The Living Canvas
(Master of Trickery Duet #2)
Publication date: November 15th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
The second and final book in the Master of Trickery Duet!
“Must be brave, stubborn, and impervious to the tempers of loved ones.”
The first line hissed with history.
“Hours are endless, pay is non-existence, quitting absolutely forbidden.”
The second line ached with truth.
“Able to function on no sleep, refrain from running when times get hard, and be more than just a living canvas but a lover.”
The third thrummed with honesty.
“Other attributes required: forgiving, opinionated, and not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. Must also enjoy being touched and kissed at any time of my choosing.”
The fourth glowed with promise.
“Call or email ‘YOUR HEART, HIS SOUL’ if interested in applying.”
The final made my future unfold.
The advert was so similar to one I should never have applied for.
A twist of fate that brought two destined people back together.
A job I would take in a heartbeat if the employer could offer such terms.
But I wasn’t free.
Neither was Gil.
Therefore, my interview could never happen.
He gritted his teeth, wrapping the rope tighter around my wrists.
“Stop it.” I wriggled and squirmed, trying to be free of him.
“Don’t make this any harder than it is,” he breathed, tying a knot and jerking me forward.
I fought against him, bracing against his pull.
His hand slipped on the rope, giving me a fraction of a second.
I spun and bolted.
I managed a few terrified strides before his boots thudded behind me.
He caught me so easily.
He spun me around, picked me up, and carried me to the podium. Big fat tears rolled down my cheeks, unable to believe what he’d done. In all the times he’d ever touched me, he’d restrained the power and violence he wielded so effortlessly now. He had a strength that controlled me with barely any effort whatsoever.
That alone sent my heart galloping uselessly in my chest. My back prickled with nervous sweat. My chest fluttered with anxious breath. And I moaned in disbelief as he plopped me onto the stage and kicked out my legs, forcing me to sit on the edge.
I sat with a jar, my teeth clacking together as I dared look up at the kidnapper I should’ve been afraid of but never suspected.
Tears beyond my control rained heavy and hard down my cheeks. I was allowed to hate him. I was meant to curse his very existence. I had no trust where he was concerned. No obligation in any form.
Yet, I cried for him and for me.
I cried for both of us because it wasn’t fake breakups, molesting teachers, or blackmailing murderers who’d broken us.
It’d been the lies.
The shadows that’d always surrounded Gilbert Clark and the ones he retreated to rather than staying in the light with me.
No matter what happened.
No matter if I died tonight, he died, we all died, this had died.
There is no more us.
His arms wrapped me in a cage, his love imprisoning me.
I tried to stop crying. To put aside my grief and wake up.
But slowly, stealthily, finality crept over me.
My eyelids no longer opened.
My brain no longer operated.
My head lay on Gil’s shoulder, needing support.
He clutched me closer as the final dregs of energy siphoned out of me. He stroked my hair and kissed my ear as I gave in to the cloud of unconsciousness. “Hopefully, by the time you wake up…this will all be over. You’ll be free. You’ll never have to see me again.” He angled my chin, his lips claiming mine.
I tried to pull back, to stop the kiss, to study his godforsaken eyes, but he caged me closer. He pulled heat and hunger from deep within, sending me into lullabies with his taste on my lips and his grief on my tongue. “I’m so sorry, O. So sorry for ever thinking I could make you happy. You deserve so much more. I love you. I love you with every fucking part of me, but I can’t stop this. At least sleep is a gift I can give you. The only thing I can give you.”
Voices were far away and not of my dream world as he lowered me down until I lay on the stage. My eyelids fluttered as he turned on the air compressor and the first lick of unwanted paint landed upon my skin.
But I couldn’t move.
Gil was an artist.
Art was his drug.
The creation of beauty helped him cope in the depths of his despair. He needed art to function, to survive.
And with his talent, he stole my function.
Brush by brush, he destroyed me.
Colour by colour, he sentenced me to die.
He snuffed out my survival.
He’d poisoned me so I’d sleep.
So I wouldn’t be awake when my purpose as his masterpiece was over.
Pepper Winters is a multiple New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestseller.
After chasing her dreams to become a full-time writer, Pepper has earned recognition with awards for best Dark Romance, best BDSM Series, and best Hero. She's an multiple #1 iBooks bestseller, along with #1 in Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and Erotica Thriller. She's also honoured to wear the IndieReader Badge for being a Top 10 Indie Bestseller.
Pepper is a Hybrid Author of both Traditional and Self-published work. Her Pure Corruption Series was released by Grand Central, Hachette.
Her books have garnered foreign interest and are currently being translated into numerous languages, including already released titles in Italian, French, German, Hebrew, and Turkish.
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