Looking like sin and smelling like trouble…
Boston attorney Malachim Jerrod doesn't trust anyone. His father and his ex-fiancé taught him that hard lesson. So when a beautiful stranger arrives on his doorstep his first reaction is to back away—far away. Danielle Warren wants a job, but his law business is falling apart, and her credentials are bare-bones at best. Still, there's something about her that, try as he might, he's unable to resist. The vulnerability in her soft voice? The way she flinches when he gets too close? The yearning he sees mirrored in her eyes when she looks at him?
She's the last thing he needs…
Two years ago, Danielle barely escaped alive from her powerful and abusive ex-husband. Now her ex is out of prison, and he's coming for her. She knows she must leave her new job and run. Disappear—to keep herself and those she loves safe. Including her sexy boss, who has sparked feelings in her heart she never thought she'd feel again. Yet, she can't help but wonder...should she let down her guard and trust Malachim with the truth?
But the only one he desires.
Working together brings them closer than ever—but reveals secrets and sins best left buried in the past. Their lives and their passionate love at stake, Danielle and Malachim must fight to survive to grasp the future of their dreams.
Each book in the Secrets and Sins series is a standalone, full length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1- Secrets and Sins: Gabriel
Book #2- Secrets and Sins: Malchim
Book #3- Secrets and Sins: Raphael
Book #4- Secrets and Sins: Chayot
About the Author
Naima Simone is a multi-published author in contemporary and erotic romance. She's a member of RWA's Southern Magic chapter, mother of the Dynamic Duo, lover of everything Vin Diesel and wife to the fabulous husband who tolerates this affair.
Read an Excerpt
Secrets and Sins: Malachim
By Naima Simone, Tracy Montoya
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Naima Bryant
All rights reserved.
"I know you're not asleep."
The sibilant whisper was hot against her ear and cheek.
She'd known it was coming. Like a dog that had been kicked in the ribs one too many times by its master, she was sensitive to his moods; his body language; the hard, flat glint in his green eyes. Something she'd done tonight — smiled too warmly at a colleague, spoken too long with the man seated on her left at the dinner party, not glanced at Alex often enough during the evening — had been inappropriate or offensive. Some act of disrespect had broken one of her husband's many rules. Now she would pay for the indiscretion.
"I know you're awake, Elena," Alex repeated and brushed a gentle kiss below her ear. She shivered. Not out of desire. "You didn't think I would forget, did you?"
No, she hadn't. At one time, she might have hoped or prayed he would grant her a reprieve for whatever sin she'd committed. But now she knew better.
He enjoyed it too much.
Giving up the pretense, she slowly rolled over. Met her husband's hooded gaze and mildly disappointed smile. Disappointment. Another façade she was well acquainted with. Alex had spent the last hour and a half downstairs, barricaded behind his study doors whipping his rage higher and hotter. Her one transgression would have bloomed to three inside his mind by now.
"I was waiting for you to come upstairs," Elena whispered. "You know I can't sleep without you beside me."
"Such pretty words," he crooned, cupping her cheek and smoothing his thumb over her trembling bottom lip.
"Such pretty lies."
"Shh." The pad of his thumb pressed hard against her lip, crushing the tender skin inside her mouth to her teeth. A faint metallic tinge stained her tongue. "Excuses. You're about to give me excuses, Elena. And what have we said about that?"
She hesitated, the words trapped in the noose of panic strangling the breath in her throat.
His eyes narrowed into green slits. The pressure on her lip increased. More blood trickled onto her tongue.
"What have we said about excuses, Elena?"
"Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build monuments of nothingness." She stuttered to a halt and wet her lips.
"Yes?" he prodded with silky menace.
"Those who specialize in them seldom amount to anything other than an excuse."
"What are you, wife?" he asked softly.
"An excuse," she whispered. Shame, hot and rancid, scalded her chest, eating a noxious hole in her heart ... in her soul.
"That's right. A pitiful excuse of a woman, a wife who seeks validation in the attention and accolades of others. You embarrass me with your weakness, Elena. Shame the Rainier name with your whorish mannerisms." He shoved his face closer, and the overpowering, sweet-and-sour scent of Jack Daniels singed her skin. "Sometimes I despair of cleansing the stink of your mother and sister out of you." He shook his head and eased off the mattress. Mock regret and compassion turned down the corners of his mouth, softened the forbidding lines from his forehead. "You leave me with no choice," he murmured, crossing the floor to the closet. He opened the door and tugged a wide, thick leather strap free.
"Alex." She whimpered, throwing the covers aside and scrambling off the bed. Oh dear God. Please, not again. I can't ...
"Come here, Elena," he ordered almost tenderly. "We're going to spend time together now."
Her heart somersaulted then dove for her stomach. Spend time together. She knew what that meant ...
She shook her head, terror stripping away any sense of self-preservation. Her feet shuffled backward, the primal animal inside her raising its wary head to carry her out of the line of danger. The back of her thigh bumped the heavy bedside drawer, and she stumbled, her arms windmilling before she found her balance. His lips twisted into a derisive half-smile.
"You're only making it worse, honey," he murmured, stroking his wide palm down the leather strap as if caressing a lover's tender skin.
What the hell had she done to deserve this brand of torture? Her mind raced over the evening, replaying every minute on fast-forward. Nothing. She'd done nothing. Helpless anger poured through her, stinging her eyes.
"I'm giving you one last opportunity to walk over here, Elena. If I have to come get you ..."
The warning shattered her paralysis. As he rounded the edge of the mattress, she shot forward. Leaped onto the bed and bounded over the other side. Her heart thundered, soared to the back of her throat and lodged there. His enraged roar filled the room, and her steps faltered. But only for a second. With a desperate cry, she lunged for the bedroom door, twisted the knob. Jerked it. Jerked harder.
The door was locked. She was trapped.
"You bitch." Pain stabbed her scalp as Alex grabbed her hair and whirled her around. Automatically, her hands rose to clutch his wrist, to try and alleviate the bee stings attacking her scalp as strands were ripped from her head. "You stupid cunt. I'll kill you if you ever run from me again," he snarled down into her face. "Do you understand me?"
He jerked his hand from her hair and stepped back, his chest heaving.
She lifted her hand toward him, her fingers trembling. "Alex, I'm —"
Fire exploded across her jaw.
The force of the blow spun her around like a broken ballerina. Her uninjured cheek smacked the wall before she could brace her fall. She cried out, shocked. He'd always been careful — so very careful — to hit or grab her where others couldn't see the bruises. Her back, stomach, thighs. Her throat in the winter when the marks could be hidden by turtlenecks. That he'd struck her in the face where a split lip could bear witness to his brutality scared the hell out of her.
He's going to kill me. Tonight is the night he murders me ...
She uttered a desperate plea for her husband to please, listen, but she knew it fell on deaf ears. Cruel fingers dug into her hair again, dragged her head back until she feared her neck would snap from the pressure. Pain raced up and down the side of her face, arrowing down her neck to return and throb like a heartbeat in her jaw.
The first lash of the leather strap whipped across her lower back. Her spine bowed under the agony. Air burst from her lungs as she drooped to the floor on her hands and knees. Another blow slashed across her shoulder blades. Her ribs. Her buttocks. Over and over. Crack! Crack! Her world narrowed to the ugly whistle of leather through air and fire rupturing along her body. At some point, she curled into a ball and surrendered.
* * *
Dawn spread her pale pink and orange fingers across the sky, and the purple night shrank away from her touch, fleeing westward. The sun heralded its return over the Rainier household with exploratory splashes of soft pastels over the windowsills. Elena crept down the wide, spiraling staircase, grateful for the shadows yet to be dispelled by the new, encroaching day.
Each tiny movement caused agony to streak up her legs, hips, and back, only to race down again in a torturous circuit. She shoved the pain to the rear of her consciousness and continued down the stairs. Later ... later, she'd surrender to the aches and the tears. But right now, with escape so near, she couldn't afford that luxury.
A whisper of sound echoed down the hall as her foot hit the bottom step. She froze, a deer caught on the edge of a wood as a car's headlights swept over the trees. Deliberately, she inhaled, held the air in, and listened. Several moments passed.
But the scare galvanized her into action. Shaking, she entered the four-digit code into the security system — the tiny beeps mini blasts to her oversensitive ears — unlocked the door, and slipped into the still cool June morning. Her purse — all she'd grabbed before sliding from under Alex's heavy arm — bounced against her bruised hip as she stumbled down the white stone steps and the long, winding drive. By the time she hit the quiet main road, her legs trembled violently from fear and pain. Quickly, she dug into her bag and withdrew a cell phone. She searched the internet for a taxi service and dialed the number. After giving them an address a couple of blocks away, she set off. She cast several glances over her shoulder, terrified she would glimpse Alex charging down the street after her.
This wasn't her first attempt at leaving him. But if he caught her, as he'd done two years ago, she knew he would follow through on the threat that had kept her at his side for far too long — he would kill her. But after last night — after his fingers had nearly squeezed the last breath from her throat — she was willing to risk his rage and try escaping again.
She nearly passed out from relief when the taxi pulled up, and she got inside without incident. She glanced at the window, her pulse drumming a rapid beat at her throat. The driver eyed her bruised face and ginger movements with suspicion that turned to quiet concern when she asked him to take her to the nearest hospital. Please drive, she urged him silently. Please just go. As much as going to the authorities scared her, the thought of dying at Alex's hands terrified her more. Last night was the last time he'd touch her.
Several hours later, she scooted up over the sterile sheets of a hospital bed, tugging the blue-and-white speckled gown over her shoulder. The doctor had just left after completing a thorough and humiliating assessment of her injuries, including a pelvic examination.
The door to her exam room cracked open, and a fresh-faced nurse with a blond ponytail and pink scrubs peeked in.
"Mrs. Rainier." She smiled, the sympathy and pity in the small curve of lips grating Elena's nerves and soul. "There are two detectives here who would like to speak with you."
She nodded and assumed the habitual, composed mask her career and her husband had required. The world could be going to hell in a handbasket, but Alex demanded poise.
Rainier Rule #3. Control separates humans from animals.
Two men entered the room behind the nurse. They were older, dressed in suits and ties. Elena searched their faces. In one, she spied tired skepticism, in the other, compassion.
"Mrs. Rainier," the skeptic said, withdrawing a small pad from the inside pocket of his jacket. "Can you tell us what happened to you?"
She swallowed then licked her dry lips.
"My husband. My husband happened to me."CHAPTER 2
Two Years Later Boston, Massachusetts
Most people arrived for work at eight-thirty in the morning, not evening.
But then again, most people didn't have a formerly thriving law practice swirling down the toilet like the Ty-D-Bol Man.
Malachim Jerrod strolled toward the brownstone that housed his law office, located in Boston's historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. Authentic gas-burning lamps provided ample light as he passed elegant buildings with their black shutters and dark windows. Boughs of bright red poinsettias and white lights decorated the sills and arched doorways in deference to the holiday season. Usually, he enjoyed the walk — the graceful, ageless beauty of the neighborhood never failed to charm him. Time seemed to have screeched to a halt on the quiet block off busy Charles Street. If he closed his eyes, he could almost detect the murmurs of revolution and freedom, the clack of hooves and rumble of carriage wheels.
But tonight, as he headed back into his office after having left it two hours earlier, his thoughts were as dark as the shadows that stretched across the cobbled sidewalks. An image unfurled in his mind — a single sheet of paper with official letterhead scrolled across the top, the body of the message containing the words LICENSE, SUSPENSION, PENDING, DISBARMENT. A sliver of fear slid between his ribs like a shiv. With every breath he took, the cold, steel edge of it wedged deeper.
Damn, it would be so easy to just turn around, put in a call to his best friends, Gabriel Devlin, Raphael Marcel, and Chayot Grey, and ask them to meet him at the bar around the corner. There, he could drown his worries in two-dollar beers and testosterone-heavy conversation. And he didn't doubt the three men would drop everything to answer his distress signal. He, Gabe, Rafe, and Chay had been friends since birth — before, really. Their mothers had met during their prenatal workshops and appointments at Boston Children's Hospital. High-risk pregnancies had brought the women together, but admiration and love had connected them. Though from different social and economic backgrounds, Pam, Ana, Sharon, and Evelyn had remained close and passed down their friendship to the sons they'd all named after angels — angels God had blessed them with.
There hadn't been a moment in his thirty-five years Malachim hadn't been able to lean on Gabe, Rafe, or Chay. But this evening, as he contemplated his law office's precarious future, he knew he couldn't burden them with his fears. Especially since Chay would carry most of the blame on his already weary shoulders.
He quickened his step as he approached the building that was a second home. Malachim had loved this place since he'd been a small boy visiting his grandfather. Samuel Resner hadn't been a demonstrative man, but his mother's father had gifted Malachim with the thing begrudged him at home: acceptance.
And when his grandfather had passed, the brownstone he'd bequeathed to Malachim had been the one thing in his entire life that had belonged solely to him. The one thing his father, Christopher Jerrod, had been unable to snatch, steal, or bribe away.
Malachim shook his head. Not going down that slippery slope of —
A hard gust expelled from his lungs. He lifted his hands and gripped the shoulders of the petite woman who'd barreled into his chest. "Son of a ..."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
Sultry nights. Twisted limbs. Breathless moans. Malachim allowed her low, rasping tone to tease over his skin like a luxuriant pelt of fur — sensuous, beautiful. Only phone sex operators had voices like hers. Practiced and perfected to elicit thoughts of sex, sweat, and pleasure.
His fingers flexed but clutched air. The woman had shifted away, escaping his grasp and stepping into the pool of pale light cast by one of the street lamps.
Holy shit. Only a face as lovely and cool as the Madonna's could eclipse that voice of sin and rich dark chocolate.
His breath stuttered in his throat. An image of a still, watchful animal slid into his mind. As if she waited, undecided if he was foe or friend. Part of him wanted to soothe her, murmur words of reassurance.
And the other wanted to lunge forward, scare her off so she went back to wherever she'd emerged from. Something about those large, liquid doe eyes and aloof, beautiful face stirred a distant response like dust motes in a neglected attic. The sorrow, the loneliness it evoked resonated in his chest like a clock in the distance chiming the hour. He wanted the uncomfortable feeling — and her — gone.
"Excuse me," he said abruptly.
If she was taken aback by his harsh tone, her serene expression didn't reveal it. The slight stiffening of her small frame did.
Shit. Next thing, he would start kicking dogs and tripping old ladies.
"I'm sorry," he continued, softer this time. "Long day. And I wasn't watching where I was going." He slid his hands in the deep pockets of his coat. "Are you looking for someone?"
She briefly hesitated. "Yes. Well, no," she said in that voice capable of coercing gold from King Midas. "I was looking for the office of Jerrod & Associates." Pause. "Malachim Jerrod?"
His eyebrows arched high as surprise winged through him. "Yes. Do I know you?"
"No." She stepped forward, reclaiming some of the space she'd placed between them. "My name is Danielle Warren."
"Okay, Ms. Warren." Danielle. He silently rolled her name over his tongue as he cast a cursory scan down her body. She shivered beneath a black jacket that was inadequate against the winter night, faded blue jeans, and scuffed sneakers. Curiosity pricked him. Hard. "What brings you by at eight-thirty in the evening?"
Excerpted from Secrets and Sins: Malachim by Naima Simone, Tracy Montoya. Copyright © 2013 Naima Bryant. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved this story.
3.5 Stars I’m always up for a damsel-in-distress type of romance. The guys are usually all alpha and sexy and protective and Malachim didn’t disappoint. This being the second installment in the series, there’s a little you need to get up to date regarding Malachim’s job situation. He’s a lawyer and his license has been suspended pending an investigation. Because of this, a lot of his employees and clients have left leaving him in a wee bit of a bind. Danielle (formerly known as Helena) has been running from her ex-husband for the last two years of her life. Although currently in prison, her abusive ex has sworn to never let her go, forcing her to flee and assume a new identity. A lawyer in her former life, Danielle gets a job as a paralegal at Malachim’s firm. While Malachim knows betrayal and isn’t willing to trust anyone nor is he looking for a relationship, he can’t deny Danielle is more than alluring. At the same time, Danielle can’t believe that the cocky but aloof lawyer that is now her boss is making her feel things she thought were dead for her. With neither of them willing or able to be open with each other, it was hard for me to completely connect to either. Malachim’s protective instinct, though, bought him several brownie points and endeared him to me. I liked how the process of his changing feelings was done. Danielle was one hell of a resilient woman. After being abused for years in every way possible, she kept being dealt with one crappy hand after another. Time and again she rallied, persevered and finally triumphed over everything making her more than awe-inspiring. I did find their inner musings a bit on the long side. I understand they had to resolve issues within themselves, but I have to be honest here and admit that I skimmed over more than one of their self-psychoanalyses until I got to some interaction again. With action, suspense, a touch of romance and some sexiness thrown in, Malachim was a good story I enjoyed and I’m very curious about the others in this series.
Light suspense, decently written main characters, slimy villain, and a sweet romance... overall, I thought Malachim was a decent read. I liked the story enough to check out Simone's other books.
