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Home / Samples / Savagely His: A Dark Billionaire Romance by Zoe Blake and Alta Hensley – Sample

Savagely His: A Dark Billionaire Romance by Zoe Blake and Alta Hensley – Sample

Chapter One

Marksen

My fingers flexed, itching for the moment when I would snatch Olivia from her blissful ignorance and make her family pay for their treachery.

I brushed a spiderweb aside and checked my watch, the seconds ticking down to the fateful moment I had spent months anticipating.

My heart pounded with vicious glee as I yanked on the wrists of my leather gloves, ready to seize what was mine.

After all the Manwarrings had taken from me, it was time for them to pay in blood.

Olivia.

The Manwarrings’ precious jewel.

Their weakness.

She was perfect.

Young, beautiful, and completely vulnerable.

Olivia had wandered between the trees ahead, her wispy red dress clinging to her slender curves as she admired a marble statue that created an interesting backdrop to the wedding venue.

So pure, so virginal … so utterly corrupt.

She would learn the price of her family’s sins soon enough.

I crept closer through the brush, my boots scarcely stirring a leaf.

She tilted her head to study the sculpture, exposing the pale column of her neck.

How I longed to wrap my hands around that throat and squeeze the life from her pampered body.

But no, I had other plans.

Plans that would destroy her wretched family from the inside out.

The distant sounds of laughter and music from the wedding reached my ears, a cruel reminder of the joy that was denied to me. My life had become an unending nightmare, and until the Manwarrings faced the same fate, I would find no peace.

As I watched Olivia wander further into the forest, I marveled at the stark contrast between her delicate beauty and the darkness that surrounded her.

She paused before an erotic sculpture, its sensual curves casting shadows that seemed to dance around her. Her eyes, wide with wonder, traced the intricate details of the artwork, oblivious to the danger that stalked her.

With each step she took, the celebration in the distance grew fainter, its warmth and protection receding like a dying flame. It was as if the forest itself conspired with me, swallowing her up and leaving her defenseless to my vengeance.

I followed her, my footsteps silent as a predator closing in on its prey.

The wedding music was nothing more than a distant echo now, replaced by the rustling leaves and Olivia’s ragged breathing.

I crept up behind her as she bent low for a closer look at the sculpture of the naked woman writhing in the final throes of ecstasy.

“Good evening, Ms. Manwarring,” I greeted her, my voice cold and unforgiving. “I do hope you’ve enjoyed your night … for it’s about to take a rather unexpected turn.”

Olivia gasped and whirled around.

Chapter Two

Olivia

“What are you doing here?” I asked Marksen as he circled me, taking pictures with his vintage camera.

Without thinking, I angled my body, popping out my elbow with a hand on a hip, creating curves the camera lens would find more flattering.

I learned very early on to never let a camera find an unflattering angle, and the worst thing a person could do was to stand straight with their arms at their sides.

A straight line was the most unflattering shape for a woman’s body.

No matter how thin you were or how much spandex you had squeezing your organs and making your ribs ache, a straight line would make you look flat or, worse, fat.

For some reason, I didn’t want Marksen to see a bad picture of me, even if he was the one who took it.

“What do you mean?” he asked, circling me again while looking through the lens. “I’m here for the same reason you are. To celebrate your brother’s theft of what should have been mine.”

“Why do you care? He loves her. You don’t even know her, and you most certainly didn’t love her.”

Weaving a bit, I took another sip from the champagne flute I was holding. It was crisp and sweet. I may have been overindulging a little. It was a celebration, after all. If I wasn’t going to drink my fill here, then really, what was the point?

A strict diet of denial and hunger awaited me in the morning.

Tonight was about celebrating life and love, and I intended on doing just that, though maybe I should have celebrated the food before the drink.

“You can’t be that naïve,” Marksen practically spat. “I didn’t think any of the Manwarrings were capable of love.” The venom in his words made sirens go off in my head, but that couldn’t be right.

This was Marksen.

He was just upset, he would get over it.

“That isn’t true,” I argued, feeling defensive of my family name. Not that I knew firsthand, of course, but still, he didn’t need to know that.

“Sorry, princess. I should have clarified.”

His tone went back to calm and easygoing.

This was the Marksen I knew, and I relaxed again.

“Manwarring men love money and power. Manwarring women love… shoes and purses, I’m assuming.”

His easy, backhanded remark stung more than I was willing to let on.

“And you loved her? Is that it?”

“That isn’t the point. She was supposed to be my wife. I could’ve grown to love her,” he said casually, as if love were a game he might have won given enough time to practice.

I laughed at that notion. “Mr. DuBois, I think we both know you have no interest in love.” I cast a glance at him over my shoulder.

He raised one eyebrow. “Mr. DuBois?” he asked with a dark chuckle. “When did we become so formal, Olivia? We have known each other since we were children.”

“No,” I corrected. “We knew each other as children. Neither of us are children now, and as you and my brother have had a falling out, we have not spoken socially for quite some time.”

“Maybe that’s true, Ms. Manwarring.”

He was teasing me.

Luc would be looking for me soon, I should get back to the party.

My wedding duties were finished. My speech was over, but whenever we were at a function together, Luc was sure to check in with me often, especially recently. He didn’t like me being out of his sight, particularly in such an open venue with limited security.

Still, I had to make sure Marksen wasn’t going to ruin this day for Amelia or my brother. Everything had been so perfect, and after what they had overcome to be together, they deserved the perfect wedding.

“You didn’t answer my question,” I said, trying not to look down at the statue at my feet. The image of the bronze woman lying on the ground, seeming to writhe in ecstasy, was … distracting.

Studying her, I wanted to implore her to share her experiences, her secrets.

Was she putting on a performance as some women claimed they did to make their men think they enjoyed such acts, or was it possible for a woman to feel like the woman on the ground looked?

Sensually sated.

She looked satisfied and comfortable in her nudity, like she knew she was the object of desire and she was unashamed of reveling in it.

Amelia had once told me all great art pieces should make you feel and ask questions.

I had so many questions buzzing in my head, competing with the bubbles from the champagne. Almost like how Marksen was buzzing around me with his camera.

“What question was that?” He moved behind me.

Shivers ran down my spine at the next words he whispered next to my ear. “Did you ask me how pretty and taintable you look tonight?”

He stepped back as quickly as he had invaded my personal space, leaving behind the spicy, rich scent of his cologne.

“No, I asked why you are here. Did you say taintable? What does that even mean?”

“Ah, I did answer you. You should learn to pay more attention, princess. Maybe listen to me, instead of lusting after a cold, metal statue. I’m here because your brother took something of mine.”

“Please don’t cause problems,” I begged, choosing to ignore everything else he said.

Luc was happy, which, until Amelia came around, was not an emotion I associated with my big brother.

Before she entered his life, Luc was stoic, guarded, grumpy even, and never happy. Even after something happened that would have made most men happy, it still wasn’t the right word. I thought victorious was the closest he had ever come to happiness.

“I’m not the cause of anything. Can you look that way for me and tilt your head up?”

I followed his instructions without even thinking about it. Between being an heiress in my own right, and running an online magazine, I had been in so many professional photoshoots it didn’t even occur to me to not follow his command. Without even bothering to ask why he was taking so many pictures of me, I simply obeyed.

“Good girl,” he said, snapping another few photos.

The way he said those words, “good girl,” had me responding as if he growled them directly in my ear, as if they had another meaning which sent shivers running down my spine.

The air sparked and crackled with the sexual tension between us.

Just as quickly as that tension appeared, it faded, and I wasn’t sure if it was even really there, or if I had imagined it.

“I think my brother did you a favor.”

“How’s that? Look at me.”

I looked at him head-on for the first time, noticing how he wasn’t wearing a tuxedo like society demanded of him for such an important formal function.

He was wearing an everyday business suit. It was a custom Hugo Boss, and it fit him perfectly. He actually looked quite handsome in it, but still, it was a wedding.

Really examining him now, I saw there were other things about his appearance that looked … off.

His hair was a little mussed, but in a sexy way, like a lover had been running her fingers through it.

I wondered how those short, silky strands would feel between my fingers.

There was still just something else that was off.

Something that made me feel like I shouldn’t be out here with him.

Something that sent red flags waving, and those sirens to go off in my head again.

Suddenly feeling self-conscious, I slid my right foot back to begin a subtle retreat, feeling as if I really shouldn’t be out here with Marksen.

Chapter Three

Olivia

At least not alone.

It was fine, right?

It wasn’t like I was that far from the party.

The other guests were just on the other side of that copse of trees.

“They are in love,” I answered, sliding my left foot back, trying to focus on anything but him and the champagne which had gone to my head. “Don’t you want a chance to find that for yourself?”

“Why would being married stop me from finding love? It would have stopped her, of course, but I would have still been free to do as I pleased. I still intended to find love with several different partners over the years. That has nothing to do with this. Your brother ruined a very lucrative business deal.”

“Love is more important than money.” I tossed my long auburn hair over my shoulder, glancing behind me as I took another step backward in my silent retreat.

“Princess, I don’t know what fairy tales you’ve been reading, but you have been misinformed. Love is temporary. It fades as quickly as it appears. It’s nothing but carnal desire caught on fire. It, like any other fire, can be extinguished.”

I looked down at the bronze woman on her back with her arms lazily stretched over her head.

Was that what she felt?

Was she on fire still, the embers in her soul still glowing?

“Your brother had never met Amelia when he ruined my wedding. It wasn’t about loving her. It was about hurting me.”

Marksen’s voice pulled me out of my thoughts. I looked back up at him.

He must have seen something in my expression because the camera clicked several more times while I stared at this man and wondered if he was right.

Was love so temporary?

He had a point.

What Luc and Amelia had didn’t start as love, quite the opposite, but they were together now.

I had to defend my brother and new sister. “They are in love now.”

“Is that so?” He lowered the camera for a moment, then moved into my personal space again. “And why do you think that should matter?”

The heat from his body radiated through his suit. His blue eyes stared down at me like he could see all my secrets and inappropriate thoughts.

I bit my lip and cast my eyes down as he brushed a lock of my hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear.

Then his fingers curled under my chin and tilted my face up until my eyes met his. The air froze in my lungs.

His thumb brushed over my lower lip. “Tell me, Olivia,” he rasped, “why does that matter?”

“Love is the only thing that matters.” My answer was little more than a whisper.

“Do you think a man should do whatever he thinks is necessary to claim the woman he loves?”

My lungs wouldn’t expand, my ribs seeming to squeeze my insides as fear and adrenaline pounded through my veins, so I just nodded.

“Damn the rules, social expectations, rituals, reputations, and fortunes of others. Damn all of it as long as a man claims to love the woman?”

Mesmerized by his dark gaze, I nodded again.

He leaned in closer to me and, thinking for just a second he was going to kiss me, my lips opened.

“Tell me, princess. Has that ever worked out for the lovers in the end?”

My mind went blank.

The world was full of plays, poems, songs, and novels where a love story was the focal point. Forbidden love that went against societal norms was one of the most popular kinds of love stories.

I frowned.

Realizing the only ones that popped into my mind were fiction … all of which ended in tragedy.

“Well, princess?” He leaned in so close his breath feathered across my lips. He smelled like cool mint and warm brandy.

I wanted him to lean in further and press his lips to mine, but then he was gone, standing a few feet from me, raising the camera to his eye again.

 I shook my head, trying to clear the fog from my brain as I answered, “It worked out for Luc and Amelia.” They were here getting married in the wedding of her dreams.

Had he been about to kiss me?

There was no way Marksen DuBois was actually making a pass at me just outside my brother’s wedding reception.

It just wasn’t done in my world.

The rules of decorum must be observed at all times.

“It’s not over yet, princess.” His lip curled beneath the camera as he kept pressing the shutter release.

“It is over,” I answered, a little confused. “They are married now. They get to live happily ever after.”

“Do you know why they end fairy tales at the wedding?”

“Because that is the end of the story?” I responded, not sure what he meant.

He shifted until he was blocking my escape, standing between me and the party. I tried to tell myself he was trying to catch the ambient light from the tents. I swallowed, my hands anxiously twisting the fabric of my dress. Too bad I didn’t believe it.

He took a few steps forward, and I shifted backward.

“No, it’s because that is when the hero thinks he has won. It’s when he lets his guard down, and the villain rises and snatches back what is his.”

“Is that why you are here, Marksen? Are you trying to steal Amelia back?”

“Back to being so familiar, Ms. Manwarring? Shouldn’t you be running back to catch the bouquet, princess?”

He came up to me again and plucked the champagne flute from my hand, holding it by its delicate stem and setting it in the grass to the side before kneeling to take more shots of me from a different angle. “Tell me. Now that Luc is married, does that mean soon your father will start taking offers for your hand?”

“Answer my question. And don’t call me that,” I demanded.

He was hardly the first man to call me “princess,” but from his lips, it sounded like an insult.

“Answer mine first. Do you think there are things more important than love?”

Hadn’t we been over this?

“No.” I crossed my arms in front of me and stared down my nose into the camera.

“That seems rather entitled and selfish. What about the effect love has on other people? People who are hurt by others falling in love.” He pressed forward, and I stumbled back a few more steps.

“How does this hurt you? You didn’t love her. Luc loves her!” I stomped my foot, then swayed a little, freeing my heel where it sank into the ground.

Marksen continued to snap pictures.

Having my photo taken felt different when he was behind the camera. It wasn’t like professional photoshoots I’d been at where the photographer remained cold and detached.

No, this was something else, something more sinister.

Was I a fly, being lured into a spider’s web?

I brushed off the thought. It was ridiculous. I could still hear the party going on behind me, so I was perfectly safe.

“How I feel about Amelia is completely irrelevant.” He circled me again, still relentlessly capturing multiple images of me.

“What?” I didn’t understand what he was saying.

I was a little dizzy, my thoughts coming slow and fuzzy from the drinks. I had clearly overindulged. That had to be why I was finding it so hard to follow his words.

“I’m not some schoolboy with a crush who had his heart broken.” He kept snapping pictures, and suddenly, I didn’t feel flattered by the lens.

I felt exposed.

I didn’t want him to take my picture.

I didn’t want him to have photos of me.

“Luc is probably looking for me. I should get back,” I said, a cold sweat sending shivers down my back. A nagging feeling in my gut told me this wasn’t a game anymore.

I was in trouble.

“I’m a man who had his reputation tarnished. Do you know what reputation is to a man like me? My family has spent generations building it so that people will trust us with their investments.” His words were spoken in a low growl. “My good name is everything, and your brother took that from me.”

“It will blow over.” I inched a few steps to the side, trying to get around him. I needed to return to the party, but he was blocking me. “I’m sure no one will remember what happened at that church in a few years. Besides, he said you started this feud. You struck first. He and you are alike, so you knew that if you drew blood, he would have to retaliate and sever a limb.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

He advanced a few more steps and I countered them, stepping back, further away from the party guests. “I say your brother started this. He took something that was mine, something I cared about, something that is hurting my business. My reputation. So I intend to settle the score by taking something from him, something he cares about.”

Every instinct in my body screamed that I was in danger, but I couldn’t get my feet to cooperate beyond the few steps I’d already taken.

“So you are going to take away his reputation?”

“No. He doesn’t care what other people think of him. It’s not his reputation I am going to ruin, princess.”

His smile, the same one I used to find charming, turned sinister.

“Amelia’s?” I asked, forcing myself to back up further. “Please don’t, she just started that nonprofit, and a lot of people are counting on her.”

His smile widened as he took a few long steps toward me.

My heartbeat pounded in my ears as he whispered, “Guess again, princess.”

I turned and ran with everything I had.

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