Excerpt for Pink Lilies by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Published by EVERNIGHT PUBLISHING ® Smashwords


Copyright© 2018 Lacee Hightower

ISBN: 978-1-77339-614-9

Cover Artist: Jay Aheer

Editor: CA Clauson


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Dedicated to my big brother in Heaven. My biggest cheerleader from afar.


Beautiful People, 1

Lacee Hightower

Copyright © 2018

The raging fire which urged us on was scorching us;

it would have burned us had we tried to restrain it.

—Giacomo Casanova


Come and embrace me Lord.

Hold me secure.

Hold me strong.

Hold me forever.

In your everlasting arms.’

“Isn’t that song nice? Don’t you just love the sound of the beautiful guitar? Doesn’t it simply give you chills all through your body?”

The sound of the music was nice. The same song played over and over. And the words … they were all so appropriate. I was faithless. There was nowhere to hide. Not now. Nobody could save me.

“Tyler? Is that you?”

Hadn’t he just been here? I was sure I’d heard him speaking.

The room was almost completely dark, the only light a small streak streaming through the partially open mini-blinds. Yet, I could still see the glow of vibrant green eyes as I stared ahead—waiting. Waiting for what my body craved more than anything it had ever needed so badly. The rush. The peace. The ultimate high.

My strength was fading quickly. I was scared, the short prayer my mom and I recited every night before bed when I was a child, suddenly falling from my lips.

Were those angels on the wall?

I raised the pen that rested on top of the lilac-colored paper, expressing the words I knew were my last.

The sudden pinch stung. The burn was heavy at first, but welcoming. Why was my mouth suddenly so hard to move? Why was I struggling to speak the words of the prayer as I hoped for the miracle I knew wasn’t coming?

The pain began subsiding, the evil glare still piercing mine. No words were spoken. None were necessary. Everything was right there … behind those eyes.

My body began making gurgling noises as I fought the urge to throw up. I was tired. So tired. The green eyes … they were fading. I pulled my feet underneath my chest trying to subside the cramping in my stomach. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be alone.

Please don’t leave me alone.

The room was growing darker, my mind slipping into that peaceful place I craved. Everything was fading. This is what he would have wanted. I understood now. It was all perfectly clear.

“It’s time.” The voice was distant, the cramping gone. I felt as if I was flying somewhere into a long warm gush of brightness.

Then it was gone…

Chapter One


Have you ever awakened from a normal night’s sleep thinking today was going to be a day like any other?

Get up.

Drink coffee.

Take a shower and get dressed.

Proceed with the day.

Then all of a sudden, shit hits the proverbial fan. Everything blows up in your face. Not necessarily in a bad way. Just not the norm.

Only when we least expect, something happens to change every single thing in our life. Something that may just rock our world…

* * * *

“We should try that new pancake house before too long. I heard it’s excellent.”

Maci and I ambled toward the counter of Krispy Kreme. Same as most Wednesdays, I was off work, and the attorney Maci worked for had court, so like plenty of other hump days, we’d met for a quick breakfast. Maci was one of those girls you loved to hate. Naturally lean and gorgeous, if she wasn’t my best friend, I might actually be offended by her ability to eat what she wanted and never gain an ounce. “Pancakes and doughnuts … they’re both the same. Poison for my ass.”

“A girl’s gotta eat, Alex. Plus, it’s not exactly attractive walking around with a stomach groaning like horny mating whales,” Maci countered, her comment making me grin. “Might as well be something that tastes amazing.”

“Says the girl that never gains weight no matter what.” Who the hell knows what horny mating whales sound like?

“Two glazed and a cup of hazelnut?” the same grinning, middle-aged man that always seemed to wait on me asked. I gave him a nod and like always, he walked into the back to get me two warm doughnuts instead of just giving me a couple from the display. Maci stood beside me, giving the very well-endowed thirty-something year-old woman with overly bleached hair her order.

“Thanks as always, Eric.” He handed me my order and I secured my purse over my shoulder and spun around to nab us the last empty table in the crowded shop. After I managed to find what was probably the only slick spot on the entire floor, I almost lost my balance, not only smashing my two warm doughnuts into the steel-hard chest of a stranger, but also spilling freshly-brewed piping hot coffee on the front of his shirt.

“Dr. Yates!” The platinum blonde busty woman rushed over with a towel, placing it against the drenched chest of the man she obviously knew, as he grimaced, staring down at his stained shirt.

My face burned with embarrassment as I cringed in empathy at the mess I’d made. “Oh, my God. I am so sorry,” I expressed. “I didn’t even realize anyone was behind me.” I took a step back and bent down to pick up the empty coffee container, immediately noticing Italian leather black loafers and saying a silent thanks to the man upstairs for not getting coffee on what I expected were highly expensive shoes that my monthly salary probably couldn’t replace.

