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Authors: Katie de Long

Capture (Siren Book 1)

BOOK: Capture (Siren Book 1)
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Capture (Siren #1)

Katie de Long

 

 

Love is pain.

 

Calder Roane has always been the spoiled youngest son, and is struggling to seize the reins to the family business following his mother's death. But when he wakes up imprisoned in a rusted death trap with several others, it's gonna take everything he has to get out alive. As the mystery unfolds and he tries to discover why he's
there
, a vulnerable and resourceful fellow prisoner could be the key.
If
he can win Milla's heart.

Under other circumstances, Camilla Greenwich would've grown up as Winchester royalty, born to a life of politics and privilege. But when the Roane family took her family's place, their actions corrupted the entire community, and cost Milla everyone she loved. Now, she has the chance of the lifetime: the chance to punish the heir to the Roane family empire, and those who've abetted him. But seizing that chance could well be her undoing. She'll have to get far closer to her enemy than she dreamed possible, and risk exposing herself. She'll have to become prey, alongside him.

As her war goes on and the collateral damage mounts, they're about to discover how deep the conspiracy runs. Each past sin is exposed, and in the end, they may be the only people who can redeem each other.

 

Siren, a dark romance series from USA Today bestseller Katie de Long. Siren contains mature material that may be upsetting to some readers.  Don't look for a Happily Ever After until the very end.

 

Coming soon:

Torture (Siren #2)

Restrain (Siren #3)

Mindfuck
(Siren #4)

Ravage
(Siren #5)

Deathwish
(Siren #6)

 

Dedication

For the crazy bastard who side-eyes me every time the answer to “What'd you do today,” is “Wrote mechanically assisted murder masturbation,” and who hasn't DIY lobotomized me yet. For the Divas who didn't look at me like I was crazy, and for Sera, who encouraged me to at least
draft
the darkest, most warped version possible of any given scene, just to see if it worked.

 

Capture
(Siren #1)

 

 

Twenty years go, the Roane family took power, shoving the leaders who opposed them out with bribes, threats, or force. Money's not a
shit
motivation, but when it's the only one, it kills.

If no one'll make them carry the weight of the lives they've ended,
I will
.

By the time Calder Roane breathes his last, he'll know
every
ounce of pain inflicted on me and mine. There's nothing a capitalist can build that a steelworker can't dismantle.

 

 

Capture
contains graphic material, and is intended for mature readers. The Siren series is a dark romance from USA Today bestseller Katie de Long, publishing monthly. Don't look for an HEA until the very, very end.

 

Siren

Capture
(July 2016)

Torture
(August 2016)

Restrain
(September 2016)

Mindfuck
(October 2016)

Ravage
(November 2016)

Deathwish
(December 2016)

 

Continue reading after the end of
Capture
for an excerpt from
Torture
, coming August 2016.

One

Milla Greenwich, Present Day

 

I thought I was ridding the world of a monster. But I was only creating one in my own image.

They say death gets less shocking every time you witness it, but I’m not sure that’s true. I’ve seen my share—
more than
, truth be told. But nothing could have prepared me for the man dying in front of me.

It’s the culmination of everything I wanted. And it’s going to destroy me.

Once, I found comfort aboard the
Siren
’s rusted decks. But there will be no comfort here for me. Never again. There’ll only be the ghosts of the man I love.

Calder’s fingerprints stain every surface. His voice echoes in the catwalks and corridors. And his body’s right in front of me, lying where he fell. The gun I threatened him with is
somewhere
, but there’s no reason for me to find it. It’s far more precious to me to bear witness to Calder’s last moments. To savor the last look I’m gonna get at the man who captured my heart. The most recent man I killed.

It’s not my first night as a murderer… but it feels just as new to me anyways. Eight months ago, I was a laborer like any other. I welded at the shipyard, sealing seams in tankers and salvage vessels. A cog in a system that created things of industry and beauty. I couldn’t see that the machine was broken, and no amount of hard work could fix it.

It’s never just one thing gone wrong. No. That would be too easy. One part warps, and slowly the whole machine falls to pieces. It started before I was born. By the time I was old enough to watch it happen, the whole world was collapsing around me. My body, my mind strained, as I tried not to let it drag me down with it.

And I bent. I warped. I became so much more than a blue-collar worker.

I became a killer.
His
killer.

Calder’s icy eyes are dazed and unseeing. He’s not dead yet, but he will be, soon. I’ll never again hear his voice, husky with need. I’ll never again put my hands over his as he touches me. I’ll never again sleep in his arms.

Calder’s limbs are twisted and broken, and there’s a stream of blood cascading down his uncomfortable perch. I don’t know whether he’ll bleed out first, or whether he’ll simply fall asleep, and never wake up. I don’t want to look at him in this state; I want to remember him as he
was
, all powerful muscles, casual leadership, and amiability. I want to remember the man I loved, not the man I broke.

There’s a question in his eyes, one he can’t articulate with his clumsy tongue and dazed movements. He doesn’t need to vocalize it for me to understand:
Why
?

When the world tilts off its axis and humanity descends into hell, how can you explain that first moment that started the whole apocalyptic cascade? How can you pinpoint exactly what
started
your world’s downfall?

Me… Calder… we’re like that. I don’t know
when
it all went wrong. Only that it did. Was it the first time he touched me? Was it the first time that he comforted me? Or is it now, that he’s truly
seeing
me for the first time, not some illusion of who he thought I was?

His eyes skate along my sunken cheekbones, the product of months of irregular eating habits, same as his. And still there’s that gleam in them that says he thinks I’m beautiful. Not even my bedraggled auburn hair, and the friend’s blood spattered across my face can convince him otherwise.

The good times consume me, their memories pouring from between my lips. Every little moment of bravery or compassion he showed that thawed me, terrified me, exhilarated me. Even the stab wound I bear is a badge of honor.
He
did that. And because of that, we understand each other. So long as that give-and-take is there, I’m okay with it all. He hurt me, so maybe it’s okay that I hurt him, too. Even if I was the one who threw the first punch.

I’ve made a terrible mistake. Calder’s paid the price for it. But there’ll be a price for me, too. I’ve simply yet to pay it. Maybe it’s time for me to start.

The seconds stretch by like millenia. I can only measure time by Calder’s heartbeat. The halting, irregular pulse beneath my fingers on his wrist is the force tethering me to earth. When he’s gone, I’ll—I’ll face what’s next. I’ll be free from the conflict, the frustration, the uncertainty. I won’t have to second-guess myself all the time, wondering if Calder’s pleasant act is truly just that: an act. Wondering whether my indecision is a mark of how he’s corrupted me, how he’s taken me for a ride.

For better or worse, I’ve done what I promised. I wish I’d known what it would cost.

His labored breaths haunt me. I wish he’d die already, so that the fear and worry could be put out of their misery, leaving only self-loathing behind to comfort me.

Some sick part of me still wishes he’d live. That part of me is aware how close I came to backing out. How even at the end, his death was more accident than intent. The world doing what I was too weak to do.

Nearly a year ago, I made a promise to myself. Those who hurt me and mine would suffer. I might not be able to fix the machine, but I could at least remove the most broken parts. Calder Roane was one.
The
one. The only one who mattered.

The one I’d kill with my bare hands, before seeing him walk free.

It all seemed so much simpler then. If you told me then that I’d be sitting here, on a rusted pipe, with tears in my eyes as I watched the love of my life—the poisonous Calder Roane—die, I’d have suggested you see a shrink.

And yet here I am. In one of the derelict engine rooms aboard the
Siren
watching my last victim—the only one who mattered—die in my arms.

Calder Roane. Son of George Roane, one of the most cutthroat criminal industrialists since the Golden Age. If I start to list out all his family’s crimes, we’ll be here all night.

So instead I’ll list
mine
.

A myriad of wrongs stemming from
one
primal sin:
I love Calder Roane.

Two

Eight months earlier…

 

Another day on the hull, with a hard deadline in the drydock, since the ship I'm welding exterior panels on is needed immediately after we finish. I ordinarily would be here long past bar hours, but my real ambition awaits me tonight. I traded in a few favors and braved managerial scorn to get the time off. And I've got a long night ahead of me.

My blood sings just imagining it: the dim, the reek of human emotion, the
Siren
, speaking to me, welcoming her new guest. Tonight's going to feel great. I look up to get my last glimpse of sunlight before I go into the pervasive darkness inside the tanker we're repairing, a monstrous thing built to carry cars across oceans. And I freeze.

He's there: Calder Roane. That inhuman prick's youngest son, heir to his industrial fortune. Advisers at his shoulder and the foreman in a flurry of explanations. I bite my lip and hang back to watch the fray. Despite the heat, he's well dressed, broad shoulders and strong arms filling out a perfectly tailored suit. Amazing how so much beauty can hide someone so ugly inside.

Blue eyes, so devoid of saturation they appear almost grey, drift past me, rendering me part of the background, part of the steady line of ants heading back into the anthill. Again. Like always. The hate wells up in my gut, to be dehumanized so readily by someone who's barely human himself.

I heft my case and roll my neck to waft the hair escaping my ponytail away from my heated face. The sun cuts into my eyes, and I shut them, immersing myself in the images burned into my eyelids.

“And this is Larissa Rosen reporting for WQUI News, from City Hall, where Major Greenwich is expected to concede this election after weeks of contested ballots and allegations of voter intimidation on behalf of his opponent, George Roane.”

My dad stands, proud in his grey suit, even though he's never really been able to act like it's more natural than the coveralls he wore when he was just another union carpenter contracted through the shipyard. At the signal, he starts us forward with one hand on my shoulder, and one hand on the small of my mom's back. She squeezes my hand behind his back, and her grip makes me stop moving two thirds of the way to the podium. I square toward our audience, their faces blocked by heavy cameras or bright lights. My parents' words of preparation sing in my head, and I force myself to concentrate.
Don't smile, don't fidget, don't pout. Keep your face as blank as you can—this isn't about how upset we've all been; it's about what they need to
see
in us.

I clench my jaw, and then remind myself to relax it, as he speaks.

“There's nothing to be gained from our community turning the political process into a brawl. The courts will tell if any illegal conduct occurred, and punish those responsible, but I won't hold your leadership and your local governance hostage while it runs its course. I trust the system, and I trust that George Roane will do his best for the people of Winchester. He's a good man, a man I've respected for many years, and you will all be in good hands.”

He swallows, unable to keep his face blank as we were told to. “It's been a privilege to serve you, and I look forward to continuing to do so in other ways. God bless.”

The voices burst around us with questions, but he ignores them, turns back toward us. His arms catch me under the armpits, and hoist me up until I'm settled against him, my face blocking his from the cameras. At eye level with her, I can't avoid seeing tears well in my mother's eyes, and I realize I've never seen her cry before. The knowledge is frightening, bringing tears to my own eyes. Mothers aren't
supposed
to cry.

Back inside the building's heavy doors, my dad lowers me to the ground and collapses against the wall, head in hands. My mom reaches for him and holds him as close as she can, around her massively swollen belly.

“He actually
did it
,” my dad groans. “He actually bought his
carte blanche.
Don't they know what's gonna happen, once he doesn't have any checks on his empire's power?”

I turn away from the carrion crows circling us, looking for the choicest bits of meat, and start up the gangway. It's almost time, time to fix the wrongs that began that sunny day. I have all the patience in the world to set things right.

 

*              *               *

 

Relishing my early release, I wave to the security personnel at the gate and start toward my truck. I've got a fairly brisk drive home; while there's moderate shipping and commercial activity around the harbor repairyard, there wasn't much room to expand, not with all the beach real estate snapped up for luxurious summer homes.

No, the rest of us live closer to the old downtown stretch. There's a newer, prettier one built along the nicest areas of the bay, for the tourists and the old money, but the smell and noise of the shipyard has prevented tourism from becoming as widespread here as in the rest of the towns along the coast. Every so often, someone spends their life's savings to open a quirky little restaurant, or gift shop, and ends up destitute within the year. But hope still blooms, despite all the evidence of those ventures' futility.

As the large, cookie-cutter homes give way to smaller rubber-stamp homes, I stretch my shoulders. I've got
quite
a night ahead of me, and I'm getting a slightly later start than I'd hoped I sweep my eyes across the familiar terrain, a mess of left-out child's toys, cars on blocks, and patchy, dying scrub. Two doors down from me, a large white paper's plastered across the front door. I don't need to look closer to know what it is. An eviction notice. The Roanes own most of the property, and they're not known to be kind landlords. The man living there, Ron Brykowski, his knee got bad enough to force his retirement several months back, just a year before he could have tapped into his pension. He's been struggling, but then, we all do sooner or later. The repairyard chews people up, spits them out.

I wonder where he'll go. His wife's a few decades younger and from a few towns up. Maybe her parents will have somewhere they can stay. It's not my business. And he's probably not still there, judging by the furniture and crap littering the lawn, already picked over. That couch probably will only be there an hour before it makes someone's night; it looks like it's in solid condition, which is a rarity for what most of the people here can afford.

I park, and stand. I should hurry in, but sometimes you just need to assess the scenery. Coming home, as always, reopens the wound. And I need it
raw
tonight. My tears sting, salt in the wound, but deep down, it makes me glad I can still feel
something
. Winchester wasn't
always
like this. During my dad's tenure as a union rep, and later as mayor, he upheld the strength of the unions for the shipyard's contractors, and did his best to set up the strongest safety net possible for the people who are this town's lifeblood.

I live in the same house I grew up in, and only the neighborhood around me has changed. I've done my best to care for my mother's garden, but it's a fight long-since lost. My work hours are long, and irregular enough that there's rarely a good daylight time to mow what lawn is still living, and I'd disturb someone else's rest before the early shift, or their children's rest before school, if I tried to do the work on my own time.

I kick a beer can out of my way. Garbage pickup is somewhat irregular here, since it's expensive enough that many have done away with the luxury of having it removed every week. And they're awful about bringing new bins by; half my neighbors put their recycling out in cardboard boxes that dissolve in the rain, and leave their bottles in a pile at the curb.

It's something out of a nightmare. A nightmare we've all been living for twenty years while the Roanes line their pockets and grandstand for the cameras. There's even rumors of a senatorial campaign in the works. Now if
that
thought doesn't chill the blood...

When the rage burns good and strong in me, I retreat to the peace inside the house, untouched by the ravages of time and greed.

I need to eat, and need to get ready. I waste no time in shedding my dirt-stained work clothes and loosing my sweat-soaked strawberry blonde hair. Shower first. If this is going to work, I need to look like the lady my dad always wanted to raise, not the tomboy he
got
. Stylized makeup, contacts to shift my eyes from blue-green to brown, and a dress that I had to work overtime to pay for. I hesitate instead of putting on the finishing touches. I haven't eaten. No point in putting on lipstick until after I eat.

I dig out one of my staples, my favorite mac-n-cheese frozen dinner, and pour a glass of water from the pitcher in the fridge. My hand brushes the bottle next to the pitcher, a plastic-covered vial that was a
pain
to track down off the grid, and I grin. Strong sedatives, enough to knock a horse out. Or a monster.

As the food turns in the microwave, I scan my invitation, make sure I'm not misremembering the start time and such. Not all of the charities and such keep their mailing lists updated, though most have learned, in the years since Dad passed on. But receiving this one was serendipity. It meant I didn't have to find another way in, or just try crashing the party.

Still, I only have an hour. I wolf the food down, and return to the bathroom mirror. Using the darkest brown eyeshadow I have, I color over my natural brows, working the pigment into the hair until they look almost black. I throw on the dark wig, and heave a sigh of relief that they match properly. Then I add the red lipstick I was procrastinating on. I slip into my dress, and turn to adjust it.

Seeing my reflection in the mirror, I hardly look recognizable. Silky dark brown curls, long lashes, smudged eyeliner, pouty red lips, a sharp cupid's bow carefully highlighted in color...

I look like my mother
. The thought makes me stiffen; will that work against me here? I look different, but do I look different
enough
to not draw attention being recognized?

 

BOOK: Capture (Siren Book 1)
12.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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