Saturday, October 17, 2015

Blitz : Dark & Dangerous Boxed Set

Dark & Dangerous Boxed Set

Authors: C.D. Reiss, Clarissa Wild, Gemma James, Lili St. Germain, M. Never, Nashoda Rose, Skye Callahan, Skye Warren, Vanessa Waltz 

Publication date: October 13th 2015
Genres: Romance, Suspense
Goodreads: Click
Purchase: Amazon |   iBooks | B&N | Kobo

*** 9 tales of dark desire from your favorite NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY Bestselling Authors! ***

Over 2500 pages of hot & dangerous alpha males - On SALE for a LIMITED TIME! These books cost over $20 to purchase separately, but you can get them now for only $0.99! So grab this deal before it's gone!

Delicious dark romance, toe-curling suspense, and sinful pleasure, all packed into one boxed set. We've gathered all your favorite Dark Romance and Suspense stories and combined them into one scorching bundle. These possessive alphas, sexy bad-boys, and savage heroes will claim your heart and leave you begging for mercy.

 This anthology contains:

Mr. X by Clarissa Wild

 “Are you comfortable, little bird?” I ask, walking to the other side of the bed.
Fuck you.”
Now, now, I thought I had already established that is not the purpose of this intrusion.”
Well then what the fuck do you want from me? Are you here to watch me do myself? Are you here to kill me? Are you going to sit there and wait until I confess my darkest secrets to you? Or do you want me to do a little dance for you, huh?” she muses. “Because I sure as hell have no clue why the fuck you are in my room, trying to fucking blow my brains out!”
I laugh and shake my head at her outburst. Grabbing her other hand, I secure it to the bedpost and tie up her last remaining free limb. Strapping it up nicely until she hisses from the pain, I say, “None of that.” I wink. “Or maybe all of them.”
Oh, screw you! I don’t deserve any of this. What have I ever done to you?”
I frown, gazing down upon her. Her eyes speak the truth. “You don’t remember, do you?”
Her eyes widen and her lips part. It takes her a few seconds to answer. “Remember what?”


Gypsy Brothers: Part 1-3 by Lili St. Germain

 I nearly didn’t make it out of LA alive.
If it weren’t for Elliot smuggling me out of town and setting me up in Nebraska, I would have been dead that very night I lay in hospital, broken and bleeding. Dornan’s second son, Donny, had been on his way back to the hospital to inject a lethal dose of heroin into my veins while Elliot was questioning me.
Who did this to you?” the young police officer asked softly. I stared into space, unable to form words.
I’d rather stay alive,” I said finally, shaking my head.
He leaned close and whispered to me, so close I could almost taste the coffee on his breath. “It was Dornan Ross, wasn’t it?”
The fear that leapt into my eyes must have confirmed his suspicions.
I think they’re planning to kill you whether you tell me or not,” he said urgently. “They’ve been hanging around your room all afternoon, waiting for me to leave.”
My entire aching body stiffened, and my heart started beating so fast, I thought it would explode out of my chest and drench the beige walls in a shower of red.
Elliot eyed the small cart in the corner of the room that was meant for washing. He lifted the lid and peered inside, pulling out a blood-stained set of green hospital scrubs with his fingertips. He quickly and efficiently stripped down to his boxers, which would have been completely traumatising for me had I not believed that he was trying to help. He dragged the green scrubs over his head and hopped around, trying to pull the pants on as quickly as possible.
He came back over to the bed and unhooked my IV from the stand. I had a bag of morphine attached to the main saline bag, and a little button I could press to deliver a new hit of pain relief every fifteen minutes.
Elliot pressed and held the button, delivering the maximum dose possible, and almost immediately I felt floaty and numbed.
Scoot forward,” he said, looking around behind him. He lifted me as gently as possible, but I still screamed in pain from my broken bones being moved. “I’m sorry,” he said, covering my mouth so that no sound escaped.
He maneuvered me to the side of the bed so that my legs were hanging off, and eased me down into the laundry cart. I wriggled down, biting on my fist to stop from screaming, and arranged myself so that the lid would close on top of me.
Here,” he said, handing me his gun, and that’s the moment when any suspicion I had about his intentions melted away.
If this doesn’t work, and somebody else opens this lid … shoot and keep shooting, you hear?”
I nodded.
You know how to use a gun?”
I nodded, tears streaming down my cheeks. My father, up until a few weeks ago, had been the president of the most renowned and feared biker club in the United States. Of course I knew how to use a gun.
I’m gonna get you out of here, kid. I promise.”
And he did.
Six years later, Elliot isn’t a cop anymore. In fact, he resigned from the force almost immediately after moving me to a safe house in Nebraska with his grandmother. Juliette Portland was reported dead in the hospital from internal bleeding the night he smuggled me out, and while we think that Dornan bought the story, it’s always possible that he is still keeping watch for me.
I’m standing outside a building with LOST CITY TATTOOS emblazoned across the front, my dirty clothes switched for a spaghetti-strap white summer dress that skims my knees and shows off my enviable tan. I’ve just spent the last hour scrubbing every inch of myself in the shower of my hotel room. I wasn’t actually staying in a dingy hostel. I had a room at the Bel Air. I figured I may as well enjoy my last few hours of freedom before moving into the clubhouse tonight.
I push the door open and am immediately hit by a breeze of cold air. The air-conditioning is bliss against my reddened skin, which has started to prickle after only a few moments outside. It is so much cooler inside, I think I might never leave.
I am expecting the humming of tattoo guns, but everything is silent. I look around the room, seeing nobody.
“Hello?” I call, waiting for an answer.
“Hi,” a voice behind me says, startling me. I spin around to see Elliot, still looking as gorgeous as he did the last time I saw him, only now more grown-up, and with tattoos covering every visible inch of his skin. He wears a white t-shirt and dark grey dickie shorts, a pair of bright blue sneakers on his feet. His face is the only thing that assures me of who he is.
I study his face and wonder if he knows who I am, then decide he probably doesn’t. “You don’t know who I am, do you?”
He immediately looks suspicious. “No. Should I?”
I shake my head, my fake Southern drawl thick on my words. “It doesn’t matter. I came here because I need a tattoo. Everyone says you’re the best.”
He smiles, licking his lips, and I see a flash that I think is a tongue stud. “Come on through,” he says, leading me to one of the hard leather beds. “What kind of tattoo are you after?”
“One to cover a scar,” I say, biting my lip.
He nods, patting the bed. I hoist myself up, studying his face intently. He is the kindest person I have ever met, I think to myself. He truly did risk his life to save mine.
“Okay,” he says, smiling. “Where’s your scar?”
I swallow thickly, gather my dress in my fist, and raise it so that he can see.
His face contorts into something tortured. He looks at me, then the scars, then back at me.
“Julz?” he whispers. He takes in my hair, my skin, my blue eyes, my new nose. He steps back as if horrified.
“It’s Samantha, now,” I say, the accent gone, my breath hitching in my throat. “And I need your help.”

Overwhelmed By You by Nashoda Rose

I huffed. “You can’t force this, Ream.”
His brows raised and the corners of his lips curved upwards. It was rare Ream ever smiled and I was a little uneasy as to what he was thinking. “Oh, baby, I won’t need force.” He kissed my forehead. “We’ll see how long it lasts.”
“How long what lasts?” My voice raised an octave as I watched his eyes flicker with amusement.
“It will be entertaining.” He grinned and my pulse rate tripled at the rare sight.
I didn’t like the sound of that. “What will be?”
“You denying us.”
“Ream. There is no us. And I’m seeing—”
He cut me off. “Babe, there’s been an us since the moment I saw you from the stage and wanted to fuck you. You need us being friends first? I can do that. But I’m making you mine again.”
My voice rose. “Yours? Are you insane? You can’t just make someone yours. Jesus, Ream, what the hell has gotten into you?”
“What?” Shit, was my voice cracking? It never cracked, but my heart pounded so hard and my insides were freaking out and in a war of melting mush and red-hot poker fury. I’d preferred it when he was shooting insults at me and losing his cool. This … this threw me off balance and he damn well knew it.

“You’re in me and that isn’t leaving. I’ve fought it long enough, and I’m not doing it anymore. I told you something I’ve never told anyone, but you needed to hear it to understand why I freaked when I did. Now, there is nothing stopping us.” Any mild amusement left his expression as he continued, “I fucked up. I won’t do it again. You need help … I’ll be there for you. I won’t run, Kat.”

Epiphany by Gemma James

I squeezed my eyes shut and yanked at the rope, ignoring the pain biting into my wrists. Hysteria wouldn’t help my situation, so I held it in. In fact, from what I knew of the Hangman, my cries and pleas would only heighten his pleasure…his arousal. Vomit burned in my throat, accompanying the rancid taste of fear, but I forced my eyes open anyway.

He sparked the lighter to life, and the flame illuminated his face. Malevolent eyes peered at me, two expressionless voids holding no remorse for what he’d done to all of those other women.

For what he was about to do to me.

His expression distorted into something unrecognizable, and it took a few seconds to realize who towered over me. I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing.

