(A Hellfire Club Novel)
Publication date: November 17th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
The new girl doesn’t belong here. So why can’t I stop thinking about her? Iris Briggs a goodie two-shoes with a headmaster father who aims to ruin my school year before it’s even begun. She gets under my skin. With her demure skirts and braided hair, Iris flits around the periphery until she runs right into me, hot coffee soaking me as she looks up at me with wide, innocent eyes. We start off scalding.
In the library, we reach lava levels.
And then in the city? We go nuclear.
She’s a good girl, but I’m a Constantine. My duty is to my family. At least, it was until I started unbraiding the good girl and realizing there’s more to life than duty.
“Keaton Constantine, what the hell?”
My brows popped. My mother rarely swore. “Wow, Mom. I didn’t even know you knew that word.”
“That relationship is important,” Mom explained, sounding like she was struggling for patience. “It’s your future.”
“Mom, I’m eighteen. You can’t really expect me to date the same girl for the rest of my life.”
“I can, and I do. You’ve been raised together. Groomed to be together. It’s not like you need to get to know her. You know exactly what kind of family she comes from. You should know that the expectation is that you two will get married.”
I laughed at that. “Again, we’re eighteen. We’re not going to marry anyone any time soon. And while I care about her, I don’t love her.”
I could envision her pinched face. “You’re being very naïve,” my mother said in a brittle voice. “Constantines marry well. That’s what we do. And it’s your role in the family to connect us with the Blairs.”
“And if I don’t want to?”
Mom didn’t say anything for a second. “Keaton, don’t make me compel you.”
“With money?” That was, after all, my parents’ go-to move.
She didn’t answer, but she didn’t need to. I had a trust fund and a monthly allowance that would balance the budgets of most Midwestern states—but both of those could be fucked with. By her. The first wave of trust fund money would be released once I graduated—and it would be enough to see me through college until I could get my own job . . . if I didn’t choose a career in rugby, that was. If I chose rugby, I’d need fuck-all from the family.
But again, I couldn’t start playing pro until after graduation at the soonest.
“You’re telling me that if I don’t keep dating Clara, you’re going to starve me out financially?”
“Don’t be gauche,” she said. She disliked overt money talk. “I’m just reminding you that the benefits of this family are tied to service to this family.”
“Does it matter to you that Clara doesn’t love me? Never mind how I feel?”
“This isn’t about love, sweetheart, this is about a merger of the families. Something better and stronger. You’ll see.”
I ground my teeth together. My gaze went outside my window again.
I looked over at Keaton, who pulled my feet into his lap the moment the car started and was now stroking up my bare legs with greedy fingertips. “Are we—do you want to—” I cleared my throat, feeling awkward and needy and repugnantly anxious. “Are we going to do this again sometime?”
His hands went still on my legs, and when he looked over at me, that lock of hair was hanging over his forehead, like he was a cartoon fairy-tale prince made real. “Tell me what you mean by this, Iris. A trip to New York? Staying at my place?”
I was already shaking my head, even though I wouldn’t say no to either opportunity if they arose again. “I mean us spending time together, Keaton. The hanging out. The fooling around. When we get to Pembroke, are we going to pretend this weekend never happened?”
Now all of him was completely still. Tense. I couldn’t read his expression when he said, “Is that what you want? To stop?”
An instinctive pain welled up inside me at the very thought of stopping. And then a wave of fear followed that pain. If I was this far gone for him after only a weekend, what would happen after weeks of this at school? Months? I’d be broken over him. He’d break me, and then I’d just be the stupid girl who fell for the king of the school. The girl that fell for the rugby idol and his arrogant smirk.
No better than a fool.
“I don’t know,” I whispered, looking away. “I don’t know what I want.”
He didn’t seem to like that answer at all. My seatbelt was unbuckled and I was in his lap before I could blink. He yanked me to his chest with one burly arm while his other hand slid up my skirt. Not to toy with me or tease, but to cup me. Hard. And with his hand molded possessively over me, he said in a fierce, rough voice, “Don’t keep me from this. Don’t keep us from this.”
I couldn’t help how I reacted to his touch. Just like in the library that very first time, his breathtaking arrogance only fired me—and my half-glaring, half-aroused response only stoked his need higher. He curled his hand over me even tighter, sending quivering heat to the place that needed his touch the most.
“What about Clara?” I demanded, scowling at him.
He looked confused. “What about her?”
“We can’t be having sex while everyone thinks you’re with her!”
Keaton’s brow wrinkled. It made him look unfairly cute. “Why not? She’s got nothing to do with us.”
My stomach knifed. “So you’re just going to continue dating her,” I said dully. “While you fuck me on the side.”
“Iris,” Keaton said, the arm around my waist now moving up my back. He buried his fingers in the wavy mass of my hair. “You’re making this sound worse than it is. She and I don’t fuck, we don’t fool around, we don’t even kiss, and you know why? Because I only kiss the girls I want.”
I blinked at him.
I didn’t want this ugly doubt nestled inside me. I didn’t want what we’d shared this weekend to end up poisoned and ruined. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to imagine that the next few months or longer would be full of the same heady, thrilling fun we’d had this weekend.
A long minute passed while I thought. “Are you saying you don’t want her?” I asked shyly. A little miserably.
Becker Gray is the brainchild of two best friends who love rich boys in peacoats. The Hellfire Club is their first series together.
a Rafflecopter giveaway