Releasing May 11, 2014
Sequel to Indulging In Irelyn
Irelyn Wilkes was Zolt Hamilâs seraph. His angel. His hallucination suddenly real. But her abrupt departure from his life has sent him into a tailspin of nameless women, alcohol, and drugs. When Zolt realizes that Irelyn lied to him, he cleans himself up and sets into motion a public rescue, making an even greater enemy of Marcus Xavier.
Marcus doesnât take kindly to people taking what is his, and heâs not about to let Zolt and Irelyn ride into the sunset without a fight. Heâs already murdered her brother; taking out Zolt Hamil would make his day.
Can Zolt and Irelyn mend their broken relationship and find a way back to each other? Or will Marcus succeed with his plans to forever separate this fated pair?
Preview the First Three Chapters Now!
Chapter One: Cold Light of Day
âOpen the door now, Zolt.â The incessant pounding on the door and the sound of my brother
Brodyâs pissed off voice pulled me out of my drunken haze. I peeled one eyelid open and groaned.
Where the hell am I?
The bed moved and I turned my head and groaned again. The last twenty-four hours came back
in startling detail, and it wasnât pretty. Irelyn had left me for Marcus of all people because I had
unleashed crazy Zolt on her. Now, I was in bed with a woman I didnât even know, in an apartment I
hadnât expected to ever see again. If that wasnât enough, my head throbbed like a bass drum spurred on
by the hangover from hell.
âZolt! T-bone is going to break it down if you donât fucking open it!â
âWhoâs Zolt?â the woman next to me asked.
âNobody,â I mumbled. Fucking nobody!
âZolt! Last chance.â Brodyâs voice boomed through the door.
I looked over at the bong, wishing we hadnât smoked it all. Hell, we'd even drained the several
bottles of tequila weâd brought with us. The only thing left was a couple of enticing drops at the bottom
of the bottle.
Though the action fruitless, I reached down and picked up one of them, tipping back the very
last drop into my mouth. I growled my irritation and threw the bottle to the floor.
Letting out a low grumble, I returned my head to the pillow. There would be no numbing myself
until I got home.
Yeah, I was a mess; I had indulged myself in an epic bender. The need to get lost and forget the
shit of the last two days had trumped better judgment.
âJohn, who is that banging on the door?â A feminine hand stroked my chest and I cringed.
Majorly hung-over, the naked girl next to me wasnât as appealing this morning as sheâd been last night.
She didnât smell like her. She didnât look like her.
She simply wasnât Irelyn.
With my eyes squeezed closed, I waited for the door to fly open. It would happen any minute.
The cavalry had arrived to save my sorry ass. It didnât matter that I didnât care, nor deserve, to be saved.
âHe asked me to marry him, Zolt, and I said yes.â
Those words would haunt me for the rest of my life. Iâd ruined the one thing that meant
everything to me. Iâd fucked up so badly that being with Marcus seemed like a better alternative. In my
chest, my heart was a shredded heap of sinew and muscle. No amount of no-name blondes, alcohol, and
pot would ease my pain.
Irelyn Wilkes had saved me that day on the football field. For six years, Iâd thought her a
hallucination. The best day of my life had been the day she became real. Until now, losing my football
career had been the worst thing to happen to me. That paled in comparison; losing my angel, my seraph,
hurt much worse.
The door slammed open and the sound of heavy footsteps approached the bedroom.
I stared at my naked self, knowing the polite thing would be to cover myself with a sheet, but I
didnât give a fuck. Let my brother Brody and T-bone see me in all my glory. If I were a gentleman, Iâd
cover up Blondie next to me, but I didnât care about her either.
Brody walked into the bedroom and assessed the situation. He picked up one of the empty
bottles and shook his head. âShit, Zolt. Are you insane?â
âJohn, who are these men? I didnât agree to do multiples,â Blondie complained, pulling the sheet
âDonât worry, sweetheart, not interested,â Brody replied with a hint of disgust in his voice. âGet
up and go. The party is over.â
âJohn, do you want me leave?â she asked.
I nodded. The attraction of last night faded in the cold light of day. Brodyâs lecture would
commence any minute. I rolled over and pulled the pillow over my head. I was in no mood to be
scolded for acting out, even if I deserved it.
âHereâs ten bills, take it and leave,â Tâs deep voice commanded. âForget you ever met him. If
you donât have a ride, Iâll arrange for one.â
The mattress dipped as Blondie got off the bed. âI have my car. There was something wrong
with him, anyway. He couldnât get it up and kept calling me Irelyn.â
âJust go.â Brody sighed.
After a few minutes of clothes rustling, the door opened and closed.
âGet up, Zolt. Itâs time to come home. I canât fucking believe you. Seriously, do you really think
smoking pot and binging on tequila with a woman you donât know was a good idea?â
âShut up, Brody. I donât need a lecture. Leave me alone.â I pulled the pillow tighter over my
âSo help me, God, Zolt, get your ass out of bed or T and I will drag it out. Irelyn needs you.â
âWhat?â I threw the pillow aside. âShe left me for Marcus. Iâm certain she wants nothing to do
âWrong. Irelyn is in trouble. If sheâd left you of her own volition, then why did she leave her dog
and her Mustang behind? Besides you, those were the two things she adored the most. Rachel says sheâs
not returning her calls either. Iâm telling you, sheâs in trouble.â
âShe said she was wearing green, Brody. Green means good. Sheâs good. She's happy,â I said, my
voice breaking. âShe has what she wants and itâs not me.â
âIrelyn lied to you,â T said. âWe believe Marcus forced her into this. Heâs holding something or
someone over her, and we have to help her before he hurts her or worse. He had Sloan arrested on a
trumped-up charge in front of the dress shop to get him out of the way.â
I sat up, suddenly terrified for her. Though we hadnât been together very long, and there was so
much we had yet to learn about each other, the one thing I knew for sure was Irelyn would not leave her
dog, her car, or her friends behind. She and Rachael were like sisters. If Iâd thought instead of reacted, I
would have figured it out.
