Vicious Minds Part 3 (Children of Vice #6) by J.J. McAvoy

ETHAN





I walked through the bullet-ridden halls of my home the day after my wedding, the sound of silence echoing with each step I took.

Everyone but one person was now weeping around the body of my Aunt Coraline. And when I walked into our bedroom, that one person now sat calmly on the edge bed, no longer wearing her second wedding dress but a simple white and gray robe, with a bottle of red wine in hand. I closed the door behind me and locked it.

“Darcy threatened you?” she spoke coldly.

“He says to call him Killian now,” I said as I walked to her.

“That fits much better,” she muttered and drank from the bottle. “He has a long way to go before he is the man you want him to be, though. Let alone a real rival against you.”

“You’ve made yourself enemy number one now, Calliope. They will never forgive you.”

She snickered, shaking her head. “I don’t need their forgiveness. I don’t care about their forgiveness. They are not the reason I’m here. You are, so why aren’t you asking me why?”

“Because I think I know why,” I replied, placing my gun against her skull. “But I could be wrong. I’m 90% sure I’m not. But that 10% is always a nagging bitch.”

She stared up at me, unfazed. “Could you even pull the trigger?”

“Sadly, yes. You know that.” I pulled back the hammer. “It would look bad to kill you after such a public wedding or renewal of vows, or cover story, or distraction, or whatever else we are calling today.”

“Yes, it would. People would say you were cursed. That all the women on your arm end up dead.” She smiled and drank anyway despite the gun. “It would take a lot of effort to clean this up.”

BANG.

I shot the bottle right beside us. Calliope turned her face to protect herself, but it didn’t stop the glass or the wine from splattering all over her and even onto me.

“That was a waste of good wine,” she grumbled, wiping her cheek, but I held the gun back to her face. She just glared at it and then back up to me with tired eyes. “You already know I’m going to tell you the truth. And why today had to happen the way it happened…for both your plan and mine. So, what is the gun for? If you didn’t use it when Fiorello was in here with me, why would you use it now?”

“Because now I can show that I am upset, very fucking upset.” I knew what she was going to tell me. I saw both our paths had finally become one. I just hated the fact that it had to come together in this way—right over the body of my aunt.

“Who else in this family could I have chosen?” she whispered, pressing her hand on mine and leaning into the gun. “People die in war, Ethan. We weren’t here when it started, but we still have to fight anyway. You knew that. Everyone in this family is supposed to know that. Cora knew it. She said it was the number one rule of the family.”

Callahan rule number one—“You kill for family. You die for your family because you can’t trust anyone else.”

Slowly I put down my gun. There was no one else here but us. My parents were now on the run for their lives. Fiorello and all the rest of my family’s enemies were celebrating this victory against us. This victory that Calliope had hand-delivered to them and I had allowed. No one was listening in or spying. For the first time, we could speak the truth clearly and openly before the war board reset itself.

“Let’s go over it all, from the beginning, Calliope.”

“Okay, but afterward, either give me wine or give me death.”

“Deal.”

ONE YEAR LATER

LIAM—PRESENT





I could remember it.

Almost as if it were yesterday.

The clear fucking sign that I should have followed.

The one Melody had flashed but I did not understand. That she, herself, didn’t understand back then.

It was just about twenty years ago; that day, I walked in and saw her seated behind my desk in the study with a strange look on her face.

I remembered.

LIAM—20 YEARS AGO





“Do I even want to know?” I asked when I entered the study only to see her sitting in my chair, legs and arms crossed, glaring at nothing at all…in silence. And for some reason, I had yet to figure out, after all these fucking years, why her silence was always so damn loud. Melody didn’t answer me. She just sat there lost in whatever murderous thought was bubbling over in her mind, which was an answer in itself. I had to know whatever it was that was getting to her so badly. Especially after the week we had just had.

“Mel?”

“Hmmm,” she replied, lifting her head to my voice, her brown eyes finally meeting mine.

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she lied, shaking her head before exhaling and tossing down her phone to pick up whatever desk work she was going to pretend to be interested in.

“So, we’re lying to each other now?” I stated, walking over to the bar and helping myself to some brandy. “Good. Now is the right time to tell you, I like that haircut on you. It’s nice.”

Her head whipped back to me, and whatever murderous plans she had been directing for someone else, she immediately shifted them to me. Her jaw cracked to the side as she leaned back in her chair. “Is that your way of telling me you don’t like my hair?”