Coming July 18th
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His name is Beat, and I should hate him.
Bound, blindfolded and bruised, I’m tied in his basement, waiting for the men who stripped me from clothes and humanity to collect his debt to them. Me.
His name is Nate and I should hate him, but I don’t.
I’m not supposed to know his real name, even worse, I’m not supposed to care. He is nothing to me but means to an end. The plan is simple: break free, collect the pieces of my broken soul, kill the bastards and run away.
His name is Nathaniel Thomas Vela, and I’ve never seen his face, though I hear that it’s beautiful.
Behind the rugged and handsome exterior, there’s a quiet murderer, a killer who thinks guns are for pussies and ends people with his bare hands.
His name doesn’t matter, neither does his face, but what does matter is my heart. And right now, sadly, it’s his.
Blood to Dust is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.
“You don’t get a say in this shit,” Ink announces with borrowed authority. I can hear the uncertainty leaking from him. He’s what I call an easy job. If it were just him watching over me, I would have been dancing in Iowan cornfields far away from here by now, Sebastian and Godfrey’s heads tucked in that Nike bag.
“You make me uncomfortable.” I yank my arm away.
“What, and the other guy makes you warm and fuzzy?” He sounds genuinely offended.
Beat inches closer behind me, and I feel the heat of his body drifting into mine. He’s close. Hot-jock-leaning-against-your-locker close. It’s going to be hard to bypass someone his size.
“You think I’m nice?” His breath moves through the plastic of his mask, tickling my ear. I shudder down to my toes. His mouth smells like peach. How bad can a guy who smells like a peach be?
“Nice-r.” I clear my throat, my eyes still trained on Ink in front of me. Ink shakes his head, indicating that I’m dead wrong. The air becomes chilly. Why hadn’t I noticed it’s so chilly?
Because it’s not. It’s August in California, and I’m cold because I’m frightened.
“Let’s test your theory. I’m going to touch you now. Move without permission, and I’m breaking your arm.”
My busted lower lip splits open again as I scowl at his threat. He definitely looks like a guy who makes good on his threats.
“Okay.” I lick my blood, my voice tender.
Beat kicks my legs open and brings my arms up, patting me down dryly, like airport security. His rough fingers stroke the curves of my shoulders as he moves down from my skull to my outer breasts, circling them lazily. Down to my stomach…lower to my tensed inner thighs, pushing the fabric of my mini dress away to make room for his warm paws.
Every muscle in my body is ready to plow forward, to run away, to try and hurt him; the memory of every experience I’ve had that started this way demands for me to take action. But this…it doesn’t feel like a violation. The sour taste of bile has yet to explode in my mouth.
His hands move down my legs, stroking my ankles…then he stops.
“Got something inside?” He squats down, hooking one of his thumbs into my ankle boot. His masked face is eye level with my pelvis, and warmth spreads along my bones like hot wax.
“No,” I lie. There’s still a slight chance he won’t check.
But he checks.
Beat jerks my boot out and a Swiss army knife falls with a clank on the concrete pavement. I let out a sigh and drop my head. Shit.
Frozen yoghurt with Preston down the local mall.
Curling up on the egg-swing with a Mia Sheridan book.
Water lilies blooming over the artificial pond in the Burlington-Smyth’s garden.
A genuine smile from a stranger.
Beat stands up slowly, his gleeful mask zeroing on my face. It all looks like a scene from a horror movie.
And I’m the victim.
L.J. Shen is a best-selling author of Contemporary Romance novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.
She enjoys the simple things in life, like chocolate, wine, reading, HBO, spending time with her girlfriends and internet-stalking Chris Hemsworth. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.