“Why?” My voice broke on the question, but he didn’t answer. A tear slid down my cheek as acceptance nicked at my composure. I wasn’t getting out of this. Aidan would find my body—I didn’t know how I knew, but I did. The bastard would dangle my death in front of him like a trophy. A muffled sob escaped. Not panicking was impossible.
For all the times I’d witnessed the murders of other women in my dreams, I’d failed to see my own.

Breathe by CD Reiss

He made me wait.
He always made me wait when he was serious and the longer I waited, the more serious he was. I thought, as I waited on the bed with my cheek to the bedspread and my ass in the air, that he was making me wait longer than ever. The anticipation made the backs of my legs tingle. I wanted to touch myself. At first I thought, just to see how wet I was, but he’d know and he’d punish me by not letting me come.
He said nothing when he finally entered the room. He stood by me. I couldn’t see him. I could only feel his presence, hear his breath, his intentions.
He laid his hand on my lower back and pressed down. It was the standard correction. My ass was never high enough.
“Thank you,” I said.
He stood and undid his belt.
“Thank me later. Get on your back and open your legs. Knees up. I want to see that cunt.”
I did it. He positioned himself on the foot of the bed, where I could see him between my legs. Half-open shirt and cock-strained trousers. Belt looped in his right hand. Watch and wedding ring on this left.
I almost came just looking at him. And when he reached over and pulled my legs wider apart, I lost myself in a rush of sensation.
“Did you just come?” he asked.
“I’m sorry.”
He shook his head. “You’re going to hurt for that.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Open your mouth.” I did, and he put the belt in it.
“You know I don’t do toys,” he said, running his hands over the length of my inner thigh, engaging just enough nail to wake up the skin. “Toys are for children. But sometimes I have to make allowances for safety.”
He sat on the bed next to me and held up an oddly-shaped glass bulb about two inches long.
“Do you know what this is?”
“Yes. It’s a butt plug.” I said it around the belt, and it sounded like a series of grunts.
“I don’t want to be gentle, but I don’t want to harm you either. This is the solution. And I can’t makeshift one out of stuff I see around because I don’t want to take you to the hospital when something breaks inside you.”
He took the belt out. I had enough time to lick my lips before he grabbed my cheeks, forcing my mouth open, and put the butt plug in it.
“Get that wet for me.”
I rolled my tongue around the slick glass, and he put it in, pressing my tongue to the bottom of my mouth. I puckered my lips around the narrow part, sucking until the flat stopper pressed against my lips like a pacifier.
Jonathan went back to the foot of the bed and looped the belt back up. I held my legs open with my hands.
“Now, first. The original issue. You’re mine. When you let someone else get to you, you deny me my ownership. That is not acceptable.”
He tapped my inner thigh with the belt.
“I own you. I can get inside you. I can hurt you. I own your pain. No one else.”
The first thwack to my inner thigh came without warning, and it was as hard as he’d ever hit me. I screamed into the glass bulb and rolled.
“On your back Monica. Take your medicine.”
I rolled back and gingerly spread my legs. He whacked the other side. I screamed again and tears rolled down my face.
He waited, ever patient, until I got back to center. He yanked my legs apart.
“Don’t roll again. You stay on your back and you show me what’s mine—only mine—to hurt.”
I spread my knees, biting the thin part of the plug. The places he whacked still stung, even when he put two fingers inside me, the pain didn’t go away. It just moved up a level to a layer of pleasure, and I groaned into the plug when he twisted his fingers inside me.
“You’re fucking soaked.”
He ran his fingers twice over my clit, and I almost came again.
“Oh no, Goddess. You still need to be punished for that.”
He stepped back and I braced myself for what was to come. His face was deep in concentration and arousal, lids hooded, lips apart slightly. His pleasure was mine as much as mine was his.
On that realization, he pulled his arm back and rained three strikes to my left, and when I screamed and twisted he pulled me back, spreading my legs and giving me three on the right.
I couldn’t see him through my tears. He pulled the plug out of my mouth, leaving a trail of cry spit between us.
He made nothing of my sobbing. He owned it. If he didn’t want me to cry, I wouldn’t be crying.
“Open your ass for me.”
I put my hands over my ass, and pulled the cheeks apart. He pulled me open with his fingers, looked at what he had to work with, and pressed the plug to my ass.
“How you doing, goddess?”
“Okay,” I sobbed.
