Time isn’t always a healer, and being a hero doesn’t mean that you are invincible. With waking nightmares and the darkest dreams, a simple scent or an unexpected sound can re-ignite the scars buried beneath a warrior’s skin.
Steve had thought he was strong enough to fight it, would barely admit that he had it, but it wasn’t getting any better. And now he had another problem to face. Not so much a problem but a distraction. A six foot plus, handsome as hell kind of distraction who has invaded his mind and captured his soul.
But his stubborn pride is about to come unravelled. Jules isn’t someone he can ignore. A meeting is unavoidable. With bureaucracy closing down the château, Steve’s friends need him. More than ever before.
Ten years earlier, Jules had simply wanted to put everything behind him, needed to forget the night that destroyed his life. Wounded, bitter, and angry, he had escaped to the château, all too happy to hide from his past.
He never regretted his decision. While braver men might have hung around to fight, running had brought him more than safety. He had regained his motivation, his ambition, his strength. And met the man who held his heart.
But with one tiny lapse of security, his past has caught up with him, is about to destroy him once again. And this time it is not merely threatening Jules, but the château, its occupants, and the hero who has changed his life!
Scarred Darkness (SCARRED Book 8) is an easy read M/M romantic mystery thriller gently exploring the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the aftermath of active service. It is suitable for anyone 16+
The book can be read as a standalone romance but the Scarred series is best enjoyed in order to appreciate the relationships between past characters, places, and situations.
Read an excerpt of Scarred Darkness (Scarred Book 8) here.
Copyright © 2018 Jackie Williams
All rights reserved.
I must be off my fucking head! Steve set his jaw and tightened his grip on the steering wheel as he turned in between the château’s majestic stone gateposts. As much as he liked the place and the people within it, this wasn’t where he wanted to be, or what he wanted to do. What he really wanted was to turn the car around and go back home, where he could wallow in a private pit of misery, rather than risk the chance of discovery.
But instead he gritted his teeth and tried to convince himself that he could come out of the next two weeks unscathed.
Leaves still clinging to the forest trees filtered the autumn sunlight along the long drive. Steve took off his sunglasses, squinted and peered hard, adjusting his vision to the dappled route. His mind was working hard. Had been most of the night. Not that tossing sleeplessly in his cabin had resulted in any decent solutions. And it was too late now anyway. Should have thought of some excuse the moment he realized who was on the phone the previous night.
Avoidance had been the answer to his original problem. But that was no longer an option and he now dreaded the moment that would inevitably come, though not for the reasons he had once imagined.
He and David had reconciled years ago, and though Steve still felt bad about what he had done, David had refused to let Steve brood over decisions he could now do nothing about. As David had once said to him,
‘Burn to death, screaming in pain, while feeling every inch of your flesh roasting for minutes on end. Or be knocked out cold and have your legs cut off in less than thirty seconds? It’s a no-brainer, really.’
In reality it had been somewhat longer than thirty seconds, but Steve hadn’t actually put a stopwatch on his frantic bit of surgery at the time so didn’t argue with his friend. Both of them agreed that there had really been no decision to make that day, but that hadn’t made things much easier. Neither of them wanted to be reminded of the ghastly events, and being in one another’s company in the years afterwards had been hard. It was rare that they met socially. David’s trips to England were few and far between, and Steve made sure he had no excuse to go to France. Until James and Crystal’s wedding invitation had landed on his doormat.
And since that one visit Steve’s heart had been in turmoil, his mind unable to focus. He couldn’t settle at work, couldn’t rest when at home. All he could do was try to forget. Forget the man whose very being invaded his soul. He had done everything he could. Tried so hard. Worked all the hours he could, redecorated his flat, spent hours on the computer selling the gym gear he would never use. Even signed up for yoga classes. Anything to keep his mind off the château and who lived in it. Swore he would never go back.
Yet now he was here again. He’d had no choice. In face of this new enemy called bureaucracy, his excuses had run out. His friend needed him, and Steve wasn’t about to let the man down however much his stomach churned and his pulse raced. Not after he had been the one to cut David’s legs off and leave him in this shit storm of a situation in the first place.
Steve shuddered as the memories of the bomb blast suddenly assaulted him. The fire, the smell, the blood! Darkness grew in his peripheral vision, fingers of tension threading their way across his shoulders and he gripped the steering wheel harder again. No! He couldn’t go there. Couldn’t let the feelings swallow him. Especially not now.
I hope you have enjoyed this short excerpt. If you are tempted to read further, Scarred Darkness is out now!
And, if your heart hasn't already been captured by my scarred heroes, please click here to read about the beginning of the series.
A chance sighting started it. A mere bump and the slightest flicker of recognition, but there are some people so vile, so greedy, self-centred and egotistical, they are impossible to forget. Why was the man there? And what havoc was the slime about to unleash? Surely a little digging through some computer databases wouldn’t go amiss.
