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Thorns of Malice (Discreet Paperback)

Thorns of Malice (Discreet Paperback)

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Seeds of Malice

From International bestselling author Maggie Cole comes a new deliciously warped dark romance about a villain and his unsuspecting pawn.

I’m a pawn in a twisted game I never agreed to partake in.

There’s no getting out.

Dax Carrington decides all the moves.

He’s always two-steps ahead of me.

An animal disguised in warm, privileged, snakeskin, he’ll sink his teeth into every inch of my soul until he owns all of it… all of me.

When I’m at my lowest, he’ll blindside me, pulling me back into his arms, continuing to win the match that I don’t know how to play and just want to escape.

The only problem?

In Dax’s world, the plot ends once he’s the last one standing and there’s nothing left but dust—including me.

Thorns of Malice

From International bestselling author Maggie Cole comes the mind-blowing conclusion of the Wilted Kingdom dark romance duet.

For ten years she’s been under my skin and out of my grasp.

The last time I saw her, I decimated her and everything she valued.

Not a day passes that I don’t crave one more dose of her.

And Ivy Ford’s everything I remember.

Beautiful. Graceful. Seemingly innocent.

I wish that were the case.

There’s only one reason she’s reinserted herself into my life.


It’s nothing new in my world except for one thing.

Ivy learned from the best.


It’s clear there’s no longer anything naive about her.

She’s an uncontrollable stalk of poison spreading all over me.


Katiya Nikitin

Each second that passes is a gift. I'm on borrowed time and fully aware there are multiple bullets ready to end my life. Normally, I don't worry about the decisions I've made. At this moment, I'm regretting everything, but it's not due to the extra danger surrounding me.

If only I'd chosen a different path.

I tried.

Really, I did.

Not until it was too late though.

I didn't know he would tear my heart to pieces.

Once I realized I was in too deep, I attempted to get out. Yet nothing I said could persuade the powerful men in charge to give me another assignment.

Staying in my role was like diving off a boat and never coming up for air. For the first time in my life, I had something—someone—beautiful, loving, and real. It gave me hope for the future. But I was naive. And once I realized how stuck I was, it was as if the cold depths of the ocean swallowed me whole.

Now, I don't know how I'm ever going to do what they're demanding of me.

Four sets of beady eyes glare at me, assessing every word and movement I make. They all attempt to determine if I'm lying or telling the truth. The voice in my head screams they aren't buying a word I say, but I force myself to play it cool and not ramble.

Every breath I take becomes more difficult. The pain in my chest I can't seem to get rid of intensifies. Blood boils hotter in my veins, on the verge of making me break out into a full-out sweat. I struggle not to shift on my feet while maintaining my composure.

Leo Abruzzo steps closer. He's the youngest brother of Jacopo, who runs the Abruzzo dynasty. It's the first time in months I've seen Leo. I can't say I missed him.

After my father died, Ludis Petrov, heir to the Russian mafia, claimed me as his own. Ludis said my father worked for him. I had no knowledge of it. All I saw was how hard my father worked in his woodworking business. Yet, Ludis declared there was an unpaid debt. I had no money, so he informed me that he now owned me. I was fifteen at the time and had no way to fight when his men arrived to take me. And the first night in Ludis's house, he showed no mercy, taking my virginity.

I didn't want to be with him. When he ordered me to sleep in his bed, my stomach flipped. The maid told me not to fight him, claiming it would be easier to get through it if I didn't resist. Then she showed me the knife scars on her stomach and legs. It was from when she tried to fight him off.

Her disfigured body etched itself in my mind. So I took her advice when Ludis came back into the room, not making a sound while silent tears fell down my cheeks.

For years, I was his. Then he lost a bet. Before I knew it, I was sold to the Abruzzos to pay off his gambling debt. And they weren't any better than the Petrovs. I quickly learned they dealt with things in a similar fashion.

I no longer live with the Abruzzos, but they still own me. As I stare at the guns pointed at me and the muscular men who would snap me in two without warning, Leo's stale breath from last night's alcohol flares in my nostrils. He pins his bloodshot gaze on me, seething in Italian, "You bring us nothing. Should I remind you what we do to those who betray us?" Even though my native tongue is Russian, I speak Italian fluently, and therefore have no problem understanding him.

My stomach churns. The memory of Leo's heavy body on mine makes me nauseous. Half of what I say is a lie. The other part is the truth. In a confident voice, I assert, "I haven't betrayed you. I never would. And he doesn't know. But I can only push so much before he knows who I am. He already suspects—"

"If he suspects, then you convince him otherwise!" Leo barks, slamming his hand on the table.

I refrain from jumping or showing any emotion. Most people see me as a cold, Russian woman. It's something I learned as a child from my father. He always said, "Katiya, your emotions will kill you someday. You must learn to control them."

It's something I've only gotten better at since Ludis first touched me. There's no room in life for weakness, which is another thing my father taught me.

I raise my chin and state to Leo, "I need more time."

"More time?" Leo spits, and some hits my cheek.

I don't react, freezing in my spot, resisting the urge to wipe his saliva off my face. I once did that and quickly learned my lesson when Leo kept me chained to a bench in a sauna for a week. He'd come in from time to time, taunting me with water, giving me only enough to stay alive.

Silence fills the brownstone. I struggle to push the lingering memories out of my mind. A beam of sunlight gets hotter, shining through the window, tormenting me further. My body feels overheated, as if I'm back in the sauna.

Leo nods to his thug. The sound of a magazine slamming into a Glock fills my ears right as one of the goons tugs on my hair and then holds the gun to my head.

My heart races. I tear my eyes off the ceiling, locking my gaze on Leo, staying as nonreactive as possible. In a firm tone, I say, "If he kills me, you're starting all over. Is that what you want?"

