I feel like i haven’t posted anything here for so long. For the past few weeks, I’ve been sunning it up in Bali and been very lucky to have some R&R with my hubby and catch up on some reading. But now I’m back to the daily grind and LOVING writing this saucy dark romance.
This blog post will have a bit of everything in it. Along with updates, a teaser, news, and a reading recommendation.
But first, let’s start with DOLLARS!
I’m firmly back in the Dollar Series world and loving Pim and Elder’s interaction. I can’t wait to release this book and see what you think. I don’t have a release date yet because i don’t want to commit to something and either have to change it (if the book explodes on me) or rush to complete by that date (because I want to ensure this is the best story I can) so, another couple of weeks before I announce an official release date. However, you can still pre-order on all platforms and it will just randomly show up on your reading device when it’s available!
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1VxvqM7
Google Play: http://bit.ly/24jqbzX
Paperback: Coming Soon
(Oh, the black covers will be changing back to white very soon! I’ve just been running behind a bit but they are changing back as I LOVE the white and think it fits the series quite well).
Prologue, Chapter One, and Chapter Two for DOLLARS
Unedited, subject to change, copyright Pepper Winters
THERE COMES A point in life where determination supersedes circumstance. Where willpower wins over what should be done.
I’d lived in that point for two years.
I fought my battles silently. I lived in a warzone without a word. However, I didn’t do it consciously; I did it because I had no other choice.
My idiotic will to survive kept me living, even when I wanted to die. It kept me hoping, even when none existed. And every day granted punishment, especially when the dragon-tattooed stranger entered my prison.
He made it worse.
So, so much worse.
But then he came back.
He stole me.
He took me just in time.
For two years, I’d been the voiceless slave. But Elder Prest found me before that curse could become reality.
I’m in pain.
But I’m alive.
However, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be allowed to breathe now he’s captured me.
ARRIVING AT THE dock relaxed me a little.
Not that I was tense.
Killing didn’t faze me. Stealing a bleeding, dying woman didn’t increase my heart rate. I’d done worse, seen worse, lived through worse. It was just another day in my world.
However, the last few kilometres through downtown Crete, Pimlico had passed out again—either from pain or shock or loss of blood.
Most likely all three.
I didn’t intend for my hard work to be for nothing. I wanted her. I wanted to keep her—for the time being. And I’d do what I could to keep her alive.
Stalking up the large gangway, I left the dealing of the car to Selix and strode aboard the luxury yacht valued in excess of two hundred million dollars and entered the lift that would take me to the deck I needed.
Pimlico roused in my arms, blinking at the sea all around us and the sudden flurry of white dressed staff as they flew around deck to cast off. Before, I’d liked their uniforms and how smart they made my vessel. Now, I hated all things fucking white. I’d change the dress code for all staff as soon as possible.
Pimlico flopped unconscious again, the bleeding from her mouth not stopping.
Taking her to a mainland hospital was not an option. All the doctors on this island were butchers. I didn’t live on the land for a reason. I hated so many conceited assholes and brain-dead morons who believed their opinion mattered to those around them.
Instead, I’d claimed the sea as my home.
I’d lived on her waves and swam in her belly every day for the past four years. Even when I was on earth, my feet still swayed to the current of the ocean. Being back on the gentle roll stole the remaining worry I hadn’t acknowledged and let me breathe fully for the first time since I’d disembarked five days ago.
Five days was far too fucking long.
I needed to be far away from here. I needed empty horizons and lonely expanses.
However, it would be tight leaving now.
High tide had gone.
But I had no intention of staying and my crew knew that without me telling them. They were well-trained and could pre-empt commands of their ruler.
That was why I paid them so fucking well.
As the lift descended to deck nine and the glass doors opened, Michaels met me.
“Give me the scoop.” Michaels glanced at the stolen slave in my embrace. He didn’t flinch at the blood or look with accusation.
His no-nonsense manner was appreciated. I’d head-hunted him from a sabbatical in India; he was one of the best in his field. And his field included most surgeries and other complicated care. I trusted him—especially after what he’d done for me two years ago when my own fucking arrogance almost got me killed.
Clutching the unconscious girl tighter, I said, “Severe blood loss. Her tongue is partially severed.”
Michaels nodded. “Righto. The surgery is all prepped.” Snapping his fingers, two nurses rolled a gurney forward, waiting until I’d placed Pimlico on the starched green medical material ready for the operating theatre.
My arms ached from carrying her, but I also ached for a different fucking reason. I didn’t like that she was in so much pain.
“How long before you’ve fixed her?”
Michaels scowled. “Hard to say until I’ve assessed what needs to be done. Come back in a few hours and I’ll let you know.”
A few hours to halt death and let me keep her in my world.
It was a small price to pay.
With a curt nod, I left the sterile deck of medicine, heading back up to fresh air. It was a ritual I never broke. I had to be at the bow when leaving port.
Striding over an immaculate deck of oak and cherry and teak, I stood at the front as Phantom opened up, leaving her mooring and heading toward the open seas.
It would be a little while before land fully disappeared.
However, by the time Pimlico woke up, she wouldn’t belong to terrafirma anymore. Not to Alrik or assholes or death.
By the time she woke up, she’d belong to me and the sea.
And there was no fucking escape with water as her new prison and me as her new jailer.
I’m sorry for what I’m about to do to you, Pim.
But you’re mine now.
MY FIRST THOUGHT was of water and drinking and thirst.
My second thought was pain.
My hands flew up to hug my mouth. I wanted to cradle my butchered tongue and whisper that it would heal…that I would finally use it after denying it speech for so long.
But someone grabbed my wrist, keeping me restrained.
“Ah, no touching. You need to keep all foreign items—including unwashed fingers—from the wound.”
My eyes widened as I blinked into a focus a man with shaggy chestnut hair. His eyes were the first I’d seen in so long that didn’t harbour sin and evil sickness. His handsome face was normal. He was normal. Not a monster or ogre or troll.
He isn’t Mr. Prest.
Where am I?
My gaze drifted down his doctor’s gown, searching for a nametag.
Nothing. Not even a stethoscope or thermometer sticking from his breast pocket. The only thing marring his clinical uniform was a horrendous splash of blood right over his chest.
He followed my attention. “Yes, you, eh, threw up on the operating table before I could administer anaesthetic.” He frowned. “Do you remember the events leading up to now?”
Taking my wrist, he counted my pulse, not looking at the bruises or rope-bracelets I’d long since grown used to. “You’ll feel a bit sluggish over the next few hours as you wake up but I’ll keep your pain managed with morphine. However, if you feel any discomfort, let me know and I’ll do my best to help.”
He thought whatever drugs he pumped into the IV piercing the back of my hand muted the agony?
He’s obviously never had a partially severed tongue before.
The sensation was worse than any boot or fist. Stranger than any abuse I’d suffered.
He stood silently, shifting uncomfortably as the silence lingered. Once again, my power over quietness prevailed. I no longer felt nervous or anxious if a pause lasted too long. I found sanctuary and could live in its peace forever.
The only man who turned silence against me was Mr. Prest.
And he’s not here.
I didn’t know why my heart quickened with anticipation then slowed with a thread of disappointment.
The doctor cleared his throat. “My name is Andrew Michaels. I’m the on-board surgeon. I oversee the small medical team here on the Phantom.”
There was that name again.
What is Phantom?
I stared harder into his eyes, ignoring the padding wedged beneath my chin to catch any drool I might not be able to swallow.
Not noticing my mute request for more information, he stepped around the bed I’d been placed on and pulled open a drawer to my right by the IV. His hand disappeared inside, yanking free a pad of paper with the crest of some smoky ghostly design.
His hand vanished again as rustling sounded, followed by the appearance of a pen. Holding both, he turned to me and awkwardly tried to put them in my possession.
I didn’t move.
Not because my body ached and cried for all the abuse it’d suffered, but because I honestly didn’t remember how to accept a gift that wasn’t going to hurt me the moment I reached for it.
“This is so you can talk. I’m sure you have questions.” He once again tried to pass me the notepad and pen.
I gritted my teeth, amplifying the swollen tongue in my mouth. The sensation was foreign and so, so wrong. The tickle of stitches itched my pallet as I swallowed a rank metallic taste of old blood.
My soul grew claustrophobic as if it could shed this old carcass and find a newer less broken one. I felt dirty and used and useless and not just because I hadn’t showered in what felt like forever but because of the past few years clinging to me even though Master A was dead.
The memory jolted me.
I killed him.
The slowly building panic attack that’d lurked beneath every breath since opening my eyes receded. I was strong enough to kill the man who’d done this to me. I was strong enough to remain brave and figure out what this new future meant.
Elder Prest was a lot of things but he’d taken care of me, given me medical support, and left me in the care of a normal human being who didn’t expect sex or screams from me.
I’m lucky to be where I am.
And if a half severed tongue was the price I had to pay for it then that was fine.
My hands reached out and took the notepad and pen. The needle in the back of my hand with the drip tingled as I curled my fingers around the first normal things I’d been allowed in so long.
The moment the welcoming papyrus filled my touch, I had an unbearable desire to write to No One. To reveal what’d happened to me and why my future notes would be on paper and not toilet tissue.
He still has my other letters.
My eyes flew around the small nondescript room with no windows and artificial light feathering up the walls to make it seem daylight rather than luminescent bulbs above. Where had Mr. Prest put his blazer with my stolen stories?
He told you to call him Elder.
He’d been so adamant about Master A not using his first name and yet he’d given me carte blanche to use it how I wanted.
I didn’t understand.