The truth is almost too much to handle. Alex is already way too late. The damage has been going on for years. Will carry on if he doesn’t do something about it. But who can he trust? Not the military. They are already ignoring his frantic calls, his terrifying emails. And now they have sent someone after him. They are on his tail, closing in fast, and he’s out of time, out of luck, and out of options. Until he can get hold of vital evidence, he’s on the run.
But how could he leave without seeing his friends one last time? It would be chancy. Though he trusts them with his life, he daren’t let them know the truth. They wouldn’t stand back and let things run their course. They would require action. Fast and furious. Lethal retribution. Immediately. But one wrong move would bring them all down, close the chateau, and finish the rehabilitation centre. Something that couldn’t happen. Too many people needed them.
Perhaps if the person following him could be avoided, Alex would have time to complete his investigation. Time to collect enough proof to give them all some peace of mind. All he needs to do is find out who they are. Then shut them out and take them down.
With right on his side it should be easy. It’s just a pity that their investigator has stalked a path straight into his heart.
Scarred Perceptions is an easy read romance suitable for anyone 16+ due to sensual scenes and typical army guy language. The book can be read as a standalone romance but the Scarred series is best read in order to appreciate the relationships between past characters and situations.
David glanced along the tables, his eyes searching for his friends. Patrick’s piercing gaze met his own and the man lifted his chin a fraction. Joe stood beside Patrick, obviously having just told him Robbie’s news. They all had children who loved roaming freely in the estate grounds. An unknown stranger in the forest might present problems after all.
David sighed regretfully as he saw the fillet steaks arriving at the table where people could help themselves to the delicious buffet and then sit where they liked. A waiter began carving the meat, but David tore his ravenous gaze away from the thick slices of juicy pink flesh. The children’s safety came first.
“Okay, you win. Let’s go and see what this is about. Hopefully it’s nothing, just a tramp passing through, and we can get back to dinner before it all gets eaten.” He pushed his chair back from the table, suddenly glad that James and Crystal had gone for an informal style of wedding breakfast. There were plenty of other guests. If he, Joe and Patrick were only a few minutes, their absence wouldn’t be noticed.
Robbie leapt out of his chair and grabbed his father’s hand as he led the way into the forest, Patrick and Joe following close behind them.
“His camp isn’t far, but it’s not near the main path. You know the big tree that fell last winter? The one that we haven’t yet chopped up for firewood? He’s sleeping in the hollow under the upturned roots. He didn’t look well at the wedding so I suspect he might have gone back there.” He pushed forwards and only slowed his pace as they came nearer to their quarry.
Patrick took hold of Robbie’s shoulder. He kept quiet as he pointed at himself and drew David’s son behind him. Robbie frowned deeply and looked as though he might protest giving up his lead position, but David gave him a smile and a pat on his back as he pressed his finger to his lips.
Joe crept up close to the hollow and peered over the edge. At first he couldn’t see anything except a great pile of dry leaves, but he carried on staring and suddenly made out the shape of a well camouflaged form. He was about to pick up a stick to give the man a prod when Patrick came up beside him and shook his head.
“Hang on,” he mouthed almost silently and crept around the edge of the dip in the ground. He took a few seconds to reach the other side and then he squatted down and leaned forwards to brush the leaves from the man’s face. He waited, expecting the figure to leap up and try to catch him off guard, which he wasn’t, but nothing happened, and it was only then that Patrick noticed the unhealthy flush on the man’s cheeks. He leaned in even further and pressed his palm to the man’s brow, snatching it back quickly as if he had been burned. He looked up at the others.
“Shit! He’s unconscious. I bet he hasn’t taken his supplements. We’ll have to get him back up to the château and see if Geraldine or Amy can help him with some heavy vitamin doses. If not, as much as I don’t want to, we’ll have to send for the doctor.”
David eyebrows shot to the top of his forehead while Joe whistled in amazement.
“And you can diagnose what’s wrong with the man from simply feeling his forehead?”
Patrick quirked up his lip.
“Yes, I secretly studied to be a doctor for the last ten years, while I’ve been doing all the cooking at the château.” He rolled his eyes as both men, and Robbie, looked impressed. “No, you idiots. I know what’s wrong with him because I know who he is. It’s Alex. Might have guessed he would turn up sometime soon after bailing out in England, but he clearly hasn’t been looking after himself. God! He looks bloody awful! I suspect making it to the wedding was the last straw. Come on, Joe, help me get him out of here.”
Joe leapt down into the hole and grunted as he lifted the dead weight. He turned to head back up the path, shifting the burden in his arms as he climbed back out of the hollow, but Patrick suddenly stopped him.
“On second thoughts, it might be best if we take him to my cottage where we won’t interrupt the wedding guests and can take a better look at him without attracting attention. David, can you go and grab Geraldine? Fill her in enough so that she can bring some supplies, and give James the heads up so he doesn’t wonder where the hell we’ve all gone.”