More tension fills the quiet room. The overpowering scent of men's sweat, alcohol, and smoke mix with musk. It closes in around me until I feel so suffocated, I think I might faint.

Leo steps closer, grabs my chin, and squeezes. His fingers dig so deep, I wonder if he cut the skin and is touching my jawbone.

"Ow!" I cry out, unable to not react.

A bead of sweat drips down his forehead. His hot breath gets more pungent. His eyes dart around my face then down to my breasts. He drills his orbs into me, pausing for what seems like forever. He finally threatens, "This is your last chance. If you don't find out who the Marino suppliers are by next week—"

"His brother's getting married in a few months. Give me until a month after the event. I'll gain the family's trust. The women. The men. The kids. Everyone. Then I'll have the information you need," I blurt out.

"A few months. That's convenient," one of the thugs mutters.

"Shut up," Leo growls, then his head snaps back toward me. A few more minutes pass as he silently studies me.

My pulse pounds in my neck while his fingers remain grasped tightly on my chin. I break the silence, claiming, "It'll be worth the wait. I'll find out a lot more. I promise."

"More? Such as...?" Leo questions.

Panic hits me. This is why I shouldn't blurt things out without thinking. My father would have lectured me for weeks about this mistake.

When I don't respond, Leo says, "You don't know—"

"Everything. Not just names, but how to contact them, their location, everything," I interject, once again not thinking about how impossible it's going to be but needing to get Leo out of the brownstone.

Leo studies me further before holding his face over mine.

My insides quiver harder. I push the memories of all the sadistic things he did to me to the back of my mind. I try to stay present in the moment so I don't lose all control of my emotions.

"Two weeks after the wedding. If you don't provide every detail we've discussed, I won't just kill you. I'll keep you locked up, ready for anyone who wants to defile you. You'll be begging for me to end your life. Do you understand?" he warns.

My stomach flips, and bile rises in my throat. I swallow it and nod. "Yes."

He squeezes harder then releases my chin, stepping back. Another moment passes as he attempts to intimidate me further. He sniffs and motions toward the door, saying nothing to his goons. They each scowl at me before leaving.

When the four men step outside, I run to the door and lock it. Not that it would matter, but it gives me a sliver of relief. I lean against the wood, trying to regulate my breathing, and finally let a tear escape.

As soon as it hits my chin, I brush it away. There's no time for emotions. Weakness will only get me killed.

Only a few months.

I'm never getting that information.

Why the heck did I ever say I would get everything?

I gently bang my head against the door, wishing my entire life wasn't a nightmare. All I want to do is escape the Abruzzo-Petrov nightmare I'm in.

But I can't.

Massimo is never going to tell me any of that information.

How could I even betray him at this point?

I close my eyes, and more tears fall. There's only one man, other than my father, who's ever loved me. When I met him, the world seemed to stop. I was at work at the library where the Abruzzos assigned me. We flirted, but I didn't think twice about it. When he asked me out, I declined. My life didn't have room for anyone else in it. I was damaged and owned by Leo. Plus, Massimo was a Marino, the Abruzzo's main enemy.

If only Massimo hadn't kept coming back.

The Abruzzos eventually caught wind about his interest in me. When they told me my assignment, I cringed. Yet there was nothing I could do unless I defied them. My fate would be nothing short of vile.

I'm unsure when I fell in love with Massimo. It might have been the first moment I laid eyes on him. But I guess it doesn't really matter. After I fulfill Leo's wishes, he's going to hate me.

Scratch that. I'm going to be dead. Either Leo is going to kill me, or Massimo will. Once I do what's required, there's no way Massimo will show me mercy. And I'm going to deserve every moment of pain.

I go into the bathroom and toss cold water on my face. As I stare in the mirror, everything is clear.

There will never be a happily ever after for me. The last few months, I've been fooling myself. No matter how much I want a life with Massimo, it isn't possible. I'm a former Petrov and now an Abruzzo, and there's no escaping them.

Even Massimo can't save me.

  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Narrated by: Wen Ross & Kai Kennicott

"Where's my money, Dax?" Avery seethes, glaring daggers at me.

"Your money? Don't you mean Carrington Enterprises', money?" I taunt.

Her eyes light with more fire. She demands, "Give it back!"

I try to hold in my glee, but I can't. I grin. "There are seven figures in your account."

"You know I can't run my company off a million dollars. The operating costs alone—"

"I don't care, Avery. Put your own money in if you've mismanaged the funds," I interject.

"You know I haven't mismanaged the funds. You stole my money," she accuses.

I chuckle. "It's not your money. Or did you forget that you wanted your company to be part of the family business?"

"That wasn't your money to take," Avery snarls.

"It's the company's money."

"It's money to be paid back into my trust fund, and you know it!"

I cross my arms and sit back in my chair. "I'm the CEO of Carrington Enterprises. You signed a contract for your company to become a subsidiary. You begged me to allow it. I did. Now you want to dictate where the funds will go? Sorry, but the money isn't yours to take. It's the corporation's."

"You bastard! If you don't give me my money—"

"What are you going to do about it, Avery? Cry?" I mock.

More anger fills her expression. She lowers her voice, asserting, "Transfer my money back."

I scoff. "Once again, it's not your money. Now, get the fuck out of my office before I have you thrown out."

She stays planted, her rage only growing stronger.

"I mean it, Avery. Get out, or you'll be sorry," I warn.

Find out what happens next in Thorns of Malice

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I was on the edge of my seat reading this book. It was satisfying in the sense of knowing karma hits its target/s. Ivy was a flipping queen."-Reviewer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "This seamlessly links from the first book seeds of mailce and draws to an epic conclusion tying up all the loose ends!  Epic read for and page turner off a book. One of my faves from Maggie Cole."-Reviewer

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