Hi everyone… I’m so excited that Rule Me Dirty is coming NEXT WEEK! This is one seriously hot, seriously filthy fairy tale – hope you like it that way 😉
Stay tuned for the release, but in the mean time… here’s Chapter 1! <3
The car behind me is getting closer, its engine revving and then purring as I jam my fists deeper into my jacket pockets and force myself to stand up straight, eyes ahead, and keep walking.
Don’t look scared, I remind myself, desperately trying to remember every last bit of safety advice given by my parents’ security team. Act confident, like there are people waiting for you wherever you’re going.
The engine growls again, even closer this time. I suck in a breath and quicken my pace, still forcing my spine perfectly upright even as cold sweat slides down my back, my stomach clenched in a knot. Tears are pricking at my eyeballs, no matter how hard I try to fight them back, teeth clenched.
I wish I had pepper spray. Hell, I wish I had keys, but I’m not even sure our doors lock. Why have locks when you have guards twenty four hours a day, seven days a week?
The car comes closer, and now I can hear the men inside it laughing, even though the windows are rolled up. The sound makes my blood run cold, because I know for a fact that they’re laughing about me, or about what they’re about to do to me.
I know that because there’s no one else on this street, just long gray concrete buildings, the shutters down, the streetlights not even on yet, the sidewalks cracked with weeds growing between them. It’s completely deserted except for me and the men in the car, and there’s nothing I can do but keep walking.
My phone’s still at home. My wallet’s still at home.
Even now, I can’t get my father’s voice out of my head.
You’re marrying him, and it’s final.
I didn’t think. I just bolted, a mixture of rage, disgust, indignation, and revulsion boiling through me. I’m lucky I was already wearing this jacket, because if I hadn’t been I’d be cold right now in addition to everything else.
A car window winds down with a hum. I pick up the pace even more, now nearly running, even though I know it’s not going to do me any good.
“Hey, baby,” says an ugly voice, clearly more threatening than romantic. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing all the way out here?”
I swallow hard and take a deep breath.
“Fuck off!” I shout over my shoulder, trying to sound as tough as I can.
It comes out a squeak, and several men all laugh. I don’t dare turn around to see how many there are.
“Shit, girl, you won’t be that feisty when you’ve got my dick in your mouth,” the man says, and the rest laugh again.
I’m shaking, but I keep walking. I’m almost to a corner with a stop light, and I’m praying that the cross street saves me somehow — that there are other cars, a open business, a single person in the street, anything.
“Listen,” the man goes on. “Get in my car now and I won’t even choke you with it.”
More laughter, and now my face is burning with humiliation along with everything else. I don’t answer, just pretend I can’t hear him as I walk up to the corner, forcing myself not to cry as I look both ways down the cross street.
That’s when I see my salvation. It’s nothing but a dimly lit doorway with a half-lit neon sign over it, but I don’t care. Lights mean people, and people mean telephones and the police and getting home instead of dragged into a car.
Before I know what I’m doing, I run. My feet slap the uneven pavement and I nearly trip a couple of times, arms waving madly in the air, my heart already beating wildly, but I don’t stop until I’m in front of the lit doorway, one hand on the door handle.
The car’s engine roars behind me, all the men inside it laughing hysterically, like this is the funniest joke anyone’s ever told. For a split second I wonder what’s behind this door.
But then I realize I don’t care, and I yank it open.
The car peels away with a shriek of tires and raucous laughter, and the smell of stale beer and tequila hits me dead in the face.
It’s a bar. Just a bar, some shitty, seedy dive in the deserted, industrial part of the city. The rent’s probably really cheap, and that’s how they stay open.
I walk inside, letting the door slam behind me, and when it does every head in the place turns toward me.
I freeze. They’re all men. They’re mostly middle-aged, or at least they look it — every last face surly and weathered, most of them stuck in a perpetual scowl. They all glare at me like I’ve just kicked their dog, and I freeze, wondering if I’ve just disturbed some kind of secret meeting.
Just ask to use the phone, for fuck’s sake, I think. Call the palace, ask for a ride, and you’ll be done.
I force my breathing to slow, even though I can feel the sweat running down my neck and back, and walk calmly and confidently for the bar.
