Dark Obsession # 1
By: Charlotte Stein
Releasing July 21st, 2015
Perfect for fans of Abbi Glines, the first novel in the Dark Obsession series tells the story of a beautiful wallflower who falls for a chiseled street fighter—and learns just how dangerous love can be.
Beatrix Becker spent most of her life under the thumb of her controlling, abusive father. And now that she’s free and attending her dream college, she has no idea how to act like the normal crowd: partying, going on dates, even having a conversation. Then she meets Serge Sorensen. Big and surly with a whole host of riotous tattoos, Serge is supposed to scare the hell out of her. But beneath his harsh exterior, Beatrix discovers a kindred spirit who knows what it’s like to be a misfit. Most exhilarating—and terrifying—is what he does for a living: illegal street fighting.
There’s nothing like the rush Serge gets from the intense athleticism and brutal glory of combat—though his chemistry with Beatrix comes close. Slowly at first, he introduces her to his world, where he lives by instinct, passion, and desire. He even helps her out with her equally traumatized brother. But when Serge gets in too deep with the wrong people, he ends up paying in blood. And suddenly, just as Beatrix has been drawn into Serge’s perfectly sculpted arms, she’s thrown once and for all into the fight of his life.
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“I tell you what, girl. How about you hop on, and I’ll take you to where he is.”
Some of the guys around him laugh. Hell, he seems to be laughing a little, too. He even slaps the back of his bike like the punch line to this whole crazy joke—he knows I’m never going to climb up on that thing. Everyone knows I’m not going to climb up on that thing. I’m a soft little kid, in corduroy.
Though for once in my life, I don’t want to be. I want to say yes, just to show him. Just to make up for all the times when I went back to my room and changed and changed and changed until my clothes were suitable, or stayed silent because silence was golden and talking back got you the basement. I don’t have to stay silent here, if I really don’t want to.
But that only makes it more disappointing when my sad little mouth leaks out, “I can’t do that.”
In fact, it’s so disappointing that he seems to catch some of it. He snorts, of course, as though he expected that answer all along. Yet beneath that snort I think I see something else, just sort of drifting around down there. A bitterness, I think, that carries through his otherwise amused and rather withering words.
“Afraid of bikes, huh?”
“Yeah, you could say that.”
“And maybe afraid of me?”
“I’d have to be insane to be anything else.”
“Oh, yeah? Why’s that?”
“Think it’s pretty obvious.”
“Mostly it’s the size.”
He makes a face like Yeah, that makes sense.
But the shadow of that odd disappointment is still there.
“What can I say? I’m a big guy.”
“And maybe the tattoos.”
“I sure got them.”
“And the hair.”
“You don’t like it?”
He runs a hand over that thick black stripe right down the center, like some lady at a salon showing off her new hairdo. And it’s funny; it really is funny. It’s so funny that the assembled crowd laughs again to see him do it. This is probably the kind of show he does all the time, and I’m sure none of them ever question it.
But I’m questioning it. I can still see that serious undercurrent beneath his jokey manner, and it makes me answer him in a more impassioned way than I intend. “No, no, it’s not that at all,” I say, though it’s only afterward that I realize how true that sentiment is.
Yeah, he’s scary as fuck. Yeah, the thought of riding off with him on that bike almost freezes my blood. But if I’m honest with myself about liking that hair . . . I can’t exactly say no. I do like it. I like a lot of things about him, in a way I don’t fully understand. He should ping just about every aggressive-man fear I have, but every time I try to think of him that way, something else happens instead. I see the contrast between those black stripes and his pale blue eyes, and the way he waits for my answer in this actually interested manner, and how strange all of his clothes are and that flash of bitterness or weariness in him again, and then suddenly there it is:
The word handsome.
Dear God, I think he might be handsome, though I’m not going to stick around long enough to find out for sure.
“I’ve got to go,” I blurt out, but I immediately regret it. I should have just turned and run really quickly—not given him warning. Now he’s got time to punish me as I ever so slowly start to walk away. Oh, look at the little college girl. She’s frightened, he’ll say, and then someone will throw a rock at me. All of them will throw rocks at me, until I’m a bruised and bloody pulp on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. Idiot Student Finds Angry Biker Handsome, I imagine, though I’ve no idea why I’m doing it.
That doesn’t even make any sense. People don’t write reports about girls randomly noticing attractiveness. They write reports about girls being murdered, so really, that should be my headline. Idiot Student Has Arms and Legs Pulled Off by Handsome Biker, I try, but I can’t help noticing that the word handsome is still in there.
God, I wish it wasn’t still in there.
It’s hard enough as it is to walk to my car without glancing back. Putting the word handsome in there makes it nearly impossible. My eyes want me to double-check, and not just because I probably hallucinated how good-looking he is. They want me to check because I’m almost positive I can feel his gaze pressing into my back. I can feel it the way people in books say they can feel it, even though I usually snort and roll my eyes when I get to stuff like that. You can’t sense someone’s stare in real life. That’s just not the way it works.
So how come I’m right?
I dare to glance up once I’m inside the safety of my car, expecting to see him going about his business. Maybe he’ll be in the middle of some awful drug thing, I think. Maybe he’ll be making some kid pay for wanting to do something other than come right home after school. But he isn’t doing either of those things—not even close.
Instead I see those frostbitten eyes still steadily on me, as everyone around him returns to their rowdy and brutal ballet.
Charlotte Stein has written over thirty short stories, novellas and novels, including entries in The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance and Best New Erotica 10. Her latest work, Run To You, was recently a DABWAHA finalist. When not writing deeply emotional and intensely sexy books, she can be found eating jelly turtles, watching terrible sitcoms and occasionally lusting after hunks. For more on Charlotte, visit: www.charlottestein.net
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