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Darkness is the only thing I see. Ever since the day my life changed. The day that everything and everyone I held close to me ceased to exist. The day I lost it all and the demons of my past consumed my every waking moment.
I tried to keep others at arm’s length. Tried not to let my darkness taint them. Ruin them. Harm them. And whether I want to admit it or not, as much as I wish I could keep them locked out, they refuse to leave. Refuse to let me suffer alone.
If I hadn’t been so focused on keeping those demons from flying free, I wouldn’t have missed how one perfect angel was able to sneak her way under my skin—refusing to let go. Making me want things I don’t deserve.
She consumes me. Her beauty knows no end. The love she promises tempts me every time she’s near. But that pure heart that makes her MY Emmy is the one thing I’m convinced I’ll destroy if I ever let her close.
I’m a broken man. A broken man with too much darkness in his soul to ever let her light shine upon me. But even that doesn’t stop me from craving her with every single breath in my body.
**This is the final book in the Corps Security series. This book is not suitable for younger readers. There is strong language, adult situations, and some violence.*
Six weeks. It’s been over a goddamn month since Emmy ran from me.
It took me three days to find her—thanks to the tracking device I had placed on her car—down in some small Podunk town in south Florida. Even if she had been trying to hide, she’d done a shit job of it. One search for her parents would have brought me right to her.
It took me longer to actually get eyes on her than it had to find her. She was holed up in some cheap-ass hotel for three weeks. She called in her meals and never left the room. And unfortunately, I had to leave and rush home when things out of my control needed attention and I again had to pull Asher’s head out of his ass. Now I’m back and I’m not leaving until I get my hands on her.
She doesn’t want to be found. I know that, but damn if I’m going to let her run off and get away for good. I’ve pushed and pushed her away. Every bone in my body has screamed at me to take what she’s been offering for years. I’ve seen her, I know what she wants, but I won’t let my demons hurt her. Not my Emmy.
Since day one, she’s been the greatest temptation, but I refused to take everything innocent that is Emmy and let my blackness take her. Because that’s what will happen. It will wrap around her soul and slowly choke the life out of her. Just like every other person I’ve allowed in.
I’ll taint her. I’ll ruin her. And in the end, it will destroy her.
One smile from her made me fall. So I pushed her away. I told her that she would never be what I need—that I would never want her. God, if she only knew. I crave her and everything she keeps trying to hand me. I crave her and everything she could give me. My very being calls out to her, and I work daily to refuse it.
So I pushed.
Until she ran.
But that ends right now.
Looking up at the gaudy neon lights thrown on the top of this hellhole, I know that was my first mistake.
A motherfucking strip club.
This is not a place where my angel belongs. Just the thought of her inside this club makes my skin crawl. I can feel my anger becoming a force of its own as the blackness in my soul threatens to burst through. It’s burning inside my veins and demanding blood. My nostrils flare, making my breaths come in loud pants. My fist clenches—demanding something to pound into, something to destroy. My skin feels tight. Every vein in my body is pulsing with each wild beat of my heart.
I’m going to explode.
The bouncer doesn’t even give me a second thought. He gives me a brief glance as I pay the twenty bucks to gain my access into the hellish place. I immediately rip my sunglasses off, taking in every inch of the room. Black walls with dim lighting, stereotypical red carpeting and leather booths lining the room. They have the name right with the smell of this place—sex and sin with a mixture of smoke and sweat. There are three stages set up around the room, the center one being the largest and two smaller ones to the left and right, with a bar against the back wall and one on the top floor.
The whole top-floor bar area is set up on a glass floor, giving these douchebags around the room the perfect view between the barely dressed servers’ legs. Taking my eyes off the top floor, where the bartenders are clearly working the glass floor to their advantage, I scan the room again, squinting my eyes to see through the dim lighting and heavy smoke.
That’s when I spot her.
“What. The. Fuck,” I snarl under my breath.