This book and this series has been in my to read pile for a long time and I'm grateful for the chance to review this book. This is a tough book to review without spilling too much of the story, you've read the blurb so you got the gist. Set in Boston, the 4 men are bound together, friends since birth essentially via their mothers, who named them after the angels. (Answering a long time question for me) A side story is how they are also bound together by a secret, which has recently been brought to light leaving Mal in danger of disbarment. Meet Danielle Warren who is working at a diner, and sees an ad for a paralegal at Mal's firm and one night she walks over to drop off her resume and runs into Mal. He quickly interviews her and she's hired. The owner of the diner Pat and his wife have given her a place to stay and a job, but he's encouraged her to go get something better. Mal wonders about her and why she flinches when he moves fast, her reluctance to be touched and a few other things, he intuits that there's more to Danielle than meets the eye. She's also smarter than a paralegal who's never held a job should be. Then we meet Mal's father who the lowest of the the low. Rich, gloating and manipulative and gets off on rubbing Mal's face in his current situation. He also has dug enough to find out Danielle's story and uses that against her. Dani's ex husband is in jail and due to be released after he almost kills her, the abusive marriage made my stomach turn. She's got a sister who is a recovering addict still living in the south and they talk once a week. She doesn't tell her sister where or who she is. When the ex Alex gets out of jail, hell bent on revenge and I do mean revenge, he'll stop at nothing and no one to get to Danielle, this sets off a chain of events that keep you spell bound and turning pages. She and Mal get closer as well. The more things escalate the more protective he gets and the men step in also. That's all you'll get from me and that's almost too much. This book is a must read and I'm going to read the series now. This book is so well written that even reading out of order still works. I love Naima. The woman can write just about anything she wants and does it very well. The book gets a well deserved 4.9 from me. I highly recommend the book and the series. A huge thanks to Entangled for allowing me to review. **arc via NetGalley and Entangled in exchange for a fair review**
You people should just read this novel yourselves and write your own review on this novel. I really enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA
First by this author - won't be my last....
I read this in no time. I couldn't put it down. I wanted more. I just loved it and loved Mal.
While a fast read, it was a fun read. The characters were intriguing and there wasn't time wasted on the romance portion where the reader gets frustrate. The mystery kept you guessing and was nicely resolved at the end.
Unfortunately, the secrets have gotten several people killed anb /or injured. Fear, terror and abuse can affect a person's decisions and that's the gist of this srory. A terrific read!
I really enjoyed this book. This is the first of the series that I read and it was OK to read it first. I enjoyed how she delved into the characters' personalities and how they got that way. They were believable. Maybe all the bad luck Danielle had was a little over the top.
A good read
Really enjoyed it. Want to read the rest of the series.
A very good love story. I would read something from thid author again.
Read this series in order.
Loved it! What a great story. I couldn't put it down. Sexy attorney, Malachim Jerrod and his new paralegal, Danielle Warren start out as employer and employee but quickly turn in to so much more. Looks can be deceiving because Danielle is a little more than a paralegal, she is actually attorney, Elena Rainier. Circumstances have forced her to change her identity but the past catches up to her eventually. This story is full of mystery, intrigue, deception, lies, friendship, love, and loyalty. There are some unexpected plot twists. This was just an all-around great story from beginning to end. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author. Naima Simone has a certain style of writing that draws you into the story and doesn't let you go until the last page and leaves you wanting more.
Elena Rainier has had enough of her abusive husband. She does what's necessary to save her life. She disappears and starts a new life. Now she is Danielle Warren. Two year later she finds a job as a paralegal. Her employer is Malachim Jerrod. He is the exact opposite of Alex, her ex-husband. He is kind, patient and trust worthy even though he has known pain and rejection. Danielle can't find the peace and safety she craves. She is being stalked. Is it Alex? Has he found her? No one is safe from this stalker. First her friend and former employer is killed and then her sister. Mal immediately comes to her aid and she turns to him. Both acknowledge their deepest desire. They find comfort in each other's arms. Their attraction is strong but what will happen once he learns her secrets. Will they survive the ever present danger? This book is a wonderful sequel to Gabriel's story. The plot is filled with suspense and deadly surprises. The characters are strong people who have been hurt and betrayed by those close to them but have survived. Danielle and Malachim are a perfect couple and their romance is white hot. They protect and sustain each other. The suspense is non stop with many unexpected surprises. The ending shocked me. I never saw that final twist coming. Naima Simone has written a dynamite story. This book is a keeper. The series just keeps getting better!