Publication date: April 27th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
His name thrums through me like a heartbeat.
I climbed out of the smoldering crater of my life only to find myself back in the middle of a slow-motion trainwreck. I’m hunted, torn between my past and present, ripped apart by two warring families. My husband is dead, and his killer is the only man who’s ever felt the deep well of emotion I keep hidden from the world.
Vicious and scarred—his rough touch is seared into my skin, but his soft caresses are what break down my walls bit by bit. Until there’s only me left. My soul in his bloody hands, and my broken heart beating just for him. Only him.
My shadowy protector, my phantom lover—kiss me or kill me, I don’t care. As long as you’re the one who does it.
The white undershirt I wore was covered in blood. Poppy’s blood.
It was still on my hands.
The wind felt like fingernails across my soul. God, I had forgotten the wind. Every minute here felt too long.
“I’ll be back tomorrow,” she said.
I shook my head. The Morellis had put out the Dead or Alive orders on Poppy. It was a fair guess they’d like me dead too. Caroline wanted both of us alive, but she wouldn’t give a shit who got hurt in the process.
“Best stay away from us for a few days,” I told her.
Sinead put her hand against my shoulder. I twitched, calming the urge to smack her hand away before I did it. “What are you doin’, Ronan?”
“The less you know, Sinead,” I said with as much reassurance as possible. Which, judging from her face, was not all that reassuring.
“Are you goin’ to hurt that lass?” Sinead asked.
Yes. As bad as I can. As much as it takes.
“No. I’m gettin’ her free of a net she was caught in.”
Was I the net? Holding the net? Maybe I was caught in it too. Feck. I was bashed.
“I’m fine, Sinead. I always am. You know that.”
“It’s all right if you’re not. Some adult in your life should have said that to you before it was too late.”
“It was too late when I was born,” I told her. “But thank you.”
She pressed her lips tight, and I imagined there were a thousand things she might say about the boy I’d been and the night she’d saved me.
“Go,” I told her. “We’ll be fine. I’m going to change, eat something, and then talk to Poppy. Thank you, again, for the use of your cottage.”
“You paid me.”
“You didn’t have to accept.” Though it had been the kind of money a pensioner would be foolish not to accept.
“God, boyo.” She sighed. “Look at what’s come of you?”
I saw myself as she might. Too thin. I was always too thin for her. Exhausted. Bloody. A dangerous man with a dangerous amount of money and a bag full of guns.
I was what this place made of me, despite her efforts to soften the edges.
Sinead left. And it was just the cottage, the moaning wind, and the dark outside.
The closed door to the bedroom.
Dead or Alive.
M. O’Keefe is the darker, more dangerous pen name of bestselling author Molly O’Keefe. She is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Everything I Left Unsaid series and the upcoming Stolen Hearts. To find out more visit http://www.molly-okeefe.com