Excerpt 1 – Chapter 3 – Conner
I hoped that was the end of it, that they would stop discussing me like I was some case that needed handling. It pissed me off that my mom would seek Ty’s advice about me. He wasn’t my father. We weren’t even friends. And I definitely didn’t want his nose in my business.
Ty leaned back against the counter and watched my mom. “Hannah, I’m not opposed to speaking to Conner. You know that. But he…resents me. You know that, too. For marrying you or whatever suspicions he might have. And to be honest,” Ty said then paused, his gaze down at his feet, “I made a lot of mistakes with Nick. I expected too much of him, demanded, really, and you know how that turned out. I won’t make the same mistake with Conner. He needs to grow up and become a man on his own terms. Not yours. And certainly not mine.”
Mom stopped mid-wipe, her shoulders sagging a bit. “I do know that, and I agree to some extent,” she said then turned around to face Ty. “But I’m his mother. It’s my job to counsel him, help him make the best decisions, like you did with Nick, or tried to anyway. You can’t beat yourself up over things you had no control over. Your father started something, and your brother ended it. You and I, we were just caught in the middle, unaware. But this thing with Conner, it’s different. There’re no Russian mobsters, no one he has to protect with his life. He holds his future firmly in his own hands. I won’t let this thing with Leo destroy that.”
What the hell? I stepped into the kitchen, my jaw set tight and my eyes surely blazing with the anger that burned in my gut. “What the fuck are you talking about?” I asked my mom.
She startled and sucked in a breath. “Conner, please!”
Ty pointed at me. “Watch your language.”
I ignored him, my eyes trained on my mother. “Russian mobsters? Really? His father, his brother, a dead wife and child?” I turned to
Tyler. “Is this some sort of sick joke? What did you get her mixed up in?”
I stood nose to nose with Ty, a fierce challenge in each question. I could feel my muscles twitch with pent up frustration, ready to lay into him, to wipe that look off his face. But he stepped back with his hands raised. He shook his head then looked at Mom before reconnecting with me.
“Conner, I’m sorry you heard that, but don’t step into the middle of something you know nothing about.”
“Well then, why don’t you enlighten me, Dad?” I clenched my mouth tight, my jaw working in bursts as I tried to hold myself back from punching this bastard in his fucking face.
Mom stepped up behind me and squeezed both my arms. “Conner, please, this is a private matter. It doesn’t involve you.” She stepped around to face me, turning me away from Ty and placing her palms on my cheeks.
I tore my eyes from
Tyler and looked down at my mother, remembering the cuts and bruises that had covered her face when she returned from California, the broken ribs I had to be careful of when I hugged her, the haunted, terrified look that had once held her eyes so captive, for so many months. Ty did have something to do with all that, like I always suspected. He and his family were responsible somehow. Yet she had welcomed him into her life, into this home, into our family. She’d married him and would bear his child in five short months. How could she do that? How could she bring that into our home, into my life?
Excerpt 4 – Chapter 24 –
The discomfort, as bothersome as it was, couldn’t chase away the unease that flittered through my stomach like butterflies. That feeling had become a permanent fixture in my core as of late, like there was all this extra room inside me now. I felt incomplete, half of me missing, and what remained couldn’t function on its own. It wasn’t an unfamiliar sensation. I’d been here before, and all the old habits and cravings associated with that came into sharp focus, while everything else pushed to the periphery and blurred.
I kept a small collection of liquor in the corner of my construction trailer, for those times when the client came by to celebrate the completion of a project or the granting of a long-embattled permit. I kept one bottle half-filled with water, my own little secret. No one ever questioned it. They all assumed it was vodka. But tonight, it stood empty, while the others danced temptingly before me like harem girls beckoning me to peek beneath their veils.
Come to me. I’ll help you forget. You know I can. I’ve done it so many times before. It doesn’t have to hurt anymore. Just take a drink, one small sip...
That voice clamored so loud, I couldn’t even remember pulling the stop from the decanter, or pouring the tequila into the stubby lowball glass. But there it was, my old friend, the amber devil, staring me in the eye after all this time.
How many times had I heeded its call, had I given in to the temptation to simply not feel? Because that was it, really, what brought me to this point, that pain, that loneliness, that undeniable knowledge that I had destroyed everything most precious in my life.
I feared that knowledge and ached to reject it in the quickest way possible. The amber devil had always granted me that wish, and oh, how I wanted it to yet again. For just one moment, just an hour, just this single evening. I wanted that drink. I needed that drink.
I peered down into the devil’s face and saw my past reflected back at me, all the weeks and months I’d spent drunk, scheming my vengeance, releasing my wrath against an innocent woman—Hannah. And then there was Nick, my troublesome little brother, who’d kept everything a secret in order to protect me. He’d sacrificed his life in our father’s name so that I might live.
And that pretty much summed it all up. I was half a man without Jill. I was half a man without Nick. And now, half a man without Hannah. What did that make me but a speck of humanity?
I tried to reconcile that with the man I once was, before I ever married Jill or Hannah. I relished my independence back then, which was why I’d tried so hard to disengage my brother from my life. I’d wanted to find out what it was like to be just me, on my own, with no one else to shape the boundaries of who or what I was. But over time, Nick and Jill had become enduring components in my life, and most certainly maneuvered the tools that cut and contoured the man I’d become.
After dealing with the crap that had consumed my world following their deaths, I thought I’d finally pulled myself together, and with Hannah a daily reminder of both my failings and my resurrection, I believed I’d come full circle. But no, I hadn’t. I was living, breathing proof you could never truly leave your past behind. It clung like a shadow, at times unseen, but never farther than my reach, always dark, forever uncontainable.
That’s what looked back up at me from that glass—that shadow.
STAY CONNECTED WITH NANCY S. THOMPSON:
My 5 Star Review
I received the book from the author for an honest review.
I must admit that I got myself in way over my head when I agreed to review this book, Leverage by Nancy Thompson. But is was so worth it. Just with her first book, The Mistaken, I was spellbound with this follow up. I loved the first book and didn't think the story could evolved like it did, but it did. I just couldn't put the book down till I finally read the last page of the last chapter.
I think I can say without question that I became addictive with the author's writing.
It was an insanely suspense filled book. Fast paced, it took your breath away at times as the story kept on building to a fewer pitch; releasing more secrets and mysteries to the mix. Captivated, you couldn't help but to get involved with the characters from the get go, just flabbergasted with the turmoil and heart ache this family had experienced at the hands of Grigory Chernov. The author's writing keeping your attention as she colored the story with her descriptive writing bringing it to the forefront of your mind.
There is so much to say, so it's difficult to keep myself under moderation; not spoiling it for the readers as you plunge head first into this book. Written from three point's of view, Conner Hannah's son - 19 year old student, Hannah and Tyler. In book 1 they met under quite unusual circumstances and a lot of sacrifices and wrong choices were made within that book, but at the end it all worked out for them. Now, four years later, Hannah is pregnant with Tyler's baby when the Russian mobsters revealed them selves. At first it was a cat and mouse story where you had no clue what was going on, just your gut telling you that this was all a huge set up.
Conner was now four years older, resented his stepfather and loved his mother, but when he saw his best friend being pushed from his third-story balcony everything changed in this young man's life. Suddenly he is in the arms of his best friend's girlfriend, heart ache had pushed them into their arms which led to him being addictive behavior this youngster was not prepared for. Each time he made a decision to turn his life around he is spin in a greater vortex - of course with skilled and manipulative help - and at the end he became a pawn in the hands of Tyler's enemies. But you see this young man coping the best he could under the most strenuous circumstances, always wondering about Katy and his mother. Trying to do the right thing, trusting the wrong people but at the end his vibrancy and energy shined through.
Hannah, eight months pregnant, had found herself trapped in the past as she and Tyler tried to work through their differences. The past always a buffer between them when it became heated between them. But this strong willed woman; who was tested beyond her limits showed her tenacity, determination and will to fight for those she cared the most. Willing to face the monster who was putting them through this hell to safe her husband at all cost.
Tyler, the strong, independent family man had it all after he lost everything, and had to face death and destruction once again. This time it was worse than in book 1. In this book his family was used as leverage against him to do the bidding of Grigory. The evil monster used every trick in the villain book to do his worst with him as he set him up to do exactly as he wanted. His life hanging in a balance throughout as he tried to keep his family safe. The end, all I can say is; make sure you have a Kleenex close by.
Grigory Chernov, hell there is not much I want to say about him without giving away the story. But that he is egotistical, manipulative and monster material that would stop at nothing to get his kingdom back would be maybe the closest I could come to describe him and still be safe. The liberties this man took with this family, so well planned that you think there was no way that they would be saved was mind blowing; to say the least.
All in all, this book was a joy to read and I am glad I made the time to read it. The plot was masterly crafted, the characters fully developed to make them realistic and believable and the scenes well placed to give you a great read. And the heated passion? Don't let me get started...*smile*
Truly a great book I can recommend to all readers that loves a suspense filled romance.
Thanks for the opportunity.
Four years ago, Tyler Karras’ quest to avenge his wife's death led to all out war with San Francisco's Russian Mafia. With the Bratva’s collapse and its king, Dmitri Chernov, long dead, all Ty wants now is to put it behind him and enjoy a second chance at life with his new bride, Hannah, and the child they're expecting any day. But Chernov's heir, Grigory Dmitriev, has returned, bitter and determined. He wants his kingdom back, and he's more than willing to leverage Ty's new family to get it.
First he targets Conner, Ty’s brooding nineteen-year-old stepson, manipulating the boy into a vortex of sex, drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Then he turns his sights on Hannah. At eight months pregnant, she’s the ultimate bargaining chip. With both their lives in jeopardy, as well as his unborn child, Ty has little choice but to do as Grigory commands—even if that means assassinating the new leadership resurrecting within the Bratva.
With his new family on the line, Ty will cross further into the dark side than he ever has before, challenging everything he believes about himself, and forcing him to face the ghosts of his past. Only then will Ty discover if he has the strength to do the unspeakable, to sacrifice his last chance at redemption and save the lives of those he loves most.
I stood there, motionless, unsure, and let my eyes flutter shut. God, how many times had I imagined this? I never allowed my mind to go much further, because I knew she could never be mine, and I never wanted to harbor any resentment toward my best friend for possessing something I coveted. But Leo was gone now, and here she was, offering herself up to me. I realized it was just the grief and loneliness, but I felt it, too. I wanted something, someone to take that pain away, so I let my body take over.
I parted my lips and felt Katy’s tongue sweep along them, first the top, then the bottom, before her teeth nipped it, and she sucked my lip between her own. My hands started at her waist and smoothed up her body, along her ribs, and around her back, pulling her in tight. I felt her fingers weave through my hair. She pulled then pushed, indecisive, yet in need. Our breathing grew hectic and heavy, and our hands drifted over body parts they’d never before dared to touch.
She gasped when my hand slipped under her rumpled t-shirt and took hold of her breast. Can’t say I hadn’t ever dreamed of doing that. And just as I had always suspected, it filled my hand perfectly. Katy’s knees nearly buckled when I ran my thumb over her nipple then took it between my fingers, rotating it gently, slowly.
She pulled her mouth from mine and let her head loll back, the perfect opening to explore her neck with my mouth. She drew into my body, allowing herself to feel and be overwhelmed, yet succumbing to her sorrow at the same time, and sobbing into my shoulder. She clawed at my jacket and tore it from my body then pushed my t-shirt up over my head in one swift movement. I felt her nails rake across my back, reasonably sure she’d drawn blood. I hissed through my teeth and threw my head back, but Katy didn’t stop.
She ripped open the button and zipper on my jeans and slid her hand inside my shorts. Again, I inhaled sharply, only this time, I groaned afterwards as her fingers found and wrapped themselves around me, squeezing with just the right amount of pressure.
It was almost too much, too unexpected, too emotional. I feared completely losing control. I grabbed for her hand and tried to pull back, but Katy used my momentum and pushed me onto my bed. Her lips found mine once again, biting, sucking, kissing, everything she could do to keep me in the moment. And God, it worked.
My hands behaved of their own accord and pushed her t-shirt over her head, then her sweatpants down over her hips, taking her delicate lace panties with it. She cast everything aside and flipped her hair over her shoulder, then sat astride me, her gaze pinned to mine, her eyes heavy with both passion and grief. Her movement slow and deliberate, Katy slid off my lap and onto the floor, tugging my jeans and briefs as she went, peeling them off after removing my shoes and socks.
Her hands moved languidly from my ankles to my knees and up the inside of my thighs before laying claim to the very essence of me, first with her hands, stroking and squeezing, then with her mouth, torturing me with her tongue and her teeth, sucking and pulling while her hand stroked up and down. And just when I thought I couldn’t take it any more, I pulled up on her head and bucked beneath her practiced hands. She jumped up and straddled me once again, using her hand to guide me into the deepest part of her.
Her slick flesh enveloped me in a warmth so tight and wet, I thought I would explode into a million pieces. I groaned like I was about to die, and my hands twisted the rumpled bed sheets. But then Katy held still for the briefest of moments, her hands on my chest and her hair cascading like a waterfall over her shoulders and down her bare breasts.
I reached for my forehead, overcome with my need to release. I looked up at Katy, and, at first, thought I saw the smallest of smiles turn up the right side of her mouth, but it was too brief, and I couldn’t be sure. She started moving against me once more, her motion controlled and with a purpose. Her flesh tightened hard around the length of me, pulsing in a frantic rhythm with each measured thrust. I couldn’t take it. I covered my face with my hands and tried to think of something else, anything but the blessed torment this woman was putting me through.