Saturday, 31 October 2015

Blog Barrage - Marked By An Assassin (Eternal Mates #8) By Felicity Heaton

Marked by an Assassin Blog Barrage - Felicity Heaton
Marked by an Assassin, the eighth book in New York Times best-seller Felicity Heaton’s hot paranormal romance series, Eternal Mates, is now available in ebook and paperback. To celebrate the release, she’s holding a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY at her website and sharing sneak peeks of the book.
Find out how to enter the Marked by an Assassin international giveaway (ends November 15th) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website, where you can also download a 4 chapter sample of the novel:
Here’s more about Marked by an Assassin, including an excerpt from this paranormal romance novel.
Marked by an Assassin by Felicity Heaton
A snow leopard shifter exiled from his pride twenty years ago, Harbin treads the dark path of life as an assassin, driven by a hunger for vengeance, mercilessly hunting the Archangel members who attacked his kin, murdering his mother and sister.
When a new contract comes in and the mark is a snow leopard shifter, he can’t resist venturing into the mortal world on a personal mission to find out why one from a normally peaceful species now has a price on their head. What he finds in a rundown nightclub isn’t quite what he expects—a beautiful snow leopard female that awakens a fierce hunger inside him.
Aya has spent seventeen years living in London, immersed in the underbelly of the fae world, keeping her head down and her tail out of trouble. But when trouble walks right into her life in the form of a sinfully handsome, dangerous assassin, she is pulled into a whirlwind of events that stir up the nightmares of her past but might just give her a shot at putting those ghosts to rest—if she can resist the dark allure of a male she knows is her fated mate.
Can Harbin and Aya resist the passionate fire that blazes between them as they chase the vengeance they both crave? Or will they surrender to their deepest desires?

Marked by an Assassin is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback. Find the links to your preferred retailer at:


His leather boots were loud on the polished black stone floor that reflected warm torchlight up at him, a clunk and a scrape as he trudged along the broad arched corridor of the main entrance of the guild, heading towards the first reception room. He adjusted his grip on the black pack slung over his good shoulder and stifled another grimace as he dragged his injured left leg in line with his right and braved another step. Fiery pain bolted up the limb from a point just above his ankle, shooting through his entire body.
Harbin growled under his breath, grinding his teeth together as he bore the pain and forced himself to keep moving. He could rest soon. He could sleep for days and forget his injuries and the fight that had brought him dancing too close to death.
But, fuck, it had been a good fight. It had been worth it. The pain. The taste of blood on his tongue. The sharp crack of bones breaking beneath his fists and the metallic tang flooding the air as his claws rendered flesh. A judder went through him, a brief flare of pleasure that wracked his tired and battered body. It had been worth it, for that momentary and elusive sense of calm and belonging, of retribution and release, and the one thing he craved above all others. The one thing that fuelled him, drove him to keep striding forwards, stopping him from looking back, and that he did his best to pretend didn’t exist inside him like an eternal bloody flame.
Harbin pushed away from those two words. They had no place inside him. They were impossible for him to achieve, the one thing beyond his grasp, forever just out of reach. His sins were too great. Atonement was nothing more than a dream.
Or maybe a nightmare.
One that haunted him despite his best efforts to escape it.
Voices rang along the black walled corridor towards him and he ignored them, not interested in the idle banter of the rest of the guild males as they took a welcomed breather from their profession in the safety of their home. He was only interested in taking a breather himself. A long one. Maybe those days might roll into a week of sleep.
He sighed at the thought.
His broken body probably needed that much rest in order to recuperate swiftly, and gods knew his mind needed that amount of time to pull itself back together. Unlike some members of the guild, he didn’t have the advantage of being able to accelerate his healing process. The elves were lucky sons of bitches.
Although, you couldn’t pay Harbin enough to make him switch places with Fuery. The male’s eyes were verging on black now, only a sliver of violet remaining around his pupils like a dying corona of the light in him. How long before Fuery lost himself to the darkness?
Hartt, the chief and founder of their guild, often wore a look when he was watching Fuery, one that told Harbin that the elf knew their comrade was circling the drain and it was only a matter of time before the darkness consumed the last of him and transformed him into something straight out of a nightmare.
Harbin dragged his bad leg up and managed another step, quickly shifting his right before his fractured tibia gave out under his weight. It was times like these, when he was fresh from what had felt like more of a war than a fight, but had emerged the victor against all odds, that he couldn’t help wondering just what colour his eyes would be if the darkness that lived within him could show in them just as it could with the elves.
Would they be darker than midnight?
Was he as close to falling into the abyss as Fuery was?
On days like today, he felt as if he was. Every inch of him hurt now as it sank in that he was home and his mission was done, but it wasn’t a physical pain. He could no longer feel the hot burn of his wounds. He could only feel the cold burn of the hollow inside of him, the scraped out chasm where his heart used to be.
Harbin idly rubbed his chest with his free hand, not feeling the pain as his left shoulder blazed, his healing skin rupturing again beneath his tight black t-shirt. Warm wetness bloomed there, soaking into the cloth before trickling down his biceps.
“You look like hell,” someone muttered as they passed him, heading towards the doors.
Harbin ignored them and kept moving forwards, determined to reach the sanctuary of his quarters and lock himself away for a week of uninterrupted sleep.
He finally stepped into the first reception room, an equally black affair that had always looked as cold and imposing to him as he supposed it was meant to be. Hartt had done a good job of creating the perfect image for their guild, building a black fortress in the middle of what had once been little more than a wasteland in the free realm of Hell. An entire town had sprung up around the guild, catering to those who were drawn to it, either as a client.
Or an assassin.
Harbin had visited other assassin guilds in Hell and none had the nightmarish quality of their home. He put half of their business down to pure aesthetics. People saw the guild and it matched the image in their head of what an assassin’s home should look like—cold, dark and dangerous—and they gave it their business. Hartt had been a clever son of a bitch when he had started the guild all those centuries ago. The elf certainly had a head for business.
One that matched his head for killing.
“Hartt’s seeing people about it now.”
Harbin glanced across at two young males where they lounged in the horseshoe of black velvet couches near the unlit monstrosity of a marble fireplace to his left. They were both new recruits as far as the other guild members were concerned, having only completed a few easy jobs for little pay.
The blond raked his fingers through his short hair and cracked a wide grin. “I might go for it.”
Harbin snorted at that at the same time as the young wolf male reclining near the blond.
“I’d pay double to see you go up against a shifter… and a cat no less. At least that Harbin guy isn’t around to hear about it.”
That stopped Harbin in his tracks and he frowned across at the two males, studying the brunet wolf to see if he was speaking the truth. A cat shifter?
He had turned towards them before he had even contemplated moving and was at the back of the couch where the wolf shifter lounged before he had even realised he had moved. He stared down at the pup and the male slowly lifted golden eyes to him, his expression falling slack and lips parting as he took him in.
Harbin couldn’t blame the kid for looking shocked at the sight of him. He rarely interacted with the other assassins, definitely never with the rookies, and he probably looked as if he had been dragged through the darkest reaches of Hell.
Which he had.
“Cat shifter?” he said and the male nodded dumbly. “Hartt has a job requiring the elimination of a cat shifter?”
The wolf gathered his wits and shot him a cocky smile, one that irritated Harbin because it said what the wolf wouldn’t. It asked whether he was hard of hearing or just plain crazy. He hadn’t lost his mind. Not yet anyway. He just wanted to be sure that he had heard things right, because in the close to twenty years that he had worked with Hartt as an assassin, there had never been a job involving a cat shifter.
The blond kid got off the other couch and quickly crossed to his friend, hunkering down beside him and bringing his mouth close to the wolf’s ear.
“What the hell are you doing? That’s Harbin… Hartt said not to mention it around him,” the blond whispered so low he practically mouthed the words, but Harbin’s sensitive ears picked them up.
Harbin narrowed his silver eyes on both males, his lips compressing into a thin line as he contemplated the only reason why Hartt would want to hand out the job before Harbin could hear about it.
The cat shifter was a snow leopard.
He growled, flashing short fangs at the males, and shoved away from the couches, limping quickly across the black floor towards the door in the corner of the room to his left that would lead him to Hartt’s office. He shoved it open, the slam of it hitting the black wall on the other side echoing around the room at his back and the corridor in front of him, and snarled as he picked up his pace. His left leg trembled under the strain but he gritted his teeth and pushed onwards, the fire burning up his blood keeping him going.
Someone had put a contract on a snow leopard shifter, one of his kind, and he wanted the details.
He wanted to know why Hartt wouldn’t give the job to him.
Silvery fur rippled over his forearms before he could stop it, a brief flash of his other form brought out by his agitation. He sucked down a breath and controlled it, his skin cooling as the fur disappeared.
It wasn’t as if he held any allegiance to his kin anymore. He had burned that bridge twenty years ago and there was no way in Hell of reconstructing the charred remains of it. The thought that Hartt believed he was incapable of dealing with a snow leopard shifter mark was insulting. He could be as methodical and removed from the situation as he always was. The rage that had consumed him in the aftermath of the event that had driven him from his pride had made sure of that. It had killed all of his softer emotions and only a hunger for bloodshed and death remained.
He passed several doors to other offices, his own included, his gaze locked on the black door at the end of the corridor ahead of him. If Hartt was in an interview, the assassin in question was about to get a rude interruption and shown the door in a not too friendly fashion.
Harbin slammed the flat of his left palm into the door and it flew open.
Marked by an Assassin is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback.
Find all the links, a fantastic 4 chapter downloadable sample of the book, and also how to enter the giveaway and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website:
Books in the Eternal Mates paranormal romance series:

Author Bio

Felicity Heaton
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.
If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tsu | Pinterest | GoodReads

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My Review
Marked by an Assassin (Eternal Mates, #8)Marked by an Assassin by Felicity Heaton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying that I'm seriously addicted to Felicity Heaton's books and this series so I couldn't wait for this. I wasn't disappointed.

This book follows Harbin, snow leopard shifter and brother to Cavanaugh, who we've met previously in the series, and Aya, a female snow leopard.

Harbin is an assassin based in the depths of hell. He is intrigued that the new mark is another snow leopard and is eager to take the job. He doesn't realise at the time how this will influence his future and maybe give him a chance to bury some of the ghosts of his past.

I enjoyed getting to know Harbin and finding out what made him tick. He is a pretty complicated character who is bitter and angry about his past but he does hide a good, honourable side which I don't think he likes to admit. At least not at first anyway. I liked his character a lot. He's flawed but not unworthy.

Aya is equally as good. She's strong and smart but also sweet. They make a perfect pair.

I enjoyed meeting other characters from previous books and I liked seeing events that we had seen in the other books from a different point of view. It was a great extra dimension on the story. I also enjoyed meeting other characters which I'm sure will feature more prominently in future books.

The writing was great, the story flowed well. It sucked me straight in and I finished in one sitting. There was plenty of action and romance.

I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish and can't wait for the next book in he series. I would definitely recommend to all pnr fans :)

View all my reviews

Monday, 26 October 2015

Blog Tour & Giveaway - The Fall Up By Aly Martinez

Maybe there’s only one direction to go when two people fall
in love at rock bottom—up.

Amazon: US. UK

I wanted to jump.
He made me fall.

As a celebrity, I lived in the public eye, but somewhere along the way, I’d lost myself in the spotlight. 

Until he found me.

Sam Rivers was a gorgeous, tattooed stranger who saved my life with nothing more than a simple conversation.

But we were both standing on that bridge for a reason the night we met. The secrets of our pasts brought us together—and then tore us apart.

Could we find a reason to hold on as life constantly pulled us down?

Or maybe there’s only one direction to go when two people fall in love at rock bottom—up.

“Thank fuck!” Sam said, swinging the door open before Devon even had the car in park.
“Oh, this isn’t my place. We’re just dropping Devon off. I’m about twenty minutes across town?”  I tossed him a sugary smile then boldly shifted my hand into his lap, purposely brushing the bulge under his denim.
Grabbing my wrist, he narrowed his eyes and called out, “Devon, I’m gonna need to borrow a bedroom.”
I burst out laughing as Devon cursed loudly.
“Fine. This is my place. No smoking inside though,” I snipped as I climbed from the SUV.
“You better have some seriously exciting extracurricular activities to keep me distracted, then.”
“I have Ping-Pong!”
“Not exactly what I was thinking.” He mischievously cocked his head. “But I guess paddles and balls are as good a start as any.” Dipping down, he hoisted me over his shoulder. “Point me to the Ping-Pong table, my lady.”
I didn’t. I laughed hysterically as he carried me inside. Then I directed him to my bedroom instead.
I heard Devon locking up the house as Sam deposited me on the bed.
“Jesus. This view.”  He pushed the curtains back. “Why the hell would you ever go up to the bridge when you have this here?”
“I don’t know,” I answered, pulling my earrings off and placing them on my nightstand.
Oh, but I knew. It might not have been what had originally sent me up that bridge, but it was why my feet carried me back every night. And that very reason was currently standing in front of me with entirely too much clothing on.
“You want a beer?” I asked, sliding my shoes off.
“Nah, I’m good.” He faced me, and I could tell something was off with his demeanor. He didn’t inch any closer. Instead, his lips were tight and his eyes uncomfortably flashed around the room.
It suddenly didn’t feel like Sam standing in front of me at all.
He felt like a stranger who had just come face-to-face with Levee Williams.
Damn it.
“Why are you looking at me like that? Are you about to freak out?” I whispered, nervously moistening my lips.
He shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m not really sure yet. But I’m gonna need you to stop licking your lips long enough for me to figure it out.” His mouth cracked into a wide grin, and my shoulders relaxed.
Now that was a flash of my Sam.
“Want to tell me what’s going on?” I asked.
“It’s just… I think this is the first time I’ve realized that you’re some big-time celebrity. I might be in over my head here, Designer Shoes.”
“I just make music, Sam.” I returned his smile and very slowly prowled in his direction. “Imagine how I feel though. You’re Samuel Nathan Rivers. A tough, tattooed furniture designer who makes six figures a year but is too afraid to tell his mommy he votes democratic.” I giggled as he frowned humorously. Stopping in front of him, I dragged a fingernail down his chest then teased the waistband of his jeans. “Have you considered that maybe I’m the one who’s in over her head here?” I leaned forward to nip at his lips, but he spun us around.
“Excellent point. I’m going to need you to try really hard to keep it together, Levee. You haven’t even seen my six-pack and huge cock, yet.” He smirked and attempted to return my nip, but I stepped out of his reach.
“You brought beer and chicken?” I feigned excitement.
That one corny joke was all it took to bring my Sam back completely.
With a sexy smile and a coy shrug, he seductively backed me toward the bed. “What can I say? I like to be prepared.”
“Clearly,” I breathed.
He moved in close so his lips were only a centimeter away, but for as much as I wanted him, it was agonizing. “Clearly,” he repeated, his smoky yet sweet breath breezing across my mouth.
His strong arm looped around my waist, tugging me against his chest, while I stared into his hooded eyes, eagerly waiting for him to make a move.
Any move.
Every move.

About the Author:

Aly Martinez
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Release Extravaganza - RIP By Rachel Van Dyken

Are you ready for the first cut? Dive into Rip and discover why the good Doctor’s known for his pleasure and his pain… a complete stand alone from NYT Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken.

Pretty things aren’t meant to be broken.
But I broke her, and now we both have to pay the price.
I’m her nightmare.
I’m her savior.
And now that I have her signature on an ironclad contract, I own her body and soul.
She doesn’t remember me.
She will.
It’s inevitable.
Because as much as I know I need to stay away, for fear of unlocking the memories I helped her father bury–I can’t.
She was the apple in the Garden, dangled in front of me, her core so tempting and sweet. A voice whispered. Just. One. Bite.
I bit.
I tasted.
I fell.
Welcome to the world of the Russian mafia, where death, is your only future.

“YOU’RE NOT WEARING BLACK,” I BLURTED once we were in the parking garage, my eyes scanning over the crisp white button up and the same black slacks he’d worn to our initial meeting.
“How very intuitive of you, Maya.” Nikolai mused placing his hand on my lower back.
His lips twitched.
At least he had somewhat of a sense of humor.
“Get in.” He opened the door to a black Audi A8. I slid in to the leather seat and looked around. The car seemed heavier than normal sedans or sports cars. I’d always loved Audi’s but this one wasn’t like others I’d seen on the road.
Curiosity got the best of me, when Nikolai got in and turned the key I asked. “What kind of Audi is this?”
“A safe one,” he said with a simple shrug, his lips pressing together in a firm line. “Throw a grenade at it and we’d walk away without a scratch.”
“You uh, get grenades thrown at you often?”
“One can never be too careful.”
“Hmm.” I leaned back and crossed my arms as classical music floated through the car. “So, the location of our first appointment.”
“A simple office building—nothing special.”
“Right.” I started nervously cracking my knuckles.
“Don’t.” His teeth clenched as he placed a solid warm hand across mine. “Just… don’t, not now.”
“Um, okay.” His hand hadn’t left mine. “Sorry.”
“You should be,” he snapped then jerked away from me like the feel of my skin somehow offended him.
Right. So I was back at the crazy theory.
We drove the rest of the way in complete silence—except for the violin music in the background. It seemed melodramatic. Driving through downtown Seattle with a billionaire in a car that could withstand World War Three, only to get trained for my new job.
Where I had no rights as a human being.
Yeah I was a bad romance novel waiting to happen.
He stopped the car at Pier 44 and turned off the engine. “Shall we?”
Nikolai didn’t wait for me to answer, simply got out of the car. Dumbly, I followed. What other option did I have?
He was still dressed in his tight white button up and black pants. Why was it that I had to change and he didn’t? The salty wet air stung my nostrils as we walked down the pier and finally stopped in front of a red door.
I looked around while he pulled out a key and shoved it in the lock. What could a man like him possibly be doing on the pier? In the dead of night? And why did he need my help?
“Do not speak.” He hissed before grabbing my elbow and jerking me through the entrance. He kept his arm wrapped around me. I wasn’t sure if it was because he was nervous I’d cut and run, or because it was so freaking cold in that place it could have been a freezer.
I shivered.
“You’ll get used to it,” he whispered across my ear.
“But don’t I want to,” I muttered under my breath.
His teeth flashed in what I assumed was a smile—I didn’t want to think he was gnashing his teeth at me so early on in our working relationship. Maybe I was trying to stay positive.
I shivered again and crossed my arms, trying to keep my body heat from evaporating into whatever hellish nightmare I’d just walked into.
Nikolai walked toward one of the walls and flipped a switch.
The lights flickered on one by one, reminding me of those horror movies where the buzzing of the lights being on is almost as freaky as the lights being off.
Everywhere I looked was white.
White marble floors.
White couches.
And a white receptionist desk with a red J hanging down the front. If I wasn’t so freaked out, I’d probably think everything looked modern and cool, not exactly inviting but not terrifying either.
Magazines littered the coffee table in the middle of the room, and a large bay window overlooked the Sound.
“Clinical,” I muttered under my breath.
The sound of a phone ringing had me nearly colliding with the nearest couch and toppling over backward.
“Phone,” Nikolai said in an amused voice. “It’s just a phone Maya.”
I managed to croak out a weak, “yeah.” But was anything as it seemed with him? No, not at all, so excuse me for freaking out over the phone ringing.
“Yes.” He answered on the second ring, his gaze trained on the floor. He checked his watch then motioned for me to approach the receptionist desk. “No, no that should work out just fine, I have a new… employee.” His eyes found mine.
I wasn’t so sure I liked the way he said employee, like I was disposable.
Or edible.
He licked his lips, eying me up and down before glancing back at the floor again. “Give me twenty minutes, then the usual.”
He hung up the phone and swore.
“Problem in crazy land?” I asked sweetly.
“I don’t believe the contract you signed this afternoon said anything about sarcasm. Or speaking.”
“Maybe you should have put that in then before I signed on the dotted line. His eyes narrowed. “Unfortunate….”
“What is?”
“That you don’t mean that term of respect the way it should be meant… I could get used to it.”
“Yeah, I bet.”
“Excuse me?”
“Around.” He placed his hands on my shoulders and twisted my body toward a white door with two windows. “I have exactly eighteen and a half minutes to teach you the basics before we have our first patient.”
“I’m seeing real patients?”
Nikolai didn’t answer. I’d begun to notice that about him. If he didn’t want to answer he simply… refused to speak, as if he didn’t owe me anything.
He opened the door leading to the hallway and ushered me through, the lights flickered on all by themselves, lighting up rooms on either side of me. Each of them looked sterile enough that I could probably lick the floors and still be safer than eating while typing on my laptop.
“And behind door number one,” Nikolai whispered in my ear, causing a chill to run down both my arms.
He pushed the door open it made a suction noise and then closed behind us. He stretched his arms above his head and cracked his neck then pulled out a pair of latex gloves.
I gulped and tried to stop the sudden panic that sliced through me, “Are we, examining someone?”
He paused, his hands hovering over the sink and table facing the corner. “It would be prudent for you to remember the terms of the contract, Maya.”
Right. No questions, or talking.
“Do I need gloves?”
“Is that still a question? Also, if you keep talking, I may remove your tongue, you’ve been given fair warning.”
Did he just say he was going to cut my tongue out? Holy shit, he really was crazy! Did the medical journals know this? Society? People of earth? How did he hide this side of him? I was full on panicking at that moment.
Instead of bossing me around like I figured he’d do, he clapped his hands twice, powder flying off his gloves, more violin music began to come through an unseen sound system.
To be completely honest it was creepy.
Not soothing. Kind of like the music they play in the elevator in hopes to make you forget that you could plummet to your death at any point.
I leaned against the wall and watched him pull out metal instruments. Two scalpels, which made me think surgery. It killed me not asking, and when he pulled out a respirator and grabbed an IV bag, my hands began to shake against my body.
What exactly where we doing? Performing surgery? And in what world was I even close to being adequately capable of doing anything like that? I was studying diseases, but not in the literal sense where I cut up bodies and peered inside—that was a different major, a different type of person.
Books. I liked books.
Hands on experience? No, thank you.
“You will only aid me for a few minutes at a time. When I ask you to leave, you will walk out the door. Shut it behind you and don’t look back. You don’t ask questions. When the phone rings again, answer it and let him know my projected finish time in order to bring in the new patient. You’ll know my projected finish time because I’ll text it to the phone I gave you earlier this afternoon.”
Blood roared in my ears. So much information yet none of it connected or made sense.
“Maya!” he snapped. “Pay attention.”
I swallowed and nodded my head. “Shut the door, don’t look back, don’t ask questions, answer phone, answer your text. Got it?”
His shoulders sagged a bit.
“What if I don’t get your text?”
“Now that…” He smirked. “… is a good question.”
“I’m full of them, just let me ask.”
“I’m sure you are.” His eyebrows drew up in amusement. “If I don’t text, you wait for me. If after two hours you receive nothing. You find the black box located underneath the receptionist desk and follow the instructions. It’s important that you do exactly what those instructions say.”
“Or else?”
“Not the right question.” A muscle flexed in his jaw as he looked away and clenched his fists. “Do you think you can handle all of this?”
Nikolai tilted his head and took two steps toward me. Licking his full lips he leaned in and whispered so close to my mouth I could almost taste him. “Lie.”
Afraid to breathe, I answered with a stiff nod and stepped back.
“Now, answer the door.”
“But there’s no—”
A loud knock sounded somewhere in the building.
“End of the hall, open the door, lead our patient in. Again, no questions.”
With more confidence than I felt, since my legs were like rubber as I made my way out of the office, I slowly walked to the end of the hall and opened the door.
I don’t know what I was expecting.
The boogie monster?
A friggin’ zombie from Walking Dead?
But a girl about my age stood on the other side of the door. She was wearing the shortest skirt I’d ever seen in my entire life. It was black and wrapped so tightly around her thighs it looked painted on. Her heels were tall and red, matching her bright red lipstick and bright red nails.
Blond hair was piled high on her head.
She assessed me just like I was assessing her.
Her eyes narrowed.
A man about six foot seven towered behind her. He had dark sunglasses on and was wearing all black just like me. The unmarked Lexus behind them was still running.
“Um…” I found my voice. “Just this way.”
“How long?” The man asked with a thick Russian accent.
“I’m not sure, I’ll just have—”
He held up his hand and sneered, then rubbed his bald head with that same hand. “Never mind.”
I opened the door wider and let the girl through.
She smelled like bubble gum. And she looked like a stripper, walked like a stripper, if I didn’t know any better I’d think Nikolai had some sort of… agreement with his patients or they weren’t patients at all. A sickening feeling started churning in my gut as I led her to the room and opened the door.
“Hey, Doc.” She winked and sat on the table. “This can’t take long because I have like, a few clients I need to get to tonight, big money.”
“Ah, big money?” Nikolai repeated then nodded to me.
I shut the door and waited, my back leaning against the furthest wall just in case he did something that meant I needed to run away—as fast as possible.
Not that there would be anywhere I could disappear to where he or my mafia boss father wouldn’t find me.
Dead if I went.
Tortured if I stayed?
I shook the thought away and watched as he engaged the girl as if she was the cutest thing on the planet.
He smiled, freaking smiled at her, flirted with her, and touched her. I wasn’t jealous, just… irritated, whatever, I was tired and still freaked out.
“So, Natalia,” he purred. “How has business been going? Any complaints?”
“I never get complaints.” She giggled behind her hand then leaned forward, her breasts practically toppling out of her low cut sparkly white shirt. “You should know that by now…”
“Of course I do,” he said in a smooth as sin voice. “Open up for me just a bit.”
She opened her mouth while he looked inside and frowned. “How long have the sores been back?”
“A few days.” She shrugged. “But you know they always go away when you give me medicine.”
“Like all good doctors.” He flashed another grin. “Alright… Maya.”
My head jerked to attention. “Yes?”
“Across the hall is the storage closet. Can you please get me a small vial of JR 88?”
“Sure.” With a gulp, I quickly went across the hall to get the vial. The storage closet was more of a drug addict’s paradise. There were enough pills to get a person high for eons—on top of that he had vials of things I couldn’t even pronounce. I finally located the right one and hurried back into the room.
Just in time to see Nikolai tuck the scalpel into the lapel of his jacket and pull out a needle.
I handed over the vial and waited.
With precision, he dipped the needle into the bottle then pulled a small amount, maybe the size of a pea, into the syringe. “Now, I know you hate needles.”
“Ah but your poking always makes me feel better, doc.” She winked.
And I again fought the urge to puke all over his perfect floors.
“All the girls do.” He winked right back.
Was I the only one not winking? Not flirting?
