Authors: Alicia Taylor
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
Manipulation Trilogy, Book Two
Alicia Taylor and Natalie Townson
To our families. Thank you for allowing us to speak to the voices in our heads, and for supporting us when we’re not around at night as mum and wife. We love you.
Jenson – If you can imagine it… You can achieve it. If you can dream it… You can become it. Reach for the moon little man, you can be whoever you want to be.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
WARPED, Copyright © 2014
by Alicia Taylor & Natalie Townson.
All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the author.
In the pitch black I hear Damon breathing beside me as he sleeps, the red numbers on the clock shining 2:30 am. After everything that happened last night I should be exhausted, but sleep evades me. The vision of Damon and Leona kissing keeps playing through my mind, and the rage inside me grows the more I think about it. I really fucking hate that bitch. She needs to be removed from Damon's life. Fast.
Why the fuck did I agree to marry him? What was I thinking? I can’t even stand to look at him. All this man does is cause hurt and heartbreak. He is like a tornado destroying anything and anyone who gets in his way.
I will not let him destroy me. That was never the plan.
Climbing out of bed I creep to the door, careful not to wake Damon, and make my way down to the patio and open the sliding glass doors. The cold night air hits me and I shiver, wrapping my arms around myself to keep warm. I turn back inside and grab the throw blanket that is over the couch, wrapping it around my shoulders and stepping back out into the cold night.
Sitting on the patio chairs I see a clear night sky with stars twinkling in the dark, not a cloud in sight. It reminds me of when I was younger, when my pops would have to go out of town for work. He would always say to me “You’re never alone Ellybear. Just look at the moon. Wherever I am in the world, I will always be looking back. Always reach for the moon. If you fall short you will land on a star. The moon is always there and so am I.” Tonight this thought just makes me feel sad. He isn't looking back, I am alone.
I can't think about Pops now. I need strength to get through this. Damon has proven that he can’t be trusted, especially when the whore is around. I need to make them pay and I need to plan my next move. If I do go ahead with this wedding I need to make sure there is no prenup as the baby and I will need as much money as we can find. I know he will never give us up, even if I break him. One day, when he can, he will find us.
I can’t let that happen. He will suck me back in, destroying me in the process. I will not let him destroy my baby.
I jump when I hear a noise behind me, pulling me from my thoughts. When I spin around in my seat I see Damon standing in the doorway, watching me. His hot gaze burns into me, making me fidget. He’s wearing nothing but lounge pants and I can’t help but appreciate his body. I crave him. I have done since the moment we met, since that first night we fucked.
The first night I let this man place his dirty hands on my body.
I have to fight the urge to sneer at him. I can’t meet his eyes. I know if I look at him now I will just fall into his arms. I need this distance from him, need to keep this distance until I have figured out how this needs to be.
“Ella, come inside. It’s freezing out there.” His voice is just a whisper but I hear him.
“Just go back to bed Damon. I’ll be in soon. I just need to think.” I don’t look at him when I respond. He takes a deep breath before moving towards me, hooking his arms around my legs and back, and lifting me before sitting back down in the chair. He places me on his lap and wraps the throw blanket around us both.
“What are you thinking about beauty? Maybe I can help?” I shake my head, not moving my body away from his. Damon’s arms tighten around my waist holding me firmly in place so I can’t move.
“Damon, I can't do this. Not tonight. I can't think when you’re around.” I feel his hands loosen around my waist, but he doesn’t completely let me go. It’s as though he is absorbing my words but is reluctant to move his hands away from my body.
Neither of us says anything for what seems like forever, but is probably only a few minutes. I'm about to speak when Damon does.
“I'm sorry. I know I’ve hurt you baby, deeper than you will ever show me, and I know seeing me with Leona, regardless of what happened, has hurt you. I'm sorry beauty.” His forehead rests against my arm. I automatically turn my body to embrace him, and I cradle his head to my breast as I hold him.
It takes me a moment to realise what I'm doing and anger builds inside me, ripping through me like an out-of-control inferno. How am I always so fucking stupid to let this man suck me in? He wronged me, yet here I am fucking comforting him.
I stand, furious with myself for being such a fool. Sorry is not enough, it will never be enough. It’s a word that can be said with very little meaning. I spin on my heel and rush back inside. I will not fall for his charm. He won’t get away with killing my sister. I may have fallen for his games before, but I won't fall for them again.
I can hear Damon's footsteps behind me, quickening as he tries to reach me. I feel his fingers grip my arm and he spins me towards him, a mix of emotions playing on his face. He looks confused by my outburst. There is also a small glimpse of worry and hurt there for me to see. His face must be the complete opposite of mine. I’m just pissed off.
I take a moment to compose myself. I need space tonight but I can’t sleep in the same bed as this man. I will not let him touch me again until I know how I want to play this game.
Lifting my hand up to his cheek, I gently run my palm across it. Damon turns into the embrace, kissing the palm of my hand. My resolve falters for a moment so I pull my hand away more quickly than I intended. Damon’s eyes snap open to look at me.
“I can't go back to how we were Damon. I can't just forgive you,” I say in a small voice. “You hurt me. I let you in and you hurt me. I need to be on my own tonight. Please don't follow me.” I don't give him time to respond, but I see the look in his eyes. My words are killing him. Satisfaction fills me. I want him to hurt, and I want him to pay for kissing Leona.
When I get to my room I close the door behind me, leaning against the cool hard wood. I feel a small victory for tonight. Damon needs to know that I won’t be taken for granted, that if he plays games with me, I will play back, just as hard. Damon and Leona will pay for their games.
There’s blood everywhere. It’s all over me, all over everything. I scream for help but no one comes. I cry in pain, but it doesn’t help.
Then I hear them laugh.
I look up to find Damon and Leona standing over Lydia and I, Damon with a knife in hand, still dripping with her blood. Lydia’s blood.
“Why?” I scream. “Why would you fucking do this? She did nothing to you!”Tears fall endlessly from my eyes as I struggle to reach for the knife in Damon’s hand. The blade cuts through flesh easily, tearing my palms to pieces as I grab at it. I cry out in pain each time but that pain is nothing compared to the pain of my loss.
Leona smirks at me before laughing again. “You’re as pathetic as she was,” she sneers.
I lunge for her, wanting to rip her face off, but Damon steps in my way, blocking my path, protecting her. I hit him with all my strength but it does nothing, doesn’t move him an inch. He laughs at my poor attempt. I don’t have it in me. They’ve taken everything from me.
“Girls like you two will never be enough for me. Your sister was never going to win, and neither are you,” Damon says calmly.
Then Leona kisses Damon’s neck and I attempt to get to her again, only forcing the knife’s blade in Damon’s hand deep into my stomach. Only then do I remember my baby.
I wail out in pain and heartbreak. He’s taken it all again. Taken away the last of my family.
“Ella,” Damon shouts. I scream and kick to get away. My heart is thumping in my chest, trying to escape the pain I’m feeling. I need to protect my baby. It can’t be over. I can’t have lost it to them. I thrash around as I feel him holding me down, pinning me. “Ella you’re safe. It was just a dream, beauty.”
I freeze, letting his words sink in, but my heart continues to pound. My eyes snap open when I realise it was just a dream. Relief fills me, instantly followed by rage. I don’t want his touch or comfort. I don’t want, or need, anything from him.
“I’m here, beauty. I’m right here,” he soothes, pushing hair away from my face, and kissing my temple. I struggle to get away, unable to stomach his touch. My dream was so real.
I gag and roll away from Damon. He lets me escape his arms this time, and I sprint to the bathroom. Dry heaves wrack my body as images of Damon and Leona with the knife flash through my head.
Damon is behind me, holding my hair back, as if that’s going to help. I can’t even comprehend what is real anymore. My pain is so real that I can’t see a way out of the dark depths surrounding me. I feel like I’m drowning in despair.
I sob when the heaves subside, and sink to my arse and wrap my arms around my legs, holding myself together. Damon appears with a cool, damp washcloth, wipes my clammy forehead.
I cry through Damon carrying me to his room, through him holding me, and finally to sleep.
Damon is in the shower. He tried to get me to join him but I lay there, faking sleep. I don’t want his hands on me. I don’t want him anywhere near me. All night I’ve gone over and over in my head what I saw and can find no other reason for his loving embrace other than playing a game.
I need to make Damon see Leona for who she really is. She believes she has a claim over him but that claim will mean
when I’ve finished with them. There will be nothing left of them to claim.
I can’t let that man touch me. I can’t allow him the chance to suck me back in, to make me believe in the impossible. I sigh and roll over to look at the time, but Damon’s phone catches my eye and a plan forms in my head.
I grab his phone and pull up his messages, looking for one name only. Leona.
What I find makes me frown. There aren’t many messages, not what I expected. As I browse through I realise Damon doesn’t text her back very often. He must ring her instead. Anger bubbles inside me, wanting to explode from me and cause havoc, but I know I have to play this just right.
The last message received from her was in the early hours of this morning.
