My hands are covered in filth. I don’t have the right to touch anything as clean and pure as Ellison MacAllister.
I distance myself … always remaining obscure, composed, restrained.
Careful to never allow my eyes to linger too long.
Careful to hide my interest.
Careful to keep my burning desire buried beneath the surface.
I do it for her—suffer in silence—because it’s what is best for the woman I love.
And she has no idea.
She’ll be initiated as a Fellowship member soon. One of my mafia brothers will go through endurance so he’ll earn the right to claim her.
Make her his wife.
Kill. Me. Slowly.
I’m running out of time. Only a month remains before she’s beyond my reach forever.
I want to taste her. Share sleepless nights. Ride out her storm.
I want to give her the kind of nights she will still feel between her legs the next morning.
I want us to share the kind of passion that forms on our skin and drips down to saturate the sheets.
Between the sweat and the moans and the messy hair, I want her to know how hard she’s been loved.
To have her is to taint her.
I should stay away. But I won’t. I can’t.
I’m a selfish bastard.
A selfish bastard in love.
Prologue: Ellison’s POV
I left everything behind. Every. Thing. My possessions. My career. My friends. My past. My present.
I’ve traded my nursing clogs for rain boots. Shorts and tank tops for jackets and scarves. Sunscreen for an umbrella.
I’ve been calling bonny Scotland home for the last nine months. I spent the first five weeks living in a bubble within my sister’s domain where the criminal world known as The Fellowship didn’t exist. I believed Bleu and Sin were a normal husband and wife expecting not one, but two babies, to go along with the precious baby girl they’d adopted. They were a beautiful family. A living and breathing fairy tale in my mind. He was her rich and handsome Scottish knight in a shining black luxury sedan. She was his beautiful, badass princess who carried a Beretta . . . but still needed saving.
I envied the fuck out of them.
And then the bubble burst.
That was almost eight months ago. Everything changed. I know about the brotherhood’s world of organized crime. Or at least as much as any outsider can know without being clipped. Burned. Marbh. I don’t know what that word means but I’ve heard Sin use it with an angry tone more than once when talking to a brother. I haven’t asked but I’m pretty sure it means somebody fucked up big time and they’re about to get whacked.
Fellowship 101. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Killing. That’s just the shortlist. I got the CliffsNotes version but it didn’t change my mind about staying in Edinburgh. Nothing will ever separate me from my sister or those precious babies.
Sin’s finally resigned to my choice to become part of the brotherhood. He agreed to let me attend an official Fellowship function tonight for the first time. The babies’ consecration—their official dedication to the brotherhood where Bleu and Sin vow to raise the children in the way of The Fellowship.
Oddly, I didn’t feel surrounded by liars, cheaters, thieves, and murderers when I was at the consecration ceremony earlier tonight. I felt the deep love The Fellowship has for Sin, Bleu, and their three babies. Their affection radiated like a fire emitting both light and warmth. It was a beautiful thing, yet one lone, uncontained spark has the power to burn down everything within its path.
My sister calls those dangerous people family.
And I will as well. Soon.
The normal procedure for someone who isn’t born into The Fellowship, but wishes to become a member, is to participate in endurance. The man wishing to join must prove he is strong enough to endure a beating that will send him so close to the gates of hell, he’ll return with singed eyebrows.
The case is different for a woman. No female has ever undergone endurance. Not even my tough-as-a-muthafucking-former-FBI-agent sister. Sin voluntarily stood in her place so she wouldn’t be hurt. He was beaten to a bloody pulp so his people would accept the woman he loved as one of their own. She was the first of her kind to be adopted into the brotherhood by this method. And that’s what a man, a Fellowship brother, will have to do for me.
Bleu says it’s an act of love in its purest form. Sounds more like an act of stupidity. But apparently, a necessary idiocy if I’m to stay.
It isn’t right that some innocent man—the word innocent being used loosely—should endure that kind of suffering so I can be with my own family. But I don’t think these people really get the gist of what’s right anyway. They aren’t exactly sitting around polishing their halos.
I agree with one thing Bleu says: No man will volunteer to go through something so barbaric unless he loves me madly. Men are horny bastards, but I don’t know a one who would sign on for endurance just to get between my legs. That means he will truly love me. And no one in The Fellowship will ever question it.
I haven’t been allowed to mingle with the brothers with the exception of Jamie, Leith, and Mitch. Sin says I need to be properly introduced before that can happen. He wants the brothers to know and understand exactly who I am and how he expects them to behave toward me. He acts like the big brother I never had. I like it; it’s sweet. But I almost feel inclined to tell him it’s unnecessary. I know how to manage men even when they have no clue how to handle me. Just call me the man whisperer.
Thane and Isobel plan to throw some kind of bash at their house to introduce me to the brotherhood. Sounds very much like a matchmaking party to hook me up with a bro. But it can’t happen until this takeover thing with their enemy, The Order, is finished. That means I’m a good two months from being introduced into the fold and matched with the man who will take responsibility for me. My future husband.
All of this worry and uncertainty would be unnecessary if the beautiful man driving me home from the consecration would open his eyes and see what’s right in front of him: me, standing before him with my heart in my hands. Silent but wanting so, so, so badly to give him everything I have to offer.
Jamie Breckenridge. The blind bastard just won’t see me. But how can he when he rarely even looks my way? I’m as unnoticed as the air around him. I exist. I’m right next to him. And I’m invisible.
I’m standing on the corner of Screw This and Keep Pursuing and it’s time to choose which route I’ll take. I’m leaning toward giving up but it’s killing me. I’m Ellison MacAllister. A white flag isn’t part of my repertoire. Normally.
Georgia resides in rural Mississippi with her wonderful husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. She spent fourteen years as a labor and delivery nurse before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author and hasn’t looked back yet. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. When she’s being domestic, she’s listening to her iPod and visualizing scenes for her current work in progress. Every story coming from her always has a song to inspire it. Representation: All questions regarding subsidiary rights for any of my books, inquiries regarding foreign translation and film rights should be directed to Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich.