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Sei learns about an individual involved in the abduction of her daughter—a man so vile, so foul in every way, that the mere thought of him turns her stomach.
To make matters worse, Sei must do the unthinkable when she finds this sicko. She must befriend him.
Read An Excerpt
Read An Excerpt
The polished handles of the four-inch throwing knives glistened in the light as I secured the tiny buckles on the leather sheath wrapped around my thigh, careful not to chip my manicured nails. Over the years, I had grown quite fond of the little daggers—small and deadly, much like myself. I never left home without a pair or two on me. You’d be surprised at how often I have a need for them.
I lowered my black cocktail dress, smoothed it over my hips, and adjusted the top over my breasts. The dress was Vera Wang; the daggers were titanium. A single strand of cream-colored Akoya pearls circled my neck, and matching earrings dangled from each earlobe. My black hair was pulled back into an elaborate French braid with tendrils framing my face.
A gold-edged mirror hung above the white marble, dual-vanity counter; three women could tend to their makeup and hair without bumping elbows. Brushed chrome fixtures adorned the integrated sinks, and a few personal amenities in matching canisters sat on the counter: hand soap, lotion, and mouthwash.
Against the far wall sat a single white toilet and a bidet made from the same marble as the countertops. French impressionist art hung on the walls, and a bouquet of fragrant flowers in a crystal vase occupied a small table. There were no windows, but the dozens of crystal droplets on the mini-chandelier scattered warm light throughout the room. The guest bathroom was on the ground floor of an immaculate villa nestled on the shores of Lake Como in Laglio, Italy.
The sun had dipped below the horizon before my arrival allowing the calm surface of the lake to reflect the silver glimmer of the full moon. This was my first visit to the area, so I had spent time researching the town and its residents. The villas that lined the lakefront read like a Who’s Who of Italy’s wealthy and influential. Villa Oleandra, George Clooney’s personal luxury villa, was two doors down. I read that the mayor of Laglio had declared a fine of up to five hundred euros for anyone who approached Clooney’s property. I preferred Brad Pitt.
I hadn’t any worry about being fined or escorted from the area, as I had secured one of the coveted invitations to the popular black-tie affair held every fall at Villa Fiore by its owners—the Abbandonato family. The sprawling structure sat on two acres of land and was enclosed by a series of stone walls and wrought-iron gates. It was classic Tuscan architecture, with stone-accented stucco exteriors, terracotta roof tiles, rustic wooden shutters and doors with iron ring pulls, two enclosed courtyards, and not one but two observation towers.
Every year, the Abbandonatos held a charity fundraiser, La Buona Volonta Gala, the goodwill affair, and it always raised an incredibly indulgent amount of money. The Children’s Charity in Milan was the lucky recipient of this generosity. The charity provided the basics—food, shelter, and clothing—but its passion, its priority, was to instill music into the children’s educational development.
Aside from the charitable aspect, the event had long been revered for its delectable dining options. Robert Bertolini, owner and head chef of the Michelin-starred DaVinci, had the honor of preparing the evening’s feast. Great pains were always taken to ensure the secrecy of the menu until the removal of the silver cloches covering each course. In the past, guests dined on dishes consisting of fresh Maine lobster, Matsusaka wagyu filets, and whole white truffles from Alba, Italy.
Outside of the gluttonous reasons to attend, the gala gave attendees, a long list of Italy’s affluent, an opportunity to rub shoulders with others cut from the same cloth, plan one-of-a-kind holidays, and of course, forge relationships that would lead to lucrative business deals.
Every year, one hundred invitations were hand-delivered to their recipients, who always promptly RSVP’d shortly after. While the invitation allowed entry, it also required a donation of two hundred fifty thousand euros and highly encouraged guests to take part in the silent auction where bids often ran into the millions. So not only did a person have to be somebody to receive this honor, it required his or her pockets to be deep and generous. One look at the invitation and it was easy to see that this gala would be nothing but spectacular and worthy of attendance.
That year, the invitations were handcrafted by an artist who specialized in the elaborate and incredibly detailed art of Chinese paper cutting. Opening the invitation revealed a magnificent pop-up scene of the mountains surrounding Lake Como with Villa Fiore front and center. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to find a few of the invitations for sale on eBay for upwards of two thousand euros. I suspected this particular invitation would be no different.
I popped my lips after applying my ruby red lipstick and dabbed Chanel on each wrist. Before leaving the bathroom, I took one last look at a photo before tucking it back inside my clutch. I drew a deep breath and let it pass through puckered lips. Time to locate my mark.
Could you befriend a monster if it meant saving your child?
Contract Sicko is the heart-pounding, thrilling continuation of the Sei thriller series.
"It's intriguing how captivating a simple premise done well can be." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ — Reader Review
Series: Sei Assassin Thriller #2
Ebook: 310 pages