Excerpt #1A sense of familiarity fills the space between us even though I know we haven’t met. This man is a stranger, but he looks at me as if he wants to know me. He looks at me as if he already does. There’s an intensity to his eyes when they sweep over my face, as firm and as telling as a touch. “I need…” A thud against my ribs as I think about all the things I need—a rewind button. One person in the city who doesn’t hate me by name alone. “I need a loan.” He gives me a slow perusal, from the nervous slide of my tongue along my lips to the high neckline of my dress. I tried to dress professionally—a black cowl-necked sweater and pencil skirt. His strange amber gaze unbuttons my coat, pulls away the expensive cotton, tears off the cotton fabric of my bra and panties. He sees right through me, and I shiver as a ripple of awareness runs over my skin. I’ve met a million men in my life. Shaken hands. Smiled. I’ve never felt as seen through as I do right now. Never felt like someone has turned me inside out, every dark secret exposed to the harsh light. He sees my weaknesses, and from the cruel set of his mouth, he likes them. His lids lower. “And what do you have for collateral?” Nothing except my word. That wouldn’t be worth anything if he knew my name. I swallow past the lump in my throat. “I don’t know.” Nothing. He takes a step forward, and suddenly I’m crowded against the brick wall beside the door, his large body blocking out the warm light from inside. He feels like a furnace in front me, the heat of him in sharp contrast to the cold brick at my back. “What’s your name, girl?” The word girl is a slap in the face. I force myself not to flinch, but it’s hard. Everything about him overwhelms me—his size, his low voice. “I’ll tell Mr. Scott my name.” In the shadowed space between us, his smile spreads, white and taunting. The pleasure that lights his strange yellow eyes is almost sensual, as if I caressed him. “You’ll have to get past me.” My heart thuds. He likes that I’m challenging him, and God, that’s even worse. What if I’ve already failed? I’m free-falling, tumbling, turning over without a single hope to anchor me. Where will I go if he turns me away? What will happen to my father? “Let me go,” I whisper, but my hope fades fast. His eyes flash with warning. “Little Avery James, all grown up.” A small gasp resounds in the space between us. He already knows my name. That means he knows who my father is. He knows what he’s done. Denials rush to my throat, pleas for understanding. The hard set of his eyes, the broad strength of his shoulders tells me I won’t find any mercy here.
Excerpt #2“Kinky stuff,” Gabriel says, the corner of his mouth turned up. “What do you know about kinky stuff?” My face feels hot. “I’ve seen the movie, okay? I know about things.” That’s a lie. I squirmed through the movie, lips parted in shock. How did people think of this stuff? Why would any girl like it? And I’m not just a random face in this city. My picture has appeared in the society papers. People know my father. Maybe some of the men were cheated by him, just like Gabriel. Would they want to hurt me in revenge? “Tell me what you know,” Gabriel says. The words are mocking, but something sparks inside me. “I know that some men like to hurt women. I know it makes them feel big and strong to hurt someone weaker.” “And are you weak, little virgin?” No, I want to say. Except I’ve lost everything in the past two months. My life, my school. My friends. I’m a shadow of my former self. Little virgin makes me fight back, though. Gabriel makes me fight back. “I’m doing what I have to do. Is that weak?” His gaze flickers over my body, the yellow of his eyes brighter in the lamp’s glow. When he meets my eyes, there’s a begrudging respect. ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.Website: http://www.skyewarren.com