Burned, page 1
Table of Contents
Note from the Author
Other Books by Melody Anne
Her Unexpected Hero
Book Four in the Forbidden Series
© 2015 Melody Anne
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This is dedicated to my good friend, Ruth Cardello who inspires me to be a better writer, who makes me dance, and who can shake it off all the way down the streets of Edinburgh. I adore you!
Note from the Author
We are inspired by so many different people and events in our lives. I could never write without the help of my family and friends from near and far. Thank you to those who have been with me from the beginning and those who are new in my life. I adore all of you and I rely on you. I hope you all enjoy the conclusion to the forbidden series. Tyler has been a fun character to write as he has a little bit of naughty and a lot of nice.
Other Books by Melody Anne
Available at Amazon.com
The Billionaire Wins the Game (Free)
The Billionaire’s Dance
The Billionaire Falls
The Billionaire’s Marriage Proposal
Blackmailing the Billionaire
Run Away Heiress
The Billionaire’s Final Stand
Priceless Treasure (Coming Soon)
Baby for the Billionaire:
The Tycoon’s Revenge (Free)
The Tycoon’s Vacation
The Tycoon’s Proposal
The Tycoon’s Secret
The Lost Tycoon
Surrender - Book One (Free)
Submit - Book Two
Seduced - Book Three
Scorched - Book Four
Bound -Book One (Free)
Broken - Book Two
Betrayed - Book Three
Burned - Book Four (Pre-Order)
Rise of the Dark Angel:
Midnight Fire: Rise of the Dark Angel - Book One (Free)
Midnight Moon: Rise of the Dark Angel - Book Two
Midnight Storm: Rise of the Dark Angel - Book Three
Midnight Eclipse: Rise of the Dark Angel - Book Four (Coming Soon)
Her Unexpected Hero
Her Hometown Hero (June 30th 2015)
Her Forever Hero (March 2016)
Safe in His Arms - Novella - Baby, It’s Cold Outside Anthology
Who I am With You - Novella
Following Her - Novella
Taken by a Trillionaire
Collection of Three Novellas - Melody Anne, Ruth Cardello, J.S. Scott
Once Upon a Dream - Novella - Box Set with Nine Additional Authors to Support Diabetes Research.
We’ll be best friends forever, right?”
A very young Tyler Knight, then age thirteen, turned to look at ten-year-old Elena Truman with a raised eyebrow and crooked grin that later in life would be one of his most recognizable expressions.
“I can’t be best friends with a girl,” he said with his impression of a scoff.
“You promised we were best friends,” she told him.
“Okay, we’re best friends, but that’s only between us. If my brothers knew I was best friends with a girl, they’d pummel me,” Tyler said as he kicked the hard clump of dirt in front of him. “They’d mock me mercilessly.”
“That’s not fair, Tyler.”
“Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”
“Why are you being so mean to me right now?” Tears filled Elena’s eyes.
“I’m older now. I’m a teenager, and my brothers said that girls are for one thing only.”
“Huh? What thing is that?”
“You know, the kissing and touching kind of thing,” he said nervously as he looked away from her.
“Why do girls and boys have to do that?” she replied. “It’s stupid.”
“It’s just what they do, Lanie. See, that’s why we can’t be friends. You’re too much of a baby.”
“I can kiss!” she insisted. “I’m not a baby.”
“Prove it,” he said, and he stepped closer.
Her heart was racing a million miles a minute as her best friend, the boy she’d been inseparable from for five years, was now only a couple of inches away from her.
“Just do it,” she said. Elena was so afraid of losing him.
He leaned forward and then he was pressing his closed lips against hers. Neither of them moved; they just stood there with their lips touching, their hands at their sides. They didn’t have a clue what was supposed to come next.
He finally took a step back and Elena opened her eyes. That wasn’t so bad after all. In fact she could do that again.
“See, we can still be friends,” she told him with a bright smile.
“That was stupid, Lanie. You don’t know how to kiss,” he said with a look she’d never seen on his face before.
The tears that had been threatening her earlier now spilled over. “You don’t either, Tyler,” she sniffled.
“Why don’t you grow up before you come around again?”
