Savage Games – A NSFW Excerpt

Elizabeth’s emerald gaze darted over my shoulder to the exit.

My body tensed, ready to pounce.

Her foot slid to the right, as she slowly turned her body in the door’s direction.

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” I warned.

The sudden bark of my voice echoed off the bare brick walls and visibly startled her.

She leaned forward slightly… then my little bird took flight.

Running in an arc, she bolted for the door.

I was too quick for her.

Lunging, I stretched out my arm and caught her around the waist, pulling her struggling body against my chest. Her delicate frame no match for my strength. I could feel each thin bone and soft curve of her body as I pressed it to mine.

So delicate.

So easily breakable.

Elizabeth screeched and clawed at my forearm. “Let me go! Let me go!”
Wrapping another arm securely across her shoulders, I tightened my grasp on her. The pressure against her ribcage stifled her breath and ceased her struggles.

Taking the soft lobe of her ear between my teeth, I bit down. “Never,” I growled.

My blood was up. I wanted this fight with her. Needed it.

Releasing my hold, Elizabeth stumbled forward before swinging to face me.

Pushing her damp curls away from her face, she just stared at me with those wild, beautiful eyes of hers. A single tear coursed down her flushed cheek.

I would never get my fill of this woman… of this.

I wanted to swallow her screams and taste her tears. The wicked beast inside of me craved to devour every innocent glimmer of light within her soul till I had filled it with the same shadows as my own. I knew there was darkness inside of her. It called out to me. There was nothing in my life so enthralling or so challenging as drawing it out. Forcing it to the surface to come play my twisted, depraved games.

Backing up a step, keeping her palms defensively before her, she breathed, “It was a mistake to return.”
Reaching for my belt, I slowly slipped the long leather strap through the sterling silver buckle as I took a threatening step toward her. “Yes, it was.”

What was the point in denying it?

She had angered and betrayed me.

As I told Andrew, life had consequences.

Especially when you dared to fight me over something I wanted to possess.
And I would possess Elizabeth. In time, I would burn away all her defiance until she finally accepted that her fate lay with me… and only me.

Scrambling backward, her chest rose and fell with each quickened breath. I could see the sharp outline of her nipples through her still-damp t-shirt. Closing my eyes for a moment, I imagined her in the shower. Soft, warm water caressing her skin as foamy, iridescent bubbles clung to each curve. My cock swelled and pressed painfully against the zipper of my jeans.

“Richard, I love you, but we have to end this. It’s too toxic. It’s become too twisted,” she pleaded.
I nodded as I pulled my belt free. Running my hand down the long, thick length of leather before folding it in half in my right fist. “The only way you escape me, Elizabeth, is in death. You were mine from the first moment I laid eyes on you. Nothing has or ever will change that.”

I took another step toward her. My intent clear.

With a cry of alarm, Elizabeth scanned the wall before grabbing at one of my displayed swords. She chose a rather ominous Russian Cossack saber. Pulling it free of its hardened black leather and gold sheath, she exposed the long, flat, razor-sharpened blade.

Holding the hilt with both of her small hands, she extended the heavy blade in front of her, pointing it at my mid-section.

“Don’t come any closer,” she warned. Her voice sounded high and thin with a slight warble.

She was afraid.

She should be.

Keeping her gaze locked with mine, I took two deliberate steps in her direction. Wrapping my left hand around the blade, I ignored the harsh sting of pain as its sharp edge sliced into my fingers.
Elizabeth gasped, her cherry lips opening in shock as I placed the point of the blade over my heart.

“Richard… don’t-”

She tried to back away, but the wall prevented her. Keeping my grasp on the blade, I lifted it higher till the point leveled over my heart. Refusing to take my gaze off her, I let the tip sink into my flesh.

“Oh God,” she whimpered.

Releasing the blade, I stood there. Watching as small drops of my own crimson blood trickled down the blade’s
bright silver edge.

“Do it, Elizabeth. Thrust the blade into my heart.”

Tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Richard, please… I can’t… don’t make m-”

“Do it,” I yelled, my harsh intake of breath driving the point in a little deeper. Hissing through my clenched teeth at the pain, I reached past the blade and placed my left hand over her trembling grasp. “Drive it deep into my heart because that’s what you will do if you leave me.”

This might take my sadistic manipulation to new levels, but I didn’t give a damn. I would not go back to my colorless, jaded existence. It was her and her love or nothing for me.

With a cry, she dropped the sword.

Kicking it aside, I pounced.

June 2, 2022|Dark Obsession, Excerpts|0 Comments

Sinister Games – A NSFW Excerpt

We stopped in front of an old iron gate which secured a small, walled-in private garden.

Looking around, I spied half a brick which was probably used to prop open the back door of a business across the way. Taking it in hand, it only took two strikes of the rock, to dislodge the small, ineffective padlock.

“Richard! This is breaking and entering!” exclaimed Elizabeth.

“I don’t give a f*ck.” Growling my answer, I shoved her against the brick wall just inside the garden.

The stone cut into my palms as I caged her in. Before she could say another word, my mouth descended.
Finally claiming her for my own.

Leaning my hips in, I pressed my c*ck against her stomach as my tongue pushed between her teeth. She tasted of honey and champagne.

Elizabeth whimpered.

I was bruising her lips. I knew soon I would taste blood as the pressure of my mouth cut against the sharp edge of her teeth but I didn’t care.

I wanted her to feel pain from my kiss.

Wanted her to feel everything, including the threat of my c*ck.

Her small hands dug into the lapels of my jacket. Whether it was to draw me closer or push me away, didn’t matter. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Seizing her wrists, I pulled them high over her head and secured them with only the grip of my left hand. She was so small and delicate, like a little bird.

One I would soon cage so only I could hear the beautiful song of her moans and pleas.

Turning her head to the side, her breath came in ragged gasps. “Richard, wait!”


I claimed her mouth once more.

F*ck. I would never get enough of this woman.

It had become essential to my sanity that I possess her, everything about her – mind, body and soul – from the first moment I saw her in the park two weeks ago.

She had ruined my careful plans by almost getting hit by that cab today but no matter. The time for making plans was over. From this point forward, there was nothing but action… and her delicious response.

Using her trapped position, pinned against the wall, I kicked her feet wider while swallowing her cry of alarm.

Wrenching her dress up over her *ss, I once more pressed my hips into her pliant body, knowing the stone wall would scrape and bruise her soft flesh. The thought of one day soon putting a mark on that same gorgeous *ss with my belt or hand sent another rush of blood to my c*ck till it swelled painfully tight and hard.

I needed to be inside her, but that would have to wait.

Placing the heel of my palm between her legs, I pressed hard.

Elizabeth groaned.

“Do you like that?” I breathed against her open mouth. “You like the feel of my hand on your p*ssy?”

I forced one finger inside her wet heat. Christ, she was tight.

Elizabeth cried out.

Pulling my hand free, I reached inside my jacket pocket and pulled out her panties. Releasing her wrists, I placed them in her palm.

Elizabeth stared at me with desire clouding eyes.

“Put these in your mouth.”


“You heard me. I want you to shove your own panties into your mouth.”

With large, trusting eyes, she carefully raised her hand to her mouth and started to push the black lace fabric between her lips.

It wasn’t that I wouldn’t have enjoyed forcing her mouth open and pushing them deep inside her throat till she choked and pleaded with me with her eyes but this was how the game was played. She needed to be an active player in her own humiliation. Her own inevitable debauchery. Otherwise, it wasn’t really a game. It was just me using brute force. No, it was much more satisfying and challenging when you made them choose to be debased.
Her mouth now gaped obscenely, stuffed with her own arousal slick panties.

Returning my hand to her p*ssy, I shoved one thick finger in deep.

Elizabeth’s muffled cry burst free as she lurched up onto her toes to try to avoid the pleasure and pain of my sudden intrusion.

It was about to get far worse for her.

I put a second finger at her entrance and thrust in deep.

Her head began to swing from side to side.

My mouth slid along the column of her neck, tasting her rapid pulse. I moved to lick the small hollow where her neck met her collar bone just as I forced a third finger inside her tight, little body. My tongue lapped and sucked each delicious vibration from her scream.

With tears in her eyes, she started to plead with me, forgetting that the panties in her mouth distorted everything she tried to say. When she reached to remove them, I grabbed her wrist and once more pulled her arms up over her head.

“If you move your arms again, I’m going to bend you over that bench there and thrash you with my belt, do you understand?”

Tears fell from her eyes as she nodded.

“Good girl.”

June 2, 2022|Dark Obsession, Excerpts|0 Comments

Sweet Ferocity: Nsfw Excerpt

For the first time, I glanced around. In addition to the enormous tub there was a glass shower and lots of white and gold marble. Whatever hotel this was, it was swanky. That should definitely raise alarm bells since there was no way in hell my father was paying to put me up in this kind of luxury. Locking that thought in the for later box, I sunk lower in the tub till the bubbles tickled my chin. Reaching for a washcloth, I added even more bath soap and scrubbed every inch of my skin till it glowed.

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. I was finally feeling human again.

Unbidden, thoughts of Luka crept into my consciousness.

The sight of him without his shirt on. Holy hell the man was big. Like BIG. Like muscles on top of muscles. His chest was covered in super scary-looking tattoos which only seemed to emphasize his toned abs. And then there was the feel of his c@ck against my foot and his hands on my body.

My palm slid along the top of my thigh. I pretended it was Luka again. Closing my eyes tight, I slipped my hand between my thighs. My fingertip slid between the folds of my p@ssy to find my cl!t. Again, I thought of Luka and the er@tic, terrifying thrill I’d felt the moment he’d reached for his belt. Was he serious? Was he the type of man who would actually whip off his belt and punish a girl for being bad? I bit my lip as I pressed my fingertip to my clit. I bet he was. I bet he was the type to growl at you to get on your knees and crawl to him as he pulled out his c@ck.

I circled the tip of my finger around the tiny bud of nerves, alternating between soft and light pressure.
He practically screamed the dirty sex type. He probably liked to spank his women as he fucked them.

I barely stifled a groan as my back arched.

“Don’t stop,” growled Luka.

My eyes flew open. “Oh my God! What are you doing in here?”

Water splashed over the edge of the tub as I scrambled to cover myself.
He placed the plate of cake he had been holding on the bathroom counter and stalked toward me. His hooded brow was low as his gray wolf eyes pierced me. “I said, don’t stop.”

I hunched lower in the water. Spitting out the taste of soap bubbles as I searched the bottom of the tub for the washcloth to cover my breasts. “I locked the door!”

He reached for his belt buckle. “And I unlocked it. I gave you an order.”

My cheeks burned hot. How long had he been watching me? Did he know what I had been doing under the cover of the sudsy water? Of course he knew, I chastised myself.

He whipped his belt free from his jeans and kicked off his shoes. “I’m not going to tell you again, princess. Keep touching yourself.”
I gathered the fading bubbles closer to cover my chest. “Get out!”

With his jeans half-undone, he sat on the edge of the tub. He reached over and grabbed my face, holding me just beneath my jaw. “Tell me you weren’t just thinking about me as you played with that pretty p@ssy of yours” he snarled. “Tell me you weren’t remembering the feel of my hands on your body.”

I whimpered but couldn’t respond.

He caressed my neck then moved his hand further down. He cupped my right bre@st and squeezed. I cried out.

“Do it now,” he commanded.

My hand trembled as I moved it between my legs.

“That’s it, baby. Do as I tell you.”

My inner thighs clenched, locking around my wrist. This was so wrong and yet so f@cking hot. I rubbed my cl!t, harder this time.
He massaged my bre@st before pinching my nipple. The shock of pain sent a lightning bolt of awareness down my spine. My hips started to move. The bathwater undulated in waves, splashing onto the floor.

“Push a finger inside. I want you to get that p@ssy ready for me.”

My mouth opened on a groan as I pushed a finger inside of myself. Then a second one.

This was going too far. I needed to stop this. Luka thought I was someone I wasn’t.

He moved his hand from my bre@st to between my legs. Pushing my hand aside, he replaced it with his own. His fingers were much larger and thicker than mine as they entered me.
My hips shot up. “Oh God!”

Using his free hand, he placed two fingers against my lower lip. He forced my mouth open, then pushed his fingers inside. “Suck my fingers. Show me how you’ll suck my c@ck.”

