Thorn (Salvation’s Bane) by Marteeka Karland #ContemporaryRomance @MarteekaKarland

Mariana — If it weren’t for bad luck… Yeah. That’s me. I found myself stranded on the side of the road after my boyfriend threw me out. My mother, bless her heart, thinks I’m dragging her to the pits of hell because I got myself knocked up.

All of which I could deal with. What nearly put me in a panic was the big, muscle-bound, tattooed biker who pulled up behind me, ordering me to “pop the hood.” I was scared, but, God, the man was smoking hot! Had I not been hot, tired, and pregnant, I might have gotten on my knees and begged him to take me. Instead, I kept that part of myself tightly under control. Sort of.

Thorn — Ana isn’t like anyone I’ve ever come across. If there’s a woman in this world who needs pampering, it’s her. She’s half starved, on the verge of heat stroke, and I steamrolled my way into her life.

But I wasn’t prepared for the call I got from the hospital or the sight of her broken body. I’m all about vengeance, and someone is going to pay for this. Dearly. And my little Ana is going to have to learn to take on a man like me. Because somewhere around the very first time I saw her, I might have gone and fallen in love with her.

WARNING (Spoiler Alert): Traumatic pregnancy loss and explicit violence which could be triggers for some readers. As always, you can expect a HEA with no cheating.

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Copyright ©2020 Marteeka Karland


“I have no daughter. Who is this?”

Great. This wasn’t going to go well. Still, Mariana plowed on. “I’m in trouble and I need help. My car broke down and I’m stranded.”

“If I had a daughter, I’d tell her she should call the bum who got her pregnant in the first place. If she thought so much of him as to throw away her only family, it should have been her first call.”

“He broke up with me, Mom. I did call him, but he won’t help me.” No way she was telling her mother he was with someone else. That would be too humiliating. As she spoke with her mother, she heard the rumble of a motorcycle in the distance. Sure enough, one rounded the curve the way she’d come and, to her surprise, seemed to be slowing. Her heart sped up. This could be bad. Really bad.

“Well, perhaps you should have chosen a better man. I’m sorry. But I can’t help you.”

“Mom! Please!” As she continued to speak, the bike pulled behind her car, and the man riding it shut the thing down. He pulled off his helmet and Mariana’s breath caught. This had to be the scariest man she’d ever seen. Full beard, tattoos creeping up his neck. Piercing blue eyes. The harshest scowl she’d ever seen on a human being. “I just need someone to pick me up. I’ll figure out how to rent a car on my own. Just, please don’t leave me here!” No doubt the man could hear the conversation once the bike was off. She stood now. Readying herself to run for it. “Mom, there’s a man who pulled up behind me on a bike. I need help!”

“Perhaps you should have thought about that when you took up with the first unsavory young man you met and got yourself pregnant out of wedlock. Once you do that, men like him can smell you out. I’m sorry. But, like I said, I have no daughter anymore. She’s dead.” The line disconnected.

Mariana let out a sob, putting the back of her hand to her mouth in an effort to contain her hysteria. “Don’t come any closer!” She needed to call 911 but was so scared the signal couldn’t get from her brain to her fingers.

“Calm the fuck down, will ya?” The man strode past her to the front of the car. He reached in through the open window and popped the hood latch. Moving to the front of the car to examine under the hood, he asked, “What’s it doin’?”

Mariana stayed on the other side of the car, clutching her phone, afraid to say or do much. When she didn’t answer he stopped looking at the car and turned his gaze on her. “Well?” He barked the question sharply, as if she were wasting his time.

“I-it turns over, but won’t start.”

“Got gas?”

“Yes. Uh, h-half a tank.”

He pulled something out of the guts of the car, looked at it, then put it back and shut the hood. “Your ignition module’s fucked.”

She waited for more. When none was forthcoming she asked, “What does that mean?”

“Means you’re not getting fire to your spark plugs, which means your car won’t start. You got someone comin’ to help you?”

“Sure,” she squeaked, but he just gave her a look. “That is, uh, I will. I-I just gotta call, uh, my, uh, ex-boyfriend.”

“Ex-boyfriend, huh?”

“Yes. I’m sure he’ll help me out.”

The guy waved at her phone. “Call him. Not leavin’ ’til I know someone’s comin’ for ya.” He put his hands on his hips, his feet planted shoulder-width apart.

This was a no-win situation. If she called Jason, he’d make her beg. It was likely what he was waiting for, because that’s what he did. Denied her something she desperately needed until she groveled enough to satisfy him. Once was never enough. It usually took three or four tries before he actually did what she needed. Always, there was a steep price to pay. Besides all the begging, that was. Anything she said to Jason, she’d have to say in front of this guy. If she refused, or if he decided not to help her, this guy would know. Then what would he do? What would she do?

She studied him and found nothing yielding about him. He was made of steel, as far as she could tell. He’d do exactly what he said he’d do. If that meant he didn’t leave until she had someone coming to help her, then he’d stay.

About the Author

Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.

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