From New York Times bestselling author Molly McAdams comes a powerhouse romantic suspense that will have you questioning your morals and second guessing your view on love.
I live in a world few know exist. I’ve trained for this. I know what to say, what to do, and how to act. I’ve perfected the lethal calm required for this life.
Now it’s time to buy my first girl. But all it takes is one look at the brave girl who starts singing mid-auction for that calm to slip.
Briar Chapman is going to be the death of me, and I don’t care. I’ll take every day with her until that death comes, and I’ll welcome it when it does.
On the outside, Lucas Holt is what nightmares are made of. A man cloaked in darkness, with sin-filled eyes and an enticing grin. A devil so devastatingly beautiful and cruel that his very presence instills fear.
But beneath his terrifying, ever-calm exterior is an affectionate man haunted by a past that refuses to stay buried. And Lucas looks at me as though he’s finally found the only person who can make it all go away.
We’re a battle of the brightest day and the darkest night—and I want to lie in the wake of our war.
She closed the distance between us, each step slow and calculated. Once she was close enough, I slid one hand around her waist and the other around the back of her neck, using her hair to tilt her head back so I could study those eyes that captivated me.
“I hate that you have so much money that you buy women. I hate that you bought me at all, but mostly that you bought me because I started singing. I hate the circumstances that brought me to you, but I love you and am thankful I’m here with you all the same.”
My chest ached and filled with warmth. I wanted to kiss her and thank her for trusting me with her past. I wanted to erase every bad memory and replace them with ones of us now, but she didn’t realize what she’d just said . . .
As much as I wanted what she was saying to be true, it wasn’t, and it never would be. It couldn’t.
“You don’t,” I said thickly, forcing the words out through the tightness in my throat.
Confusion covered her face and her brows drew together. “I don’t what?”
“You don’t love me.”
I felt the shock that went through her body, but she didn’t try to pull away from me. Instead, she gripped my shirt in her hands like she was pleading with me in her touch alone.
“Lucas . . .”
My eyes slid shut, and I released a slow, weighted breath. “You don’t, Briar.”
“I know you think you don’t know how to love someone, but you do, you have been. You know what love is, and I have never been more aware of how loved I am by someone than I am by you.”
I ground my jaw and finally looked at her again. Instead of disagreeing with her, I said, “You can’t love me, because you don’t know me.”
I hated the hurt in her eyes. I hated that I was putting it there. I hated everything I was, hated that I would never be enough for the girl I didn’t know how to let go of. Couldn’t let go of.
“Yes, I do,” she choked out. “I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it, I’ve experienced your darkness and your monsters, and I’m still here. Haven’t I proven myself yet? Haven’t I proven I am not going anywhere? That you can’t make me run?” Her gripping hands flattened and moved up to curve around my neck. “I knew to fall in love with you I had to fall in love with the devil, too. I am not as naïve as you think I am.”
“But you have no idea exactly how heartless your devil is,” I said darkly.
“Then let me see—”
“I won’t let you into that part of my world,” I said on a growl. Just the thought of her being in a situation to see me like that—to see that part of my world—chilled me in a way that made me feel sick. “All of thiswill change the minute you see it. Trust me when I say you’ll never be able to look at me the same, and I won’t be able to live with myself if that day ever comes.”
“You can’t know that,” she argued, her words still sounding like a plea.
“Think of your worst memories with me, Blackbird,” I ordered gently. “Think of what I told you about the shootout with my brothers. Think about what William did to you. Now try to grasp that all of that is nothing compared to what I have done, and what I do, without feeling a thing.”
I waited for it to sink in, and after a few moments, it did. And there was that look in her eyes I’d come to dread and hate—fear and uncertainty. But I could still see her love for me.
Unfailing and undeserving.
“Didn’t you hear me the first time?” she finally asked as tears filled her eyes. “The darkest part of your soul terrifies me, but, Lucas, I’m not going anywhere.”