Shadows & Silence | Excerpt
It’s cover reveal day and I’m so excited to share this beauty with you all! Isn’t it purty?! Down below you can read a little excerpt from Shadows & Silence if you’re interested.
Shadows & Silence Excerpt | Unedited & Subject to Change
Love fucked you up.
Răzvan Petri knew in the worst of ways how love meant very little to anyone stupid enough to let it consume them.
He’d watched it destroy those closest to him—his father seeking it from a woman incapable of it, his mother watching helplessly as it walked away from her—and he’d felt it when it was ripped free of him the day he was dumped on the front steps of an orphanage that had ultimately become his personal hell.
After so long in a place like that, he just didn’t think he was capable of it anymore.
Sure, he had his brothers and he would do anything to protect them—even willing to give his life for them—but love … he didn’t think he was capable of that.
It was his handler, Nix’s, love for his wife that had Răzvan swinging off his bike, hands digging into the pockets of his jeans as he headed up the stone pathway toward the bungalow mere feet from the ocean.
He could smell the salt in the air, hear the gentle lap of waves as they crashed into the sand, and even the sway of lush palm trees.
Yet, he still felt nothing.
Once, he’d dreamed of traveling to the beach—of running into the ocean water until he was submerged.
There had been no beaches in Constanța, Romania where he was from.
No clear blue waters that were both dangerous and inviting.
There it was, one of his biggest childhood dreams and yet, he had no desire to go out there. After years spent in a place where he wished for death daily, that desire had died a slow, painful death.
Each crack of the whip had gradually beaten its appeal out of him until nothing was left.
It was hard, even as the years he’d been away from that place added up, to fully let go.
At the front door of the bungalow, Răzvan rapped his fist against the heavy wood, glancing around as he waited. It didn’t matter that the street was nearly empty save a few cars, and he hadn’t seen another person.
Old habits died hard.
Before he could turn back though, the door swung open, a woman—it still felt weird thinking of her like that when she was a mere few years younger than him—standing in the doorway.
Surprise lit up her face. “What are you doing here?”
His lips quirked at the corners as he saw her, his gaze scanning over her from head to toe. How long had it been now since he’d last seen Calavera?
He hadn’t been there the day she’d left Nix, and he was glad for it. The way Aidra had told it, Nix hadn’t responded well.
But that wasn’t his business.
And he did his best to mind his own.
He touched the top of her head affectionately before stepping past her.
“By all means,” she said dryly, waving at him as she closed and locked the door. “Come right on in.”
In all the years he’d known her, she still spoke to him as though he were actually capable of responding out loud.
He appreciated the effort.
Barely through the archway of the living room, a soft, slightly lilting voice caught him off guard. “Holy shit.”
His gaze cut to the girl seated on the couch with her legs folded beneath her.
She was young—younger than Calavera even who was seven years his junior. And though she had yet to stand, he could tell she was shorter than him too, the top of her head probably reaching his chest at best.
Silver-dyed hair was twisted into two thick braids, the ends reaching the middle of her back. And her eyes, which were almost a little too big for her face were that same pale shade.
And this girl, whoever she was, was staring at him. Not with fear as so many others did—she looked at him with unabashed appreciation.
“Winter,” Calavera spoke up, dragging his attention back to her for a moment before he looked back at the girl. “This is Tăcut.”
It fit her.
When she continued to stare at him, not bothering to look at Calavera at all, he offered her a short salute, feeling awkward for the first time in years.
“It’s awesome meeting you,” she said shuffling to her feet and extended a hand to him, drawing his attention to the sleeve of roses down her arm. “Are you one of the Den too? I haven’t heard of you.”
There was no hesitation. No casual broaching of the topic. She asked what she wanted to know and fully expected him to give her an answer.
He gave a shake of his head, watching confusion cloud her features.
This was the part he hated. There was no easy way to explain to someone he couldn’t speak—that he was physically incapable of it.
Not since the professor had grown tired of his crying and screaming and decided to shut him up permanently.
Răzvan didn’t remember the surgery, only that when he had woken up with pain that made tears bloom in his eyes instantly, no sound escaped as he’d lain in that bed and cried without making any noise at all.
“Does he not talk?” she asked Calavera, then shook her head as though she realized how that looked and looked back at him. “Do you not talk?”
The question was barely out of her mouth before she was reaching out to touch his arm in a sympathetic gesture—sympathetic until she gave his bicep a little squeeze.
“He can’t,” Luna explained what he couldn’t.”
“Like can’t can’t, or just forbidden?”
Calavera cleared her throat, glancing at him to see his reaction first before answering. “No, he physically can’t.”
He waited for the pity to shine in her eyes. Even Calavera, who had seen plenty of horrors in her short life, had looked at him with such sadness when she found out the truth.
But he didn’t get pity from Winter. She actually looked impressed. Impressed—like she had been told he held a secret weapon.
“Wicked. So, do you know sign language?” she asked, a second before she signed the question as well, shocking the shit out of him and Calavera too, it seemed.
It was rare, so fucking rare, that anyone knew how to sign that worked in their circles. His brothers had learned—the sentimental bastards wanting a way to communicate with him that didn’t involve them trying to decipher his glares.
After he had stopped feeling sorry for himself once he lost his voice, Răzvan had resigned himself to the idea that one in a thousand people would know how to sign, and the number was even lower in their line of work.
He was usually resigned to standing in the background, observing and listening, but never engaging. He had never confessed to anyone, not even his brothers, that it annoyed him greatly that he couldn’t speak for himself.
What were the odds that this mystery girl knew how to sign?
—Yes, I can sign.—
Winter’s gaze darted from his lips to his hands, a curious expression crossing her delicate face. “Huh.”
“What?” Calavera asked.
He had almost forgotten she was still in the room.
Winter was studying him, tapping a blunt-tipped finger against her chin. “I got the gist of what you’re saying, big guy, but you lost me in there.”
While she looked at Calavera and asked where he was from, he was still caught on what she had called him.
“Romania?” she asked in surprise, and when he nodded, she smiled a little. “My Romanian is a bit rusty, but Tăcut? Means silent or something like that right?”
The question so innocently asked made his fingers twitch. He nodded again.
Her head canted to the side, she regarded him with a renewed smile. “You know, you’re pretty hot for a sort of scary, silent Romanian.”
Răzvan didn’t get embarrassed—he rarely felt shame about anything really—but standing there under her gaze, he could feel the heat slowly crawling through him.
Calavera cleared her throat, interrupting. “So why are you here?”
Reminded why he had come here in the first place, he dug out the spare phone in his pocket and tossed it to her. Almost to the second it was in her hand, it started to ring.
That would be Nix.
Calavera stepped away, her voice just a whisper as she disappeared around the corner for privacy, leaving him alone with Winter.
“So,” she asked once it was just the pair of them. “Are you going to tell me who you are, or will I have to guess?”
Curious, he asked—Does it matter?—
With all the conviction in the world, she smiled as she answered. “Of course, we’re going to be the best of friends.”
Love at first sight didn’t exist.
But she had his undivided attention.
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