Tue
Jun 13 2017 11:00am

Dark Romance Sampler from Robin Lovett, May Bridges & Sherilee Gray

Robin Lovett, May Bridges and Sherilee Gray

They're dark and brooding, they're sinful, they're lawless. If dark romance is your cup of tea, then these authors are ones you won't want to miss. Come on over to the dark side and get exclusive sneak peeks from Robin Lovett's Stanger (June 13, 2017), May Bridges' Killing June (July 4, 2017); and Sherilee Gray's Shattered King (June 27, 2017) with these three excerpts!




Stranger by Robin Lovett

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This isn’t supposed to be a love story. This is not the kind of book where a girl gets swept off her feet. Where the hero is her knight in shining armor. This is a novel about ruining someone’s life. But even the simplest plans for revenge can go wrong.

I like the way he watches me, this man I don’t know. It’s something I’ll never confess to, never tell a soul. But with one look of those penetrating eyes, I feel as if he’s unwrapped me, turned me inside out, rubbed away at my trust-fund-holding, good-girl exterior until I’m raw and exposed.

He looks like he wants to destroy me. Like he wants to obliterate me and my shallow, perfect life until there’s nothing left.

And once I meet Logan, the crazy part is, I want him to.

Chapter One

He’s been watching me for days.

I don’t know him.

He could be a criminal out to kidnap me or rob me. Though he’s only there when dozens of people are around, mostly outside during my lunch break at the hospital.

His stare—it scares me, but I like it.

The fear, the rush of adrenaline through my veins, it feels good. My vision focuses, my hearing clears, and my thoughts disappear. The distraction is a relief. A relief from the last three months of hell since . . . since . . .

Well, let’s say it’s a relief to be thinking about something besides the giant hole where my heart used to be, the one threatening to break me every spare minute. Any distraction from that, no matter how dangerous, is a high point in my day.

He stands in the same spot every day, half hidden behind the stone pillar. None of the other nurses seem to notice him. They’re too busy chatting or enjoying the hospital’s fountain on the patio. Me—I notice him. Only him.

He’s blond. The scary types are supposed to have dark hair, but his lights up yellow in the California sun—gleaming too bright, almost lionlike. King of the jungle, stalking his prey. The tips of his hair hang over his cheek, half hiding his eyes.

His eyes—they don’t match the predator.

They aren’t dark; they’re light, colorless, almost sightless. It’s eerie, confusing yet mesmerizing. He’s not trying to hide his stare or be discreet. No. He’s obvious, and the chills racing down my spine run colder with every passing minute. It’s addictive, the feeling of being stared at, of being frightened.

It’s the most I’ve felt in months. It fills me like spiked oxygen, awakening me from a numb sleep I didn’t know I was in. It’s stunning to my senses in a terribly blissful way.

I’m his prey.

I want to be.

I want to lose myself and be lost to everything but his eyes. I want to get closer, close enough for him to burn away everything I don’t want to feel. And flood me with things I do want to feel.

It’s the fifth day he’s done this. The first day, it creeped me out so bad I went back inside, praying he’d be gone when I left for the night. The second day he was there again. I decided to stay, to ignore him. He stared at me, unmoving. For the entire hour.

And I couldn’t ignore it.

I liked it too much.

The third day, fascinated, terrified, I stared back, and the fear grew worse, more intense, more exciting than fear should ever be. Like a shock to my dormant instincts, it sent my heart thrumming and my breath gasping.

He didn’t smile, didn’t tip his head, didn’t change his expression. But in his gaze there was this menace, this warning that drew me in. I latched on to my chair to keep myself from going to him, from leading myself to slaughter.

What about me makes him stare at me like that?

Yesterday, his fourth day, when I finished my shift, he was there outside in the shadows. My palms sweated on my bag, fearing he would follow me to my car. Except I hoped he would. And that was more terrifying.

If he chased me, would I call for help or let him catch me?

I fear the answer as much as I fear him. But I didn’t find out because he didn’t follow. He stayed by the entrance and watched me walk away.

I was disappointed to tears.

This morning, I woke excited—for the first time in months. To see him. My stalker. Staring at me. Me staring back.

