On the first day at his new job at a law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, Zolt comes face to face with his hallucination, Irelyn Wilkes. Their fateful connection, and explosive passion for each other pulls them together, and this time, Zolt refuses to let her slip from his life.
But Irelyn has her own demons to fight and her controlling boyfriend is one of them. He doesn’t take kindly to other people playing with his toys, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her by his side.
Can Irelyn and Zolt defy the odds and find a way to be together? Or, will the events set in motion years ago keep them apart forever?
moved toward the bindings that had her securely fastened to my wrought iron,
four-poster bed. She’d been tethered there for over thirty minutes, and now
that the sex was over, I imagined her arms and legs were probably beginning to
ache as the adrenaline left her body.
legs after I released her. I didn’t need or want to know her name. I’d never
see her again so what was the point.
roaming appreciatively over my body.
amazing.” She licked her plump lips as her eyes traveled over my naked body,
stopping when she noticed the nasty scars on my left shin. Small gray eyes
darted to mine, and I saw the pity setting in. Pity was a deal breaker for me.
disappointment. “Didn’t you enjoy yourself? You seemed to be having a great
repeat performances. Ever.”
way things are.”
Then, she climbed off the bed and pulled on her clothes. “I don’t understand.
Are you married or something?”
concerns you. I’m just not interested. Tonight was great. Really. I enjoyed the
shit out of myself. Fucking you was exactly what I needed. Thanks.”
car at the club,” she whined.
you want. I’ve already paid the fare.” I shrugged again. This was the
bothersome part of operating this way. They always wanted to see me again, and
my answer was always no.
me there was something wrong with you. I bet your name isn’t even John. Do you
even live here?” Whatever-her-name yanked on her shoes, and then stood with her
arms crossed over her chest.
name is whatever you want it to be.”
her my megawatt smile. “I’m pretty sure you came at least three times. It’s all
good, and now, it’s all over.”
arm, guiding her to the door.
her foot as I opened the front door.
find a man that will be as adventurous. Now, off you go, Sally. Bye, bye.”
on her. I could still hear grumbling as she walked away.
long sigh. It would be a while before I could go back to that club. Too bad it
ended the same every time. But I understood why. Women saw me as a catch. I
knew I was attractive. It wasn’t conceit, either. It was a fact of life that
all men of the Hamil family were hot.
cover of Sports Illustrated as the Sexiest Man in Football. That cover, and the
other endorsements I had, made me a nice amount of cash, so I was totally good
with being an object of desire. Since they didn’t really know me, they didn’t
know that I was nowhere as attractive on the inside.
the toys away, locking the drawer. Then, I stripped the bed, piling the sheets
on the floor for the maid service to take care of.
Could be the following day. Could be two weeks from now. But tonight, I’d been
out of fucking control—chomping at the bit to blow off some steam. In fact, I
still hummed with energy.
When I got like this, only one thing helped: acting out. So, I’d gone to the
club in search of the first remotely available Nancy, Sally, or whoever, that
didn’t revolt me. Nancy had been an easy mark. I hadn’t been there ten minutes
before I’d bought her a drink, and we were out the door, heading to the
apartment I kept specifically for this purpose. I was always happy when I found
a woman willing to dabble in a little bondage. I wasn’t heavily into the BDSM
scene, but knew how to wield pain for the ultimate pleasure.
forced to acknowledged just how screwed up my life had become. So I didn’t. I
didn’t think about all the nameless women I had fucked in the last six years,
and how I hadn’t been in a relationship since the injury. These exchanges served
a purpose. Beyond that? Well, there was nothing beyond that.
I’d forgotten how to get a woman off. I enjoyed women. Loved the soft curves of
their body, and loved making them come. There was nothing hotter than watching
a woman writhe and squirm as I fucked her closer to orgasm. The sound of her
screaming what she thought was my name was music to my ears, but that was as
far as it went.
want that advertised.
