Dirty little secret, p.1
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Dirty Little Secret, p.1
Download  in MP3 audio

         Part #1 of Forbidden Desires series by Kendall Ryan
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Dirty Little Secret


  Dirty Little Secret

  Copyright © 2017 Kendall Ryan

  Copy Editing and Formatting by

  Pam Berehulke

  Cover Design by

  Okay Creations

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Table of Contents

  About the Book

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Up Next in the Forbidden Desires Series

  Also in This Series

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Other Books by Kendall Ryan

  About the Book

  Gavin Kingsley burst into my life in a sharp and unexpected twist of fate. You know his type—arrogant, dangerously handsome, and impossible to ignore.

  Something dark within him calls to the shadows inside me. I long for the kind of heart-wrenching passion I’ve only read about, and his tragic past reads like one of my favorite literary classics. Raw. Visceral. Captivating. Together, we’re a perfect mess.

  The deeper I fall into his world, the more I crave him like a drug—he pushes every boundary I have, and challenges everything I thought I wanted. I want to unlock his heart. I want his dirty secrets.

  But in the end, will he be the blade that cuts me . . . or the bond that makes my life complete?

  Written in the same vein as Kendall Ryan’s New York Times bestselling and much-loved international phenomenon, Filthy Beautiful Lies, Dirty Little Secret begins an erotic new series.

  Prologue

  Dirty secrets. We all have them. We guard them fiercely, protecting them like a mother does a precious newborn infant, cradled to her chest, away from the world’s prying eyes. Yet those dark, forbidden desires we crave won’t stay hidden for long. They have a way of coming out—usually at the most inopportune time.

  I knew all that, and yet . . . I watched them from a distance, knowing they’d be perfect together. They were two halves of the same whole. He was broken beyond repair. She was so familiar, reminding him of something he desperately wanted to fix. I knew she’d be perfect for him.

  In the end, the chain of events this would to set off would be fucking massive, yet I was powerless to stop it. Instead, I was there in the middle of it all, stoking the flames and praying they didn’t take me down with them.

  Chapter One

  Emma

  My entire morning revolved around this thirty-second encounter. And if I timed it poorly and missed it? My whole day would be shit.

  I needed it like a shot of adrenaline to start the day.

  Every morning, careful to make sure my makeup was perfect and my hair was in place, I’d stop at the coffee shop on my way to work. I’d linger, staring at the rows of gourmet pastries and handcrafted mugs.

  And every morning, promptly at ten to eight, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Sinful strolled inside and ordered a double shot of espresso to go.

  Our routine had gone unchanged for the last ten months, and even though I cherished every second of our time together, we’d never spoken a single word. Hadn’t even made eye contact. For all I knew, he thought I was one of the commuters grabbing a mug of something hot and strong on my way to work. Just like him, I assumed. Or worse, maybe he didn’t even notice I existed.

  Until one morning, I’d stepped into line behind him and, for some inexplicable reason, he’d turned and looked deep into my eyes. I couldn’t say how long the eye contact went on, probably only a fraction of a second. But even so, I felt like my lungs would collapse from the weight of his hazel stare boring into mine.

  Since then, I’d tried a few times to recreate the moment, to wear some new perfume that might catch his attention, or pull my brown hair into a different style that might catch his eye. But nothing had made a difference. No, I was certain he didn’t even know I existed. Which was for the best, since I was pretty sure this was borderline stalking.

  But then, that had been before everything changed. It was the precursor to something that would alter my life forever. Something that would make everything richer and sweeter and deeper . . . only to have it all fall apart, leaving me to piece together the shattered fragments.

  Luckily for me, though, every instant was etched perfectly into my memory, even now as I struggled to decide if it felt more like a curse or a gift.

  That morning, the scent of roasting coffee beans had filled the air, and steam formed inside the windows from the warmer-than-usual foggy September day.

  I was standing in the corner, admiring the new array of teas for the fall, when the door chimed behind me, forcing me to turn around and look for the man I knew would be there.

  He was dressed in his charcoal-gray suit—one of my favorites. The fine material stretched across his sculpted biceps and wide shoulders enticingly. His crisp dress shirt was navy, contrasted by his silver tie. Every inch of him was polished. But it was the scowl painted on his chiseled features that made my knees weak.

  In the months since I’d first seen him, I’d imagined a life for him, even come up with a few names and rough ideas of what his office and apartment might be like. I never saw what he drove, but I was certain it must be something fast and sleek.

  As for his job, I was sure he had a high-powered career as a corporate attorney or a stockbroker, or maybe a real estate investor. Something where he was in control, and his powerful body and almost overwhelming presence could do most of his talking for him.