I have every reason to. He stands, arms crossed. Below his alluring face, the seductive bad-boy hair, and the entrancing eyes, he’s shaped like something you can’t look at on a double take. It’s more like a triple take to make sure he’s really there. His T-shirt and shorts shouldn’t be sexy, but it doesn’t matter. The perfect V from his chest to his waist to his long legs—I get achy from looking at him.

I fix my eyes on my lunch trying to convince myself that my sandwich is more interesting than him. It’s not.

There’s so much power in his stare. I shouldn’t give him more by staring back. Even though I want to give him more power—over me.

I close my eyes, a little shocked and a lot disturbed by my thought patterns concerning this man.

“Penny, are you okay?”

My eyes flash open to my friend Amisha pulling out the chair across from me. She sits, and concern strains her features.

The last thing I want to do is give her another reason to worry about me. “Yeah.” I force a smile. “I’m fine.” I’m too weirded out by my reactions to mention him. Besides, where he’s standing, she’ll never notice him unless I point him out.

A light breeze ruffles her dark hair, and her eyes, just as dark, narrow. “Having a rough day?”

“Nah, it’s just the food.” I poke at my lackluster sandwich.

She pours dressing over her salad. “Did you check in on Noreen and baby Delilah?”

The newest extreme case in the neonatal ICU. “They took Delilah off the ventilator.”

“They didn’t make Noreen go home, did they?”

“No.” We fight hard to keep the moms and babies together as long as we can. They can’t breastfeed regularly if the moms aren’t staying in the hospital, and the best thing for any newborn is Mom’s milk.

“Good.”

With her not looking, I sneak one more glance at my distraction. His light eyes could be blue or hazel, gray or green. Whatever they are, they glower, not at me but through me. Like he’s looking at more than just me—or more than what I know of as me.

I like it, how he sees me. Like I’m worthy of hunting. Worthy of devouring.

A wash of heat flushes my neck, my skin sprouting goose bumps in the cool breeze.

Maybe it’s my imagination, an illusion from looking at him too much, trying to detect something from him, but his chin nods almost imperceptibly. As if to say, Are you ready for me to destroy you?

I jerk my gaze back to my food. My sense of self-preservation must be on hiatus, because something flips and tugs in my stomach, like a pulling string, a desire, a curiosity.

What would it feel like to be destroyed by him?

* * *

She’s everything I thought she’d be.

It makes me hate her more. Which I didn’t think was possible.

I never thought the anger festering in my blood for eight years, curdling into a need for vengeance that’s distorted my life—I never thought it could get stronger.

But watching her too-pretty face, those baby blue eyes screaming innocence, her flawless skin gleaming softness—everything about her disgusts me, revolts me . . . makes me want to wreck her.

She’s lived the sheltered life I never got, and I want to steal it.

Except . . . I need her alive. Her father died too easily.

Death would be too simple, an easy escape.

I have a plan, a meticulous one, to take it all from her. Piece by piece, I’ll dismantle her life until she can’t live it anymore.

I should count myself lucky. She didn’t call security and have me kicked off the hospital campus. It smacks of stupidity on her part, and I’ll depend on it.

She’s responding exactly as I planned: equal parts fear and curiosity. Soon, her curiosity will win, and she’ll talk to me. Soon she’ll learn the truth—a truth that will shatter her wholesome little world. I can’t wait to see the horror I will put on her angelic face, the pain it will permanently plant in her eyes.

Penelope Vandershall—I wonder if the friend she eats with every day knows who she is. If Penny—such a nauseatingly sweet nickname—has a trust fund half as big as I know hers to be, she doesn’t need to be working. She should be camped out at a beach house or a spa.

Like they do hourly, red anger spots cloud my vision. The need to go over there, dump her lunch in her lap, turn over her table, and roar in her face . . .

I grip the railing beside me and force myself to breathe. Now is not the time for action, that will come. Even though the anger living beneath my skin writhes like a feral beast with the need for revenge.

I want her to come to me. That’s how my plan begins. With her asking me to dole out her torture. Her childlike curiosity is my fiercest weapon. After the sterile, boring life she’s led, she can’t help being fascinated by a man stalking her.

Her little shoulders fold, her eyes puffy, like she’s been crying. She looks like that every day. No one can cry that much. She talks with her friend but never laughs. She cracks a half-smile, but her cheeks never lift, her teeth never show. I know why.

