Authors: Celia Loren
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Devil’s Kiss (Widowmakers Motorcycle
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Crushing Beauty (Harbingers of Sorrow
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Breaking Beauty (Devils Aces MC)
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Destroying Beauty (Hell Hounds MC)
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Beauty (Sons of Lucifer MC) by Celia Loren
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Satan’s Property (Satan’s Sons MC)
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Satan’s Revenge (Satan’s Sons MC)
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of Lucifer Motorcycle Club
The afternoon sun is a heavy gold, thick like sweet honey where
it falls on my skin through gaps between the trunks of the dogwood trees.
The lakeshore is humming around me. I can almost taste the
lazy sunlight, the gentle smell of the roasting forest floor, and the clean
stone wind from the lake as I run. Zipping and dodging around rocks and bushes,
I wave goodbye to other counselors hiking in the opposite direction.
“Have a great year!”
“Till next summer!”
But there won’t be a next summer for me. It was a miracle
that I convinced my family to let me go so far away from them in the first
Just this once
I promised. It won’t happen again. For me, this is
a real goodbye.
It’s a steady stream; a mass exodus headed towards the
waiting carpool for the trains and bus station as we all say goodbye to Camp
Adirondack. By the end of the day, Franklin County’s population will be half of
what it started with. But I’m headed the opposite direction right now, back
into the woods.
My mind is not on the lush scenery or my vanishing coworkers,
the ending summer or next life chapter. My mind is ahead of me on the trail,
right where it’s been almost since the first moment I arrived at Camp
Adirondack and felt the thunder of his presence roll deep into the core of me—my
mind is on him. I can almost taste his lips and feel his arms. I can almost
dive inside the thought of him and shut out the farewells and lake sounds and impending
Almost there, almost safe…
I’m running down the packed earth trail from the Mess Hall,
where we’ve just released all the campers to buses and minivans and shuttles.
Tekeni Cabin is just a few twists and turns ahead on the small rise of a low
hill. I can get there in less than ten minutes if I sprint.
My battered converses make soft thuds as my steps take me around
the inlet of St. Regis Lake with the camp’s empty, sun-bleached dock. Pedal
boats and kayaks are floating and bumping into each other, sadly abandoned and
awaiting the maintenance crew to pack them away. The shoreline is oddly empty;
I’m not used to seeing the lake water still and quiet without the bodies of
playing kids. There’s no lifeguard on duty. Summer is over.
Suddenly, the staff cabin looms ahead. It’s where the staff
members sleep separate from counselors and campers. They’ve tried to keep the
maintenance crew isolated, segregated like a secret so that the rest of us
might be tempted to think that the food appears and the trash disappears by
magic, that the activity centers and recreation stations clean and replace
themselves every night. That’s why the maintenance crew is housed in Tekeni, a
mile away from everyone else.
Why does everybody always try to hide the way the world
works? Why, like we’re embarrassed by the hard work and toil and physical
realities of our existence? I came here to see, touch, and feel reality, to get
out of the bubble of my life and get to know the people behind the magic
curtain. There was no way one single mile between Tekeni Cabin and the ladies’
counselor quarters could stop me.
But even I didn’t really count on getting in this deep.
I’m panting when I reach the steps to the cabin. Nearby the
lake is waving and splashing in the breeze, it’s the only sound besides the soft
laughter of the men inside. The campground is quiet; only a few stragglers and
the maintenance crew are left. Everyone else already said their final goodbyes
for the summer, exchanged addresses and phone numbers and well wishes.
Not me. I’m not ready to leave. Yesterday I lied to my
brother on the phone about pick-up time and bought myself another four hours. I
thought about telling him to come tomorrow, or in a week, but my family already
knows that today is officially the end of camp. I dread going back to Nevada,
back to the Sinclair family dynasty and all the pressure that goes with it. But
There was no fooling them about the dates, but the hour I
could fudge. My brother Haden and our private jet’s pilot, Carl, won’t be here
to collect me until sundown, and I have to make every second count before I’m
ripped away back into the closeted, stiff, stuffy world I came from. I can’t be
Harper, the wild messy counselor anymore. It’s back to reality, obligations,
and the future my family has chosen for me.
There’s so much to say, and so little time.
Four hours. Four weeks or months or years wouldn’t be
enough. A sinking, heavy feeling in my stomach tells me that four lifetimes
might not be enough, but I try not to think about that, try not to give in to
my mounting anxiety and panic. Four hours until my world is ripped apart. I
can’t help but roll my eyes at myself, I sounds so dramatic, but it’s actually
just the honest to god truth. I need more time but I know four hours is it, the
absolute end. There will be no going forward; no way our paths can cross again.
But I can’t say goodbye, not yet. Maybe not ever.
He’s waiting for me. When I bang through Tekeni Cabin’s
screen door, the creaking of the hinges and the wooden frame slamming against
the wall startles the other two guys playing poker around their fold-up card
table, but Dominic is calm. So calm…how can he be so
? Doesn’t he
know our world is ending?
“Shit, gringa, slow down! You scared me,” teases Jose, dramatically
clutching his chest as he fake-falls from his rickety metal chair.
Jose, always the jokester. I can’t help but give him a
wobbly grin through my stress. “Sorry,” I manage. “I just…you know, time-crunch.”
From his perch on the bottom bunk, Marcus looks me up and
down and throws his cards on the table. I must look as wound-up as I feel,
because he gives me an understanding nod. “Jose,” he grunts, “How about you and
me go for a walk?”
A strong hand firmly grips Marcus’ shoulder. “No, man,
that’s okay.” It’s him, Dominic, the one I have come for. Those stormy eyes of
his flash and twinkle at me and one eyebrow lifts as he gives me a private
smirk. “I want to show the young lady something by the lake. You guys can stay
here. Let’s go for a walk, Harper.”
At the sound of his voice my heart hammers even harder, my
stomach jumps, and I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I
love the way he wraps his tongue around my name, somehow making it sound soft
and mysterious when everyone else says it harsh and fast.
has ever said it quite like him. His strong hand is gently gripping my elbow
now, steering me back out onto the deck of Tekeni Cabin and into the sun and
“Bye Jose, Marcus!” I call over my shoulder, belatedly
realizing I may never see them again. “I’ll miss you!”
But the screen has already slammed shut and Dominic’s
fingers have intertwined with mine so naturally, as if our hands were always
supposed to be attached like that. He jumps over the last two steps to the
ground, tugging me with him, and then we’re sprinting together off the path and
down the hillside like a couple of wild deer. A happy laugh escapes his lips
and I joyfully follow his steps, our sneakers bouncing off tree roots and
sliding over fallen sycamore and maple leaves.
“Where are we going?” I shout as we run.
We’re over the hill now, on the other side. The campground limits
are probably behind us somewhere, and we must be into Forest Preserve
territory. Subconsciously I register the quiet, the isolation, and the beauty.
I even try looking up through the canopy of leaves, amazed by the colors and
motion of the branches in the wind.
Then Dominic abruptly stops on a low ridge above St. Regis
Lake. I can’t harness my momentum and crash into him, giggling. Our footing
teeters and he grabs at me, wrapping a hand around my waist for balance. It
doesn’t work and we are tumbling down, laughing and squealing, until we plunge
into the water with a chaotic splash. It’s not that deep here, and once my feet
find the bottom I can stand.
We resurface, spluttering. “Oh my god,” I laugh. “You dork!”
He’s grinning mischievously, and I splash at his face.
“Hey!” He objects, ducking. “You’re the one who tripped me!”
I dodge as he tries to splash me back. “Yeah right,” I
laugh. “This is totally what you brought me here for! To try and drown me!”
“Not-uh!” He splashes at me again, biting his lip.
“Ah! Now that you’ve got me soaked, what’s your plan?”
“Hmmm…make you even wetter?”
