Rachel Van Dyken brings you Rip a complete stand alone novel that fans of the Eagle Elite series will devour! With twists and turns you won't see coming, this dark romantic suspense will keep you on your toes and leave you screaming for more.
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.
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.
Welcome to the world of the Russian mafia, where death, is your only future.
âSo.â She plopped into the seat next to me and crossed her long legs. I fought hard to pull my eyes away. âCatch me up, what exactly are we doing in Chicago.â
I opened a folder and slid it across the table. âWe are doing nothing. I, however, am making a speech atâ¦a church.â
I didnât miss her snort, or the way she tried to hide her amusement.
âYeah.â She nodded. âIn church.â
âWhere did this attitude come from?â
âYou kissed me.â Her eyes narrowed as she leaned back into her seat, not missing a beat as she let her gaze wander across my body like a caress. Iâd be lying if I said it didnât feel good, to be desired, wanted, and it was a welcome distraction from the pit in my stomach. I really, really didnât want to go to Chicago.
âYou kissed me back,â I retorted.
âDoesnât matter, you still kissed me. The line between beast and his little toy has been crossed, therefore I kind of own you like you own me, just in a more...irritating way. I have your balls in a vise.â
âLetâs leave my balls out of the speech if you donât mind,â I said ignoring her little ploy to get under my skin again.
âHey.â Her grin spread smugly across her pretty face. âIt may just inspire the crap out of them, you never know.â
This was a conversation that Andi would have loved, in fact, the more Maya talked the more I saw Andi in her, which just made it that much worse. Here Maya thought I was going to Chicago to slap hands with rich doctors and make speeches, when really, I was going because I made a promise, to a dying girl.
Just one more girl, Iâd failed to save.
âLetâs leave all references to body parts out of my speech, hmm?â
âI am the boss.â
âSo you are.â
âIâve created a monster. Had I known feeding you would gain this response I would have tied you up in the basement with a protein bar and some Gatorade.â
âItâs not your fault. Itâs Netflix. Orange is the New Black combined with the nightmaresâ¦â She yawned and it was then that I noticed how tired she looked.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat wanting to press things further, what kind of nightmares had she been having?
âI havenât been sleeping much. Then again I blame you for keeping me from technology for so long.â
âWhich brings us back full circle. I should have never given you such privileges.â My voice came out in a bark.
âItâs a right, not a privilege,â she snapped.
âSo thisâ¦â What the hell was it? A eulogy? Not really, that was Sergio, but heâd asked me to say a few words. Shit. I struggled with how to ask, I didnât know the first thing about being at a funeral, I put people in the casket, I didnât visit them after they took their last breath. My eyes stung with exhaustion. âI need you to help me write it.â
âWait...â She visibly paled. âWhat did you say?â
âWrite.â I nodded encouragingly, my anger surging, breaking through all of my carefully constructed walls. Anger had no place in my business, in my life, and anger toward her, did nothing but put her in danger. âYou know, words on a paper, you put them down, I say them.â
âDonât be an ass.â
âMayaâ¦â I tsked. âI am what I am.â
âPut that in your speech.â
âMaya.â I grit my teeth together to keep myself from snapping at her. âI need a speech, somethingâ¦encouraging, inspirational, happy.â
Maya pulled out her laptop and opened it up. âInspirationalâ¦I can do inspirational. When was the last time I was inspiredâ¦?â Her cheeks bloomed red.
âWhat was that?â I breathed, my eyes lowering to the expanse of cleavage, it was a welcome distraction from my morose and jumbled thoughts. âDidnât catch what you just said.â
âI, uh, didnât say anything.â She nervously tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, her cheeks pinkening even further.
âYour mouth didnâtâ¦your face did.â
âLetâs not talk about my mouthâ¦â
âWhy?â I leaned in. âDoes it inspire you too much?â
âAss!â she hissed.
âI think youâre on to somethingâ¦â I chuckled, bracing my hands on the armrests. Six inches, and our mouths would touch. I wasnât just toying with breaking the contract, I was ripping it up, burning it. Just as our mouths were about to touch, I paused, lingering where our breaths mingled, hers warm on my lips, mine ragged and needy. I was right about one thing; she would be a welcome distraction, one that wouldnât allow me to feel sad, or bothered by the fact that I was flying to a friendâs funeral.
And that history, if I wasnât careful could repeat itself.
She moved, dislodging her water bottle. It landed with a soft thump on the floor.
I reared back and stared at it.
What the hell was I doing?
And as luck would have it, the water droplets had cascaded against my left hand, my tattooâthe mark of the sickle, the mark that would tell anyone who knew anything about the darker side of life.
What I did.
Who I worked for.
What I was capable of.
What I would doâto protect not just my own identity but those closest to me.
My phone rang.
I reached down to silence itâready to silence it, when I noted the number. Cringing, I answered it with a smooth hello.
âYou know I have eyes everywhere.â
âGood afternoon to you, too.â
Maya pretended not to eavesdrop.
The last thing she needed to know was that I was talking to her fatherâcorrection, receiving another threat.
This one not so baseless as the rest.
âTell me something I donât know,â I said, waiting for his response.
âSheâs been touched.â
I rolled my eyes. âYou sure about that?â
The line crackled.
âShe flushes when youâre near.â
âMost women do.â
âCocky son of a bitch.â He chuckled. âRemember the terms of our agreement, Nikolai, I scratch your back, you scratch mine. She means nothing to me. You are the one who has everything to lose. Youâve developed a god complex, but I know all your secrets. It would take nothing for me to destroy you. You signed in blood. And it will be your blood that is spilled if you go back on your promise.â
My nostrils flared, heat surged through my body as I watched Maya happily pull out a magazine and cross her legs. Damn it, he was right. What the hell was I doing?
My lack of self control would end up getting her killed.
I knew that just as much as he did.
I was stuck.
And he knew it. Part of me wondered if he was aware that Iâd developed a conscienceâthen again, Iâd stopped working directly with him long ago, but it didnât mean I wasnât still owned.
âWeâll be in touch.â The phone went dead.
Damn Russian mafia.
And damn me for being one of the best. I didnât get the nickname The Doctor because I had a good bedside manner.
And I wondered, as I tried not to stare too hard at Maya while she read through her magazine, would she still be alive if I hadnât have taken the job that changed everything?
Had I damn her, then?
Had I truly saved her?
I let out a low growl of frustration; clenching my phone in my hand, ready to break it in half. I wanted so desperately to protect her from Andiâs fate, but would it be better that she died?
My body tensed.
Would I be extending her mercy, by snuffing out her life?
Maya frowned down at the magazine, her eyebrows furrowed as the plane rose to altitude.
I didnât shake, didnât so much as tremble. I was a doctor, after all, and whenever I made a decision of life and death, I was calm. Humanity didnât slip through. I didnât have a come âto-Jesus moment, where I wondered if what I was doing would sentence me to the darkest depths of hell.
The only way I could explain it.
âSomething else to drink?â I asked Maya while she popped her knuckles again. Shit, twice in a few minutes? Was there something about the plane? Or my conversation?
âWine.â She said quickly. âIf you have it.â
I nodded, already walking to the bar. I glanced to my left to make sure she wasnât watching me, then reached into the cupboard and pulled out a syringe of sodium pentothal. It wouldnât harm her. If anything, it would relax her more, make it so that I would be able to hold a conversation with herâ¦without her remembering a damn thing, though the dosage needed to be precise. The last thing I needed was for her to end up unconscious.
âWhat time is it?â I asked while I poured the wine, keeping the small syringe in my right hand.
âOh.â Maya yawned then glanced at her watch. âItâs nearing four in the afternoon, why?â
âJust thinking about our dinner plans,â I lied. Two and a half hours since sheâd last eaten. I mentally went over her stats, weight one-forty, height five seven. Sheâd need a half dose at the most.
Clearing my throat, I turned, sliding the syringe into the top of my sleeve and bringing over the two glasses of wine; hers was more full.
âWow, generous in all areas arenât you, Nikolai?â Maya eyed the wine glass and took a long sip.
âDrink it all,â I instructed with a half smile. âDoctorâs orders.â
âAll of it?â She laughed lifting the glass into the air. âThis is at least two glasses.â
âAt least half,â I said in a more gentle tone. âYou seem stressed, and I knowâ¦Iâm not the easiest to travel with.â
Maya blinked then took another sip of wine. âNo, you think?â
âItâs aâ¦â I coughed into my hand letting the syringe slip out to the tips of my fingers. âItâs not you. Itâs me.â
âOkay,â she said slowly, setting her wine down on the arm rest.
âNope.â I offered a encouraging smile. âA few more sips, trust me, youâll feel so much better.â
Maya rolled her eyes but drank deeply.
The alcohol would work beautifully with the sodium pentothal. Truth serums, didnât necessarily work by themselves, they were used in conjunction with other tools and drugs, allowing the human mind to be open to suggestion.
But no human mind or body was the same, meaning, the outcome was always different.
If Maya had any sort ofâ¦secret she was keeping close, something she wanted to tell me, but couldnât or refused to, it would most likely come out at some point in the next half hour.
If she were harboring memories, dark ones, ones that scared her, and I offered her a caring ear, sheâd jump at it.
And Iâd know.
If she was getting triggered and how.
It sounded sick.
But it was of the utmost importance that she be kept in the dark, especially since her father clearly was still keeping eyes on her.
I told myself that as she drank more wine.
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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