In Wounded Rhymes [Mafia Games X]

In Wounded Rhymes [Mafia Games X]

By:  M.Z. Mauve  Completed
Language: English
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Veronica, a musician in a band, finds herself on a sticky wicket when she realizes that the man of her dreams—Théo Reynaud—is an elaborate masquerade to his danger-seeking alter ego. As she tries to stay relevant in the music scene, she battles depression and bouts of anxiety while dealing with a dysfunctional long-distance relationship. Théo is a fashion model striving to make a good living in the cutthroat industry while moonlighting as an informant. After a vindictive crime boss endangers his family, he is tasked to complete his final assignment to keep his loved ones out of harm's way, and be with the woman he loves. ▬▬▬▬▬▬ genres: CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, CRIME, DRAMA ▬▬▬▬▬▬ This is a work of fiction. Places, characters, dialogues, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously. This story contains profanity, sexual themes, drug usage, and some violence intended for mature readers. Read at your own risk. [DISCLAIMER: The author does not own the original images on the book cover.]

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129 chapters
Book I Preview + Prologue
Copyright © 2020 by M.Z. Mauve All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without written permission of the copyright owner except for the use of quotations in a book review.  •••• PROLOGUE ••••3 years earlier • Paris, France • Failure.  Complete, utter failure.The word rang in his concussed head for days now, ridding him of much-needed sleep and peace of mind.  He failed the assignment.  The subject escaped the raid.  Seven long weeks of risky, exhaustive investigative work just spiraled down the drain in mere hours.Unfortunate, but, his luck just ran out. Naked and alone, Théo took a long drag on his second stick as he stared at his pale reflection, the grayish smoke fleetingly obscuring the afterm
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1 : Long-Distance "Friends"
• 2 years earlier •A new record, a flourishing music career, new tours, bigger paychecks, enough savings for rent, a new car, and maybe a new house...Those were the main things she looked forward to  since she signed with the band under a bigger label.  Not depression.  Or a mental breakdown. Oh, right.  Rather outdated term.  Her mom said a "major depressive episode" would be more accurate to describe her current condition.  "Not atypical for a 25-year-old after a traumatic breakup, hon. Stop being so hard on yourself," her mom also reminded.  Dr. Michel even encouraged her to see a shrink last week. Talking to a complete stranger who knew jackshit about her and her problems for an hour straight?  Must be the most awkward thing ever.At the thought, Veronica scowled and stepped out of the shower.  Only the third time she bothered to bathe this week, but who cares...<
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2 : Work-Life Balance
• A year earlier • Ecstasy.  Nothing but pure ecstasy.  That's how he always felt whenever he had her all to himself.  Whenever they were intimate in bed, especially.  It always felt this great.Something about making love to her just overwhelmed him with pure bliss and a rush of emotions he never felt with anyone else.  It numbed every bit of his common sense, and he loved how it consumed him and every part of him, albeit just for a fleeting moment.  Far from the annoying loneliness and instant guilt trip post-nut clarity often gave him.  Holding her in his arms, listening to her laugh, kissing her wherever he wanted, feeling the gentleness of her caresses—just a thousand times better.Being with her just felt right.  Natural.  Freeing.  He would never trade the feeling for anything.  Not in this lifetime.  "You okay, love?" Th&eacu
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3 : Wedding Bells and Commitments
•  Arcueil, Paris  •50 percent remaining.  Enough for a 30-minute call.  Théo stretched out on his daybed and sat up after checking his phone's battery bars.  Growing impatient, he got on his feet and headed out the door.The rooftop would be ideal.  Moonlit.  Spacious.  Private.  He could talk to his girlfriend for as long as he wanted.  His hand disheveled his clean-cut hair as he dashed across the hallway to get to the staircase. He glanced around the lonely apartment, then flipped the wall light on.The loft, unusually still since the all-nighters left, reeked of male musk and sweat.  Théo grimaced.  A tolerable noise of rock 'n roll music playing over a speaker in the next unit was the only thing keeping their apartment from being eerily quiet.Naturally, the place was a complete mess again. Dirty ashtrays, dirty shirts, and even filthier sneakers lit
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4 : Rues and Ruses
•"You serious?" Her glare should tell him her confusion just clouded her thoughts now. Veronica locked stares with him.Kyle kept quiet while she waited for another answer—something that sounded more believable and sensible. But she got zilch.She breathed out a sigh and did another mental count before she could say something sarcastic. He didn't even blink or move one bit."You think I'm gonna say yes, just like that?" she blurted out, incredulity loud and clear in her voice. She even cracked a joke, only to end up snickering at her dull attempt to sass her way out of the conversation. Perhaps to make her feel like crap,  Kyle kept his mouth shut as if he hadn't heard anything."What, you think I'll leave?" she questioned.  Why did he spark off an argument? Was he that worried she would just leave the band and forfeit their musical career j
