For three years, I’ve belonged to Julius King.
Some people would think being stuck on a private island is heaven, but this is my hell.
Because I’m not here as a guest. Not even close. I’m a prisoner. I’m his.
Julius King. Powerful. Wealthy. Dangerous.
There are parts of me he wants that I can’t give him. When he looks at me, there are times I swear he sees someone else. And the scary part is that sometimes, when he touches me, I think he may be someone else, too.
Though my body might be tempted, and he might control everything else, I can’t let him have any piece of my heart. I won’t. But every day, the fight gets harder, and Julius manages to slip past my defenses in the most unexpected ways.
I have to find out the truth about Julius King. Even if it destroys me.
This book is approximately 81,000 words
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Damn. This book shook me. Bardan quickly rose to my top five favorite authors last year. Bringing in the new year, Bardan doesn’t let me know and continues to capture me, flinging me into an emotional ride.
King’s Captive was a hot read, but most of all, there was depth. The character’s never lacked anything, and Julius is my kind of twisted guy! I liked how I was intrigued from the first page. I kept wondering where it all was going. But being a loyal fan, I knew it would take me on a rollercoaster ride.
What a joyous ride it was. I read this in one sitting. This book is thrilling and while the plot surprised me, I loved every single second of it. Some things were unexpected (and jaw-dropping), while others kept just enough juice to make you rethink your entire thought process starting with the first page of the book.
A man stands in the driveway behind the roses. My steps slow. Haven’t seen him before. There’d be no forgetting him.
He watches me approach, hands in pockets of gray suit pants, almost as though he’s been waiting all morning for me to come to him. I stop, the wide branches of a rose bush separate us. He slides off sunglasses, and tucks them into his inside breast pocket. My attention follows his hand, catching on his open shirt collar. There’s a tattoo springing from that shirt. A snake head rising like a coil of smoke out of the green leaves of an apple tree. Never seen ink like this. Unsettling and beautiful. I catch my breath. Must have walked faster than I thought.
“Sorry I’m late.”
I get stuck on his eyes. They’re so bright, it’s tricky to look right at them. I’m staring. I probably shouldn’t stare at a man like this.
He breaks free a rose low on a stem, then circles the bush. “Happy birthday.”
He extends the rose. It’s so gorgeous, this frilly antique rose, half cream and tinged with pink. It’s also my rose already.
Of course. Benjamin Carlisle…
I look him over. He’s big, and rough, and the sight of him sends warmth fluttering to my core. I’m not pissed at Dad so much anymore.
I take the rose between thorns. I mean, I’m not planning the wedding, but I’ll be up tonight imagining the honeymoon.
“So, you’re late to my party, and instead of bringing a gift you mutilate my favorite rosebush right in front of me.” I bring the rose to my nose and look up at him. “Takes balls.”
His expression shifts, not quite a smile. He’s examining me a lot harder than I examined him. Heat creeps to my cheeks.
Maybe he came here under duress. Flirt with the spoiled rich girl with the important daddy. But he’s changing his mind about wanting to be here. The rose in my hand tells me as much.
The way his gaze sucks me in tells me more. I’ve been called pretty since I was a kid. No one ever called me sexy. He’s calling me sexy right now, just not out loud. Seduction enters his expression in the squint of his gaze, the softening of his jaw. Nearly enough to make a good girl strip on the spot.
And I’m not even much of a good girl. At least not by choice.
“I’m Sarah.” I extend my hand.
His entire being shifts—a flinch like someone taking a bullet—then it’s gone. He takes my hand before I can move it away.
“I don’t think I’m going to call you that.”
My limbs stiffen. Tingles run from my enveloped palm into my shoulder. His eyes don’t leave mine. He steps closer. My chin rises to hold his gaze. “What do you think you’ll be calling me, then?”
His expression heats. My spine bends a little towards him. No man has ever looked at me quite like this.
My skin sensitizes, alert as though it’s separate from the rest of my body. There’s sweat on my upper lip and a chill on my shoulders.
He reaches for me, fingers on the back of my neck, thumb on my jaw.
It’s an odd way to touch a stranger—proprietary.
My breath speeds up, a nervous thrill jolting through me.
His cheek pulses, and his fingers tighten on the back of my head, his expression straining like he’s lifting weights. I can’t tell if he’s going to kiss or attack me. My vision sharpens, and I know the wicked truth.
I want both. Want him to press me up behind the house and raise my skirt. Touch me roughly. He leans in and his breath meets mine, and rushes into my lungs. My pussy floods, an almost embarrassing slickness.
The taste of his breath is as familiar to me as my own, even though we’ve never met. Maybe because I’ve fantasized about this for so long. His burning gaze seems to compel my thighs open.
Fantasized about a man who wouldn’t be afraid to take what he wanted. Who wouldn’t care what my father thought. Who’d take me from this ranch where I’ve been so fucking alone…
I jerk back, out of Benjamin’s grasp.
Dad jogs towards us. He doesn’t jog—ever. He rarely calls me Sarah. “Go sit with Mrs. Carlisle.”
Dad’s entire torso expands with his breaths. “You…What are you doing?”
“Julius King,” says the man who’s apparently not Benjamin Carlisle.
He eases back from me only slightly, but his body language has shifted light years. The way his jaw snaps is vicious. He doesn’t extend his hand to Dad the way he did me. “I thought it was time we met in person. Our business won’t be delayed any longer.”
“Sarah, I said go sit with Mrs. Carlisle.” Dad’s face matches the crimson of his neck.
I look between the men, then take a step towards the garden.
Julius grabs my arm, just above the elbow, almost like the way I’d taken my dad’s earlier, except there’s no affection in this gesture. “I’ll join you. It was quite the drive to get here and I’m thirsty.”
He leads me towards the tables.
“You can’t be here,” Dad shouts. “What are you doing?”
My legs turn brittle, as though my muscles have lost elasticity. I glance over my shoulder at Dad.
“What does it look like, I’m joining the party.”
She lives with her husband and children in semi-rural Australia, where if she peers outside at the right moment she might just see a kangaroo bounce by.
Amber is an award winning writer, Amazon Bestselling Author, and member of Romance Writers of Australia, Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, and Writers Victoria.