I brew coffee downstairs, being careful not to make too much noise. He hates it when I’m loud. He likes to wake up gradually. I trudge upstairs, my bare feet freezing on the threadbare carpet.
I bring the coffee and I set it beside him. I pull one curtain open, just the way he likes it. It’s been snowing again. It’s so beautiful out there. So empty.
“Good morning,” he says. I turn away from the snow, my retinas pulsing and blind in the center of my vision from the stark white burst of light outside.
Sometimes, if I can get on his good side when he first wakes up, he’ll be nice to me for the rest of the day. Lately that happens less and less, but I still try.
“Sleep well?” he asks, sipping his coffee. He hands it to me and I take a sip. I don’t like coffee the way he has it, but he insists on sharing with me, probably to ensure I don’t poison him. He’s a smart man. Thinks of everything.
I ache between my thighs. I’m reminded of the night before. Of the guy who crept into my bedroom and fucked me until I hurt.
“Like the dead,” I reply. I had to check and make sure he was in a deep sleep before I showered the evidence away last night. I couldn’t risk him waking up and hearing me.
He smiles lazily, his eyes still puffy from sleep. The smile that could dazzle the entire female population has a hard edge to it. “I can see the cogs turning in your brain, Cassandra. What are you daydreaming about?”
I sit on the edge of the bed. My legs are tired and my head hurts.
“I remembered what a sociopath is.”
“Oh, yeah?” He props himself up on one elbow, the coffee finished, the cup discarded somewhere on the dresser beside him. “Enlighten me.”
“Somebody who’s empty inside. Somebody who needs to take from everybody else to fill them up. Because they were born wrong. Because there’s nothing inside them.”
He smiles; his lazulite eyes crease up ever-so-slightly at the edges. I imagine how beautiful he would have looked as a young child; how his mother would have melted whenever he smiled up at her. Because his eyes deceive. They don’t look empty. They’re beautiful, full of the souls of everyone else he’s sucked dry and left in his quest to find that something, that perfect thing to fill him up.
I can see myself in his eyes. My soul. He’s taken it from me.
“Do you feel empty?” I whisper.
He rests a hand on my upper thigh, all trace of his smile gone as he matches his fingers to the bruises he left on me in the night, in the dark. “Not when I’m inside you.”
The man I’ve been fucking for the past year, or rather, the man who’s been fucking me — his eyes gleam in the harsh sunlight that casts a brightness over the bedroom, bathing it in some macabre stage lights that scream: Action! But this isn’t make-believe, and the curtains won’t fall at the end of our grotesque little act, and after we’re done here, I won’t be able to peel my mask off and toss it on the ground as I exit the stage.
I swallow thickly. I wish he’d get tired of me.
“I heard you in the shower last night,” he says, his fingers squeezing into my flesh. “After I left you, you thought you could just wash me off like nothing happened, huh?”
My cheeks burn as I try to twist away from him; He sits up in bed and reaches for my throat, crushing my windpipe as he pulls my face to his.
“You need to learn,” he says, “that I know everything about you, Cassie. I know what you think. I know where you are. I know where you’re going. I know more about you than you know about yourself, darlin’.
“Say sorry,” he says, loosening his grip.
“I’m sorry!” I wheeze, my throat burning as tears stream down from my eyes.
“Not like that. Show me how sorry you are. Apologize.”
He pulls the covers back and fists a hand in my long hair, wrenching me down into his lap.
I do what I’m told. I show him just how sorry I am. I’m not sorry for washing him off me last night, though.
I’m sorry that he ever came to this godforsaken town and ruined our lives.
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RELEASE DATE: June 27th, 2016
In the middle of a fierce snowstorm in Gun Creek, Nevada, a teenage girl disappears without a trace.
The second girl in as many years.
Identical cases. Identical conditions. Only last time, the girl was found. Dead, floating face-down in the creek that feeds the town's water supply.
The killer was never found.
As the small town mobilises and searches for newly vanished Jennifer Thomas, one suspect comes to the fore. But did he do it? Or is there something else at play? Something nobody could have anticipated?
For Jennifer's classmate Cassie Carlino, the worst is yet to come. As she pins MISSING posters to store windows and joins the search, she begins to suspect that Jennifer's disappearance might be much closer to her than she could have ever imagined.
Lili writes dark, disturbing romance. Her #1 bestselling Gypsy Brothers series was created in a serial format – quick, intense episodes released frequently with some wicked cliffhangers. The Gypsy Brothers series focuses on a morally bankrupt biker gang and the girl who seeks her vengeance upon them. The Cartel series is a prequel trilogy of full-length novels that explores the beginnings of the club, to be released in 2015 by HarperCollins.
Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, good coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Pinterest.
She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.