“Do you remember your safeword?” He pushed the plug in. It was wider than it looked, and my asshole stretched out.
“Ah! Hurts!”
“Tangerine and fuck you.”
“Breathe, brat,” he said, jamming it in, then out so the widest part stretched me.
I breathed, and he stroked my clit slowly, then kissed it. My body relaxed when his lips touched me, and when his tongue flicked it, my back arched with pleasure.
The plug slid in and stayed.
“Legs down. Get on all fours. Let me see.”
When I pressed my legs together, I felt the welts. They were shockingly painful, yet I felt a rush of happiness and well-being when they stung.
Behind me, I heard the rustle of clothing. He was getting naked. Bless him. Bless him bless him he was going to fuck me. I closed my eyes and let the wash of contentment run through my veins.
He ran his hands through my hair, grabbed a fistful and twisted my head to him. He looked at my face, as if checking on me. Satisfied, he got a knee on the bed.
“Open your mouth. It gets fucked first.”
I opened up. I had no choice. I wanted nothing more than his cock in my throat.
I took it. All of it, looking up at him. He pushed all the way down, pumping my face five times before pulling out so I could breathe.
“Safe word? You got it?”
“I know it.” I said, then opened my mouth for him.
He gripped my hair hard. “Good.” He shoved my face onto his cock and fucked my throat, pulling away long enough for me to breathe or safe out, then fucked my mouth again. I was panting when he finally stopped.
“Good girl. Would you like to come?”
“Yes, please.”
“I’m going to punish you for the first time you came. Are you ready?”
He pushed me onto my back and opened my legs. He slid his hand between them, rubbing me with four fingers, then he slid them inside.
“Oh, God.”
The next thing was a surprise, the slap right on my cunt was painful and sharp, causing me to scream. It blossomed into a hint of pleasure.
“You get three. That was one. Count.”
He slapped it.
Again, and hard. My back arched and I cried out. “Three!”
“You’re so fucking good,” he growled, moving his hands over me. “Look at me. I love you. Come now.”
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Not when he stroked me like that. I’d been bursting before he even touched me, so on his third stroke my ass clenched and the pain of the welts disappeared as I came into his hand.
I came off the high when he pulled the plug out of my ass. I gasped.
He reached for his night table drawer and got out a washcloth and lubricant. The plug went into the washcloth, the lube went all over my ass.
I put my hands in his hair and turned to my side. He got up on his knees and put my right leg over his right shoulder.
“You ready?” he asked.
“Yes, please. Do it hard. Make it hurt.”
He did, thrusting his huge cock in my ass in two strokes. It stretched me to the point of pain just the way I liked, but it wasn’t the same sharpness as I felt when he fucked it without a plug. I was full. Too full. Breaking softly around his cock.
“How is that?” he asked, leaning over my bent leg to kiss my cheek.
“Fuck. So good. So fucking…my God.”
His hips moved faster, deeper, pushing into my ass. He flicked my clit, and even though I’d just come, the rising tide of another orgasm filled me.
He put his face to my cheek and owned me, gasping in my ear. His right arm was looped under my right leg, and he flicked my clit. Not one part of my body wasn’t aware of his presence.
I owned him. I made this beautiful man gasp in my ear. His pleasure was mine, and my pain was his.
“Hurt me, Jonathan. Hurt—”
He pinched my clit and I screamed. Pain drove through me, and the orgasm was so powerful, such a braid of sensation from both ends of the spectrum that I nearly lost consciousness. My ass clenched, pulsing around him.
“Yes. That.” He grunted and thrust deep, stilled in his release.
When he took the last gasp, I rolled onto my back and he slid his dick out of me.
“You’re amazing,” he said, kissing my face. His cheeks were rough and I enjoyed the scratchy sensation. “Literally. You amaze me. How good you are.”
“I love you.”
“I adore you.” One last peck on the lips, and he stood up, holding his hand out. “Let me take care of you.”
After the shower he sat me on the cold marble vanity and had me spread my legs with my heels on the edge of the counter. The welts inside my thighs were an angry red and looking at them made me want to get fucked again.
“I did a number on you,” Jonathan said, rubbing a soothing cream over them. His touch was firm and gentle, healing and arousing.
“I needed it.”
“I was saving your cunt for last.”
“Take it.”
He carried me into the bedroom and made love to me, healed me, brought me back to center. No one could hurt me with this man at my side.
* * * * *
Copyright © 2015
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited.
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead is purely coincidental
Cover art designed by the author

Owned by M. Never

"Come," he says, crooking his finger at me. I move to stand. 
"Crawl, kitten. Crawl to me."  
I pause on all fours. He's being fucking serious.  
"I'm waiting." His eyes are cold, hard.  
I begin to crawl across the room, over the plush white rug and past the bed to the chair he's sitting in under the large circular window. The night sky is dotted with stars, and the moon is full and bright behind him. Once I reach him, I stare up on my hands and knees. He cracks a small smile. I want to spit on him. Then he leans forward and places a finger under my chin, forcing my face up to his.  
"That fire in your eyes will dim. I promise you, kitten. I know it’s hard to give up control. But I want you to understand house rules. Listen carefully, I'll only say this once. I tell you what to do, you say yes, Kayne. You will please me. End of story." 

His Witness by Vanessa Waltz

Please, stop!”
Please, stop. Please, stop!
It’s useless noise. The words roll right over my shoulders. The noises he makes are like paper clips thrown at a brick wall. They do nothing to me.
I flinch as a particularly loud scream stabs my ears, and for a second I consider slashing open his throat to kill the noise. It’s always the same fucking thing. Same routine. I catch them. I torture them. They scream, beg, fight, and then they die. All of them.
A man in my position has an intoxicating amount of power. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it goes to my head. I might not decide who dies, but I decide how they die. Sometimes there’s information I’ll need to extract from them, but most of the time I’m just fucking with them. There’s an artistry to what I do. You think it’s easy to break someone, to wear them down until there’s nothing left? It’s not. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of guts. Not many people can do what I do.
Sure, there are plenty of fucking psychos out there who’d gladly take my job, but are they trustworthy? Can you count on a guy who acts as if he’s got nothing to lose?
The only danger in doing what I do is losing yourself from the things you’ve done. Pieces of you get ripped away, little by little. You change. You’re like a beast, with blood running down your front and a manic grin on your face. People look at you differently.
We’re in a stainless-steel room that’s supposed to be used for butchering meat, but lately Jack has me butchering people here, too. In this room, blood saturates the air. It’s a strong, metallic smell that stays in your nostrils for hours. I’m the only one in his crew who can stomach this kind of shit. And you get used to the screaming, the same old pleas, the threats, and all that boring shit.
We have him strapped to a table. There’s nothing Jack wants from this guy.
The underboss, Vince, watches from across the room, and I feel his discomfort. His eyes burn with vengeance as he looks down at the man strapped to the table, but there’s a tic in his jaw. It jumps and just that small detail tells me that he’s uncomfortable. See, I can read people pretty well. I’m pretty fucking intimate with human emotions. You have to be when you do what I do. I’ve spent hours studying their faces.
It’s all in the eyes. They change when the person feels hope, when they think I’ve granted them a reprieve. It’s a lightening of the brow and a slight widening of the eyes. Like right now. The poor bastard strapped to the table looks at me with so much hope in his eyes that I almost feel sorry for him.
Vince crosses his arms, trying to look unconcerned, but his fingers tap his elbow. It’s a nervous tic. Every so often I feel his eyes and look at him. He can only sustain my gaze for a few seconds before curling his lip in slight disgust. I turn my gaze back toward the young man strapped to the table.
“I liked you the most, Tommy. Please, please don’t!”
His wasted face dissolves into sobs and the tears well up in his glassy eyes, spilling out like blood.
Yeah, you liked me so much you decided to rat me out, along with everyone else.
I slide the knife inside Ben’s mouth as he screams, cutting himself all over the blade, and then I turn the knife. It pierces his cheek and I make a sharp, flicking movement with my wrist and I make his. His mouth becomes a bloody grimace.
Vince sends another flicker of disgust my way.
It rolls over me. I don’t give a fuck what he thinks. Or what anyone else thinks, for that matter.
I work my knife through poor little Ben’s flesh, my ears vibrating with his screams. My knife twists as an electrical bolt strikes my brain, sending a flash of heat over my face.
The man lying on my table belonged to a family I work for. He had privileges I’ll never have. He was a made man. It’s a license to steal, kill, to do whatever the fuck you want, and this asshole took a giant shit on the honor he was given. The fact that I’m half-Italian, that I’ll never be made no matter how much fucking money I make these pieces of shit, pisses me off.
So I take it out on Ben.
Now he’s finally getting desperate. The pain is so intense, he’ll fucking say anything. Anything I want. His young face is a crisscross of wounds, like a sharpening block for a knife. I look at his eyes, whitened with fear.
“Tommy, PLEASE!”
I bend my face toward him. “What did you tell the feds?”
“Nothing!” The gash in his mouth opens obscenely. “Just license plates and shit like that!”
His stubbornness makes my blood boil, and Vincent shifts against the wall.
“Just tell me, and I’ll end it.”
But Ben knows too much. He knows how much I like this shit, knows it won’t be quick and painless, no matter what I promise. Tears leak out of his eyes and his small body racks with pathetic sobs. Deep, gasping sounds that make Vincent squirm.
This happens sometimes. I’ve heard about it happening in war, too. You always see it in the movies. Soldiers dying everywhere, spending their last breaths screaming for their mommies. Well, it’s not fiction. It happens. Extreme fear and blood loss do strange things to the brain.
I don’t like it when they do it. That’s why I usually muffle their voices, but in this case I let him scream. We need him to talk.
Vince curls into himself and swears under his breath, ironing his face with his hands.
How can he feel pity for this asshole? He’s just as bad as we are. We all deserve this.
I work on his hands then, knowing how painful that area under your fingernail is. There are special tools I use. A thin, long piece of metal with a razor-sharp tip, as broad as your fingernail. I dig, dig, and dig. Soon his screams are shaking the table and he’s thrashing so hard, I’m afraid he’ll rip out the restraints. He’s like an unbroken horse. Jesus.
“What did you tell them, you rat fuck?” I scream right next to his head.
Great, heaving breaths shake from his throat. “I told them—I told them about the coke dealing at the strip club, but that’s it, I swear!”
“Oh, fuck me.” Vince grips his hair, his eyes wide. “What exactly did you tell them?” he bellows. “Ben!”
“I can’t! I can’t!” Ben closes his eyes and cries like a baby. It’s a high, shrill sound that makes my ears ache. He might as well be a cow screaming before slaughter.
I set the tool down and pick up a knife, and Ben lets out an even louder wail.
Giving up, Vince throws his hands up, shaking his head. “Just fucking kill him.”
“I’m not done with him, Vince.”
A steely look comes over his face. “Just do it,” he spits out.
Make me.
A grin spreads over my face. With this knife in my hands, he’s not making me do fuck all. I want to sink this blade right between that fucker’s ribs, and I’m crazy enough to do it. He knows it. I look right at him.
He tenses. “No? What the fuck did you just say to me?”
Vince eyes the knife in my hand. I realize that behind his thinly veiled disgust, there’s fear, too.
“I make a lot of fucking money for you, Vince. I only ask for one thing in return: I handle the hits.” The gleaming knife twists in my hand as white-hot anger clenches my jaw, making my face hot. “If you can’t take it, get out of my room.”
“Tommy, this is fucking sick.” His dark gaze lingers on Ben’s pale body, which trembles violently as blood leaks out of him.
Then get the fuck out of my room, pussy!
“I earned this, and I need it.”
Vince’s eyes glitter strangely as he looks at me for several long seconds. I can feel the judgment rolling off him in waves, which is fucking precious. He swallows hard, nods, and walks out the door. Ben moans horribly when it closes. The last flicker of hope in his eyes dies when Vince leaves. He knows he’s fucked.
I start to work on him in earnest. He goes quiet when I’ve extracted every single scream that I can. They all go quiet in the end, and only then do I kill them. With the knife, I swipe open his carotid artery, and he’s dead in seconds. Dark-red blood spills sluggishly from his neck. There’s blood all over the goddamn floor.
What a mess I’ve made.
A wave of exhaustion hits me when I clean it all up and give the other associates his body parts to dispose. It’s a catharsis. I don’t glory in the gore of it at all. I don’t like seeing the blood, the fibers of muscle tissue, bone, or any of that shit. It’s the violence that gives me relief from the anger poisoning my blood. It’s as if there’s a monster banging on my ribs, clawing to get out. If I wait too long in between kills, he takes over me. The rage consumes me, and I snap. I hurt people who don’t deserve to be hurt.
I wash my arms in the sink outside the room, but more blood keeps dripping from my soaked shirt, so I tear it off and shove it in the bag with Ben’s arms and legs. I grab one of the deli’s white t-shirts and pull it over my head, growling when several dots of blood bloom on the shirt like pinpricks. Goddamn, that fucker got all over me.
Then I wring my hands out and push open the double doors to the back of the store. I feel like a doctor delivering bad news to a large family in a waiting room. Their eyes avoid me completely. They know my arrival means Ben is gone.
Normally this room is filled with the sound of people talking, bullshitting, whatever. Fifteen or so men are in the room, and you could hear a pin drop. What’s there to say? A made guy was caught talking to the feds. It’s an outrage. It’s a tragedy, too. All of them look pale. Ben’s betrayal shook them. Everyone liked him, even me. Ben had an infectious smile. Many of them regarded him as a little brother, but he talked to the cops.
We all know what happens when you do that.
Joe, one of the captains, took it especially hard. He sits in one of the chairs, looking as if his sister died all over again. They probably didn’t hear his screams—the place is pretty soundproof—but Vince sure as fuck did. Jack places an arm around my shoulders, unsmiling.
“Tommy boy, good work. Why don’t you take the rest of the night off?”
I can tell from the unhappy faces that I’m not welcome here tonight. It’s not that they don’t like me, but I’m the one who killed the guy everyone liked. The mood just feels strained. My footsteps echo hollowly in the deli, and I leave without so much as a wave, exiting to walk into the stinging air. It feels colder than usual, and it isn’t until I reach my car and look at the rearview mirror that I realize my face is wet.
An invisible force slams into my chest and I crumple over myself, my face falling into my hands. It’s a strange tightening sensation in my chest. Air shakes through my mouth.
He always saved me a seat at the poker table, always had a smile for me. He was a nice guy, but that didn’t stop me from carving him up like a Christmas turkey.
Why the fuck did you rat us out? You knew what would happen to you if we found out. Now you’re gone, and your mother will get a visit from the FBI when you turn up missing, telling her that we probably killed her only son.
I regret it.
Remorse swells my chest, and I ball my hands into fists as a shaking sigh leaves my mouth. I sit there in the freezing seat of my car for a while and I feel low.
Why did I do that to him? Why do I do it to any of them? There’s no need to make them suffer so much. No need to torture, maim, and kill them like I do.
But I can’t stop it.
Grief is like a tide. It blows forward, its icy white fingers grabbing my chest, and then it recedes. Then it comes back and fades again, ebbing and flowing. Each time it comes back, it’s a little less strong. After ten minutes I don’t understand the tears on my cheeks, just like I don’t understand how some men shake when I rob them. The only thing I know is rage. The familiar stirrings begin in the pit of my stomach. The guys’ faces run through my mind, kindling for the small spark.
And I’m angry again.
I wish I could tell you that I was abused.
I wish I could tell you that I had a shitty childhood.

