If you don’t want spoilers, stop here! Turn back! The Lies you Love releases on February 3rd, and I’m so excited to share this story with you. It’s action packed, it’s SMOKING HOT, and it will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve never shared this much before a release before, so stop now if you don’t want to be on the edge of your seat. Without further ado, HERE IT IS. The Prologue from THE LIES YOU LOVE. It releases everywhere on February 3, and Preorder links are below. Let me know what you think! I can’t wait to share Auden and Beck’s story with you.
The bar is wrecked. Tables and chairs are tipped, cracked, and missing legs—the whole dining area of Silver Moon looks as if a tornado ripped through it. A song from the fifties made popular again by an app where teens fumble around dancing, is blaring through the sound system. As the heavy glass door swings closed behind me, dust gusts forward, sliding across the sticky wooden floor. It’s ghostly and eerie for a place that’s typically sloshing with life. Of course, I’ve prepared for this scenario countless times, but a chill of premonition slips across my skin forcing my stomach to turn.
A woman’s soft cry trickles through during a low beat in the music, and I realize the music is just as nefarious as what’s taking place in the back room. The catchy tune is playing to cover the mayhem that awaits me. I left my apartment in a rush, so I don’t have my automatic weapon, the one that would lend me the upper hand in any situation. Reaching behind my back, I pull out my sidearm, a simple pistol. The backup gun. Another roil from my stomach, except this time it’s audible. Pressing my back against the wall of the bar, I make my way, stepping over broken liquor bottles. Another moan forces my feet to move quicker. My heart pounds, and I curse it. I was reliable. I was a stealthy, slick killer. A protector without any weaknesses. That was another life, though. I fell in love, and it destroyed my entire world. It gave me a weakness so great I never thought it possible.
“Come in and join the party,” a man calls, knowing full well I’ve arrived. There aren’t backups to call at this point. I sent them away, but again, that was before I knew everything. Now it’s all different, and I can’t change it. I can only face it head-on and lean into my training. The tiny plastic cardinal in my back pocket hurts as I push my weight back. A reminder of the happiest period of my life is now a pain in my ass. Literally.
There’s a black room-dividing curtain at the end of the bar, and I slide it aside to peer into the room. There’s a spotlight, no, a skylight that is beaming light from the rooftop garden down onto two folding chairs. Sitting in those chairs are two women. One I have sworn my life to protect, and the other, well, she’s the reason I’ve become weak. It’s the woman I’m madly in love with. They’re bloody. Red stains saturating their clothing and sections of hair, heads tilted down, hands and feet bound to the chair, and their bodies are… lifeless. My breathing speeds as I take another step into the room, trying to see if there are any signs of life. A finger twitching, a chest rising or falling—anything to indicate I haven’t failed them completely. It’s one thing to fail the woman I love, the woman who I would do anything for, but it’s quite another to let my Principal, the woman I’ve sworn to protect at all costs, die on my watch. He steps into the light, the malevolence shining in his bright blue eyes.
“Don’t worry, mate,” Hudson deadpans, stretching a long silver sword out and putting it under both their chins. “They’ve had a ton of drugs. The good stuff. They aren’t even remotely aware of what planet they’re on right now.” He raises the sword, lifting their chins, so their faces are visible. This is the moment I should raise my gun and shoot him in his face, but I can see how sharp the blade is because rivulets of blood begin dripping down their necks from where the sword’s edge rests under their chins. My heart thuds. He’d kill them before the bullet hit his body.
“We’re going to play a game,” he says, pretending to stumble but holding the sword steady. My eyes are locked on them, on his weapon, trying to formulate a plan that would free them both with the least damage, but I come up blank. Feelings and duty cloud my judgment. I shouldn’t care anymore, but the pull is strong.
I don’t look at him; I can’t. “What game?” I say, but it comes out as a whisper. “What do you want?”
“You know what I want, Beck, but you took it from me,” Hudson says, his Australian accent thick. “And it seems she is gone for good now, back to her happy life.” He looks over at the women, and his hand holding the sword shakes—just barely. Taking things from people is dangerous business. Taking people from people, well, even I know that’s not a possibility. Hearts are tricky things. They’re also the reason I’m so fucked right now.
“Put the sword down,” I counter, terrified he’s going to hit an artery. “Put it down carefully,” I amend. Their heads are deadweight, so they’re leaning into the blade. Any slight movement will mean a grave fate. “Be rational. We can talk about this.”
“It’s too late for talking. I’ve already promised the Rifts I’d take care of this mess. Do you know how much they’d pay for them? This kind of quality?” Hudson lowers the sword, and their heads fall forward, chins to their chests, except now there’s even more blood. My pulse hammers. “You’ve made me so upset I’m willing to forgo the payday and make you choose which one they’re getting.”
