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Made to Sin
The Prologue and First Chapter to Ultimate Sins
By Lora Leigh
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Lora Leigh
All rights reserved.
Two years later
Sleep wasn't happening.
Too many memories haunted her, the knowledge of too much blood and betrayal echoing through her soul.
Amelia had known her father was cruel. She'd known he was a bastard. He'd proved it over the years in so many ways.
In ways that would scar her soul forever. Yet there were days, and nights such as now, that she thanked God he'd never treated her as though he loved her, that he'd never fooled her into trusting him.
If she had trusted him —
A swift, hard strike of terror had her breath hitching at the implications of such a mistake. At what she could have lost, when she had already lost so much.
When she had lost —
"What happened to your room, Amelia? It used to have life in it."
Amelia swung around, her heart in her throat, her breath suddenly trapped there, threatening to strangle her as she stared back at the man, standing so strong and sure as he slipped past the balcony door.
Amelia had known Crowe would show up. She'd known after she'd been dumped on his porch by Amory Wyatt two weeks before, naked, helpless — oh God.
She turned away from him, staring around the room, wondering what he saw to make him say such a thing. Trying to focus on anything, everything but the memory of him finding her like that.
God, he had changed. In the seven years since the last evening they'd spent in the county attorney's office, he'd hardened. He was stronger, broader. He was colder.
But then, so was she, she thought. The difference was that she knew the chances of ever finding the warmth she had once known with this man were nil to never.
Amber-flecked brown eyes, emotionless, stared back at her from a face with a harsh, savage male beauty that still had the power to steal her breath.
He owned her heart. He owned the young girl she had once been and fought to forget until the second she'd whirled around to see him standing inside her room. The epitome of every dream she'd ever had — of every nightmare she never wanted to remember — staring around the room that once held so much more than it did now.
The full-size bed was neatly made. It hadn't really been slept in for years.
She always dreamed of Crowe when she slept in it.
Once, there had been lace on what were now plain sheets. Decorative pillows and the big stuffed mouse he'd given her weeks before he'd disappeared forever.
The small chaise in the corner of the room held the single blanket and small pillow she used when she did sleep. On the table beside it sat a glass of water, half empty, her phone, and books.
That chaise once held lace scarves, magazines, a pile of books. The table had held pictures of herself with the few friends she'd believed she'd never lose.
There were no pictures now, not of herself or of any friends she might have once had. She had learned to never reveal a weakness. A picture was the same as an arrow pointing to a weak spot, someone or something she may love.
She followed Crowe's gaze around the room.
It was nearly spartan, with few adornments or keepsakes. It resembled a hotel room more than it did someone's home.
"Is it over?" she asked.
Had they finally found what they needed to prove her father was the heinous evil behind the identity of the Slasher?
The question hung in the air as she fought to distract him from the sterility of the room.
The sterility of her life.
"It's over," he stated, not bothering to hide the satisfaction in his tone. "All we have to do now is catch him."
Amelia brushed the shoulder-length strands of hair back from her face and watched him carefully.
"Surely, he can't hide for long," she whispered, hating the trembling of her voice, the fear that wanted to rise sharp and painful inside her.
"I won't let him hide for long," he answered, his lips twisting into a sneer. "But he doesn't want to hide, does he? He wants to destroy us."
No, her father wouldn't stay hidden for long. She knew Wayne, and she knew the demonic killer known as the Slasher. She'd spent most of her adult life trying to avoid both, only to learn they were one and the same.
Unfortunately, she hadn't been certain of that until the night her father had forced her from her bedroom, rendered her unconscious, then transported her to the cabin where he had already raped and killed more than a dozen young women in the past fourteen years.
She was forced to shake her head slowly as she met his gaze once again.
"What now, then?" she asked. "How do you intend to make him show himself?"
She couldn't shake that overwhelming fear that the shadows twisting and churning beyond the stark balcony outside her window held something far more sinister than just the darkness now.
"I intend to offer the perfect bait," he stated, his tone icy, his expression hardening.
But what, Amelia wondered, confused, was the perfect bait?
Pure male arrogance tautened each plane and angle of his face. The sharp, high cheekbones, the aristocratic blade of his nose, the deliberate thinness of what she knew was a passionately full lower lip.
He was enraged though it was buried behind that veil of icy indifference. But she could sense the volcano beneath the ice, churning, ready to erupt — not with heat, but with frigid, remorseless fury.
Which way would the explosion radiate, though, without the object of his hatred to catch the fallout?
Wayne had disappeared, and Amory Wyatt, his partner in the bloodletting, had escaped without a trace. He was gone without so much as a follicle of hair to be found in the house he had lived in for more than four years.
Amory had become an indelible part of the county as director of social services. He had been seen as kind, compassionate, and generous. Yet, he was made of the same brutal cloth her father had been cut from.
