Authors: Nicole Hamilton
Erotic Bad Boy Romance Series book 3
Vengeful Heart – Fighting Heart 3
First published in Great Britain in 2015 by NicoleHamiltonBooks.com in association with Great Leap
Digital Edition June 2015
Copyright © Nicole Hamilton 2015
Edited by OnlineBookServices.com
Nicole Hamilton has asserted her moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction and except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this e-book publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review, without the prior written permission of the author.
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The Fighting Heart series by Nicole Hamilton
Series list - in reading order
Fighting Heart 1: Fighting Heart
Fighting Heart 2: Questing Heart
Fighting Heart 3: Vengeful Heart
Fighting Heart 4: Burning Heart
It was a just a week since I abandoned Cody in York, but it felt like a year. I’d gone back to London with two people who acted like they hated me, but I hated only one of them. I felt sorry for Amanda - I saw she was trapped and acting out of bitter frustration at what her life had become. I couldn’t hate her, although I had every right to. All of my hate was reserved for Brandon, the handsome nightmare who had once been my lover, the man who offered me a life of dreams and then took it all away again. My hope, my Cody, my freedom. Brandon worked by threats and coercion. And when he threatened everything I cared about in life, what else could I do but follow him? Images of Cody’s battered face haunted me. I wept when I remembered him saying ‘don’t break my heart’ knowing that in the short term I had to do exactly that, and break my own at the same time. I had to do it. In abandoning him I was trying to save him and my own family much more pain. But the price was that I had to bear the pain of a broken heart instead. And Brandon was getting worse. He drank more than I remembered. He wrote less. He swore more. Brandon was a heartthrob losing all his charm. But for me, charm was a ship that had long sailed. To me he was a monster.
I felt like some kind of Cinderella in the flat Brandon shared with Amanda and his buddy Luke. I point blank refused to stay in Brandon’s bedroom hoping my resistance would break his obsession with me and that he would kick me out into the street. But it didn’t happen. I was Cinderella because no one wanted me in that flat, not Amanda, not Luke, and most of the time not even Brandon. I was an inconvenience, a reminder of his life turning to shit. For Luke, I was the girl blocking his use of the front room. But nonetheless I was still trapped.
I texted Cody a few times. He didn’t reply. I called him, and my calls went straight to voicemail. All I wanted to know was that he was alright, safe, well, and recovering from that awful night. At least, that’s what I wanted to start with. But what I really wanted was my freedom, and to rekindle the sweet affair I’d begun with Cody before Brandon came to destroy it. Remembering the touch of Cody’s skin, the sweet taste of his kisses, and the memory of feeling him inside me were my only joys. But they were also my sadness. I wanted him back and I wanted rid of Brandon. But more than that, now I wanted Brandon ruined, as he had ruined me. I intended to find a way out, and when I had, Brandon was going to be a smoking crater in my rear view mirror. Right there and then I had no idea how I was going to manage that feat, but I needed to remember who I was as the starting point. Brandon wanted to turn me into an emotional wreck like he’d done to Amanda, dependent and rendered weak by so much mistreatment. So long as I remembered I was a fighter, and that I always had been, I knew I could escape and get my revenge. One day soon Brandon was going to regret treating me the way he had. He would regret treating Amanda that way too.
. Man, along with memories of my intimate moments with Cody, destroying Brandon was now my top motivation in life. Love and hate. Pleasure and pain. All of it swirled around my mind and stayed with me on the nights I couldn’t sleep on that awful leather sofa, and in my daydreams.
There was one thing I was allowed to do. I was allowed to study and go to college. A lot of the time Brandon would be in the same classes, but sometimes not. Sometimes he had other seminar tutors, and other times he had taken different classes altogether. And more recently Brandon had taken to disappearing from college altogether. Sometimes he didn’t come home at night to bother me with accusing stares and brooding silences. And sometimes he didn’t bother showing for his classes. As you’d expect, I wasn’t upset about either of these occurrences. They were an unexpected joy. Of his night time absences I both hoped he was screwing some new obsession and I felt sorry for the poor girl at the same time. And at college, I was doubly joyful because it was the one place left that I had to be me. And there, I was all me. I studied hard because I could escape into my books. I studied hard because I wanted to see and hear and feel all the wonderful things that Cody saw, heard and felt in his reading. I studied to achieve my dream and I studied because in my mind, I was still Cody’s lover and in the future I was sure we would spend romantic evenings talking about literature, and as writers and lecturers we would tour together and live such a cool life. It was so good to think about that it was almost unbearable and I loved it at the same time, which made what happened next so treacherously cruel.
It was a Saturday morning. Brandon hadn’t come home the night before and Amanda and Luke had stayed at home since the catalyst of all the fun in their lives had abandoned them for God knew what. Both of them wanted to sit up and watch a movie, which meant I had to endure both the movie and their company. For a while I sat alone in the cold kitchen reading, but in the end I thought Fuck it. I had to live there, and whether they liked it or not I was going to sit there, drink with them, and watch that damn movie. So that’s what I did. I didn’t enjoy it, and neither did they, but that was the point, right? Amanda and Luke sat close together in their Pee Jays like a couple of four year old twins. I wondered if they could ever get it on, but when I looked at them again I saw they had been turned into siblings and fools by Brandon’s evil parent. I wondered if the guy even knew how much power he seemed to have. Then after a little while, I realised he did.
“What?” said Amanda, eventually, looking at me with hard eyes. I wasn’t in the mood for arguing.
“Your hair looks nice tonight,” I said without any truth.
The girl humphed, drank from her wine and turned back to the movie. I poured myself a large glass of her wine and tried to watch the movie. My eyes watched but my brain just wouldn’t engage. I thought about my books, I thought about my Cody, and my smoking crater. Eventually, yawning, Luke and sulky Amanda went to bed and I laid on the sofa waiting for sleep. It came eventually. My news came in the morning.
At six am the creaking leather sofa had long gone cold on my skin and it finally broke my sleep. I got up, stretched and checked my yawning face in the mirror. When I stopped yawning I decided I didn’t look too bad for a prisoner. Cinders eventually got her Prince Charming too, didn’t she? I boiled the kettle, made a hot cup of instant, stole a lot of Amanda’s milk and drank it while aimlessly looking out of the kitchen window at the suburban junction below. This area, so near New Cross was far less busy. And at this time, I could see and hear everything. I saw a postman in a red fleece jacket pushing a little wagon our way. I never had any post because officially I didn’t live at Brandon’s place, but when the post got dumped through our door I went and picked it up anyway. I felt free that morning. I knew that Brandon hadn’t come home, so it felt like a blue sky day even though it was overcast outside. I skipped down the steps, snatched up the mail and returned to the kitchen. I dropped the post on the table top, which is when I saw it. A letter with my name on, handwritten in blue ink. If I had not received the post myself that morning I doubt I would have ever seen that letter. It was in Cody’s hand. My hands shook. I clasped them to my mouth. “Oh my God” I said, and sat down. With excitement and trepidation I opened the letter.
I don’t know if you ever realised the extent of my feelings for you. But I hope you got an insight. I wrote a whole book about you. I thought about nothing else but you for weeks from the moment I met you with Penny that time in the Union Bar - do you remember? Even when you had me so wrong I always gave you the benefit of the doubt, because I knew you were so much better than those moments when you lost your temper with me. Heck, I loved your temper too. You are brilliant, and by saying that I mean that you shine. You give off light, Ashley. It’s as if you’re the only one who doesn’t see it.
Because of that I can’t endure watching someone try and snuff out that light – or watch you let them do it. Ashley, you are worth a hundred thousand Brandon Lynes. In mathematical terms he is a negative and you are a positive trillion. I can’t watch you waste yourself on him, not again. Not after the most amazing night of my life. Not after the beginning of the greatest adventure – my life with you. It began and then was abruptly stolen from me- again. I can’t stand it, honestly, I can’t. You could have stayed with me. Together we could have withstood anything, but apart, we’re already broken. I asked you not to break my heart, but you went ahead and did it, Ashley. I’m so sorry – for the both of us.
In parting I would like to say that I know you can still shine and be brilliant. Just please get out from that evil bastard’s clutches while you still shine. Because one day, when I meet you in the years to come, beyond university, I want to see people as in awe of you as I have been.
Our time as lovers is already over. But I will always be your friend. I swear.
By the end of the letter I was a sobbing wreck, my head bowed on the table, tears soaked through the paper, blotting the blue ink. My chest shook. He didn’t quite say the L word but he had said everything but. He loved me, I knew. And because of Brandon Lynes and my fear of what he could do to Cody and my family, I had given it all up. I was still crying and re-reading that letter an hour later. But by the time Amanda awoke just before eight, all evidence of the letter was gone. I sat in the front room watching the television news when she walked in the room.
“Have you been drinking my milk again?”
“Whatever.” I said when she left the room.
My eyes were watching the news, but my mind was working overtime. I had to get away from these people once and for all. I had to escape from Brandon and to stop his threats I had to strike first. I didn’t yet know what I was going to do. But the first thing was to find an ally to help me. Penny might have been the right fit… and maybe Penny could reach out to Cody on my behalf… and let him know that I was ready to take the risk in leaving Brandon. I would go to him if he would still have me. Even though Penny had let me down before, I had high hopes for her. She was the only option I had left. As I sat thinking, I noticed Amanda standing in the doorway, peering at me over the rim of a glass of milk.
“What?” I said.
She didn’t say a word. In the end, she walked away. The girl was going nuts.