Sinner (Shelter Harbor #1)

By: Aubrey Irons

Sinner: A Bad Boy Next Door Romance





Prologue





Rowan




“Oh, God.”

The words drip like honey from her lips — a hushed, gasping prayer to the darkness surrounding us.

Her fingers dig into my skin, her legs tighten on my hips, and her eyes go wide — big blue pools blinking up at me. I move in, my lips grazing the hollow of her neck, groaning as I inhale her heat and her scent and her whispered moan. Her chest rises and falls against mine, and the silver of the cross nestled between her breasts catches my eye.

A sharp reminder of the sin we’re committing.

This girl is my vice.

She’s sweet temptation. The apple in the garden. Original sin, writhing beneath me, clutching at my shoulders, and letting my name fall from her lips.

And this is so wrong. Even I know that. She’s too inexperienced for this. For me.

Too innocent. Too pristine. Too pure.

She’s got no business with a guy like me. And I’d say someone should have warned her, but then, someone did.

I warned her.

She ignored that warning, and now? Now I’m going to show her how dirty it is down here with the sinners. I’m going to take that innocence all over again. I’m going to take that purity and I’m going to make it mine.

I move from her neck and sear my lips to hers. It’s a hard, punishing, kiss. It’s penance.

Absolution in advance of the sin.

I pull away, my hand sliding up to cup her jaw. The gasp hitches in her throat — her lip twists and half-catches between her teeth and I fucking growl.

I want this, consequences be damned.

Her being off limits be damned.

Her being promised to someone else be damned.

The fact that she’s way too pure, way too good for me, and way too good in general be damned. In no rational world should I be talking to a girl like this, much less between her thighs with her legs around my waist and my cock poised to claim her innocence.

But then, we left rational behind long ago.

“Please,” she whispers, begging me, like I’ve fucking dreamed of her doing.

My pulse jumps, my hand tightens in her hair, and the hunger roars up inside of me as I somehow hold myself literally inches away from her sweet heaven.

“Last chance, angel,” I growl into her ear, groaning when she gasps at the ferocity in my voice. “Last chance before there’s no coming back.”

She nods, her fingers tightening against my skin, her body arching to meet mine, and her eyes burning into mine.

“I need you to fuck me, not give me a lecture.”

My eyes narrow as her eyes glint fiercely and mischievously up at me. She knows what she’s doing. She’s baiting me. Pushing me. Tempting me.

Fuck, she’s been tempting me since the day she walked into my life.

“So, are you going to? Or are you just going to keep talk- oh…”

Her words fail, and the moan catches in her throat as I press against her — not inside, but right there, waiting to slip in.

She swallows, her eyes wide and that sass from a second earlier failing her.

Our eyes lock, and she nods. “Do it.”

Her legs around my waist, the silver cross between her breasts, the pure innocence on that face — it’s more than I can handle, and it’s more than I can resist.

I brace myself, ready to slide all the way in.

Ready to take her.

Ready to claim her, and mark her as mine.

“Oh God, Rowan”, she breathes into the darkness, like a whispered prayer.

Muscles tense as I ease my hips forward, the head of my cock grazing against the sweet, slick heat between her legs…

And that’s when I hear the metallic click of the hammer being drawn.

That’s when I feel the cold steel of the gun against the back of my head.

And that’s when it all comes crashing down.





Chapter One





Evangeline




I shouldn’t be here.

I need to be here, of course, to get the key so that we can get into the rental house when my father gets back from the church. But that doesn’t mean I should be.

I shouldn’t be anywhere near a place like this, actually.

I look at the single key in my hand, poised at the lock, and then glance up at the front of the dingy building I’m standing in front of. It’s red clapboard, with white trim, and large sign that reads “O’Donnell’s” across it, with a little green shamrock where the apostrophe should be. It might’ve been charming in some past era, but the dinginess of the sign, the general dirtiness of the building, and the grime on the windows takes any semblance of that away.

O’Donnell’s is, as they say, a dive bar.

