Philip Murphy has all of Chicago under his thumb. Except me.
We met in a perfect storm of violence and lust. He saved me and then disappeared from my life. Now I pretend I never knew that kind of darkness. I focus on midterms and campus parties, as if they can wipe the slate clean.
Then he turns up outside my dorm room--wounded and barely conscious. He's the head of a criminal empire, a powerful man, but he needs me now. There are traitors in his midst.
I can help him, but I can't fall for him.
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The sound came again, louder. A shiver ran through me. It was coming from outside the room, but not from either side. It was coming from the door.
I crept over and looked out the peephole. An empty hallway bulged in the distorted lens.
Now I was doubting myself. Had I actually heard something? Maybe it had come from the dorm room across the hall. When I first moved here, it had been shortly after my “ordeal,” as my adoptive mother called it. I had jumped at every sound, both real and imagined, more traumatized by my brush with danger than I’d wanted to admit.
My gaze snapped to my phone.
I could call my adoptive mother right now, but I knew she wouldn’t want to be bothered. I could call the building management, but I knew what would happen. The same thing that had happened last time I called them. They’d send my floor advisor to check on me. If there was anything scary in this hallway, she’d have to face it first.
And if there wasn’t anything scary, if it was my imagination again, the PTSD I didn’t want to acknowledge, well then everyone would know how fucked up I was inside.
No, I had to be overreacting. This was nothing. There was no one in the hallway. And even if there was, it would be some drunk guy, passed out on the wrong floor.
I’m a normal college student, I reminded myself. I’m not afraid of anything.
Both of those things were lies, I was neither normal nor brave, but at least I could send a drunk frat boy on his way.
I opened the door a crack. Nothing.
Relief filled me, and I opened the door wider.
A body slid inside, slumped over without the door to support him. A short scream escaped me before I caught myself.
He was wearing a three-piece suit stained with blood, his expression slack, eyes glassy with pain and delirium. Philip.
Oh God, he was hurt. Really badly hurt if he couldn’t stand up. Horribly hurt if he’d ever have come to me of all people. I didn’t have time to process the shock of it, of seeing him again. I had to get him out of sight. If he’d been injured like this, someone was after him. Someone would want to finish the job.
“Come inside,” I whispered urgently, pulling his arm.
All that earned me was a weak groan.
Panic beat in my chest. Was he losing consciousness? Was he dying?
I managed to sling his heavy arm over my shoulders, staggering under even that much weight. Christ. Awake he was pure packed power. Half-conscious and injured, he was like a pile of steel bars—unmovable and unwieldy.
“I’ll never forgive you if you die on my doorstep,” I said.
Something like a grunt escaped him—it might have been a laugh. Either way, he surged up, tapping into some deep well of energy or survival instinct. His effort and all my strength pushed us through the doorway and into my dorm room. It had seemed small before. Now it seemed tiny as we bumped into walls and staggered to the bed.
I wanted to lay him down gently, careful with his wounds, but in the end we both fell under his weight, tangled on the bed in a heap of exhausted limbs. With a coarse shove I managed to get him on his back so I could shut the door.
The hallway was just as empty as when I’d found him. There was a little smear of blood on the doorjamb. It turned a mottled brown when I wiped it with my shirt.
That would have to be good enough for now.
I just hoped no one had followed him. I just hoped no one found him.
About the author:
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance such as Wanderlust and Prisoner. Praised as a “true mistress of dark erotica”, her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, four dogs, and one evil cat.
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