Irelyn Wilkes was Zolt Hamil’s seraph. His angel. His hallucination suddenly real. But her abrupt departure from his life has sent him into a tailspin of nameless women, alcohol, and drugs. WhenZolt realizes that Irelyn lied to him, he sobers up and sets into motion a public rescue, making an even greater enemy of Marcus Xavier.
Marcus doesn’t take kindly to people taking what is his, and he’s not about to let Zolt and Irelynride into the sunset without a fight. He’s already murdered her brother; taking out Zolt Hamilwould make his day.
Chapter One: Cold Light of Day
“Open the door now, Zolt.” The incessant pounding on the door and the sound of my brother Brody’s pissed off voice pulled me out of my drunken haze. I peeled one eyelid open and groaned.
Where the hell am I?
The bed moved, and I turned my head and groaned again. The last twenty-four hours came back to me in all its ugly detail. Irelyn had left me for Marcus of all people because I had unleashed crazy Zolt on her. Now, I lay in bed with a woman I didn’t even know, in an apartment I hadn’t expected to ever see again. On top of all this, my head throbbed like a bass drum spurred on by the hangover from hell.
“Zolt! T-bone is going to break it down if you don’t fucking open it!”
“Who’s Zolt?” the woman next to me asked.
“Nobody,” I mumbled. Fucking nobody!
“Zolt! Last chance.” Brody’s voice boomed through the door.
I glanced over at the bong, wishing we hadn’t smoked it all. Hell, we’d even drained the several bottles of tequila we’d brought with us. Only a couple of enticing drops remained at the bottom of the bottle.
Though the action was fruitless, I reached down and picked up one of them, tipping back the very last drop into my mouth. I growled my irritation and threw the bottle to the floor.
Letting out a low grumble, I returned my head to the pillow. There would be no numbing myself until I got home.
What a fucking mess! I had indulged myself in an epic bender. The need to get lost and forget the shit of the last two days had trumped better judgment.
“John, who is that banging on the door?” A feminine hand stroked my chest and I cringed. Majorly hungover, the naked girl next to me wasn’t as appealing this morning as she’d been last night.
She didn’t smell like her. She didn’t look like her.
She simply wasn’t Irelyn.
With my eyes squeezed closed, I waited for the door to fly open. It would happen any minute. The cavalry had arrived to save my sorry ass. It didn’t matter that I didn’t care, nor deserve, to be saved.
“He asked me to marry him, Zolt, and I said yes.”
Those words tortured me worse than any physical pain I’d ever experienced. I’d ruined the one thing that meant everything to me. I’d fucked up so badly that being with Marcus seemed like a better alternative. In my chest, my heart was a shredded heap of sinew and muscle. No amount of no-name blondes, alcohol, and pot eased my pain.
Irelyn Wilkes had saved me that day on the football field. For six years, I’d thought her a hallucination. The best day of my life had been the day she became real. Until now, losing my football career had been the worst thing to happen to me. That paled in comparison; losing my angel, my seraph, hurt much worse.
The door slammed open and the sound of heavy footsteps approached the bedroom.
I stared at my naked self, knowing the polite thing would be to cover myself with a sheet, but I didn’t give a shit. Let my brother Brody and T-bone see me in all my glory. If I were a gentleman, I’d cover up Blondie next to me, but I didn’t care about her either.
Brody walked into the bedroom and assessed the situation. He picked up one of the empty bottles and shook his head. “Shit, Zolt. Are you insane?”
“John, who are these men? I didn’t agree to a foursome,” Blondie complained, pulling the sheet over herself.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart, not interested,” Brody replied with a hint of disgust in his voice. “Get up and go. The party is over.”
“John, do you want me to leave?” she asked.
I nodded. The attraction of last night faded in the cold light of day, and I waited for Brody’s lecture to commence. Rolling over, I pulled the pillow over my head. I was in no mood to be scolded for acting out, even if I deserved it.
“Here’s ten bills, take it and leave,” T’s deep voice commanded. “Forget you ever met him. If you don’t have a ride, I’ll arrange for one.”
The mattress dipped as Blondie got off the bed. “I have my car. There was something wrong with him, anyway. He couldn’t get it up and he kept calling me Irelyn.”
“Just go.” Brody sighed.
After a few minutes of clothes rustling, the door opened and closed.
“Get up, Zolt. It’s time to come home. I can’t believe you. Seriously, do you really think smoking pot and binging on tequila with a strange woman is a good idea?”
“Shut up, Brody. I don’t need a lecture. Leave me alone.” I pulled the pillow tighter over my head.
“So help me, God, Zolt, get your ass out of bed or T and I will drag you out. Irelynneeds you.”
“What?” I threw the pillow aside. “She left me for Marcus. I’m certain she wants nothing to do with me.”
“Wrong. Irelyn is in trouble. If she left you of her own volition, then why did she leave her dog and her Mustang behind? Besides you, those were the two things she adored the most. Rachel says she’s not returning her calls either. I’m telling you, she’s in trouble.”
“She said she was wearing green, Brody. Green means good. She’s good. She’s happy,” I said, my voice breaking. “She has what she wants and it’s not me.”
“Irelyn lied to you,” T said. “We believe Marcus forced her into this. He’s holding something or someone over her, and we have to help her before he hurts her or worse. He had Sloan arrested on a trumped-up charge in front of the dress shop to get him out of the way.”
I sat up, suddenly terrified for her. Though we hadn’t been together very long, and there was so much we had yet to learn about each other, the one thing I knew with absolute certainty is Irelyn would not leave her dog, her car, or her friends behind. She and Rachel were like sisters. If I’d thought instead of reacted, I would have figured it out.
“I brought fresh clothes for you. I’ll give you a shot of B-12.” Brody sat on the edge of the bed and grabbed my wrist, taking my pulse. “How much did you drink?”
“I don’t remember.”
I had stopped at the first bar I had driven past, went inside, and found Blondie. Fucking, drinking, and smoking pot had been my goal. After we had gotten trashed, I tried to fuck her but I couldn’t. My cock had failed me, leaving me even more pissed off.
Maybe somewhere in my psyche, I must have known Irelyn hadn’t chosen Marcus, or maybe it was just wishful thinking. Either way, screwing Blondie had seemed like a betrayal. I couldn’t go there yet. I wondered if I’d ever be ready to be with someone else.
“When did you eat last?” Brody asked as he continued his exam.
“I don’t remember.”
“You’re hurting, I get that, but you’ve got to find a better, healthier way of coping,” Brody said as he prepared the B-12 shot.
“I didn’t fuck her,” I said, wincing as the needle penetrated my skin. I was in love with Irelyn. Until I had my say with her, face-to-face, I needed to be by myself.
“Sleeping with her isn’t the issue. What I care about is you resorting to drinking and using with a woman you don’t even know.”
I glanced up at T, who stood with his massive arms crossed over his chest. His expression mirrored Brody’s tone, and I could see the disappointment in his eyes.
“You’re right,” I mumbled. “But it’s what I do.”
“Of course I am. Take a shower and let’s leave. I’ll drive the Viper home; I don’t want you driving.”
“Fine. Wait, how did you find me? I don’t remember telling you the address of this apartment.”
“There’s a GPS locator in your Viper. I couldn’t take any chances,” T-bone answered.
“Rachel, Cory, and Sloan will be at your house in two hours so we can talk about what’s going on,” Brody added, putting away his medical supplies.
I laid there and let what they said sink in. If they were right, Marcus must be holding something major over Irelyn’s head to make her do what she did. The thought of her in the hands of that monster made my stomach roil. I jumped off the bed and ran into the bathroom just in time to toss the contents of my last meal into the toilet.
How the fuck did I get here? I thought as I leaned against the cold tile of the bathtub. Just days ago, Irelyn was in my bed and in my life, and I was making love to her. Now, I sat on the floor of the bathroom puking my guts out.
“Get your shit together, Z-man,” T-bone said at the door. “We need to get you home so we can start planning how to get Irelyn away from him. You can lick your wounds later.”
I pulled myself to my feet and started the shower. Inside, I rinsed the vomit aftertaste from my mouth, but the sour taste of Irelyn’s rejection remained. Only bring her home would erase it.
Turning the water to scalding, I winced at the sting of the hot water on my skin, but I deserved it. After all, you shouldn’t be able to scrub away your own cocksuckerismbehavior without it hurting.
Rachel, Cory, and Sloan sat on my couch in the great room when we got there. They stared at me with a mixture of pity and irritation. Irritation I could handle; pity just pissed me off.
“I’ve called her at least ten times or more,” Rachel said, her hand squeezing Cory’s.
“More,” Cory said. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it.
“She hasn’t called me back. Nothing. This isn’t Irelyn. Is it true she told you Marcus proposed and she accepted?”
“That’s what she said,” I bit out coldly. I didn’t want to rehash this.
“Marcus must be forcing her. She wouldn’t marry him, Zolt.” Rachel glanced at Cory and they shared an unspoken conversation.
Cory gave a one-shoulder shrug.
“Zolt, before Irelyn went for her dress fitting, she said she planned to come here right after. She wanted to be here when you woke from being sedated. Staying away from you wasn’t her intention. Obviously, Marcus cornered her at the dress salon.”
“Which is where they arrested me,” Sloan said. His irritation made his Irish accent even more pronounced. “I should have guessed Marcus orchestrated it.”
“Whatever he said to her, or threatened her with, must have been major. She’s going to kill me for telling you, but here it goes: Irelyn is in love with you. I guarantee that didn’t change in less than twenty-four hours.”
“Oh,” I mumbled, staring at Rachel. I pinched the bridge of my nose. I was so pissed at myself for losing control that day, and now the if onlys scrolled through my mind. If only I had my shit together. If only I had been there with her at the dress fitting. I scrubbed my face with my hands as my stomach roiled again. “This is my fault.”
“Yeah, you fucked up, Z-man.” T-bone squeezed my shoulder. “But we can’t dwell on who’s to blame. We need to figure out where Irelyn is and how to get her away from Marcus.”
Cory stared down at his phone and frowned.
“What’s wrong, baby?” Rachel asked.
“It’s Kenna. I’ve called her and messaged her. Nothing. You dropped her off, right Sloan?” Cory asked.
“I did.” Sloan shifted uncomfortably. He hid something, and it most likely had to do with the way he had eye-fucked Kenna the other night.
“Kenna can be flighty, Cory,” Rachel soothed. “She’s probably hanging out with her friends and lost her phone again. She can be kind of ditsy on occasion.”
“Yeah, maybe. But Mom said she didn’t show up for her dress fitting. The salon called and asked if she wanted to reschedule.”
Sloan growled at the same time dread turned my blood cold. We looked at each other.
“You don’t think… do you, Sloan?” I asked, knowing we were on the same wavelength.
“Think what?” Brody asked.
“Kenna. Marcus has Kenna,” Sloan answered. “Fuck!”
T-bone glanced at his phone and tapped out a message. “I’m contacting Jackson to see if he’s heard anything.”
“We have to find out,” Cory said, standing up. “If he has Kenna and he has harmed her, I’ll fucking kill him. I need to contact my dad.”
“Hold on, Cory,” T said, scrolling through his phone. “Jackson says he’s heard rumors about a new woman up for auction. Apparently, Marcus has two houses. Jackson’s trying to find out the location of the other house. Marcus isn’t stupid enough to keep them at his residence.”
“We’re forgetting about Friday night,” Rachel said, standing up to take Cory’s hand. “Marcus is on the board of the AZ Cardinals Charity Ball. He’ll be there, and he’ll bring Irelyn. It just makes sense if he’s going to perpetuate this farce about them getting married. Marcus’s pride will dictate that they be seen together in society.”
“Put me on the guest list, Rachel,” I said. “I’m going, and I’m not leaving withoutIrelyn.”
“Not a good idea, Z-man,” T said. He gave me a discerning look.
“I don’t care, T. I’m going,” I retorted. “If I knew the damn location of the house, I would go there now.”
“Me, too,” Cory agreed.
T-bone squeezed his eyes shut then opened them. “Fine. Maybe you’re right, Z. The best place to recover Irelyn will be in a public forum. Cory, we need to meet with your father. I need to brief him on what’s going on. I don’t want him to do anything stupid. I’ve laid the groundwork from the inside out. That’s our advantage and we need to keep it.”
“Done,” Cory agreed. “We’ll go home now and talk with Dad. You’ll follow behind us?”
“Let’s roll,” T said.
“Wait, I’ll go too. We should tell your father about Jacob’s involvement. It’s possible the firm may have some liability regarding the Aspen Holdings/Black Swan settlement.”
I glanced over at Sloan who quietly seethed; his gunmetal gray eyes were black with ire. I don’t know if anyone else felt the menace coming from him, but I did. His jaw muscle worked, clenching and unclenching. Something had happened between him andKenna, and I empathized with him, I did.
Feeling powerless to help the woman you loved was fucking hell.
Indulging In Irelyn (Book #1)
Being Zolt (Book #2)
About the Author
Dawna Raver didn't always want to be a writer, but now the voices in her head won't shut up and the stories keep coming.
She's an author of new adult romantic fantasy and contemporary, erotic romance. When she's not spending time in her fantasy world, Dawna loves football, reading, and pretending she's a top chef in the kitchen. Oh, and fawning over her dogs and husband, sometimes in that order.
Severed Colours, Book 2, A Colour Wielders Novel, released on November 18, 2013.
Indulging in Irelyn, a contemporary romance, written under D.L. Raver releases February 5, 2014.
Indulging in Irelyn - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20738998-indulging-in-irelyn
Colour Wielders - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17261634-colour-wielders-a-colour-wielders-novel
Severed Colours - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18584326-severed-colours
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dawna-Raver/e/B00CFV5EC