Grief has been her best friend the last three months. And I’m going to make it worse for her.

There’s nothing about her and her privileged life that moves me. I need her. Nothing can keep her from me.

She’s my last chance to make it right.

My last chance to avenge the only family I ever had.

Learn more about or order a copy of Stranger: A Dark Stalker Romance by Robin Lovett, available June 13, 2017:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

 

 


Killing June by May Bridges

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SEDUCED BY PAIN

At night I’m June, dominating with the whip, even as I crave the hot, searing blow of the cane, myself. I loathe this side of who I am, but I can’t deny it or escape it. And as my clients cry out for me, begging for mercy, I can't help but want June dead.

By day, I’m Alex Ryan, the good, successful Southern woman everyone thinks I am. I’ve compartmentalized my life to make it bearable, and to get what I want most: revenge. I can have a future with June dead, as soon as I confront the man that terrorized my past.

SAVED BY SIN

Cade Brannon is the local gun for hire, part of the seedy underworld of Dallas, but he may also be my savior. I want his help and he wants me. But Cade refuses to play by my rules and is forcing his way into every one of those compartments that I want to lock away. Now the parts of my life I’ve fought so hard to keep separate are bleeding together and it’s tearing me apart.

I just want to go back to being Alex Ryan. But at what cost am I willing to kill June?

Chapter One

I’d thought about killing June before, but never with the determination I felt while sitting in Joe’s bar waiting to meet new clients. I hated her—who she was, the things she did, and mostly, that I needed her. I hated the tension tightening my gut, and the nausea I fought waiting for a stranger to slide onto the stool beside me.

I glanced around, trying to spot my would-be client. Nothing but bikers and half-dressed, strung-out women. It would’ve been a rough crowd in my neighborhood, but that far south of I-20 in Dallas, it was spot on.

My nerves, coupled with sticky Texas heat, pushed my discomfort over the edge. It was September, ten p.m., and a solid eighty-five degrees in Dallas. Ninety-five degrees easy in Joe’s smoke-filled sweatbox.

“You’re nursing that one, Doll.” Joe pointed to my half-full glass. He pulled a bar towel across his damp, dark brow.

“Here for a quick chat with a friend, then I have to drive. Being responsible, Joe.”

“Sure ya are.” Joe winked and strolled across the bar to help a string of spandex and leather–clad ladies.

We’d never discussed it, but I was sure the old man knew that the guys I met weren’t friends, and that I wasn’t hanging out to chat.

Letting ice from my drink linger against my lips, fizz tickling my nose, I watched Joe pour tequila and pass out salt. My view was obstructed by the mass of a man who settled on the stool beside me.

This was the awkward part.

I didn’t know my client, didn’t know what he looked like, didn’t know if this was him.

My eyes raked over the man and my throat ran dry, thinking of having him as a client. An image of him cuffed and on his knees flooded my vision. My clients came in all shapes and sizes, but they were usually refined and polished. His frame was well-used muscle wrapped in a black tee. His naturally tanned arms were covered in black ink. There was confidence in his movements, an air about him that dared you to question anything he did. Dark eyes and a stubbled jaw gave him a beautifully rough appeal. It made my own confidence sway.

I always sat on the stool at the end. My associate, Robert, set the meetings up, gave them my description, and told them to sit next to me. So the man making my insides flip was either my client, or he had taken my client’s seat at a most inconvenient time. I’ll admit, I was hoping for the latter. Robert assured me he wouldn’t send men my way that I couldn’t handle. The guy next to me looked like a lot to handle. More than I was used to.

I gave a thought to the makeup that was melting off my face and considered going to the bathroom to fix it before saying anything to him. It wouldn’t have mattered. When I first started meeting clients, I fussed over every detail. I worried they’d be disappointed by some trivial aspect of my hair, makeup, whatever. Now, I knew better. I either was or wasn’t what they wanted, and running mascara wouldn’t change it.

I threw back the rest of my drink for courage and then swiveled on my wood stool, letting the toe of my shoe linger against his jeaned leg innocently.

“You don’t look like you belong in here,” the man said. He talked without turning my way, but I knew he meant me.

I didn’t look like I belonged. I’d come straight from work; there hadn’t been time to change into something that blended better with the babes and bikers. My knee-length pencil skirt, satin blouse, and Prada pumps would have to do.

“You look like you fit quite well,” I replied, casually wiping condensation from my glass. It beaded off my finger and dropped onto the warped wooden bar top.

Jeans, black T-shirt, tattoo-covered arms, and a muscle mass that made the bouncer look scrawny—he had drug dealer written all over him. Not your low-end corner man, but the thug that breaks the guy’s neck when he does more of the blow than he sells, and the profits don’t add up.

“Hey, Doll,” Joe said, resting his brown liver-spotted forearms on the bar in front of me. “Glass is empty. Sure you don’t want another?”

“She’ll have one more, and I’ll take a water,” my possible client said, cutting me off.

“No, thanks,” I said, too late.

“Sure thing, Cade.” Joe dipped his head and moved to comply with the stranger, Cade’s, request.

“I didn’t peg you for a water guy,” I said. I didn’t like men ordering for me, or assuming I wanted to have a drink with them. It was presumptuous. Still, I didn’t know if he was my client, so I played nice.

“You don’t strike me as a Jack & Coke girl, Doll, but here we are, both underestimating the other.”

The deep tone in his voice was admittedly delicious. It was a voice that made you want to let your eyes flutter closed so you could concentrate on absorbing it. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad having a few clients like him thrown my way.

“Cade, wasn’t it?”

He turned his face toward me with a half-cocked grin, his dark hair falling forward on his head.

“Doll isn’t my name. Joe gets away with it because he’s charming, in an old guy sorta way. If we’re going to have any kind of arrangement, you don’t get to call me that again. We clear?” I looked him in the eye, my gaze unwavering.

Men knew what they came to me for, the potent mixture of pain and pleasure only some women are cut out to provide. Still, it was good to establish who would be in control during our interactions. I could tell it was best to get that point straight with this one right away.

Cade turned to face me head on. His heels rested against the bottom bar of his stool, knees bent, one on either side of my crossed legs, closing me in. My field of vision was reduced to the man before me—his dark hair and velvet brown eyes, the wide expanse of his shoulders, the rise and fall of his chest. From his easy posture, thick corded body, knowing smile, and focused stare, I could tell he was dominance personified. It was atypical of the men that came to me. Dominance was what they came for, not what they brought. To not be intimidated by that man would be a foolish thing for anyone. I tried not to let him see that.

“Arrangement?” he said, his eyes lighting up with amusement. “I don’t pay for pussy, and you don’t want the kind of arrangements I make with people. I think that’s the guy you’re looking for.” Cade nodded toward a man who looked as out of place as I did. He wore a tailored suit and hovered awkwardly a few steps away. He was unmistakably my client, the kind I usually saw. He knew he was supposed to sit down next to me, but didn’t seem to like the prospect of approaching Cade for his seat. I couldn’t blame him.

“I don’t sell pussy,” I said, snapping back at him.

Cade’s smug grin brought my shame and rage bubbling to the surface. I could feel my cheeks reddening. It reignited my urge to kill June, sooner rather than later. That part of my life was ugly. I spent nights with men I didn’t know, dominated them, and set them free. I didn’t fuck them. Yes, that line was thin, but it was the only action standing between something I could live with, and being a whore.

That was why I needed her. I needed June to help make me whole again; to make me a single person not divided by the ugliness I let live inside me. When that ugliness was dead, I could kill June too. Until then, I needed her in such a way that who she was, and who I was, were becoming so entwined, I feared we could never part.

Joe placed another Jack & Coke in front of me, and water for Cade.

“Can I get my tab, Joe?” I asked. I could iron out the final details of my arrangement with my actual client outside, away from that asshole.

“Don’t worry about it,” Cade said, standing in the small place between our stools. He towered over me, so close I felt him brush against my skin.

He pulled a fifty from his wallet and tossed it onto the bar. Cade leaned down to me, his body arching over mine, engulfing the space around me. He moved the hair back from my ear with his nose. I froze, concentrating on my breathing in order to keep the panic at bay. I tried not to feel the tickle of his warm breath on my skin. I wasn’t okay with being that close, with a touch that felt so intimate, but I couldn’t fucking move.

