Seth Morgan has returned home after two years spent building an alliance that will take his family's crime syndicate to a new level in New York City's black collar society. He expects a warm welcome as heir of the Morgan empire. He hopes to finally marry Nicolette, the woman he's loved his whole life.
What he finds is a different world, one where his family's legacy is in ruins. His big brother, Caleb, has changed into someone cold and bitter, plotting to overthrow their patriarch. And Nicolette, daughter of the criminal banking industry, has left the family entirely.
When a vicious misunderstanding leaves Caleb dead, Seth is left reeling. Desperate for truth, Seth is forced to turn to his only remaining cousin, Emma, for support. As he tries to mend his relationship with Nicolette, he begins a search for answers that will take him from the dirty streets to the highest reaches of their illicit empire.
Torn between the desire to protect those who mean the most to him, and a need to learn more about Caleb's death, he grows distant to protect them. As each secret surfaces, he realizes that the only way to restore his family is to take his place at its head, and fully embrace the brutal way they live.
Nicolette is seething beside him, tension building as they ascend. He fingers the knot of his tie, inching it down just a little more. He is suffocating.
There was a time when he would have spoken, he would have gone to her to try to fix the situation.
He won't speak now. He's not even sure why they sent him to calm her down, as if he did not start the day so very close to the brink of disaster. Yet, he is standing tensely beside her, buffering the rage that rose to the surface so quickly. He knows her well enough to know that the anger she showed had only partly to do with Vera Rohan, the reporter who has clawed her way to the Times, and who also happens to have quite the history with the Morgan enterprises. Seth met her some four years earlier, when she was still slinging mud for one of local gossip papers, when she waylaid his defenses and fucked his brains out. She has been a reoccurring force in his life since, no matter what twists his direction seems to take. She is also the biggest row that Seth and Nicolette have ever had, the only one who's ever made Nicolette nervous and jealous.
The moving metal hums to a gentle stop. The doors swish open to reveal a large office with a huge desk and stylish decor. All their tension rolls out before them as they exit. They move as if making a hit, although neither has ever been ranked low enough in their families for that. Her heels make high clicks on the marble.
“What the fuck was she thinking, coming here?” she snaps. “I should have shoved my gun barrel down her throat. Maybe that would be clear enough that she doesn't belong.” She turns on Seth, breaks into his thoughts. She is dark beauty, tough exterior, internal storm. Her regard is heavy, searching his face for a reaction. He can only return the stare. She is waiting for him to get angry, waiting for his resistance, but he won't show it to her. He won't crack; he's not that kid anymore.
So she viciously continues, “And you defended her? You'd choose her over me after you begged for my love? That bitch reporter has been poking around for too long. Eventually she's going to write this story, our story.”
The threat is silent—that writing that story will kill her—hanging in the air between them.
Again, she seems to expect Seth to get pissed. Maybe she wants him to scream or break something, maybe it would make her feel better, but he only slips his hands into his pockets and watches her with an expectant expression. Nicolette's eyes narrow on him, and she pushes a few steps closer. She glares at him, suspicious. He is like a darker, calmer version of his former self. He is a man, she realizes, and her anger stills, gives way to fascination. She is reaching to touch his face before she realizes it.
AJ and Nazarea became friends in a writers group. Drawn together by a love of fictional bad boys and good wine, they are best kept several states apart but rack up a ton of emails and text messages arguing plot points.
Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog.
Aj has seven tattoos, two dogs, and a bachelor's degree in journalism. She enjoys live music, and a diverse range of writing styles and genres. She has been writing creatively and therapeutically since childhood. She also supports artist collaboration and cross-media projects. She is an advocate of experience as inspiration. She lives and works in southern West Virginia as a bartender novelist.
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