“You do know how to write, don’t you?” Andrew Michaels cleared his throat. “Judging by your injuries, you’ve been mistreated for a long time. Did anyone teach you to read? Use a pen?” He cocked his head at the door. “I can get a female to help you if you’d prefer? Just occurred to me you might not want a man around.”
I let him prattle on all while my fingers stroked my pen and paper gift.
“I was the surgeon who worked on you. I ensured your tongue muscle and blood vessels were repositioned correctly and sutured with internal and external stitches—don’t worry, they’ll dissolve on their own in a week or so.”
That wasn’t long enough, was it?
“Tongues are the fastest part of our bodies to heal. You should have full mobility back very soon and the pain and swelling will decrease every day. However, I can’t guarantee you’ll have full use of your taste buds and sensitivity. That is out of the realms of my expertise, I’m afraid.”
My mind whirled with information and questions about what this meant.
“I also took the liberty to ensure your other injuries were tended to while you were unconscious.” He pointed at my properly cast hand and another bandage tight around my ribs every time I breathed. “You had a few heavily bruised ribs and obviously you knew the bones in your hand were broken.” His smile was gentle but full of authority—just like other doctors in my past. “I did my best to make you better but you have my oath I didn’t touch you anywhere else.”
If I wasn’t so shocked to have a man doing his utmost to assure me no untoward attention was given when I wasn’t awake to even notice, I might’ve smiled.
I might’ve reached out willingly for the first time and patted his arm with gratitude.
However, all this attention—kind, healing attention—made me nervous. I couldn’t stop searching for the underlying monster who would make me pay for such kindness by beating me bloody.
I dropped my gaze, remaining mute like I was used to and waited it out.
Dr. Michaels didn’t look away as I opened the notebook and clicked the pen to reveal the ink nib. My fingers itched to write; to scribble as fast as I could and demand freedom and food and fantastical things like my mother to come get me and my friends to welcome me back to life.
But all I could do was stroke the pristine lined paper and sniff silently as tears spilled from my eyes.
I couldn’t stop the droplets, just like I couldn’t stop the throbbing of my tongue or the battering memories of what I’d endured at the hands of that sadistic bastard.
Long minutes passed where I forgot about the doctor and spiralled into myself. The silence grew too much for him and he cleared his throat again before saying, “I’ll leave you to rest a little. I have no doubt you’ve been through a lot.”
Lowering his voice, he added, “Whatever is in your past is over now. Don’t let the memories haunt you, okay? You’re safe now. Mr. Prest will take care of you.”
In other news, UNSEEN MESSAGES has been selected for Amazon Prime Readers.
Amazon Prime is a new reading program where all prime members can read selected books for free. A 1000 books were chosen, something like 160 or so in romance and Unseen Messages was lucky enough to be chosen. I’m honoured!
So if you’re a Prime Member you can read Unseen Messages for free for a strictly limited time
Because I had so much fun writing Can’t Touch This (which is still available in Kindle Unlimited for a limited time), I’ve decided to write Polly’s story and aim to have it out over Christmas. Having the blend of naughty and sweet, dark and light is working well for my brain right now, so I’m hoping you’ll enjoy this kinky funny book too!
Here is the blurb:
CAN’T OWN THIS…
I don’t want to own it.
I definitely, assuredly don’t.
All I want is a good career, nice home, and caring man to snuggle with at night.
Instead, I get gorillas who never pass the first date.
Bad luck in the love department follows me around like the pungent whiff of a cat’s litter tray. So when my business partner and bestie decided to flipping marry this thorn-in-my-side’s brother, it put me in an uncomfortable position.
He’s technically my brother-in-law. He’s out of bounds, off limits, and entirely non-husband material.
Therefore, I could never own it even if I wanted to.
And I don’t.
I really, really don’t.
He’s rich, stuck-up, and opinionated. He thinks he can fix my life with a good screw, expert kiss, and a non-sincere invitation to chase him.
I won’t chase him. Why should I chase a man who was born into privilege and expects me to play his game? Just because we had a fun few meetings doesn’t mean I want more.
Only thing is, he now thinks he can own me. That technically we’re family and that means I’m open season and its huntin’ time.
He gave me a choice. He offered something I promised myself I would never ever do.
I can own it.
If I dare…
Rom Com New Release Alerts: http://www.subscribepage.com/s9u9h4
I’m pretty active on Instagram when I’m not online and there is plenty of videos and photos to follow from my trip to Bali last week. If you don’t follow me head on over to:
https://www.instagram.com/pepperwinters/ and take a look!
And last but not least, I’ve been reading Sarah J Maas while on holiday and WOW, I’ve been looking for a good fantasy to sink my teeth into and I found it. It rekindled my love of all things epic and supernatural and highly recommend it if you’re looking for an easy, fast paced read with lots of awesome characters.
And that’s it for now! I’m back to writing. Need to do 10,000 words today!
Hope you have an epic weekend and thanks so much for all your amazing support!