He placed one hand on the small of my back, right over the .40 cal Smith & Wesson tucked into the band of my skirt. I felt the metal firm against my skin as he pushed on the weapon.

His voice was a bone-melting baritone. “Anyone that takes the time to see you would know you don’t sell pussy, Doll. You sell an experience, right?” He leaned away and winked at me. He downed his glass of water like it was something worth drinking, then sauntered to the door.

I hated him. I didn’t know him, but I hated him. Who the hell did he think he was? Condescending ass. I didn’t sell pussy, actually. I wasn’t a whore. Even if I was, I was higher on the societal class scale than his thug ass. At least I had a real job, one that provided insurance, and a 401k plan. And damn right the night a man spent with me was an experience. I felt like hurling the glass in my hand at the back of his head as he ducked out of the bar.

I did my best to shake it off as my actual client clambered up to the bar, settling himself on the stool Cade had just vacated. He was half Cade’s size, his posture not as good, and I could see the nerves behind his slick smile. I had no idea why I was comparing him to that asshole.

“You must be Rob’s girl,” my client said, raising a hand to order a drink. The cuff of his suit jacket slid back, exposing gold cufflinks. If he was smart he’d realize where he was and put his damn hand down. In bars like that, he wouldn’t have gold cufflinks for long if he didn’t.

“I’m not ‘Rob’s girl’.” No one owned me. “But yes, I’m who you’re looking for.” I took a long pull on the now watery Jack & Coke that Cade had so graciously bought for me.

This guy wasn’t smart. He put his hand down, but shrugged off his coat, slid his sleeve up, and checked his Burberry watch. Either he had a personal bodyguard I couldn’t see, or he was asking the bikers on the other side of the bar—who were proudly displaying their cut—to rob him. Knowing he dealt with Robert told me it was probably the former. I was sure there was a large, scary man in a corner somewhere being paid to watch my pretty-boy client.

“Okay, then you must have a name. I’ll need something to scream out, I’m sure.” His smile and arrogant chuckle sent a wave of nausea through my gut. I hated playing nice.

“We can talk money and then we can talk about making you scream.” Smiling at him, I bit my bottom lip and pulled it through my teeth slowly. I turned toward him with my legs crossed and let the toe of my Prada linger against his shin. “You pay me half now and half tomorrow night, before service is provided.”

“If I give you half now, how do I know you’ll show tomorrow?”

Joe appeared in front of us, raising a wiry gray eyebrow at my client.

“Martini with a lemon twist,” my client said, pushing his blond waves back from his forehead, sweeping his hand along the side of his hair. It all fell right back into place, the place he had gelled it. The action made him even more annoying.

“If you know Robert, and obviously you do, then you know the kind of people he associates with. The kind that follows through with what they say. If I tell you I’ll be there tomorrow night, I will.”

Joe set my client’s martini—gin and vermouth with one pearl onion, one olive, and no twist—down in front of him. “You still good, Doll?”

“Done, actually.”

“Your tab is twelve tonight.” Joe eyed the fifty Cade left on the bar.

I picked it up and slid it into my bra. “My friend here is picking up my tab.” I slid off my stool and placed my hand on his designer shirt–clad shoulder.

“Then it’ll be eighteen fifty for you,” Joe said, nodding toward him.

My client pulled his wallet and an envelope from the pocket of his slacks. He took a twenty from his wallet and gave it to Joe, who pocketed it without bothering to ask if he wanted his change, and handed the envelope to me.

“Four hundred,” he said, as I felt out the envelope, pushing it into my purse.

The card I handed him in return had nothing but an address. “Short notice, so tomorrow you show up with six.”

“Rob said eight total would take care of it. Why are we talking about a thousand now?”

He was still standing, and there wasn’t but an inch between us. I slid my hand down the front of his slacks, cupping him when I found what I was looking for. With his dick and a fair amount of his balls in the palm of my hand, I squeezed. It was just enough to make him white knuckle the edge of the bar with one hand and throw the other up to his mouth, stopping the gasp.

“We’re talking about it,” I said in his ear, “because I’m worth it.” I released him, massaging gently as I did. “The only thing you need to say from here on out is ‘Yes, Miss June.’”