“What?” I take a step toward him.
“Put the gun down, Beck, and don’t come any closer. Let’s make a deal!” He rubs the handle of the sword between both of his hands like a giddy child unable to sit still. His pupils are large and dilated, and I know he’s on something, too. “Actually, it’s your only option.”
I crouch down and set the gun on the floor. He tells me to kick it away, and I do.
“What’s the deal?” I ask, losing my breath as I see a deep cut on Ramsey’s thigh. I have to tell myself she can’t feel it because she’s probably coked out of her mind. “What’s the fucking deal, Hudson?”
He tsks me. “First things first, don’t talk to me like that. I’m the one in control. You’re just a weak piece of shit who couldn’t keep his head on straight. How upsetting it must be for you. To be this bad at your job? To have the reason you’re in a tough spot be because you couldn’t help yourself. You just couldn’t!” Hudson is amusing himself with my poor decisions. He’s being truthful, at least. This is all my fault. I wasn’t careful enough. I didn’t handle my relationships in a methodical way. The carelessness trickled in the moment I opened my heart.
“What’s the deal?” I ask again.
He dances a little, whipping the sword in the air, so it makes a whooshing slice noise. “Did you know I trained as a ninja? In the mountains of Japan for a decade. I didn’t have exposure to the outside world,” Hudson says. “That means I could kill them both before you take another step if I wanted to.” More sword slicing cuts the music, except now he’s doing it to the beat while thrusting his hips. He is a motherfucking psychopath.
“It makes sense you’d have some sort of skill they wanted.”
Slinging drinks as the new bartender was always a cover. I knew that. He knew I knew that. What I wasn’t sure of was what exactly his part was inside the Rift’s elaborate crime ring that’s unfolded before my eyes. As I watch his dance moves, I realize he is a maniacal hermit henchman who got burned by a woman. Hudson doesn’t have fundamental personal people skills. This is the outcome of the decade he was shuttered away practicing ninjitsu. Hudson has to be the distraction. I glance behind me, desperate to be right. That would mean there’s someone logical here I could reason with. Hudson’s handler. There’s no one, though.
“I’m ready to make a deal.”
His eyelids lower to slits. “Like you have another option?”
He dances forward, dragging the blade across and in front of him. His sword skills are impressive; I give him that. “Tell me.”
“One of them leaves here alive, with you, right now. To be sold when we catch her on another day, the other one dies. Right here, right now. As you walk away from her.”
My heart pounds and my pulse ricochets in my ears. My blood, hot and filled with adrenaline, pumps quicker than it ever has.
“The fun part is you get to choose, Beck. You tell me which one of these best friends gets to live. I could easily sell them both, but watching this unfold is my wildest dream come true.”
I can’t look at her. I have to concentrate on Ramsey. Ramsey’s heartbeat. Always protect the heartbeat. She has to be my choice. Anything else would render me a failure. I will be put to death.
When I stay silent, breathing rapidly, Hudson goes on. “The one you love? Or the one you are duty-bound to protect at all costs? What’s the choice? Who dies?”
He cackles, dragging the sword gently across their shoulders one at a time until their shirts fall, exposing their blood-stained bras.
“I’m on the edge of my seat,” he proclaims. “Should I take off more clothes to help you decide? That seems to be a weakness of yours. This one. Naked.” He extends the blade once more.
“Stop. I’ve made my choice. But no catching the one you free on another day. She’s always safe from the Rifts.” I’m shocked my voice doesn’t shake. I’m not choosing what I want for dinner. I’m sealing a fate and taking a soul. I am the grim reaper incarnate.
Hudson lowers the weapon. “Fine. Who then? Get to the good part. Who dies today?”
“Me,” I say. “Kill me. Let the women go free.”
He shakes his head, gaze glinting evil. “That wasn’t the game. That’s the easy way out. Tell me who dies and who lives. It’s your one chance to play God. You’re running out of time. I’m losing patience.”
I knew it would come to this, and even still, I can’t think of any way out of it. Not when I know what he’s capable of with that sword. I also know what she’s capable of. I extend my pointer finger out.
“She dies,” I say.
Hudson’s eyes light—a malevolent twitch shakes his lower jaw. “A surprising choice,” he replies, but he’s already lost in bloodlust as he raises the blade. It gleams when the light from the skylight strokes the metal just right, nearly blinding me. The scent of iron mixes with stale beer, and I retch. My heart feels like it’s beating out of my chest. I fall back, landing against the cement floor with a thud, smashing the plastic bird in my back pocket.
He slides the razor blade edge across her throat, and blood sprays out like a fan as he severs her head.
Always. Protect. The. Heartbeat.
Copyright © 2021 Rachel Robinson
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