Twisted End: A Novella of Romantic Suspense

Twisted End: A Novella of Romantic Suspense

by Tara Thomas

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Overview

From romantic suspense author Tara Thomas comes Twisted End, the third novella in the Sons of Broad romantic suspense series.

Welcome to the sultry streets of Charleston, where simmering desire and dark danger rule...


First comes desire.
Then comes love.
But Janie and Brent need to stop the man out to ruin them,

Before they can live happily ever after…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250138040
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/20/2018
Series: Sons of Broad
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 1,139,323
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Tara Thomas’s love of books and writing started as a child and though she wanted to be an author, she decided a degree in science was more practical. After fifteen years in the pharmaceutical industry, she returned to her first love and hasn’t looked back since.

She writes erotic romance as Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive Series novels have been on both the New York Timesand USA Today Bestseller lists. Her novel The Master earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was awarded Best Romance of 2016 from Best Book Awards.


Tara Thomas’s love of books and writing started as a child and though she wanted to be an author, she decided a degree in science was more practical. After fifteen years in the pharmaceutical industry, she returned to her first love and hasn’t looked back since.

She writes erotic romance as Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive Series novels have been on both the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists. Her novel The Master earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was awarded Best Romance of 2016 from Best Book Awards.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

This wasn't the way Janie Roberts had imagined dying.

Not that she thought about such things often, but when she did, she always envisioned it occurring much, much later in life. In her sleep and surrounded by family who would reminisce about her full and satisfying life. She definitely did not picture herself drugged, tied up, and tossed in the back of her best friend's almost-financé's truck, being driven to who-knows-where and to have who-knows-what happen to her.

Her mind was fuzzy. Damn it. He'd injected her with something. Mac. Alyssa's boyfriend. But even then, she found it hard to believe. Why would Mac do such a thing? He knew her. How was it possible he'd been the one who been threatening her?

It had to be him. Nothing else fit.

Her mind kept doing back to why and she came up with nothing. She finally had to admit that no matter how crazy it seemed, Mac had been the man they'd been looking for. The one behind several kidnappings, and more recently, murders. The man she'd worked undercover to find. The figure in the shadows who never hesitated to tell her he would kill her.

That was the thought finally able to snap her out of the drug stupor. Mac was going to murder her.

No. That wasn't part of the plan at all and she'd be damned if she'd let it happen. Unfortunately, deciding that was a small comfort. What she really needed was a plan for how to keep it from happening.

She tipped her head so she could see the sky out of the window and tried to imagine how much time she'd been out of in the truck. She felt herself drifting in space and shook her head. Whatever he gave her must also cause hallucinations. She couldn't let herself be caught up in them.

She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on how much time had passed since he'd thrown her in to his truck. Not too long, if she estimated correctly. Surely, no longer than thirty minutes. Knowing that, she tried to determine which direction they were traveling or where he might be taking her, but she eventually had to concede she had no idea.

She'd been at a police cookout with her boyfriend, Brent Taylor. He'd told her going was a bad idea, he didn't think she should be out in such a public place. He had been worried because of the threats she'd been receiving. Pointing out that the last one indicated he wouldn't do anything for at least a week didn't make Brent feel any better about them attending. But she'd insisted because she was moving to Washington DC with Brent and wanted to tell her friends goodbye. And then she once again pointed out that the madman who had been stalking her wouldn't make a move for another week.

Right. Because deranged lunatics with homicidal tendencies are known to be people of their word.

She bit back a hysterical snort because at that second, her phone started to vibrate from her back pocket. Odds were it was Brent. She sucked in a deep breath and told herself to focus on reaching her back pocket. The deranged lunatic in question had tied her hands behind her back, but he hadn't taken her phone. If she wiggled just the right way, she should be able to reach the button that would answer. Granted, she'd have to hope that whoever it was could hear her with the phone in her back pocket, but it was better than nothing.

Her heart raced as she tried to hit the button before the phone stopped vibrating. She arched her back and held her breath. So close. She strained against the rope that bound her. Almost.

Success!

She hoped.

She couldn't hear anyone and though she assumed it would be Brent and he'd be looking for her, there was a possibility it wasn't. Her only hope was that whoever it was would hear what was happening and alert the police.

"Damn it, Mac!" she yelled. "Where are you taking me? Untie me!"

* * *

"Answer your phone. Answer your phone. Answer your phone." Brent closed his eyes as he chanted, almost as if she would obey if he focused hard enough.

He looked at the woman standing next to him. Alyssa Adams. Mac's girlfriend and Janie's best friend, and Charleston police officer. She looked positively green. He wanted to believe she knew nothing about this, but what were the odds of her really being that oblivious?

Though she had been the one to tell him about Mac's DNA being on the boxes that had been found in Janie's house.

Janie's phone stopped ringing and he braced himself for the recorded message of her voicemail greeting, but instead he heard the rumble of a car engine.

"Janie!" he shouted into the phone, capturing the attention of several people nearby. "Janie! Are you there? Are you okay? Talk to me!"