I hope that you have enjoisyed this snippet. Please click on the images to buy.
Can he live through the pain or will he have to surrender his heart to survive?
A short teaser
As he walked from his room, he was only thanking heaven that he’d managed another night without a nightmare and hadn’t even looked up as he walked along the hall. Moments before he’d reached the bathroom door it had opened before him and Crystal had stepped out, her eyes wide as she suddenly noticed him standing there with his mouth hanging open like a fool.
In the scant seconds that he’d seen her, he’d taken in every miniscule detail. Damp ringlets of curling hair; clear, make-up free face; a graceful, swan-like neck; more than a hint of pale and interesting cleavage; taut, dark nipples clearly visible through the delicate fabric, and a cinched in waistline beneath the tightly pulled cord about it. And that was all before his eyes had wandered even lower.
His tea and the other men forgotten, he groaned inwardly as the images solidified in his mind even as he sat at the château’s kitchen table.
The wrap had only just covered her shapely thighs, all soft flesh and deliciously damp skin, but as she had squealed in surprise and turned back to the bathroom, the diaphanous material had caught in her own breeze and lifted, giving him a tempting glimpse of a perfect peach of a bottom.
The bathroom door had slammed before he had time to lift his jaw from the floor, the noise breaking him out of his stunned stupor. He’d almost run back to his room, his pulse pounding furiously as his traitorous body gave in to the luscious sight, and his cock rose to greet his navel.
Shame had filled him instantly. Good God! What was he even thinking! She was his best friend’s daughter! Way too young, way off limits, and he was way out of line. He’d felt sick with guilt and it had taken everything he’d had to be able to face her again.
And then, only three days later, it happened again. Admittedly, this time she was wearing something a little more substantial than the transparent blue wrap. This time she wore an almost floor length sort of silky affair, white and virginal with drifts of delicate feathery bits at the cuffs and collar. She appeared like some kind of snow queen, almost ethereal and untouchable, covered from head to foot in the elegant ensemble, but it didn’t matter. It was far too late to try to cover anything. His imagination did what his eyes could not and filled in every contour, every curve, every detail of her perfect body as though she were standing there stark naked.
He had to mentally pick up his jaw from the floor again before running back to his room, raging at his own debase feelings as he forced his achingly hard erection back into submission for the second time that week.
But the frustration didn’t end there. He didn’t know what was worse. Praying each night that he didn’t have a screaming nightmare that would wake the whole house, or hoping he didn’t dream of a girl he couldn’t have, strolling about the house in nothing but a shimmer of delicate material. Either way his fear or his shameful throbbing meant that he hadn’t had much sleep since.
He sucked in a long breath and even imagined the delicate scent of her shampoo and shower gel drifting over him before he suddenly became aware of the silence surrounding him. His visions cleared immediately and he glanced about the room. Four pairs of eyes stared back at him, three sets of them clearly amused, one pair positively revolted.
Robbie had stopped working on his homework, his face a picture of horror.
“Oh no, not you too! I swear I’ve had enough of this. You lot need to get a grip.” The boy shook his head and groaned. “What is it with men when they get older? What is it about women that makes your eyes go all googly and stupid looking? I tell you right now, it’s never going to happen to me. I’ll make sure it doesn’t.” He dragged his schoolbooks towards him and shoved them back in his bag as he pushed his chair back. “I’m going to my room to finish this. The air is too sickly down here, and it’s not the smell of Uncle Patrick’s biscuits that’s doing it.” He stalked out of the kitchen as David let out a great bellow of laughter.
James felt his temper rise.
“What? I don’t have a clue what the boy is on about. Why are you all looking at me like that? I didn’t say or do anything.”
Joe strolled away from the counter and put his empty mug in the dishwasher.
“With that look plastered all over your face, you didn’t have to. You clearly have it bad. You might as well say goodbye to your sanity and give in gracefully, mate. That’s the best advice I can give.” He wandered over to the kitchen door and stared out into the garden as the sound of laughter and children talking excitedly wafted into the room. He looked back over his shoulder. “I’m going with them on this walk. Anyone else want to come?”
Patrick pointed at the joint of beef and the sink full of potatoes and shook his head, but David nodded. He gave James a sympathetic glance and a brief grasp on his shoulder.
“Best to just get it over with and surrender now. It’ll save a ton of messing about.”
James narrowed his eyes and glowered at his two friends.
“I have no idea what you are talking about, but I have some unpacking to do so I think I’ll miss the walk this time. I’ll see you all at dinner and maybe then we can have a sensible conversation about what I am meant to do with ten million pounds for the next seven years.” He turned, ignoring the chuckles that followed him, and quickly made his way back up to his bedroom.
I hope you have enjoyed this teaser from Scarred Surrender. To buy the book, CLICK HERE or on any of the images
Book 6 in the Scarred Series
To catch up with the rest of the team