Beast:Learning to Breathe Devil's Blaze Duet

By: Jordan Marie

Blurb





I left my past behind me.

I ran.

I didn’t slow down, and I didn’t look back.

I couldn’t outrun the memories—or escape the nightmares.

I came to North Carolina to die.

Alone.

I want to be left alone.

Which would have been fine, if she wasn’t here.

Hayden Graham claims to want the same thing I do—to be left alone.

But, she’s a thorn in my side.

The woman stumbles into one mess after another.

This time the mess she’s in puts her life and her unborn child in danger.

I’m barely existing—rotting from the inside out.

She’s a woman in distress, waiting for a Prince to save her.

I’m no Prince. I’m just a wounded animal.

A Beast.

She tastes like Heaven. She only adds to my Hell.

She makes me feel things I don’t want to remember…Want things that I can’t have.

Hayden just might be the one to finish destroying me.





Dedication





Jenny Vaughn Owens, my beautiful new friend, I hope this story lives up to what you wished for Beast. I truly tried my best. Most of all, I hope you have everything good in this world from this day forward. You deserve it.

A special shout out and thank you Liese Haley for letting me use your name, umm…sorry in advance. Also, thank you to Jana Kick for letting me turn you into a sweet nurse who helped our girl Hayden out.

Thank you to Letitia of RBA Designs for my beautiful cover. I love you big. Thanks for helping me bring Beast to life.

And to the rest of my readers, I hope you love Beast. I tried hard. From the fifty changes on his cover that drove Letitia crazy, to going through a million photos to find the one that was actually Beast to me, and finally to the hours, days and weeks I spent trying to make sure the emotion and pain came through. I worry I failed. I pray I didn’t. And please don’t worry Beauty is coming very soon. (Pun not intended…at least not a lot…maybe…okay it probably is.)

Xoxo

#BB4L

J





Prologue





Beast





“Daddy, will you build me a house?"

"If you want me to, Princess. Get your blocks."

She carries a large clear tote bag of blocks. Through the plastic, you can see a vast array of blocks in all the colors of a rainbow. Blocks are her favorite toy and one we've played with for hours upon hours.

"You've been gone, Daddy."

"I had to get some work done."

"You leave me alone a lot. I don't like it," she says, while she pouts her little face, looking up at me with hurt shimmering in those precious blue eyes, hiding the unshed tears I never want to see.

"Daddy has to help Uncle Skull out sometimes. But I always come home to my best girl."

"I get scared when I'm alone, Daddy."

"You have Mommy, Princess."

"Mommy doesn't like me."

"Of course she does, sweetheart. Mommy is just real busy," I tell her, but it's a lie. Jan isn't busy; she's a fucking selfish bitch. I should kick her to the curb, but I don't. I keep her around to help take care of Annabelle. Annabelle is everything good and right in this world, and I've not seen much of that shit.

"She locked me in my room yesterday when I told her I was scared."

"She did what?"

"There's a monster under my bed, Daddy. A real one. He says I'm going to die. I don't want to die."

"You're not going to die, Princess. Daddy will never let that happen."

"You promise? If I die, who will take care of you?”

"You’re not going to die, Princess. Daddy will always protect you. Cross my heart, stick a needle in my eye," I tell her with a grin.

"Ew, Daddy!” she laughs, her nose scrunching. “That's gross! You can't put things in your eye!" she giggles. Her laugh is the single best melody I've heard in my life. It dives down inside me and brings warmth to parts that have been frozen since before I can remember. Sometimes, I think without Annabelle, I wouldn't be here. I was almost a walking shell before she came along. Now my world centers around her. Without her, I don't want to imagine the monster I would become. I'd probably live up to my road name then. The monster who lurks beneath the surface would take over.

Before I can think about the past—the pieces of me that are completely broken, I reach out and tickle my daughter. Her giggle deepens, and she lets out a squeal that could shatter glass; it changes into a full-fledged belly laugh. Instantly, it feels as if the sun is shining in the room—which is impossible. There are no windows in her room. I don't want my daughter sleeping where some fuck-wad might break in and take her. I have enemies. There's no way I will let them touch the one person in my life who matters.

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