“Fine. I don’t want to be your friend anyway. You’re a big jerk,” she told him before turning and stumbling several steps away. “And you’re the one who needs to grow up.” She took off running, refusing to analyze whether she’d been shouting or wailing when she said those last few words.
“Good riddance,” Tyler called after her, making her heart break even more.
Boys were nothing but trouble.
Ten Years Later
Elena knew her boss wasn’t going to be
Yes, she needed the money, but after working at the gentlemen’s club for the past six month, she was realizing that the tips simply weren’t worth the harassment. Yes, she’d make a lot less at any other waitressing job, but surely her pride was worth more than a few extra dollars that could be made by exposing her assets in a far too tight uniform.
Men didn’t normally look at her, and they certainly didn’t lust after her — not unless she was dressed the way the club wanted her to be dressed. She was taller than the average woman; she stood at five foot eight, and even at age twenty, she hadn’t yet grown into her body. Sadly, she appeared more gangly than womanly. The tomboy curse had pursued her long past puberty.
Looking into the mirror, she pushed back her long dark hair before gathering it up into a severe knot on top of her head. She actually liked her hair, one of the few things she did like about herself.
She knew she was much too thin, but that was genetics. There wasn’t anything she could do about it. And her hips were too narrow, her breasts too small. If it weren’t for padded bras, the gentlemen’s club most likely wouldn’t have hired her in the first place.
Her mother always told her that she was a flower, a beautiful flower that someday would bloom. Elena was still waiting for that to happen. The only time it seemed that men gave her attention was when she was dolled up at her job. And that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted.
Why didn’t she just quit this job? Well, she was going to. But not before making a point. Coming onto the floor looking less than perfect would infuriate her boss. Good. He deserved it.
She was finally ready. Looking in the mirror at the outfit that was too large, the makeup that was practically nonexistent, and the hairstyle that was intentionally disastrous, she knew she’d be lucky to make it past the back room tonight without a confrontation.
After taking a deep breath, she stepped through the door, looking straight ahead, ignoring the shocked gasps from her co-workers. Hey, they were most likely pleased by her appearance. It certainly meant more tips for them.
But at least tonight her ass wouldn’t be grabbed, and the “gentlemen” — yeah, right — wouldn’t be soliciting her like she was their personal call girl. Some of the women who worked there would go home with the men. Maybe they’d even end up with jewelry, cars, housing, if they played it right. Elena wasn’t that girl.
Though she knew she would never be a trophy wife, the kind of woman a captain of industry wanted on his arm, she also knew that she’d eventually marry a kind man — a regular guy — and have a life that she’d dreamed of having since childhood. A life completely unlike what she’d seen at home.
She hadn’t had a bad life after her father had walked out on her mother and her. And her mom had never been bitter, had never told her not to find her own love. She’d just warned Elena that the world was full of frogs who couldn’t be transformed by kisses, and that she should never settle for someone slimy. If they were all hands, it was because they wanted one thing. They were sticky, but with no sticking power.
When a group of men filled the club with their laughter as they walked in, Elena glanced in their direction. That’s when her heart stopped beating for a moment. Before it sped up double time.
If she hadn’t decided to come to work tonight, had simply quit as she should have done, she wouldn’t be going through the heartbreak of seeing her first love. In a gin joint like this. A titty bar, really, though hers had never been on display. Her heart thudded as she looked his way. She had only been ten when he’d broken her heart. And she’d tried not to think of him since.
It hadn’t worked.
She’d followed him for years through the news and entertainment media. Like a kicked puppy, dammit. Why? Because he was her first love, her first best friend, the only person to this day she’d ever been fully open with — well, besides her mother and her best friend, Piper. She’d instantly bonded with Piper two years ago, their freshman year at the university.
“That’s your table, Elena,” one of the waitresses said before patting her on the shoulder. “Good luck.”
“You take it,” Elena told her through gritted teeth.
“Are you sure? That’s the youngest Knight brother, and that’s the son of the junior senator. You know those tips are going to be big,” said her co-worker, Sara, with hungry eyes.
“I’m positive,” Elena told her. “I think I’ve made a mistake coming in tonight”
“Yeah, what’s up with the appearance?” Sara asked.
“Trying to prove a point — that I’m not a piece of meat.”