All of the pressure was released and his dick started to stir in his slacks, going from chubby to something I could work with. “Yes, Miss June,” he said, exhaling.

“Good boy.” I slid out from between him and the stool. “Ten tomorrow night.”

“Don’t you want to know my name?” he asked.

“I’m not the one who’ll need something to scream. So, no.”

Learn more about or order a copy of Killing June by May Bridges, available July 4, 2017:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

 

 


Shattered King by Sherilee Gray

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He’s out to get revenge for a crime he didn’t commit…

Hunter King just got out of prison. Incarcerated for three years though an innocent man, his rage against the people who put him there knows no bounds. First up on his list for vengeance: the woman who betrayed him years ago. The woman he loved fiercely, the one bright light in his otherwise hard, ruthless life. She has information he needs. And he’s going to kidnap her, hold her hostage, in order to get it. But one look into Lulu’s eyes unleashes the true beast within. Hunter’s never hated anyone this deeply, or wanted any woman this badly.

Lulu had no choice: Either help send Hunter to prison, or see him destroyed. She couldn’t do that to the man she loved. Couldn’t do it to the father of her child. But Hunter was locked away before he had a chance to learn about his son—and a hard layer of despair has formed around his heart that she’s desperate to crack. And if Hunter is to give himself and Lulu a second chance at love, he needs to find a way past his darkest demons.

PROLOGUE

I came to say goodbye.

Walker James Correctional Facility, NY

Lulu

The metal seat was hard and cold, its chill seeping through my favorite faded jeans and the plain black T-shirt I’d blindly grabbed from my dresser that morning. The place smelled like a hospital, that strong aroma of disinfectant.

I hated hospitals.

But not as much as I hated prisons.

A shiver raced through me, and I dropped my gaze from the dull gray walls, down to my clasped fingers.

My hands felt oddly numb, almost like they weren’t attached to my wrists. My legs weren’t much better. I couldn’t feel my toes. Inside though, I was on fire, burning up, twisted in knots. My heart was about to burst through my chest. I wanted to scream and cry and hit something until my hands were bloody and raw. But I couldn’t do any of those things. All I could do was sit, and wait.

I was here for one reason and one reason only.

To say goodbye.

Somehow, I had to walk away.

The buzzer sounded and the door opened. I sucked in a breath as different emotions welled inside me. I sat frozen in my seat as inmates entered the room, moving quickly to their loved ones, giving their wives, girlfriends, kids, hugs and smiles. Happy to see them.

Hunter walked in last.

I swallowed, forcing down the anguished sound trying to crawl up my throat. Seeing him again was a kick in the gut. Somehow, I kept my ass glued to the seat instead of rushing to him and wrapping myself around him. Begging him to forgive me.

There was no smile curving his lips as he scanned the room, and when his clear blue eyes found mine, they were cold, completely devoid of emotion. There was none of the warmth, the heat that had always been there for me. It was gone, completely. I curled my fingers into fists as he moved toward me, so hard my nails cut into my skin.

Hunter was tall, over six feet, leanly muscled, hard and strong. The white T-shirt he wore stretched across his chest and shoulders, showing off the ink covering half of his arms. Ink I’d traced with my fingers a million times. Ink I’d kissed. He usually got me to give him a buzz cut every few weeks, but we’d missed the last one for some reason that I couldn’t remember now. I had no idea what happened with hair in a place like this, but it still hadn’t been cut. His hair was almost black, and the longer length made his striking blue eyes stand out even more.

He walked toward me, those eyes, that hard gaze, pulsing right through me, like an electric current, never leaving me once.

Finally, he was there, sliding into the seat opposite. I couldn’t meet his stare, not yet, not when he was so near. I looked at his lower lip. The plain silver ring that had been there when I last saw him was gone. The piercing had been on the right side, close to the corner of his mouth. It drove him crazy when I slid my tongue over it, tasted him. He’d growl and kiss me back, hot and hard. God, he had beautiful lips.

His strong nose had a bump in the bridge, from where it’d been broken by his asshole father more than once. I hated the way he got it, hated it, but weirdly, it suited him. I couldn’t imagine him without it. His cheeks and jaw were covered in a day’s growth. I remembered how those whiskers felt against my fingertips.