He dives at me and I squeal, swimming away, but he’s already
grabbed a hold of my waist and resurfaces with me slung over his shoulder.
We’re both giggling like idiots as it turns into an awkward wrestling match, my
legs swirling through the water and air as I reach to pull his shirt up and
over his head. It’s the best strategy I can think of but it only makes him
laugh harder before his muscled arms launch me through the air further into the
lake. My hold on his shirt aborts my flight and we both end up belly-flopping
into the blue. Water goes up my nose because I just can’t stop laughing and
this time I resurface sneezing.
“Ack, it itches!” I rub my nose, glancing ruefully at Dominic.
He resurfaces looking like a swamp monster, his t-shirt half-off and obscuring
his arms and head. All I can see of him is his longish hair sticking out like
reeds. Laughing, I swim over to him. “You look lost, little boy. Let me help
My hands brush the bare skin of his chest as I work to roll
the wet, sticking shirt off. It finally comes up with a weird sucking sound that
makes us laugh even harder, but then our eyes meet and the laughter changes.
I’m suddenly pierced, again, by how ridiculously attractive he is, how smooth
his skin is, how broad his chest is. White-hot awareness shoots through my
body. With a mind of their own, my fingers find their way to his abs and slide
up to his shoulders.
His breath catches and he takes a hold of my waist, pulling
me closer until I can feel the heat and pressure of his body. Drops of water on
his smooth face catch the sunlight, dazzling like diamonds along his
cheekbones. His gaze is intense as he reaches up and brushes my sopping hair
off my face, letting his hand linger at the nape of my neck. Those eyes, those
hunky shoulders—I could just stare at him forever.
“Harper,” his voice low, “You’re way too damn good. What the
hell am I going to do without you?”
“Shhh,” I raise a trembling finger to his lips, silencing
him, but it’s too late: the rush of hot tears already burning my eyes. I blink
fast, refusing to let it out. “Not yet,” I beg. “Let’s not be sad yet. Please.”
His eyes are fierce and full as he stares at me, then kisses
my finger. “I swear I really wanted to show you something out here,” he says,
obeying my silent plea to change the subject. “But we have to be still. We
probably scared them. Wait with me?”
He turns me so we’re both facing out toward the center of
the lake and wraps his arms around my waist under the surface of the water.
Gentle waves are lapping against my breasts, cooling me through my wet clothes,
and I can feel Dominic supporting the back of my body. It’s a moment that I
instantly try to freeze in amber, to hold in my memory forever. Even over the
scents of summer and lake, I can catch Dominic’s smell: warm, clean, and
earthy. The world settles around us and I close my eyes. I want to think of
nothing besides Dominic having my back, and the sounds of the lake. I wish that
was all there ever was, all there ever would be. I can’t handle the thought of
never feeling him pressed against my back again.
I scold myself
. Don’t be sad yet.
Dominic’s arms around my waist tighten in an excited
squeeze. “Look,” he whispers in my ear. “By the reeds. I knew they would come
Fluttering my eyes open, I scan the expanse of the lake. A
little to the east in a wild s-shape is a thick copse of reeds forming a sort
of brambly haven that juts from the shore to the middle of the lake. I remember
a couple of campers lost their oars and got stuck in it a week ago, and Dominic
had gone out with the lifeguard on the speedboat to rescue them. It’s all grey
and brown and green, the slender stalks of the water plants blending in to the
scenery. But then I notice a flash of white that flutters and disappears behind
the plants again, shy. Again, a brief glimpse of a long neck and a wing
“Oh, Dominic,” I whisper. “They’re beautiful.”
It’s two proud swans, huge and graceful. Dominic and I go
absolutely still, breathless, and then they must know it’s safe to come out
because all at once they burst from the reeds like ballet dancers, spinning and
gliding over the rippling surface of the water. They orbit each other like
moons, intertwining their necks. They dance alone until a zigzag of fuzzy
cygnets, their babies, catches up, bustling and splashing and playing in bliss.