Dark promises, p.1
Dark Promises, page 1
Books by Winter Renshaw
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COPYRIGHT 2017 WINTER RENSHAW
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I have a secret …
I don’t care if you like me or not.
Insatiable lust for power and control runs thick in my veins. My father served as President of the United States of America—and his father before him. Montgomerys are born to lead and rule, to fear nothing and cower to no one, to make allegiances, not friends.
But I digress.
With a senate campaign about to launch and presidential aspirations at fever-pitch intensity, imagine my dismay when my strategist tells me I need to “settle down” with a “nice girl” in order to appeal to my constituents.
Enter Rowan Aldridge, a head-turning stunner with a charm school walk, Jackie O. refinement, and a well-connected family.
So I’ll do what I have to do, make her believe what I need her to believe, and as soon as the campaign’s over and I’ve secured my senatorial seat, I’ll release my pretty little butterfly back into the wild.
But this isn’t about all of that.
This is what happens when a villain falls in love.
This one’s for you: the reader. This book wouldn’t have made it off my laptop if it weren’t for your emails, messages, and constant begging. :-)
Sorry it took me so long. <3
2 Weeks Ago …
“Smile through it, darling.” My mother’s signature adage echoes in my mind as I bite my lip to keep from crying. The polished marble floor of Hunter’s master bath chills the bottoms of my feet. He’s pounding on the other side of the door, and I want to be anywhere but here.
“Rowan, you okay?” His voice is muffled and distant, and yet it’s right there. “Talk to me. Unlock the door.”
He doesn’t care if I’m okay, he only wants to ensure I’m not a liability.
“Yes,” I call out, squeezing my eyes until the burn subsides. I slip into clean clothes and gather my things in a hurry, shoving my toothbrush, mascara, and lip balm into my overnight bag before scanning the room one last time. Anything left behind will be thrown away, I’m sure. Hunter twists the doorknob, and I’m beginning to wonder who broke up with whom. “Be out in a minute.”
Ten hours ago, it was just another Friday night bent over his bed, my wrists secured with his Givenchy necktie as he helped himself to my body.
Hunter stole his pleasure from me as if I belonged to him.
And I did belong to him.
I loved him.
This morning over coffee, he told me I looked sexy in his unbuttoned dress shirt, blonde waves tousled in my face. I smiled, lips swollen from his kisses and his taste lingering on my tongue.
And then he told me we were over.
Just like that.
Like we were discussing the weather.
His first-ever senate campaign kicks off soon in the next state over, and he “can’t have any casual relationships sullying his whistle-clean reputation,” and even if he could, he “wouldn’t have the time to devote to one.”
In other words, I mean nothing to him.
I’m not worth fighting for.
He’s done with me.
I experience his words from this morning once more, letting them sink into the deepest parts of me all over again, and pressure builds in my chest.
This was all so abrupt; a zero to sixty ending for a zero to sixty beginning.
“You knew this would come to an end at some point, right?” he’d said, lifting a coffee mug to his full mouth. His sandy hair was neatly combed and parted on one side, and his Dior suit jacket rested on the back of his chair, neatly folded in half. He was going somewhere; somewhere I wasn’t invited because our relationship has always been below the radar for a myriad of reasons; all of which I assumed were temporary. “What we had was fun, Rowan, but now it’s time to work. Fun’s over. You understand, don’t you?”
The jostling handle quiets, replaced with heavy breathing on the other side. There’s a soft thump, as if he’s slumped against the outside of the door, then a moment later, the floor creaks.
“Your cab’s downstairs.” His voice is low, ice cold. “Meter’s running.”
I give myself another minute to gather my composure, take a deep breath, and sling my bag over my shoulder. Twisting the knob until the lock pops, I brace myself for what lies on the other side.
His bed is made, his room cold. All traces of us have been removed, including the vase of red roses he’d given me three days ago.
Three days ago, I still meant something to him.
It doesn’t make sense.
When I reach the main level of his townhome, he isn’t there either. A taped note on the front door bears my hastily scribbled name across the front in bold, black ink.
Forgive me for leaving. You must think I’m a terrible person, but the truth is I’m simply terrible at goodbyes.
Eighty-four weekends ago we were two strangers in a bar, trying to escape our fates like we had any say in the matter. What you saw in me, I’ll never understand. But I’ll tell you now like I told you then, you deserve more than what I can give you.
Someday you’re going to find a man who will make you forget I existed. And I’ll see you with him. And I’ll miss what we had. And it will hurt because we’ll be strangers all over again. But then I’ll smile because you’re happy, just like I knew you would be. And I’ll know that everything worked out for the greater good.
I wish I could give you more of me. I’m sorry.
All of it.
I crumple the letter and toss it on his foyer floor. Politicians and heartfelt apologies are a glaring contradiction.
But I can’t blame him for everything.
Hunter Harrison was raging waters, and I dove in head first, knowing full well I couldn’t swim. I’ll let myself gasp for air. I’ll let myself feel the water in my lungs and the threat of looming darkness. Then I’ll thrash my way to the surface, choking and desperate to breathe, and I’ll be better for it. I’ll never let another man hurt me the way he did ever again. It’s going to take time, but I can do this.
I can seal my heart until it’s airtight.
But for now, I only need to forget.
I need to forget the burn of his lips on my skin, the pull of my hair in his fist, and the countless breathless sighs when he almost told me he loved me, and all those moments I silently whispered it back, like a fool.
The Goldsmith bar is dead for a Thursday night, a stroke of luck that should work in my favor. I suppose no one wants to venture out in the middle of a three-day torrential downpour streak besides me; a woman on a mission.
