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Twisted Minds by Cassandra Rock is now available to read on Galatea, a reading app recognized by BBC, Forbes and The Guardian for being the go-to place for explosive new romance novels. Keep scrolling to read the first chapters or download the app for the full uncensored version.

Elaina Duval lived a perfectly happy and normal life with her mother—until the day she turned eighteen, that is. On her birthday she discovers she’s been promised to the cruel and heartless Valentino Acerbi, soon to be capo of the Italian Mafia. With no choice or say in the matter, she’s dragged into his twisted world and forced to endure things no human should have to, but what if she begins to like it?

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Twisted Minds

Chapter 6

I had been living at Valentino’s home for a week now, and most of my days consisted of reading outside.

He continued to have sxx with me every night, though he insisted I kiss him back, so I did. Whenever he kissed me, I returned it.

It was an order, and I didn’t want to know what the repercussions would be if I didn’t obey him.

He had been on his best behavior so far, and I hadn’t seen an extremely nasty side of him other than the night he txok my vxxginity without my cxxsent.

He did his work during the day, and even at home he disappeared into his office at times, but at least I wasn’t locked in the room. I could walk around the house and even go to the back yard.

Gianna wasn’t around today, and I was unsure where she was, but I proceeded with my usual routine.

I took the book I was currently reading, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and began to head toward the back doors so I could enjoy the nice weather.

The moment I walked past Valentino’s office, I heard groaning. It sounded painful and as though someone was enduring something horrible. Unable to simply pass by, I stopped abruptly.

The groaning continued, and I was about to open the door, but I stopped myself. I wasn’t allowed. I was specifically told to not go in there.

Looking around quickly, I could there was no one around. I hurried to the kitchen to see if Anita was there, but she was nowhere to be seen.

“Where is everyone?” I muttered to myself.

I had reached panic mode. I had never heard such a sound before. It sounded like complete misery—completely awful.

I returned to the office door and knocked gently, but there was no response. Nothing was working out for me today—nothing.

I’m not the kind of person who can just leave after hearing sounds of agony.

“Gahh…” The groans of pain returned, and without thinking, I pushed the door open to come face-to-face with Valentino’s dark eyes as the blade of his knife cxt dxep into a young man’s txrso.

“What are you doing!” I gasped in horror at the sight before me. There was so much blood that my knees had become weak and my back had fallen against the wall.

“I could ask you the same thing, tesoro.” The sweet Italian words rolled off his tongue so easily.

Translation: Sweetheart.

The man who was on his knees with his hands tied behind his back and duct tape on his mouth had wide eyes as he watched Valentino grab the gun from atop his desk.

Without a word or even a hit of emotion, he swiftly held the gun to the man’s head and pxlled the txxgger.

A bitter scream escaped past my lips as his lifeless body fell to the ground, and before I could react, Valentino’s palm sxacked hard against my fxce.

“Did I not make myself clear about not coming in here?” he asked me through his teeth, clearly angry.

I held onto my cheek as the pxin from his sxap began to sxing my skin. “I’m sorry…”

“You interrupted my business. Do you realize that I have zero tolerance for that? NONE!” His voice got louder, which I didn’t know was possible.

I looked at the man who lay in a pxddle of his own bxxod, my eyes watering. Valentino’s chuckle rang through my ears.

“Get used to it, love. This is your life now.”

I shook my head, disgusted with the sight before me. I would never be okay with murder and how he did it so carelessly.

Regardless of what these people did to deserve it, they were still human beings. Killing was a sin.

“This is your life, not mine,” I told him through my shaky tone, avoiding the side of the room the body was on. “I will never accept this as my life.”

For the longest time, Valentino was silent. His dark eyes were like lasers through my skin as he clenched his jaw and stared at me as if I just did something horrible.

He was insane to think that I would just accept this lifestyle. Absolutely insane.

Then, finally, after a few minutes of saying nothing at all, he simply smirked. “Go read your book, tesoro. Try not to vomit on the way out.”

I hate him. I’ve never hated anyone as much as I hate the man with whom I share the same last name. He’s filled with mind games, and it terrifies me.

I never know which move he will make next, but I can only hope there won’t be any more.

Who am I kidding though?


A hand waved in front of my face while I sat at the table in the kitchen. I looked up to see Gianna, and she laughed softly when she finally received my attention.

“You were in another world,” she joked. “Are you okay?”