  “Espresso—” he said, his voice rough but sensual, deep and intoxicating. I’d often imagined the way my name would sound rolling off his tongue.

  “Double shot, to go,” the barista finished for him, smiling.

  It seemed I wasn’t the only one who had him pegged. The man was nothing if not predictable.

  He gave her a curt nod, his gaze drifting to the smartphone in his hand that had just let out a demanding ping. From where I stood a few feet from him, I glanced over, trying to get a peek at the background of his screen to see if there was a picture of him with a woman, or maybe one of a child set as his screensaver, but no. Just the standard factory presets.

  He was all business. There was little fanfare, no good morning or other greeting to the staff at the café, not even a friendly smile. But that voice, though . . . pure sin.

  I swallowed hard and stepped in line behind him, thinking of it now as he stood inches from me. If I introduced myself, I might get him to say my name, another moment to c
arry with me late at night when I lay awake thinking of him with my hand down the front of my panties.

  Instead, the barista set the cardboard cup down in front of him. He handed her a black matte credit card, waiting with his hand outstretched as she swiped it.

  Almost as if in slow motion, he turned. Shooting a look over one broad shoulder and holding my gaze, he dropped something into the glass jar in front of the register. Then he grabbed his coffee cup and strolled away like nothing had happened.

  And for a second, nothing did.

  “Nice tip, asshole,” the pink-haired barista muttered as the door chimed closed behind him. She plucked a business card from the tip jar that was otherwise filled with crinkled dollar bills and coins, then tossed it into the trash can behind her before ringing up my order for a small tea.

  I waited, staring at the discarded rectangle as a sense of panic washed through me.

  Maybe it was because I was standing on the cusp of thirty, or because I was suddenly single for the first time in forever. Maybe it was because the possibility of ending up as a sad cat lady now seemed like a very real possibility. Whatever the reason, I did something reckless.

  My heart pounded out an unsteady rhythm as I reached toward the barista. “C-can I see that card?” Totally pathetic and I knew it, but I couldn’t help myself.

  She eyed where it rested on the top of the trash can—seemingly stuck to the side of that morning’s new trash bag—and then looked back at me.

  “Please,” I added, letting a hint of my desperation show.

  Rolling her eyes, she picked up the card, brushed off a few errant coffee grounds, and extended it toward me. “No skin off my ass.”

  I plucked the card from her fingertips and muttered an apology, unable to help the fact that I was acting like a crazy person.

  The heavyweight linen card felt sumptuous in my hand. Rubbing my fingers across the raised ink, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d left this on purpose. If he’d meant for me to find it.

  He didn’t strike me as a careless man, didn’t seem the type to make the mistake of dropping his card where he meant to leave cash. As weird as it sounded, that look, the way he’d held my gaze? I was sure this was deliberate. I felt it in my bones.

  Before I could even process my destination, my black ballet flats were carrying me toward the door.

  “Miss,” the barista called after me. “Your tea!”

  I rushed back and dropped some money on the counter, then told her to keep it and waved a hand in her direction before continuing toward the door.

  I didn’t need the tea. I’d gotten what I came for.

  Clutching the card, I rushed down Second Avenue, oblivious to the people rushing past me. I made it to the bus stop just in time to see the hulking, dusty city bus squeal to a stop. After trudging up the steps, I found a seat in the front, the card still in my shaking fingers.

  I lived in the heart of the city, even though I couldn’t afford it, even though I worked thirty minutes away in the suburbs. There was something romantic about living downtown—the history of the buildings, the quaint brownstone I lived in with its charming front steps, built over a hundred years ago. Nothing about living in an apartment complex with concrete strip malls decorating the landscape appealed to me. Well, nothing except the idea of a functioning kitchen and a modern bathroom bigger than a coffin, but hey. A girl couldn’t have everything.

  A rush of nerves settled in the pit of my stomach at the thought of my house. At this point, I wasn’t even sure I could afford to keep it, never mind remodel, but thinking about it only made my heart ache. It had been my grandmother’s, and the memories I had there couldn’t be replaced.

  I shoved aside the harsh light of reality and settled back into my fantasy world.

  For the next few minutes, I let myself daydream. Would his name be something masculine and old-fashioned, like Jack or Michael? Or maybe something unexpected, like Finn or Ansel? I’d waited for this moment for so long, I made myself slow down and savor it.

  By the time I pushed my way through the front doors of the library, I was almost trembling with excitement to find out. I slowed as I entered the foyer, stopping to wave to Stan, the library’s technical assistant. He was a nice guy, but it grossed me out how he brought the periodicals into the men’s room with him.

  Slowing down briefly to flick on the overhead fluorescent lights, I continued behind the counter and down the short hallway that led to my office. I swung open the frosted glass door with Emma Bell, Head Librarian emblazoned across it in gold and black, and rushed in with a sigh.

