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Including my innocence.
When Dornan Ross framed my father, he set into motion a series of events that could never be undone. My father was murdered by Dornan Ross and his sons when I was fifteen years old.
Before my father died, Dornan Ross and his sons stole my innocence, branded my skin and in doing so, ensured that their lives would be prematurely cut short. That they would suffer.
I’ve just turned twenty-one, and I’m out for blood. I'm out for revenge.
But I didn't expect to fall for Jase, the youngest brother in the club.
I didn't expect that he would turn my world upside down, yank my heart out of my chest and ride away into the sunset with it.
Now, I'm faced with an impossible choice - Jase, or avenging my fathers death?
Confucius said, “Before embarking upon a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
I planned to dig seven.
Sometimes I don’t think about it for hours at a time. Sometimes, a whole day will pass, and it’ll be there, under the surface, burning my insides with the brutality of its truth. My truth.
And I’ll get home from my dead-end job in this dead-end fucking town in the asshole of Nebraska, and I’ll have almost made it through a whole day of not thinking about it, about my father and Dornan Ross and his sons.
But then I’ll do something without thinking, like undress to go to bed, or slide under the covers of my bed. And I’ll see the marks they branded on my right hip – seven horizontal lines, each stacked on top of each other, made by casting the blunt edge of a butcher’s knife into fire and then pressing it into my flesh. A line for Dornan Ross and a line for each of his six older sons. Notches on a bedpost. Scarred for a lifetime so that I can never forget. Some are thicker than others, some short and others long, but each one a devastating reminder of everything they took from me that night.
Even if I stay in my stale clothes to avoid seeing my scars, I still can’t escape them. I never sleep well. I toss and turn, fitful and drenched in sweat, awakening from nightmares where they find me and turn the knife to the sharp side. Where they don’t just brand me – they cut me until I am dead, so I won’t talk to the police. I know things, see. I know things that the police don’t, about purchased alibis and body disposal spots, about too many girls who went missing and too many men who kept too many secrets.
I used to wish every day and every night to forget about my fathers murderer and what he did to us. Not anymore. Now I want to remember every tiny detail so that I can exact my revenge.
Tomorrow is different. Tomorrow is my twenty-first birthday, the day I gain access to my secret inheritance. The several hundred thousand that my father managed to hide before Dornan framed him for the murder of a policeman and his family, a crime that Dornan and his eldest son committed as retribution for a drug bust that almost wiped the club out. It might be dirty money – my father wasn’t above money laundering and drug manufacturing – but it was his money. Dornan managed to seize control of the rest when he enacted his devastating betrayal.
Tomorrow is truly my birthday, for I will become another person. Today my name is Juliette Portland, but tomorrow I will wake up as someone else entirely.
Someone who will bring Dornan Ross and the Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club to their knees.
She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.
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