Lies of My Monster (Monster Trilogy #2) by Rina Kent

We’re both panting as we glare at each other while hunching over to catch our breaths.

“You need to stop it, or it’ll go on forever,” he says.

“I swear to fuck, Adrian, if you don’t shut up…”

“What are you gonna do? Punch me like a girl?”

“I’m going to kill you.” I lunge at him again, and he’s waiting for me, his eyes blazing. Seems that this motherfucker woke up today and chose violence. How could I not make his wish come true?

He doesn’t lift his hands to protect himself and, instead, strains from between clenched teeth, “You can stop it.”

“And how do I do that, genius?” I stand before him and let my fist fall to my side. “Unless I get stronger, I won’t be able to stop anything.”

“Then do it faster. For starters, stop punching like a girl.”

“You wouldn’t be saying that if you saw how prettily I decorated your face, motherfucker.”

He harrumphs and turns toward his guard. “We’re walking home, Kolya. A certain presence has soured my mood.”

“I should be the one saying that!” I shout at his back. “I wish you a shitty Christmas.”

He flips me off without turning around, and I want to run at full speed and knock him to the ground. I don’t, because even I realize that I already gave in to violence more than I should’ve allowed myself.

I’m trying to have better control of that part of myself, and to do that, I need to be more levelheaded. I touch the corner of my lip and wince. One of these days, that fucker Adrian will have his throat slit in his sleep.

A black van pulls up in front of me, but before it’s fully stopped, the side door opens, and a shrill, excited voice yells, “Kirya!!!”

My brother jumps from the car and slams into me, knocking me off balance. I pat the top of his light hair. Despite being only two years younger than me, he’s way shorter. I’m having a growth spurt he can’t keep up with.

“Hi there, little Kosta.”

“I’m not little.” He still nuzzles his nose in my chest like when he was a toddler. My ribs ache from when Adrian punched me, but I wrap my arm around his back.

“Kirill!! Kirill!” Another much smaller figure crashes into my side.

My five-year-old sister, Karina, reaches her hands up to me even though I’ve told her she’s too heavy to carry. Does she understand that logic? No way in hell.

She looks pretty today in a pink dress with white ribbons. Her blonde hair falls in styled curls to the middle of her back.

“Kara.” Despite my sore body, I still lift her high and she sits snugly on my shoulders.

She taps the top of my head and then gasps. “Blood, blood. Are you hurt?”

That’s when Konstantin pushes back to actually stare at me, and his eyes widen. “Why…what happened?”

“Just a meaningless fight. Nothing to worry about.”

He pouts, and Karina starts to cry, so I have to console them both and assure them that I’m really okay. If I’d known they were coming to pick me up, I wouldn’t have risen to Adrian’s provocations or talked to the slimy fucker.

I might not be strong enough to put an end to my father’s tests and training, but I will be. If for no other reason than to protect my siblings.

In the car, there are two of my father’s guards and the driver. No matter which angle I view the situation from, it’s weird that my father sent Konstantin and Karina to pick me up from school. It’s even more strange that Yulia allowed Konstantin out of her sight when she’s usually overprotective of him.

“Why did you guys come along?” I ask.

“Because we miss you! Miss you!” Karina shouts, then breaks into a fit of giggles. She has a habit of repeating her words because our dear mother always tells her to speak clearly and not like an idiot.

“Papa said we’re going on a Christmas holiday.” Konstantin grins, his face brimming with excitement. “As a family.”

I narrow my eyes. We have never, and I mean ever, done anything as a family, so the fact that we’re starting now makes me suspicious.

In fact, I’m fucking paranoid about this change of events.

Christmas is usually me decorating a tree for my siblings and giving them presents because Roman doesn’t do it, and Yulia only has Christmas presents for Konstantin. I’ve come to expect that from her, but it still makes Karina cry every year. So Konstantin divides his dozen presents between him, me and Karina behind Yulia’s back. I don’t take them, but that act soothes our baby sister’s hurt feelings. She’s the one with an eternal love for glitter, bright colors, and everything pretty.

Does Yulia care? Absolutely not. It’s like Karina and I are invisible to her. I wish she was our stepmother. That way, this whole disdain would make sense.

How the woman who actually gave birth to us could treat us this way is the part that I can’t find an explanation for.

“Is that what the guards said?” I ask my brother.

He nods. “We’re finally going on a trip together!”

I cast a glance at my surroundings. All the other students have left, so it’s only us. My gut twists as I put Karina down and let her grab my hand, and then I clutch Konstantin’s with my free one. “We should leave this place. Now.”