I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never even come close to sucking a man’s c@ck in my entire sheltered life.

Luka bared his teeth before pushing a third finger inside my mouth, pushing down on my tongue. “Suck it. Hard.”
His fingers thrust in and out of my p@ssy as I swirled my tongue around his fingers, wetting them, drawing them deeper into my mouth. As he pushed hard on his fingers between my thighs, he pushed deeper into my mouth, gagging me. Still I sucked as my hips started to buck.

“Good girl. Come for me.”

My hands grasped the edge of the tub as my torso shot up the moment wave after wave of pleasure hit my body. I crashed back down into the water as I bent my knees and grabbed his wrist, holding his hand in place as my pussy clenched down on his fingers. “Yes! Yes! F@ck!


With what could only be described as a primal roar, Luka pulled his fingers free and lifted me out of the water. A cascade of soapy water flowed over the edge as he carried me to the shower.

May 20, 2022|Excerpts, Ruthless Obsession|0 Comments

Sweet Ferocity: Chapter One


Worthington University, Virginia

If I had known I was going to be kidnapped….

He had looked out of place, that was all I remembered.

I’d passed him on my way to the photography darkroom. On a college campus filled with students wearing shorts and hoodies in the middle of winter, the Japanese man in a long black leather trench coat calmly sitting on a park bench had stood out. He’d had on a pair of reflective sunglasses covering the upper part of his long, pale face and slicked-back, coal-black hair.
It had been the leather gloves that had seemed particularly odd to me.

I couldn’t put my finger on why. They just did.

As I passed him, I had the distinct suspicion he was watching me to the exclusion of all the other students scurrying past, which was crazy. Everyone on campus knew me as Katie Antonova. I’d used my mother’s maiden name on my application. There was no reason why anyone would figure out I was the daughter of the notorious Russian crime boss Egor Novikoff, or the sister of my even more infamous brothers,

Lenin and Leonid. I had buried that life in my past and that was where it was going to stay.

Shaking off the odd feeling, I ducked under a low tree branch and headed toward the two-story brick building that housed the art and culture classes on my campus. Stopping at the bulletin board to see if the test scores for my History of Photography Through Art class were posted, I then headed down the linoleum-covered staircase to the basement. While the upper floors housed dance and art studios, the basement was where they kept the pottery wheels, glazing kilns and photography darkrooms.

This late in the day, I would have the place to myself. I clicked the lights on, squinting when the garish fluorescent lights flicked on one by one, until the entire basement was illuminated. I placed my shortylove blue camo crossbody bag on the table and pulled out my favorite manual Pentax K1000 SLR camera and my hot-pink binder of film negatives, leaving my other favorite digital camera tucked inside my bag.

Tonight I was working with black-and-white film, so I was pretty excited to experiment with different exposure times to get just the right effect. After entering the darkroom, I turned on the overhead light and fan, then put on a pair of safety goggles and gloves as I got ready to mix my chemicals. Setting out my three trays, I prepared the developer, stop bath and fixer. I then grabbed my pink binder and selected a row of negative film. Placing it on the lightbox, I tossed off my goggles and gloves and grabbed a loupe. I leaned down to examine each photo in detail.

Using a red grease pencil, I marked which photos I wanted to make into black-and-white prints. I placed the strip into the negative carrier and isolated one of the photos before raising and lowering the enlarger head to get the projected image to just the right size on the paper. I then used the focusing wheel to sharpen the image. After setting the aperture and my filter, I grabbed the timer. My plan for my test print was to divide the photo into three sections and expose each section by an additional five seconds.

Leaning over, I flicked off the white light and turned on the muted red one. I set my timer and began my test strip. After the allotted time, I used the rubber-tipped tongs to remove the paper from the developer and place it in the stop bath, then the fixer.
As I turned to clip the wet paper to the clothesline we had stretched across the darkroom, I heard a sound outside the darkroom door.

I paused to listen.


No out of the ordinary sounds.

A nervous chill ran up my spine.

Still, I tried to concentrate on my test strip. Each section was darker than the last. I decided the ten second exposure was definitely going to be the best for this particular project. I turned to grab a fresh piece of photo paper when I heard it again.
It almost sounded as if someone was opening and closing each of the darkroom doors.
There were ten darkrooms lined up along the right wall of the basement.

Door number five. Click

Door number six. Click. 

Door number seven. Click. 

Whoever it was, they were getting closer.

I was in the last one, door number ten.

Feeling silly for doing so, I reached over and turned the lock on the doorknob.

It was probably just a security guard checking to see if students were still in the building and nothing more.
Once again, I shook off the strange feeling and focused back on my project. This was due in class tomorrow, so I didn’t have time to be messing around or giving in to nerves. I made a slight adjustment to the enlarger head and set my timer.

That was when the doorknob turned.

The air seized in my lungs as I pivoted my head to stare at it.

I prayed it was my imagination.

Unable to breathe, I waited.

It turned again.

The movement was slight and slow.


If it were just a security guard checking the doors, they would have rattled it more decisively. No, this was the action of someone who didn’t want the person inside to know they were trying to open the door.

There was a long pause.

Then a soft, metallic scrape.

Then another.

I hadn’t spent my early childhood surrounded by some of the most devious criminal masterminds on the East Coast without learning a thing or two. When I was as young as six, I’d had cousins teaching me how to pick a lock. I knew the sound like I knew my own heartbeat.

Another scrape.

Knowing it was pointless, I scanned the small darkroom. There was no other exit. The room was basically a closet with a waist-high counter around its perimeter and a narrow aisle down the center.

I was trapped.

My fingers gripped the edge of the counter as I fixated on the doorknob.

I jumped a foot when my ten-second timer went off.

I slammed my palm down on the timer, shutting it off.

The scraping at the door stopped.

I waited.


Using the counter because I didn’t trust my quivering legs, I carefully stepped toward the door. Holding my breath, I leaned over and placed my ear against it and listened. There was the sound of fabric rustling.

Then another soft metallic scrape.

I covered my mouth to suppress a scream and backed away from the door.

Please God, let me be overreacting. 

Let this be a phantom of my past tainting my new reality. 

Just because I had been raised to see demons in the shadows, didn’t make it so.

What was that saying? The sound of horse’s hooves didn’t mean zebras.

Please God, don’t let this be a fucking zebra. 

The moment I heard the decisive click my body quaked.

Whoever it was, they had unlocked the door.

Once again, the doorknob slowly turned.

The door opened.

No light poured in.

The person must have turned off the basement fluorescent lights. Another really bad sign.
There was just the dark outline of a tall, slender person, but I knew immediately who it was.

It was the man from the park bench. The one wearing the gloves and leather trench coat.

Trying to throw the intruder off, I called out in French. “Qu’est-ce que vous voulez?”

Maybe I would get lucky, and the person wouldn’t expect a supposed Russian mafia princess to speak French.

The man chuckled. “I know it is you, Katia.”

Katia. Only people who knew the Novikoffs knew my true name was Katia not Katie.

I backed up as far as the counter would allow. “What do you want?”

His voice was smooth and calm as if each word was cautiously spoken. “Why don’t we speak outside?”

I shook my head. “I have nothing to do with my family’s business and I don’t know who you are.”

He bowed his head slightly. “How remiss of me. My name is Kiyoshi Tanaka. I am… a business associate of your family.”

I let out a shaky breath. “Well, as I said, I have nothing to do with my family or their business so you can have nothing to say that would interest me. So get the fuck out of my darkroom.”

He took a step inside the small space. “There is no reason why we cannot be civil to one another. Your family has something I want. You are going to help me get it. I promise, if you cooperate, no harm will come to you.”

I didn’t believe him for a second.

I inched my hand toward the tray of chemical developer. “My bodyguard will be back at any moment. He will break you in half if he finds you here.”

The man shook his head. “Tsk tsk tsk. You are a liar, my dear Katia. We both know your family does not care enough about your well-being to guard you. That is their mistake, and my good fortune.”

The truth of his words stung.

Still, I had to try and talk my way out of this. It was my only defense. “If that is true then I can have no value to you.”
Kiyoshi shrugged. “Sometimes the greatest treasures are the ones we miss only when they are gone.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“I do not wish to make this painful for you… but I will if I have to.”

“I’ll scream. The security guard will hear me.”

Kiyoshi seemed unfazed by my threat. “The security guard is unfortunately no longer in a position to assist you.”

Which meant he had either hurt the poor guard or outright killed him; either way, this had gone from bad to worse.

He took another step closer.

I was out of options.

In one fluid movement, I slipped my fingers under the tray of chemical developer and flipped it over, sending the chemical cascading
down the front of Kiyoshi. He screamed as the chemical hit his eyes and mouth. The developer was heavily diluted and more dangerous to inhale than when exposed to the skin, but it would cause a slight chemical burn if got in his eyes. Hopefully it would be enough to slow him down.

Shoving him aside, I raced out of the darkroom. Snatching my bag as I passed the table, I dove up the stairs. I had a lead of only a few
strides before I heard Kiyoshi in pursuit.

I burst through the outer door. As I inhaled a deep breath of frigid air, getting ready to scream, a hard weight slammed into my back. I was forced to the ground off to the side by the bushes. A hand wrenched me to my feet by my hair. I clawed and scratched but didn’t hit skin because of his leather gloves and coat.

A sweet-smelling cloth was placed over my nose and mouth.



As my eyelids drooped and my knees buckled, I gave up my fight and scrambled to reach into my crossbody bag. Knowing my attacker’s vision would still be compromised, I grabbed my camera and lifted it over my shoulder and took as many photos as I could. I then tossed the camera into the bushes before everything went black.

If the bastard was going to kill me, at least my final justice would be one of my photos damning him to hell for it.

May 20, 2022|Excerpts, Ruthless Obsession|0 Comments

Sweet Brutality: NSFW Excerpt


“Please, why won’t you leave?”

Maxim circled around the chair.

I held the selfie stick up. “Stay back.”

He grabbed the stick and tossed it aside. He then wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me flush against his chest. He placed a hand around my neck and pressed up against my jaw, tilting my head back. “I’m not leaving, and if you were honest with yourself, you’d admit you don’t want me to.”

My lower lip trembled. “You frighten me.”

He gently kissed my cheek, then my lips, then the tip of my nose. “Never be frightened of me, babygirl. I would never harm such a beautiful creature as you.” He ran his tongue over my lower lip. “A beauty like yours is to be treasured, worshipped.”
His mouth teased mine. I breathed in his air, falling deeper under his spell. My eyes half-closed as he lowered his head. At the last possible minute, sanity returned. I pushed him away. “No. I can’t. This is too crazy. You have to leave.”

Maxim rubbed his jaw. Then pierced me with a glare. “I knew it.”

I surveyed him suspiciously. “Knew what?”

Without saying another word, he grabbed me by the back of the head and crushed his mouth to mine. He gave no quarter as his tongue speared inside my mouth, taking ownership. As I struggled in his grasp, he pulled up the hoodie from behind. A cool breeze touched my lower back before the first sharp sting of his slap. The impact drove my hips against him, where I felt the hard outline of his c@ck pressing against his jeans.

He sp@nked me again and again. His mouth swallowed my cries. With each heated sl@p, I was pushed against his hips.
He fisted my hair and deepened the kiss before finally breaking free. “This is what you want. Isn’t it, babygirl? Not sweet words of love, but rough and dirty with a hint of p@in.”

The truth of his words struck at my very soul. Oh, God! “No, no! You’re wrong!”

Using his grip on my hair, he pushed me facedown over the edge of the low chair. For the second time that night, he yanked down my leggings, exposing my @ss. I braced, but wasn’t prepared for the intense, humiliating pain of his palm striking my bare flesh. He sp@nked me again and again. My pussy clenched as the stinging heat pooled between my legs.

He pulled my hair as he pressed his crotch against my ass. The rough denim sent sparks of pain across my tortured skin. He rubbed my right butt cheek, then squeezed it hard. I squealed in pain as I rose up on my toes.

“Tell me you like this,” he commanded.

I buried my face in the back upholstery of the chair. The fabric muffled my response. “I don’t. It hurts.”

“That’s the whole point, babygirl.”

February 14, 2022|Excerpts, Ruthless Obsession|0 Comments

Sweet Savagery: Chapter One


Chicago, Illinois

I sat on the floor of my tiny studio apartment staring at the piles of cash around me.

The boxes arrived a few days ago from Russia, sent by my Uncle Harry. Despite receiving a stern email from him warning me not to open the boxes, I didn’t waste any time tearing into them.

I was the weird one in my family. The only one who had chosen not to pursue a life of crime. I rarely spoke to anyone related to me and hadn’t seen my Uncle Harry since my father’s last parole hearing over ten years ago, when I was still a teenager. So when I received the boxes and a cryptic email from my uncle addressed to his favorite niece I was, of course, suspicious.
And judging from the stacks of cash taking up half my apartment floor, I had every right to be.

Five hundred thousand dollars.


My uncle had sent me five hundred thousand dollars through the freaking mail.

What was strange was, each box only weighed about six pounds. I totally would have thought thousands of hundred-dollar bills would have weighed more. Although, to be honest, that wasn’t the truly strange part. The truly strange part was that I had freaking FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS strewn about on a ten-dollar, slightly stained throw rug I had purchased from the Salvation Army last month.
Once again, I picked up my cell phone and tried to call my Uncle Harry. I had no idea what time it was in Russia, or even why he was there, and I didn’t care. I wanted an explanation. When he didn’t answer, I tried calling my other uncle, Uncle Frank. If anyone else was involved in this mess along with Uncle Harry, it would be my Uncle Frank. They were two petty criminal peas in a pod. Uncle Frank’s cell number was disconnected. Typical. Tossing the phone aside, I sighed as I surveyed the money.

There wasn’t a doubt in my mind this money was dirty, like really, really dirty. Anything anyone in my family touched was always filthy. They wouldn’t know how to make an honest dollar if it slapped them in the face.

What the hell was I going to do?

I glanced at the alarm clock and cried out. Damn, I was late for work. Work, another concept my family was completely unfamiliar with. I was the first in our family to attend community college. Now I was scraping money together for a real estate broker license.
Four thousand three hundred and sixty dollars, that’s how much I was in the hole right now. Between the pre-licensing courses, licensing exam, my basic real estate agent license and now the desk fees at the brokerage where I worked to become a licensed broker, I was in serious credit card debt. It had taken me three years of saving some of my server tips just to scrape enough together to cover costs while I took a huge pay hit launching my new career.

I lifted the edge of my Murphy bed and tucked it back into the wall cabinet so I could open the bathroom door, and turned the knob for my shower. The old pipes rattled and clanked. Rusty water spurted from the faucet. I turned the knob to cold so I wouldn’t be wasting hot water and money as I waited for the water to run clear. I turned on the coffeepot and reached for my toothbrush. One thing about being poor and living in a tiny studio apartment, everything I needed was literally within arm’s reach, especially when the kitchen and bathroom shared the same sink. Swishing the mint foam around my mouth as I brushed, I glanced over my shoulder at the money still lying on the floor.

Forty-one-hundred-dollar bills.

Forty out of five thousand one-hundred-dollar bills.

That’s all I would need.

Forty thin pieces of rectangular paper and most of my problems would be gone.

Disgusted at my thoughts, I spit in the sink and shrugged out of my T-shirt before stepping in the shower. My breath seized in my lungs as the icy water hit my chest. I had forgotten to turn the hot water knob. Sidestepping out of the freezing stream, I frantically turned the knob to add warm water, but it broke off in my hand. With a resigned sigh, I inhaled a deep breath and braced myself for the arctic chill as I flipped my long hair over my head and reached for the shampoo.

As I closed my eyes to avoid the suds, all I could see were the neat stacks of cash lying only a few feet away.

Wouldn’t I be doing a good thing by using just a tiny portion of the money for honest purposes? I wanted to have my own brokerage firm one day. A firm where female real estate agents could safely work without having to worry about getting their asses pinched or being told to fetch coffee. It may be the twenty-first century, but in many ways the real estate industry was still living in the 1950s.
In order to do that, I needed money, way more money than I was currently making. It would be at least ten years before I could afford to start my own business, unless — I peeked around the shower curtain at the money.

With a frustrated huff, I finished scrubbing the suds out of my hair and got out of the shower. Wrapping a slightly scratchy towel around my middle, I poured coffee into my favorite chipped mug and added sugar and powdered cream. No daily Starbucks on the way to work for me. I couldn’t afford such tiny luxuries.

I unplugged the coffee maker and plugged in the hair dryer. As I combed through the tangles in my hair with my fingers, I looked in the mirror and once again saw the cash.

It wasn’t like I would use it all, maybe just fifty thousand dollars’ worth. That would be enough to cover rent for a year, office furniture, equipment, and some splashy colorful marketing brochures. If I borrowed just a few thousand more, I could even get a professional website done instead of a basic do-it-yourself WordPress one. The appearance of wealth in this business was essential in getting the higher-end clients. Money attracted money. It was why I spent my rent money on nice dress suits and real-looking pearl necklaces. I would get nowhere in this business showing up in an ill-fitting thrift store outfit.

I leaned over the sink to apply mascara. My gaze traveled again to the cash. Okay, sixty thousand dollars and not a penny more. I would buy myself a decent wardrobe and maybe lease a nice Lincoln Town Car to shuttle my clients around Chicago to different properties for sale.

Sixty thousand dollars wasn’t that much, only six hundred bills out of five thousand. It probably wouldn’t even be missed. I would then donate the rest to charity or maybe play Santa Claus to the other hard-up residents in my building. I could leave little envelopes of cash for each of them to help cover rent and food. I couldn’t go to hell for using dirty money if I used most of it for good, right?
Going to the police was out of the question. I may have distanced myself from my criminal family, but I still shared their aversion to authority. Besides, with my juvenile record, there was no way they would take me at my word that the cash had just arrived on my doorstep and that I had nothing to do with it. And of course there was the bonus that it had arrived in boxes from Russia. Sure, nothing shady about that. My eyes rolled so hard I gave myself a headache.

I tiptoed between the piles of cash as I crossed the room to my bedroom/hall/linen/pantry closet. I selected a deep cranberry red A-line skirt with white flowers and matching white silk blouse that I had gotten a few weeks ago at the Anne Taylor Factory outlet and got dressed. I completed the outfit with a pair of black ballet flats and my favorite fake-but-real-looking pearl necklace.

I would rather wear four-inch platform heels to make up for my five foot six inch frame, but I had an open house today and would be on my feet for hours. It was smarter to wear the flats. It was a shame. My life was a little easier when I was taller than the men around me. Especially when one of those men was Larry, my boss. Middle-aged, balding and with a pooch of a belly, he somehow thought he was God’s gift to women.

I stared down at the cash at my feet. It was nice to dream, but there was no way I was going to touch one lousy bill of it for myself. That’s how it would start. Compromising my principles once would make it that much easier to compromise them again, then again. I had turned away from that life when I was a teenager. It had taken years to clean up my act and break free of my criminal family’s binds, and I wouldn’t turn back now. Even if abandoning those principles now made my dream of owning my own brokerage firm a reality, I would always know I had purchased it with tainted money. It wouldn’t be truly mine. It wouldn’t be something I had earned through hard work and determination.

With a sigh, I bent down to pick up several piles of crisp one-hundred-dollar bills. I turned and surveyed my apartment. Where the hell could I hide all this money until I figured out what to do with it? I had precious few options in my studio apartment. There were no cabinets under the sink, and I’d already stuffed my closet full of clothes and ramen noodles. I surveyed the Murphy bed. It would have to do.

I pulled the bed back down to the floor, piled the cash on top and then quickly raised the bed frame back into its upright position. I snatched several wayward bills as they floated in the air and shoved them between the mattress and wall.
With one last sip of my now lukewarm coffee, I raced out the door. I would figure out what to do about the dirty money later after I got ahold of one of my uncles. For now the money, and I, were safe enough. Although we weren’t close, there was no way my Uncle Harry would have shipped the cash to me if he thought someone was actively looking for it, or if it would put my life in danger. Family was
still family.

So, it wasn’t like I had to worry about some big Russian thug breaking down my door for it.

October 1, 2021|Excerpts, Ruthless Obsession|0 Comments
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