Author: Penelope Douglas
Release Date: 17 November 2015
I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.
His name is Michael Crist.
My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.
But I noticed him.
I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.
Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.
Because he’s finally noticed me.
Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.
My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.
Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.
In my city.
The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.
We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.
Once I got upstairs and in my apartment, I dumped my bag and started up my laptop to log into my accounts. I couldn’t wait until everyone was back in the office on Monday. I needed to find out what the hell was going on now.
As I brought the Internet up, I dialed Mr. Crist’s office, knowing he worked late and that his assistant would most likely still be there as well. It was only just after six.
“Hello?” I rushed out, cutting off the woman as she answered the phone. “Stella, this is Rika. Is Mr. Crist in? It’s urgent.”
“No, I’m sorry, Rika,” she replied. “He left for Europe a few days ago to join Mrs. Crist. Can I leave a message for him?”
I dropped my head in my hand, gripping my hair in frustration. “No, I…” Tears started to spill. “I need to know what’s going on. Something’s happened with my accounts. I don’t have any money. None of my credit cards work!”
“Oh, dear,” she burst out, sounding a little more concerned now. “Well, have you talked to Michael?”
“Why would I talk to Michael?”
“Because Mr. Crist transferred power of attorney over to him late last week,” she pointed out as if I should’ve known. “Michael is currently in charge of everything until you graduate.”
I stilled, my eyes widening.
Michael? He controlled everything now?
I shook my head. No.
“Rika?” Stella asked when I didn’t say anything.
But I dropped the phone away from my ear and ended the call. Tightening my fingers around the cell, I hardened my eyes and clenched my fucking jaw so hard my teeth ached.
All the money my father left us. All the money we earned from our property and the shop. He had the deeds to everything!
I darted my hands out, swiping the laptop off the island and pushing it to the floor where it tumbled and crashed.
“No!” I screamed.
My stomach rolled, and I felt sick. What the hell was he doing? I knew it was him, but why?
I wiped away my tears, anger charging through my veins now. I didn’t care. Whatever he was up to and why he did it, God, I didn’t care.
I hopped off the stool, slipped my phone in my pocket, and grabbed my keys from where I’d dropped them on the floor, racing out of the apartment. I didn’t even bother grabbing my purse before I locked the door and took the elevator down to the first floor.
As soon as the doors opened up again, I ran through the lobby and out of the building, turning left. I rusched down the city sidewalk, veering around other pedestrians and racing through crosswalks as I made my way down to the gentlemen’s club several blocks from Delcour.
I breathed hard, a light layer of sweat covering my stomach and back as I finally jogged up the stairs of the old stone building, my legs burning from the rush I’d made to get here.
I was done thinking. Done wondering and pondering. He’d stolen from me and my family, and my blood was burning.
I entered the building and stepped up to the front desk. “Where’s Michael Crist?” I demanded.
The attendant, in his pressed black suit and midnight blue tie, squared his shoulders and narrowed his eyes on me.
“Well, he’s dining right now, ma’am,” he told me, and then I caught the flash of his eyes to the wooden double doors to my right. “May I help—”
But I was gone. I charged for the doors, not waiting to be turned away or told what to do.
I grabbed both handles and turned the knobs, throwing the doors open.
“Miss!” the attendant exclaimed. “Miss! You can’t go in there!”
But I didn’t even hesitate. Screw their stupid “No Women Allowed” rule.
I walked in, my skin buzzing under the surface and my heart racing with a new high. I twisted my head left and right, vaguely taking in the room full of men in their fancy suits, with their clinking glasses and cigar smoke sitting in the air above their heads.
I finally halted, my eyes finding Michael, Kai, Damon, and Will sitting at a round table in the back. I stormed through the room, passing tables of onlookers and waiters carrying trays.
“Excuse me, ma’am!” one of them called as I shot past.
But I wasn’t stopping.
I charged over, seeing Michael turn his eyes on me, finally aware of my presence, but before he could say anything, I reached down and grabbed the bottom on the tablecloth and yanked it off, carrying all of the glasses, plates, and silverware with it.
“Shit!” Will shouted.
Everything crashed to the hardwood floor, and Kai, Will, and Damon shot back in their seats, trying to avoid the mess of food and drink spilling everywhere.
I dropped the tablecloth and steeled my jaw, glaring into Michael’s amused eyes as I stood up straight and demanded their fucking attention.
The chatter around the room had stopped, and I knew all eyes were on me.
“Miss?” a male voice charged, coming up next to me. “You need to leave.”
But I didn’t budge. I stared at Michael, challenging him.
He finally glanced at the man next to me and waved him off.
As soon as he was gone, I stepped up to the table, not caring who heard me or who was looking.
“Where is my money?” I growled.
“In my account.”
But it wasn’t Michael who answered. I looked to Kai, seeing a small smirk on his lips.
I twisted my head, turning my eyes on Will and seeing his cocky grin.
“And mine,” Damon added.
I shook my head, trying to keep my body from shaking. “You’ve all gone too far,” I breathed out, shocked.
“There’s no such thing,” Kai replied.
“What we can do, we will.”
“Why?” I burst out. “What did I ever do to you?”
“If I were you,” Damon joined in, “I’d be more concerned with what we’re going to do to you.”
What? Why were they doing this?
Michael leaned forward in his chair and placed his forearms on the table.
“Your house is gone,” he stated. “Your money and property? Liquidated. And where is your mother?”
My eyes rounded, realization slowly dawning as I saw the suggestion in his eyes.
My mother wasn’t on a yacht. I’d been played.
“Oh, my God,” I murmured to myself.
“You belong to us now,” Michael declared. “You’ll have money when we think you deserve it.”
I narrowed my eyes, swallowing the lump in my throat. “There’s no way you’ll get away with this!”
“Who’s going to stop us?” Damon argued.
But I looked to Michael, dealing only with him. “I’ll call your father,” I threatened.
He let out a laugh, shaking his head as he stood up from his chair. “I hope you do,” he replied. “I’d love to see the look on his face when he realizes that the Fane fortune is gone, and Trevor will get you”—his heated eyes fell down my body before continuing—“in less than pristine condition.”
I heard Will laugh under his breath as the rest of them stood up, avoiding the mess on the floor.
Michael circled the table, coming around to stand in front of me. “Now we’ve got spectators, and I don’t like that.” He glanced around the room full of gentlemen who were still watching us. “We’re heading back to my parents’ house in Thunder Bay for the weekend, and we’ll expect you within the hour.”
And he pinned me with a warning look, letting me know it wasn’t a request.
I stopped breathing and watched as he walked away, through the dining room, followed by his friends. And without a single backward glance from any of them.
Thunder Bay? Alone with them?
I shook my head. No. I couldn’t. I needed to get help. I needed to reach someone.
But I squeezed my eyes shut, fighting away the tears as I ran my hand through my hair.
There was no one. I had no one to turn to.
Who was going to stop them?
This is definitely one of those books that I was so highly anticipating, when I finally got the chance to read it I was almost afraid to begin. Just in case it didn't meet my hopes for it. I should never have worried because let's face it, Penelope Douglas always surpasses those hopes.
Rika has a complicated relationship with Michael, to say the least. There's always been an inexplicable pull between them, but she's not meant for him, she's meant for his brother. But it's clear to the reader which brother she belongs with. Michael challenges, pushes and excites Rika. He understands her.
Rika is outwardly a good girl. She's beautiful, but not vain. She's smart, well-liked and funny. No one sees beyond that to the girl underneath who craves freedom. Except for Michael.
Michael has a well of emotions that he's learnt to suppress over the years. All of the anger, resentment and pain is pushed down and ignored, but Rika brings these feelings close to the surface and makes him feel like losing control.
Rika and Michael's chemistry was off the charts. This is definitely an erotic read, but the sex scenes aren't just there for kicks. Each one plays a role in helping us understand the dynamics between Michael and Rika, and develops their relationship- one way or another. There's a particular scene towards the end of the book, which certainly left me feeling...steamy (you'll totally get the reference when you read it)!
I was totally on the edge of my seat for most of this book. I had absolutely no idea where the plot would go and how far Michael and his friends would push Rika. The story is told in the present for the most part, but you also see past events unfolding in flashbacks that reveal just what happened to cause Michael and his friends to seek their vengeance against Rika. I loved the conclusion and the way the story all came together. I fully admit to having my mind blown frequently throughout and I just couldn't put it down. I'm so hopeful that we'll find out more from the other Horsemen (Michael's friends), especially Kai. I'd love to delve into their minds and see them find a measure of peace and contentment. Fingers crossed for more!
*I received a review copy for my honest opinion. Thank you!
About the Author
Penelope Douglas is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Fall Away series.
She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and believes there is too much blood in her Coca Cola stream. Or too much Coca Cola in her blood stream. Or...
You know what? It doesn't matter. She loves Coke. Now you know.
She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and daughter.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads
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