The other day CROWN OF LIES had a big teaser.
Today, it’s HUNDREDS turn.
I wasn’t going to reveal so much but in the spirit of Christmas…here is a 1500 word snippet from HUNDREDS (Dollars #3)
I’m ADORING this story and writing furiously on both books. I’ll have more updates on releases very soon.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy!
PLEASE DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ PENNIES OR DOLLARS.
IF YOU HAVE READ PENNIES AND DOLLARS…ELDER WELCOMES YOU BACK…
Unedited, subject to change, copyright Pepper Winters 2016, R18 only
I hoped we could get through the first course without talking but Pim had other ideas.
She swallowed her mouthful, took a sip of chilled water and said, “About my future.”
“What about it?” I buttered my roll, studiously ignoring her. The longer I was in her company, the more I craved the syrupy relaxation offered only by the weed sitting in my pocket. Some men smoked cigars after dinner. I smoked pot—when I needed to. I had every intention of doing so tonight. Mainly to protect her from me.
“I think I have some say in what my future holds, don’t you?”
My knife clattered onto the side plate. “Are you saying I’ve been taking away your decisions?”
Don’t say yes. Even though it was true. She hadn’t asked me to fuck her last night. She’d tried to tell me to stop.
She fiddled with her cutlery. “I’m saying that I’m tired of having no control.” She looked over her shoulder, lowering her voice from the hired help. “The other night…a lot of things happened to me.”
“Fuck.” I slammed my elbow on the table and pinched the bridge of my nose. “I told you I’m sorry for that. I can’t sleep and barely concentrate for what I did to you. But I’m trying to make it right by fucking freeing you.”
“You’re not making it right,” she seethed. “You’re making it right for you. Not me.”
I dropped my hand, glowering. “Don’t I have that power? After all, I invited you onto my boat. I showed you things I haven’t shown anyone. I kept you safe.” Smugness helped smother my vulnerability with cocky half-truths. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be talking. If it wasn’t for me, you’d probably have thrown yourself into the sea by now.”
She froze, rage painting her features.
The staff returned, sweeping up the half-touched platter and replacing it with mains of herb-infused sword fish with gnocchi and garlic butter. It smelled divine but nothing could tear my attention from Pimlico or hers from me. We were locked in an eye-war, wondering who would break first.
Picking up her fork, Pim tore her gaze away. Her lips parted as she stroked the fork as if it was a wand and could grant her magic.
Slowly, she smiled. “I had every intention of arguing with you. But I don’t need to.” She held up the fork. “This is all the proof I need. You’re right, Elder. Without you, I would still be terrified of everything—including every man I came across. Without you, I would probably be dead by my hand or my old master’s, and I would’ve gladly entered death to be free.” She stroked the sharp silver prongs. “You want to free me now, when I’m finding freedom in your captivity? Well, that’s your decision and nothing I say will change that. But you should know, if you send me away to return to a time warp where I no longer belong, return me to people who don’t know what I’ve been through and won’t understand, if I have relapses or nightmares, or have to relearn to survive all over again…then fine.” Her eyes glowed. “I can do that. I will do that. And I’ll do it because of you. Because of you, I’m strong enough to endure whatever comes next.”
She upended the fork and dug it into the wooden table. “But you should also know that because of you, I can hold this fork without fear of being beaten. I can sit at this table without cowering for a kick. Because of you, I can be human and not a pet because you showed me I’m valuable.”
Taking another sip of water for her unused throat, she murmured, “So thank you, Elder. Thank you for waking me up, smashing me open, and even for forcing yourself inside me. Because by doing so, you broke every piece I had left and showed me there’s something so much stronger inside. The girl I was. The girl I thought was dead. The girl who will eventually take her life back and won’t need you or anyone to be happy.”
I sucked in a gasp. Everything about this recovering slave sucker-punched me in the gut. I’d never seen her look so elegantly refined but with a lethal dazzling edge. Her smile was sharp. Her shoulders straight. And the glitter in her gaze made me want to attack her from across the table, shove the food away, and have her as my main course.
I didn’t move, doing my best to control myself.
Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
The mantra didn’t help. My desire only grew worse. I shifted in my chair. Her eyes flashed to mine while she licked her lips free of butter.
I couldn’t do it anymore.
Launching upright, I grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet. She gasped as I shoved aside her plate and fisted her hips. With a quick yank, I placed her on the table. The side of her black dress soaked into the gnocchi sauce but I didn’t give a damn.
Her hand came up still holding her fork, but I brushed her arm away with a sharp elbow then captured her chin. “You want to stay? Fine, but I’ve run out of patience to treat you kindly. If you stay, you accept that.”
Her skin whitened but she tilted her head in my hands regally. “I won’t let you hurt me. I won’t let anyone hurt me again.”
Fuck, the courage in her. It flowed off her like gigantic sheets of snow from an iceberg. She was luminous.
“I won’t hurt you. You have my word.”
She locked eyes, distracting me as she wedged her fork against my jugular. “What’s your word worth?”
I narrowed my gaze. “My word is worth a fuck load more than anyone else’s. If I say I won’t hurt you, I won’t.” I licked my lips, pressing my neck into the sharp prongs. “Under one condition.”
The fork at my throat fumbled. “What condition?”
“You just admitted you are sick of being Pimlico, the Silent Mouse. You want to be who you were.” I wrapped my hand in her hair, tugging her throat back. “Who is that?” I bit her collarbone, switching teeth for tongue the moment she stiffened. “What is her name?”
She squirmed as I opened her legs, settling between them. The table wasn’t high so I had to duck to kiss her neck but the sensation of being between her legs again fucking unravelled me.
My hand came up against my control, landing on her knee, sliding up her thigh to the one place I wanted more than fucking anything.
My jeans were excruciating. My cock suffering Pim-withdrawals like a drug addict who misses his fix.
Instead of pushing me away, the fork lowered and she bowed in my arms. Her breathing wasn’t steady and I didn’t know if it was from fear or arousal that always seemed to hum between us.
“What’s your name?” I murmured into her skin, nipping her, wanting so much to kiss her but knowing if I did, I wouldn’t be able to fucking stop.
I snorted in frustration.
“It’s Pim…for now.” Pushing me away, she sucked in a breath. “Keep me. Teach me. Make me strong enough to stay in the light without going blind or burning—eradicate the darkness inside me, and I’ll tell you.”
The bargain wasn’t fair.
Not only did I have to keep myself on a leash, continue helping her, try not to touch her, and do my utmost not to hurt her—all just to earn her true name, but I had to protect her from myself as well as her past.
It wasn’t a deal I should strike.
I should throw her overboard because she’d be safer in the depths than with me.
But I’d never been good at running from challenges.
And I wanted her. Any fucking way I could have her.
I just had to hope I didn’t break.
Because if I broke all the good I’d done, all the right I’d followed would disintegrate under monstrous betrayal and pain.
Grabbing her hand, I ripped the fork from it and looped my fingers with hers. Shaking in agreement, I said, “I’ll let you stay…for now. But I don’t just expect your name, silent mouse. I expect everything from you. Every history and memory. Every pastime and secret. Every damn thought and experience. Promise me that and we have a deal.”
She pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes, and dressed in courage until she shimmered with resolution.
She nodded. “Deal.”