I thought fate finally agreed that I’d paid enough.
That justice would set me free.
That the woman I’d loved since childhood would be mine again.
Once again, I was fucking naïve.
Cleo made me sin and she made me suffer.
With her resurrection came deceit and war.
But then they took her.
And my carefully laid plans for vengeance were now my reality.
They’d brought everything I was about to do on themselves.
They had no one else to blame, nowhere else to hide.
War had begun.
It’s time to rewrite our destiny.
He was a bully.
Ever since his voice deepened he’d been mean and short-tempered. Mom told me that he was at a point in his life where he had to lose himself to find himself. I had no idea what she meant. I just … I just really missed my best friend. —Cleo, diary entry, age nine
A curse or a blessing?
A helping hand or a hindrance?
The things I’d forgotten and remembered had been both enemy and friend—solace and pain. They’d been constant companions, fighting over me for years. Amnesia traded my first life for a new one—with new parents, new sister, new home. But then the boy with the green eyes brought me back—showed me the path to my old world and a destiny I’d forgotten.
For eight years I’d struggled, always fearing I’d left loved ones behind. I’d hated myself for being so selfish—knowing my brain had deliberately cut them out in an act of self-preservation. I’d always wondered what I would do when I finally remembered everything … if I finally remembered.
I didn’t have to wonder anymore.
Even after the consequences of following a mysterious letter, the snake pit of lies, the confusion of blended pasts, the rough way Killian had treated me—I wouldn’t change a thing.
Those trials were a worthy payment for my broken memories. I was whole again … almost. I was on the right path to patching my life together and finally understanding it all.
However, as I stared around the freshly painted room, all alone and imprisoned, I wished that I was stronger, smarter. I didn’t suffer from fear or terror of what would become of me, but I did suffer regret—regret for not anticipating retaliation, for not being prepared.
Enough! Focus. This isn’t the place for stupid reminiscing.
I forced myself to shove aside worries. Now was the time to fight harder and stronger than ever before.
I’d endured one captivity: a caging of my mind with no walls or locks but with endless darkness and unknowing. Now my mind was intact for the first time in years, but I had a new prison.
I’m not bound by rope or chains, but I’m trapped all the same.
I sighed, smoothing Arthur’s black T-shirt I wore. Before, the cotton softness was comfort and safety—the perfect wardrobe to wear beside my sleeping lover. Now, it was vulnerability and no protection.
Locked in a room, stolen from Arthur’s arms, I was lost, lonely, and most of all bristling with fury. I would’ve traded everything I owned for the strength to destroy the men who’d taken me. I’d end their evil tyranny and pay them back for not one wrongdoing but two. They’d burned down my house. They’d murdered my parents. They’d tried to kill me. And most of all they’d destroyed the boy from my past.
So many tithes to pay.
And I had every intention of stripping what was owed and balancing the scales of justice once and for all.
The truth is despicable.
My eyes fell on the forged police report Rubix Killian had given me to read. He expected me to buy his lies?
Stupid, stupid man.
He’d done me a favor. His lies had set my memories free. I saw it all now. Nothing was hidden and everything revealed.
I’d never been a victim. Even as a little girl, I’d always fought and spat, inheriting the swift temper said to be the curse of having blazing red hair. Even when I was lost in the blank sea of amnesia, I put faith in my tenacity, trusted my instincts, and followed my heart.
Now my instincts were screaming a message I’d never heard before.
This will never stop.
Unless you stop them.
The past would forever suck me back if I didn’t deal with the men who continued to puppeteer me at their whims.
They have to die.
They couldn’t be allowed to live because they would never be satisfied. And men who could never be satisfied could never be trusted.
Arthur “Kill” Killian, my childhood lover and green-eyed Libran, wanted these men dead.
He’d plotted and schemed for eight long years to claim closure and payback for all that they’d taken.
He wants their blood.
And now … so do I.
My name was Cleo Price. I’ve had so many names. Sarah Jones died the moment I willingly embarked on this crazy odyssey—just like Cleo had died the night she crawled from a burning building. The FBI had tried to keep me safe until they found the true culprit of my attempted murder. But now Cleo had been reborn, and not only did I remember my upbringing … of burly men, cigarettes, and battles fought on the backs of Harleys and choppers … but I also remembered the glue forming our communes: revenge.
Revenge to those who threatened our loved ones. Swift punishment to any traitor. In our world, society’s rules didn’t matter. We followed our own black-and-white laws with no leniency and swift punishment.
And these men deserved severe punishment.
After what they’ve done to me … to Arthur.
Vengeance wasn’t just Arthur’s cross to bear anymore—not alone at least.
I remember what they did to him.
I no longer saw blankness when I tried to recall. I saw everything that happened that fateful night, and it was up to me to save him from his own self-loathing.
Arthur Killian killed my parents.
He pulled the trigger and ended their lives.
But it’s so much more complicated than that.
However, at the same time, it was exceedingly simple. He was innocent and I would make sure the guilty paid. I would ensure their wickedness was struck out for all eternity.
Sitting taller on the bed, I embraced my cold conviction and turned my thoughts to present matters.
How many hours had passed since I’d left Arthur bleeding and unconscious?
Was he still alive?
Could he come after me?
He’ll come for me if he’s able. I didn’t doubt that for a second. But I also couldn’t wait around for him … just in case. Don’t think like that.
Climbing off the single mattress, leaving behind the daisy-decorated sheeting, so similar to my old childhood room, I circled the small space searching for any weaknesses for escape.
I’d done this already when I first arrived.
How long ago was that?
And just like before the door was still locked.
The window still barred and sealed shut. Its pane painted black from the outside, obscuring all illumination and passage of time.
The only light was a bedside lamp just bright enough to read the police statement that’d sent Arthur to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
Well, he did commit it …
Sighing, I spun in place. The room was a tomb with no way out.
I wished I hadn’t been so stupid. My recklessness had brought me here. I’d come like a lamb to the slaughter the moment I was summoned.
Here I was—at their mercy, while Arthur was bleeding and alone … possibly dead.
Stop thinking that way.
Taking a deep breath, I prepared for whatever came next.
My eyes skated over the unhelpful bedspread and empty dresser.
Engine noises purred outside the blacked-out window conjuring ancient memories of being lulled to sleep by the grumble of motorbikes and masculine voices.
My heart flurried, stretching within the thought.
Gritting my teeth, I shook my head. I wasn’t home. I might be across the compound from the charred remains of my own house, but this wasn’t home. Not anymore. Not after the massacre and betrayal.
These men weren’t my friends. They weren’t my childhood saviors who I’d trusted blindly.
They were the reason I’d lived the past eight years in a different country. Why I’d spent my teenage years in foster care, and why my brain was broken.
Scott “Rubix” Killian had taken great pleasure in welcoming me back into his lies and treachery.
A sharp tang existed in the back of my throat—the residual effect of being drugged. I didn’t know what they’d shot into my veins, but its effects lingered far longer than I wanted. I struggled against the sluggishness in my blood, trying to keep my thoughts in order.
Don’t give in.
I yanked on the door handle again. Still locked.
Making my way to the window, I pried at the sill. Still unmovable.
Dropping to my knees, I tried ripping up the carpet, desperate for a weapon or freedom, but the threadbare covering was glued firmly.
Frustration sat like a vise around my lungs.
“Dammit!” Climbing to my feet, I ran my hands through my hair. “There has to be a way out.”