The anger I felt earlier burning through my body starts to boil. It’s almost as if my body becomes a force of its own. The monsters inside me wanting free.
There she stands, not even five feet away, looking exhausted, wearing next to nothing. Her skirt—if that’s what you want to call it—is more like a napkin someone cut in half. From the way she stands—slightly to the side—I can just make out the perfect roundness of her ass peeking out the bottom of the hem. Her pert tits are pushed together and held in a tight bikini top, the fabric so thin that I can see the outline of her nipples clear as day.
My eyes take in every inch of her exposed skin and I want to roar with rage.
No one should see her like this. No one but me. And even though I don’t have the right to feel this way about her, there isn’t a damn thing that can stop me now.
She hasn’t seen me yet, so I stalk over to where she’s standing. She turns right when I’m about to reach out for her and her eyes go wide, shock and alarm clear in her beautiful, honey-brown eyes.
“What the fuck are you doing, Em?” I bite out.
She shrinks back at my tone before she catches herself and goes stiff. I can tell instantly that I’m not going to like anything she has to say.
“You heard me, Emmy. What in the hell are you doing in this place?”
She tilts her head slightly, taking me in. Her eyes leave mine and roam the room before she gives a stiff nod. When she turns her focus back to me, I go stock-still at her words.
“I’m exactly where I should be, Maddox. I’m home.” Her tone is submissive, and that fury inside me goes from a boiling fire to ice cold.
With that, she turns and stalks off towards the bar. And I see that not only is her ass hanging out, but so are her hot-pink boy shorts.
“Dude. She’s a fine piece of ass, right?” The man she was just talking to speaks in awe.
“Shut your fucking mouth,” I growl, feeling that rage return like a switch has been flipped.
“Ah, you’re new here. Just sit back, my friend, and get ready for the show.” He laughs, takes a deep pull from his beer, and turns his attention back to the main stage, where the current entertainment is doing her best to swallow the fucking pole with her pussy. She’s working so hard for it that she might as well be fucking the damn thing.
I’m no stranger to strip clubs. Back when the guys were all single, we would hit some local ones around California. No better way to let off some steam from the shit that is constantly swirling around in my head than to sit in a room full of naked woman. Where the music pounds into your body, the drinks are always flowing, and the pussy is in abundance.
One thing’s for sure: This isn’t a place for Emmy. Hell no.
Without taking my eyes from Emmy, I drop my body into the nearest booth. She’s in a heated argument with the bartender and an older man who looks about as run-down as this fucking town. She throws her hands in the air, her head moving wildly, and if I had to guess, her stunning eyes are burning bright. She points over to me a few times, and all the older man does is shake his head, obviously not giving her what she wants. I just scowl at them from the booth, waiting for her to walk her ass back over here so I can explain to her that it’s time to go.
“Hey there, handsome,” a raspy voice says to my right. “Looking for some fun tonight? I bet a big man like you would be up for something wild.”
“No.” I don’t even look at her. My eyes never leave Emmy—who is now looking at me. A mix of ire and hurt is written all over her face. Even with the shit lighting in this place, I can see it…and I hate it.
Fucking hurt? Is she serious right now? Pissed I can understand. She didn’t want to be found and I found her.
“I won’t bite, baby. That is unless you want me to.” Her hands snake around my neck and down my chest.
Turning my attention away from Emmy, I look at the bleach-blonde hair, weathered skin, and fake tan of this bitch in front of me. I’ll give her credit—she tries to hide it with more than enough makeup for about ten women, but this piece of work in front of me has to be pushing fifty.
“I said no, woman. What part of that didn’t you understand? And for the last time, do not touch me.” I reach up and pull her hand off my stomach before she can go any further.
Moving my eyes back to where I last saw Emmy has me coming up empty. What the hell? I scan the room but she is still nowhere to be found.