On a shaky breath, I lifted my chin, my gaze finally colliding with his.

Nothing.

He gave me nothing.

My toes curled in my cherry Docs, and my pulse beat hard enough I could feel its thick, steady rhythm at the side of my neck. I opened my mouth, but words wouldn’t come out. His stare got harder and, though I didn’t think it possible, colder. My fingers flexed against my still flat belly. I wanted to reach across the table and take his hand. I wanted to tell him about the baby growing inside me, tell him how scared I was. I wanted to tell him the truth. That this was the only way I knew how to keep him safe, that I loved him more than anything in this world. But I couldn’t say any of those things. I opened my mouth again. Closed it. My throat felt dry, like I hadn’t had a drink in a week.

He sat forward suddenly, forearms going to the small metal table between us. “You got nothing to say? Nothing? Seriously?”

I flinched. I couldn’t help it. Oh God. I knew he hated me. I did. But seeing it, having it directed at me, I didn’t know if I could take it. Not when I loved him so damn much. I wanted to drop to my knees and beg him to forgive me, beg him not to stop loving me.

I swallowed, trying to get some moisture going in my mouth. I had to say what I’d come to say. I had to. I started to shake. Fuck. “I’m . . . I’m sor . . .”

“Don’t fucking say it, Lulu. Don’t you dare fucking say that to me.”

Hearing him say my name was a knife to the chest. He was the only one who called me that. Everyone else called me Lucinda or Lucy. Pierce, my stepfather—even thinking his name made my skin crawl—had hated it. Hated Hunter period. Now the sick, sadistic asshole had found a way to get him out of my life for good.

I stared into his eyes, desperate for a piece of my Hunter, no matter how small. But he was gone. The full impact of his hatred for me, his disgust, was as bright as a neon sign. What else could I say? He didn’t want my apology. I got that, too. How could an “I’m sorry” make up for losing three years of your life?

I couldn’t tell him I’d let him swing to save his life. My stepfather had people on his payroll in this prison. He’d told me they’d be watching today, that if I said one thing to tip him off, Hunter was dead. If I went to the cops, if I said anything to anyone, Hunter was dead. My nose and eyes stung, tears threatening to escape, but I swallowed them down ruthlessly, forced them back.

I glanced around. No one seemed to be watching us, but I had no way of knowing for sure. I couldn’t risk Hunter’s life just to appease my guilt. “I’m leaving,” I told him. “I’m never coming back. I came to say goodbye.”

He stared at me for several long seconds, showing no outward reaction. But then he fisted his long fingers in front of him, the ink on his knuckles becoming stark against the tight, whitened skin. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re already gone. You’re dead to me. You don’t fucking exist.”

I was going to throw up. Nothing in my entire life had hurt more than those words. I couldn’t bear it another second. I couldn’t sit here with him looking at me like that. Lying to his face. Pretending I didn’t care. Pretending I was okay, when I was so far from okay I didn’t know where the hell I was.

I stood abruptly, and had to grab for the table when my legs threatened to give out from under me. Before I could get my bearings, Hunter’s hand snaked out, wrapping around my wrist, yanking me forward. I fell across the table with a cry, the bolted down metal legs rattling loudly against the concrete floor as he dragged me closer.

“Why?” he hissed in my face.

His grip was tight enough to hurt, and the table dug painfully into my side. Tears welled up and spilled hotly down my cheeks. “I’m sorry,” I gasped. “I’m so sorry.”

The guards were on him, trying to pull him off me. He fought, still not letting go. They yanked him back and I was dragged forward, going down hard on the floor.

“Why?” he roared in my face.

His fingers were pried from around my wrist, and they dragged him from the room. He yelled the same word over and over the whole way. It echoed off the walls around me.

I squeezed my eyes shut, lifted to my elbows, and threw up in front of everyone. I didn’t care.

Hunter was gone.

Learn more about or order a copy of Shattered King by Sherilee Gray, available June 27, 2017:

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Copyright © 2017 by Robin Lovett, May Bridges & Sherilee Gray
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1 comment
Robin Lovett
1. RobinLovett
Wow! What scorching hot excerpts. So glad to be included among such like minded authors.
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