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EPISODE TWO: As a calculated assassin, Ripley thrives on always being in control. But when the woman he’s sworn to kill makes an offer he can’t refuse, his control is what he risks losing most.
They call me RIP.
I’m a killer. A murderer. A psychopath.
In the eyes of the righteous, I’m a monster, born of sin and depravity.
I want to protect her, but I’m not a good man.
I want to love her, but I no longer feel.
She gets under my skin, though, and has awakened something inside of me.
Something I’d kill for.
I’m not her savior—not even close. In fact, I’m worse than the hell she’s already suffered.
I’m her vengeance. Tit for tat, as they say.
And if she’s not careful, I’ll be her ruin.
For months, I’ve watched him.
I’ve fantasized him as my savior, my lover. My ticket out of the hell I’ve lived in for the last six years.
I never dreamed he’d be my nightmare.
Had I known what he really is, I’d have never gotten in the car that night, but life is full of cause and effect.
And sometimes the choice on offer isn’t a choice at all.
It’s the result of something already in motion, and we’re merely left to survive the ripple effect.
*This is an erotic suspense/erotic romance not recommended for readers under the age of 18 due to graphic violence and sex.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
My mind fights the all-consuming blackness closing in on me as I lay on the thin mattress whose springs poke into my back. The beams above me shiver with dust that falls on my face every time he walks overhead. Chains beat against the cement wall I’m tethered to with every tremble that wracks my body.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Somewhere water leaks an incessant pounding in my skull, and I count every drop. Six hundred thirty-eight. Six hundred thirty-nine. Six hundred forty. A cold, moldy scent invades my nose, and the cough that rattles my chest turns into a gag, staving off the impending black hole I’m being sucked inside.
He stole my pills, and what feels like shards of broken glass rolling inside of my stomach keep me from falling asleep. Not that I want to sleep. Not that I could. But I need to, because the pain is too much. It claws my insides like a beast, desperate for escape, demanding more of the sweet venom, the nothingness that keeps it tucked deep inside of me. Muscle spasms create a line of tension through my body, so taut, I feel like my limbs will snap away.
“Help me! Fucking help me!” My words bounce back at me from the walls, all hoarse and scratchy as though I’ve been screaming for days. Have I? I’ve blacked out a few times, only to wake to that dripping noise and the incessant pain.
I’m sweating in spite of the frigid tendrils that snake beneath my skin like frost crystals. My body shivers and sickness twists my insides into a nauseating roil, threatening to climb my throat any second.
I need my pills.
“Please!” I turn my head in time to expel the bile shooting up my throat. Fire trails behind it as the acids burn my nostrils with another heave. Over and over, I choke, head slung awkwardly to the side as the fluids leak down my cheek. A coughing fit steals my next breath and another round of bile splashes on the floor somewhere beside me.
An ache throbs in my skull as I lay back onto the bed and the churning in my stomach intensifies. The sensation of bugs scampering across my arms jerks my muscles, and I shiver at the crawling of my skin. I cry out, kicking against my binds. “Get off of me! Get off!” It doesn’t go away, though. It intensifies, a nightmare come to life, and I’m certain there are spider legs beating against my flesh, digging, attempting to burrow themselves into my bones. “Get off of me! Oh God, get them off of me!”
Urgency tugs at my gut. I need to use the bathroom more than I ever have and the panic sends me kicking and screaming. Bloating in my stomach balloons and the pressure to release has me arching up off the mattress. No, no, no. Please not this.
I’m going to soil the goddamn bed and be forced to sleep in my own filth.
Everything flicks to blackness.
In dreams, I’m carried into a bathroom, my whole body quaking and jerking. I want to get away, but comfort blankets me in the warmth of the stranger’s arms and the heat of his skin as I lay against his solid chest. A harsh and blinding light beats down on me. Focusing through the glare, I stare at a set of angel wings inked across his chest and a crisp orange scent that is both delicious and nauseating overwhelms my senses. My stomach feels light when he sets me down and the heat washes over me in waves of bliss. Soft cotton trails down my temple as he wipes a washcloth over my face.
He pushes the wet strands of hair from my eyes, and my breathing calms, as I stare into the multi-colored eyes of a monster.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keri Lake is a married mother of two living in Michigan. By day, she tries to make use of the degrees she’s earned in science. By night, she writes dark contemporary, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Though novels tend to be her focus, she also writes short stories and flash fiction on the many occasions distraction sucks her into the Land of Shiny Things.
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