He licked his lips, stabbing her arm with the needle and slowly injecting whatever the hell he’d told me to grab. He quickly pulled the needle out once the medicine was gone.
She slumped back, her legs and mouth falling open as if she’d just lost the desire to rein it in. Her eyes rolled up and back, and with a snort or maybe a laugh, she lay back.
Nikolai placed the vial onto the table, pulled out an IV and inserted it into her wrist, taping it in place.
I was still trying to figure out what he was doing when his head snapped up. “What are you still doing here?”
“Leave.” He dismissed me with a wave of his hand.
With one final look at the drugged girl, I put my hand on the door knob and twisted.
He told me never to look back.
But I was too curious not to make that attempt.
And my curiosity was only made worse when I saw the reflection of the scalpel in his hand through the window of the door.
“Maya.” His tone was gruff. “Do your job.”
I didn’t look back but the music, the same violin music that had driven me insane, got louder, as if he needed the noise to block out whatever he was doing.
Not my business, not my problem.
I quickly made my way back into the receptionist area and sat down.
The J screen saver was on the computer. I clicked it on.
No way
Almost too easy.
“I wouldn’t,” a chipper female voice said. “Then again, I always liked to push his buttons too.”
I glanced up from the screen and came face to face with the most gorgeous elderly lady I’d ever seen in my entire life.
“Can I, uh, help you?”
“No.” Her smile was warm. “But I think I can help you—you’re my new replacement.”
“One of thirty he’s had over the last two years.” Her shoulders shook with amusement. “Man can’t keep a woman to save his life.” And then she burst out laughing as if it was the funniest thing in the world. “And you’d think with those looks, that brain, that body.” She fanned herself and peeked down the hall. “Still at it, huh?”
“Um, first of the day. Who did you say you were?”
“A friend.” She smiled and held out her hand. “You can call me Jaclyn, or just Jac for short.”
“Jac.” I repeated shaking her soft hand. The woman had more diamonds decorating her fingers than what seemed possible. Each of them sparkled as if telling their own story of love and riches. “So, I’m the thirtieth intern huh?”
“Is that what he told you?”
“Not exactly.”
“Intern.” She chuckled. “Has a nice ring to it. Has he texted you yet?”
“No, but—”
“He will, he always does. Only had to use the black box once.” She nodded, and her eyes fell. “But that was a long, long time ago.”
“Oh!” She clapped her hands together, making her entire outfit shake. Wait, was she wearing bells or something? I stood and looked over the counter. The woman couldn’t be any taller than five-foot-one. She had red cowboy boots with bells on the tassels and skinny jeans matched with a white sweater. What should have looked stupid looked classy and stylish, like she’d just walked out of Urban Outfitters. Huh. “Why don’t I show you the schedule?”
“Alright, but Nikolai didn’t say—”
“Nikolai?” Her lips pressed together. “That’s allowed then?”
“What is?”
“His first name.”
“You must be special.” She smiled brighter. “I’m the only one who calls him by that… then again I’m also the only one who’s ever seen the man behind the mask.”
“So there’s two of them?” I joked.
“Oh, yes.” She nodded seriously. “Never forget how important it is to separate the two. Here he’s a god.”
“As opposed to?”
“Anywhere else…” She placed her hand on mine and squeezed. “He’s just a man. Never forget that, sweetheart.”
With that, she released my hand and waved at her eyes as if she was going to burst into tears at any moment.
“Goodness, my emotions get me these days. Now, let’s look at that schedule, and I’ll try to sort out any questions you may have before that elusive text comes through.”
“And then what?”
“What dear?”
“After the text?”
“Oh, you bring in the next girl.”
“Are they…” I swallowed. “Prostitutes?”
“Labels really do nothing for me.” She shrugged again and pulled out a chair plopping right next to me. “If you’re really good, tomorrow morning I’ll bring you a latte, what’s your favorite?”
“Anything with caffeine.”
She paused, her eyes getting misty again. “I do hope you last, dear.”
“And the others? They quit?”
Her eyes fell to the keyboard as she pulled a hanky from her purse and blew her nose. “Now, the schedule…”

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!
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