I’m just sick.    

Love The Way You Lie by Skye Warren

The Grand used to be a theater, back when the city did more tourist trade than drug trafficking. Back when you could walk down this street without getting mugged. They held ballets and operas and one infamous magic show where a man was killed by a faulty fake gun. Over the years the shows visited less and less. This whole part of the city became gutted, empty. Attempts to revitalize the theater failed because the good, rich folk who had money to spend on theater tickets didn’t want to come to these streets.
Now the building is just a husk of its former glory—faded metallic wallpaper and ornate molding with the gold paint scraping off. Tables and chairs fill the smoky, dark floor. There is a balcony in the back, but it isn’t open to the public.
The rooms for private dances used to be ticket stalls in what would have been the lobby.
They don’t have doors. They barely even have walls. The front window partitions have been ripped away, with only brass rods and velvet curtains to cover them.
The first is occupied by Lola. A flash of red fabric and a long mane of hair between the curtain tells me that much. And I know from her position on the floor and the soft groans that he’s paid for more than a dance.
The second room is empty.
The third room is the farthest from the main floor. The darkest. I can only make out a shadow seated in the chair. All I want is to get the hell out of here, but Blue is standing behind me, crowding me, and the only way to get space, the only place to go is inside.
I slip past the heavy velvet curtain and wait for my eyes to adjust. Even before they do, I know it will be him. Not safe, rule-following Charlie. It’s the other man. The new one. The one with the strange intensity in his stare.
I see the outline of his jacket first. And his boots, forming that same configuration—one leg shoved out, one under the chair. That’s the way he sits, almost sprawled on the uncomfortable wooden chair. He’s watching me. Of course he’s watching me. That’s what he paid to do.
“What’ll it be?” I ask.
“What’s on the menu?” he counters, and I know what he means. He means extra services. The same thing that Lola is doing now. More than just a dance. He looks out from the shadows like the Cheshire cat, all eyes and teeth and challenge. All he’s missing are purple stripes filling in.
And if he’s a cop, he can bust me just for offering it. Cops should have better things to do with their time. But I already know cops don’t do what they should. I know that too well.
I’m running from one.
“A dance, of course.” I run through the prices for fifteen minutes, thirty minutes. No one needs longer than that. They either go to the bathroom to jerk off or come in their pants.
“And if I want more than that?”
Now that my eyes have adjusted, now that I’m up close, I can see the tats at the base of his neck and on his wrists. They are probably along his arms and maybe his chest. There’s ink on his hands too, though I can’t make out what it says.
His black shirt is tight enough to show me his shape, the broad chest and flat abs. Underneath the shirt is a chain or necklace. I can only see the imprint, but it makes me want to pull up the fabric and find out what it is.
He wears his leathers like a second skin, like they’re armor and he’s a fighter. I can’t really imagine him walking through a precinct in a blue shirt. He’s not a cop. But there was that feeling, when I was onstage. I felt his interest, more than sexual. I felt his suspicion. I felt every instinct telling me he is there for more than a dance. I can’t afford not to listen.
“There’s no more than that,” I answer flatly.
He grunts, clearly displeased. But it doesn’t sound like he’s going to force the issue—or complain to Blue. “Then dance.”
Right. That’s why I’m here. That’s not disappointment, heavy in my gut. I don’t expect anything from men except to get paid. So I dance, starting slow, moving my hips, my arms, touching my breasts. I’m a million miles away like this. I’m lying on my back, feeling crisp grass underneath my legs, looking up at the night sky.
It almost works, except that I need to get close to him. I need to climb onto him, straddling his legs with mine, reaching for the back of the chair to shake my tits in his face. And when I do, I smell him. He smells…not like smoke. Not like sweat.
He smells like my daydream, like grass and earth and clean air.
I freeze above him, body crouched, my breasts still shivering with leftover momentum.
“Something wrong?” he asks.
And his voice. God, his voice. It’s gone rough and low, all the way to the ground. It slides along the creaky wood of the chair and the concrete floor and vibrates up my legs. It shimmers through the air and brushes over my skin, that voice. We’re not touching in any place, but I can feel him just the same.
I swallow hard. “Nothing’s wrong, sugar.”
“Then sit down.”
He means on his lap. Touching. It’s against the rules, officially.
Unofficially it’s one of the tamer things that happen in this room. “What if I don’t want to?”
One large shoulder lifts, making the leather sigh. “I won’t make you.”
I hear the unspoken word yet ring in the air.
I should probably refuse him. Whether he’s a cop or not, he’s throwing me off. That’s dangerous. And if there’s some other cop in the building? That’s even more dangerous.
But for some reason, I lower myself until I’m resting on his jeans, my posture awkward and off balance—until he shifts, and suddenly I’m sliding toward him, flush against him while I straddle his legs. Then his arms circle my body, trapping me. Any second now he’s going to grope me. Maybe take his dick out and fuck me like this. It wouldn’t be the first time.
But he just stays like that, arms firm but gentle. A hug. This is a hug.