I was fucking broken.
of having a normal relationship. Truth was, I waited for someone that didn’t
exist. A woman my pain-wracked brain conjured that day on the football field. To
make matters worse, she wasn’t even of age. She was a young woman, maybe
fifteen or sixteen, with the most beautiful sable-brown eyes and blonde hair
I’d ever seen. Her face was sweet, kind, and compassion filled. I realized how
creepy this sounds. I wasn’t a sick fuck who preyed on young girls, and I had
no idea why my mind created her. But all I knew was, if I ever discovered she
was real, I’d do anything to have her.
into my Viper. God, I loved this car. She was all power and beauty, and driving
her made me happy. I revved the engine and closed my eyes, loving the purr, and
sometimes roar of her V10.
her past the century mark on the speedometer. It was crazy to be weaving in and
out of traffic on the main freeway. I was asking to be pulled over, but again,
I didn’t care. In fact, I pressed her harder and watched as the needle climbed
to 110. The concentration it took to control this machine exhilarated me. Still
wound up and looking to banish my shadow-self the only way I knew how, I pushed
her just a little more. Why fucking for over an hour didn’t do the trick, I had
no idea. But if I didn’t burn this energy off before I got home, sleep would be
out of reach. It wouldn’t do to start a new job at one of the country’s most
prestigious law firms red-eyed and tired. Once home, I intended to take a long,
hot shower, and then smoke a few bowls. Hopefully, I’d emerge tired enough to
sleep. For a while, maybe I’d find peace until the nightmare returned that
plunged me into my own personal hell.
she brought me out of.
fashion. I jolted awake screaming, and drenched in sweat—the images as clear as
the day they happened.
I rubbed my leg, trying to make the pain go away. The image of her
lovely face and those amazing sable-brown eyes chased the nightmare away, but
my body still buzzed with the memories.
bedside table and sighed. Just once, I wished I didn’t have to numb myself to
start the day.
damp collar-length hair, removing the waves sticking to my moist neck. I used
to keep it short for this very reason, but I liked the way it looked longer.
lit the bowl with the lighter. The glow of the burning weed, and the sound of
the bong gurgling as I took a hit immediately calmed me. I inhaled deep and
held the smoke in my burning lungs.
the dawn-lit room. It floated for a second before dissipating, leaving behind
the tangy smell of burning weed.
and rapid breathing. The high kicked in, and I already felt the calm take over.
I hated being so weak, and hated that what happened almost six years ago
continued to affect and define my days. I used to be the epitome of discipline.
maybe the dreams would abate. But night after night, I replayed the game and
its never changing end.
hottest quarterbacks in the NFL, playing for the Arizona Cardinals. The year
prior, we’d made it to the NFC Championships, losing by a field goal.
position, with the golden ticket to the Super Bowl within our reach. The only
thing standing in our way was the Philadelphia Eagles. I snarled as I thought
about that team. I always snarled at the thought of them.
were on the ten-yard line on third down. I dropped into the pocket, searching
the field for an open receiver. I danced this way and that as if my movements
might slow the clock. With no receiver available, I sucked in a breath and
decided to go for it. What I should have done was thrown it out of bounds and
stopped the clock. That would have been the smart move—the safe move. We had
one more chance. I had to make it happen. The year had to end in a run for the
cradled against me as if I carried a newborn baby, I headed for the end zone.
But I wasn’t a running back, that wasn’t what I had been trained for. Stupidly,
I ran with my head down instead of up. As a result, I didn’t see the
three-hundred pound linebacker heading my way. I was the man with the ball, and
I had left the protection of my offensive line, which made me fair game.
the ground in extreme pain. When I looked down at my left leg, I was
surprised—and not—to see it angled in an unnatural position. I knew then that I
was well and truly fucked.
Pain and the smell of the turf below me was all there was.
found out a bounty of $5,000 had been issued for any player that took out one
of my knees. I hoped he got a bonus because he’d gone above and beyond his
mandate. Not only did I miss a season, my football career was over. Instead of
taking out my knee, his helmet, and the power behind it, he hit my shin and
shattered my tibia and fibula.
trainers and medical staff attended me. Chaos had broken out around me. Players
fought, and coaches and referees argued.
needed to concentrate on something other than the excruciating pain coming from
my leg. I turned my head and found a pair of big, sable-brown eyes, surrounded
by golden-blonde hair, staring at me. She was beyond beautiful, and her eyes
were mesmerizing. I had conjured an angel.
connection. When all around I saw pity and remorse, in her eyes, I found solace
and compassion—a kindred soul to my loss. The need to help, and her inability
not to, showed in the tears falling down her face, and the trembling of her
full red lips. My heart still clenched whenever I thought about it.
When I thought back on it, I knew there was no way she could be real. The
average person wouldn’t have been allowed to get so close to an injured player
on the field. Hell, my girlfriend, who’d been sitting in the stands, wasn’t
allowed on the field. It still baffled the shit out of me that my mind had created
such a vivid image.
her eyes in my hallucination, and I remember her taking a small step forward. I
wanted her to come closer, to touch me. That was where the hallucination ended,
stopped by a new streak of pain that had traveled through my leg, sending me
into momentary blackness. When I opened my eyes, my blonde-haired beauty with
soul-filled eyes had disappeared. All I had left was the image of her that
pulled me from my terror every morning. I figured she’d probably be around
twenty or twenty-one by now if she were real. I’d admit, that even today, I
looked for those eyes in every blonde I encountered.
bong. Maybe one too many, but at least now I felt more balanced, controlled,
and ready to start the day.
graduated from Harvard Law School, summa cum laude, and worked for almost three
years at a top law firm in Boston. Some of the country’s top law firms had
courted me, and I had my pick of firms. But I decided to come back to Arizona,
the place where my life changed forever.
headed for the pool. I didn’t bother putting on swim trunks; swimming naked was
awesome. After a few stretches, I dove into the pool and swam laps for an hour.
Swimming kept me in shape, though not the shape of an NFL football player.
Those days were gone.
feeling excited, like something huge would happen today. The last time I had
this feeling, something huge happened all right. I looked at my leg and scowled
as sudsy water washed over my angry scars.
surveying the suits I had to choose from. I was somewhat of a
clotheshorse—always had been. Today, I picked a black Hugo Boss suit, white
shirt, and black, silk tie. In the mirror before me, I watched a professional,
seemingly together man tie his tie. It was a lie of course, but one I was used
packed up a brownie in a plastic bag to take with me. I’d gotten good at baking
brownies. But these weren’t just any chocolaty treats. These had a kick. Cliché
I know, but hey, whatever got me through the day. Whether I’d partake in it
depended on how the day went. Obviously, smoking at work wasn’t a good idea.
But every now and then, the pain became unbearable. If a handful of ibuprofen
didn’t do the trick, the brownie would. I refused to take pain meds. Those
things did a number on my brain.
paraphernalia of my coping mechanism, and locked them in a cabinet in the
pantry. I didn’t need Hannah, my housekeeper, finding them. She probably
wouldn’t care, but I did.
met her twice, but we had developed an odd, sometimes hilarious, texting
relationship. I really liked her. Her cooking was amazing, and she kept my home
thrilled. My brother was bringing my dog, Ben, home to me. He had been with
Brody in Colorado for the last two months while I got settled. I couldn’t wait
to see both of them. Thinking about it made me giddy. I knew Ben would love it
here. There was plenty of room for him to run. Bernese Mountain dogs needed
lots of exercise. I almost didn’t get him because of that. Now, I couldn’t
imagine my life without him. He got my ass outside and stopped me from being
such a hermit. If I thought about the fact that my best friend was a dog, I
would get bummed. But then again, fuck it! I loved my dog, and I had missed him
ibuprofen into my hand, and then popped them into my mouth. From the fridge, I
pulled out a bottle of OJ, taking large swigs from the bottle.
the door. The sound of my designer shoes on the travertine floors reminded me
of the sound of cleats on concrete. It made me smile, but the memory was
bittersweet, and I pushed it aside. Behind bittersweet was pure malice, an
emotion I couldn’t allow myself. Not today.