"Damn it, Mac! Where are you taking me? Untie me!" Janie's voice yelled, and he felt a small twinge of hope. She wasn't dead yet. But that was the only positive observation he could make at the moment. The fact remained, she was tied up and at the mercy of a man who'd promised to kill her in a week's time.

"Is that her?" Alyssa asked, concern etched into her features. "Is she okay? Where is she?"

Not wanting to waste time talking, he hit the speaker button. From the other side of the phone came a muted maniacal laugh. Then, as if a bit further away from Janie, Mac spoke, "You better shut the hell up if you know what's good for you. I'm not stupid enough to untie you and you'll find out where I'm taking you when we get there."

Alyssa wore an expression of such horrors, Brent knew she had no idea what her boyfriend had been up to. "Oh God," she said. "I'm going to be sick." She staggered to a nearby tree and lost her supper.

"Your truck's a mess," Janie said. "Did you know that?"

"I told you to shut up," Mac replied. "Keep talking and I'll shoot you now."

"I have to pee."

"Hold it."

"I don't know if I can. Do you really want me to pee all over your truck?"

He strained his ears to try and hear something. Janie sounded more determined than frightened. And if she was acting like she had to pee in order to try and get away, she wasn't close to giving up. This time, there was nothing from Mac. In fact, there was nothing but the sound of the truck engine for several long seconds. Brent didn't move, but stood frozen, looking at his phone as if he could tell where she was if he looked hard enough. Alyssa, still pale, walked back to listen.

He was getting ready to accept that he wouldn't hear anything else, when a rustling sound came over the phone.

"Ugh, what did you drug me with? I can't even sit up." Janie groaned, and he heard a thump.

Brent's blood boiled. The asshole had drugged her? "I get my hands on him, I'll rip him from limb to limb."

"Hey!" Mac yelled. "What are you doing? Get back down!"

Mac's command was followed by squealing tires and a shout from Janie.

"Watch the road, you idiot!" she yelled back.

"Don't tell me what to do," Mac said. There was another squeal of tires and a loud thump and the line went dead.

"Janie!" Brent cried. "Janie!" But there was nothing other than dead air.

"It could have been anything that ended the call," Alyssa said. Brent knew she was only trying to help, but he was mad as hell and worried to death and even though he knew it wasn't fair, he could feel his rage begin to direct itself toward her.

"I don't need to talk to you right now," he retorted.

Surprisingly, she must have understood. She simply nodded and said, "I'm going to put an APB out on his truck."

She didn't say it, but they both knew that Mac was intelligent enough to know that's what would happen and that he would most likely ditch his truck. Brent checked his phone again, just to make sure she hadn't called or sent a text, but there was nothing.

He was at a loss as to what to do. Alyssa would start the investigation with the police. They wouldn't welcome his help, but he'd be damned if he was going to sit around and do nothing. At the minimum, he could get in his car and drive around. At least then he'd feel like he was doing something useful.

He took off in that direction. The night sky was still lit up with bright yellows, orange, and red as a result of whatever Mac had blown up as a diversion to get Janie. He swore under his breath. How could he not know that it was Mac who'd threatened Janie? Above all, how did Alyssa not know?

The person they'd been looking for was responsible for the abduction of several women from the club Janie had worked at undercover. A homeless man, Charlie, had been killed shortly after Janie had taken him to a homeless shelter. That item fit Mac nicely as he was pretty certain Janie had called Alyssa about Charlie before deciding where to take him.

Whoever it was had also left numerous roses for Janie. Even going so far to break into her house to deliver them. But if it was actually Mac and Alyssa kept a spare key of Janie's, he wouldn't have to break in.

His thoughts were interrupted by a uniformed police office he didn't remember seeing at the cookout stopped him. "Excuse me. Are you Brent Taylor?"

"Yes," he said, not wanting to let himself get too hopeful. "Do you have information on Janie?"

The young man wrinkled his forehead. "Uh, no. It's about your car."

With those words and a quick glance toward the brilliantly lit sky, Brent knew exactly what Mac had blown up.

CHAPTER 2

He'd pulled the truck over.

Janie wasn't sure if it had been his plan all along or if he was reacting to her attempts at distraction. Either way, there was a very real possibility that this might be her only chance at escape and she was going to do everything in her power to get away. She only wished she'd had more time so she could have tried to untie her hands.

She went over her plan in her mind, willing her limbs to cooperate even though she still felt heavy as a result of whatever he'd drugged her with. The driver's side door slammed and she heard him walk to the back of the truck.

Straining her ears, she tried to pick up any sound that would give an indication of either where he was or what he was doing. From the metallic clanking, she assumed he was taking the license plate off the truck. Did that mean he was leaving the truck here or changing the plates?

Not that it really mattered; neither one was a guarantee that he'd be opening the door to reach her or that if he was, he'd be opening the door she wanted him to. So many variables. And she didn't have time to work through them all. She wouldn't let herself dwell on the fact that so many things had to line up exactly right in order for her plan to work. It had to work. That was that.

