We are super excited to bring you this exclusive excerpt from Karina Halle’s upcoming book Black Hearts.
Can February 19th come sooner???
For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.
What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?
Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.
But it’s a love with tragic consequences.
Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.
Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.
And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.
NOTE: Black Hearts is book one of the Sins Duet, with the sequel, Dirty Souls, releasing in March 2017.
These books can be read as a standalone – though they are a spinoff of the Sins & Needles and Dirty Angels trilogies, Black Hearts & Dirty Souls are set 20 years in the future and follow new characters. You do NOT need to read TAT or DA to enjoy or understand this duet.
The dream comes back again.
But this time she has blackbirds instead of hair, swirling around her in a gathering storm.
I’m alone in the desert, wide open and stretching as far as I can see.
There is no life here.
This is the home of Santa Muerte.
The saint of death with Violet’s eyes.
I want to ask her what she wants with me, but I cannot speak.
She’s not alone.
She has a man with her.
Or the remains of one.
She drags him behind her on a leash made of frayed rope.
But though the man is nearly skeletal, his suit hanging off of him in dirty, wet tatters, he’s not dead. He’s still alive.
She moves, throwing her arm out, birds flying forth from underneath the endless void of her cloak, and she whips the man around until he’s lying at my feet.
For one horrible moment, as the dust rises and falls, I think I’m staring down at my father.
In fact, it is my father.
Younger. Ten, twenty years younger. But still him.
Then it quickly fades and morphs, as faces do in dreams, and becomes the face of Juan Alvarez.
The first man I ever killed.
I had known him for years. He was the man who drove me to school in the mornings. He was the driver for our family, in charge of making sure Marisol and I got to where we needed to go. He watched over us, protected us.
Then one day my father found out that a federale had bribed Juan for information.
Juan would never give us up. I believed that even as a child.
But what he told the federale led to a bust on one of our shipments.
My father doesn’t take betrayal lightly.
And because Juan had been in charge of driving me to school for years, I was to be the one to end Juan’s life.
I still don’t like to think about what happened that day. My father had Juan down on his knees, naked, hands bound in front of him, in front of the wall that wrapped around the courtyard where my mother liked her coffee in the mornings.
In Juan’s mouth was an apple, shoved so far back against his molars that he couldn’t spit it out.
My father, dressed in a white linen suit, handed me his gun and told me to shoot the apple out of Juan’s mouth as “punishment.”
I was fourteen at the time. I knew how to handle all weapons. I wasn’t a bad shot. I knew that if I aimed for the apple, I would shoot the apple. I would shoot him clear through his head.
That was the moment in my life when everything changed. When I took the step from child to adult. When I realized that tears couldn’t save me. A good heart couldn’t save me. That I could never go back to the way things were, that I would call for my innocence but it would never return.
Despite being a good shot and handling all guns, this gun in particular felt heaviest to me. A brick of lead. I almost dropped it. Who knows what would have happened if I had. It would have probably gone off and killed my father.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s what should have happened instead.
But it didn’t.
I took the gun and I raised it with shaking hands and I squinted at Juan over the barrel, the Juan who would drive me through the heavily guarded roads on the way to school and give me sips of his coffee from the thermos. The Juan who would offer me a smile before he offered anyone else one. The Juan who sometimes acted like he cared about me more than my own parents did.
I shot that Juan right in the head.
A part of me died that day with him. Maybe all of me did.
I try not to think about it.
Until it’s looking right back at me, a figure from the grave, a reminder of how far off the path I’ve strayed.
Even though it’s a dream, a song lyric floats into my head:
The righteous part is straight as an arrow
Take a walk and you ‘ll find it too narrow.
And it was too narrow. Too narrow for the likes of me.
In the dream, Juan looks up at me from the desert floor. A rotten apple rolls out of his skeleton mouth.
Santa Muerte laughs as more blackbirds fly from her eyes, her hair, her lips.
“Good job,” my father’s words ring across the desert. “You’ve done me proud.”
And I think that’s all I’ve ever wanted.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.