“Ah, sweet cheeks. I know what you want. Good luck with that one. Rose doesn’t play around, and honey, why would you want her when you can have me? After all, I taught her everything she knows.” She leans down and, before I can guess her intent, licks my neck, clearly taking my distraction at her words to her advantage.
I turn swiftly and move into her space, making sure she doesn’t mix this shit up in her head to think that I would somehow ever want her ass.
“Do. Not. Touch. Me. You got that, sweet cheeks?”
She looks me in the eyes for a few beats before throwing her head back and laughing. The sound of it hits my ears like nails on a chalkboard.
When she walks off, I start my scan of the room again. No Emmy in sight. I run my hand over my buzzed scalp before settling in for the wait.
Thirty minutes later and I still haven’t found her. The crowd is getting restless. The chicks taking turns on the stage now haven’t been impressive and they undoubtedly want more. The pole humper has moved on to one of the smaller stages. The last act on the main stage was slightly better, but all she did was basically finger-fuck herself on the stage before fumbling to get to her feet on her ridiculous heels.
I wait, determined not to leave until I have her with me. Another thirty minutes and two more rotations on the stages have my frustration levels going up even higher. How the hell did she just disappear? I know she didn’t leave. The tracking device on her car, which is sitting right next to my truck in the parking lot, hasn’t alerted me of any movement. I’ll be damned if she takes off on me again.
After signaling over another server, I order a beer and check my phone again to make sure the tracker isn’t malfunctioning. I’m just putting my phone in my pocket when a deep voice cuts over the music.
“Gentleman of Syn. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. The one your dicks have been begging for all fucking night. The Princess of Syn herself. The one and only, Rose!”
The Princess of Syn? What an idiot. I laugh to myself, placing my beer to my lips for a long pull. The music starts and the first few notes of Lollipop by Framing Hanley fill the air. Got to give this chick props—at least she picked a good song.
The house lights go down, plunging the room into darkness, before a spotlight hits the main stage. The smoke clinging to the air gives the stage an eerie glow. I take my eyes off the action and attempt scan the darkness of the room again for Emmy. Movement by the back corner catches my attention at the same time that the crowd goes electric. Idiots start throwing their money left and right, calling to this Princess of Syn to take them.
I focus on the corner again and see the blonde from earlier smiling her wicked smile at me before pointing to the stage. Turning back to the stage, I watch as a woman, who I assume is this so-called princess, spins effortlessly on the pole, her movements all but blurring her body from the men wishing she were spinning on their dicks. It doesn’t take me long to see why the bitch from earlier is telling me to look.
With one quick spin, her hands are placed at the center and her legs are spread wide and parallel to the pole, showing off her barely there G-sting, I see my Emmy. It takes a second for the shock to wear off, and in that second, she gracefully drops from her spin with a guarded smile to the men crowding the stage. Lifting her small hands from her side, she drags them up her flat stomach to take her tits in hand and jiggles them.
Fucking jiggles them.
I can’t control my body at this point. I’m focused on one thing—the best way to get her off that stage and out of this place.
She reaches up and, in a move that is obviously practiced, removes her top, throwing it in to the crowd. There she dances with her body on display, caressing her naked tits until her nipples pebble. Turning her back to the room, she bends at the waist and starts to slowly pull her G-sting down her long, toned legs.
This is when the reality of this situation hits me. I’ll fucking kill all of these motherfuckers in the room.
Then she drops to her knees before getting on all fours and crawling towards the end of the stage.
I’m on my feet in seconds, stalking through the crowd, pushing any man who stands in the way of my woman and me. I don’t even lift my arms from my side. I just barrel through the bodies with one goal in mind.
She doesn’t see me coming since she’s back on her feet and walking to the pole again. With a leap that would make my high school track coach proud, I’m on the stage, and a second later, I have a naked Emmy thrown over my shoulders before I jump off the stage. The sharp pain up my leg does nothing to extinguish my determination.
I can see the bouncers coming, and with one hand on her slick ass, I reach out and punch the first one in the face, taking great pleasure watching him instantly buckle to the floor. The other one comes at me from the side, but he doesn’t get far before I pick up the chair to my left one-handed and crack it against his fucking head.
Emmy is struggling with such vigor that I’m forced to put her down. She looks up, ready to spit fire at me, before snapping her mouth shut when she sees the expression on my face. I have no doubt that I look just as feral as I feel.
“Don’t you open that sweet fucking mouth, Emersyn. I swear to Christ, now is not the time to fucking piss me off any further.”
I rip my shirt off and roughly pull it over her head. She struggles and puts up a fight, momentarily distracting me from the third bouncer coming at full throttle. His fist takes me by surprise, but not for long. Grabbing her wrist so she doesn’t get away, I turn to the motherfucker stupid enough to get in my way.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” I seethe.
He goes to punch me again, but I duck and pop up before he realizes he failed. Bringing my head forward, I head-butt him right between the eyes and almost smile when he falls instantly.
I’m stopped at the door by the last bartender she was speaking with earlier. He goes to make a move but pulls up when he sees the look in my eyes. I’ll fucking kill and I’m sure it’s written clear as day on my face.
“Do it. I dare you.” My tone leaves no room for argument. I’m leaving with her and there isn’t a person on this Earth who can stop me.
Ashley's rating: 5 of 5 stars
Maddox Locke has been the most elusive of the Corps Security men we love so much. He weaves in and out of the lives of his brothers in arms. He is often the dark shadow in the background, giving everyone around him sage advice. But he never listens to his own words and how it might change his life.
This grumpy, growling, dark man is finally able to face his demons. With the help of those who love him more than he realizes, Maddox Locke finds his happiness. He learns to turn his demons into blessings.
Prepare yourself for one last ride on the Corps Security gold glitter crazy train. It is worth the journey to discover the Maddox we all knew was hiding inside Harper's brain.
*I was given an ARC for a honest and true review. However, I would still be giving a review because I love this series!
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Harper lives in small town Georgia just a short drive from her hometown of Peachtree City. She (and her 3 daughters) enjoy ruling the house they dubbed 'Estrogen Ocean', much to her husbands chagrin. Harper has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books; you can almost ALWAYS find her with her eReader attached. She enjoys bad reality TV and cheesy romantic flicks. Her favorite kind of hero--the super alpha kind!
Harper started using writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night; and with a house full of crazy it was the perfect way to just relax. It didn't take long before a head full of very demanding alphas would stop at nothing to have their story told.
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Impacted (Conflicted Encounters #2) by Alyne Roberts
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult
When a meteor hits the ground, it leaves a crater. The earth is forever impacted from the collision.
Everyone has a past. Everyone has a future. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The aftermath can leave you impacted. Forever changed.
Ryder and Kallie's story continues as they struggle to overcome the consequences of the choices they've made.
(INSERT REVIEW HERE )
Since I've seen this movie a hundred times, I got restless and took the time to swap out Kallie's "ice pack". I put the broccoli back in the freezer and brought in a bag of carrots. She thanked me and I nodded back in response. We didn't have much to say to each other. Most of the long drive up here was in silence. I had so much I wanted to say, but didn't want to at the same time.
I walked around the apartment, giving myself a tour. It was modern with lots of black and white, clean lines and minimal decoration. It had an open and modern style to it. The only photos on the wall were black and white landscapes. She didn't even have any photos of friends or family hanging. Scarlett's room was plastered with candid photos and little souvenirs. Kallie had nothing.
The sun was starting to set and I approached the windows that spanned the entire wall facing Lake Erie. The apartment was on the top floor, giving a clear view of the lake and some city lights. I stood, staring at the water as far as you could see, tinted with purple and pink. I turned back around when I heard movement to find Kallie standing by the couch.
"Wow," Kallie said with wide eyes, looking over the same sunset I was.
"You live here. You've probably seen it a thousand times," I laughed.