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5 : Late-Night Confessions
•Her sweaty palms went cold on her bare thighs as Veronica sat on the bed. Her back and legs felt like limp lettuce. She'd already stripped down to her nightdress, and the orange numbers her nightstand clock flashed told her it was going to be a long night. She waited for the sound of her faucet going off. The bathroom lights—because her boyfriend left the door ajar—kept her bedroom from being pitch-black. Veronica eyed his carry-on sports duffel near the windows. His hefty baggage then reminded her how he'd spent his entire day hopping on planes. Théo had just walked in a list of fashion shows in New York, Paris, and Milan consecutively. After fixing up a week-long vacation so he could spend time with her, he'd flown back to the US. Théo arrived an hour ago. She couldn't drive to pick him up at the airport at that point because Kyle was throwing another hissy fit back in the studio—something that
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6 : Happiness is a State of Mind
•Groggy and relaxed, Théo got up when he felt a light tap on the leg. It was his girlfriend. She just interrupted his siesta. He stifled a yawn, grabbed his cargo shorts, and zipped his fly. Veronica smiled and thanked the uniformed masseuses as they left the two-bed hotel room.Théo watched and muffled a loud yawn. With her phone in her hand, Veronica walked back to the other bed, barefoot and with her thighs partly covered by denim shorts. Her pale, dainty hands gathered her long brown hair. His girlfriend grinned when she caught him ogling.Even sleepy and with his energy way below normal level, he couldn't help getting winded up by the mere sight of her. Her sporty bra showed off her beautiful shoulders. Her long-lashed eyes focused on her phone. She kept texting, prolonging the comfortable silence in the room.The fact that she chose a single room pleased him of course. But he knew she just didn't want to double the bill. The fact that it was a two-bed room dismayed hi
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7 : Hoping for the Best
• "This bed's too cold." Veronica chuckled, not expecting his complaint. While Théo pretended to look annoyed, she switched off the lights, then snuggled to him under the covers. "Better?" she teased. "Perfect," Théo sighed. His arm circled her waist while he pretended to focus on the television screen. An impish grin put small slits beside his eyes. Veronica kept a side comment to herself. She was bra-less with nothing more than a thin sheath of sleeping gown over a small pair of scanties. He wore nothing but his boxers. No doubt he wanted to do something else later. They killed time watching TV, but she also kept her mind busy pondering things, committing to memory how addictively good it felt to be this intimate with him...to have him right next to her while he hugged her close. It had always been like this. Time apart always told her what they had was more than physical. He'd made clear of that himself from the beginning. "This isn't just a test run for me. Alright?" T
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8 : Broken
•// Recording studio // "The 28th? Okay. Got it. Thanks." After confirming their tour dates, Kyle put his phone away. He strolled back into the booth with his electric guitar clinging to his torso. Jay (the band's manager) had told him Veronica was informed of the schedule changes, so he didn't bother to check up on her today. They were supposed to be busy in the studio, but she'd called in sick again. With her Frenchman back in the city for a short break, Kyle knew she'd been spending all week with the guy. Her voice had been a little iffy the last time they got to work on a song, but it could've been worse. She must be in a pricey hotel right now with Mr. Supermodel eager to make the most of his "me" time. Maybe the lovebirds would be heading to the beach later, if Kyle knew any better. He understood. She hadn't spent time with the guy in months, which was always t
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8 Pt 2 : Done
•   Théo straightened in the backseat and stared at the woman beside him about to start crying. What she just told him didn't quite sound right. He was still pretty jet lagged; maybe he'd misheard her.   "Honestly..." Veronica took the handkerchief he offered and wiped her eyes. "We both need it right now."   "No."    She must be sloshed. Or high?  Did smoking weed affect her judgment and emotional state this bad?    "It doesn't have anything to do with that. Okay?"   "Quoi?" He looked into her glinting eyes while his brain did a rewind. She probably thought he was still brooding over her refusal to his stupid proposal.   "I should've talked to you sooner. It's not fair; I know. And I feel awful. I'm not trying hard enough." Her voice wavered, and he could only watch as she tried to steady her breath. "It's just— You're doing so g
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