Everyone watches me. Everyone, the bartender included, and even when I step up he looks at me like I’m some sort of poisonous animal that’s learned to talk.
“Hi,” I say, as politely as possible. “Could I please use your phone to make a phone call? I forgot my phone at home.”
He doesn’t answer, just looks me up and down, his scowl deepening as he crosses his arms over his chest.
“You gonna buy something?” he finally asks.
Let me make a phone call and I’ll fucking knight you, I think, though it seems unwise to say that out loud.
“I’m afraid I also forgot my wallet,” I say, making myself sound as calm and collected as possible. “I promise, I’ll be two minutes.”
“Phone’s for customers,” he says, turning his back.
“You need a drink, I’ve got five dollars I could exchange for something else,” says a wheezy, slimy voice to my right.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up again, and I summon every ounce of self-possession I’ve got as I turn toward the man.
“What’s a phone call worth to you?” he goes on, grinning. He’s missing half the teeth in his mouth. “You look like you ain’t even had the bloom taken off your rose yet, and you sure do seem like you’re in a hell of a pickle, little girl.”
“I’m not fucking anyone for a phone call,” I say, my voice as cold as I can make it.
The man just laughs, the bartender’s back still turned, and out of nowhere he grabs my wrist with surprising strength, so hard that I yelp.
“You sure about that?” he grins.
“Let me go,” I say through gritted teeth, tears springing to my eyes as his wire-like fingers dig into my wrist.
He just laughs again.
“I really think you should trade with—“
The man goes silent, his smile fading as he looks over my head, and suddenly I realize there’s someone there.
Someone looming over both of us. Someone who’s made this jerk and every other jerk and this stupid bar suddenly go quiet.
“She said, let her go,” a voice rumbles, deep and husky and powerful. It sends chills down my spine.
The guy lets me go, and I yank my wrist away, flexing and shaking out my fingers.
“You got a problem?” Half-Toothless says, slowly standing up from his bar stool. “‘Cause I don’t see how this is none of your business.”
He wavers a little on his feet, and I back away from the two of them, because the last thing I want is to get into the middle of a bar fight right now.
And when I turn, I see my defender for the first time.
The bar’s barely lit, but I don’t need light to see that he’s easily six and a half feet tall, muscles practically bulging out of a well-worn black leather jacket. He flexes one huge, scarred hand as I watch, the ropey muscles of his jaw working as he does.
He’s hot. Even now, with all my fight-or-flight instincts blaring, I can take one second and appreciate that my savior is six-plus feet of pure muscle with golden-brown hair and the kind of jawline you see in ads for fancy watches.
Drool-worthy. Any other time, I’d be scraping my jaw off the floor, but right now, I glance back at Half-Toothless.
“It’s my business now,” Leather Jacket says. “Now, either you leave or we can discuss it.”
The drunk with not enough teeth stands there for a moment. He’s breathing heavily, almost snorting like a bull, and he thinks about this for a long time.
Then he goes to punch Leather Jacket, and he takes so long to wind up that even I can tell what’s happening.
It’s over in a flash. The punch goes wide, and Leather Jacket barely moves as he catches the other man’s fist in his own massive hand, jerks him around, and twists his arm behind his back until Half Toothless screams.
I clap my hands to my mouth and gasp, just as Leather Jacket glances over at me, his gaze inscrutable.
He lets Toothless go, and the other man just crumples to the floor without moving.
Leather Jacket glances around the bar calmly. Everyone else turns back to their drinks, and the bartender acts like nothing at all happened, as Jacket grabs his glass, tosses its contents back, then puts it back on the bar with a heavy thunk.
Does this mean I can use the phone now? I wonder, but then Leather Jacket turns toward me. He steps over the crumpled form in the middle of the bar and comes up to me, holding something out in one hand.
I’m not looking at that. I’m looking at his face.
I could only see half of it before, but now I can see all of it.
He’s still handsome, almost cartoonishly handsome, but I’m not staring at that either.
I’m staring at the scar, a thick line that runs from his hairline, over one eye, to his chin. I have no idea how you get a scar like that, but it can’t be good.
“Hey,” he says, his voice gruff.
Fear stabs through my heart one more time, and I look down frantically at his extended hand.
“I thought you wanted to make a phone call,” he says.