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About the author:
Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.
What inspired you to write your book?
This prequel kicks off Skye Warren’s new Stripped series.
Here is a short sample from the book:
The next night I creep across the grass. The bottoms of my feet feel extra sensitive when I do this. Maybe my sense of touch is heightened because of fear. Or because I’m about to see Gio. I can feel every blade of grass tickle my feet, every bump and dip in the earth. Even the night air becomes a tactile thing, blowing gently against my skin, leaving goose bumps in its wake.
When I reach the pool house, the door opens. “Clara,” he whispers.
I smile back, relieved. A part of me had worried that he wouldn’t come tonight. He’d seemed freaked out by the kiss. All through eating samples of pork forestiere and shrimp kabobs from the caterer, I’d been thinking about him. What was he eating? What was he thinking?
The pool house is dark, like always.
I slip inside and toss myself on the couch, like always.
He looks outside to make sure no one spotted me. Like always.
Then he shuts the door and makes his way over to me. This is different, though. He’s walking stiffly. Strangely. It stirs a memory in me. The way Honor sometimes walks when Byron has been rough with her.
I sit up. “Are you hurt?”
He doesn’t answer. He just sits down—slowly. Carefully.
“You are hurt,” I say, accusing. Then I’m up and by his side, hands hovering. I don’t want to touch whatever bruise he has and make it worse. “What happened?”
I shut my eyes. The only two people in my life I care about are being beaten, being abused, and I am helpless to stop it. “Your father?”
“Not this time.”
I kneel beside the armchair he’s in. “Who then?”
He sighs and leans his head all the way back. “Some assholes.”
I run my hands over his leg that’s closest to me—his thigh, his calf, his ankles. He doesn’t flinch or pull away, so I hope that means this side is okay. “Where does it hurt? I can get some ice.”
“No ice.” His voice has gone deeper.
A part of me, some deep and ancient part of me, knows it’s because my hands are on him. It makes me bolder. I move closer, between his legs now. “Or maybe some bandages? Did you have any cuts? You should put antibiotics in them so you don’t get an infection.”
His laugh is harsh. “No bandages, bella.”
God, his voice when he says that. I can almost forget he’s injured. I can almost forget he’s seventeen and I’m fifteen. I can forget that our fathers would kill us if they found us together.
“What then?” If I can make him feel better a different way, I will. I run my hands up his calves, his thighs—his hands grab my wrists, stopping me.
“No anything,” he says, his voice thick with pain. Or with something else.
I don’t fight his hold on my wrists. I let him keep me there. And I rest my head on his thigh. It’s not really meant to be seductive, even though I can feel the slope of his jeans. Even though I can see the bulge just inches away from my face. I know he’s not going to do anything dirty to me. I’d probably like it if he did, but he won’t. Just like he won’t kiss me again. But he doesn’t make me move away.