Genre: Romantic Thriller
Publisher: Skyla Murphy
Date of Publication: May 2017
Word Count: 86,400
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
Tagline: “When dawn breaks…”
When you see numbers like I can, death becomes a constant threat. It lingers, waiting for you to make one wrong move. One falter. One fatal step out of line. The endless presence will drain you, layering you with guilt and regret. Until one day, you’re covered in blood. And in that moment, you realize… you’ve become the grim reaper yourself.
Nothing could stop me from saving my little sister. Nothing could weaken me… until my boss threw a blonde slave at my feet. Once I found out who she was, I should have wanted her dead.
But I had a bad habit of breaking the rules.
And I loved that she hated me.
Like a stupid man named Romeo, I fell for the daughter of the feuding family. Like an idiot named Juliet, she didn’t try to run.
And when I fell for the fair maiden, I shook a pair of dice. I smoked a cigarette, but she paid the final price. As I offered her a smile, my venom filled her core. I watched her drink my poison as her soul walked out the door.
Chapter 4 Excerpt
“I hear you’ve been looking for a government job?” Grimsaw asked it like a question, but I knew there was no good answer. Once he identified betrayal, there was no playing reverse psychology on him.
He tapped a gray pistol in his palm, warning me that nothing good was about to come my way. Everything he did came with a price tag. He didn’t offer favors. He did things to claim ownership over people instead. He thirsted for power, and he had a damn lot of it too. After crossing him like I just had, you didn’t breathe the next day. Your fingers were shipped out to your family. That was the end of that.
“I’m flattered you’re so frightened to lose me. I didn’t think you would cause a ruckus over something so fatuous,” I smiled, taking a casual glance around the warehouse. It took seconds to realize that most of his grease monkeys had formed a threatening circle behind him. There were at least fifteen men in blue coveralls, all ready to take me down if I made one wrong move. “I thought we were robbing—”
“Don't play dumb with me. That was my way of leading you down here. You know what this is.” He spun his finger around the garage, glaring at me ruthlessly. “So, what is it?”
“Another initiation?” I guessed.
These guys were the worst thugs known to the west coast. They were great allies to have on my side, but that wasn’t where they stood now. I had already completed my fair share of initiations over the past three years. I had done things I would never speak of, but this was Grimsaw’s way of testing my loyalty now.
“This is the consequence of your behavior. I gave you everything you needed during your darkest of times, and this is how you repay me? By being a pussy?”
“If I was a pussy, you wouldn’t be so upset right now,” I shrugged, welcoming the devil on my shoulder to stand himself tall. “I’ve already done a lot of messed up shit to prove myself to you. I won’t like it if you try to run me through hoops another time.”
“Then you shouldn’t have chomped down on the hand that feeds you.” Flames of fury lit up his eyes. “There are two types of people in this world; the good and the evil. I shouldn’t have to remind you which side you chose to leap onto. Once we ride, we die side by side.”
He kicked at the metal pail by his feet, as if the thud would somehow convince me to put my head on straight. It didn’t, so I watched the pail roll away unproductively instead.
“I consider you a pal, Garciez,” he carried on. “But we're not homies right now. You've been the brains behind the operations for a while, but I draw the line at disloyalty. None of your talents will help you out in this moment. I got no problem lining the streets with your half-breed blood. I’ve got years on you, monkey.”
I watched his fists tighten and decompress in an unnervingly steady rhythm. Everything about him reeked of temper. After knowing him for a few years, I could always tell when Grimsaw had met his breaking level. He wasn’t there quite yet, but I was sure pushing him close.
“You wouldn’t know how to rob a lemonade stand without me.” I probably should have let him domineer, but I chose the alternative instead. “You could kill me like you did Antonio, but you would never make this kind of coin again. I taught you how to rob a bank. It wasn’t the other way around. You know death doesn’t scare me.”
As I met his dark scrutiny, my smile was cocky.
Grimsaw had turned me into his own brand of robot. He had desensitized me over the past three years. In return, he’d managed to make me numb. This numbness brought a lack of fear, because I knew Grimsaw didn’t want to kill me. He would try every possible tactic before allowing things to reach that head. If he were to lose me, he would lose his ease of acquiring money too. As it stood, I was the one quenching most of his thirst for wealth.
“You might not fear death…” Grimsaw’s eyebrow arched vindictively. The dislodged look on his face caused my guts to wrench like bar rags. “The thing with disloyalty, amigo? I’m better at it than you are.”
Only one face entered my mind.
Skyla Murphy is a highland junkie from West Coast, Canada. When she’s not searching the Rocky Mountains for Sasquatch, she can be found researching every other conspiracy theory known to mankind. Her Yorkshire Terrier is usually clung to her side, but he doesn’t buy into her philosophies much. Therefore, she writes about them instead.