I honestly didn’t know. I kept seeing Valentino shxoting that man and his bxdy falling limp to the floor. It was scarring for me. I couldn’t even eat without thinking about it, let alone sleep.

“Uh…yeah. I’m fine.” I forced a small smile.

Suddenly, Gianna turned my face to the side and raised her eyebrow before letting out a soft sigh. “He hxt you, huh?”

I touched my cheek, instantly feeling the swollen area where Valentino sxxpped me earlier. “It was my fault… I ran into his office to stop him from kxlling someone.”

Gianna reached over and gently touched my hand. She was comforting, which was something I needed more than anything in the world right now.

“Was it your first time? I mean, seeing someone die?”

She made it seem as if she’d experienced it before, and I began to feel like maybe I overreacted, but seeing someone lose their life without a second thought was extremely difficult for me to process.

“I can’t imagine seeing that again,” I admitted to her. “It was terrible, and I just stood there unable to help…”

“Elaina, you can’t help, and don’t try, because that will only make things worse,” Gianna warned me. She leaned her elbows on the table and stared at me.

“Val doesn’t like people interfering with his business. That’s partly why he doesn’t like me. I stand up for myself, and he can’t do anything about it because I’m with his brother.

“But you’re his wife—he can do whatever he wants to get his point across.”

I already knew he was against anyone interfering. No one could stop him from lxying his hxnds on mx, so it was in my best interest to stay out of it.

But it was so hard to pass by and know what he was doing.

“Stefano mentioned Valentino almost had to marry an Irish woman, I assume for forming a union or whatever,” I said suddenly. “Do you know what happened?”

Gianna paused for a moment, looking around the empty kitchen before walking around the table and sitting at my side, beginning to speak.

“He was supposed to marry the daughter of the Irish Mafia capo, Coilin. Her name is Keela. The arrangement was decided years ago.

“Everything seemed to be going as planned until Marco discovered that Coilin was planning hits at the wedding ceremony.”

My eyes grew wide at the information Gianna told me. It seemed like a stupid move to go against Valentino and his family, but the Irish apparently had planned to.

“Oh my god… What happened?” I assumed Valentino had killed them. He must have killed them—he wouldn’t tolerate that, and surely his dad had the same perspective.

Gianna took a deep breath and continued speaking in a quiet tone. “It was around two months before the wedding when Marco found out, and of course, they plotted to get the Irish first.

“But they’re intelligent and saw what was coming. We don’t know when, but eventually, it will be a full-on war between the Irish and the Italians.”

“And the union we created between the Italians and the Russians will help…” I added.

Gianna nodded her head slowly. “Exactly.”

I tried to take this all in, but it seemed insane, like an action movie I didn’t want to be a part of. I didn’t want to be involved in the gun fights or mass murder.

I could handle the sight of blood. I couldn’t bear the sound of people screaming in pain and agony.

This is a nightmare, a curse that was given to me on my birthday.

In a way, it was a Disney movie with a twist. Like Sleeping Beauty, but I was awake and watching the horror unraveling around me.

Footsteps emerged from the hallway, and when I looked toward the doorway, Valentino was entering the kitchen. He always knew where I was, and it terrified me. I could never get away from him.

“I see you’re getting quite cozy.” He motioned toward Gianna and me.

I nodded my head slowly. “It’s nice to have a friend.”

I noticed Gianna smiling out of the corner of my eye. “We should go to the Underground sometime, Elaina. It would be fun.”

“The Underg—”

“Absolutely not,” Valentino answered for me before I could respond. The glare he gave Gianna sent chills down my spine, but Gianna didn’t seem the least bit affected by his intimidation tactic.

“How long are you going to lock her up here, Val?” Gianna shot back, furrowing her brow.

I could feel the tension grow instantly, then Valentino’s voice became loud as he smacked his hand onto the island. “Devi rimanere il cxzzo fuori della mia attività!”

Translation: You need to stay the fxck out of my business!

“Calma, Val. Forse se non fossi così ombroso, non mi sentiresti minacciato da me parlando a Elaina!” Gianna argued back in an almost as strong tone as Valentino, but not quite.

No one could be as intimidating at him.

Translation: Calm down, Val. Maybe if you weren’t so shady, you wouldn’t feel so threatened by me talking to Elaina!

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I heard my name, but I was smart enough to know that they were talking in Italian, so I didn’t understand what they were saying.

His hatred for Gianna was clear, as was her hatred for Valentino, but I was left in the dark as I was with most things.