“Honey, to the men who come in here, that’s exactly what we are,” Sara said with a laugh. “And since they pay for my house and all the little baubles I’m so fond of, I really don’t give a damn.”
“That’s the difference between us. Nothing is worth this to me,” Elena told her.
“Good luck out in the real world,” Sara said before skipping over to the table and taking the men’s orders, laughter spilling from her.
“My office, now!” Her manager had spotted her, and he’d snarled those outraged words into her ear before he moved to the other side of the room.
Keeping her head down, she began walking through the room, but she made a mistake. She went by the group of guys she’d tried to avoid. And they were already drunk and rowdy.
“Why are you dressed down like this, darling?” One of the men at the table grabbed Elena’s arm and held on. “I’ve seen you looking so much hotter before. How are we supposed to check out the merchandise when you’re hiding your best stuff under mountains of material?”
Another one spoke up. “I want to see those nice little tatas of yours, babe.”
The rest of the men cackled when the guy who’d grabbed her arm tugged and made her to fall into his lap. Elena was mortified as she struggled to break free. When her eyes connected with Tyler’s for the first time in ten years, what she saw broke her heart all over again. And his words hit her even harder.
“This place has a much better selection of women to flirt with, Tom,” Tyler said. “Why don’t you let this one go so we can have a little fun?” Her former friend leaned back and smiled right at her.
When the group of men guffawed again, Elena’s humiliation was complete. She never should have come back to this place, never should have put herself through this. Although she had a good poker face self-confidence had never been one of her strong suits, and she’d just lost all her cards.
Yes, she’d been trying to prove that silly point — that she wasn’t a piece of meat — but she also didn’t need to be discarded like a lame horse. Tom released her, then slapped her ass as she struggled off his lap. Thank heaven for tender mercies, she told herself. At least he hadn’t gone for her “tatas.”
“I told you to come to my office!” Her manager was back with her moving less than three feet from the men who were watching her further humiliation.
“I got mauled on my way there,” she told him.
“Are you insulting our guests?” her manager asked far too loudly.
“I was the one who was insulted,” she pointed out.
“You’re position here is terminated. I want you out of my club immediately.”
Laughter erupted again from the group of men who’d just humiliated her. This night couldn’t possibly get any worse. Elena walked straight to the backroom. The game she’d begun was over. She just wanted to leave.
Throwing a thick coat over her large uniform, she wiped away the tear that was streaking down her face and then grabbed her purse and slipped out the back door.
She didn’t make it two feet before she heard a whistle. “Where are you off to in such a hurry, baby?”
“I’m not your baby,” she grated out.
“Wait! Don’t go. I need to talk to you.”
The alley was dark, making it impossible to read Tyler’s expression. She knew she should turn and walk away — hell, stomp away was more like it — but for some reason, she found herself waiting.
“What do you want?” She was on the verge of tears.
“I was an asshole in there. I only did it so my friend would quit pawing at you like that. I could see it was making you uncomfortable.”
“Why should you care?”
“Because we’re at a gentleman’s club. We should act as such.”
Elena was too stumped to know how to deal with that remark.
“You’re drunk,” she told him. “I’d suggest that you go home.” And she turned away.
She stopped again. What was wrong with her? “I really want to get out of here. I just got mauled by your friend, insulted, and then fired. I’ve had better days,” she said.
He was suddenly right in front of her. Elena took a step back, and her heart was thudding in her chest. He was far too close.
“Come have a drink with me. You can talk about it and I’ll help make it better.”
He lifted his hand and trailed his fingers down the side of her cheek, making a shiver race all through her body. She wasn’t a little girl any longer, and this wasn’t a childhood crush.
“There’s no way I’m going back into that place,” she said. Her voice and her body were trembling with disgust.
“I have my car right here. Come sit with me and have a drink.”
His voice was mesmerizing, and without much thought she found her hand in his as he led her to the car. It wasn’t until they climbed into the backseat — it wasn’t a car, dammit; it was a limo! — and she found a glass with amber liquor in it in her hand that she realized what she was doing.
“What about your friends?”
“They’re going to be busy for quite a while. They won’t even notice that I’m gone.”
by Melody Anne / Contemporary / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes