ONE STEP AFTER ANOTHER
The After Another Trilogy, book #1
Publication Date: September 14, 2020
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Crime Thriller, Organized Crime
He finds the unfindable, but she’s terribly good at hiding …
Penny Dunsworth is dead.
Well, she should be—a piece of her certainly is. The broken girl she once was no longer exists. Now a trained assassin for The League, she’s turned into the worst nightmare for the monsters who once haunted her every waking moment. She has to be … it’s the only way to keep her past safe. That is if she can keep it from catching up.
Luca Puzza is chasing a ghost.
He’s never once been able to catch her in the five years that he spent searching. Until now. The promise he made to find the girl who disappeared without a trace turned into an obsession that changed his life. But the woman he was looking for is only a shadow of who he finds. She’s dangerous … for his heart and life, and so are the secrets she’s protecting.
One can only play with monsters for so long before they start to notice you’re not the same. In this world, predators can just as easily become prey.
Except she stopped being a victim long ago.
And it’s time for this to end.
Note: One Step After Another is book one of the After Another trilogy following the same couple over a journey that takes them from present, to past, to future. The books should be read in order. The trilogy discusses triggering topics that may be uncomfortable for some. Please be advised and read at your own discretion.
“Where are we going?” Penny asked when they rounded another corner.
“Not far now. Ditch the wig.”
Luca ripped off his leather jacket and handed it over, barking, “Put this on and ditch the wig—now.”
She did as they came to a dank alley with only one door and several trash dumpsters. Moving in front of the dark green metal door that had clearly seen better days with all its dings and scuffs, Luca banged his fist five times against the middle. There wasn’t a handle on the outside but that was common for this place. There was only one official entrance but even that was hard to find.
Which was the point.
He banged on the door again.
To no avail.
“This is a dead end,” Penny hissed at him.
“Only on the surface,” he replied. “Just trust me. We need a minute. That’s all.”
“We don’t have a minute. They were right behind us!”
She’d tossed the wig into a dumpster. His jacket fit her well, though. The shouts from outside the alley gave away the fact that the chase wasn’t over yet, and if he didn’t figure out something soon, then …
Luca banged on the door one more time and then he moved for Penny. He didn’t give her time to react before he reached down and ripped three holes into her black tights. Exposing her thighs and knees, he rubbed his hands into the dirt on the ground and marred her creamy, white exposed skin to dirty her up.
“What the fuck are you doing?” she asked, the pitch of her tone raising to a level he had never heard.
“Shut up and play along.”
He flipped up the hood of his sweater, thrust his hands into the messy braid that had fallen from her wig to mess it up even more, and then slammed her back into the brick wall of the building. The instinct of self-preservation kicked in for Penny, making her fist Luca’s sweater when her burning gaze met his.
Fight or flight.
He knew that all too well. Too bad he couldn’t give her the opportunity to do either.
Luca banged on the door right beside them one more time. “We just need another minute. That’s all.”
“You’re going to get us kill—”
No, he wasn’t.
Trust was earned, though.
“Hey, I hear something over here, man!”
Luca didn’t have any more time to prepare Penny for what he was going to do next, so he just did it. His lips crashed down on hers without warning. Her hands flexed harder into his sweater, simultaneously pushing him away but then pulling him closer when her eyes blew wide, and she realized what he was doing. The fast exploration of his hands down the curves of her hips came to a stop at the tight cinch of her waist, and he felt every single shiver that he earned from her for it, too.
He liked it.
Didn’t want to admit it.
But he did.
She tasted like pure heat and felt like silk. Even with the dirt on his palms as a barrier between his hands and her body. Even with her trembling lips working against his. Her shuddering breath let him deepen the kiss, make it look real.
Even if it felt that way already.
He didn’t have a choice. That’s what he would keep telling himself, anyway. They only needed another minute and—
“Yo—what the fuck are you two doing?”
One of the dumpsters had allowed Luca and Penny a bit of privacy from the two men standing at the end of the alleyway in the light. The shadows helped even more to keep them from further view.
He bared his teeth and glared. “Fuck off—I paid for this. Get your own.”
Luca knew how it would appear. A guy and a hooker in a dank alley next to a dirty dumpster. The dead end wouldn’t lead the pursuers to anything worth chasing. And those men weren’t really looking for him in the first place.
The two men passed a look between each other. Penny’s leg came up to hook around Luca’s hip, showing off one of the rips and dirt on her skin. Nothing else, though. It did, however, push their bodies closer together, doing nothing to hide the erection growing under his jeans.
Why was his throat so tight?
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
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