Suddenly, Valentino gripped tightly on my arm. “Come with me.”

My mouth gaped open slightly, but I nodded as I slid off the chair and followed him as he left the room, looking at Gianna’s annoyed face as we left.

“Se non fosse con mio fratello, avrei tagliato la gola,” he muttered under his breath as he began to drag me up the stairs of the house.

Translation: If she weren’t with my brother, I’d slxce her txroat.

Italian sounded like such a beautiful language, but I was almost certain no beautiful words came out of his mouth no matter how charming he made it sound.

I could only imagine the spiteful words he said about Gianna now.

“You are so much better than her,” Valentino said to me. Not only did he speak in English, but he gave me praise. Surely, it would come with a price.

I just stared at him. Why would he say that? I hadn’t done anything.

Valentino pushed open the door to our bedroom and waited for me to walk in before he followed behind me. I heard the sound of the door close behind us, followed by the clicking of the lock.

“Say my name,” he said to me suddenly.

I turned to look at him with a furrowed brow. “Huh? I…”

“I never hear you say my name,” he pointed out. “Say it.”

It was a simple request. “Valentino.”

“Mmm…” A smirk tugged at his lips as he moved his hand to my cheek. “That’s my business name, tesoro. In our home you call me Val, va bene?”

Translation: Okay?

I nodded my head slowly. “Oh…okay.”

Suddenly, he took my hand. Val took my hand and placed it on his chest while looking down at me. “I want you to uxxxtton my shirt…”

“Valen— I mean, Val…I—I…”

“Ah, ah.” He stopped me instantly. “This isn’t a one-way street, love. I want my wife to show affection, and after a long day, I need my girl to put effort into our ixximate moments.”

I could feel my heart racing. This was different than our past moments. When he had sxx with me, it was simply that: him doing the work, and me giving my bxdy to him.

I didn’t move my hands on him or make the effort to pxxasure him, though he seemed to be sxtisfied anyway.

Uxxtton the shxrt, Elaina,” he demanded.

My hands shook as I reached to the top button of his shirt. I felt my face flush, and the first button came loose.

I attempted to focus on uxxuttoning the shxrt, but Val’s lips captured mine, and my my bxdy fell limp. His hands on my bxtt kept me stable.

My weak knees were not from feelings, but nerves. I was afraid of what he could dx to mx.

“Keep going,” he muttered against my lips before moving his lips across my jawline.

In a way, I felt like I was now giving him permission to have sxx with me; like I was telling him that I wanted it, but I didn’t.

I either didn’t listen to him, which led to me getting sxxpped and him having sxx with me anyway, or I obeyed. I chose the lxtter now that I kxew bxtter.

I couldn’t fxght forever.

I finished the buttons on his shirt, and Val turned me around quickly, lifting me slightly as he tossed me onto the bed. I landed on my stomach, groaning slightly from the sudden interaction.

Instinctively, I attempted to lean up on my elbows but was sxoved back down when Val pushed my hxad agxinst the pillow.

Looking to the side, I could see him pull something from his pocket, and it wasn’t until he ejected the blade that I realized it was a pocket knife.

“Oh my god. No! Please don—”

“Shhh…” He moved the blade under my shirt, and before I knew it, he had the fabric cut off entirely.

I was waiting for him to do something with that knife that would draw blood from my body, but the moment never came. All he used it for was to rxmoved my clxthes in a quick, axxressive manner.

He rolled me over onto my back so he was hovering over me, and his eyes wandered my cxest. “It’s a shame you can’t follow rules. I really wish you would, because then I wouldn’t be forced to punish you.”

“P—punish?” I stammered, becoming more uncomfortable under his gaze.

He continued to look at me calmly. “You can’t expect me to let you off with that behavior today, can you?”

He has a knife. That blade was all I could think about, and it terrified me. “I’m sorry…I am. I shouldn’t have…”

His hand covered my mouth to keep me from talking, and he leaned down to whisper in my ear, “Don’t worry, it isn’t happening now… But it will. Eventually.”

This was torture. He was going to do something when I least expected it. I had no warning other than knowing something was coming eventually. Eventually could be anytime at all.

I didn’t know what he was going to do tx mx—if he would hxt mx or txe mx up. He was impossible to read, and he liked it that way.

Why he waited this long to tell me, I had no idea. Now, I had to wait for the dreaded moment he decided that my punishment was due.

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