The wind stings my face and the glare from the afternoon sun obscures my vision as I fly down the long stretch of Sunset Canyon Road at well over a hundred miles per hour.
My heart pounds and my palms are sweaty, but not because of my speed. On the contrary, this is what I need. The rush. The thrill. I crave it like a junkie, and it affects me like a toddler on a sugar high.
Honestly, it’s taking every ounce of my willpower not to put my 1965 Shelby Cobra through her paces and kick her powerful engine up even more.
I can’t, though. Not today. Not here.
Not when I’m back, and certainly not when my homecoming has roused a swarm of butterflies in my stomach. When every curve in this road brings back memories that have tears clogging my throat and my bowels rumbling with nerves.
I pound down the clutch, then slam my foot onto the brake, shifting into neutral as I simultaneously yank the wheel sharply to the left. The tires squeal in protest as I make a U-turn across the oncoming lane, the car’s ass fishtailing before skidding to a stop in the turnout. I’m breathing hard, and honestly, I think Shelby is, too. She’s more than a car to me; she’s a lifelong best friend, and I don’t usually fuck with her like this.
Well, now she’s dangerously close to the cliff’s edge, her entire passenger side resting parallel to a void that boasts a view of the distant coastline. Not to mention a seriously stunning glimpse of the small downtown below.
I ratchet up the emergency brake as my heartbeat pounds in my throat. And only when I’m certain we won’t go skidding down the side of the cliff do I kill Shelby’s engine, wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans, and let my body relax.
Well, hello to you, too, Laguna Cortez.
With a sigh, I take off my ball cap, allowing my dark curls to bounce free around my face and graze my shoulders.
“Get a grip, Ellie,” I murmur, then suck in a deep breath. Not so much for courage—I’m not afraid of this town—but for fortitude. Because Laguna Cortez beat me down before, and it’s going to take all of my strength to walk those streets again.
One more breath, and then I step out of the car. I walk to the edge of the turnout. There’s no barrier, and loose dirt and small stones clatter down the hill as I balance on the very edge.
Below me, jagged rocks protrude from the canyon walls. Further down, the harsh angles smooth to gentle slopes with homes of all shapes and sizes nestled among the rocks and scrubby plants. The tiled roofs follow the tightly winding road that leads down to the Arts District. Tucked neatly in the valley formed by a U of hills and canyons, the area opens onto the town’s largest beach and draws a steady stream of tourists and locals.
As far as the public is concerned, Laguna Cortez is one of the gems of the Pacific Coast. A laid-back town with just under sixty-thousand people and miles of sandy and rocky beaches.
Most people would give their right arm to live here.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s hell.
It’s the place where I lost my heart and my virginity. Not to mention everybody close to me. My parents. My uncle.
The boy I’d loved. The man who broke me.
Not a single one of them is here anymore. My family, all dead. And Alex, long gone.
I ran, too, desperate to escape the weight of my losses and the sting of betrayal. I swore to myself that I’d never return.
As far as I was concerned, nothing would get me back.
But now it’s ten years later, and here am I again, drawn back down to hell by the ghosts of my past.
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𝒫𝓇𝑒-𝑜𝓇𝒹𝑒𝓇 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒸𝑜𝓅𝓎 𝓉𝑜𝒹𝒶𝓎!
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Charismatic. Confident. Powerful. Controlling.
A brilliant investor with a Midas touch, Devlin Saint turned a modest inherited fortune into billions, and now operates one of the world’s foremost international philanthropic organizations. He’s a man determined to help the underprivileged, to fight injustice, and to make the world a better place. And that, at least is true.
It’s not, however, the full truth.
Because Devlin Saint is a man with a dangerous secret. One he’ll do whatever it takes to protect. And when investigative reporter Ellie Holmes turns her attention to an unsolved murder, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue and passion as Devlin draws her closer and closer. But as the intensity and sensuality of their relationship grows, so do Ellie’s suspicions. Until she is no longer certain if the heat between her and Devlin is real, or only a facade he constructed to hide his dark and twisted secrets.
About J. Kenner
Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over one hundred novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A six time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy) and in 2017 for Wicked Dirty in the same category. Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development as a television show.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.
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