The air is thick and damp, the windows beaded with rain. Thunder rolls outside, rumbling over the chic lounge music. And in the midst of it all is Keir Montgomery, dangerous glint in his eyes and all.
I waited an hour before he finally showed up. For a moment, I thought maybe he was staying home with the rest of the Burberry trench coat-wearing DCers. And I almost left until something told me not to.
Spinning my glass between my thumb and forefinger, I glance away, removing my stare from his suited shoulders and facing the bartender instead. From the corner of my eye, I observe as he moves closer to me, my intentional disregard luring him in like a magnet.
A moment later, his broad-shouldered physique fills my periphery as he stands beside the empty bar stool on my left. He’s taller than he looks in pictures. And his cologne is intoxicating. Cedar? Musk? Cash? I draw in a lungful, imagining the way it might emanate off his bare skin, warm and sensual.
If my mother were inside my head, she’d tell me “Good girls don’t think those kinds of thoughts.”
If she only knew …
I lift my crystal tumbler to my lips, pretending I don’t notice him when every fiber of my body is reeling. I’m practically sending out sonar shockwaves over here, but my exterior is a crafted shade of calm.
“Excuse me,” his voice is carried through music and followed by the invasion of his old-moneyed scent into my lungs all over again.
“Yes?” Glancing up, I meet his gaze, blinking once as I stare at him through dark, painted lashes.
I pretend not to notice the swarm of Secret Service agents flanking his sides and now mine. I pretend his familiar face doesn’t register and that I haven’t seen his obsidian hair or crystalline blues in hundreds of photos before. I pretend not to know he’s the youngest son of the President of the United States. I pretend he’s just any other guy in any other bar in any other city.
And then I pretend I didn’t come here looking for him.
“Is this seat taken?” He asks the question as if the answer doesn’t matter, as if he has no problem taking exactly what he wants even if it belongs to someone else.
My heart flutters for a fraction of a second, and my eyes flick from his wickedly handsome smirk to the seat and back.
“All yours,” I say, taking my time and swiveling my stool until I’m no longer facing him. Fighting a smile, I brace myself for the inevitable pat I’m going to feel on my shoulder any moment now.
And then I wait.
The bartender hunches over, resting on his elbows as he yells above the music. Keir orders a drink. Top shelf whiskey. Neat.
The restless stir of impatience floods my center, but I refuse to let it ruin my strategy.
All I need is one night with him. One night to feel alive. One night to feel desired again. One night to rebel against everything I ever thought I was, everything I pretend to be because I’m not allowed to be anything else.
All I need is one night of meaningless sex with DC’s most eligible bachelor.
I observe from the corner of my eye as the man fixes Keir’s drink at warp speed, delivers it on the house, and then stops short in front of me.
“Would you like another, miss?” he asks, thick brows lifted as he points to my empty glass.
“Please.” I slide it his way. He swipes it from the counter and shuffles down a few spots.
Rapping my fingertips against the counter, I wait for my refill, finish half, and contemplate my Plan B because I don’t have all night. If Keir didn’t just infiltrate my space for the sake of hitting on me, I’ll have to take a different approach. Gathering my black satin clutch, I unsnap the top and pretend to check my phone. When I’m sure he’s watching, I slide my bag under my left arm and gracefully slide off the stool. If he thinks I don’t recognize him or that I don’t care who he is, it should pique his curiosity.
Striding across the dark-as-midnight Goldsmith, I duck into the ladies’ room to buy some time. Touching up my lipstick, powdering my nose, and dabbing gardenia perfume onto the backs of my wrists, I check the time on my phone then wait an entire extra minute before reemerging.
Keir has a reputation in this city. He’s a womanizer with a healthy appetite for casual liaisons, which means there’s absolutely no chance I could possibly get attached should we … agree to enjoy one another.
I’ve done my research. I know where he frequents: Goldsmith being his signature hang out followed by Greenbrier on Mortimer. I know his modus operandi. I know what turns him on, and I know what makes him run for the hills.
It’s now or never.
Either this is going to happen. Or it isn’t.
And I really, really want this to happen. I need this to happen for reasons no one could possibly begin to understand. I need his hands in my hair. His lips pressed hard against mine. My body pinned beneath his. I need him driving himself into me again and again, so hard I forget my name.
Forget where I am.
Forget why my heart still hurts . . .
Giving myself a final once-over in the mirror, I tuck a blonde wave over my right shoulder and pull the door wide.
And he’s right there, practically filling the doorway, wearing his signature devil-may-care smirk.
Almost instantly, my lips draw up in the corners and our eyes meet.
“I was wondering when you were going to make your move,” I say.
“You’re a distraction.” His eyes are wild, trained on me.
I lift a brow. “I beg your pardon?”
“I came here for a drink. Was supposed to meet someone
I try to contain the frivolous satisfaction building deep in my chest before it radiates from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.
“Bold,” I say, pushing past him as if I’m not entertained by any of this. If my plan is going to work, he has to chase me. Men don’t like to be pursued, especially men like Keir.
Men are hunters by nature and hunters choose their prey, not the other way around.
“Maybe I didn’t want you to get away.” He reaches for me, clamping his hand around my wrist and steering me to a dark corner as a group of women in tight dresses push past us with wide, staring eyes. He doesn’t so much as blink in their direction. “Not before I had my chance.”
“What makes you think you have a chance?” I try not to snicker, though I love the direction we’re headed.
His gaze holds mine. I allow his aftershave to drown my senses as my hands ache to touch the body of a man they’ve never known.
“Keir,” he says.
“I know,” I say. “I’m Rowan.”
It takes everything I have to keep my jaw from coming unhinged.
by Winter Renshaw have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes