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Authors: Suzie Grant,Mind Moore

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BOOK: For the Sake of Sin
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Darkness covered the courtyard. The only light spilled from inside the house. She trembled under his hands, her heart thundered in her ears, and her palms grew moist. Certain he would kill her, Ava whimpered. He dragged her close and wrapped his large hands around her neck. “You’re going to ensure I make it out of here.”

You won’t make it out alive, Santiago.” The voice came from the bedroom and then Gabriel emerged from the darkened archway, his stride slow and steady as he loaded his pistol.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Once my men—”

They’re dead.”

Marco stiffened behind her and Ava gasped as his hold tightened. “I don’t believe you.”

Gabriel shrugged. “Then don’t. Make it easy on yourself and release Ava.”

Do you think I am
?” Marco shook his head. “I’ll break her neck if you take another step. If you were a smart man you’d let me go.”

Gabriel shook his head. “A smarter man would know when to fold.”

Ava sensed the desperation in Marco’s tense hold. Mistakes by any of them could result in unnecessary deaths. She tried to avert his attention. “Marco, I’ll go with you. Just calm down.”

There’s no need to go with him, Ava. Two more seconds and he’s a dead man.”

She clenched her teeth in frustration. Couldn’t Gabriel see she was trying to defuse the situation? Things were getting out of hand. “Marco,” she whispered. “Just listen to me. I’ll go with you, wherever you want.”

I’ll give you one more chance, release Ava, Santiago,” Gabriel inserted. Marco panted now. His gaze swung from the left to the right, searching for an escape. Gabriel smiled. “There’s nowhere left to run.”

Don’t be so sure about that.” Marco yanked her back and she stumbled to keep up. Marco’s grip on her throat stung. “I’m taking her with me. Make a move and she’s dead.”

Ante up, Santiago. I’m calling your bluff.”

The gunshot exploded and Marco’s body jerked in response. She gasped as blood spattered across her cheeks. Stunned, she plummeted, still wrapped in Marco’s arms. Her entire body shuddered and shock rippled through her.

Screaming, she leapt up and whirled. Marco’s lifeless eyes stared back at her, and the tiny bullet hole centered in the center of his forehead.
He was dead.
Her sister’s dark eyes flashed through her mind. You can rest in peace, María, mi hermana.

Ava trembled fiercely. Her body shook until her teeth chattered. Warm arms encircled her and she immediately sought Gabriel’s comfort. She cried into his shoulder. Relief released the weight from her shoulders.

It’s over?”

Gabriel nodded. “It’s over.”

That easy, huh?” she chuckled.

Yup, that easy.”

She leaned back in his arms to peer up at him. “Why did you change your mind, Gabriel?”

He sighed. “Years ago, I sought the man who’d killed my wife and son. I hunted him until I finally caught him but I was just a greenhorn. He held a young woman hostage and I missed the shot. I shot them both with a single bullet through the neck.” His voice broke. “She was little more than a child at seventeen. And I killed her.” His gaze grew distant as he shook his head. “I can’t let that happen again, do you understand? I can’t let another innocent person die for the sake of revenge.”

She gasped at his admission. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He cupped her cheeks. “I went into the military, learned to kill, perfected the craft and became an assassin after that. But over the years I’ve learned an eye for an eye doesn’t relieve the pain.” Gabriel wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin atop her head. “Vengeance changes people. Strips all the joy and laughter from a person’s life. Rip’s out your heart and closes off any chance at love. I can’t sit by and watch what happened to me, happen to you. After everything you’ve been through you deserve some happiness. Don’t let anger and hate waste the best years of your life.”

The crack in her armor completely broke and fell away. Ava hugged him close and cried tears of happiness and disappointment into his shoulder. Something akin to love blossomed in her chest. Warmth she hadn’t felt in years bloomed and spilled over through her tears. “You’re a good man, Gabriel. How can I ever repay you?”

He stepped away from her and held her at arm’s length. “Live long and be happy, and share that beautiful smile with everyone.”

A void centered in her chest. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?” Why had she whispered those words, when she truly did not want him to answer them.

He nodded. “You have a chance at a new life, Ava. Use it wisely. You’re too good for this.” He pointed to their surroundings. “I only hope whatever is next for you was worth all this.”

It will be,” she whispered, meaning it. She was ready to start a new life. Retire from being a courtesan and perhaps learn to love someone again. Although, some distant thought reminded her no man would ever fill Gabriel’s place. He was right, he’d become...too precious. “And you? Where will you go?”

He smiled. “Back to my retirement plans.”

Which are?”

He ducked his head and color actually flooded his face. “I’m headed to Southern California. I’m going to own a vineyard. My wife loved wine and it was her dream to make wine someday. Somehow it’s become a dream of mine as well.”

A twinge of pain erupted somewhere deep inside. He still loved his wife. She smiled through her tears and cupped his cheek. “What a beautiful dream that is, Gabriel.” She kissed his cheek and his breath caught in her ear. “You deserve some happiness, too. I hope you can find it.”

He captured her palm and kissed it. “Thank you.” They whispered the words in unison, both realizing this as the end as well as a new beginning. In a matter of days, they’d both changed. Only time would tell how things would turn out, but for now, a promise of tomorrow brightened the horizon.

Her hands slid from his face as he backed away, his eyes on her. Then he turned and strode through the archway and into the ruins of the burning buildings. Gone from her with only a single night of bliss and a promise.

She stood amidst the chaos of the ruins for what seemed like hours, a hand over her aching heart and tears washing away the last remnants of her previous life. Hoping against all hope that one retired assassin would change his mind for a second time.



Four years later

Sunlight poured in sheets even as a misting rain pattered across her face. Ava Stone, wiped the moisture from her forehead and climbed to her feet. She needed to get inside before the rain came down in earnest.

She’d moved from El Paso into a small house outside the small town of Stone Creek, Texas. The name reminded her of one retired assassin and perhaps it was her way to stay close to him. She enjoyed working in her garden and selling her produce to the townsfolk. She lived comfortably. Thanks to Marco’s money. But she’d buried that life and her past, seeking to grow something new here, and she’d succeeded.

Meeting new friends and returning to church, to finally learn who she was as a woman had became her first priority over the last few years. She found she was a good person and a wonderful friend, but she was definitely a lonely woman.

Ava sighed and entered through the back screen door when a knock sounded from the front porch. Curiosity furrowed her brows as she scuttled around the furniture and into the entry way, opening the front door.

Ava glanced back and forth but no one was there. She frowned.
I’m hearing things I guess
. Just before she shut the door, she glanced down and something caught her eye.

Opening the screen, Ava walked out onto the front porch. A lone bottle of wine wrapped in a yellow ribbon sat on the top step. Her breath caught, her heart thundered, and she glanced around.

She knelt and picked up the beautiful green bottle to cradle against her heart. Could it be?

I thought I should share my dream with the woman who helped me realize it.” Gabriel materialized from around the corner of the house and her heart shot into her throat.


He tipped his dark hat. “Howdy, Miss Stone.”

Those incredible green eyes devoured her and she stood, quivering under his gaze. “I can’t believe it’s you. Am I dreaming?”

He grinned, dressed in a dark, tailored suite. He fair took her breath away. Propping one black boot on the porch he leaned an elbow on his knee. “No,
mi princesa
, you’re not dreaming. I was in town and thought I’d stop by.”

How did you find me?”

Well, it was a bit difficult once you changed your name but let’s be honest, a beautiful single, woman named Ava is fairly easy to track down, Miss Stone. Especially one as beautiful as you.”

Pleasure heated her cheeks but she raised her chin. “Why did you return, Gabriel? It was difficult enough to get over you the first time you left.”

I have a business proposition for you.”

Her heart sank and every hope died on a solid breath of disappointment. “Oh? I don’t do that kind of work anymore, Mr. Stone, so I’ll thank you to leave.”

He leapt onto the porch and swept her into his arms. With a single kiss on her stunned lips, he knelt on one knee. “I need a wife, Miss Stone. I’m in desperate need to fill this void left by the sweetest Spanish girl I’ve ever known. Marry me and help me run my vineyard. Besides, we already share the same last name, all you need to do is say yes.”

Her mouth had dropped open in shock at the first word and by the end, she could no longer hold in the emotion. Tears gathered in her eyes as she whispered, “why?”

He stood. “Because I can’t live without you. I can’t stop thinking about you and I damn well want you in my bed, next to me every single night for the rest of my life. Say yes,
mi princesa
. I need you.”

Ava’s lip quivered. Tears tracked twin paths down her cheeks, and she nodded.

Say it,” he whispered. “I have to hear you say it.”

She laughed and smiled. Pure joy flowed through her veins as she leapt into his arms, almost conking him on the back of the head with the wine bottle. “Yes! Oh Gabriel, yes! I’ve waited a lifetime for you, why would I waste another damn day?”

He kissed her lips and drank in her tears. “Let’s make sweet wine and sweet love together for the rest of our lives.”

~The End~

About the Author




Suzie still believes in happily-ever-after and after growing up reading classic adventure literature like Treasure Isle, Gone with the wind and watching classic westerns like Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove, and Bonanza Suzie knew what she wanted to do with her life. She brings the action of thrillers to historical romance with steamy love scenes and a pace that will leave you breathless! From Castles to cowboys there's something thrilling on every page. Take a deep breath and join Suzie on a journey as she takes happily-ever-after by the horns!


During her rocky teenage years writing became an emotional outlet for her and it wasn’t until she had married and had children that writing as a profession became an option.


After a very long divorce she again finds herself climbing that rocky path of life and has learned to live by a single quote: “Obstacles are placed in our path to determine whether we really wanted something, or just thought we did.” By Dr. Harold Smith.


Suzie looks forward to each new obstacle.


She lives happily ever after with her new beau, three boys and one little Shih tzu named Peppy Le’Pew in NC. One day she plans to retire and sail along the east coast an adventurer to the end.


The Devil Ryder Series ~ The Devil’s Daughter




A bounty hunter facing his past


Gade Ryder returns to Eden, Texas, after twelve years to investigate a gang of rustlers on the family ranch. Had he accepted the job out of misplaced family loyalty or was it the compelling mystery of the devil’s daughter keeping him in the one place he didn’t want to be? Confronted by the memory of his mother’s suicide and the father he blames for her death, Gade finds himself seeking comfort from the one woman he couldn’t trust.




A criminal on the run


Blaze Marie Austin, once a little girl forced to be an outlaw, finds a chance at redemption by repaying the man who’d saved her life. Only her savior’s estranged son accuses her of betrayal and ignites a passion she can’t deny.


After the little criminal is accused of murder, Gade’s growing attraction for her could not only cost him his freedom, it may well cost him his life.


Excerpt from the Devil’s Daughter:







Gade Ryder considered Eden, Texas anything but paradise. Yet, the Eve every man imagined strolled down the boardwalk as he stepped off the stagecoach.

BOOK: For the Sake of Sin
2.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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