Publication date: April 8th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Romance
Everyone thought I was married to the perfect man. But if Conall Walsh were perfect, I wouldn’t have killed him.
I thought I got away with it until I received an anonymous note at the ballet company I dance for:
You were a very bad girl. If you don’t want me to report what I know about last night, meet me at the old opera house after rehearsal. I will tell you the price of my silence when you arrive. If you speak of this or bring anyone with you… no deal.
But his price isn’t money. It’s me.
THIS IS A STANDALONE contemporary dark romance.
There’s a crackling sound and then a booming male voice magnified over a speaker.
“I neither need nor want your money, Ms. Lane” It’s a smooth, rich baritone. But I can’t tell if the voice belongs to someone old or young. And I don’t recognize it.
“Do you know he beat me? He threatened to kill me. What was I supposed to do? He practically owned this city. Do you know how much power he had? What other choice did I have?” I shout into the mostly empty theater.
“Do you know how much power I have?” he counters.
Obviously a lot if he can get into this building and have electricity running in it. “I don’t deserve prison,” I say.
“Murder is a serious crime.” His tone is similar to the one you’d hear in the principal’s office after being caught vandalizing a dumpster behind the school.
“Please…” I feel the hysteria bubbling over as my gaze continues to dart around the cavernous theater, trying to find where he’s hiding, what perch he observes me from. “Please…” I say again… “You said you’d tell me your price. How much? Please. I’ll pay you anything.”
“No, Ms. Lane. Not money. I have plenty of that. The price of my silence is your obedience.”
The stillness that follows this announcement is so complete you could hear a pin drop on the black dance tarp. What the hell does that mean?
“Empty out your dance bag in the center of the stage and spread out all the contents,” he says.
I freeze at that. There’s a gun in my dance bag. I’m not that stupid, that I’d just go meet some mysterious blackmailer without going home to get a weapon first. I mean, come on.
“I want to remind you that we aren’t in a 1940’s noir film. I have a phone on me at all times, and I will use it to report you if you hesitate again.”
I take a deep breath. My hands are visibly shaking as I empty out the dance bag, arranging the contents, carefully concealing the gun in a dance sweater.
“What are you hiding from me?” the voice asks again.
I look around the otherwise empty theater, trying desperately to find the source of that voice.
“Do you want to go to prison, Cassia?”
His use of my first name startles me. It feels too familiar in spite of everything.
The voice continues. “No. Lies. I want to see what you’re hiding.”
I don’t know how I thought I would get away with this. Did I think he’d just show up and confront me in some straight forward face-to-face way? Did I think he’d let me see him? Did I think I’d have a clear shot, and he’d just stand politely still while I put a bullet in him?
What the hell was I thinking?
“Last chance to save yourself,” he says, his patience running out.
I feel like I’ll hyperventilate as I unwrap the gun from the sweater and lay it out on the brightly lit stage. I flinch and look around me as if he’ll somehow swoop down, materialize on top of me, and rip me apart for daring to try to defend myself.
He chuckles. “Were you planning to build a body count? Gotten a taste for it, have you?”
“N-no,” I stammer.
“No, Sir,” he corrects. “I expect a basic level of formality and etiquette when we’re in this space together.”
Everything inside me freezes at this. When we’re in this space together.
KITTY THOMAS writes dark stories that play with power and have unconventional HEAs. She began publishing in early 2010 with her bestselling COMFORT FOOD and is considered one of the original authors of the dark romance subgenre.
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