Bound (Forbidden Series - Book 1)

By: Melody Anne

Book One in the Forbidden Series


Prelude




“Take off your clothes.”

Jewell looked at Blake as if he’d lost his mind. “What?”

His eyes narrowed. “Take off your clothes. Do not make me repeat myself again.” He stood back and looked at her through silver eyes that seemed to see right into her soul.

“I c…can’t. We’re in a parking garage,” she stammered. She looked desperately around at the full lot.

Sure, this corner happened to be dark, but what if someone drove in? What if a police car cruised by again? There was no way she could do what he was ordering her to.

Blake just waited in silence, leaning against the front of his car and watching her pace nervously in front of him.

“Please?” Sheesh. She was reduced to begging now.

“I guess our agreement is finished, then.” He shrugged as if he didn’t care.

Was he bluffing? Could she take the chance? Her stomach knotted painfully as she weighed her options.

Wanting more than anything to walk away, she closed her eyes and saw her brother’s sweet, impish face. What was she willing to do for him?

Anything.





Chapter One




“I’m pleased we’re now business partners. I think this venture will be a success.”

Blake Knight laughed as he shook hands with Rafe Palazzo, gratified that the man had finally come to visit from San Francisco. Though Blake had known Rafe for many years, this was the first project the two of them had paired up on. The contracts were signed, and the deal would put a few more hundreds of millions into both of their already fat wallets.

“I don’t think there’s a venture out there with your name on it that isn’t a success, Rafe.”

“Ah, my friend, the same can be said about what you and your brothers do,” Rafe replied without missing a beat.

“We’re just that damn good, I guess,” Blake said.

Though at first glance the two of them might come off as smug and self-satisfied, and they might look at multimillion-dollar investments the same way an average person looked at depositing twenty dollars into their savings account, the men were shrewd and their self-assessments were based on solid fact, not ego. They knew how to make money, and they knew they’d always keep making more.

Only a select few ruled the world, and when Blake Knight was a young boy and his parents’ lives ended right before his very eyes, he’d decided right then that he would never be vulnerable again. He would never be one of the weak, never be easy prey to a world packed with predators. No one would sneak up on him and catch him unaware.

“Let’s have a drink, and you can fill me in on what you’ve been doing for the past year,” Rafe told Blake. “Too much time has gone by since our last visit.”

The two of them moved toward the conference room doors at Knight Construction.

“You’re the one who sold your soul to a woman and disappeared,” Blake reminded his friend.

“Don’t knock it, Blake. Ari has changed my life and made me a better man.”

“Oh, please, please, for the love of all that’s holy, do not continue,” Blake said, horrified to hear these words coming from a man who was once one of the most ruthless bachelors he’d ever met. “I remember the days when you thought no woman was true, no woman could ever be trusted. Marriage — your second marriage — has ruined you. There’s a term for it, you know…”

“There was a time, Blake, when I would have thrown you up against a wall for just thinking me the slightest bit weak.”

“Ha! You would have tried,” Blake said.

Neither of them was remotely upset by the exchange, of course. It was all friendly banter.

Rafe smiled and spoke reflectively. “I came to realize that the anger I’d held onto for too long was pointless. I also realized that having one woman to love didn’t end my life or my freedom. It made everything better. Ari is full of surprises and delights that I’ll never get tired of exploring. I know you’ll scoff at such talk, but what she does for me is indescribable.”

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