"I haven't," she admitted in a small voice. "I never pay attention."
I shook my head at her. "Well, you've been busy." I didn't hide the hardness in my voice.
"I hate it here," she said in a dead voice that scared me a little. "I hate it all. It kills me. It eats me alive and sucks the life out of me. I have nothing left. I lost you, lost my mind."
If it weren’t for the trembling I could see in her body, I would have seen no emotion. Her voice was calm and her face was neutral. In a swift movement, she bent and flipped the coffee table over. Glass shattered everywhere. She stepped over the broken shards and swiped the photos off the wall. They fell to the floor breaking before she moved over to the built-in entertainment stand.
When she started to rip cords out of the wall, I broke out of my frozen state and rushed to her. Grabbing her arms from behind, I lifted her off the ground. Kallie kicked and squirmed in my arms as I backed us into the kitchen.
"Kallie, calm down," I said in her ear. She snapped and I wasn't sure how to get her back.
I wasn't sure if there was anything that could be said to make it better. She was right, in a way. She lived a different life, one that I wasn't convinced she wanted or fit into. I held my arms around her body, keeping her feet off the ground until she grew tired and went limp. She was still shaking and started to cry.
I sank down to my knees, taking her with me and situating her in my lap. Part of me knew I shouldn't be comforting her when she was so upset and vulnerable, but I couldn't just let her breakdown alone. I promised we could be friends and this is what a friend would do. Although, I am sure Scarlett would be better in this situation.
Kallie's body stopped convulsing and a little while later, she stopped crying and sniffled a few times. Her wet blue eyes looked up at me and I swear my heart ripped in half. I hated seeing her hurt. She gave me a sad smile before pushing off of me and she scooted a few feet away on the floor.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled while wiping the tears off her face.
"It's okay." It's not.
"I never meant for all this to happen," she gestured around her. "I never meant to ignore you. I never meant to make you think that I didn't love you."
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I shook my head at her and closed my eyes. I wanted to believer her more than anything. She probably even believed herself, but I couldn't risk that she wouldn't hurt me like that again. After being deemed not good enough for my own mother, I never allowed myself to rely on someone else's love and approval again. Until Kallie.
We sat in silence on the tile floor. She didn't apologize again and I didn't have to push her away again. I wondered how we would get through the upcoming weeks and play nice for the wedding. It was becoming obvious that both us wanted what we had, but going back to that wasn't as easy as it sounded.
A knock came at the door and Kallie called for them to come in. The door opened and Kallie's Dad Junior stood in the doorway, taking in the sight of the trashed living room.
"What happened here? Are you okay?" he asked as he rushed over to Kallie's side.
"It's fine," she said, brushing him off and glaring until he backed away. She used the counter to pull herself up. "I lost my temper."
"What did you do to her?" he growled at me. I raised my eyebrows, almost impressed. Yesterday, this guy looked like he couldn't get aggressive with a kitten. He seemed genuinely pissed at me now.
"I didn't do shit," I said in a warning voice as I stood up.
"Ivan," Kallie said, to get his attention. When he looked at her, she limped into the living room, moved a chunk of glass from the table and handed him a thick file. "Pandora and Gala."
"Why are you limping?" he asked her.
"I hurt my ankle yesterday. Here are all the contracts. I sent you the electronic copies as well. The product list and pricing is in here. Here are all the Gala plans I have so far. It's pretty much done already. I suggest Amanda to finish this up. She's pretty creative and planned the Christmas party. She's good."
Ivan held the files in his hands and stared blankly at her. Kallie stood up straight and didn't retract her arm when he made no effort to take the work. She looked completely serious, and it was sexy as hell. The prick finally sighed and accepted the papers.
"Kallie, I can't do all this without you," he whispered, probably hoping I didn't hear.
We both waited for her response in suspense. I wanted to shove him out the door and tell him fuck off, but I needed her to do that. She had to make the choice. This was her chance to give in and stay where she was, or stand her ground and tell him no. Kallie needed to do it for herself, not for me and not for Ivan.
I never wanted for her to turn her back on her family and life for me. I wanted her to be happy and to do what it took to get there. When she fell into her old ways, I wasn't upset just because she basically forgot about me. I was upset because I knew she was doing something she didn't want to.
"Yes, you can," she finally told him. "Amanda will do great with the planning. Pandora is pretty much in the bag. My dad hired you for a reason."
"He wanted you," he insisted, almost sounding pitiful.
"I'm family. He hired you because of your skills, education and all that," she explained gently. "You'll do fine."
She sounded so sure, so confident. I realized that although this guy looked like a pansy, he was educated and had a future ahead of me. He probably went to a fancy college like Kallie did. I had my diploma and a future in car repair, if I'm lucky, classic restoration. Ivan already had her father's approval. I paled in comparison to him, but she still wanted me.
"You sure you're okay?" he asked her, like it was secret. He probably thought I was holding her against her will.
"I'm fine," she huffed. "I just can't do this anymore. Any of it. I want to go my own way. I need to."
He nodded. "Good for you."
Ivan turned and walked to the door, pausing before pulling it open. He looked right at me before saying, "Take care of her."
With that, he walked out the door and left us alone. I stared at Kallie, taking in her calm and strong composure. She meant what she said, I was never so proud of her. I just hoped she stayed strong enough. I doubted they would let her go so easy. I was the only idiot that would let her go without a fight.
I crossed the distance between us in just a few steps. Kallie's blue eyes locked on mine as I cupped her checks and leaned down to press a hard kiss to her lips. Her tongue quickly slipped between my lips and I closed my teeth on it gently. Pulling away, I dragged my teeth on her tongue, pulling a deep moan from her.
My blood caught on fire and I gripped the back of her head, pulling her closer. Her body pressed against mine, instantly driving the want of feeling her skin on mine. I grabbed her hips and slammed myself into her, letting her feel how much I needed this. She grabbed my shoulders and dug her nails into my skin.
My hands slid down to her thighs and lifted. She wrapped her legs around me as I spun to set her on the counter. I kissed her frantically while rubbing up her stomach and under her shirt, grazing the underwire of her bra. When she tugged at the hem of my shirt, I backed away to let her pull it over my head.
Once topless, my lips and tongue continued running over the tender skin of her neck. Her breathing was quick and I could feel her chest meeting mine with every pant. Kallie was as frantic as I was. Her moans filled my ears and I couldn't feel close enough to her.
"Bedroom," she panted against my neck, leaving a trail of heat behind her breath.
- I make homemade wine, and drink it.
- I love watermelon and anything flavored or scented watermelon.
- I have a dog and a cat. They are my kids.
- I have 5 tattoos and need more.
- I’m a Mac person, I have no idea how to use anything Windows.
- If I could live in any state it would be Georgia.
- I am scared of spiders and big fish.
- On the first day of sixth grade, I walked into the boys bathroom. Most embarrassing moment.
- My favorite candy is skittles.
- I never eat breakfast in the morning, but can eat if for dinner everyday of the week.
- I have ridiculously naturally long nails.
- I collected clowns when I was a kid. I have over 100 in my bedroom. No one wanted to come over for sleepovers.
- My sister and my husband are my best friends.
- If I won the lottery, I would own every Mustang model ever made.
- I have never had stiches or broken a bone in my life [knock on wood]
- Unless you count the time I knocked out both my front teeth. [They are fixed now]
- I am a famous singer, in my shower.
- I used to have a motorcycle until I dropped it. I traded it in for a 4-wheeler. I guess I’m too small to hold up a bike.
- I choose Coke over Pepsi and Miller Light over Bud Light.
Alyne lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. Working full time in an office all day, she spends her nights reading, writing or watching TV marathons. She loves coffee, animals and country music.amazon.com/author/alyneroberts