“I see that,” the man said, looking serious, as I stood back up and looked into two glistening emerald-green eyes full of intensity, topped by strong arched brows and dark thick lashes. “Are you okay?” he asked, snagging the towel from the blonde who continued to blot at the dark brown stain. After wiping off his hands, he returned the wet towel with a quick thank you to the woman. That was the minute I noticed his beautiful hands. Impeccably manicured, he owned the longest, most perfectly shaped fingers I’d ever seen on a man, his tanned wrist covered by a sleek watch with a dark dial and a shading of black hair.

As he stared back at me, unsure if he was angry or otherwise, one look at his beautifully carved face stopped all the air from circulating in my chest. Nothing but pure male, his jaw was prominent, covered in a light coating of facial hair. Then, on either side of a straight nose were those two beautiful eyes, rendering me speechless.

Dark brown hair, nearly black, was slightly wavy, and almost touching the collar of his shirt. Obviously styled with gel, every perfect strand was in place. My pulse racing, he took a step closer, giving me a deep smell of woodsy cologne and his natural body scent.

Still in shock—more or less filled with shameful humiliation—I finally managed to speak. “I’m fine, but what about you? You’re the one with hot coffee on your stomach.”

His look turned contemplative as he softly answered, “Probably only a few third-degree burns. Fortunately, I’m a cosmetic surgeon,” he added, his lip bending into a small grin, my eyes zooming in on his lips. Jesus … his lips. Full and thick, they were sumptuous and absolutely perfect for kissing. And the way he was running his tongue over his top teeth while staring down at me with scorching hot eyes. Probably not intentional, his expression was sensual and made me think of a sweaty, hot, rugged kind of lewd carnal sex that left a person struggling for oxygen and completely unable to move their wasted body for a good thirty minutes afterward.

“Dr. Yates, I have your normal order ready. They’re on the house today. Give me just a couple more minutes, and I’ll have fresh coffee for you.” The blonde returned with two boxes of doughnuts, smiling up at him before turning toward me and sneering.

“Again,” I whispered. “My apologies … Doctor.”

“Fucking hell,” I whispered to Maci as I stepped away to distance myself from this man with the blistering hot eyes and lips. Thankfully, the place had cleared out a little, but we were still getting a few exceedingly doleful stares. Wasting no time, Maci sat down and started eating, my appetite diminished.

“I thought you might still enjoy some breakfast.”

My eyes darted up as the stranger set down a small white bag and another cup of coffee in front of me, his gorgeous eyes staring at my lips, sparks of some kind of charge bouncing between us. “It is what you came in for, isn’t it? Unless you make a habit of scalding strange men with coffee. I’m Tyler Yates, by the way. And your name?”

“Alex…a…,” I nervously sputtered. “Alex Bohmann.” My voice cracked, and I attempted a smile, immediately visualizing easing the elastic band down and watching what he had underneath his scrubs come to life. “And this is my friend Maci.”

“Alexa … Bohmann,” he repeated in his monotone voice, an uncomfortable expression suddenly covering his face, his smile fading and unreadable. “And Maci,” he added, his soft full lips pressing together.

“Well, have a good day … Alexa. Maci.” With a clearing of his throat, he nodded and turned around and left, my eyes glued to his muscular ass as he exited the doughnut shop.


Forty-five minutes later after the most horrific, yet interesting breakfast of my life, I was pulling my dated Honda Civic into the garage listening to more weird sounds from my twelve-year-old car. At some point, I was going to have to try to find a way to get a newer car. How? I had no idea.

My phone beeped with a voice mail from my mom and a text from Maci reminding me of the upcoming office party she insisted I go to. For an office full of uptight, stuffy attorneys, her company certainly broke the mold on partying, having employee gatherings once, and sometimes twice a month.

I reached for the groceries out of the back seat and headed to the door, calling my mom back. Grabbing wine on the way home, I’d ended up with asparagus and parmesan cheese, too. After a dreadful morning, my favorite risotto was going to taste good in a couple of hours, along with the overly expensive bottle of Chardonnay I splurged on. Screw the tightness around my ass and waist that I’d surely feel in the morning after eating my favorite indulgence on top of doughnuts.

“Hi, Mom. Everything okay? Dad okay?” With my dad feeling lousy the last few weeks, my mom was concerned with all the stress his job was bringing on. Even with medication, he was having trouble controlling his blood pressure. Mom had called crying more than once, so I knew it was serious. I couldn’t fathom not having my dad and refused to even think in that direction.

“No, no, honey. It’s not Dad. It’s your cousin. It’s Becca.”

Chapter Two


I swallowed hard. My cousin was dead. Becca and I practically lived together growing up. My first cousin, we always felt more like sisters. Kindred spirits, we used to say.

