Glancing to my right, I noted the hallway we’d come down. Now I sat in the middle of a large midnight blue sofa with two leather club chairs angled across from me. A brick fireplace and tall windows dominated the room almost as much as Arkady’s foreboding presence did.
His gaze left me only to inspect the purse he’d stolen from me.
When I began to get up, he pointed in my direction. “Don’t move, Lucia.”
The stark coldness in his voice reflected in the iced-over blue of his eyes.
Fear froze in my veins, and I clamped my hands between my thighs in hopes of hiding my trembling fingers.
What if he killed me now?
Who would find me then?
My father would bury two children in the space of three months.
The gag made it difficult to breathe but, after another threatening look from Arkady, I didn’t dare remove it, not even though air staggered in and out of my lungs.
He made quick work of the contents of my handbag, emptying everything onto a side table adorned only by a trio of tall ivory candles in black enamel holders. After poking through my cosmetics bag and even feeling along every inch of the lining for hidden items, he scooped the small satchel back into my purse.
He hummed when he found my keys and the small pepper spray canister attached. He placed my keychain aside then looked through my feminine hygiene products and birth control pills, which made my cheeks flame brightly.
I almost looked away but, when he glanced at me and saw my embarrassment, I glared even harder.
I cursed a muffled noise when he retrieved my phone. Then he paced to me, and his hand shot out as fast as a whip.
I winced, recoiling from a blow that never came.
His face took on an unreadable expression before he gave two sharp tugs to the gag stuffed between my lips. The pocket square removed, I took a deep stuttering breath, and he raised the phone screen to my face.
He had the device unlocked in an instant from my facial ID.
Lunging up from the deep cushions, I tried to throw myself at him—shove him off-balance, do anything to escape—but he merely sat me back down with one hand centered on my chest.
“Those are my personal belongings!” Red hot anger laced my voice.
“Not anymore.” His face hardened into harsh angles, those snapping blue eyes of his even deeper in contrast to his dark hair.
Every motion he made was precise while pure chilling menace rolled off him in frigid waves.
The side of my face throbbed, my knee hurt, my pants were ripped, and I was thirsty and tired and running on pure adrenaline alone.
I was helpless to do anything to protect myself, and that was the worst blow of all.
He spent no more than a few minutes on my phone and must’ve gleaned whatever information he wanted because he removed the SIM card and smashed it beneath his shoe.
My heart kicked up its wild beating, and I felt like I’d start hyperventilating.
Next, he expertly found the tracker hidden within the phone’s case and crushed it just like he had the card. He discovered a second tracker sewed into the lining of my handbag, and I swore softly beneath my breath.
He sent the most sinister, most triumphant smile my way, and my hands grew clammy.
“Stand,” he ordered after returning the non-contraband items to my purse.
I rose to my feet, nails digging into my palms. I wanted nothing more than to lay a stinging slap across his arrogant face.
“Jewelry,” he said.
“You’re stealing my jewelry? You’re no better than those street thugs,” I spat out.
He said nothing more, holding his hand outstretched.
Knees quaking, I removed my diamond stud earrings, the slim gold chain around my neck, an antique opal ring left to me from my nonna, and the heavy bangle bracelet from my wrist.
He took all the items and examined those too. Finding them clean of bugs, he dropped those into my handbag, which he then tossed at me.
When he pivoted away, I rushed at him from behind.
I didn’t even make contact before he whirled around to capture me in an iron-like embrace. Snarling wildly, I pummeled him on his unyielding chest, but my hands made little impact on his hard musculature.
I’d never detested a man more than I did in that moment.
When I jerked my leg to knee him in the balls, he released me so fast I stumbled. I didn’t even get a chance to steady myself before he grasped me behind the legs and swiftly tipped me onto my back. I landed on the floor, scrabbling to get back up.
He simply reached down, heaved me back up, and pinned me against his body, once more demonstrating his overwhelming power.
His face darkened, restrained fury thinning his lips and, with one hand, he clasped my wrists behind my back.
The next thing I knew, he held the barrel of his gun against the bruised side of my face.
Breath left my mouth in a hiss as cold metal kissed the skin of my throbbing temple.
Arkady slid the barrel down and across my lips.
True terror seizing my insides, I clamped my mouth shut, and his eyes became deadly blue slits as he skimmed the gun beneath my chin.
Then I felt two hard things at the same time—the muzzle of the gun pressed beneath my chin to angle my face up and the rigid thickness of his cock nestled tightly against me.
“Are you scared of me yet, dragotsennaya printsessa.” Gruff hoarseness deepened his voice.
I was petrified and, yet, sudden intense so-wrong arousal tickled across my body to settle low in my belly.
“Yes,” I whispered.
I heard him holstering the sidearm then his hand was at my throat.
I became transfixed by the different kind of heat that entered his blue eyes. Smoldering heat. Male lust as he squeezed my neck, and my nipples traitorously pinged up within the cups of my bra.
Arkady’s head bent toward mine as his hand moved up my elongated neck.
Heat flashed. I thought he was going to kiss me. His mouth would be warm and firm, unlike the kiss of his gun. His hard cock pressed into my belly, and fluttery sensation swarmed lower to pool between my thighs.
His lips barely whispered across my cheek, and my breath hitched in my throat.
My head was spinning.
I had no idea what was going on.
His grip on my neck tightened then loosened then squeezed again, and his lips touched the shell of my ear.
I almost moaned before I swallowed the sound.
I was pressed wholly against this killer Russian who’d just held a gun to my head, and illicit lust spiraled out of control inside of me.
“I don’t need a gun to make you do what I want, Lucia.” His deep drugging voice made my toes curl.
She grew up in Maine, went to college in Iowa (Iowa, what?), lived in Scotland, and married in Englishman. In true roundabout fashion, they came back to the States, settled in South Carolina’s lowcountry, putting down southern roots and pursuing their arty endeavors. Tale spinner and character diviner, Rie is a lover of sleep, wine, and rude memes often involving either Disney characters or Winnie the Pooh. She is raising two teen daughters along with an entire brain full of unruly characters.
Rough-talking alpha men? Rie has that on tap.
Stubborn sassy heroines? You bet.
Smoldering sex scenes that’ll set your Kindle on fire? Check, check, check.
Keep a fan handy, you’ll need it.
Follow the signup link below to her romance newsletter for sneak peeks, new releases, first looks, and her quirky sense of humor.
And, as always, happy sexy reading to you!
Also Known As Ezra Cross
He’s one of a pair.
Identical twin to Damon.
And an enforcer for the Inferno if one is ever needed.
I knew better than to get involved with him.
With his aggression.
With the constant fights.
With the games the twins were known to play with every woman stupid enough to fall for them.
We made a mistake when we met again as adults.
I fell in love.
He fell in love.
His brother fell in love, too.
What used to be a good time is now a tragedy.
Our story is messy.
Despite all that, Ezra refuses to let go.
*** Each novel in the series depicts a unique romance, but the plots through each book connect in one world. For the best experience, read the series in order.
Nine Dangerous Men. Nine Unrepentant Sinners. Nine Irresistible Manipulators.
I tell her “Believe in me.” Because I, Lars Samuels, will rock her world and treat her like a queen. She says, “Ha, I will never be caught.” Good thing I’m really good at catching things. I should be. I’m the best wide receiver on the Columbus Comets football team. I like winning. So I’m going to win her. Once I catch her, of course.
Title: A Cut So Deep
Cassandra cusses like a sailor, is addicted to tattoos, hardcore music, and chocolate. Her kids believe that she is an actual vampire. Oh, and occasionally, she has been known to write a book or two when not busy in her garden. Her novels straddle the line between taboo romance and romantic suspense. With themes as complex and varied as the author herself, they are sure to leave you on the edge of your seat.