-minute, formally worded deposition slotted in between his business meetings. He takes longer to peruse menus in restaurants.
Come to think of it, itโ€™s the longest conversation weโ€™ve ever had.
โ€œDressing table,โ€ barks Marie, giving me a not so gentle shove in that direction.
Gritting my teeth, I allow myself to be โ€˜de-whored,โ€™ by Antoinette. On the plus side, marriage means leaving Marie behind. Even she wouldnโ€™t dare disrespect the wife of Luca Zaccariaโ€ฆ
I should have known she wouldnโ€™t go out without a fanfare, though.
โ€œI donโ€™t see why weโ€™re bothering with this charade,โ€ she mutters, driving an extra pin into the base of my chignon and scraping my scalp on purpose.
โ€œWhat do you mean?โ€ I catch her eye in the mirror, instantly wary of the cruel green glint that I find there. โ€œThis is what my father expects of me.โ€
Iโ€™m rewarded with a cold smile for my curiosity. โ€œI mean why go to so much trouble to look the part when the ceremony room will be empty.โ€
โ€œBut Signor Zaccariaโ€™s family will be in attendance.โ€
Iโ€™ve read all about mafia families and the eight billion aunts, uncles and associated offspring who get wheeled out for occasions such as these. Kind of like a Bratva wedding when a siblingโ€™s disgrace hasnโ€™t double-booked the venue.
Her eyes widen for a beat, and then the chill in her smile drops a couple of hundred degrees. โ€œWhat makes you think youโ€™re marrying into La Famiglia, child? What makes you think youโ€™re good enough for one of Zaccariaโ€™s precious sons? Your sister has polluted you, like sheโ€™s polluted your fatherโ€™s reputation, and today you will pay the price for her disgrace and his resurrection.โ€
My stomach lurches. Sheโ€™s right. My father never actually confirmed who my groom was.
I assumed.
I just assumed.
โ€œWho am I supposed to be marrying?โ€ I whisper.
She shrugs, as if the detail is insignificant. โ€œYouโ€™ll find out soon enough.โ€
โ€œI donโ€™t believe you! He wouldnโ€™t do this! Whereโ€™s Papa?โ€ I rise to my feet, but her bony fingers clamp around my upper arm to stop me.
โ€œSit down, stupid girl.โ€ I wince as her grip tightens; her coral pink nails digging crescents into my skin. โ€œYour father has no desire to see you. He left for Paris an hour ago.โ€
My mouth snaps shut when I realize Iโ€™m gaping at her. โ€œBut heโ€™s walking me down the aisle! Iโ€™m playing the role of the good Bratva daughter for him… The least he can do is guide me through the scene.โ€
โ€œBe quiet!โ€ Her mask cracks, just like my colombina did, but this time spite comes pouring out. โ€œThe only things accompanying you to that altar, child, are shame and solitude. You are all alone in this world now, Ielena. Your sister has deserted you, and your stupid mother is soaking your memory in gin.โ€
I have Maxim.
Please tell me I still have Maxim.
โ€œLet go of me, Marie!โ€
โ€œAll alone,โ€ she mouths back.
Shrugging her off, I sit back down at the dressing table. My hands are shaking as Antoinette pats away the last of the red Chanel before smoothing on a dash of Vaseline, and then painting my lips a pale mauve.
Even that seems wrong. I need a shot of color confidence to bring my fair skin and frozen expression back from the brink, not something thatโ€™ll fade me out even more.
Iโ€™m only a half-measure, remember?
An image from yesterday slams into my mind, one with raging battlements of contempt in his eyes.
Aiden Knight.
The man I couldnโ€™t stop thinking about all of last night. The beautiful cruel memory who tempted my fingers between my thighs at the break of dawn.
What was it he said about me again?
โ€œStupid rich, bored, empty, unemployable, unsalvageableโ€ฆโ€
I am not my mother.
I am not my mother.
Karinaโ€™s voice is in my head suddenly, telling me to hold on to my rainbow, no matter what. We made promises to each other the night she left. The kind you cross your hearts with, schoolgirl style, and keep until you die die die.
โ€œAre you finished?โ€ I catch Marieโ€™s eye in the mirror and hold it. Screw her. Screw my father. They could marry me off to a beggar on the street and Iโ€™d still find a way to paint us gold.
She scoffs and nods.
โ€œGood,โ€ I say, firing back a Ping-Pong shot of my own.
I was right to feel that sense of satisfaction earlier. Iโ€™m not some little girl she can push around anymore. My new groom may not be Luca Zaccaria, but my fatherโ€™s choice for me would have been tactical. Heโ€™ll be a man of standing in the criminal world.
โ€œGood?โ€ she mocks. โ€œYou wonโ€™t be saying that in an hourโ€™s time.โ€
โ€œArenโ€™t you going to wish me luck?โ€
Without waiting for an answer, I rise to my feet and sashay from the room as elegantly as my badly fitted shoesโ€”thanks again, Marieโ€”will allow.
Heart pounding, I make my way down the elegant marble staircase, feeling like Scarlett Oโ€™Hara in Gone With The Wind, but with the whole world, not Rhett Butler, declaring that they donโ€™t give a damn about me anymore.
I reach the lobby to find the tall, stoic figure of my fatherโ€™s Brigadier waiting for me. Thereโ€™s another man standing there, too. He has his back turned, his black-suited shoulders blocking out most of the light from a nearby window. Iโ€™m so relieved to see Maxim I barely glance at him.
