Authors: Sawyer Bennett
“This book devastated me in the most wonderful way. Beck and Sela are so scorching and real together that I didn't want to let them go. I can't wait to devour the rest of this series!”
New York Times
“A totally gripping take on romance and revenge!”
New York Times
is raw, gritty, and exceptionally hot. I couldn't put it down.”
New York Times
“Wow! Sawyer Bennett steps out of her ice skates and into her Manolos.
is a hot read that only gets better with every page.”
New York Times
bestselling author S
“I read it in less than three hours because I am a freak reader when I like something. This book is great!”
“Sawyer Bennett has talent that knows no bounds and this book proves it. From page one to the end I was captivated and enthralled. I can't wait for more!”
“Sawyer Bennett does dark with amazing facility, drawing me in with Sela's story, and holding me there with Beck's.
is compulsively readable, deliciously dirty, and passionately written.”
bestselling author CD R
“Sawyer Bennett delivers a titillating novel that balances between the desire to seek revenge and the yearning to hold on to love. It's sexy and addicting, and I devoured every last word.”
, author of
The Randy Romance Novelist
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2016 by Sawyer Bennett
by Sawyer Bennett copyright Â© 2016 by Sawyer Bennett
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
is a registered trademark and the
colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
by Sawyer Bennett. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
Book design by Elizabeth A. D. Eno, adapted for ebook
Cover design: Sarah Hansen
Cover photograph: Tymonko Galyna/Shutterstock
“Oh, Sela. What have you done?”
Beck pulls away from me slightly, his hands holding my upper arms with such gentleness. Those eyes I've come to love swimming with fear. My own eyes fill with wetness again and with one blink, the tears go streaming down my face. I haven't been able to stop crying sinceâ¦
“We need to get her to a hospital,” Caroline says.
I immediately shake my head in denial despite the fact I'm covered in JT's blood. Despite the fact he just tried to kill me. “I'm okay.”
Beck's hand movesâ¦fingers touching the base of my throat so lightly if feels like butterfly wings, which is totally at odds with the panicked tone of his voice. “You've got some bruises.”
I shake my head again. “I'm fine.”
Then a sob pops out of my mouth, and Beck is pulling me back into his arms to hug me tight. My face presses into his chest, my arms around his waist locking on desperately. I feel slight pressure on my shoulder, followed by a circular motion, and I know it's Caroline offering physical comfort as well. Even with my eyes squeezed shut, the tears continue to leak out.
I have to tell them.
What I did.
But I can't seem to open my mouth and make the words form.
As if sensing my inability, Beck releases me and puts his hands to my shoulders. He pushes me back so we can see each other clearly and Caroline's hand falls away. More tears stream down my face, blurring his features. But I know that same look of worry is still there.
“Is JT dead?” Beck asks in a shaky voice.
I can't answer, but merely nod my head.
“Christ,” Beck whispers, and I rapidly blink to clear my vision because I need to know if Beck hates me for this.
When he comes into focus, I see he cuts a worried glance at Caroline, but then his eyes come back to me. His hands come up and palm my cheeks. “It's okay, baby. It's going to be okay.”
And just like that, the stranglehold on my vocal chords releases. My words pour out in a cascade of desperation, stuttered with tiny sobs. “I didn't mean to. I had no choice. He was going to kill me.”
“It's okay,” Beck says in a low soothing voice, but I know it's not. “It's okay. You're safe now. I've got you.”
“Oh God,” I moan piteously, my eyes flicking between his and begging for absolution. “I killed someone.”
“Shhhh,” Beck says, his hands pressing in on my face to urge me to listen to him. “I need you to tell me what happened so I can figure out how to fix this, okay?”
“You can't fix it,” I cry out as I wrench free from him. I look down at the front of my blood-soaked T-shirt and wave my hands at it. “Do you see this? I killed JT. You can't fix that.”
