Being that person, that man, is how I define myself, how I allow the
rest of the world to define me as well. And now, with a terrible loss
shredding me inside out and someone trying to destroy my family to
punish me, control is more important than ever. It is everything. It is
what I need. It is all I need. Or maybe I just need...her.
I squeeze my eyes shut as Crystal’s voice stirs an odd sensation in my chest that somehow eases the ache in my gut. Desire rockets through me, and I tell myself it’s about fucking and control. I need it, and she’s my safe zone outside of the club.
“Are you okay?” she asks when I do not speak.
When our gazes meet the jolt is as unwelcome as it is intense. She feels it, too. I see it in the slight widening of her eyes, the way she curls her fingers into her palms on the counter across from me.
“You were furious with me a few minutes ago,” I say. “Why are you standing here now?”
“I’m not one-dimensional. I can be furious and worried at the same time.”
Unable to squash my intrigue over the unknowns of her past, I agree. “No, you aren’t one-dimensional. Nor are you simply a rich girl who wants to prove something to daddy.”
“Thank you.” She crinkles her brow. “I think.”
We fall into silence, a hum of electricity charging between us. “I still go back to you saying ‘The End’ to me a few minutes ago. You meant it this time, too. That doesn’t translate to you standing here.”
“Neither does much of what you do, where I’m concerned.”
“You’re absolutely right. It doesn’t. What does, though, is sticking to ‘The End.’ What doesn’t is how badly I want to drag you into another room and fuck you right now.”
She shakes her head. “It’s not me you want. It’s someone who’ll sign a contract and be your outlet and bridge to control. You left that bedroom thinking about the impossibility of a reason for Rebecca’s death, beyond your self-blame and guilt. You need that bridge.”
There is banked pain lacing her words, and a hint of the earlier anger I’d seen in her eyes. I could make those things go away by telling her what she’s said isn’t true. I could tell her she’s gotten under my skin. But I don’t even know who the man beneath the surface is right now. I’ve destroyed two women. Crystal doesn’t deserve to be number three.
“Is everything okay?” my father asks from the doorway, repeating Crystal’s earlier words.
“Yes,” I say, my gaze lingering on Crystal before I push off the counter, hands going to my hips. “We’re ready to talk to Mom about what’s been going on.”
“We are?” Crystal asks, sounding surprised. “Tonight?”
“We can’t risk her finding out from somewhere else,” I explain.
“She’d feel betrayed,” my father adds.
Crystal gives a choppy nod. “Yes. I can see that. But I am not looking forward to telling her.”
“None of us are,” my father says. “Right now, though, she wants us all to eat together. And since it’s the best chance we have of getting some food down her, I say we wait until after we’ve finished. I don’t want to jeopardize her appetite.”
“I’m all for getting food down her,” I say. “She’s skin and bones.”
“I’ve been force-feeding her what she does eat,” Crystal adds. “The nurse suggested some high-calorie protein shakes. I tried that, but she hates them.”
My father starts to turn, then pauses. “By the way, Crystal, Larry Prescot called me just before you got here. You won him over. Thanks for calming him down before he got to Dana.”
He disappears into the hallway and I grab Crystal’s arm. “How okay is Prescot?”
“How can you be sure?”
“I threw out my father’s name—something that I normally would never do.”
“I was on the phone with my father when the receptionist buzzed to tell me that Prescot had arrived for our meeting. My father overheard and insisted that I drop his name. I reminded him that I’m adamant about succeeding on my own merits. But I’m also not one to foolishly ignore resources when backed into a corner, and I was. Prescot was being a total jerk. I knew we were about to lose the business.”
“So you broke your rule.”
“I did. And it was an amazing turnaround. Prescot suddenly remembered the many ways people have tried to paint him as a monster in the media, and became sympathetic rather than judgmental. I called my father afterward, and it turns out that Prescot enjoys the benefits of his secretary beyond her exceptional organizational skills, and his wife of twenty years doesn’t know.”
“But your father does.”
“Yes. And now, so do we.”
My lips curve. “Sounds like I owe you and your father a thank-you.”
“All you’d get in return from my father is a demand that I quit my job. He hates me working for anyone but him, especially now with all this bad press.”
“Is he afraid it will overflow to him?”
“No. He’s afraid I’ll get hurt.”
Me too, I think. Me too. “And what did you tell him?”
“I told him I’m his daughter, not his possession. He doesn’t own me any more than you do, and neither of you gets to claim responsibility for my happiness. That’s all mine.”
As she leaves the room, I stare after her in silent agreement. I’m not responsible for her happiness. But I’m not going to be responsible for her misery, either.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists.
Watch the video on casting for the INSIDE TV Show HERE
Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.
Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at on her website and she is active on twitter and facebook daily.
My 4-Star Review
So.... I have followed this series from the beginning.... It really isn't a series, it's more like a soap opera that may never ever end!
Mark. One simple word. The one we have been wanting more and more of this whole time. We have gotten just a smidgen of him here and there. Now we have an entire book of his brooding and mood swings. His emotional roller coaster. This man literally holds the entire world on his shoulders.
Crystal. A woman. A woman who has a spell over Mark that he tries so hard to break for so many reasons. She is determined to be his rock. She feels she needs to help be his glue to help him hold everything together.
In this book, you will get so many answers to questions you have had and some you didn't think of. However, as always with this series, you might be left with a few new questions. Don't worry, there is another book coming. We have one NEXT month and one in February. I am hoping these two will wrap up everything!
This book will have you melting and on the edge of your seat! For those out there that have been like, will this ever end... Don't worry, you won't be disappointed, and this will eventually end. How it will end is yet to be seen!
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If I Were You (bk 1) ONLY $1.99
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Being Me (bk 2)
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My Control (bk 4)
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