I wrinkle my nose at the smell of stale beer, glancing down at the smashed glass on the sidewalk beside my sandaled feet. I shift over a few inches, careful not to let the hem of my white dress brush against the dirty wall of the bar.

Again, I shouldn’t be here. Sandaled feet, white sundress — father-approved of course in both length and modesty — the silver cross my mother gave me three years ago for my eighteenth birthday hanging by a small chain around my neck.

‘Out of place’ doesn’t quite cut it.

But again, I’m here for a reason, and it isn’t to stand outside here wrinkling my brow at all the reasons I’d never be caught dead in a place like this. I slip the key into the door lock, turn it with a click, and step into the dim interior of the bar.

And I thought the outside was dirty.

The inside is a dump. I gingerly step over another smashed bottle, side-stepping a puddle of something that smells like rubbing alcohol as I glance around the empty bar.

“Hello?”

There’s no response, so I call out again.

“Hello? Hi, Rowan? I’m here for the key?”

The key to the rental house. That’s all I need here and then I am getting myself away from this place as quickly as possible. I pocket the key that the Reverend Jacob Hammond — friend of my father’s and the whole reason we’re here — gave me to his son’s bar.

I shake my head. A reverend’s son who owns a bar? One that looks like this?

Now that’s an interesting one.

“Hello?” I sigh as I call into the silence again, glancing around the room. Turned off neon signs, framed posters and jerseys for some sort of sports team, a paper flyer advertising live music every other Friday night.

Reverend Hammond assured me that his son knew I was stopping by to get the key to the rental house of his where my family and I will be staying while we’re in Shelter Harbor these next couple of months.

Months, yikes.

It feels weird, thinking of it like that, even if I knew it was happening for a while now. I’ve known about it ever since my father’s old friend from seminary school asked him if he’d like to relocate up to Massachusetts for a few months to help oversee the opening of a ministries outreach and homeless shelter in the next town over. And seeing as my father’s church was still closed due to damage from the fire over the summer, he’d jumped at the chance.

“Where there is sin, so shall be I. For His flock is my duty to tend.”

And so we’re here. Me, my mother, my father, and Chastity, a girl my age and the daughter of one of my father’s parishioners, ready to roll up our sleeves and help.

“Months” does seem like a while, but then, a few months here will be exactly what I need after the breakup.

Well, “breakup” is what my father and mother keep calling it, even if I’d prefer to call it “Joseph leaving me for someone else while I was off doing missionary work”. I might not be very experienced when it comes to fiancés, but apparently, it’s hard to keep one when you’re off doing outreach in South Korea.

Even if father’s been firm that I should have done more to make sure things were “copacetic” with my future husband.

But now I’m back. Back with a very useless degree in theological studies, short a fiancé — and a job for that matter — and living with my mother and father in a strange new town for the next few months while he works on this project with Reverend Hammond. On the plus side, Shelter Harbor, north of Boston, does seem like a very sweet town, however different it is from Christ Redeemer Township, Georgia.

A nice town, that is, aside from this place.

“Hello?” I call out again, wrinkling my nose at the smell of stale beer. I step further into the dim, empty interior. I glance behind the bar before ducking down the back hallway.

“Hello? Rowan? It’s Evangeline.” I frown as I step down the hall towards a half-cracked doorway. “I’m supposed to get the key to the rental house from you?”

For a moment, I think I hear something, and I stop. “Hello?”

I frown at the silence again. Where is this guy? And what on earth is a minister’s son doing in a place like this?

The sound comes muffled again from behind the half-cracked door, and I curiously move down the hallway towards it.

“Rowan?” I push the door open and start to step inside when I suddenly freeze.

Oh. My. God.

The man is completely naked, sprawled across a sofa against the wall of what must be an office of some kind.

My eyes go wide, somehow unable to even look away as my hand flies to my mouth

He’s on his stomach, thank the Lord, but it doesn’t stop my eyes from being pulled into the sight of him. His shoulders and his arms are covered in swirls of tattoo ink over thick muscles. Brown hair flops over part of his face — turned towards me but with his eyes closed. One hand dangled off the sofa, still half-clutching a mostly empty bottle of something.

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