“You need to calm downâ”
I spin toward the office door, my head dizzy with stress and emotion. “No. I need to go turn myself inâ”
Beck grabs my elbow, stopping me dead in my tracks and then pivoting me toward him. “You are not turning yourself in until you tell me what happened.”
“I murdered your b-b-business partner,” I yell at him, and it's in this moment that I realize I still have some reason about me because I almost said “your brother.” I caught myself though, because Caroline's in the room and she has no clue about the relation.
My body shudders as I remember JT telling me he raped Caroline. Knowing that he's Ally's father.
As well as her uncle.
Bile rises in my throat and I swallow against it with unyielding resolve.
“Sela,” Beck says slowly but with total command, still keeping my arm firmly in his grasp so I don't try to run again. “Tell me what happened.”
My head swivels to the right and I look at Caroline. She has one arm crossed under her breast, the other raised so her fist is pressed up against her mouth in a thinking man's pose. But those eyesâ¦same as Beck'sâ¦are totally filled with fear and worry for me.
I look back to Beck and take a deep breath. “He attacked meâ”
“Uh-uh,” Beck says with a shake of his head. “Start from the beginning. I assume he contacted you?”
My legs almost give out from underneath me as I realize from that simple question that Beck never once even assumed I initiated contact with JT. He never once considered that I went to JT's place with the intention of murder. He implicitly trusts me and I didn't think it was possible for me to love him more.
I nod. “Left me a voice mail. I listened to it when I got out of class. Said that he had an idea he wanted to run by me that would give both of you want you wanted.”
“And you called him back?” Beck asks, his voice with a tinge of ice as he starts to understand the stupid path I put myself onto.
“Yeah,” I whisper, my face dropping to look at my feet. “I wanted to hear what he had to say. Hoped I could help make sure things worked out.”
“He asked me to come to his house,” I say in a voice so soft I can barely hear it myself. It's a voice of guilt and shame that I would even consider going to that man's house alone.
Beck hears those emotions loud and clear, cursing in disgust. “Goddamn, Sela. You couldn't have been that stupid to go to JT's by yourself. Not after what he did to you.”
My head snaps up and my gaze slices to Caroline. I assume Beck must have told her, because he wouldn't have outed me like that. Caroline's head tilts and she gives me a sympathetic smile of sisterhood.
Welcome to the We've Been Raped Club.
Beck's hands come back to my shoulders, and his grip is not gentle or reassuring. His blue eyes no longer swirling with fear but rather looking like pale ice. “I cannot believe you'd fucking do something that stupid.”
The real and normal Sela Halstead would have pulled away from Beck and lit into him for calling me that, but I can't. I was so ridiculously stupid.
Caroline takes a step forward and in a censuring voice says, “Beck.”
Her message is obvious. Back the fuck off me with the recrimination because I'm fragile right now. But I can't say as I blame him. I totally deserve it. I mean,
What the fuck was I thinking?
“I'm sorry,” I proclaim, my eyes sincerely begging him for his forgiveness.
Beck releases me, pushes the fingers of both hands through his hair, and clasps them at the back of his head, looking down at me as if he doesn't quite know what to do. He's angry and he's worried, and I can't even begin to imagine how he feels about me at this moment.
Caroline steps toward me, her hand coming back to my shoulder in a reassuring squeeze. “Tell us what happened.”
I watch as Beck's hands drop from his head and he turns his back on me. He takes two paces and comes up against his desk, palms down onto the edge, where he leans over and bows his head to hear my story.
He doesn't want to look at me, so I turn to face Caroline. Her face so open and ready to understand and accept whatever I tell her. But there's no way I can tell her everything that happened at JT's house.
“Sweet Caroline was a lovely piece that I just couldn't resist, and she put up a much bigger fight than you ever did, which made it all the better for me.”
My head swivels to see Beck still hunched over his desk, head hanging low as he listens.
Back to Caroline, who inclines her head and levels me with that look that says,
You and me, sisterâ¦we've been through the same hell. I've got you right now.
God, she's got no fucking clue that we truly have been through the same hell.
Raped by the same man.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes briefly, remembering that moment just after JT told me what he did to Caroline. He'd had the cast on his arm pressing down on my throat and my body was starved for oxygen. He was laying his body on top of me and I was filled with torn panic wondering if he'd rape me again or merely strangle me to death.
Regardless of his plans for me, my arms began to flail from near hysteria and an inherent need to live.
JT looks down at me, eyes leering not with sexual lust but with a crazed hatred. Saliva slips over his bottom lip and hangs in a long string until I feel its slimy touch on my chin. I have worse things to worry about right at this moment, but feeling his fluid on me disgusts me so much I involuntarily try to lift my shoulder to wipe the spittle off me.
My chest heaves, trying to suck in oxygen, but nothing's getting in. Everything around me seems to dim, my periphery going fuzzy and then darkening to gray. I feel so unbelievably weak.
One arm jerks, not intentionally, but sort of haphazardly slaps at JT's face. He laughs at me as it flops uselessly to the side where it hangs over the edge of the desk. My other arm also jerks and slowly starts to lower, coming down to rest softly just above my head. JT continues to stare at me, eyes practically rolling around in deranged glee as he watches me suffocate.
A lazy sense of acceptance swarms me, and I realize I don't hurt anymore. I can't even feel the crush of his cast on my throat, and about the only sensory perception I have is the hard, flat desk underneath me. The back of my head seemingly cradled by the wood, as if it were gently rocking me to sleep. A cold, thin object under my forearm as it lays uselessly above my head.
Waitâ¦what is that?
With herculean effort, my brain tells my arm to moveâ¦to turn slightlyâ¦grasp for whatever that is, but it doesn't seem to want to cooperate and I realize my brain must be dying.
But thenâ¦something is in my hand.
And I know immediately what it is.
An image of Beck flashes before me, lying in bed beside meâ¦smilingâ¦hair all mussy and his eyes warm and loving.
My arm flies off the desk, up and swinging outward, only to come back in a giant arc, where I plunge the end of a letter opener into the bottom side of JT's neck and immediately pull it back in a completely reactionary manner as I'm horrified I just stabbed someone. A spurt of blood hits my neck and I see JT's eyes go from maniacal to shocked in a nanosecond, then they become enraged. I don't think or hesitate, fear driving my actions. I swing the letter opener again, and it hits higher on his neck but still goes deeply.
JT pushes up off me a bit, opens his mouth to say something, and a pool of blood spills out onto my chest. The letter opener is on the same side as his casted arm, so he uses the opposite hand to try to grasp it, but he can't seem to find it. It doesn't matter though, because the first wound is bubbling and spurting blood with every dying heartbeat. His eyes become glazed as I watch him start to fade before my eyes.
His hand tries to grab the letter opener again, but the effort is pitiful and he misses by a mile. Through the haze of pain and death on his face, JT's eyes plead with me to help him, but all I can do is stare in helpless fascination.
I suddenly realize I'm breathing again and have an immediate return of strength and determination fueled by nothing more than pure adrenaline. I bring both my hands up to his chest and shove him off of me. JT makes a gurgling sound as he starts to drown in his own blood, falls to the side, and drops to the floor out of my line of sight.
I immediately scramble and roll to the opposite side, lowering my feet to the floor and keeping the desk in between us. I'm fairly sure he's incapacitated, but I'm not taking any chances. My head sweeps left and right and I finally see my gun lying at the base of a set of bookshelves. I run to it, coughing and wheezing, my throat on fire.
With sure hands, I grab the Walther PPK and swing it immediately back toward the desk, imagining the worst and JT crawling over the top of it toward me.
But I don't see anything.
Carefully, I sidestep my way toward the desk, trying hard not to cough and hack but not succeeding. If he's alive, he'll hear me coming a mile away as my sore throat rebels and demands I ease the pain and scratchiness with repeated barks of hoarse air.