âI brought fresh clothes for you. Iâll give you a shot of B-12.â Brody sat on the edge of the bed
and grabbed my wrist, taking my pulse. âHow much did you drink?â
âI donât remember.â
Iâd stopped at the first bar I had driven past, went inside, and found Blondie. Fucking, drinking,
and smoking pot had been my goal. After we got trashed, I tried to fuck her but I couldnât. My cock
hadnât failed me before last night.
Maybe somewhere in my psyche, I knew Irelyn hadnât really chosen Marcus, or maybe it was just
wishful thinking. Either way, fucking Blondie had seemed like a betrayal. I wasnât ready to go there yet. I
wondered if Iâd ever be ready.
âWhen did you eat last?â Brody asked as he continued his exam.
âI donât remember.â
âYouâre hurting, I get that, but youâve got to find a better, healthier way of coping,â Brody said
as he prepared the B-12 shot.
âI didnât fuck her,â I said, wincing as he gave me a shot. I was in love with Irelyn. Until I had my
say with her, face-to-face, I wouldnât be with anyone else.
âFucking her isnât the issue. What I care about is you resorting to drinking and using with a
woman you donât even know.â
I glanced up at T who stood with his massive arms crossed over his chest. His expression
mirrored Brodyâs tone, and I could see the disappointment in his eyes.
âYouâre right,â I mumbled.
âOf course I am. Take a shower and letâs leave. Iâll drive the Viper home; I donât want you
âFine. Wait, how did you find me? I donât remember telling you the address of this apartment.â
âThereâs a GPS locator in your Viper. I couldnât take any chances,â T-bone answered.
âRachael, Cory, and Sloan will be at your house in two hours so we can talk about whatâs going
on,â Brody added, putting away his medical supplies.
I laid there and let what they said sink in. If they were right, Marcus must be holding something
major over Irelynâs head to make her do what she did. The thought of her in the hands of that monster
made my stomach roil. I jumped off the bed and ran into the bathroom just in time to toss the contents
of my last meal into the toilet.
How the fuck did I get here? I thought as I leaned against the cold tile of the bathtub. Three days ago,
Irelyn was in my bed and in my life, and I was making love to her. Now, I was sitting on the floor of the
bathroom puking my gut out.
âGet your shit together, Z-man,â T-bone said at the door. âWe need to get you home so we can
start planning how to get Irelyn away from him. You can lick your wounds later.â
I pulled myself to my feet and started the shower. Inside, I rinsed the vomit aftertaste from my
mouth, but the sour taste of Irelynâs rejection remained. It would be a long time before it dissipated.
Turning the water to scolding, I winced at the sting of the hot water on my skin, but I deserved
it. After all, you shouldnât be able to scrub away your own cocksuckerism behavior without it hurting.
Rachael, Cory, and Sloan were already sitting on my couch in the great room when we got there.
They stared at me with a mixture of pity and irritation. Irritation I could handle; pity just pissed me off.
âIâve called her at least ten times or more,â Rachael said, her hand squeezing Coryâs.
âMore,â Cory said. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it.
âShe hasnât called me back. Nothing. This isnât Irelyn. Is it true she told you Marcus proposed
and she accepted?â
âThatâs what she said,â I bit out coldly. I didnât want to rehash this.
âMarcus must be forcing her. There is no way she would marry him, Zolt.â Rachael looked at
Cory and they shared an unspoken conversation. Cory gave a one-shoulder shrug.
âZolt, before Irelyn went for her dress fitting, she said she was coming over here right after. She
wanted to be here when you woke from being sedated. Staying away from you wasnât her intention.
Obviously, Marcus cornered her at the dress salon.â
âWhich is where they arrested me,â Sloan said. His irritation made his Irish accent even more
pronounced. âI should have guessed Marcus was behind it.â
âWhatever he said to her, or threatened her with, must have been major. Sheâs going to kill me
for telling you, but here it goes: Irelyn said she was in love with you. I guarantee that didnât change in
less than twenty-four hours.â
âOh,â I mumbled, staring at Rachael. Tears stung the back of my eyes, and I squeezed them shut.
I was so fucking pissed at myself for losing control that day, and now the if onlys were scrolling through
my mind. If only I had my shit together. If only I had been there with her at the dress fitting. I scrubbed
my face with my hands as my stomach roiled again. âThis is my fault.â
âYeah, you fucked up, Z-man.â T-bone squeezed my shoulder. âBut we canât dwell on whoâs to
blame. We need to figure out where Irelyn is and how to get her away from Marcus.â
Cory stared down at his phone and frowned.
âWhatâs wrong, baby?â Rachael asked.
âItâs Kenna. Iâve called her and messaged her. Nothing. You dropped her off, right Sloan?â Cory
âI did.â Sloan shifted uncomfortably. He was hiding something, and it most likely had to do with
the way he had eye-fucked Kenna the other night.
âKenna can be flighty, Cory,â Rachel soothed. âSheâs probably hanging out with her friends and
lost her phone again. She can be kind of ditsy on occasion.â
âYeah, maybe. But Mom said she didnât show up for her dress fitting. The salon called and asked
if she wanted to reschedule.â
Sloan growled at the same time dread turned my blood cold. We looked at each other.
âYou donât thinkâ¦ do you, Sloan?â I asked, knowing we were on the same wavelength.
âThink what?â Brody asked.
âKenna. Marcus has Kenna,â Sloan answered. âFuck!â
T-bone glanced at his phone and tapped out a message. âIâm contacting Jackson to see if heâs
âWe have to find out,â Cory said, standing up. âIf he has Kenna and he has harmed her, Iâll
fucking kill him. I need to contact my Dad.â
âHold on, Cory,â T said, scrolling through his phone. âJackson says heâs heard rumors about a
new woman up for auction. Apparently, Marcus has two houses. Jacksonâs trying to find out the location
of the other house. Marcus isnât stupid enough to keep them at his residence.â
âWeâre forgetting about Friday night,â Rachael said, standing up to take Coryâs hand. âMarcus is
on the board of the AZ Cardinals Charity Ball. Heâll be there, and heâll bring Irelyn. It just makes sense
if heâs going to perpetuate this farce about them getting married. Marcusâs pride will dictate that they be
seen together in society.â
âPut me on the guest list, Rachael,â I said. âIâm going, and Iâm not leaving without Irelyn.â
âNo a good idea, Z-man,â T said. He gave me a discerning look.
âI donât care, T. Iâm going,â I retorted. âIf I knew where the fuck that house was, I would go
âMe, too,â Cory agreed.
T-bone squeezed his eyes shut then opened them. âFine. Maybe youâre right, Z. The best place
to recover Irelyn will be in a public forum. Cory, you and me should meet with your father. I need to
brief him on whatâs going on. I donât want him to do anything stupid. Iâve laid the groundwork from the
inside out. Thatâs our advantage and we need to keep it.â
âDone,â Cory agreed. âWeâll go home now and talk with Dad. Youâll follow behind us?â
âLetâs roll,â T said.
âWait, Iâll go too. We should tell your father about Jacobâs involvement. Itâs possible the firm
may have some liability regarding the Black Swan settlement.â
I glanced over at Sloan who quietly seethed, his gunmetal gray eyes were black with ire. I donât
know if anyone else felt the menace coming from him, but I did. His jaw muscle worked, clenching and
unclenching. Something had happened between him and Kenna, and I empathized with him, I did.
Feeling powerless to help the woman you loved was fucking hell.
Chapter Two: Paying the Price
The sound of the door slamming reverberated throughout the room that was to be my prison.
My hand trembled as I covered my mouth, too shocked to scream at what I saw covering the walls of
the small room Marcus locked me in. If I thought the man I had trusted my virginity to had a semblance
of humanity about him, I had been sorely mistaken. The floors were bare concrete, no bed, no chair,
A strong metallic stench permeated the space, and I guessed it was the smell of blood. Several
crime scene photos of my brotherâs broken and bloodied body were splayed everywhere in living color.
Chrisâs bashed-in face and empty green eyes stared at me. Wherever I turned, they were there. I glanced
at the ceiling to find the worst of them. It covered the width of the room, magnifying the brutality of the
attack that killed him.
Marcusâs cruelty was boundless, and I was painfully reminded of the lengths heâd go to get what
Nausea overtook me, and I ran to the bathroom and vomited. The same photos covered every
flat surface, including the bathroom. There would be no sanctuary while I remained captive in here.
âWhy?â I asked through my tears as I sat on the floor and leaned against the bathtub. I wanted
to rip them down and destroy them. But I couldnât, and I needed to find a way to endure and not obsess
about how Iâd given my virginity to the man who murdered my brother.
Zoltâs handsome face flashed in my mind and I closed my eyes. He was my reason for letting
Marcus take control of meâhe and Kenna. I pushed the thought of her out of my mind. Thinking back
now, he had taken it easy on me when he took my virginity. Kenna wouldnât be afforded the same. Her
body was going to be sold as if she were a slab of beef. My heart broke for her. My heart broke for me.
The sound of crowd noise filled the room, and I pushed myself to my feet. After rinsing my
mouth, I went into the bedroom to see what new torture Marcus had arranged.
On the large TV on the wall, footage from Zoltâs injury played on a loop. The crushing sound of
the dirty hitâthe bounty against Zolt bankrolled by Marcusâechoed off the walls. I covered my ears
with my hands and squeezed my eyes closed. Marcus knew how to drive his point home, and how to put
me in my place, making sure I conformed to his expectations.
I lay curled up on the floor with my arms over my head, trying to drown out the noise of the TV.
The tears I held back finally broke loose. I wanted to be strong enough to survive this, but I didnât know
if I was, and I was afraid Marcus might succeed in breaking me.
I cried myself out, letting myself give in to the fear, grief, and despair that filled me. Then I
stopped, determined to find my strength. Staying vigilant and praying that somehow Zolt would see
through my lies were my only options. When this was over, I needed to be able to return to him and beg
for forgiveness. If Marcus broke me I couldnât do that. Whatever he threw at me, I decided to survive it.
I kept in the forefront of my mind an image of Zolt and me together. Hopefully, Kenna had something
similar to help her survive too.
Some indeterminate time later, the door unlock and open, and I heard it shut and lock again.
Quickly I sat up expecting Marcus. To my surprise, a beautiful girl wearing a gray pencil skirt and white
button-up blouse carrying a tray of food. She was striking with ebony hair and piercing blue eyes. The
only thing that marred her beauty was the nasty scar that ran the length of her jawline, but even it didnât
overwhelm her attractiveness.
âHi,â I said and straightened my dress. âMy name is Irelyn.â
âHi,â she returned and set the tray on the table, not making eye contact with me.
âThanks for bringing me food.â
âYouâre welcome. Iâll be back in an hour. Marcus requests that you eat everything on the tray.â
She turned and walked to the door, unlocked it, then left, locking it behind her.
I sighed. The woman, who wasnât much older than me, hadnât been friendly. Any ideas of
befriending her were dashed. Certainly, Marcus told her not to talk to me, and that cameras monitored
For now, the footage of Zoltâs injury had turned off, but undoubtedly it would come on again,
probably intermittently. Marcus was doing his best to mind-fuck me. Just like I would desensitize myself
to the crime scene photos of Chris, I would do the same with the footage, otherwise I would go crazy.
I went to the tray and frowned. Marcus sent all the foods I hated: pizza with anchovies and some
kind of tarragon chicken dish. I stared at the food fought the urge to scream. However I could, I had to
force this down and keep it there. I wasnât about to give Marcus a reason to punish me.
The following hours dragged on in much the same fashion. Since there were no windows, I
couldnât tell what time of day it was. So I took to counting to sixty by one thousands, using my fingers
to keep track. After a while, I grew tired of the exercise, finding it fruitless. The lack of sleep left me
skirting the edge of delirium. I played mental games with myself in an effort to remain sane, counting
the cracks in the concrete, not stopping until I came up with the same number twice.
The ebony-haired woman would bring in a tray once a day of my most hated foods; everything
from liver and onions, fried eggs with runny whites, and some kind of Mexican dish with tripe in it.
Each time, I choked it down while I leaned against the wall, sitting on the floor. With no clock, I decide
to keep time by the appearance of each tray. So far three had been delivered.
As I suspected, the footage of Zolt would come on at unpredictable times. I had to give it to
Marcus; he was a master of the mind-fuck. The lights in the room never turned off, and sometimes I
swear they got brighter. Even taking a shower was hit and miss as the water either scalded or froze my
ass off. If that werenât bad enough, it changed at a momentâs notice. Marcus didnât provided any
toiletries: no shampoo, conditioner, or body soap. Not even a toothbrush or toothpaste. The only luxury
was the toilet paper, and God only knew if I would get more when it ran out.
Regardless, I refused to succumb. When it started to be too much, I closed my eyes and replayed
when Zolt and I had been together, torturing myself in an entirely different way.
Several times during the hours, I heard a woman cry out in pain. Though I wasnât sure, deep
inside, I knew it was Kenna, and whatever awful things she experienced were for my benefit. Kenna was
yet another device in his plan, another way to break me. Only harming Zolt, or worse, killing him would
ever break me.
That Marcus hadnât shown his ugly face once didnât surprise me. He was trying to knock me offbalance,
keeping me on the edge, wondering when and if heâd come. Eventually he would, and Iâll admit
I was scared shitless of what heâd do to me when he did. Either way, Iâd take whatever he doled out
even if it meant having sex with him.
One of the worst things was the lack of clean clothing, causing me to wear only my panties and
bra, leaving my dress for the times when I rinsed my undergarments out.
My life now consisted of a window-less room, surrounded by images designed to remind of
Marcusâs viciousness and what heâd already taken from me. So I played the waiting game, torturing
myself with memories of Zolt.
The door opened and the same woman came in carrying another tray. On her way past me, she
dropped a note into my lap. Her blue eyes darted to the corner, and I figured she was indicating the
location of a camera.
She walked back to the door and turned to me. âMarcus wanted me to tell you tomorrow is
Friday. You will accompany him to the AZ Cardinalâs Charity Event. I will return to help you get ready.â
She unlocked the door and left. As soon as the door locked again, I stared at the note resting
between my crossed legs, hidden from view. I needed to figure out a place to read it where I wouldnât be
seen since I didnât want her to get in trouble because of me.
Taking a chance, I walked to the far corner of the room, hoping whoever set up the cameras
wouldnât find it necessary to train one on that particular direction. Carefully, I unfolded the small scrap
You donât know me, but my name is Delaney Carmichael. Iâm Marcusâs stepsister. Iâm sorry Marcus
has done this to you and Kenna. Iâm sure youâve probably heard the cries. If you wondered if they came
from Kenna, youâd be right. Iâve tended to her as much as he lets me. So far, sheâs doing okay.
You have no reason to want to help me, but if you ever find yourself free of Marcus, please donât forget
âFuck,â I said to the empty room before placing the paper in my mouth. While I moved from
the corner, I chewed the paper, then went to the bathroom and turned on the tap. Cupping water with
my hands, I took a drink, making it easier to swallow. I couldnât chance Marcus finding the note.
My heart sank as I thought about the screams Iâd heard. At least Delaney tried to help Kenna,
and for that I was thankful. I wondered how Marcus had trapped Delaney and if the scar on her neck
was due to Marcusâs handiwork?
Somehow, I needed to figure out a way to help Kenna and now Delaney. In the pit of my
stomach, I suspected tomorrow night would be my only chance to save myself and possibly them,
assuming I could get away from Marcus long enough to say two words to Rachael.
The next dayâat least, I thought it was the next dayâthe door unlocked. Iâd expected it to be
Delaney, coming in with the daily tray or to prepare me for the event. When Marcus stepped into the
room, my heart dropped and terror shot through my brain.
âItâs time, Irelyn.â He grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet.
âFor what?â I asked with a shaky voice. The fact that he was wearing a black T-shirt and track
pants told me I wasnât going to like what he planned. If he found it necessary to be comfortable, I
should be terrified.
And I was.
âTime to cleanse your mind and body of Zolt Hamil. Time to remind you of the manners you
seemed to have forgotten. And time to reinforce good behavior for tonightâs event, no matter what
happens.â His voice came out cold and emotionless and my spine stiffened with fear.
âIâll behave, Marcus. I swear.â
âYour word means nothing to me, Irelyn when youâve already proven you canât be trusted. I
would be disappointed with myself if I took your word at face value. Cheaters canât be trusted, and they
canât go unpunished.â
Oh, fuck! Whatever he planned for me wasnât going to be fun. Given Kennaâs screams, I assumed
it would be physical, but he wouldnât mark my face. Visible bruises were too hard to explain awayâ
mental ones were much easier to hide. He already needed to cover the dark circles under my eyes and
my pale complexion.
I followed Marcus into a dark room. When he turned on the lights, I almost fainted. The room
was small and mostly empty except for the St. Andrewsâ cross on the far wall and the rack of different
floggers, whips, and canes.
Oh. My. Fucking. God!
âThatâs right, Irelyn. I wish I didnât have to resort to this extreme, but youâve left me with no
choice. As a reward for your good behavior tonight, Iâll allow you to drop to your knees suck my cock
when we return.â
I wanted to laughâturn to him and laugh in his face. But nothing about this was funny; it was
terrifying. Even so I clung to the idea Marcus wouldnât beat me bad enough to disable me. The man
mastered everything he did, and certain beating women was on that list. Heâd know how far to go, so
that every time I moved or breathed, Iâd remember my punishment.
âTake off your panties and bra and then stand facing the cross. Put your wrists and ankles in the
restraints. Quickly!â he demanded.
I forced myself to do as he bid though my legs had turned to jelly with fear. Marcusâs footstep
sounded behind me. Once he fastened my restraints, he walked away, I assumed to select his implement
âYou really do have a beautiful body, and Iâm torn about how much to punish you. If we had
time, Iâd beat the shit out of you for making me look like a fool. Lucky for you, I need you to
accompany me tonight. I also need you to make a good show of it.â
A whoosh of air moved my hair and a loud snap sounded just above my head. I jumped and
almost peed myself.
âBut,â Marcus said as he trailed what I figured was a flogger of some type down my back. âThat
doesnât mean I wonât change my mind in the coming days. However, I do think fucking Zolt Hamil out
of you will be the best course of action. Since we have limited time, that, too, will have to wait.â
Marcus stepped back from me, and I heard the flogger whoosh through the air a couple of times.
I held my breath and waited for the first blow to land, commanding myself not to cry out. It
didnât work. I hissed out in pain each time the flogger landed.
âThis is for making a fool of me!â
âThis is for defying me.â
Over and over, the flogger cut through the air, coming down on the small of my back just above
my ass with a loud clap!
âThis one is for fucking Zolt Hamil!â
âThis is forgetting that you are mine!â
I hissed out with every lash of the flogger as Marcus recounted my crimes against him. After five
lashes, I lost count and let myself float away into a merciful darkness.
Chapter Three: Taking Back Whatâs Mine
âQuit fidgeting with your tie, Zolt. You look great,â Rachael admonished as we rode in the limo
to the stadium.
I placed my hands under my legs, but too many thoughts and ideas whizzed through my head,
and my nervous energy had me on the edge. Giving up, I pulled out my hands and shook them out.
Sleep had eluded me since Irelyn left, mostly due to the return of my nightmares. They were no
longer centered around my football injury. Instead theyâd morphed into tortured images of Marcus with
Irelyn, him doing things to her that she hated.
âSorry,â I said and forced a smile to my face, telling myself to stay focused, but my lack of sleep
dimmed my mind. Still, I needed to keep the chains moving down the field just as I did when I played
football. This would be our only chance to get Irelyn away from him; if we failed tonight, we failed
permanently. âEverything is ready?â
âYep. Dad will call Marcus to the stage and present him with a long-winded speech thanking for
his generosity. Fucking bastard,â Cory spat.
I felt for Peter, Coryâs dad. Turning his daughterâs safe return to T-bone had to be difficult. But
simply put, he had resources the authorities didnât or couldnât have. And Sloan was a man on a mission.
With Jackson Wyatt on in the inside and Sloan on the outside, it was a matter of time before we brought
âWhile Dad makes his speech, some friends and I, along with T-boneâs men, will stand in front
of Irelyn, allowing you to take her off the dance floor. Then, weâll run interference for you while you
and Irelyn get in the limo,â Cory said.
âNot you, Cory. You stay with Rachael the entire time. Donât leave her alone for a moment,
even if it means going to the ladiesâ with her.â
Cory nodded and kissed Rachael. âNot for a minute.â
âThe fucking irony of it all is the AZ Cardinalâs charity is dedicated to womenâs causes. It kills
me we have to thank him,â Rachael said, her face twisting with disgust.
âAgreed.â I turned to Cory and gave him a sad smile. âI know this is hard for you and your
family, given the situation with Kenna. What Iâd like to do is beat the living shit out of Marcus and make
him tell us where she is.â
âT-bone said his man on the inside will find the place tonight for sure. Maybe weâll be lucky and
get them both back.â Cory held up his hand and crossed his fingers.
âHereâs hoping,â I said, praying to God that would happen. We all knew, though kept it
ourselves, that if we were only successful with Irelyn and not both, Kenna would pay the price. The one
thing we had going for us was that Marcus still planned on auctioning Kenna to the highest bidder. With
that in mind, I had to believe heâd keep her in one piece.
Just in case, I crossed my fingers, too.
The limo pulled to a stop and I inhaled deeply, holding it before blowing it out. The gala had
been under way for over an hour. Dinner had already been served and dancing would begin just before
the charity auction began. This was the perfect break for Coryâs father to call Marcus to the stage.
Now was our chance.
We walked in separately. Cory and Rachael made their way to the stage to where both of their
parents waited. I limped to the back of the dance floor and searched the crowd. Several people pointed
at me, and I heard my name being whispered. I ignored them all.
Within minutes I found Irelyn standing next to him. Even though she faced forward, I knew it
was her. The memory of her naked back was burned into my gray matter. I had kissed every inch of it
before, after, and during sex, and I would recognize her body anywhere. Just the sight of it made my
heart skip a beat. Something about the way she stood that struck me as odd. Her stance seemed
unnatural and uncomfortable. Her shoulders were hunched in, and she kept her head down. Gone was
my Irelyn that always carried herself with absolute confidence. My sixth sense kicked in, telling me
something was terribly wrong.
Peter Campbell took center stage, calling everyone to attention. Then he asked Marcus to join
Marcus looked around and frowned before plastering a fake smile to his face. He leaned over
and grabbed Irelyn by her shoulders, pulling her close where he whispered something in her ear.
I watched her stiffen, and then mouth âyesâ. As soon as he moved through the crowd to the
stage where Peter waited for him, I saw her visibly relax.
My insides quaked with nerves. And just like the old days, I shook out my hands and my nervous
energy. I locked onto my target and made my way toward Irelyn.
Just as weâd planned, several men surrounded her, blocking Marcusâs view of her.
âIrelyn,â I said and placed my hand on her shoulder.
She spun around and gaped at me, wincing as if in pain. âZolt? What are you doing here?â
âSaving you.â I grabbed her by the hand and started to pull her through the crowd.
âNo, Zolt. You canât,â she said, halting our forward progress. âThat is, Iâm fine. Just leave.
âQuit fucking lying to me, Irelyn,â I growled, nervously glancing to the front where Peter
Campbell droned on about Marcus, talking until Cory gave him the signal.
I could see Marcus scan the crowd. Though he still wore his fake smile, his narrowed eyes
suggested that not seeing Irelyn pissed him off.
âYou donât understand, Zolt. Iâm wearing red. Kennaâs wearing red. Youâre wearing red,â she
said, her voice breaking with the last three words.â
âI do understand. We know you lied, and we know about Kenna. T-bone is on it. Come on, we
donât have time to dick around.â When I placed my hand on her lower back to guide her forward, she
cried out in pain. âWhat the fuck?â
Irelyn stared up at me, her eyes wide and pupils dilated with pain and fear as they filled with tears.
âHe punished me,â she said in a small, pain-filled voice.
âThat mother fucker! Iâll kill him.â I squeezed my eyes closed and sought the calm and control I
used to command when I played.
âPlease trust me, baby. Please,â I said calmly and opened my eyes. âWe have to leave now before
Marcus tries to stop us. Please.â
Irelyn glanced up at the stage then back at me. She took my hand and let me guide her through
the crowd. The trembling of her hand in mine nearly stole my resolve not to beat the shit out of Marcus.
Before anything, I needed to get Irelyn out of here and safe.
As we walked, I pulled out my phone and speed-dialed our driver. âPull the limo around now!â
âIrelyn!â Marcusâs voice boomed through the sound system. âJoin me. This means nothing
without you by my side. You belong with me.â
Irelyn stopped and turned toward the stage. Peter Campbell shifted uncomfortably on the stage
as Marcus glared in our direction.
She looked at me, then Marcus, then back to me. Torment darkened her gaze, and for a moment
I worried she would decide to stay.
âIrelyn,â I squeezed her hand. âPlease. Letâs go. We have to go.â
âHeâll hurt her. Iââ
âTrust me. Trust that we will get Kenna out. You have to come with me.â
âIrelyn!â Marcus said again more forcefully and held out his hand.
The entire room turned in our direction as this crazy situation played itself out.
âAs I was saying,â Peter Campbell continued much to Marcusâs dismay, who scowled at the man
next to him. But Peter kept talking, continuing with his false praise even placing his arm around
Irelyn shook her head then turned to me. âAll right, Iâll go with you.â
âThank God.â I guided her through the onlookers to the door. By the time we were outside, the
limo was waiting with the door open.
Irelyn cried out as she climbed into the back and I cursed.
Crazy Zolt wanted to take over, tell the driver to take Irelyn to my house while I went back
inside and fucked Marcus up. But crazy Zolt wasnât in control tonight.
I slid in next to Irelyn and the driver shut the door. A minute later, the limo pulled away.
Irelyn sobbed into her hands, leaving me at a loss for what to do as my heart broke.
âBaby, please donât cry.â I tried to pull her to me, but she cried out again.
âIt hurts Zolt. It hurts so much.â
âWhat did he do to you?â I ground out.
âH-he flogged me. Said I had to be punished.â
âM-maybe two or three hours ago,â she stuttered through her sobs.
Mother fucker! Mother fucker! Mother fucker!
My jaw clenched, and I gritted my teeth, trying to stay in control. âIt will be okay. Iâll make it
I dug into my jacket pocket and pulled out my phone, dialing Brody.
âBrody, I have Irelyn. We should be there in about forty-five minutes. Listen, Brody, Marcus
beat Irelyn with a flogger. Sheâs in a lot of pain. I have no idea how bad it is, but you need to be
I disconnected the call then texted Cory, telling him weâre on our way to my house. I felt at a
total loss on how to help her until I noticed the collar around her neck. Instantly, I knew the one thing I
âWeâre getting rid of this. Youâll never have to wear it again.â I unhooked the collar, pushed the
button and rolled down the window. With the power I used to use to throw spirals down the field, I
flung it out into the black night.
âThank you,â she said, gracing me with a grateful smile.
âYou are so very welcome.â I kissed her lips, restraining myself from pulling her to me. âHow
about a shot?â
Irelyn nodded, and I found the tequila and poured a healthy shot into a glass.
âThis will help until Brody can treat you.â
She downed it, coughing a little before handing me the glass.
âWhat can I do? Would it help if you lay on your stomach? You could stretch out on the bench
âOkay. Could you unzip my dress?â
âSure, baby. Anything.â
Gingerly, she maneuvered herself to the long side seat and lay on her stomach, her head facing
Once she was settled, I moved to her side and carefully unzipped her dress. When it fell open
and exposed her back, I had to bite the inside of my lip to stop myself from screaming. Several welts
marred her lovely back, and I could feel the heat radiating from them.
My eyes started to sting with tears of anger and impotence. How a man could do this to a
woman, I would never understand, and I couldnât get over the fact that this was my fault.
I sat back in the seat, leaning forward so I could stroke Irelyn hair. âDid the shot help?â
âA little.â She glanced over her shoulder toward the driver. âWhereâs Sloan?â
âHeâs with T-boneâs men looking for where you were held. Is there anything you can remember
about where it might be?â
âNo. He blindfolded me on the ride over there.â
âOf course he did.â
âZolt, thereâs another woman there who needs help. Her name is Delaney Carmichael. Sheâs
Marcusâs stepsister. She slipped me a note asking me not to forget her.â
âOkay.â I rubbed my chin. âHow can we be sure she wasnât baiting you?â
âNo. It said she was helping Kenna. Zolt, I heard Kenna screams. I donât know what Marcus did
to herâ¦ We have to find her.â
âWe will. I promise. Did you keep the note?â
She gave me a sheepish look. âNo. I ate it to keep it from Marcus.â
âYou ate it?â I started laughing. It was not funny, and but I found it hilarious. None of this was
funny. It was so far from funny that it was tragic. So why I laughed, I couldnât say, and I felt like a
complete shit for not stopping.
âZolt, why are you laughing? I was terrified,â Irelyn said, her beautiful red lips curved down into
a frown. âYou have no idea what he did.â
âItâsâBecause Iâm a dick. This is anything but funny.â I kept stroking her hair, hoping sheâd
come to understand how fucked up and scared I had been this last week. âIâm sorry. Relax until we get
home. Brody will make it all right.â
âText T-bone and tell him about Delaney, please.â
I nodded and did as she asked. We stayed silent for the rest of the drive, but I kept touching her,
continually stroking her hair.
When we finally arrived, I helped Irelyn out of the car, making sure her dress stayed in place. I
wanted to carry her, but I worried it could hurt her more than it would help.
âI set up in the spare bedroom,â Brody said.
âShe should be in my bedroom,â I said, irritated that Brody had made that decision without
âBecause I had no idea what weâd be facing. I figured it was best to give her a room to herself.â
âItâs fine, Zolt. Youâll need to get your rest.â Irelyn gave me a weak smile that made me want to
cry. She was trying to be so strong for me and I didnât fucking deserve it.
âIâm going to step out while you help Irelyn get settled. Have her lay face down, undressed. You
can cover her with a sheet, but leave her welts uncovered.â Brody left the room and closed the door.
âYou heard Dr. Hamil,â I said, trying to lighten the mood. âDrop the dress, young lady.â
Irelyn remained silent and let her dress fall.
I covered my mouth and gasped when I saw the extent of Marcusâs handiwork on her lower
back. The man wielded a flogger like a professional. He did just enough damage to cause her extreme
pain but not to completely disable her.
Iâm going to fucking kill him, but not before I beat the shit out of him first.
âIâm so embarrassed.â Though she had her back to me, I would tell by the quaver in her voice
that she cried.
âDonât be, baby. Brodyâs a doctor. Heâs seen it all before.â But to be honest, my brother seeing
my girlfriendâs sweet ass pissed me off.
If sheâs still is my girlfriend.
Irelyn lay on the bed naked, and I covered as much of her as I could, leaving her injured back
exposed. She whimpered the entire time, and I was having hard a time keeping it together.
âAre you comfortable?â I sat on the side of the bed and stroked her face with my finger. âI
mean, stupid question, but do you need anything else before I get Brody?â
âNo. Well, maybe a tissue. Iâm sure my face is streaked black by now. And can you twist my hair
into a knot?â
âSure.â I did my best with her hair then handed her a tissue. She was right, her eye makeup had
run, but I still found her beautiful.
âYour face is perfect.â It was true. Just her being back in my house made everything perfect.
She wiped her nose and face then handed me the tissue to dispose of. âAnything else?â
âOkay. Iâll go get Brody.â
âYeah,â I said with my hand on the doorknob.
âStay with me while he tends my back. Iâm scared.â
I closed my eyes, praying I could keep my tears at bay, and then I swallowed hard. âYou got it,
baby. Iâll be right back.â
I opened the door to find Brody waiting in the hall. His short, curly brown hair was standing on
end, looking as though heâd been running his hands through it.
Closing the door, I joined him. âIâm going to fucking kill him, Brody. I swear, if itâs the last thing
I do, Iâll kill him.â
Brody squeezed my shoulder. âWeâll deal with that later. First, we have to help Irelyn. This is
going to hurt her, Zolt. I need you to pull yourself together. You have to be strong for her. Fall apart
With a nod, I followed Brody into the room and shut the door.
âHow are you doing, Irelyn?â Brody asked as he pulled on gloves. He was all business, and I was
thankful for that.
âIt hurts. My back feels like itâs on fire,â she said as more tears coursed down her cheeks.