Leona: We need to talk about this babe. You rang me for one reason. You needed me, not Ella. Maybe that's your conscience telling you what you already know...
Damon hasn’t replied but it’s obvious he’s seen it. I exit his messages and check his call log to see if he rang her whilst I was asleep. He didn’t. I smirk. It’s time to start the game.
I return to his messages and compose a reply to Leona’s earlier message.
You’re right, we do. Meet me tonight, 8.30 @ Maze and we’ll talk.
I hit send then delete all evidence of the text I sent and Leona’s reply before setting his phone down. A smile plays on my lips when I think about tonight’s plans.
I’ve been so occupied with checking Damon’s phone that I don’t realise the shower has stopped. The bathroom door opening jerks me to reality and I blush. That was close. I need to be on my guard. I can’t get caught. If I’m going to do this right, I need Damon on my side.
“Morning, sleeping beauty. What are your plans today?” Damon asks. “I could work from home.”
I just stare at him, not saying anything. I made my feelings clear last night and he’s once again acting like my feelings don’t matter. It just pisses me off more.
“Ella?” he questions. Damon’s back is to me as he pulls out boxer briefs from his drawer. Unconcerned with my non responses he just drops his towel, giving me a show of his sexy muscular arse and thighs.
My mouth waters and my pulse picks up speed as my body responds to his nakedness. I grit my teeth, angry at myself for still wanting this disgusting man. After everything he has done how the fuck can I still want him?
“Ella?” Damon turns, catching me checking him out. A knowing smirk pulls at his lips. I look away, trying to appear embarrassed. If I’m going to take this vile creature down, then I need to project the right emotions, need him to think he has me where he wants me.
For him to ask me to marry him must mean his games with me haven’t finished yet. My only advantage is that he doesn’t know I’m playing too.
Damon pulls on his underwear and strolls over to me, sitting down on the edge of the bed. His hand comes up to brush my hair back away from my eyes, before cupping my cheek.
“Ella?” Nerves in his voice are clear, his eyes are weary. “Are you okay, beauty?”
I want to snatch my face away from his touch but I can’t. I need to play my part perfectly. Play on his mistakes and draw him in.
“I just... I want...” I sigh, like I can’t get my thoughts together. “I can’t get past it Damon. I can’t look at you without seeing her in your arms,” I say to my hands resting in my lap. His hands release my face and he jerks back like I’ve slapped him.
“I’m sorry, beauty. What can I do to make this right?” He looks defeated. I smile on the inside.
“I don’t know,” I say in a small voice. “I... well... we...” He looks at me expectantly, just waiting to see how he can fix this. He can’t. He will never be able to fix us. Not now, not ever.
“Beauty, I fucking love you so goddamn much. I can’t lose you, I won’t lose you. I need to fix this. I need to prove to you that I want to keep you.”
“I’m not sure you can,” I tell him in a broken voice. I let tears fill my eyes. This is what I’m good at. This is what I can do. Break him by being broken.
Damon’s head drops down as he thinks. I sure he’s planning his next move. Will he want to take on someone so broken? Will it be the same, breaking an already broken target? His head snaps up, determination shining in his eyes, as his search mine.
“Let’s start again, beauty. Let me take you on a date. Let me show you how you deserve to be treated. I know I’ve said this before but I can’t lose you. I can’t fucking lose you.”
I want to laugh. He’s predictable. I knew he’d come to this conclusion and it makes humiliating Leona easier.
“Okay,” I say in a small voice.
“Yeah?” I nod my head. “Anywhere in particular you want to go?”
“How about Maze? I’m going to warn you Damon... I don’t put out until at least date three,” I laugh, trying to lighten the mood. He needs to think he’s winning. Damon grins before placing a chaste kiss on my cheek.
“What time shall I pick you up?”
“Depends where we’re going. If you book a table for eight pm and let me know what time you’ll be picking me up then I can be ready.”
“I’ll book a table and collect you at seven thirty, baby.” His thumb strokes my cheekbone gently before he stands and walks to his wardrobe to get ready for the day. Upon his return he’s dressed in a grey three-piece suit, white shirt and navy blue tie. He comes and places a bundle of money on the nightstand. “Treat yourself today, beauty. Have your nails and hair done, get a facial and purchase a new outfit. Let me spoil you.” He smiles, before moving in for a kiss. I turn my face to the side, only offering my cheek to him. He seems taken back by my move, but I don’t give a shit.
He’s going to have to work for every little touch, each kiss, before he’ll get what he wants from me ever again.
I’m going to take great pleasure in seeing Leona tonight.