Series: Standalone Novel
Published by Self Published on 4/3/18
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Behind his beautiful eyes
Lay a thousand secrets and lies.
But my own secrets are all laid bare
The twisted reality of a disgraceful affair.
I once deciphered the mysteries hidden in art
Then mistakes and desire tore me apart.
Now I'm shipwrecked at the end of the earth
Desperate again to prove my worth.
The lighthouse keeper is a stranger to me
Yet one night with him sets me free.
We find ourselves united by the stars above
Both of us needing the salvation of love.
Until our secrets and shame continue to build
And what was flourishing will soon be killed.
I love Nina Lane, and I’m hearing amazing things about her upcoming release, The Secret Thief. Today we have an exclusive sneak peek into this highly anticipated romance and OH MY GOSH! It sounds so so so good.
Close to lunchtime, my phone buzzes with an unfamiliar number bearing a Los Angeles area code. Though I’ve lost touch with almost everyone I used to know in LA, maybe a former friend is now calling to see how I’m doing.
I swipe the screen and answer the call. “Hello?”
Ice floods my veins. I can’t speak. His voice is a nightmare of old memories—clipped and harsh, husky with lust, infused with a tenderness that turned out to be a lie. Everything was a lie.
“What…” I pull a breath into my tight lungs. “What do you want?”
“You did a good thing by moving as far away as you could get,” David says. “But if you think you can still do some damage, you’re wrong.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about you keeping your mouth shut,” he snaps.
Fear, old and sharp, sinks into my skin. I know all too well how powerful this man is. He defeated me, stripped away all my defenses. I’d tried telling people the truth, but no one had believed me over him. Why would I do anything now except keep my mouth shut?
“I’m…” My breath hitches, panic rising. “I haven’t said anything to anyone.”
“You’d better not,” he says. “No one believed you then, and they sure as hell won’t now. But if you try, I will fucking destroy you worse than I already have. Got it?”
I can’t push any words past my constricted throat. How did he get my number?
“You were nothing more than a passable fuck,” David continues. “So you just stay in your little mousehole and keep quiet. The restraining order is still in place. If I hear anything out of you, you’re done.”
The call ends. I drop the phone and sink onto the desk chair. Every part of me is shaking.
He’s supposed to be out of my life for good. I paid a catastrophic price for getting involved with him. Why would he suddenly think I’m going to say anything now, of all times? Especially right when I’m finally seeing some light again?
I jerk my head up in surprise at the sound of Flynn’s voice—deep and edged with concern, a polar opposite to David’s caustic tone. He’s standing in front of the desk, his eyebrows pulled together and his gaze on me.
I get quickly to my feet, trying to suppress my shivering. “I…nothing. I’m sorry, I was just about to get back to work.”
I hurry around the desk and busy myself opening another box.
Oh, how he says my name—like he’s wrapping his voice around it, like he’s wrapping his arms around me. I fight back a sting of tears and pull two fairy tale criticism books from the box.
“Just an unexpected call. Everything’s fine.”
He steps closer. His delicious scent, the presence of his strong body, makes me want to crack wide open and confess everything. To give him my secrets so I won’t have to bear their weight alone.
I hold up my hand. A tremor ripples through me.
“You said I couldn’t ask you any questions,” I remind him. “Fine. You can’t ask me any either.”
His mouth tightens, his hands flexing at his sides. “Something upset you. I want to know what it is.”
“Well, you can’t, all right? It’s my business, like whatever you do in the tower is your business. Now is there something else you wanted or can I get back to work?”
“No.” He heads toward the door, his shoulders rigid. “There’s nothing else.”
After he’s gone, I struggle to contain the fear that I thought I’d finally conquered. A thirty-second call from David has revived it all—the sinking dread, the black fog suffocating my lungs, the icy cold terror of what else he could do.
Does he know where I am?
Though I’d had my phone number changed, it’s easy enough to find that kind of information these days. It also wouldn’t be a challenge for anyone to find out I’ve moved to Castille, but I’ve been counting on the fact that no one, least of all David, cares where I am now.
My only small consolation is that I’m no threat to him. I fully intend to stay in my “mousehole” and keep quiet. Yes, I want to jumpstart my career again, but David and his colleagues could give a shit about art history. Our paths will never cross again.
So what was that call about? It must have something to do with the two students now accusing him of sexual harassment, but I don’t know any of details of that situation. I don’t want to know.
Or maybe someone said something to him about me. Maybe his wife had received a call or a message—during the public blowout, she’d apparently been subject to pranks by people pretending to be me.
I input book data into the computer database and try to put the call behind me. Threats aside, David has zero evidence that I’ve tried to contact him or do anything else in the past three months. All I’ve done is run away and hide.
Though I’m at work, I spent a bit of time trying to regain by balance by editing my Maria Wood Red Riding Hood paper. Even objectively, I know it’s an excellent, sharp critical analysis, including both scholarly perceptiveness and a personal tone of both anger and empathy.
After all, no one knows better than me what it feels like to be the girl confronting a terrifying wolf.
About the Author
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Nina Lane writes hot, sexy romances about professors, bad boys, candy makers, and protective alpha males who find themselves consumed with love for one woman alone. Originally from California, Nina holds a PhD in Art History and an MA in Library and Information Studies, which means she loves both research and organization. She also enjoys traveling and thinks St. Petersburg, Russia is a city everyone should visit at least once. Although Nina would go back to college for another degree because she’s that much of a bookworm and a perpetual student, she now lives the happy life of a full-time writer.