  Mrs. Duncan retired last year after spending forty years as the head librarian, and now the job was mine. I loved it, loved everything about this sleepy library, but in this moment, the last thing on my mind was work.

  Shutting the heavy oak door behind me, I let out a shaky breath and sank down into my stiff wooden chair. Opening my palm, I revealed the card and the little indents where the corners of the paper had pressed into my skin.

  My lips twitched into a smile as I finally allowed myself to read what it said.

  Gavin Kingsley

  President

  Forbidden Desires

  Gavin.

  My fake boyfriend’s name was Gavin, and it was freaking perfect. My smile widened. A hot name for a hot man.

  There was no contact information, no phone number, not even an email address, which was . . . strange. Not that I would have contacted him. God, what would I say? “Hi, I’m the mousy brunette librarian who stares at you at the coffee shop.”

  No, thanks. His rejection was one humiliation I’d rather forgo.

  But, wait.

  What was Forbidden Desires? It was apparently a company he ran or owned. Swirling my mouse across the mouse pad to wake my laptop, I typed Forbidden Desires into the search engine and waited while the outdated machine slowly populated the results.

  A lot of questionable websites came up, so it took me a few tries to locate the correct one. But when I did, I still didn’t think it could be right. Not really. Yet the photo of him there was undeniable.

  My mouth fell open and I stared at his image, so chiseled and handsome. And just like that? All my theories about him being a corporate ladder climber died on the vine. Because Gavin Kingsley, whoever he was, was into something a whole lot more sinister.

  “Emma?”

  My pulse hammering, I quickly closed the browser and turned. Bethany was smirking in my office doorway, her slender arms crisscrossing her thin frame.

  “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She raised her palms in front of her. “You look like you just saw a ghost.”

  I shook my head, willing myself to calm down. “No worries. You just startled me. What’s up?”

  “We have a ten o’clock field trip coming in, and then an author reading in the Steinbeck Room at eleven. Do you know how many people we’re expecting? I just want to make sure we’re ready.”

  I flipped through the stack of folders on my desk and handed her the one that read Special Events across the top. “Here you go.”

  “Thanks.” She smiled. “And you might want to grab the Lysol. Stan just went into the bathroom with a stack of reading material again.”

  I nodded and cringed. “On it.”

  Bethany was in charge of marketing and public outreach, and we’d become good friends in the last six months. We occasionally got together on the weekends, meeting up for dinner or to try a new yoga class.

  All of that had transpired more recently. Or, as I was now calling this era in my life, PN.

  Post-Nathan. Maybe I should rebrand that, though. Call it something like NE—New-Emma— to put a more positive spin on it.

  But I wasn’t new. I was just finally able to be myself for the first time in a long time.

  Blinking, I tried to force myself not to think about the time before now, or what I might call that.

  The Dark Ages.


  The Bad Times.

  The Emotional Upside Down.

  I did the things my therapist had told me not to do. I thought of how I should have known better, should have seen the abuse coming from a mile away. How I should have walked away when I first realized how Nathan isolated me from my friends and family. How I’d lost three years believing he loved me, thinking he would change.

  It was painful, even now, so many months later, but I reminded myself of what my therapist had said. My family had forgiven me and were happy to have me back. I was making new friends. My life was on track.

  Now all I had to do was forgive myself and move on.

  But if what I’d seen online was any indication, I still had no reason to trust myself, especially when it came to men. Gavin Kingsley was clearly trouble. Maybe if I researched him more, though, I’d find his situation was different from what it appeared.

  Maybe . . .

  “Emma! Code Brown!” Bethany shouted from down the hall, and I sat up a little straighter.

  Shoving my thoughts away, I rose from my desk and followed her into the hall, armed with my trusty bottle of air freshener and disinfectant. As much as I wanted to keep reading about Gavin, I had to focus on work, and then tonight? I would look at the website again and find out exactly what kind of man I was dealing with.

  To my surprise, it didn’t take long to get Gavin off my mind. Between the absence of my head children’s librarian on field trip day and three readings, I found myself trudging toward my bus stop at the end of the day in what felt like record time.

  And when I got home? I had two things on my mind: a nice hot bath and Gavin Kingsley.

  • • •

  Sinking into a bubble bath that was almost too hot, I released a sharp breath.

  I’d wanted to unwind, give myself a chance to relax before I revisited the website, but even thinking about it made my shoulders tense.

  On the About Us page, there hadn’t been much information, just a picture of three men, all of whom looked relatively similar in that they were stunningly attractive with bright, inquisitive eyes. Gavin stood in the middle, his smile a little less warm and open than that of the others.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll