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Authors: Maya Banks

The Darkest Hour

BOOK: The Darkest Hour
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
Praise for the novels of Maya Banks
 
BE WITH ME
“Three hot men and one lucky woman. I absolutely loved it! Simply wonderful writing. There’s a new star on the rise and her name is Maya Banks.”
—Sunny, national bestselling author of
Lucinda, Darkly
 
 
SWEET SURRENDER
“Searingly sexy and highly believable.”

Romantic Times
 
“This story ran my heart through the wringer more than once.”

CK
2
S Kwips and Kritiques
 
“From page one, I was drawn into the story and literally could not stop reading until the last page.”

The Romance Studio
 
“Maya Banks’s story lines are always full of situations that captivate readers, but it’s the emotional pull you experience which brings the story to life.”

Romance Junkies
 
 
FOR HER PLEASURE
“[It] is the ultimate in pleasurable reading. Enticing, enchanting and sinfully sensual, I couldn’t have asked for a better anthology.”

Joyfully Reviewed
 
“Full of emotional situations, lovable characters, and kick-butt story lines that will leave you desperate for more. I highly recommend
For Her Pleasure
for readers who like spicy romances with a suspenseful element—it’s definitely a must read!”

Romance Junkies
 
“Totally intoxicating,
For Her Pleasure
is one of those reads you won’t be forgetting any time soon.”

The Road to Romance
 
Berkley titles by Maya Banks
 
FOR HER PLEASURE
SWEET SURRENDER
BE WITH ME
SWEET PERSUASION
SWEET SEDUCTION
SWEET TEMPTATION
 
THE DARKEST HOUR
 
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
THE DARKEST HOUR
 
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / September 2010
 
Copyright © 2010 by Maya Banks.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-44317-0
 
BERKLEY
®
SENSATION
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY
®
SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

To Stephanie Tyler, Jaci Burton, Karin Tabke, Sylvia Day and Lorelei James.
 
Good friends are the sweetest pleasures in life. Thank you for being mine.
CHAPTER 1
 
HE’D
hoped if he drank enough the night before he’d sleep right through today. Instead his eyes popped open at eight A.M., and sunlight promptly fried his retinas.
Ethan Kelly threw an arm over his face and lay there as the reality of the day hit him square in the gut.
June 16.
He could say something incredibly corny like . . . June 16, the day his world irrevocably changed. June 16, the day everything went to hell. Truth was, it had done that long before.
The phone rang shrilly from the nightstand, and he quelled the urge to smash it. Instead he listened as each ring pierced his skull like an ice pick.
When it didn’t quit in a reasonable length of time, he reached over and yanked the cord from the wall. It could only be one of his well-meaning family members, and the last thing Ethan wanted today was sympathy.
If it was his dad, he’d give Ethan a lecture about how Rachel wouldn’t like the man he’d become. No, Rachel hadn’t liked the man he’d
been
. Huge difference there.
He
hadn’t liked the man he’d been.
Frank Kelly would go on about how it was time to get on with his life. Move on. He’d grieved long enough.
If it was one of his brothers calling, they’d ride his ass about when he was coming to work for KGI.
Try never.
Knowing there was no chance of him going back to sleep with a head that was split apart at the seams, he struggled to the edge of the bed and planted his feet on the floor.
He’d sought oblivion, but all he had to show for the alcohol binge was cotton mouth and a stomach that felt like he’d ingested lead.
And he still had to face today.
Eyes closed, he pressed his fingers into his temples and then covered his face with his hands. His palms dug into his eye sockets, and he massaged as if he could wipe away the cloud hovering in his vision.
Rachel.
Her name whispered through his tired mind, conjuring memories of his laughing, smiling,
beautiful
wife. They floated there like butterflies.
Just as quickly they shriveled and turned black as if someone had held the wings to fire.
Rachel was gone.
She was dead.
She wasn’t coming home.
He pushed himself up from the bed and staggered toward the bathroom. His reflection didn’t shock him, and he didn’t spare a moment to splash his face with water or wash out his mouth. He took a piss and stumbled back out, his tongue rasping over the roof of his mouth.
He needed a drink. Preferably something that wasn’t going to make him puke.
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