โ€œYouโ€™re here!โ€ I take the last couple of steps too fast and nearly lose my footing.
I knew he wouldn’t abandon me as well.
He turns at my voiceโ€”eyes hooded, expression bleak. โ€œIssa.โ€ He catches me as I stumble into his arms. โ€œCareful, zvezda moya.โ€ He sets me right before sweeping his gaze downward. โ€œWhy, you look beautiful.โ€
โ€œYouโ€™re the sweetest liar.โ€ I step back to break his embrace, embarrassed by my lack of poise. Whatโ€™s worse, thereโ€™s a masculine scent in the air thatโ€™s aiding and abetting that emotion, whipping up memories Iโ€™d rather forget. โ€œMarie chose the dress so you can draw your own conclusions from that.โ€
โ€œTsch, Issa,โ€ he chides. โ€œShe chose well.โ€
โ€œLiar, twice over,โ€ I say with a shy smile.
โ€œSheโ€™s right, itโ€™s hideous,โ€ drawls a deep voice in perfect Russian. โ€œBut itโ€™s nothing a bottle of Saint-ร‰milion couldnโ€™t fix.โ€
Colors.
All the damn colors.
The same man from the bar and my late night fantasies is smirking down at me, his cerulean-blue oceans churning with the same derision. My lungs stutter and lose function as I finally place the scent in the air.
โ€œYou,โ€ I gasp out.
โ€œMe,โ€ he says flatly.
โ€œW-what are you doing here?โ€
โ€œMy presence was requested so itโ€™s a good job I had another suit to wear.โ€
I canโ€™t seem to process his words. Itโ€™s not just the size of him thatโ€™s throwing me off kilter. Those oceans are shark-infested, and Iโ€™m the bloody bait.
My head swings to Maxim for answers, but the scars on his face offer me nothing so I find it swinging back to him. Itโ€™s magnetic. I couldn’t stop it if I tried.
โ€œMonsieur Knight,โ€ I say, pulling myself together. โ€œHow lovely it is to see you again.โ€
He barks out a rough laugh. โ€œYou could strip paint with the acid in your voice, princess. Your insincerity is corrosive.โ€
โ€œWho knew a gentleman could be so vulgar,โ€ I counter quietly.
โ€œWho knew you had the brains to come to that conclusion all by yourself.โ€
โ€œHave you two met before?โ€ Maxim looks confused, trapped here in our blazing crossfire.
Aiden Knight cocks his handsome head and grins at me, but his eyes are like chips of ice. โ€œLet’s just say we had a difference of opinion over some home truths and a bottle of red yesterday.โ€
Instantly, my heart is a drum and bass beat inside my chest. I hate how British men have the whole archetypal bastard thing down to a fine art. His accent is a poisoned arrow with a fin-shaped fletching of contempt. Heโ€™s dressed in black Armani again today, though heโ€™s swapped the black dress shirt for white.
Colors. Colors.ย He wears them like a warning.
His necktie is a brilliant crimson, the same red as the lipstick I chose for myself until Marie instructed Antoinette to scrub it off. Heโ€™s stolen it. How dare he! I find myself hating him more for that than I do for his insults.
โ€œIs it true Papa left for Paris an hour ago?โ€
I mean to direct it at Maxim, but I canโ€™t seem to tear my gaze away from my nemesis. Heโ€™s coolness personified, with the kind of hard arrogance that hazardous men exude. I donโ€™t like the way heโ€™s looking at me either, as if Iโ€™m a cornered fox and heโ€™s the Master of the Hunt.
โ€œWhy? Are you worried he took his credit card with him?โ€
“That’s enough, Knight!” growls Maxim.
I blush right to my roots as my fatherโ€™s confidante proceeds to curse in both Frenchย andย Russian at my English invasion. Itโ€™s a bi-language of reproach, but Knight just shrugs it off. Clearly, his ninety-nine problems don’t include Bratva Brigadiers who’d be more than happy to use his head as target practice.
Is this man completely impenetrable or just plain indifferent?
โ€œJesus, you talk a lot of shit, Maxim,โ€ he says in a bored voice, cutting him off mid-flow. โ€œIf youโ€™re quite finished, her chariot awaits.โ€
Her?
I watch him stalk through the open front door, down the stone steps and into one of the waiting Escalades without so much as a backward glance at me.
Whoย isย this vile, rude, arrogant man?
I meet Maximโ€™s heavy stare with unspoken questions in my eyes. โ€œMarie told me Iโ€™m not betrothed to Luca Zaccaria anymore.โ€
โ€œNo,ย zvezda moya.โ€
โ€œThen, who?โ€
โ€œIssaโ€”โ€
โ€œPlease, Maxim,โ€ I beg. โ€œIf our friendship means anything, I need you to be straight with me. Who the hell am I marrying today?”
My only ally in this world curses and swipes a hand across his jaw. Itโ€™s as if he’s disinfecting his next words for an unclean revelation. I then watch in mounting, escalating, soul-crushing horror as his gaze shifts to the vehicles outside. Or rather, to one in particular…
Please.
God.
No.

ยฉ Catherine Wiltcher 2020

Author Bio
Catherine Wiltcher is a bestselling author of ten dark romance novels, a former TV producer, and a self-confessed alpha addict. Her writing is best described as sinfully sexy, and her characters always fall hard and deep for one another.

She lives in the UK with her husband and two young daughters. If she ever found herself stranded on a desert island, she’d like a large pink gin to keep her company. Cillian Murphy wouldn’t be a bad shout eitherโ€ฆ
For book and blog updates, please visitย www.catherinewiltcher.com

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