We didn’t look related at all. Tall and blonde with green eyes and light skin, Becca had a small dusting of freckles covering her face and shoulders. I was dark haired, light skinned, and had blue eyes. I also topped out at five foot three inches, and that was only when I stretched it. Unfortunately, Becca had been cursed with the same ugly dimple on her cheek that I had.

I ended the phone call with my mother, sliding down onto the couch in my tiny living room. The duplex I rented was small, yet it was nice and it was home. I’d managed to decorate it well over the last year. Of course, nobody needed to know that nearly every item had been purchased at local thrift stores.

While I realized life itself had caused us to lose touch over the last few years, I still felt a strong connection to Becca. Next to my mom and Maci, she’d been one of the few people in my life I truly felt comfortable around. I got along with people well. That had never been hard, but few people genuinely earned my complete trust. Which had been the problem with my only serious boyfriend. Ryan and I dated for close to two years, but I never really learned to trust him. Not that he had done anything to cause my wariness. He hadn’t. But the way I felt, he also never did anything to really deserve it. After almost two years together, we mutually decided to end things and move on. Quite simply, we just never really seemed to click. Especially in the bedroom. I’d never had an orgasm with Ryan. Sweet and gentle during sex, most women would probably respect his kindness. Somehow, it just hadn’t been enough for me.

Just weeks ago, Becca called me out of the blue, sounding great. And happy. She was coming out of her shell and wasn’t quite as shy as I remembered. Only speaking briefly, she mentioned a hot, rich guy she was seeing, and how he’d educated her in ways she never thought possible. Whatever that meant. Not saying much else, when I asked what he did for a living, she shut down completely and quickly changed the subject. At the time, I really didn’t think it was a big deal. Of course, I’d ended our conversation quickly that day because I was running late for work.

Now she was gone. Found by her roommate in their apartment, she had been dead for close to forty-eight hours. The paramedics said she overdosed on heroin, the syringe still in her arm, along with more than one fresh needle mark. I couldn’t fathom Becca doing any kind of drugs, let alone heroin. Strange markings also found on her wrists and ankles, the autopsy revealed the marks were caused from some sort of undetermined metal device.

The graveside-service funeral was in two days in my hometown of San Angelo. Thoughts of my uncle and aunt hurt my heart. Becca their only child, I knew Johnny and Nancy would be broken over this. There would be no getting over it. Not this.

I opened my phone contacts and called Richard, my boss at the restaurant. It was going to kill me to miss work. Already behind on bills and a recent college graduate with no profession yet, I needed every dime from my job just to make ends meet, but I wouldn’t miss Becca’s funeral.

Chapter Three


Crazy damn insomnia. Trying to sleep was a hopeless impossibility. 10:30 AM, and I was already in my hometown of San Angelo after leaving Dallas before daylight. Minimal traffic, plus the fact my foot had been overly heavy while driving, it had only taken a little over five hours.

My bottom lip quivered as I parked in the circular drive of my uncle and aunt’s house. The yard needed mowing. Always so anal about having the greenest grass in the neighborhood and the Yard of the Month sign proudly displayed for passersby, my uncle had to be in a completely desolate frame of mind not to tend to his lawn.

Over a year since I’d been back to my hometown, as much as I missed seeing my parents, work pretty much took up all my time. With a degree in Child Psychology, I was still unsure what I wanted to do, so I continued working as many hours as I could at the well-known upscale steakhouse I’d worked at throughout school. My social life was non-existent with the crazy hours I worked, but nights brought in the best tips, so I generally worked until closing if I could.

A strong soft spot for kids, I still dreamed of working with children. So many suffering from physical, mental, and social needs, I wanted to do something that could possibly make a difference in their lives. The problem was, during four years of college, I never decided exactly what that was. In order to be a child psychologist, there was more schooling in my future to get my master’s degree. I didn’t know how I could afford that.

With my chest pounding, I hesitantly knocked on the door. On a road trip somewhere in Arkansas, my parents wouldn’t be back until later in the day. I knew it proved my weak side, but I really wished they were here to do this with me.

Camping being my parents’ favorite pastime, they’d saved every spare cent they could for years to buy an RV. Dad still worked in the insurance business, but they managed lots of three-day weekend excursions. God knows he needed any relaxation he could get with his stressful job as an insurance adjuster.

My hand visibly shaking, I removed it from the glass front door as Nancy walked toward me. Deep, engrained dark circles covered her normally bright eyes as she attempted her best at a small welcoming smile.

“Alex. Come in, honey.”

“Aunt Nancy.” I gave her a hug. Way thinner than the last time I’d seen her, we were both instantly in tears.

“I’m so sorry.” I’d promised not to cry in front of them, but seeing Becca’s picture in the entry hall completely sidetracked me. It didn’t seem possible for her to be gone. Only twenty-three, she had her entire life ahead of her.

On the only couch I ever remembered my uncle and aunt owning, Johnny brought some coffee and sat the cups down on the glass table beside the aged, navy blue sectional sofa. I didn’t really care much for the drink unless it was completely submerged with cream and sugar, but I sipped on it anyway as they struggled to fill me in on the death of their only child.

“Honey, she’s been living in Arlington for a good year now. She transferred to UTA last year. This was her last semester. I asked her several times why the two of you hadn’t gotten together any, but she always said you were both too busy.”

Even though I knew Becca moved to the Metroplex, I hadn’t tried contacting her. Always planning on it, life being so hectic, I just never seemed to make time. When she called the one time, I was short with her. Now I felt guilty about that. Johnny stared at the floor, popping his knuckles. If I had ever once been around him when he didn’t purposely crack the joints on his hands, I couldn’t remember. The popping sound that Becca and I grew up listening to was the funniest thing in the world when we were kids. Somehow, today it didn’t seem so funny. It only came across as sad.

“Alex, I want to fill you in a little before everybody gets here.”

Becca was always a health nut. A vegan since we were kids, I didn’t know her to ever touch alcohol, much less drugs.

“How did she get involved in drugs, Aunt Nancy?” Still silent, my uncle hadn’t said more than three words since I got there.

“She wasn’t doing drugs, honey. Your uncle and I refuse to believe any different. You know how healthy Becca was. That hadn’t changed. The detectives know she was going to some kind of sex club, but they’re not sure which one, or who she was going with just yet. Her journal spoke of a doctor, but never listed a name. Hopefully, we’ll hear something soon.

Nancy took a long drink of the coffee that was pretty much undrinkable. San Angelo’s water had to be the most foul-tasting water known to mankind, reminding me of dirty dishwater with some sort of chemical taste. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be able to get down much of it.

“What do you think really happened?” Johnny’s face suddenly turned dark red, the vein in the side of his neck bobbing up and down as he struggled keeping it together.

“It’s all a fucking bullshit story, Alex,” Johnny lashed out. “Forgive my language, but this is not my little girl these dick detectives have described to us. My daughter didn’t do drugs! And she sure as hell didn’t go to sex clubs.” In a split second, he stood and walked toward the kitchen, mumbling, “fucking bullshit.”

“Please forgive him for his outburst and language, Alex. This is just so hard.”

“No apology necessary, Nancy. He’s upset. We all are.”

We both jumped as the back door slammed, staring at the painting on the wall that suddenly drooped on one side from the impact of the door. I suspected Johnny was going outside to smoke. Two heart attacks and a mild stroke still hadn’t broken him of his nasty habit, even after Nancy had finally put her foot down and demanded he stop lighting up in the house. My mother had the same addiction and I worried constantly, knowing her newly discovered COPD was going to progress every day that she continued smoking.

“What else are they saying? What’s going on here?”

“I don’t understand any of it either, Alex. The autopsy showed her system was full of heroin and fentanyl.”

“Fentanyl? I’m not even sure what that is.”

“When mixed with heroin,” Nancy said, “fentanyl apparently multiplies the effect drastically.” Jesus!

Becca Bohmann doing drugs? Attending sex clubs? No freaking way! Always the goody-goody in the group, she was one of the few girls in our circle who never messed around with guys and didn’t touch alcohol. None of this made sense.

“Do you want to read the suicide letter, Alex?” Nancy reached inside a manila folder on the coffee table. “It’s only a copy, but it’s a colored copy. They thought the purple stationary may ring a bell.” Nancy shrugged. “But it doesn’t. Maybe you can make something of it, because we certainly haven’t been able to.”

“Becca left a note?” This was all just so surreal.

“Okay,” I whispered in a half statement, half question. Bile threatened my throat as I stared down at Becca’s small handwriting.

“Her roommate, Mickey, found a journal she’d been keeping, which is where the detectives got most their information, which is really very little. They’re still holding that and her cell phone as evidence, but said we could have them back when they’re done.”

Comprehending what I was reading was impossible. Yet there it was, bright and clear in my cousin’s one-of-a-kind handwriting. My gut wrenching, I read her final thoughts, knowing this had to have been the most dreadful moment of her short life.

Mom & Dad,

Please forgive me. Don’t be sad.

As I write this, I’m haunted by memories of what could have been. I feel shame for my weaknesses. They’re plentiful. I hear voices and I don’t know where they’re coming from.

The last weeks of my life have been my best ever, though. I owe that to the man who changed me for the better. He knows who he is. He was very good for me. He taught me things I would have never learned had I not met him. But in the end, I wanted more. He only offered less.

It’s okay though. I’ve had a good life. I just don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be in pain. My passion has burned out. I have no more energy.

I love you both,


My body was trembling. With emotions impossible to hide, tears bit the corners of my eyes. All I could think of was simply, why? How could she just give up? My uncle and aunt would never be the same.

None of us would.


8:00 PM, I was settled into Mom and Dad’s house. Propped up on a pillow on the overly-soft mattress, I stared at the ceiling in the quiet house I’d grown up in. My parents got into some stormy weather and wouldn’t get home until sometime during the night or early tomorrow, while my older brother, Adam, wouldn’t be making it at all. A marine, he was deployed in Afghanistan, so there was no chance he could get home.

I stared at the water-stained popcorn ceiling, wondering why in hell Becca would do this. Taking her life over a man just didn’t sound like her. Neither did visiting sex clubs. Only an assumption as far as I was concerned, until we had straight up proof, I was calling bullshit. According to her letter, her partner wouldn’t take their relationship any further than where it was. Becca had plainly fallen in love with this mystery man and wanted something more. He, on the other hand, felt differently … if this was all true. Who the hell was this stranger? I would find this sorry bastard if it was the last thing I ever did.

Chapter Four


Three Days Earlier

Holy fucking shit! What were the chances?

In an energetic mood when I woke up, I’d gotten in a quick run on the treadmill before starting my morning, promises of a productive day ahead. No idea I was going to get scalded by hot coffee and get doughnut glaze smeared all over me, that was the simplest part of my morning. When I made introductions with the petite, auburn-haired beauty and saw that damn dimple… Heard that name.

Alexa ‘Alex’ Bohmann. How the hell?

This was no coincidence.

The smile was all the proof I needed. The girl was related to Becca. The damn erotic-looking dimple on her left cheek jumped right out and bitch slapped me in the face, distracting the complete fuck out of me and teasing my cock to the point I couldn’t continue with our conversation afterwards. When, at first, I’d considered asking her to dinner.

What were the fucking odds of literally running into a relative of my ex-submissive?

Between the clinic and Venture, contact with females was plentiful. Many were attractive. Some were beautiful, and some pulled the chain on my Dominant factor, giving me thoughts of pulling out my cock and bending them over my exam table. I’d seen a plethora of beautiful women, but this one was anything but normal. She nearly dropped me to my knees in a matter of seconds. Clearly uncomfortable and embarrassed by what she’d done, she was blushing and licking the side of her damn bottom lip. Her apparent nervousness was gratifying. She couldn’t even look me in the eye without her cheeks reddening. Such a submissive move, she was the most beautiful creation my eyes had ever landed on. Her smile awakened everything between my legs, turning it into cement.

Opposite of Becca physically, Alexa’s hair was dark and long with big waves falling down around her shoulders, her body curvy and petite, just the way I liked a woman to look. She wasn’t one of those stick figures that I couldn’t stand, that refused to eat anything other than tasteless chicken and dry lettuce with dressing on the side. Why the fuck did women do that? Clad in low-cut, tight black jeans that left very damn little to the imagination, they showcased the curve of her beautiful ass. Underneath the short tight shirt that barely covered her entire stomach, were perky, small, round tits, the entire ensemble something that would be off limits in public if she were mine, without my permission.

And then there were those don’t-you-wish blue eyes of hers. The most beautiful and biggest blue, translucent eyes I had ever seen, I could only imagine getting lost in the depths of them as she lay underneath me.

Motherfucking hell! I was a 36-year old board-certified cosmetic surgeon with a best friend who ran a BDSM club, of which I just happened to be a silent partner. Countless women gladly obliged my kinked-out needs, and plenty more were willing. That said, this one had me wanting to re-think my own demands. For the first time ever, I craved something different. I wanted to touch her face. Feel her lips against mine. Watch her laugh. Dominant and a cold-hearted bastard, these thoughts were pure nonsense for a man like me. I needed to quit making shit up in my mind that would never happen, and stop rationalizing with my dick. The very last thing I needed was a hankering to fall for a woman


Three new consults and two breast augmentations later, I was finally done for the day. Back in my Preston Hollow home, I swirled the double shot of Glenlivet in the short glass and sat down in my favorite chair, closing my eyes and leaning my head back. I hadn’t even bothered to turn on a light, virtually sitting in a dark room as I had a drink and thought about my day and what the rest of the week involved. Bono, my Irish Setter, jumped in my lap, brushing his long tongue over my cheek. His tail wagged as he looked at me with the same sad look he gave me every day when I got home. Pleading with me to get off my ass and take him for his walk and feed him. Probably also wondering why the hell I was sitting in the dark.

“Okay, buddy, let’s do this.” I flipped on a light and grabbed the leash.

Life as a cosmetic surgeon had its list of advantages. Eight years of school and five years of residency, I was in a good place in my career. Men and women of all kinds, came to me on a daily basis with stars in their eyes. Hoping for a better rack. Seeking younger skin or thinner thighs. I’d met dozens of interesting people. Plenty of attractive women. Amusing how some actually got turned on when I touched them in such intimate spots, little did they know, I’d never even consider getting involved with a patient, no matter how attractive.

Despite all the possibilities that came my way, I was actually a one-woman man, though I only stayed in a relationship for twelve weeks, or less, at any one time. A rule I made with myself years ago, any longer only became a complication and problematic.

All bets were off after today. Fuck!

I hadn’t heard from Becca since I ended our relationship. A sweet girl, she could eventually make somebody an excellent sub, but she’d become clingy and needy. I didn’t have time for that. I never planned on hurting the poor girl, but I wouldn’t have ever gotten involved with her in the first place had I known she was going to expect some kind of permanent loving relationship. She knew upfront I didn’t do that. Our agreement was only for a maximum of twelve weeks. Fine with the arrangement in the beginning, all the sudden when the weeks began to come to an end, she started with all the tears and drama, wanting a commitment. That dog and pony show had never worked for me in the past, and it wouldn’t now. That’s when I ended it.

Today the day she was scheduled to meet with my buddy Rocco for her weekly massage, I picked up the phone and called to make sure she was okay. Pretty funny how quickly she’d adapted to all the benefits she reaped from being my submissive. They always did. The least I could do, I had no plans to take that away from Becca anytime soon. Dialing Rocco, I couldn’t stop wondering if she was close to Alexa and exactly how they were related. Very private, Becca never mentioned much at all about her family. Surely, she didn’t have a damn sister.

“Tyler! Dude, is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine, man. Just calling to make sure Becca showed up for her massage this afternoon. She’s pretty upset with me and I just wanted to make sure she was okay.” The line was silent. All I could hear was deep breathing and what sounded like an “oh fuck.” If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think he was getting his damn dick sucked.

“Rocco! What’s up, man? Did I catch you at a bad time?” I held back laughter, taking a long slow drink and getting a mental picture of Rocco getting blown by one of his significant male others. The scotch burned as it slid down my throat, relaxing me just the way it was intended to.

“Tyler, haven’t you heard? You don’t know about Becca?”

“What the fuck, Rocco! What about Becca?” My buzz was suddenly non-existent.

“Man, I don’t know how to break this to you, but Becca was found dead in her apartment two days ago. She overdosed on heroin.”

I stood up, moving straight toward the expensive bottle of scotch and poured myself another drink.

“What? Dead? Heroin? No fucking way! Becca didn’t do drugs. I could barely get her to drink a glass of wine.”

“She left a note, man. Her roommate told me.”

Thoughts of my name being mentioned in a suicide note hit me like a knife in the gut.

“Rocco, what about the note? Did it have my name in it? Did it mention the club?”

“I don’t know, Tyler. All I can tell you is I called her when she didn’t show for her appointment. She never misses her massage. After she didn’t answer, I called the apartment phone and Mickey told me what happened. She’d been out of town for a week and came home and found her.”

“Jesus Christ! Where did she get heroin?”

“I don’t know. I’m so sorry, man.”

Chapter Five


The smell of coffee hovered through the air as I stirred, dropping my head back onto the pillow and stretching.

The tap tap tap against the door assured me it was my mother. She’d always knocked that way.

“I’m awake. Come on in, Mom.” The door eased open.

“You up?”

My mother walked in with a large steaming mug of coffee and I wrinkled my nose.

“Don’t worry, silly. I used bottled water.” How did she read my mind that way? She always did have some kind of ESP or something. “I thought I better get you up. The funeral is in two hours. Honey, I hope you brought something warm to wear. It’s been raining for hours. It’s pretty cold outside for this time of year.”

“Thanks, Mom. I brought a couple of different things. I’ll be fine. You look really nice by the way.”

“Thanks, sweetie.”

Not a surprise my mom was already up and dressed, at fifty-five years old, she still looked amazing, but took forever to get ready. Wearing a long, slim, black skirt with black boots and a black and brown sweater, she looked anything but her age.

“Mom, do you have just a sec?” With a pillow propped behind my neck, I tasted a small sip of the hot coffee. She’d mixed it up with hazelnut creamer and sugar, the only way I liked it.

“Sure, honey. What’s up?” The soft mattress shifted as my mom sat down on the side of the bed and pushed my hair from my face. “It’s so nice to have you home. I wish it was for different circumstances.” With tear-filled eyes, she quickly dabbed around the edges with her perfectly manicured, short fingertips.

“I hate that Adam couldn’t be here for the funeral.”

“I know. I do, too, Mom.”

“He said he was going to try and call, but I don’t know if he’ll get to or not.” Her hand felt cold as she rested it on my leg. “What did you want to talk about, Alex?”

“I don’t know. We haven’t really talked much lately. Just Becca, I guess.” I shrugged. “Doesn’t anybody have any idea at all who this man is that she was dating? I just don’t understand her, of all people, being involved in anything kinky. Or drugs. Not Becca.”

My mom picked at her skirt. “Nobody seems to know a single thing. She didn’t even have this man’s name in her journal.”

“So Mickey didn’t know Becca’s boyfriend’s name either? That seems strange.”

“This is all strange, Alex. I think Mickey primarily lives with her boyfriend, so she’s not home much. Plus, Nancy says they didn’t get along very well.” My mom twirled her wedding ring around, a nervous habit she’d always had. “Johnny is having such a hard time dealing with all this. Becca was his baby girl. They were so close. I just can’t imagine what they’re going through.”

“I know.” I finished off the last of my coffee, which was actually pretty good. “Had Nancy and Becca grown apart? It’s strange that she didn’t even tell her own mother this guy’s name. I get not telling her about going to a sex club, but not even saying is name doesn’t seem right.”

My mother shuddered. “Thoughts of you in a sex club give me the heebie jeebies, Alex.”

I grinned. “Not much chance in that, Mom. I don’t even get time to date anymore.”

“Well, once these detectives start digging around in these clubs, they’ll find this guy, Alex. Now you better get started, Pokey. You’re awfully slow in the mornings.” Right on track about my slow nature, calling me Pokey had been an ongoing joke between the two of us since I could remember. Definitely a creeper in the morning, my mother was worse than me.

“It’s a family thing, isn’t it, Mom?” With a smile, she mumbled something quietly under her breath. It was common knowledge she had me beat by a mile about being slow.

Rain was coming down in sheets, so I set out a black sweater dress and knee-high, chocolate brown boots. The heels borderline hooker-heel high, I hoped I didn’t sink in the mud at the outdoor service. Or demolish my favorite boots.

Chapter Six


Although the weather couldn’t have been much worse for a graveside-service-only funeral, the rain had at least stopped. Now that the front had passed over, we had mud and bitter cold wind to contend with. Weird for this time of year, I’d just used the air conditioning at home. Gotta love Texas weather.

Underneath the tarp, I sat in the metal chair with my hands tucked under my legs, attempting to warm them, along with hiding the fact that they were shaking. I couldn’t figure out why Becca’s family opted for an open casket. It didn’t even look like her. She would have hated the way they had her hair styled.

Sudden tapping on my leg brought me back to reality. The funeral was wrapping up and I hadn’t listened to one word the preacher had said.

“Dad and I need to go speak to some of these people, Alex. Do you mind coming with us?”

“Of course not, Mom.” Dad took my mom’s hand, helping her stand.

“Alex Bohmann, is that you, dear?” Crap!

I turned toward the raspy voice of my high school algebra teacher. “Ms. Morgan! It’s so nice to see you.”

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear about Becca. She was such a sweet girl and a delight to teach.”

After sharing her condolences, we said our goodbyes and spoke to several other people as we headed back to the car. Nothing but headstones and silken flower arrangements leading to the parking area, something to the side of me caught my attention. The backside of a tall, dark-haired man wearing a long trench coat stepped into a black SUV, a feeling I knew him from somewhere sending a cold shiver through my spine. Dark sunglasses covered his eyes, and I only caught the side of his head before he closed the door.

The next hours passed in a blur. The turnout for the funeral was larger than everyone anticipated, and after speaking to people I hadn’t seen in several years, I was thankful it was over. Irritated with myself for not recognizing two people I’d attended school with, my mom luckily handled that crisis for me. Miraculously, I’d held back my tears during the bulk of the service until the lid of the casket closed and they started up with the taped recording of Josh Groban singing “To Where You Are.” When all of this was said and done, I planned on letting Mom and Dad, and everyone I was close to, know that under no circumstances did I want a funeral when I died. No graveside service. No nothing. I didn’t want people crying over me and I sure didn’t want them looking at my stiff, unrecognizable, lifeless body in some metal box.


Mom and Dad went to bed early after the church meal, and figuring I’d try and get some much-needed rest, too, my brain seemed to have other ideas. Once again, insomnia won out over sleep. Nothing but tossing and turning, I gave up and played Yahtzee on my phone for a while and checked my email. Come morning, I planned on calling Maci to see if she was familiar with any of these clubs, and if we could get in any of them without a membership. I had no idea if we could, but Maci loved the club life. But then, we were talking a whole different kind of club. How many were there in Tarrant County? The area was huge. I’d read enough erotica to know we probably wouldn’t be able to just walk through the door of a lot of these places, and they most definitely wouldn’t give up any information on members, even if we did somehow manage to get inside. Nevertheless, maybe we could get in some of them. Maybe somebody might know Becca. It was a stretch, but a start.

My phone needing a charge, I plugged it in, briefly remembering the man in the black SUV. Could he have been the man Becca was seeing? Something about him still seemed eerily familiar. Probably an old schoolmate, I wondered if he could be Daniel Coker, the only real boyfriend Becca ever had. I’d probably never find out.

Chapter Seven


I grabbed a towel, wiping my face after a second round of pullups. My shoulders ached as I bent over to grab the remote and turn off the music. I couldn’t even remember how long I had been in here working out, but based on the amount of sweat dripping off my nose, it had probably been long enough.

The small town of San Angelo didn’t have a decent airport so I’d driven my Land Rover to Becca’s funeral, the drive boring as fuck. But, I owed it to her to pay my final respects. My mother’s words from a day I didn’t care to ever relive came rushing back. “I’m not sure I want to be put in the ground when I die.” Burying my little sister had been the worst day of my life. Killed by a drunk driver, my family had never really recovered from her death. They never would. Well too familiar with the pain involved in losing a family member, recovery for Becca’s family wouldn’t be easy.

Chief of Police in Topeka, Kansas, people in the small town were convinced my father was the perfect, upstanding model citizen and family man. Little did any of them know what a complete joke that ended up being. After my sister’s death, an unforeseen change took over my dad and he presumed to take his anger and depression out on me with his fist. In the beginning, I insisted he was fragile and grief-stricken, going through the worst time of his life. Eighteen and damn sure strong enough to protect myself, instead, I accepted the beatings. Three weeks before I was scheduled to leave for Texas to attend college and hopefully med school, he drunkenly walked in my room telling me I was nothing but a disappointment and proceeded to break my jaw.

Something in me gave that night. I snapped, taking my father down and beating him within inches of his life, which hadn’t turned out to be the last time that would happen. My mother’s crying and pleading to stop probably saved the sorry bastard’s life.

Little was I to know at the time that he had been abusing my younger brother, Mason. Exactly three days after I’d had my jaw broken, I walked into the muted screams of my kid brother being held down as the old man’s cock was halfway up his ass. Not only was dear ole dad an abusive motherfucker, he was also a rapist.

Karma being a bitch, he presently lived in a home in Kansas, wasting away in the last stages of Alzheimer’s. Mason sat home in his own world of silent misery, never the same mentally, while my mother spent her days either volunteering at the hospital or just doing things with Mason. Thankful she’d found something to make her happy, as for my dad, I didn’t give a flying fuck.

Mason never speaking much after that day, he spent the bulk of his time in his own quiet world playing computer games, surfing the web, or building creations with Legos. Therapy hadn’t helped my brother. In and out of the best known psychiatric offices for years, my mom made the decision to stop putting him the process after a while. He refused to speak a word to any of them and only became agitated during the visits. With a psychological trauma of this nature, the doctors said only time would tell. He could possibly snap out of it all in one day. Or not. So far, there had been no changes.

In the beginning, my dad was a great father. Plenty of family barbecues, throwing the football, vacations, and everything else that normal families did. Then, on a night home from an eighth grade football game, Carly and two other cheerleaders got into the car with two older guys we’d known our entire lives. Little did anyone know that would be my little sister’s last day on this earth. Broadsided by a drunken driver hauling a U-Haul trailer, she and the driver of the car were both killed instantly. As we all tried healing from the tragedy, my father was unable to move on.

Now, I couldn’t be sure of the reasons, but being married and having three-point-five kids just wasn’t something I envisioned in my future. What seemed normal for most came across as alien in my perception. Maybe I should have paid a crap load of money to listen to a therapist get his rocks off by telling me I was messed up. Probably a shrink’s dream come true, I’d never gone that route and started my life with an entirely different logic. College… Med school… Money… Women.

One thing my parents had blessed me with was a nice college fund. Always ambitious, I was fortunate enough to attend a good school and graduated with honors, knowing exactly what scope of medicine I planned on studying. Voted Best Cosmetic Surgeon in Dallas the last three years, I loved my line of work and ultimately lived very comfortably. By and by, I led a damn good life.

Buying into Venture as a silent partner was something I’d done on pure thoughtless impulse. Justin’s loyalty coupled with our similar adult lifestyles, were only a couple of the reasons he’d remained my closest friend since childhood. The only family he had, he’d certainly been there to walk me through the worst experience of my life, even considering the fact his own childhood had been way more fucked up than mine. Helping him start up the club was my way of paying the favor back.

Venture was his place. Now that he was successful, I only helped him with the numbers, and even that was rare. In the beginning, I visited often, but quickly realized the club atmosphere wasn’t for me. With a high-profile job that meant everything, I couldn’t take the risks that were involved. I honestly hoped to sell my part in the place in the near future and be done with the whole experience.

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