A dark romantic thriller intended for a mature audience.
* * * *
Four years ago, Tyler Karras’ quest to avenge his wife's death led to all out war with San Francisco's Russian Mafia. With the Bratva’s collapse and its king, Dmitri Chernov, long dead, all Ty wants now is to put it behind him and enjoy a second chance at life with his new bride, Hannah, and the child they're expecting any day.
But Chernov's heir, Grigory Dmitriev, has returned, bitter and determined. He wants his kingdom back, and he's more than willing to leverage Ty's new family to get it.
First he targets Conner, Ty’s brooding nineteen-year-old stepson, manipulating the boy into a vortex of sex, drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Then he turns his sights on Hannah. At eight months pregnant, she’s the ultimate bargaining chip. With both their lives in jeopardy, as well as his unborn child, Ty has little choice but to do as Grigory commands.
But Tyler swore he'd never kill again. He buried that monster four years ago and means to keep it that way. Grigory, however, makes that vow impossible to keep.
With his new family on the line, Ty will cross further into the dark side than he ever has before, challenging everything he believes about himself, and forcing him to face the ghosts of his past. Only then will Ty discover if he has the strength to do the unspeakable, to sacrifice his last chance at redemption and save the lives of those he loves most
Blessed sunlight—the real thing, not the usual filtered gray—sliced between the shuttered slats on my bedroom window. My eyelids glowed from within, a soft but vivid red, the color so intense, it woke me with a pleasant nudge. I breathed in deep and let out a long sigh as my eyes fluttered to adjust. I smiled, remembering the dream I’d just been pulled from, Tyler and I making love outside in some exotic place I couldn’t identify, not that it mattered. All I cared about was us, that we were together again, in each other’s arms. I closed my eyes again and reached for the memory as it tried to flit away.
I could still feel the smooth warmth of Tyler’s skin, the way his muscles rippled hard and lean beneath my fingers. I felt his arms around me, holding me tight, yet careful not to lay his weight against the child tucked safe within my womb. And his mouth… It covered my face in seductive kisses, first along my temple, then across my forehead and down my nose, along my cheek to the edge of my jaw and down the column of my throat, making me gasp and wriggle beneath him.
He chuckled and moved his mouth to my ear where his tongue skimmed along the ridges and dove into the valleys. I squirmed even more as chills ran through me and goosebumps sprang up along my flesh. I felt a chill as his weight lifted away, and I looked up into the most startling blue eyes I’ve ever seen, the color of the South Sea, calm and serene yet thoroughly aroused. Dozens of little creases sprang like sunbursts from the outside corner of each eye. God, I loved that about him, and couldn’t help but smile back, for just an instant, until the length of him pushed deep inside me. I threw my head back and gasped as I arched my back, yielding to the pleasure and demanding more.
With my eyes shut tight, my head thrashed from side to side. I panted and reached for myself as I reveled in the memory of the dream. I moaned, clamoring for that moment of release I so desperately needed, that I hadn’t felt in so many weeks, so excruciating, so intense. I tried to find it. I sucked in a deep breath and tried to hold on to the memory—Tyler’s arms, his breath, his warmth, his weight—until he started to fade, his body dissolving into a hazy nebula, only to scatter as if blown by a strong wind.
And then it hit me.
Ty wasn’t here. We had not made love. He wasn’t touching me. I could not feel him.
I was alone.
The impact of that hit me like a spear through the heart. Pain sliced into my chest and exploded out my back. I felt impaled, unable to move. The heat of my delusive lovemaking evaporated, and I grew instantly cold as sweat condensed over my skin. But the worst of it was how completely empty I felt, like my soul had been hacked from my body. I began to cry, long, hard sobs that made every muscle ache and my throat constrict to the point where I could hardly take a breath or even swallow.
With every ounce of strength I had, I rolled onto my side and faced Tyler’s empty spot next to me. I hadn’t made the bed since the day he’d walked out the door. His place was just as he’d left it, a long indentation where his shoulder and hips had sunk into the mattress. I reached out and grazed my fingers over it, imagining the body that had left the impression. That only made the tears come harder, the pain more intense.
A dark romantic thriller intended for a mature audience.
* * * *
All Tyler Karras wants is to enjoy life with his expectant new bride. What he gets instead is a graveside seat at her funeral. With the person responsible uncharged and still free, all Ty wants now is revenge.
His target is a stranger, a woman. He doesn't know her, but he'll find her, and when he does, he will make her pay.
Ty's brother, Nick, has dangerous connections and suggests a sadistic plan. Grab this woman and hand her over to his associates, sex-traffickers in San Francisco's Russian Mafia. They offer Ty more than he dreamed possible. In exchange for the woman, they'll finally let Nick leave the business for good, with his debt wiped clean and his heart still beating.
There's just one problem. Ty kidnaps the wrong woman. Now all his plans have gone straight to hell.
With his eyes made clear by the stark reality of his mistake, Ty is driven, compelled by remorse and a relentless sense of guilt to make amends and protect Hannah Maguire, the innocent woman whose life he has derailed. He vows to keep her safe and out of the hands of the very enemy he's unleashed, but the Russians are holding Nick as leverage to force Ty to complete their deal.
Caught in a no-win situation, Ty must find a way to save himself, his brother, and Hannah, but with the Russian Mafia, even two out of three makes for very long odds.
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Nancy S. Thompson Bio:
Nancy is a California transplant currently living in Seattle, Washington with her husband of 23 years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor for her publisher and writer friends and also has her own interior design business within the model home merchandising industry. When she's not writing or editing, Nancy keeps herself busy by cooking and baking.
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