Authors: Mandy Harbin
Alexandria Collins learned the hard way not every man can be
trusted. After her husband tried to kill her, she and her son went under FBI
protection where they’ve spent the last ten years. Her trust issues with men
have created a nonexistent sex life. But when they move to a small Arkansas
town, she’s drawn to the biggest, hottest man she’s ever seen.
Brody “Brutus” Jackson is immediately attracted to Xan when
her hot little body walks into the shop where he works as a mechanic in an
official capacity, and as a mercenary unofficially. He knows instantly she’s
off-limits. He doesn’t do single moms—too much baggage—but more importantly, he
knows her from somewhere…a dangerous sign since he only remembers the last
twelve years of his life, and what he’s learned of his past needs to stay
He fights his overwhelming desire, but when he discovers his
assignment is her protection, he realizes how easily one hot little momma can
bring him to his knees…and how difficult facing who he was can be.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Darkest Sin Copyright © 2012 Mandy Harbin
Edited by Grace Bradley
Cover design by Caitlin Fry
Photography by Stryjek, Jason Still and
Electronic book publication March 2012
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Just as the heroine in this story discovers—life never works
out like we plan. Sometimes this is a good thing. But oftentimes this presents
a challenge we are not ready for and we have to find our strength to make it
through. As I experience a major change in my life, I want to express my
gratitude to my closest friends, JT Lacy, Paul Waits, Kari Sawyer and Justin
Beckham, for all the late-night texts, phone calls, trips, dinners and
sleepovers. You all have given me strength by just being you and being there
for me each in your own way. I love you all, and your support, compassion and
love is and always will be cherished. I cannot begin to thank you for what you
have done for me, but I appreciate everything more than you will ever know.
This book is for you.
Alexandria Collins paced with her cell phone clutched tightly
in her manicured hand. Why hadn’t Cole called? She was supposed to be at the
rendezvous point fifteen minutes ago to get Devon from his nanny. Her
four-year-old son was too young to understand what was happening, but
Alexandria was doing this for him as much as she was doing it for herself.
And what she was doing was making a run for it. She had no
other choice. She’d married Marco after he knocked her up at sixteen when she’d
been too young and too stupid to see past his flashy car and charming smile.
She hadn’t realized her mistake at first. After all, he’d showered her with
expensive gifts, and considering she’d spent her youth being shuffled from one
foster care home to the next, being pampered was nice. Hell, it’d rocked. When
she’d found out she was pregnant, he’d been thrilled and insisted on getting
And he’d been the perfect husband.
Until she’d given birth to a girl.
If only he just spewed nonsense about needing a male heir to
carry on the family business, rather than beat her nightly until they’d
conceived again. If only the family business he prided himself on was a
legitimate one she’d be proud of her son taking over one day. If only her
daughter hadn’t died of SIDS after her son was born.
If only, if only, if only.
For the past three years she’d kept her eyes open for a way
to get out of here, and three months ago she’d found her ticket to freedom in
the form of a flash drive containing account numbers and data on shell
corporations Marco used to launder money. Being a ward of the state until she’d
married Marco, Alexandria had no family to turn to for help, so she’d done the
only thing she could think of, the only thing any other law-abiding citizen
She went to the feds.
After spilling everything she knew, which didn’t feel like
much to her, she was too important to be assigned one FBI agent to work her
case. Oh no, Marco Collins was apparently second-in-command to her
father-in-law’s crime family, so she’d been assigned a whole team of suits.
They’d told her about the crimes her husband and his family were suspected of,
and it went much deeper than the domestic abuse she’d endured. They were a part
of a true crime family. One she’d obliviously married into and couldn’t get out
of with an easy dissolution of marriage through the courts.
Her phone buzzed, startling her. She checked the screen and
breathed a sigh of relief when she saw it was one of the contact numbers the
FBI had given to her.
“Hello?” she whispered as she sat on the imported Italian
leather sofa in Marco’s study.
“Mrs. Collins, this is Agent Dave Simmons. You have to get
out now. You’ve been compromised. We have a team en route, but our informant
notified us that we won’t reach you in time.”
“Where’s Cole?” She was supposed to await Cole’s contact
with her instructions, but he’d ensured her he’d be in touch at least thirty
Not waiting on an answer, Alexandria jumped off the couch
and grabbed her purse. If the feds said she had to leave now, they didn’t have
to tell her twice. Cole was just one member of a slew of agents she worked
with, so if they changed the game plan, there must be a good reason. She was
already late picking up her son, anyway. She trusted Devon’s nanny so much so
that she’d told her to flee with him if Alexandria didn’t show. If anything
happened to her, she wanted to make sure Devon still got away. If she could get
to them in time, it’d save her the trouble of hunting them down afterward.
“Cole’s been shot. Meet up with Ms. Chambers to get your
son. There’s an agent with them now, so they’re safe—”
An explosion rocked her, hurtling her across the floor, her
phone sliding in the opposite direction, the agent’s frantic voice drifting as
the phone slid out of reach. She crawled in her custom silk outfit, getting
behind the couch, frantically looking for her purse, which housed her gun. She
needed the protection since it looked as if the feds wouldn’t be coming in to
save her after all. She spotted her purse handle dangling off the other side of
the couch. Easing her way in that direction, she stayed hidden behind the
safety of the leather furniture. Before she could reach it, gunfire erupted as
the door to the study crashed open, bouncing off the wall.
“I’m going to kill you, you fucking bitch!”
Alexandria trembled. She was screwed. There
was no way she could get out of here now. That door was the only way in, and
even though there were windows, they were on the second floor, a second floor
of a big two-story mansion with high ceilings. She could play dumb and hope he
believed she was innocent of whatever he suspected, maybe get a severe beating
out of her insolence. Or she could continue to hide.
Yeah, she liked that idea better. No need to just give up.
“I know you’re in here, Dria. If you show your face now,
I’ll make it quick.”
Marco stormed around the room, pushing antique bureaus and
marble-top tables like stick furniture. Alexandria crawled around the couch as
he neared. She had to stay away. If she averted him long enough, maybe he’d
leave the room and she’d be able to sneak out.
“You think you can avoid me? I think you want to die slow.
Right after I fuck you with the barrel of this gun for old times’ sake.”
Alexandria suppressed a sob. Marco was using the memories of
his abuse to draw her out. She might’ve been an idiot to marry him, but she
wasn’t one now. She would not let him bait her. She glanced around the room,
what little she could see of it, for a weapon. Anything would work. The jackass
loved art and had all kinds of marble statues. The key would be getting a hold
of something without him noticing. She just had to wait for the right moment.
Whenever that was.
He started to walk away, so she maneuvered over to the
lowest shelf to grab the miniature
Venus de Milo
. As she snatched it,
thin, cold fingers wrapped around her wrist and yanked her from behind the
“Dria, there you are,
,” Marco sneered.
Alexandria instinctively pushed at his chest, but he didn’t
move. She tried kicking him but he deflected her knees. Remembering she still
held the weapon, she swung at his head. He ducked, but she managed to clip the
side before he got completely away from the blow.
“You crazy bitch!”
She recklessly swung her hands, kicked her feet, tried to
get away, but as he fell, he brought her down with him. They scrambled on the
floor and he gained the advantage, grabbing her hair in an angry fist and
banging her head against the hand-scraped floor.
“I love all this long, beautiful hair,
smashed her head into the floor again. “Too bad your beautiful locks of gold
are a treasure to me no more.” He hit her again and she saw stars.
Grunting, she struggled to free his hands from her hair. “I
n-never was your treasure. You used me.”
“And you turned me in. For shame,
. Too bad
your little plan backfired. I have friends in all the right places. That so-called
evidence you turned over is gone. They have nothing, and you’ll never leave
this house alive.”
He raised the gun and she pushed, shoved, kicked…all to no
avail, but she wasn’t giving up. She must’ve landed a blow in a good spot
because he yelled and hit her in the head with the gun. Blinking back tears
leaking from her eyes and blood flowing into them, she could barely see Marco,
but she heard footsteps just outside the door. It sounded like a herd of elephants,
which was music to her ears. Marco reared back, looking toward the door as he
hovered over her.
“You?” he yelled incredulously. “I thought I’d killed you
Did that mean all that noise was just one person? What was
all that gunfire earlier? Surely there were more people here to help her. But
she’d take what she could get. One was better than none.
Marco pointed his gun away from her and more gunfire
sounded. Marco wailed in agony as fresh blood splattered on her face. Marco was
hit. But the sound of something crashing to the floor, her savior, dashed any
hope of survival. Marco was wounded, the other man severely, if not mortally.
Panting, Marco looked at her with his evil, brown eyes
filled with victorious resolve, turning the gun on her. Her world tilted as
hopelessness filled her. The sound of a single bullet and the instantaneous
feel of burning pain in her right temple were the last things Alexandria
Collins felt before darkness surrounded her.