Hi everybody!

Last week I mentioned that the next several Tuesdays will be previews of the opening chapters to Lie To Me, my July 3rd release as Tori St. Claire.  My goal is to have the first two chapters posted by release date.  Whoo-hoo!

You can last week's installment here:

Prologue, Part 1

Now to pick up where we left off!

Warning:  The following material is suitable to mature audiences only.  It may contain graphic content that is offensive to some.  It is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

A man of action…

After helping to break up a Russian human trafficking ring as part of the CIA’s elite Black Opal team, Alexei Nikanova’s newest assignment is to rescue one of the stolen women and return her to her father. When he arrives in Dubai, he discovers his target is Sasha Zablosky—a woman he knows all too well, and who has haunted him ever since their unforgettable nights spent together in Moscow, two years earlier. But he finds Sasha reluctant to leave her Sheik, the only true friend she’s ever known. Only Alexei can’t give her a choice.

A woman of deception…

With their yearning roused by intrigue, Alexei and Sasha can no longer resist and spend night after night in forbidden pleasure. Soon Alexei finds himself falling for her even as he battles a shadowy menace to protect her. But Sasha is no innocent. She has a past darker than she could ever admit or that Alexei could ever forgive. And it is about to explode into her life once more. Now, as the lies they tell themselves—and each other—pull them deeper into a perilous desire, what began as simple passion becomes a love certain to destroy them and end the lives of countless innocents.


The nearly inaudible response sent chills skittering across her exposed skin. She crossed her arms over her breasts and rubbed at goose bumps. “I do. Tell me where you’re taking me.”

He didn’t look at her as he murmured, “To Dubai.”

Dubai. Sasha blinked. Last she’d heard, Dubai wasn’t a place to drop off Bratva informants. Dmitri Gavrikov and the rest of the Moscow mafia preferred to dispose of their liabilities in rivers, abandoned plots of lands, snow-covered forests—not metropolises.

“What’s in Dubai?”

“A sheikh.” His gaze slid to hers for the briefest of seconds before it fixed once more on the fl at gray wall. Muscles flexed in his cheek, sharpening the angle of his bristly jaw. “You’ve been . . . traded.”

She squinted at his handsome profile. Apprehension bubbled beneath her skin, chasing away the tremendous chill of the late October night. “Traded for what?”

Alexei glanced down at the syringe in his hands, and his hair fell over his shoulders to curtain his expression. His voice was a strained whisper. “There’s an elite hotel. You’ll join . . . the others. For half a million U.S. dollars you’ll entertain businessmen.” He tapped the covered needle. “This will keep you sane.” He looked up, his unsettling gaze locking with hers. “Somewhat.”

Thoughts collided in Sasha’s head. Traded. Entertain businessmen. Sheikh . . .

No. More. Russia.

For six months, she’d been trying to figure out how to get out of the country. Her father’s political power made it impossible to obtain a visa, to even skirt the borders without getting caught. Unwittingly, Alexei was providing that impossible escape.

She held Alexei’s troubled gaze. “I’m to be a whore. A possession and a slave.”

Swallowing again, Alexei answered with a curt nod. “It was why I came to your cousin’s club. You were chosen”—his green eyes flicked over her exposed body, and desire flashed hot before his gaze filled with remorse once again—“before what happened between us.”

“Chosen by whom?” Indignation colored her voice.

“I can’t say. It’s larger than both of us.”

Not the Bratva then. Sasha frowned. Common sense said she should be outraged. Furious with this man who’d taken her to his bed, fucked her until she was nearly delirious, and then betrayed her. But the part of her that had lived so long with guilt, the part that couldn’t forget the deaths she’d caused, whispered that this was fitting punishment.

She had no right to lead a carefree life. Though she’d never intended to harm a single person, let alone kill thirty, she didn’t deserve freedom. Paying that price with her body was insignificant. She’d still be alive—unlike the fate that awaited her in Russia.

Unlike what would happen if her father ever got his hands on her again.

In a strange, perverse way, Dubai offered a freedom that was wholly acceptable.

She gestured at the syringe in Alexei’s hand. She didn’t know what it was, didn’t want to know. But she sensed it would poison her for life, that if she allowed him to stick that needle into her, she’d lose her hold on reality.

“You can put that away.”

Surprise arched his strong brow.

“Take me wherever it is you’re taking me. But don’t put that in my veins.” As she realized what she was agreeing to, a foreboding weight settled on her shoulders and her throat inched closed. A fine sheen of moisture fuzzed her vision. “I won’t fight you. Just don’t give me that.”

For several, never-ending seconds, Alexei studied her. Protest registered in his expression, only to yield to a resignation that came with a heavy sigh. His broad shoulders bowed. Absently, he nodded, placed the syringe back in the leather case, then turned off the overhead light.

Silence spanned between them. The vehicle bounced on, springs rattling, engine cutting through the thick quiet. Cool night air invaded the tiny space, and Sasha clutched at the coarse canvas covering her lower body.

“Are you cold?” Alexei whispered.

Her voice rasped just as softly. “Yes.”

Strong arms wrapped around her waist and hauled her into a cushioning embrace. Alexei reached beneath her calves to drape her knees over his thighs, tucked the canvas tight around her body, and cradled her close. She snuggled into his arms, taking comfort in the warmth of his body, the crisp scent of soap that lingered on his clothing. Beneath her ear, his heart beat steady and strong.

She tipped her gaze to his face, taking in long, lowered eyelashes that dusted over high cheekbones and cloaked his startlingly light green gaze. His features tightened with unspoken pain and grief. The strength of his embrace echoed the same emotions.

She reached unsteady fingertips to his face and flattened her palm against his bristly cheek. Her thumb brushed across the stubble that edged his full, sensual mouth. His gaze held hers for a suspended heartbeat, before he crushed her close and his mouth fluttered through her hair. “I’m so sorry, Irina.”

Despite whatever drove him, whatever obligation he sought to fulfill, in her heart, Sasha knew he was.

(Continued next Tuesday with Chapter 1.)


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(History Channel International)



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