“When I wasn’t white-knuckling my Kindle, I was laughing out loud at Shelly’s sarcastic and tough girl persona.” ~ Romantic Reading Escapes

I’m the one with the dark past, the scarlet letter, the soul so black there’s no hope of redemption.

At least, that’s what I always believed…

Luke has secrets of his own, and the more I search, the more I’m afraid of what I’ll find. But I have to know, my survival depends on it.

He’s the man I love. The man who can destroy me.

He’s the only one who can save me.

 

 

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Excerpt from Secret

Luke got everything together quickly, just like I knew he would.

That was him—a boy scout until the end.

He and his buddies had a vague idea of the location, and they were tracking down schematics and anything else they could find. I was back in my clothes from the club, high heels and all, and we were ready to go.

After only a few minutes on the road, it began to thunder.

Slashing rain battered the car window. I had passed out on the ride out here, with no inkling how far we really were from the city. The storm slowed us even more, turning a two-hour drive into three. The steady back-and-forth of the windshield wipers was a metronome to the tension within.

“I’m sorry,” I said. Again.

I seemed to be saying that a lot lately.

He stared straight ahead. “It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine. If it were fine, you would look at me. Talk to me. Something.”

“I am talking to you. I’m not looking at you because I’m driving.”

“Bullshit. You haven’t looked at me since you found out I didn’t tell you. It was a mistake, okay? I’m not allowed to make mistakes?”

“You’re allowed to make mistakes,” he said evenly.

I faced away, watching a drop trail from the top of the window. It darted from one drop to another, joining and then separating, never staying long in one place. It was at the whim of the wind, of this car—of everything. No will of its own.

“I’m sorry.” My voice broke on the end.

He muttered a curse and pulled off the road. I peeked out the window, seeing only driving rain and grass and a line of trees in the distance.

“If you’re going to dump me, can you at least find a rest stop or something? I don’t want to get my hair all wet.”

“Jesus, Shelly. Some of the things that come out of your mouth.”

“Is that a request?” I eyed the space beneath the steering wheel. “Because I don’t normally do drive-bys, but I might make an exception for you.”

“I just want to strangle you. Or make love to you until you stop baiting the world.”

I smirked. “Kinky, with a touch of philosophy. I like it.”

“I can’t stand the idea of letting you go, okay? That’s why I’m not talking about it. It’s why I’m not talking to you. I’m not mad.”

“Then don’t let me go. Take me with you.”

“That’s not what I meant. I meant after. I can’t bring you with us.”

“I have to go.”

“You would just get in the way. We’d be watching out for you instead of focusing on the job.”

“I know Henri better than you or anyone else you have working for you. What if things get tough and you can’t find him or can’t get close? I can. He’ll see me. He’ll talk to me.” It was a low blow. “If it comes to getting information about your sister, no one has a better shot than me.”

He stared straight ahead. “I don’t know if I can do that. Put you in danger.”

After what happened last time, he meant. “I won’t get shot again.”

“You can’t know that.”

There was real worry in his voice, and it shook me. So of course I had to lighten the mood.

“I promise I won’t get shot. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Surprisingly, that isn’t giving me confidence.”

I sobered. “I need to go. For me, to get closure. There are some questions of my own I need to ask.”

He considered that, watching the rain batter the windshield. “Okay,” he finally said. “But you need to understand there’s no guarantee you’ll get to ask them. I might just shoot him on first sight.”

“As long as I get to watch.”

The Chicago Underground Series

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