Authors: Arie Lane
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events are entirely fiction. Any resemblance to places, events, or persons dead or alive is coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Arie Lane
Editing by: Karen McAndrew
Cover Designed by: Christina Badder of
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To say that I suck at these is an understatement, so please bear with me. First and foremost I would like to thank the amazing women on my street team who go above and beyond to promote my books and make sure everything from cover reveals to sales are known about. Our team has grown so much since it was first started. You ladies are incredible. Thank you so much for everything that you do! I have the best Ass Kickers in the world!
A special shout out to a few members of my team. Lynne you are my crazy number one pimper, you rock! Laura, thank you for keeping me on my toes, and pushing me to give you more Tristan, you’re an amazing friend and I hope to keep bouncing ideas off of you. Brenda, thank you for all of your amazing teasers, your banners, and everything you do that goes above and beyond without my ever asking. You are absolutely awesome. Karen, thank you for promoting me and making sure the blogging world knows every update happening with the books. I appreciate it more than you know. Claire, you have been a huge support system for me since the beginning, thank you so much for doing all of the things that would otherwise drive me insane.
I would like to thank my amazing P.A. Christy French. You have been by my side since I announced the first book, and decided to create the team. You’ve supported me in so many ways both book related and not, and I am incredibly blessed that I get to call you my friend. You have no idea how much I appreciate you. I’m not sure I’d be doing what I am right now if I didn’t have all of the support you’ve shown me.
Karen McAndrew, thank you for taking on the edits for Rendezvous. You’re like superwoman. Between blogging, raising your babies, and reviewing, and editing for others, you still find time to help your friend in a pinch. You are an amazing person and I can’t wait to see how far we both go in the indie world. I have no doubt we’re going to be kicking ass!
I want to thank Christina Badder for her amazing covers. I tend to have the jumbled ideas in my head of what I want and you’ve managed to turn my ideas into the perfect cover art. Your work is amazing and I look forward to seeing what we can come up with for the next book. Even though your work speaks for itself, I want you to know we all think you are super talented.
Tara Oakes, you continue to be one of my biggest mentors and friends in all of this. Thank you for continuing to support me as I try to navigate the indie world. I always expected that if I ever attended a signing it would be at your side. Now that you have Alicia, it may be that one day we’ll attend a signing side by side. I’ll continue to show you the amazing support that you’ve shown me and I hope we both accomplish amazing things!
Thank you to all of the amazing bloggers who have gone above and beyond to show your support for me. I know from experience that a lot of bloggers won’t take a chance on a new author, and many haven’t. For those of you who have, thank you so much! Putting Tryst out was a terrifying and humbling experience. I never expected to receive the amount of support that I did, and I know I wouldn’t have had that support if it wasn’t for the blogging community. You are all an amazing group of individuals, and I don’t think you’re told nearly enough just how much we appreciate everything that you do for us. Thank you so much for all of your amazing support.
Lastly I would like to thank my readers. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have bothered publishing the rest of Bentley and Tristan’s story. Each and every time someone sends me a message telling me how much they loved the book, the characters, her personality; you inspire me to continue to write. I hope that you love the rest of their story, and I hope that I can continue to write stories that keep you wanting to read them. Thank you for your love and support!
I thought really hard about who this book should be dedicated to. There are several people actually. Three of whom made me the woman I am today.
For my Aunt Judi, you have no idea how much I miss you every day. Your personality was contagious. You left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten because you touched so many lives. I have no doubt both mom and I are better people because we had your love and grace in our lives. I know she misses you terribly, but there is something every day that reminds us of you and the love you showed to everyone in your lifetime. You will never be forgotten.
Mom, you made me a lot like Bentley. You showed me what it meant to be strong, to not take shit from anyone, and of course I inherited my poison pen from you. You are my number one Ass Kicker. For years I talked about writing, and you always thought I’d put something out there, though I doubt either of us imagined it would go in this direction. You have always been my biggest supporter and I love you more than words can ever say. Thank you so much for always having my back!
My beautiful niece Raven, you have no idea how proud I am of you. You’re such a beautiful person, both on the inside and out, and I am blessed that I got to be one of the biggest influences in your life. I know you look up to me, and I try to lead by example. I hope that I can continue to inspire you to do great things, because you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for. No matter what, I will always be by your side, and push you to succeed in making your dreams come true.
I never thought it was possible that I would again lose the most important person in my life. Yet, here I stand in the driveway of the only girl I’ve ever truly loved feeling completely lost. I feel like I’m 13 all over again, standing at the curb in front of the school waiting for a car that will never come.
I remember the day like it was yesterday—my thirteenth birthday. Dad and I made plans to have a game night. We were supposed to go straight from school to grab some burgers and shakes over at Davie’s Diner. It was my favorite place as a kid. They had eight different flavors of milkshakes and they’d mix them any way you like. From there, we were going to play a round of mini golf before hitting the batting cages, and end the night with a few spins around the go-cart track. None of that came to pass though. Instead, I walked the three miles home and was greeted with silence.
There, on the kitchen counter, was a letter from dear old dad. He talked about how he just couldn’t come to terms with having a teenage son, how he just didn’t feel old enough for that. The son of a bitch took off with the barely legal girl who he hired to babysit me a few years ago. I sat there alone in that house for three days, hoping he would change his mind, and expecting him to walk back through that door as if none of this had ever happened. He never came back though. After three days, I was left feeling empty. He betrayed me, betrayed the love I had for him, and betrayed the memories and admiration I had for the man I considered my hero. He left me alone and broken.
I was going to go into the system since I had no living relatives and my father was nowhere to be found. I got lucky though. Instead of the school trying to search for my father, they contacted the emergency contact on file. As always, Aggie had my back. I don’t know if I really expected her to come for me. She had never let me down before, so seeing her again made what was happening to me a little more bearable. She convinced a court to let me go live with her, and I never looked back. I never needed more than her. At least not until now... not until Bentley.
Bentley, the one name that continues to linger on my tongue. I’ve dealt with a lot of ups and downs in my life. At twenty-seven years old, I’ve seen more hell than most people could dream of. I know the things of which nightmares are made of. I gave my service for four years against some of those nightmares, fighting against the people considered monsters, trying to keep a place I called home safe. The truth is I didn’t have a home. Not really.
I had a woman who raised me as her son after my own mother died, and a father who couldn’t stand the sight of me. I had my best friend who fought by my side, and my brothers in arms. I created a home out of those friendships. Sure, I had a girl waiting for me in some condo bought by an inheritance I never deserved. That never felt right though. It wasn’t a place I wanted to be, a place I wanted to come home to. It was a place where I went when I was on leave. Aggie always told me home is where your heart is, so I thought it was back in that condo with the girl I was considering spending my life with. I thought that girl owned me… had a claim on my heart. But I was wrong. I learned that when I came back to my place to find my girl and my best friend fucking.
Most people would say he’s not a friend if he’d do that, and the truth is for a long time, I thought the same. The thing is Cage isn’t just my best friend; he’s my brother. He grew up a street kid in and out of homes until Aggie took him in, just like me. From that day forward, he was and is my brother and no amount of DNA will ever convince me otherwise. So as much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn’t. Inadvertently, he did me a favor. If it wasn’t Cage I caught her with, I might have reacted differently. I might have forgiven the slut. He gave me a reason to walk away, a reason to want something more.
It took me five more years to find my home. Making my way through the hotel lobby, I crashed into it... into her. I found my home in Bentley. The moment she opened her dirty little mouth, I knew where my heart belonged so I followed her. I moved over 800 miles away to claim something I never even knew existed. Some people would call that crazy. Though for a man who watched everyone he loved walk away, it was easy. If my father could desert me for a girl only a couple years my senior, then what was the big deal in walking away from a place I hated? Regardless if Bentley wanted me or not, I felt she needed me, even if she didn’t know it. It wasn’t only that though. She called to me like a kindred soul, both lost and longing for something that might never happen. We were both left broken by the sins of our parents. Bentley changed that: She gave my heart, a place to call its own.
Rubbing my thumb across the little velvet box in my pocket, it hits me just what it means to really lose your home. Property can be fixed, and items can be replaced. Those are just material things, but losing your heart is to be thrown into a never ending hell.
Holding the letter from Bentley tight in my hand, I feel like my world has just come crashing down around me again. My emotions are at war with each other. I’m angry that she felt her only option was to take off and leave me behind. I’m hurting because I know if I had been here, I could have stopped her. Hatred is consuming me with the need to hunt Darla down and tear her to pieces. My heart is an empty fucking void that only having Bentley back safely will fill.
I’ve considered what to do: Let her walk away or force my way back into her life. I’ve thought about it for countless hours, but I always come to the same conclusion: There is no choice; I have only one real option. Only one thing will right what is wrong in my life. I need to find her. I need to have Bentley in my arms again, and if that means tearing up every fucking piece of dirt I land on until she’s unearthed, I will. I told her once she belonged to me. I guess she didn’t believe me, so this time I’ll fucking prove it.
3 Months Later
When people say their lives are nothing but sunshine and rainbows, I want to smack the shit out of them because they are all fucking liars. I can’t even remember the last time the sun shined down on me. My life... well... my life is more like tornados and hurricanes. One leaves you gutted while the other tears your fucking world apart. If the two ever collided, there would be mass devastation. That’s where I am at the moment. In the eye of a fucking storm, waiting for the calm to break away, waiting for both sides to crash down on me. I’ve always been able to handle them separately, but I don’t know if I can survive the kind of devastation that comes with the combination. It’s a storm of my own making though. It is an earth shattering, gut-wrenching chaos of my own mass destruction named Bentley. She is the kind of storm you can’t run from. She’s a storm that you can only find your calm by running straight into her.
I’m jolted awake by the heavy rain waging war against the house. The splattering drops and tree branches are battering the windows. The storm isn’t the only thing raging though. My body is covered in cold sweats and my heart feels like it could beat out of my chest. This is the third time this week alone that I’ve woken up this way. A relentless nightmare claws at me, leaving me aching and restless.
It’s always the same dream. Bentley is lost. I can’t see her, but I can hear her nearby. There is begging and pleading in her voice as she asks me to find her. Yet, no matter how far I go or the depths that I search, she’s never there. I can’t reach her. The haunting nightmare always ends the same. Whenever I feel like I’m getting close to finding her, I wake up, and then I’m consumed with a sickening sense of dread.
Cage calls her a ghost. He’s certain she’s still out there somewhere still alive, but there are no signs of her existence. A small part of me is happy knowing Cage can’t find her. Bentley has been hiding for the better part of her life due to her psychotic mother, so she has become methodical, and calculated. She never makes a mistake. She can’t afford to make a mistake.
Cage is well-trained and can find just about anyone. I know it’s fucked up, but the idea that she may be better at hiding than Cage is at finding people makes me proud. My baby is strong, but everyone has their weaknesses and hers is Darla. I’m pretty fucking certain if Cage isn’t finding her, then neither is that bitch.
I’m not thrilled she’s off the grid though. The more time that passes, the harder it is to hold onto the hope of finding her. Three months and no trace of her. Everyone slips up at some point, yet there’s nothing. Not a single shred of evidence to even suggest she’s still out there. I can’t bear to think of the alternative, though, because life without Bentley wouldn’t be a life worth living, especially not after I finally found the one person who is my other half.
There have been a few hits on Darla, but she never stays in one place long enough for anyone to catch up with her. It kills me to know she is out there still on a ruthless quest to destroy the woman I love. That’s why I decided to stop looking for Bentley. She will never be safe while still being hunted by her. Cage approached me last week. He’s enlisted the help of a few of his private sector friends, and we’ve decided to do a little recon ourselves. My dining room now looks like a command center and Darla is enemy number one.
We were trained well by the military: Defend and protect, no matter what the cost. I can’t think of anything more worth protecting than the girl I want to spend my life growing old with. Aggie taught me a lot about respect, love, kindness, humility and trust. I told her what happened with Bentley...that she left. I expected her to tell me this is another one of life's lessons. Instead she floored me with a new life lesson. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Especially when facing a very pissed off seventy-four year old woman on my doorstep. Life lesson number two: When you need Aggie she’ll be there, even if it’s to search for a deranged sociopath.
“Well don’t just stand there like a bump on a log. Go grab my bags,” she barked at Cage. I looked at her in complete astonishment, wondering why she was standing on my doorstep. Looking at me, she let out a small huff, “What’s a woman got to do around here to get a hug? Get your ass over here boy.”
Wrapping her in my arms, the sound of her voice brings a much needed sense of peace.
“You didn’t really think I’d let my boy go about suffering alone, did ya? Now tell me what you plan to do about this nasty bit of business. You know you’ll be breaking laws, doing things the law considers unforgivable? This woman is a fugitive, but that doesn’t mean you can just run off playing vigilante. You and that boy of yours,” looking back over to Cage, “You’re going to need to be smart about this. Just because you get a few free passes every now and again, doesn’t mean those suits are going to let it slip by if you do something unorthodox. You hear me boy, you need to be smart. Now, I’m not saying this bitch doesn’t deserve what she’s got coming to her. I’m just saying whatever you two got up your sleeves, you better damn well make sure you don’t get caught. I’d also make sure the bitch is never found. Only after that would I go seeking Bentley out. You got no business putting her in danger, so you best be finding this Darla character and dealing with that first.”
You’d never expect to hear such language come out of this sweet woman’s mouth, but the truth is Aggie isn’t all sugar and spice. She never talked about him much, but her husband wasn’t on the straight and narrow. He wasn’t a hardened criminal though he did have his fair share of run-ins with the law. So Aggie has a slight difference in opinion on what is and isn’t legal. I’ve heard a few stories of the sordid things she did in her youth. She managed to keep her own criminal record clean though. So to hear her here talking about what I should and shouldn’t do might not be as unexpected as it sounds. Yet, I never thought I’d hear the words come out of her mouth.
Having her here reminds me just how much I need Aggie. Although the idea that she is encouraging my need for vengeance is a bit scary. Aggie is not a woman whose bad side you want to encounter. Believe me when I say that woman can snap a switch like nobody’s business. The idea that she has such a disdain for a woman that she’s never even met speaks volumes. I can always count on Aggie to be in my corner, even if it means doing something unforgivable. Of course she knows all about Darla. I’ve never been able to keep a secret from Aggie. I wanted her to love Bentley as much as I do, so that meant Aggie had to know the hell Bentley has suffered and the small details that painted the picture of the woman she has become.
2 Months Later
Five months...it’s been five fucking months and not a damn thing. Our leads are fizzling, our tempers are on high, and I’m starting to feel like a hopeless bastard. Aggie has done her best to keep our spirits up. Three months ago, we had a five-man team working around the clock to find Darla. Now we’re down to three with just Aggie, Cage and me. Dante still comes now and again, but you can tell the lack of progress is taking its toll on him. He started pushing everyone away a few weeks after Bentley took off. He’s been blaming himself ever since the day she left because he thinks if he’d never let anyone know where she was in the first place, then she would still be here safe with him. The problem with that logic is she would have never been mine. That’s just not something I can accept.
A week ago, we got another hit on Darla. We received intel that the bitch managed to leave the country. While we know she used a fake passport, the guy who she bought it from wasn’t very informative. He said he didn’t know where she was headed or if she was planning to return to the states. He lied though, not that it mattered. By the time I was done questioning him, the DEA was knocking on his door, and I was slipping out his bedroom window.
Aggie and Cage insist I keep up appearances so that if something happens to her, the suspicion won’t be on me. I hate it though because I should be there strategizing with them and coming up with ideas to find her. Instead, I'm playing the part of a coveted cover model, being groped and ogled as I travel around with Electra. My only consolation is that when we find her, she’s mine. That cunt has a world of hurt coming, and she’s going to get every bit of it. I know it’s wrong to hit a woman. Aggie drilled it into my head at a very young age. Though Darla is no woman; she’s a fucking monster. She gets off on the pain and suffering of her daughter and it’s only fair she be treated the same.
These are the thoughts I have as I get home after a two-week hiatus, and make my way to my bedroom. It’s some fucked up hour of the morning as I crawl into my bed hoping that for once sleep will just come easily. The Jack is a welcoming warmth, burning its way down my throat in an attempt to ease the dull aching in my chest. Rolling over to face the window, I swear I see a flash of light coming from Bentley’s bedroom. There is just a small flicker before it’s gone and I’m on my feet. I know it’s likely my imagination playing tricks, but if there’s even the smallest chance she’s there, I need to see. Hell, at this point, I’ll take anyone as long as it gives me an excuse to unleash some of this pain. Pulling a pair of jeans on, I slip down the stairs, grab my keys, and head for her front door.
I know I shouldn’t be here. It sounds silly scolding myself, especially when I’m in my own house, but who the fuck knows who might be watching it. I was careful though. I parked the rental car a few blocks over and cut through the backyards so I could enter from the back. I don’t need any lights except for my bedroom and I just need the light long enough to click it and grab the shades and I’ll be good.
Ever since I left, I have been beating myself up for being so reckless. I was in such a hurry to leave that I forgot something that would lead straight to me. It is a box of documents for an identity not really my own. Years ago, when I first started hiding, I created a persona out of my pen name. No one knows it because I never told anyone the books were mine. Though under the floorboard beneath my bed is everything someone would need to find me. I just hope it is all still there and untouched.
After moving everything around and grabbing the box with my bank documents and property title, I slip my bed back into place. A creak in the hall sets my nerves off as I reach for my newly acquired taser. I figured since my mother wanted to make a scene of my disappearance, I’d at least have a fighting chance with this. But now that she’s on the run, who knows what she’s capable of. I turn to face the door, waiting for my assailant. Instead, I’m met with something much worse.
I can smell him before he ever steps through the doorway. You’d think he bathed in the liquor rather than drank it. As he stumbles through, I am faced with the shell of the man I love more than anyone in this world. He looks broken. His eyes are darkened like he hasn’t been sleeping. The liquor makes him fumble around, and his voice is hollow as he speaks.
“My angel, is it really you? Are you haunting me now while I’m awake, as your memory does while I’m asleep? Just once, why can’t you be real? I need to feel you Bentley. I need to know you’re still alive. God, I need to know you’re alive. I need to know there is something left worth fighting for.”
I hold back the tears threatening to break free. His words are like a knife through my heart. I never meant for him to be hurt. I just figured he would move on like everyone else. I want him to move on; I need him to find some kind of happiness, even if it kills me inside to know it isn’t with me. So I lie, figuring he is drunk enough he won’t remember in the morning anyway. Taking his hand, I lead him over to my bed and tuck him in as I say the words that will haunt me forever.
“Tryst, baby, I’m gone. I’m never coming back. I need you to promise me you’ll start living again. You need to stop looking for me. There’s a girl out there waiting for you to give your heart to her, but you can’t if you won’t let me go. I love you, Tryst. I want you to be happy again.”
I give him a kiss on the lips, letting them linger there a moment as he closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He is out cold before I make it to the door. As I sneak out the backdoor, the tears come in a fury.
I have one more stop in this little town and then I will be on my way. I drop the box in a safe place to grab on my way back, and beeline through a few more backyards until I’m standing on Dante’s back steps. As I slide the letter out of my back pocket, I come to the realization that this night is one of the worst I’ve endured. Using the key I’ve had for the past seven years, I unlock the door and slip through.
His house is quiet. Normally, even in the middle of the night, there’s some kind of noise. His prissy little bitch boy could never sleep in the silence, which makes me wonder where he is. Opening Dante’s door, I’m struck by a daunting image. My Dante looks ill. He looks like he hasn’t slept in months, even though he’s sound asleep in front of me. Sitting on the edge of his bed, I run my fingers through his hair. It’s grown since I last saw him. Normally he keeps it short and neat, only now it isn’t.
I knew my leaving would be hard on him. I couldn’t tell him where I was going though. When I left, I didn’t even know where I was headed for sure myself, and I knew he’d never keep it a secret.
I love Dante, but he’s terrible at keeping secrets. He stirs and lets out a small sound, a cry of mourning that shakes me from my daydream of happier times. I lay the envelope on his pillow and give his forehead a kiss before tiptoeing my way back out of his house.