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Crime families and mob wars only exist in the movies. Betrayal. Violence. Murder. They don’t happen to ordinary people.
For Lincoln Hollis, this is his world, and there isn’t a clapperboard in sight. A trained killer and advocate of justice, he’s been sent to unravel the neat little bow tied around Kate Fletcher’s perfect life, exposing her to the brutal truths she’s been so meticulously shielded from, before delivering the ultimate punishment for her family’s sins.
There’s just one problem. They’re his family’s sins, too, and he must make a choice.
Who will he say goodbye to first?
(Not suitable for readers under the age of 18, due to language, violence, and sexual content)
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I am twenty-four years old. I have a fiancé, a mortgage, and seven fish. I’m responsible. An adult. Yet, today feels like the most grown-up day of my life as I get ready to start my new job. My first job, really. At least, it feels that way. Before today I’ve only ever waitressed in one of my dad’s restaurants. I enjoyed it, it paid the bills, but I never considered it a real job – one I’d earned myself. I grew up helping out there. The rest of the staff are like family to me. Today, I’m breaking out on my own, going after something I’m genuinely interested in rather than taking an easy ride from my father. I can’t carry on leading such a mundane, pointless life. I need to get out there. Have some fun, make memories, experience things.
“Bun or ponytail?” I ask with a fistful of brown hair in my hand behind my head, making eye contact with Simon, my fiancé, in the full-length mirror as he sneaks up next to me.
Moulding his body to my back, he grabs my wrist, making me drop my hair. “Down. Flowing over my balls while you suck my cock,” he whispers into my ear.
We’ve been in a relationship for two years, living together for seven months, and he can still send tingles shooting between my legs with only words. But I’m responsible, remember? Which means I can’t be late on my first day, so I arch my bum and push him away before swatting his arm. “You’ll crease my uniform.” The smile on my lips betrays my serious tone.
Simon pouts. “Spoilsport.” Plucking a bobble from the dressing table, he passes it to me and adds, “Bun. Don’t want you getting pulled into the shark pool by any loose strands.”
The fact he thinks he’s funny makes me laugh more than what he actually said. He’s such a nerd at times, bless him. My official job title is Guest Liaison Officer, which is fancy-talk for helper should anyone need any assistance during their visit to the aquarium. My job entails walking around, being visible, and answering – or getting answers to – any questions visitors may have. I’ve taken a small hit in the wages department and it’s not my dream role, but it’s in my dream field and so I’m choosing to see today, and the position of Guest Liaison Officer, as the first rung on the ladder I intend to climb. Maybe someday I can go back to college, work behind the scenes with marine life. That’s the goal.
First, however, I need to start at the bottom, and as I twist the navy blue bobble around my bun for the last time, securing it in place, nerves start popping in my belly. I don’t like the feeling. My stomach feels full, so full it’s not giving my heart enough room to beat so it has to do it faster. Ugh. I think I might actually feel sick.
“You’re going to do great,” Simon assures, rubbing over my shoulder.
I turn to face him when he pulls me towards him at the waist, looking up into the blue eyes that always seem to calm me. “I’ve got no friends there.”
“You’ll make friends.”
I tilt my head and cock one eyebrow. He knows I won’t make friends, not easily anyway. I just…don’t know how. I’m socially awkward. If people don’t approach me first then we’ll simply never speak. I don’t really understand the concept of polite conversation. Is chatting about the weather actually a thing? If it is it seems pointless.
“I’m not sure I remember where everything is from my induction last week.”
“Then you’ll ask someone.” Simon’s smile is consoling. He understands how my mind works, that I overthink everything. “You’re new, they’ll understand.”
“Kate…” He cuts me off, placing a gentle finger over my lips. “You’ve got this. I believe in you.”
Closing my eyes, I draw in a deep breath through my nose and let it out as a long sigh before looking at him again. “Thanks,” I say, nodding. I’m a grown-up. Responsible. I can do this. “I’m being silly.”
Grinning, he leans forward and kisses the tip of my nose. “There’s my tough girl.”
Tough girl. The name makes me smile…this time. Sometimes it pisses me off, depending on the situation. He gave me the nickname not long after we started dating, when I took playful offence to being called ‘Princess’. I have a hard enough time being called the term by my dad, but he’s my dad so I suck it up. I’m not a damn princess. I’m not a girly-girl who needs a big strong man to rescue me or shower me with pretty things. Well, not all the time. Sometimes I do need a big strong man, like the time I tried to mount the bedroom TV on the wall myself and ended up on my arse with the TV landing only inches away from my head on the floor. I wasn’t such a tough girl then. I wasn’t much of a princess either when Simon called me out on it and received a “Fuck you, arsehole,” in response.