Jesus. How long has it been since a man hugged me? Just that, without touching anywhere else, without his dick inside me? A long time.

Irrevocable by Skye Callahan

Through the haze of sleep, I felt hands on me. Cold and rough. I thought for a fleeting moment that it might have been Kyle. Then, I remembered our break up. It had happened weeks ago, but maybe that part was the dream. My memory was fucked and I couldn’t latch onto a thought long enough to ride it out of the fog.
Too many hands. They groped and pulled—rough against my skin and digging into muscle and bone. I tried to retreat, my back pressed into a hard surface beneath me, and my nostrils filled with the smell of musk and damp stale air. I had no idea where I was, or how I’d gotten there. I kicked and gasped, trying to get back to the surface where reality lurked, shimmering in the distance, but just out of reach, like the sun on the surface of the water during a dive.
A hand latched onto my hair and held my head back. My eyelids were finally freed from the sticky muck that held me in semi-consciousness, and I opened them to find myself staring up into unfamiliar green eyes. I only held his gaze for a few seconds—if that—but it seemed like it lasted for hours as my brain fought to categorize the details. Its useless attempt to understand what was going on. The man clutching my hair had vivid green eyes, but they may as well have been black given the emotionless void they displayed. His hair was shaggy, brown with a mix of grey, the same colors that stood out in his unkempt stubble. As if he needed any help looking rough. He exhaled and his breath settled over my face, reeking of booze and cigarettes. The smell made me queasy, but I didn’t have time to dwell on that, as another set of hands tugged at my jeans.
My gaze traveled around the room, taking in the small crowd. At least half a dozen men surrounded the table where they had me spread out like a holiday feast. All dressed differently, from ragged tank tops to well-fitting dark button-down shirts, but they all projected an air of unchecked danger. Necks marked with tattoos, hands covered in callouses and scars. Scruffy faces accented their sneers and smirks, as they stood above me staring down with eyes starved of humanity and full of lust.

Apparently, they didn’t expect me to put up a fight, because aside from the hand tangled in my hair, no one seemed concerned with keeping a tight grip on me. Probably because they outnumbered me, and I assumed they would have no problem beating the crap out of me as I struggled. They’d downright enjoy it. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully consider how that scenario would play out. I bucked and managed to knee the one pulling on my waistband in the face. He grunted, but I can’t imagine I inflicted as much pain as his retaliatory blow to my ribs. I sucked in air and rolled, curling around the injury and gasping for each painful breath as the sickening throb exacerbated my confusion.

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