"You don't seem overly upset that Daddy Dearest is gone, Amelia." Powerful arms folded across a broad chest, stretching the material of the black T-shirt he wore over the hardened muscles beneath.
Amelia could only shake her head as she fought past the trepidation rising inside her. "It doesn't seem real," she finally answered, terrified to believe in it. "For so long I prayed —"
Another hard shake of her head and she cut the thought off.
She hadn't meant to say that. She hadn't meant to reveal so much.
And of course Crowe had no intention of letting it go.
His eyes narrowed, long, thick lashes lowering over his gaze as he paced closer to her, his arms dropping from his chest, his hard body tense, as though prepared to defend himself every second of his life.
"Prayed for what, fairy-girl?" The jeering reminder of the nickname he had given her so long ago jarred her senses.
Once, he'd whispered the pet name with arousal thickening his voice. The rasping cadence had been a part of memories guaranteed to leave her aching with longing, even now.
"To be free of him." Forcing back what she'd nearly said, she shoved her hands into the hidden pockets of the dark-gold broom skirt she wore as she hunched her shoulders against the chill building beneath her flesh.
"You knew who he was." He made the accusation suddenly with knowing silkiness.
Amelia shook her head desperately, her hands immediately leaving the comforting warmth of the pockets to bury into the sides of her hair as she clenched in the strands. Fighting her fear had always been the worst part. She was such a coward, and always so terrified that her own actions would result in a friend's persecution, arrest, or, even worse, Crowe's imprisonment.
"I didn't know!" she cried out, feeling the heat of his body as her eyes jerked open to the sight of his chest far too close to her.
Immediately her hands were against the softness of his shirt, desperate to push him back, to force back her own aching needs and the dark fears she couldn't rid herself of.
Or the shadowed rage building inside her.
"Then why pray for your freedom?" Broad, callused fingers wrapped around her arms, the warmth of them sinking through the cashmere material of her sweater.
"Because he was desperate to destroy you." She had to escape his touch. "I had to pretend you didn't matter. That none of you mattered. That no one mattered. I had to search for evidence against you." Tears filled her eyes. "I had to lie through my teeth and make it sound convincing whenever I asked if the Callahans could be part of those atrocious deaths while he pretended to defend you." Her voice broke as agony rushed from the dark, once hidden depths of her soul where she had pushed it so many years ago. "I had to hate you just to be able to save you. And God help me, yes, I just wanted to be free of it."
She had sacrificed everything she was, everything she had ever wanted to be, to save him. To ensure her father couldn't destroy him.
"You knew he was the Slasher," he repeated, slicing deeper into her soul.
"You know that isn't true." A sob escaped her lips as she pulled back from him, tried to pull back from the heat searing into her flesh. "If I had known in time, I would have warned you."
Had she suspected? Was that where the fear had come from for all those years? That terrifying knowledge that something dark filled the soul of the man she was supposed to call father.
Crowe released her, but rather than backing away to give her space, he continued to move closer. She retreated until he had her back against the wall.
"I didn't know," she repeated, agony resonating through her as he caught her wrists, anchored them in one hand, then brought them slowly above her head, forcing her to the tips of her toes as she strained away from him. "What are you doing, Crowe?"
"He didn't want to kill Logan, Rafer, or me," he told her. "He wanted us imprisoned. He wanted us out of the county for the year the trusts our parents left us specified as the amount of time we could be out of Corbin County before we lost everything they wanted us to have. He wanted to watch us suffer."
"I didn't know what he was doing," she protested again, though she feared he was deliberately ignoring it, just as he would ignore any proof she had that she wasn't lying.
"He wanted to destroy everything we loved." Fury throbbed just beneath the hard growl of his voice and echoed in the silent fire beginning to blaze in his eyes. "He and his fucking partners raped and murdered any woman we touched and did everything they could to frame us for those murders."
And they had nearly succeeded more than once.
"I didn't." She had to force the protest out, because he was touching her. Whether in anger, hatred, or the intent to harm, still, he was touching her and God help her but she had ached for so long ...
A whimper left her lips as his hard chest pressed against her breasts, his hips into her lower belly, and the raging erection beneath his jeans angled at her navel.
She could feel how hard he was, remember how hot, how intent he could be while pushing inside the wet, aching depths of her body.
"He almost took everything we cherished, Amelia," he reminded her, his eyes brilliant in the darkness of his face, in the sudden arousal that suffused it. "He nearly destroyed Rafe and Logan and the women they loved, and he made certain he tracked down every woman we may have even considered having as a lover."
"I didn't know!" she cried out again as his free arm wrapped around her hips and pulled her up his body until he jutted his hips between her thighs, the denim-covered erection notching against her sex. "Please, Crowe, I would have stopped him if I could have. I swear. If I had known, you would have known."
"He dangled you beneath my nose like a fucking piece of steak before a hungry wolf, Amelia," he told her, his tone brutal. "He was daring me to take you."
She couldn't think about that; she didn't dare.
"Please, Crowe. Let me go." The plea was whispered but no less desperate for its lack of force.
Her loss of strength against him was terrifying. The feel of his body, all lean hard muscle and raging male hunger, was more than she could deny herself.
She had ached for so long.
Ached for his touch. Ached for the perfection of pleasure she had found in his arms so many summers before.
"Let you go?" His head lowered, his lips brushing against the line of her jaw. "Do you really think that's going to happen, Amelia? After all this time, after the effort he went to in teasing me with you?" Strong teeth nipped at her jaw before the warmth of his tongue eased over the little ache. "Dared me to take you. Have you considered why? Have you considered the punishment he had in store for you if I ever dared to take what was so subtly offered and he learned of it?"
She couldn't —
"Please don't do this to me." Her head fell back against the wall, tilting to the side as his lips moved slowly down the sensitive column of her neck.
His tongue licked against the nerve-ridden flesh, his teeth scraped against it, sending pleasure racing with fiery force along her tender nerve endings.
He was going to break her in ways Wayne had never been able to break her. He would destroy that last dark, hidden place where she had stored the most important memories, the deepest depths of her love for him.
"Don't do what to you, sugar elf?" he whispered, one hand sliding beneath her skirt to her bare thigh as his hips rolled, the hard wedge of his cock pressing against her suddenly swollen mound. "Don't pleasure you the way I've been tempted to pleasure you? Don't take what I was offered every fucking time you stared up at me with those pretty eyes?"
A moan escaped her lips as he gripped the flesh of her neck in his hard teeth, his tongue lashing at the skin there with exquisite hunger. He refused to give her a chance to catch her breath, or a chance to deny him. Just as he refused to allow her to place any distance between them.
"God, I've hungered for you." His fingers slid farther along the inside of her thigh, finding the elastic edge of her panties and rubbing against it erotically. "Have you been hungry for me, Amelia? Have you been wet for me, baby?"
Wet for him? She had been so wet for him over the years that it had been all she could do to keep her panties dry.
His fingers slipped beneath the elastic edge of the silk-and-lace panties and found the slick heat covering the swollen lips of her sex.
Amelia froze, her lashes immediately rising, focusing on Crowe's as he lifted his head and stared down at her.
Lust burned in the dark depths, predatory and filled with a heat that seared her to her soul.
"Crowe ... please ..."
Suddenly his fingers were no longer just caressing her; the tips of two pierced her entrance, sending heat raging through the intimate flesh. Spiraling, brilliant arcs of pleasure tore through her system as her hips jerked forward, her inner flesh now desperate for more.
"Oh, God, yes." That moan couldn't be hers, could it?
It was, she knew it was.
"Like that, elf?" he whispered at her ear, his teeth raking against it as her hips rolled against the penetration. "Do you want more?"
"More." She was ready to beg for it. "Oh God, please, Crowe ..." Brutal, shocking heat tore through her.
She remembered the night he had taken her virginity, the searing, white-hot pleasure and pain that had engulfed her, and knew that sensation again. His fingers filled her, stretched her, piercing her with dominating strength.
"So hot," he growled at her ear as his fingers moved inside her slowly, stretching her, making her ache for more even as her flesh burned and protested the invasion. "Sweet, sweet Amelia. So hot and wet."
She was falling again. Amelia could feel it, knew what was happening, and knew it would destroy her. It had happened like this before. Crowe's touch, the power of his hunger combined with her own overwhelmed her, only to rip her heart from her chest when he walked away from her.
"Don't," she cried out, shocking herself as well as him. "Please, don't ..." Don't destroy her. Don't own her again only to toss her away.
"Don't?" The snarl in his voice ripped another cry from her soul as she forced her hips to still. To stop the needy roll, the outward thrust into each penetration that forced his fingers deeper.
"Let me go."
"Please, Crowe," she cried out desperately, pushing against his shoulders, feeling the orgasm beginning to build as his fingers found that sweet, sweet spot deep inside her. "Oh God, please let me go."
She was free so fast she nearly crumpled to the floor.
Slapping her hands against the wall behind her to catch herself, she stared up at Crowe as his own hands braced against the wall above her head.
"This time," he snarled down at her, fury raging in his eyes, darkening his expression until every plane and angle was suffused with it. "Just this time, Amelia. But you better fucking pray you can convince Wayne I'm actually sharing not just your bed but also your body. Because if you don't, then I promise you ..."
His head lowered until they were nearly nose-to-nose.
"I promise you, if you don't convince him we're lovers, then I'll make damned sure we become lovers. I'll do whatever the fuck I have to, to ensure he shows himself."
Amelia stared up at him with a sudden, horrifying knowledge.
He would use her, however he had to, to draw Wayne from wherever he was hiding.
Excerpted from Made to Sin by Lora Leigh. Copyright © 2014 Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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