by Pepper Winters
Contemporary New Adult Romance
Publication date: March 7th 2014
She has a secret.
I’m complicated. Not broken or ruined or running from a past I can’t face. Just complicated.
I thought my life couldn’t get any more tangled in deceit and confusion. But I hadn’t met him. I hadn’t realized how far I could fall or what I’d do to get free.
He has a secret.
I’ve never pretended to be good or deserving. I chase who I want, do what I want, act how I want.
I didn’t have time to lust after a woman I had no right to lust after. I told myself to shut up and stay hidden. But then she tried to run. I’d tasted what she could offer me and damned if I would let her go.
One secret destroys them.
DELETED SCENESUnedited. Copyright Pepper Winters
All I took was my Cayman and the bag of cash. I knew where Hazel lived and it was a simple matter of using the many skills I possessed and breaking into her apartment.
I stood over her, wrapped in shadows as she slept. Her face never smoothed from a frown, her lips tugged down with grief. My heart beat for her and I’d hoped—prayed—that she’d be able to forgive me, but I knew it was fruitless.
This was the only path for me. –ROAN
I screeched to a halt outside the apartment block. Oscar refused to tell me the address, but I didn’t waste time arguing. I could’ve beaten it out of him, but I had other means.
I’d learned from his refusal last time and attached a GPS tracker to his car. It was a simple matter of following the most recent route he’d taken with the app on my android.
The purr of my black Porsche set my nerves on edge. The dash clock said it was one a.m.
Too early for a house call, but this wasn’t just a house call. This was a flat out demand for her to come back. I would give her anything if only she’d give me one last chance.
Turning the engine off, I dragged bruised and cut hands through my unkept hair, and climbed out of the sports car. The sleek lines glowed like an expensive gem beneath the street lights. Raindrops ran down my face, feeling like the world cried for me. The sky sensed my inability to re-enter the human life—it mourned on my behalf the regret I felt.—ROAN
And fucking waited.
I pressed it again.
Finally scuffling sounded on the other side of the door before it was cracked open. The safety chain stayed across.
I growled, “Where is she, Corkscrew? I need to talk to her.”
Corkscrew gritted his jaw. His dark skin and black eyes looked like the gatekeeper from hell. “She told me not to let her near her.”
Shaking my head, I said, “That isn’t an option. I just want to talk.” Swiping a hand over my face, keeping my temper in check I added, “I need to apologise for before.”—ROAN
He slammed to a knee, shaking his head.
“Hey! Don’t hurt him,” Clue screamed. I ignored her and advanced on Corkscrew. If anyone had any chance at delivering some pain it was this man.
He kept his head down, playing the victim. But I was prepared for his large hand swiping at my calf and taking my leg from under me.
I landed on my hip and didn’t have time to breathe before he landed on top of me and delivered a rain of fists.
It hurt. It fucking hurt. It was exactly what I needed.
Rolling together, I pinned him down and delivered a few swings myself. His nose gushed blood, looking dark against his black skin. “Where is she?”—ROAN
I smiled, dumping our bags on the floor. Then I noticed the broken painting on the floor instead of the wall and the missing coffee table. Goosebumps scattered over my skin. “Um, did something happen while we were gone?”
Clue threw a covert glance at Ben. She shook her head once, her eyes telling him to shut up.
“Oh no you don’t. You’re not keeping secrets from me.” I stormed forward and shook a finger in Clue’s face. “What happened?”
“Obsidian Fox happened,” Ben replied. He shrugged. “He came here looking for you. Got a bit heated.”
My eyes narrowed taking in the smudge of bruises on Ben’s face. His dark skin hid the injury better than white, but he couldn’t hide the swelling.
“He hit you?”—HAZEL
It was an hour before Obsidian opened its doors to fighters and I had no problem getting past the bouncer this time. I didn’t know if it was because he recognised me or before of the rage in my eyes, but he had the door open for me the moment I screeched to a stop.
Fox was exactly where I thought he would be.
In his basement, working on yet another weapon, forging yet more steel into yet more torture equipment.
“You!” I yelled.
He snapped upright, turning off the welding torch. He spun to face me, tugging the protective goggles off his head. “You yourself.” His grey-white eyes looked as bleak as any snowstorm. “Where the hell did you go? I’ve been trying to track you down for days?” Prowling toward me he growled, “Didn’t you think I’d go out of my mind? I know how shitty I treated you but you ran before I could fucking apologise.”—HAZEL
He moved forward a step, backing me up against a thick worktable covered in tools and odd bits of metal. His face darkened, etching with anger but then he sighed and his temper faded. “Look, I fucked up. I couldn’t handle it and I’m sorry.” He looked like a black mountain towering over me. “You need to forgive me. I didn’t mean to say what I did. I need you to come back.”
I studied him. His face held shadows of bruises, his jaw slightly puffy. He’d been in another fight—searching for a way out of this hell. His black jacket and trousers swallowed the brightness of the halogens dotted around the room. He’d always favoured black and now I knew why. He was death incarnate. Everything he touched turned to ruin.—HAZEL
AUTHOR BIOPepper Winters is a NYT and USA International Bestseller. She wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero, the better, and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex... her books have sex.
She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends.