Ace is bad.
After losing my brother, I know I should stay away. So why can’t I?
He’s irresistible. He’s confident. He’s amazing… but he’s dangerous.
He was there the night my brother was murdered. He watched it all go down.
I should stay away. The things I saw weren’t acceptable.
I should want Ace as far away from me as possible—I should consider him a monster and a threat—but when my life is at stake I know I no longer have a choice of the matter. He's the only one that can protect me.
He's done what he can to keep me out of danger, but it's not enough. I need answers. I need the truth. He refuses to give it to me, and because of that I don't trust him. He refuses to tell me what really happened and to just forget about it but I refuse.
I won’t back down until I get answers.
But there’s one thing wrong with getting too many answers. It leads to lies. It leads to trouble. It leads to danger. But worst of all, it leads to me falling deeply and madly in love with him.
I’ve gotta be out of my mind.
London Stallone hasn’t always had the perfect life, but she did have the perfect older brother. He did everything for her. He took care of her when no one else would. He’s always been the shoulder she could lean on, but when he ends up murdered, things turn for the worst.
London soon demands answers, and the first person she runs to is her brother’s co-worker and good friend, Donovan “Ace” Crow. Ace isn’t the ordinary guy. He doesn’t come equipped with flowers and chocolate. He doesn’t hand out smiles and hugs to every female he meets. He’s strict and only about business, and London believes he’s a part of the reason her brother was murdered.
Soon, after finding out life-threatening news, it leads to something Ace never thought he’d have to do for anyone.
Although he doesn't want her to get hurt, it doesn't stop him from being selfish or bitter. He's promised to protect her, but has he done enough? Has he sacrificed everything in order to keep London out of harms way?
Sometimes love can get in the way of your priorities. And sometimes love can easily become your enemy—you worst nightmare. It can destroy you.
This is a story full of dishonesty. Disloyalty. Broken hearts. Pain. Suffering. Lies. Destruction. This isn’t a fairytale love story. This is real. And it just might break you.
You’ve been warned…
Footsteps start up the complex stairs. They’re heavy. Slow. I try to control my breathing, but it’s nearly impossible. I’m terrified. My heart is pounding in my chest. The room that was once my sanctuary – my getaway—now feels like a trap. A prison. I can hardly breathe.
Sealing my eyes, I listen as his footsteps get closer to my door until finally he stops. It’s quiet for a moment. I think he’s got his ear to the door, hoping to hear something.
Then, he bangs on it, and I gasp. I don’t get up though. He can’t get in. The door is locked, and the chain is on. I don’t think he’d be dumb enough to kick the door in, knowing I have neighbors. Good thing they’re nosey. They’ll come looking for the noise immediately just to complain.
“London, I know you’re in there! Car’s in the parking lot.” His voice is no longer calm and casual. It’s angry and demanding. “Open the door.”
I don’t say anything, but I do stand and hold the knife in front of me just in case. I slowly walk out of my bedroom and towards the living room.
“Open it or I’ll kick it down. I don’t give a fuck who sees me.”
I gulp and gasp at the same time, producing an unexpected and very loud burp. It’s certainly loud enough for Ace to hear.
Instantly, the door swings open and hits the wall with a forceful thud. I scream as I fall on my side. When I look up, Ace is standing between the frames of the door, adjusting his tie. All I can make out is his shadow, but I can feel his eyes hard on me.
Stepping inside, he coolly shuts the door behind him. I scramble away with the knife in my hand. When I get to my feet, I dash for my bedroom and grab the telephone. He chases after me, warning me not to do anything stupid.
I dial 9, but I’m not given the chance to finish. He snatches the phone out of my hand and slams it down. I spin around, bringing the butcher knife in front of me again. Ace takes a quick step back, glaring down at the sharp blade piercing the darkness. Then, a slow smirk forms on his lips, the lips I hate that I once admired.
“I’ll cut you,” I threaten.
“You won’t,” he says boldly.
“I won’t?” I hiss, bringing the edge of the blade to his neck. “Don’t test me. I will.”
He raises his hands in the air, shaking his head. “When’s the last time you sharpened this thing, huh? Three years ago? It’s as dull as a fucking nun.”
“I don’t give a shit! I can still cut you with it! Just… sit down!” I demand, circling him, knife still clutched in my hands and at his neck. “On the bed.”
He frowns. “No.”
“I don’t wanna hurt you, but if I have to I will!” I shout, voice wavering.
“That’s the thing… you won’t.” His tone is even.
I keep my tears back and my emotions behind me for now. I don’t want him to think I’m weak. I don’t want him to get away either. But deep inside, I know I won’t hurt him. I won’t cut him. I’m too afraid to shed blood after seeing so much already.
With a bored sigh, Ace snatches the knife out of my hand and tosses it out of my bedroom. It skids across the hard, wooden floorboards, causing a clanking noise that makes my ears ring. I gasp and scramble after it, but he grabs my arm and shoves me against the nearest wall. It’s not a hard shove. Nor does it hurt. But I’m still afraid.
As I tremble, he brings one of his large hands up and locks my face between his fingers. His eyes stare deeply into mine, and his nostrils flare. From the slit of light filtering in through my window, he looks pissed. I know he’s going to kill me. I’m a witness.
“Listen to me,” he grumbles. His warm breath spills down my chest, across my cleavage. “I told you I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Why wouldn’t you?” I breathe, voice shaky.
“I won’t. I’m not the one that killed Jonah. They did.” Hearing Jonah’s name causes fiery tears to build in my eyes.
“It’s your fault. I know it. Why wouldn’t they kill you, too?” I ask. “What were you doing there anyway? Why was Jonah there? Why did they kill him?” All of this is spilling out of me. I’m outraged. I’m pissed that Ace is still alive and my brother isn’t. I’m terrified. I’m… I’m a mess.
“Listen to me!” he demands, releasing my face to lock his hands on my shoulders. “I don’t know why they killed Jonah, alright? I don’t know why they didn’t kill me. But you have to understand… it’s what we do. It’s what Jonah signed up for. It’s business, and we can’t help when shit gets bloody.”
I process his words, giving them some thought. “So… you’re the one that got him into that shit? What is it? What’d you promise him? I know Jonah, and I know he wouldn’t do something this bad without getting something in exchange.”
“I didn’t promise him shit.” Ace runs one hand through his slick hair. “He knew what he was getting into. He was money-hungry, just like everyone else. It was a mistake… him coming to Atlanta.”
“How was that a mistake?” I demand. “I invited him. I graduated!”
Ace tilts his chin to meet my eyes. His are dark, and if I’m not mistaken, watery. I’m not given the chance to figure it out completely because he blinks, and just like that, he’s angry again. “Don’t go to the cops. It’ll only get you killed.”
And with that, he releases me and walks out of my bedroom. I follow after him, grabbing his arm before he can get out the front door. “Killed by who? You?” I’m keeping my voice steady, but deep inside, I’m scared out of my fucking mind.
Ace stares at me briefly. He then slides his fingers into his front pockets, turns his back to me, and walks out my splintered front door.
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author Shanora Williams considers herself a wondrous, down-to-earth author who's all about romance, paranormal, and the historical fiction. Coffee and Oreos are her addiction. Reading is a necessity. Whenever she isn't writing or reading, she's most likely spending her time with family and loved ones, or watching hit TV series on Netflix.