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Authors: Pam Godwin

Tags: #Romantic Suspense

Vanquish

BOOK: Vanquish
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Copyright © 2014 by Pam Godwin

All rights reserved.

Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing,
www.unforeseenediting.com

Editor:
Jacy Mackin

Cover photographer: David Gillispie at
www.gillispiephoto.com

Cover models: Matt Rich and Jessica Roland

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review or article, without written permission from the author.

Visit my website at
pamgodwin.com

A NOTE TO THOSE WHO HAVEN’T READ
DELIVER

VANQUISH
is a stand-alone, BUT if you intend to read Book #1,
DELIVER
,
DO NOT read
VANQUISH
first. There are numerous references in this book that will spoil the surprises in
DELIVER
.

 

If you don’t plan to read
DELIVER
, carry on.

Pain. Dense, maddening bursts of pain splintered through Van Quiso's shoulder and reduced him to a pathetic mouth-breather on the kitchen floor. Heaviness settled over him, pooling down his arm and collapsing his chest. Each slogging beat of his heart drained more blood from his body, chilling his veins, soaking his t-shirt.

He should've known Liv Reed would be the death of him. If he could focus past the throbbing wound, maybe he'd hear a haunting serenade beneath her breath, beckoning him toward the cliff of oblivion with seduction dripping from her lips. He could only hope his descent into hell would be so enthralling.

He dragged his eyes heavenward and met the bleak despair wetting hers. Their gazes clung, motionless, as shock deadened the air between them. She'd shot him. Too damned late to take it back. He wanted to slam his fist into her beautiful face. Even more, he ached to kiss the path of tears streaking her scarred cheek.

The cold linoleum pressed against his back. He'd fucked her on this floor countless times, bent their joined bodies over the wobbly kitchen table, and slammed her against the fridge until her moans drowned out the whine of the old motor.

But their best moments had happened in the attic chamber, where her ass reddened under the fall of his whip as her lithe body hung from the ceiling, the sound-deadening walls absorbing her screams. For seven years, she'd been his to discipline, fuck, mentor, and keep.

Pulsating shadows framed his vision, closing in and threatening to take him from her permanently. Final judgment awaited him in death, but his punishment had already been inflicted. She no longer feared him. She was no longer his. The burn in his shoulder ignited. If he died, what would become of her?

His lungs clenched, not from injury, but from something more debilitating. He suffocated with the need to tangle a fist in her hair and never let go. She knew better than anyone the justice of his death, yet her full lips quivered. Lips that tasted like butter-soft caramel.

She knelt over him, shocks of brown hair tangling around her arms, the curve of her body taunting him. What he wouldn't give to feel her tight, reluctant cunt gripping his cock one more time. But she loved another man.

His ribs squeezed against the swell of rejection. She'd actually pulled the trigger. How could she think he was going to kill her? Didn't she know he'd die without her?

Dots blotted his vision. From the blood loss? Or was it the tremor of ice-cold fear passing through him? Hard to deny that he'd earned her distrust, kidnapping her when she was seventeen, taking her virginity without asking, and blackmailing her into delivering slaves for Mr. E.

Despite all that, every second at her side had nurtured Van's stupid-as-shit hope that she'd grow to love him. A hope that slipped through his grasp the night she abducted Joshua Carter against her will. She’d fallen in love with her newest slave, and that betrayal hurt worse than the lead buried in his shoulder.

But the blow that turned him against Mr. E's operation came six days ago. Van had sent her to meet with a slave buyer. There was a disagreement, and the buyer brutally raped her.

Renewed rage boiled in his gut. If he'd gone with her, he could've protected her. Sweat beaded on his lip. What was he thinking? He couldn't even protect her from himself.

He stared into the gorgeous, watery eyes of his first captive as her fingers caressed his jaw. He'd beaten and fucked her into submission and failed to stop Mr. E from killing her mother. Still she cried for him. His breath hitched. He loved her suffering in a way he couldn't rationally understand.

When he'd gone after her rapist, it hadn't been some chivalrous act of heroism. He'd fucking reveled in the dismemberment of limbs, the flaying of skin, and the gurgled screams of a man as atrocious as he himself. With the stain of his first kill dripping from his hands, he'd put his exit plan in motion. One that would free them from Mr. E's operation and bind them together. A family.

But her pretty boy was a menacing blockade to his plan. Joshua hovered behind her, his ridiculous linebacker brawn flexing to finish the job if the bullet failed. Despite the boy's apparent willingness to sacrifice his life for her, he couldn't protect her from their boss.

Was she still trying to wrap her mind around everything she'd just learned? Her face had blanched a chilling shade of white when he'd told her Mr. E was not only his father but also the police chief of Austin. And he hadn't disclosed the worst of it.

His pulse weakened, and his breathing thrashed. He needed to get the bullet out. If he survived, it would take days to recover. Days he and Liv didn't have.

“Have to kill him.” He blinked through fading flashes of light. “He'll avenge me.” Now that she knew Mr. E's identity, he was certain she'd hunt down their boss and finish the job, but she needed motivation to do it quickly. “He'll kill Livana.” If Mr. E hadn't killed her already. His throat tightened, choking his breaths.

“Livana?”

The angelic quality of her voice and the shape of her lips forming their daughter's name for the first time produced a wet burn in the corners of his eyes. There was so much he needed to tell her.

The flat line of her mouth wobbled. “Mattie's real name is Livana?”

He lifted his chin, attempting a nod. Beyond the infrequent video footage of their daughter, they'd never been allowed to see her. Liv didn't know where she lived, didn't even know her real name. For six years, she'd heartbreakingly referred to her as Mattie.

A helpless, foreign feeling stabbed his chest from the inside, over and over, pulling him further into darkness. Killing Mr. E meant he could finally meet their daughter. He was so damned close. He
would not
die.

Shivers wracked his body, and Liv's features vanished behind a veil of black.

“Van? Where's Livana?”

“She's...” He forced his eyes open. The outline of her face seemed so far away, yet he could make out her slim brown eyebrows as they formed a sharp
V.
He reached for her cheek, his fingers tingling, numb.

She leaned in to meet his hand, her eyes swimming in tears. “Van.” Her voice rasped, and the tears fell over, splattering his chin. “What's Livana's last name?”

She needed a name to find their daughter, but she wouldn't have to look far. His fingers fumbled over her scar. From her eye to her lips, the seven-year-old laceration mirrored his own. Even now, he didn't regret the actions that had led to their matching punishments. Her pregnancy had given him immeasurable relief, a means to ensure she wouldn't be sold as a slave. She belonged to him, his greatest accomplishment.

The pain in his shoulder jolted deep into his bones as he traced her lips and lingered on her jaw, dreading the answer he'd kept from her for so long. He'd had no say in who raised Livana, but he'd controlled Liv by withholding Livana's name and whereabouts. He didn't carry Mr. E's last name, but his daughter did. Liv might very well shoot him again when she learned Mr. E had been raising Livana since birth.

He opened his mouth and strangled on the words. Pinpricks assaulted his body. His vision blurred. He clung to the edge of consciousness as the muscles in his arm shook and gave up. His hand hit the floor.

“Nooo.” She scrambled atop him, fingers trembling over his face. “No, Van. No, don't go,” she screamed.

Wails bellowed from her throat. Such an outpour of emotion from a woman who always remained guarded behind a stone-cold mask. Her anguish filled him with warmth, pumping his heart. She cared. He tried to open his eyes and failed. His body grew heavy, struggling against the leaden weight of gravity. But that was okay. She thought he was dead and fucking cared.

“Oh, Van. I'm so sorry.” She hugged his waist, weeping, nose sniffling.

He melted against the floor, blacking in and out. Time seemed to stop and start, his mind full of cotton, spinning around...something. He'd lost so much blood, but there were things to do. He needed to get up.

The warmth of her body vanished, and a scuffle of rubber soles squeaked on the linoleum. Joshua must've dragged her away. Was she fighting him?
Come back.

He couldn't lift his arms. Couldn't open his eyes. Her hiccupping sobs teetered off. Or did he teeter off? He strained his ears through the hum of white noise. Somewhere, water dripped.
Plop. Plop.
Too soon, his world faded to nothingness.

He woke to the silence of an empty room and blinked rapidly, catching the low rays of the sun where it had dipped below the kitchen window. Christ, he'd passed out. For twenty, thirty minutes? Long enough for Liv to determine him dead and leave, but it wasn't dusk yet.

Now that the shock of watching her pull the trigger had passed, he needed to find his balls and get the fuck out of there. He wiggled his fingers and toes and tested his strength in his wrists and ankles. Breathing noisily but still coherent, he slowly bent his elbows and knees. With a surge of impatience, he rolled his shoulder and jerked against the sudden stab of pain. “Fuuuuck.”

If she failed in her attempt to kill Mr. E, the cops would come. If she succeeded, she might alert the cops anyway. He needed to get his ass up, make a call, and disappear.

Getting shot wasn't part of his plan, and dealing with a lodged bullet magnified his aggravation. A hospital would report the gunshot wound. He could wedge it out with a steak knife. And inflict nerve damage. And gouge a damned artery. Or he could drive to Mexico and pay a seedy doctor to take care of it.

Fucking Mexico.
Ahi vamos.

He tugged a disposable phone from his pocket and dialed.

“Yeah?” rasped the CTS Decon technician.

“Change of plans.” Van had approached the professional cleaner a day earlier and offered a quarter of a million to discreetly and quickly mop up a crime scene. The blood was supposed to have been Mr. E's, the prearrangement to remove Van's DNA from the scene, therefore, eliminating him as a murder suspect. Liv's bullet changed that. Now, she would have to deal with Mr. E on her own while the technician dealt with Van's blood.

BOOK: Vanquish
9.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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