Or, read this teaser description first, (it's from the book's back cover / jacket flap) and get a taste:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Crossfire® saga.
You can’t believe all of them, but can you trust any of them?
Lily Black was presumed dead for years.
Now, she’s back in the unquestioning arms of her loving husband, Kane.
Where she’s been remains a mystery, but her past sins haunt her and bring deadly danger into the lives of the family.
Meanwhile Aliyah, Kane’s mother, has worked hard for her position of power. She has never believed Lily is who she says she is, and will stop at nothing to expose her.
Amy, Kane’s sister-in-law, has always been a pawn in the dangerous games this family plays. But she knows she deserves more, and will do anything to claim the biggest prize.
Three women fight to outrun their pasts.
But could they have more in common than they think?
With the trademark emotional intensity and scorching sensuality of multimillion bestseller Sylvia Day, the dangerous and sultry Blacklist duology comes to its riveting conclusion.
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Genre: Mystery & Suspense
Publication Date: October 24, 2023
Raindrops glisten on Manhattan’s glass-sheathed towers as I set the day’s paper atop the gilded tray that sits on the ottoman in the master suite sitting room. The walls are encased in foxed mirror tiles that present me with my unavoidable reflection fogged and bespeckled in the way of old silent films. Some would say my career as a majordomo is equally archaic, but they don’t know that my present vocation is as dangerous as the covert livelihood I left behind years ago. The man I work for has a family so cutthroat they’re like a writhing bed of snakes with no regard for whose tail they’re biting.
On any other day, I would leave the way I came, my task complete. Today, I continue crossing the room until I come to a halt before a clear mirror hanging against the reflective wall, anchoring a mirrored console beneath it. Like everything in my life, the mirror isn’t what it seems. The black velvet ribbons that appear to hang it are an illusion. When I press my thumb against a disguised fingerprint pad, the mirror slides silently upward, exposing a safe.
Inside is an impressive array of jewels – necklaces, rings, bracelets and more, curated by Mr Black as gifts for his wife. I refer to her as Mrs Black. Others call her Lily, but that’s only one of her many aliases.
We don’t know her real name, age or history. She has fabricated dozens of identities that we’ve unearthed through exhaustive investigation spanning all the years she was believed to be deceased. She has acknowledged an authentic connection to only two people: her late mother and her mother’s lover – Stephanie and Valon Laska.
Lily claims not to know her mother’s true identity – Stephanie Laska is one of many aliases – and she’s confessed to matricide to escape a smothering influence that threatened all she holds dear. The lover, Valon Laska, was a criminal hunted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. He was killed yesterday by an assassin who very closely resembles my employer’s wife.
No doubt the woman who’s moved into the penthouse – and my employer’s bed – is dangerous.
We found her crossing the street in Midtown, a woman with Lily’s incomparable face who is now accepted as the one and only Mrs Black. How and why she was presumed dead for so long is a puzzle we’re still attempting to piece together. But Mr Black has accepted her without question as the wife we’d believed to have been lost at sea several years ago. To his mind, he’s been reunited with his great love, and he is committed to facing any threat to keep her at his side.
To my left is the slightly ajar door to her wardrobe, which serves as a passageway to her bedroom. Behind me, a twin door leads to Mr Black’s wardrobe and bedroom, but I know he’s with her, in her bedroom, as he has been all night. It’s because they are together that I risk searching the safe. As obsessed as he is, she is equally captivated by him. He is the perfect distraction, and I must take advantage of that fact before my employer departs for the day and frees her to be more aware of my actions.
I spent hours last night studying the police surveillance photographs of the woman suspected of killing Laska. The perpetrator’s resemblance to Mrs Black is uncanny, which makes the subtle differences more apparent. She’s a tall woman and slender as a reed, with the kind of figure coveted by fashion designers because every garment is shown to best advantage on such graceful lines. With skin as pale as moonlight and shoulder-length hair that is a true deep black, Lily’s loveliness is bold and matchless.
The woman in the photographs is equally tall, with hair that falls to her hips. I don’t recognize the dress and would if it came from the wardrobe of the lady I know. Some of the angles of the face aren’t quite right, but it’s undeniable that women in Lily’s echelon of beauty are exceedingly rare. It’s an impossibility that an unrelated individual nearly identical in appearance could exist.
My gaze rakes over the rows of glittering jewels, searching. I feel a spurt of adrenaline when I don’t find the items I seek. I’ve entertained a million questions since Mrs Black reappeared, and now I have more.
Lily’s laughter, a throaty contrast to her startlingly girlish voice, drifts to my ears. I crouch, searching for a telltale sparkle that might betray a chain or earring in the thick carpet pile. I know it’s improbable, but I can’t leave any stone unturned. I stand empty-handed, refold the drawers into the cavity in the wall and close the safe.
The jewellery is missing; there is no doubt.
I turn away and exit the sitting room through the master wardrobe, but I pause mid-step when the sound of their voices draws closer, and I surmise that they’ve entered the room after me. I risk lingering, feigning the act of straightening Mr Black’s hanging suits so I can eavesdrop. His wife’s proximity sends a current of energy across the space between us, and the hairs on my nape lift. Hers is the type of dynamism that pervades. The memory of her suffused the penthouse before she ever stepped foot into it. Once she took up residence, the home came alive around her. So, too, did Mr Black.
“Is there anything on your calendar in the next few weeks that would pre-empt inviting your family to dinner?” Lily’s voice is distinctive. High-pitched with husky warmth. One doesn’t expect her to talk that way when you look at her, yet once she speaks, you cannot imagine her sounding any other way. I cannot place an accent in her voice. She offers no clues about who she might be beneath the exquisite guise she so effortlessly wears.
Every opportunity I’ve afforded her to reveal something – anything – about herself has been passed over. She never discusses her past, even fleetingly. During the years when she was believed to be deceased, her acquaintances spoke of her as a woman deeply interested in others. Now that I’ve become acquainted with her, I know she encourages people to talk about themselves, so there’s little room for her to do likewise.
“I’m at your disposal, Setareh.” My employer only ever addresses his wife using that nickname. A name that means fate and destiny. Romantic, yes, and telling. Since he doesn’t know her real name, it allows for truth between them instead of a lie. “Always.”
The warmth in Mr Black’s voice is something I’m still becoming accustomed to. Lily has been back only months, but in the most fundamental ways, she always has been here. My employer is the stranger, a man wholly transformed by her return.
After years of watching him suffer while deeply grieving his beloved wife, I’m elated to see him happy at last. I want to believe Lily’s love for Mr Black is genuine, but she’s capable of adopting myriad personalities and traits that are pure fabrication.
The abrupt intrusion of an additional voice reveals that they’ve powered on the sitting room television. The local cable provider always defaults to channel one, which offers twenty-four-hour repetitious coverage of recent news. Then the sound is muted, and I hear the rustling of the newspaper.
I risk peering around the doorjamb and find a scene of luxuriant domesticity – Lily sits on the sapphire sofa in a slaughterous red silk kimono and my employer lounges beside her in black silk trousers and matching dressing gown. Her legs are curled beside her, and she has a notebook and pen in hand, her glossy hair obscuring her face as she writes. He sits close beside her, reading the news. On the television screen above the fireplace, Valon Laska stares at viewers from one of his many mug shots.
I find I can’t move, arrested by the sight of all three of them together. I wait vainly for Lily to look up, to see the man she claimed was not a father figure but who looked after her well-being. A man she claimed would kill her husband because that is what her mother would have wanted him to do.
“Setareh . . .” Mr Black turns his head slowly to look at her as if it’s an effort to stop reading. That’s the first clue to his deceit because there is nothing he would rather look at than his wife.
Holding the newspaper out to her, he sighs heavily. I can’t see his face, but her frown of concern is insightful. She takes the paper but keeps her gaze on him. “What is it?”
“Laska,” he says gruffly. “He was assassinated yesterday.”
Lily visibly stiffens. A perfectly arched brow lifts as she turns her attention to reading quickly, her gaze darting over the words. His arm drapes over her shoulder and pulls her close. It’s a gesture of comfort for the death of a man who would have killed him, as Laska had killed countless others.
“I’d say someone did the world a favour,” she says finally with a tremor in her voice.
There is no emotion in her words, but her trembling fingers rattle the newsprint.
Mr Black rests his head against hers and tosses the unfolded paper back onto the ottoman. “I understand how you feel is complicated.”
“It’s not complicated.” She glances at the television, but the reporter has moved on to another story, and she’s left unaware of the previous segment. “It’s a relief. You’re safe.”
“So are you, and that’s all that matters.”
I step back into the wardrobe and wait a few moments, curious to see if he’ll elaborate on what he knows. When their conversation returns to dinner plans, I leave silently, my perspective altered again.
My employer knew yesterday what had transpired – I told him myself. That he should inform his wife of the murder this way, second-hand with feigned surprise . . . ?
The press knows very little of what I know about Laska’s assassination. Especially that the woman responsible for stabbing Valon Laska was photographed and her presence witnessed first-hand by undercover policemen who had Laska under surveillance. I’ve built a network of individuals who can assist me with nearly any task in service to numerous employers and for various reasons. Mr Black knows much of what I know about the murder but didn’t share those details with his wife.
What is he hiding from her? That the woman who killed Laska is her very likeness? Or that his resources and knowledge are far-reaching?
He’s deeply in love with his wife, but does he not trust her? Or is he trying to protect her?
Lily’s extraordinary beauty is the least deadly of her weapons.
Releasing my breath in a slow, controlled exhalation, I register how astonished I am by Mr Black’s performance. If I didn’t know otherwise, I would believe he was learning about Laska’s murder for the first time.
They sit there together, husband and wife. Passionate lovers and professed soulmates who share everything but honesty.
Abruptly, I have an epiphany. I’ve underestimated the man I taught to sit and eat properly, to dress well, and to comport himself with authority and elan. His stepfather had lacked the grace and maturity to raise another man’s child. And his mother had written him off, choosing to focus on nurturing his half-siblings.
Though Kane Black would have become a success with or without me; I won’t take credit for his intelligence, ambition or natural magnetism. He knew he required mentoring, sought it out and is therefore directly responsible for the man he moulded himself into.
Somewhere along the way, however, our professional distance closed and eventually disappeared altogether. He’s the closest thing to a son I will ever have, and that has made him a blind spot. But now I see.
He’s as dangerous as his wife.