Heart of My Monster (Monster Trilogy #3) by Rina Kent

I’ve noticed some changes in Uncle Albert, too. He usually has time to indulge us in playing or assembling something we buy, but not lately.

Only Papa is an unchanging anchor, short of some dark circles because he’s been spending a lot of time in the office lately.

“What have you decided?” Uncle Anatoly asks in a low voice.

“This is not the time,” Uncle Albert whispers back.

“You shut up!” Uncle Anatoly hisses. “We should’ve stopped this before it got to this stage, but no, we had to hold on to a sinking fucking ship—”

Without letting me go, Papa reaches out his free hand and squeezes his shoulder. “Not another word, Anatoly. This is neither the time nor the place. I need you to get yourself together. Go sit beside your wife and children and be an Ivanov. Control that turbulent energy of yours and calm the fuck down.”

Shivers break on my skin even though the words aren’t directed at me. This…is the first time I’ve heard Papa be so…insensitive.

It’s clear that Uncle Anatoly is suffering with something, but instead of offering him any form of comfort, Papa all but humiliated him. No, maybe humiliating is a strong word. He scolded him.

In no time, a smile lifts Papa’s lips, and it’s like he’s flipped a switch to return back to the father I know. “We’ll talk after dinner.”

Uncle Anatoly glares at both of them. “We’re in immediate danger, and all you care about is a stupid fucking dinner?”

He shakes his head and, without waiting for an answer, walks to his wife, then flops down beside her while wearing a solemn expression.

“Never mind your uncle Anatoly, Sashenka. He’s just tired.” Papa kisses the top of my head. “Go take your seat.”

I smooch his cheek and then trudge toward my chair. When a leg trips me and I nearly fall, Erik’s and Eduard’s shoulders shake with suppressed laughter.

Oh, you want to play?

I push Erik’s chair and both of them almost tumble to the ground.

A cane taps on the ground, and I straighten. Babushka, who’s at the head of the table, narrows her eyes on me and I smile and then sit beside the twins. These bastards want to see me die by our grandmother’s cane.

After everyone is seated, Babushka nods at the head maid, who’s as stoic as she is, and the lady motions to the rest of the staff to remove the cloches.

Sounds of appreciation fill the room as countless smells tickle our noses. There are different types of soup, a giant roasted lamb, and some of the vegetables are shaped like Christmas trees and stars.

We start eating, and chatter echoes around us. Erik and Eduard try to annoy me, but I kick and pinch them underneath the table until they whine out loud. This time, they’re the ones who get Babushka’s stare of disapproval.

Papa’s chief of security rushes inside the hall, his face contorted with exertion. This is the first time I’ve seen him distressed and on edge.

Papa’s harsh gaze turns to him. “Didn’t I tell you not to bother us during family dinners?”

“This is an emergency, sir. The central security system was disabled, and I’m getting no updates from the guards stationed outside—”

His words cut off when a red laser dot appears on his forehead, and then it’s blown to bits. Blood splashes on the Christmas decorations and the food in front of two of my cousins as the man drops with a thud.

A scream rips from somewhere in the room, but I can’t look away from the man. When I finally lift my gaze, I find small red dots on Mama’s forehead, chest, and stomach. Papa’s, too.

Everyone has those laser dots.

Oh, no.


Harsh footsteps echo outside, sounding as if they’re coming from underground. No, maybe they’re coming from a parallel universe.

My hopeful thoughts are slaughtered when countless men spill inside the dining room. They’re dressed in black combat gear, heavy boots, and thick helmets, their faces hidden with balaclavas, and are carrying long rifles that are slung across their chests. The only time I’ve seen anything like this was in a movie about the Second World War. I hated that movie. It was all about the siege, young men dying, and rotting cadavers in the street.

It was about the worst time for humanity, where greed and power killed millions and millions of innocent people.

Why does this feel like I’m in that time?

“Everyone down!!” Papa yells and clutches Mama by the nape, but before he can push her to the floor, blood explodes on his chest, and he looks at me even as his eyes start to roll back.

Mama shrieks, but it’s cut off when half of her head is blown away.

I scream and scream and scream, but my voice isn’t heard in the middle of the shooting and other horrified shrieks. The soldiers are like robots, eliminating one person after the other.

Uncle Anatoly grabs his pregnant wife and starts to pull her toward him, but she’s hit in her belly. He retrieves his gun and screams as he fires and empties it without any aim or sense of direction. Before he can finish, he’s shot in the back and falls in his dead wife's pool of blood.




All of a sudden, everything turns black.

The screams, wails, and raw shrieks don’t disappear, though. Many things don’t.

The gunshots.

The tangy stench of blood.