âI know. Iâm going to insert an IV and give you some pain meds. Thankfully, T-bone has wicked
connections and was able to get everything we need. Iâd prefer to do this in a hospital, but they might
âBut you can tend her back, right?â I asked and worried my lip my thumb and forefinger.
âI can,â he answered as he inserted the IV. âSorry if this hurts, I havenât inserted an IV in a
while, so bear with me, Irelyn.â
âOkay,â she said weakly.
I watched with horror as Brody inserted her IV, thanking God he was able to do it on the first
âOkay, weâre good to go. Do you have any drug allergies I should know of?â Brody asked as he
adjusted the IV settings.
âNo. No allergies.â
âGood. Iâm going to give you morphine for the pain and an antibiotic, as well. Are you on oral
contraceptives?â Brody looked at me and I shrugged. Weâd never talked specifics about her birth control
other than her mentioned being on it.
âNo. I have an IUD.â
âIt should be fine,â Brody answered. âSince an IUD works in two ways, itâs almost foolproof.
Nothing to worry about. Though Iâll caution you against sexual intercourse until youâve healed.â
âOkay.â Irelynâs gaze flicked to mine and I smiled at her. Sex was the last thing I was thinking
about, but I had to give Brody props for covering all the bases. The last thing we needed was to deal
with an unwanted pregnancy. Hell, we hadnât even talked about kids.
We hadnât talked about many things.
Brody picked up a vial and inserted a needle, drawing out some liquid. âThis is the morphine.
Iâm going to start with ten milligrams. Tell me if you get nauseous, and I can give you something for it.â
âOkay,â Irelyn said again.
He inserted the needle into the IV port. âWhile we wait for that to take effect, there are some
personal questions I need answered. Do you want Zolt to leave?â
âNo. I want him to stay. If youâre going to ask if he raped me, that answer is no. Today was the
first day I actually saw him.â
I let out a relieved breath.
âGood. That makes things easier. Are you feeling the effects of the morphine yet?â
âYes. The pain is less. Thank you.â
Brody let out his own breath. âIâm going to cleanse the area with an antiseptic wash so I can get
a better look at the wounds. This is going to hurt; thereâs no way around that.â
I took off my jacket and untied my tie, tossing them both on a chair. Then, I sat cross-legged on
the other side of the bed from where Brody worked.
âTurn your head, baby. Watch me. Keep your eyes me.â
Irelyn turned her head and our gazes locked. Even red-rimmed and makeup smeared, her eyes
were still those beautiful sable-browns of my dreams. âYou looked very handsome in your tux,â she said
and smiled just before Brody began tending her.
âThank you. But I would have looked much better with you on my arm.â I took her hand and
held it tight while Brody cleaned her wounds. Every time she screamed, she squeezed my hand. Iâm not
going to lie, she had my hand in a death grip and it hurt like hell, but I didnât care.
Somehow, I found the strength to keep it together as Brody tended her, doing a full physical
exam. With each of her cries, I felt my heart break just a little more.
âOkay. Iâm done, Irelyn. You did great. Just great. Thereâs only one Iâm concerned about. The
skin is broken and weeping, but Iâll keep an eye on it. The best course of action will be to keep you
sedated and on pain meds so you can heal.â
âWhat about eating, Brody? She has to eat,â I complained.
âIâll prepare a high-calorie, nutritionally-balanced shake that she can drink for the few hours
sheâs awake. Itâs only for a few days at the most. The less ambulatory she is during the first days, the
faster sheâll heal.â
âThatâs fine, Brody. I trust your opinion,â Irelyn said. âBesides, Iâll lose a few pounds. Thatâs
never a bad thing.â
âYour body is perfect as it is. You donât need to lose any weight.â
âItâs going to be okay, Zolt,â Irelyn said and tried to stroke my face. She winced at the
movement and dropped her hand before it reached its destination.
I hated that she was trying to comfort me.
âI need to step out and get the sedative. Iâll be right back,â Brody said and left the room.
Stretching out on the bed next to her, I caressed her face.
âIâm sorry, Zolt.â
âLying to you. Saying the things that would hurt you the most. All of it was lies, but Marcus said
he would hurt you and Kenna if I didnât do what he wanted.â Her tears were in full flow now and her
voice sounded hoarse.
âDonât, Irelyn. Itâs in the past. Youâre here where you belong. Weâre safe from Marcus.â
âI love you, Zolt. I need you to know that.â
Tears swam in my eyes, making my vision blur. My heartbeat thrummed with her words and
their implication. I didnât want to break down in front of her, but I was having a hard time keeping
âI love you, too, Irelyn.â I gently kissed her soft, tear-moistened lips. âNow rest, baby. Just rest.â
Irelyn closed her eyes just as Brody returned to administer the sedative.
I stayed lying next to her, holding her hand until she fell asleep. Then, I went to the backyard
and sat on the steps leading down to the lawn.
In the darkness with my face in my hands, I did something I hadnât done in years.
About the AuthorDawna Raver didn't always want to be a writer, but now the voices in her head won't shut up and the stories keep coming.
She's an author of new adult romantic fantasy and contemporary, erotic romance. When she's not spending time in her fantasy world, Dawna loves football, reading, and pretending she's a top chef in the kitchen. Oh, and fawning over her dogs and husband, sometimes in that order.
Severed Colours, Book 2, A Colour Wielders Novel, released on November 18, 2013.
Indulging in Irelyn, a contemporary romance, written under D.L. Raver releases February 5, 2014.
Indulging in Irelyn - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20738998-indulging-in-irelyn
Colour Wielders - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17261634-colour-wielders-a-colour-wielders-novel
Severed Colours - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18584326-severed-colours
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dawna-