Their hearts will never forget… But the approaching danger may take away their forever.
Possessing vital information that could bring down a crime cartel, Arely Bernal flees to Orlando, taking a job as far under the radar as she can get—bartending at a BDSM club. Where she encounters the man she’s never forgotten.
Wracked with post-Afghanistan PTSD, Kurt Allendorf limps through his days, barely taking an interest in his Club Nexus anymore. Until he’s stunned to spot a face, he hasn’t seen in twelve years. Arely has grown into a seductive beauty who awakens his inner Dom like no other woman, ever. But he’s too broken to be worthy of her trust, much less her submission.
When the danger Arely’s running from tracks her down, there’s no place safe to hide. And both Arely and Kurt will have to rise above their demons to survive…
Stand-alone strictly 18+
Kurt planned to arrive at the club fifteen minutes after the trial began. He wanted to slink into the cocktail lounge as unseen and unheard as possible. It was crucial to watch the applicant’s behavior from a distance. He had nothing against women working jobs usually associated with men. He was all about equality and qualifications. If she knew her stuff and Ross approved her abilities, great. His suspicions rested elsewhere. The faint flash of vulnerability Ethan had showed last night was concerning. He hadn’t been this way since the debacle with Joyce; a predator with a great act. Before the wedding, Ethan discovered she was after his money. After that he closed himself off to anything meaningful. Missing the initial interview pissed Kurt off. That would’ve been the perfect opportunity to assess the woman’s intentions and nip any ulterior motives in the bud. But no, he’d been socializing instead.
Whatever, he still had enough time to remedy the situation. The position hadn’t been offered yet. Pete wasn’t around, and that avoided undesired conversation. He slipped inside the lounge, grateful for the rubber soles of his shoes, moved to a back table, and sat down to watch the activity in the bar.
The trial was underway.
Perched on a stool, Ethan had his back turned to Kurt. His friend was focused on the applicant and few words were spoken. Kurt couldn’t see the woman working in front of Ethan. He did hear ice and liquid jiggling quickly inside a metal shaker.
“Delicious.” Ethan’s remark reached him.
The woman shifted to the side…
Kurt’s world imploded.
Not caring if he made a racket, he jumped out of his chair. Arely Bernal was here, now, and in his club. How could this be?
Ethan swiveled toward him and frowned. Ross stared at him.
Arely mouthed, Kurt.
Suddenly aware of his stiff knee and awkward gait, he leaned on his cane, attempting to move as nimbly as he could. He had to confirm this wasn’t a figment of his imagination, an uncanny lookalike, or a cruel joke from the creator above.
“Kurt, what’s wrong?” Ethan asked.
He ignored his friend. His gaze was fixed on the girl’s golden eyes as he took in her stunning beauty. After a frozen moment, he managed to speak. “Arely?”
She blinked; her full lips trembled, and the room tilted. Recognition struck him deep in his chest. Except for some tiny lines at the corners of her eyes, this was the Arely Bernal of College Park and his youth.
Kurt frowned. Circumstances and events clicked in rapid succession. A strange pattern emerged. Could Arely’s presence here be more than chance? Especially on the heels of Abelard’s visit? He didn’t believe in coincidences. The connection, however buried, vibrated in his bones.
On the other hand, the Arely he knew would never be part of an evil conspiracy. She’d always been good and honest. A feisty straight shooter who hated violence. Had been, he reminded himself, and long years had passed since. He’d witnessed the most upstanding individuals falter under the weight of hard times. What did he know about Arely and her life?
Something darker, even nefarious, lurked at the bottom of this seemingly innocent development. Until he had a long conversation with her, he’d keep his suspicions private.
“Kurt, you’re staring.” Ethan snapped him back.
Arely’s expressive eyes had gone from surprise and delight to doubt and concern. She knew him too.
He forced a smile. “I think I left my manners in the truck. I’m shocked. Stunned, really. Arely and I used to be neighbors. We actually lived two houses apart. I’ve known her since she was yay high.” He stretched out his palm, illustrating the height of the cute girl he remembered. “Her brother was one my best buds.”
He let that bit of history slip out for Ethan’s enlightenment. His eyelids flickered. Good. His friend noted the odd coincidence.
“Wow, Arely. I can’t believe it,” Kurt murmured. “You’re here. How long has it been?”
“Twelve years, Kurt. I thought I’d never see you again.”
Why did he pretend forgetfulness when he knew down to the day how many years had passed? In that span of time, her voice had turned smoky, seductive. And… Did he hear a hint of reproach in her words?
“Should anyone be interested,” Ross cut in, “Arely passed with flying colors. Her Bobby Burns and cosmo were outstanding. I approve. Hire her.”
“Okay,” Ethan said. “Since Kurt is here, he should be involved in the decision. Maybe he’d like to ask Arely a few questions.”
Ethan moved to a club chair and gestured for the others to join him.
As Arely came around the bar, Kurt watched her, overwhelmed by the changes. She’d grown about half a foot or so and had developed into a gorgeous, long-legged creature.
Slow down. This is little Arely! His brain commanded, but faced with the reality, his libido rebelled. Yes, the little girl was gone. A glorious woman stood in her place. Her golden eyes glittered brighter than he remembered, and his fingers shook with the desire to caress and explore her luscious curves. Was her dark hair as silky as it seemed? And her tan skin, was it soft and perfumed? He wanted to know just like he wanted to taste her, feel her full lips under his…
Fuck! He wondered what had happened to the tedium and general disinterest with everything in life that had sent him to Key West.
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Award-winning, prolific author Victoria Saccenti writes romantic women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and paranormal romance. Not one for heart and flower stories, she explores the strengths and weaknesses of the human spirit and the twists and turns of intimate interactions. Impossible, against-all-the-odds love is her preferred trope. Flawed characters seeking redemption are her central figures.
After thirty years of traveling the world, she’s settled in Central Florida. She splits her busy schedule between family and her active muse at Essence Publishing. However, if she could convince her husband to sell their home, she would pack up her computer and move to Scotland, a land she adores. On a side note, in one form or another, she mentions Scotland in most of her stories.
Other Works by Victoria:
Central Florida Stories: Deception Undeniable
Titanian Chronicles: Beloved Titanian, Titanian’s Phoenix, The Last Danann
Destiny Saga: Destiny’s Plan, Destiny’s Choice, Destiny’s Way
You can find all Victoria’s links to her books, social media, website and online presence here.