Mac threw something in the truck bed. Not a sound for a long moment, but finally she heard the sound of gravel crunching under his feet. He wasn't heading back to the front seat, he was moving toward the door on her side of the truck. Her feet faced the door and she prayed they'd move when she needed them.

Mac's shadow came near her and he stopped at the door, looking down on her. He gave an evil smile and her hopes plummeted. He wasn't going to open the door after all. He was just going to stand there. Hell, he could shoot her through the window and be done with it all.

He reached for the door handle and she worked to keep her expression void of any emotion.

That's it.

Open the door.

Come on.

The door to the truck cab swung open. "I knew you weren't good enough to untie yourself."

Not yet.

"Had to come and double check, just to be certain. I've come too far to let a worthless thing like you fuck up my plan." He leaned closer. "But I can see I was right."

Little bit closer, asshole.

"You're not near the challenge I thought you'd be." He took a step forward.

Almost.

"I'm slightly disappointed." He loomed over her, eyes wild, and a maniacal expression that would scare her if she thought about it too much.

She took a deep breath. His next step put him exactly where she wanted him. Using all the strength she had, she screamed and lifted her legs, kicking him in the groin as hard as she could. He crumpled to the ground with a cry of agony.

Knowing she had only seconds, she forced herself to sit up and scramble out of the truck. Her legs threatened to give way as she landed on the gravel shoulder of the road, but one glance at Mac revealed the gun he had tucked in his waistband and she found the strength to stand.

"That enough of a challenge for you?" she asked, jumping past him. With one last glance over her shoulder to confirm he was still huddled on the ground clutching his balls, she took off.

She didn't recognize anything and a quick glance revealed no nearby houses or businesses. She could be anywhere and because she wasn't sure of what his plan in stopping the truck had been, she couldn't trust anyone she came across.

The one thing she knew with certainty was that Mac was going to get backup and when he did, he'd be enraged and hell-bent on finding her. She needed to be as far away as possible when that happened. So, even though the road was the easiest way to travel, she ran off the road and into the surrounding trees.

Her legs protested as she ran. Her body was probably still working through whatever drug he'd given her. She tripped over a tree stump and cursed as she went down on her knees. She struggled to get to stand, finding it harder than she thought it would be without the use of her hands.

In the far distance, she saw a light of some sort. It was too far away to tell if it was a house, a person, or a car. Whatever it was, she couldn't take the chance of finding out. There was too much of a possibility that it was connected to Mac. And yet she stood there, hesitating, because it was light — and light could mean help.

Something slithered across her feet and she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming. Damn, she hated snakes.

It was the kick in the ass she needed to get her moving forward, but in a path that ran parallel to the light, not toward it. She wasn't going to risk it. Once she'd moved safely away from the light and where she remembered Mac being, she'd work on getting her hands loose and call Brent.

Plan in place, she took off.

* * *

Brent was finished arguing with the cop standing in front of him. "Look," he said, surprising himself at how calm his voice was when what he really wanted to do was shout at the man. "I get that it's a big deal that someone blew my car up, but like I said, there are actually more important things going on right now."

"Brent."

He looked toward the sound of his name and saw Alyssa standing there. "I'll take care of this," she said. "Can I have someone take you somewhere?"

"Thank you, but I'll call a cab." He appreciated Alyssa stepping in to help, but the sight of her only served to remind him of the danger Janie was in. Not to mention, he wasn't totally convinced he could trust her. "Shouldn't you be looking for your boyfriend?"

"I heard Mac was here," the cop who been asking him questions said to Alyssa. "Is he nearby? I'd like to see him, after. It's been ages.'

"I swear to God." Brent ran his hand through his hair and bit back what he wanted to say.

"Go," Alyssa told him. "Janie needs you."

He didn't stand around to argue, but gave her a curt nod and headed toward the entrance of the park. Surely he would be able to catch a cab there. He'd have the driver drop him off at his house and he'd get another car.

A fair number of people still remained in the nearby vicinity. Granted, most of them were either law enforcement or first responders. He also took note of the news vans stationed around the park's perimeter and groaned. He wasn't in the mood to be interviewed at the moment.

Ducking his head and walking faster, he moved with one goal: to exit the park without being stopped. He'd almost made it when a particularly pesky reporter who had interviewed him several times jumped in front of him and shoved a microphone in front of his face. This was the problem with being a well-know philanthropist.

"Mr. Taylor," she said, in that happy, plastic-sounding voice anyone with a brain knew was fake. "Local police are saying it was your car that was blown up. Do you have anything you'd like to say?"

He took a deep breath and pasted on his own fake smile. "No comment, Maggie. Excuse me." He stepped to the side.

She moved to block him. "You don't have anything to say?" she asked. "Really?"

"Really. Now if you'll excuse me." He tried to sidestep her.

"Who do you think is responsible for blowing your car up?"

"I'm letting the police work that out. No more questions, either move out of my way or I'll move you myself."

* * *

Janie had no idea where she was. Of course, it would have been more surprising if she did. Having grown up in the Charleston area, she would've thought she at least knew somewhat of the area nearby. Perhaps Mac had driven her farther than she thought he had.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Twisted End"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Tara Thomas.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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