Mafia Romance/Age Gap

Kate is daughter to one of the most powerful mafiosos this side of Georgia, yet she has no idea of the rites and rituals of The Syndicate- or of the role she will be forced to play.  A chance encounter with a kurdi changes everything, and Kate must decide between being the dutiful daughter or risking her life as wife to a man she doesn't know.

Nikolai has been raised for the last twelve years to be in this moment.  While being his father's successor wasn't his original dream, he had no choice but to step up as heir to the Tediashvili name when his older brother, Mikheil, was murdered in a gang war.  Marrying Kate has never been a choice; it's been a duty and obligation.  Still, Nikolai can't fight the need to protect her that overshadows even his common sense.  He will risk everything to save her- even if it means never seeing her again.

In a tale of love and loss set against the backdrop of the Georgian mafia that traverses the United States and the Republic of Georgia, Tempered strikes at the heart to ask: what would you give up if it meant the sheer possibility of gaining everything?

Excerpt from Chapter 1


The ride from Baltic, where Holy Virgins was located, to the waterfront estate that Demetre Rostomashvili called home took nearly three hours in late-afternoon traffic.  Kate enjoyed watching the Atlantic as the car sped down the coast but found herself growing more anxious as each mile evaporated.  She loved her father and brother, but being in their presence always left her feeling unsure and wishing for some sort of hidden approval.  She had spent most of her life at Holy Virgins, having started at the age of five with only a few weeks at a time home from that moment since.  Was it because she was a girl?  Because her mother had died shortly after her birth?  Did her father not know how to care for a daughter and, as an act of love, sent her away?  Kate had pondered those questions for the better part of thirteen years, and she still had no real answers.

Exiting for Stamford and moving from I-95 to US-1, Kate exhaled.  The ocean was stunning in the light, and she watched the reflecting diamonds as the road began to narrow toward town.  When she was a child, living on a private island had seemed like a fairytale.  Now, upon their approach to the single road that led from the mainland to a house nearly hidden by woods and surrounded by the Atlantic, Kate felt a sense of foreboding.  She clutched the Culinary Institute’s acceptance letter against her churning stomach while shoving the phone she’d been fiddling with into her pocket. 

The car pulled to a stop, and a guard that towered over Kate opened the door.  Once a teenager learning the ropes from his own father when she’d been a young girl, he was now a man in his thirties with a daughter of his own.  “Welcome home, Ekaterina.”

“Hey, Stash,” she greeted warmly as she appraised the property.  “Anyone home?”

“Your dad’s in his study.  He’s excited to see you.  And,” he added with a smile that looked odd on the stoic man, “happy birthday.”

“Thanks.”  With no bags to carry, Kate followed the first of her two-man detail up the stone steps of the porch that led to the massive colonial and reflected on Stash’s choice of word.  Excited.  Had Kate ever seen her father excited to see her?  He had never been mean or cruel, but she couldn’t recall much more than a smile here or there before a brief word of congratulations on her annual markings from Holy Virgins.  If he was proud as Sister Anastasia thought or excited as Stash mentioned, then those were things Kate had yet to see.

People decorated while caterers lined long tables throughout the first floor.  It was evident that her father had planned a birthday party fit for a princess; but, as Kate had no one she was close to at home, who the hell was the party for?  His friends?  Business associates?  Family?  Parties had always been lavish affairs, and this eighteenth birthday celebration looked to be no less.

Veering off from security, she walked through the marble entry of the fourteen-thousand-square-foot estate.  Her leather flats echoed against the hardwood that led to the sitting room her father used as an office.  Lightly tapping her knuckles against the wooden door, she heard his guttural voice, still thick with a Georgian accent after decades in the United States.  “Come.”

“Hi, Mam.”  Entering the office slowly, Kate waited for her father to make the first move before stepping deeper inside.

“Ekaterina!”  Demetre Rostomashvili was a god in his own right.  At nearly sixty years old, his once-brown hair was starting to recede along the edges but crowned his head in a sea of silver swirls.  His eyes were almost the same shade, a gray that had been bitten by burnt steel, and he was still firm where most men his age had started to soften.  He stood from the sofa where he had been reading, and his long legs had him in front of her instantly.  He pulled her into a warm embrace, kissing both her cheeks roughly.  “Chemo dzvirpaso!”

Her father had called her precious for as long as she could remember, yet Kate couldn’t quite say that she’d ever felt such.  She had never felt unloved per se, simply unneeded.  She was an add on.  Her brother, Grigori, was the heir to the empire, and Kate had simply been a daughter that would one day be married off as the problem of another.  She smiled when he addressed her, his words reminding her of the letter she clutched.  “How was school?  Your grades looked good on the first report.”

“I’m fourth in my class.”

“Hmm… Fourth is not first,” he said with a harsh stare.  “There is room to improve.  But better to be a first-rate wife than a woman who thinks too much.”

She cringed.  Kate rarely stopped thinking.  Rather than try to win a battle of words, she extended the now wrinkled linen.  “I, um, I’ve actually got some great news.”  Her father opened the letter, and Kate couldn’t help her excitement from spilling out.  “I’ve been accepted for the fall term next year.  Once I’ve gotten two semesters under my belt, I can move into their pastry program- which is the best in the country!”

She waited for her father to say something, but Demetre simply read the letter twice before handing it back.  “This is well and good, but wives do not need formal training to cook.  You will do fine.”

Kate may have struggled to hold her tongue in school but smarting off to her father was another beast entirely.  She had seen his rage at those who pushed against him and had thankfully never been on the receiving end of his requital.  She took the letter when he offered it while walking back to where his coffee sat on the table by the sofa before trying again.  “I would like to go to cooking school, Mamae,” she said tenderly, calling him by the childlike daddy.  “I realize it is very expensive, but I will work hard- I promise.  You won’t be disappointed.”

“Ekaterina.”  He sighed as he turned.  “There is no need.” 

Before she could protest, the door opened, and her brother strolled in.  A younger version of their father, the thirty-four-year-old man with blonde hair and bright blue eyes smiled as he said, “Kate!” and wrapped his arms around his baby sister.

“Gigi!”  Always a sucker for her big brother, Kate giggled as he spun her around while relishing the attention he lavished on her.  If anyone could make her father see reason, it was Grigori.  He would understand her desire to go to college and would sway their father.  “I’ve missed you!”

“Well, you’re back now, and soon you’ll be sick of me!”  Grigori grinned his trademark smirk and tousled her waves once he put her down.

“I can’t get sick of you in a weekend,” Kate smarted, running her fingers through her long, chestnut hair to push the stray strands behind her ears.

Grigori looked at their father, his face changing from jovial to concerned in seconds.  “You haven’t told her?”

“Told me what?” Kate asked in her father’s silence.  “I just got here.  What’s to tell?”

Her brother cursed under his breath.  “Eshmakma tsaigos.”

“Grigori,” Demetre chastised.  “Ekaterina only just arrived.  There is time.”

The paper in Kate’s sweating hands grew wet.  She clutched it tighter, the linen scratching against her palms.  “Can someone please tell me what is going on?”

After a few more silent seconds, Grigori exhaled heavily.  “Tell her, Mam,” he murmured while looking at their father pleadingly.  “Please.  She deserves to know.”

“It’s your eighteenth birthday,” her father said finally.  “Much happens when a woman turns eighteen.”  The silence was pregnant with angst before her father cleared his throat and said easily, “Today, you will marry, as is our way.  You will no longer be only my daughter but another man’s wife.”