We are thrilled to host an exclusive bonus scene for Deep by Skye Warren that has never been seen before! Check out more to the book that has been on the USA Today Bestseller list for three weeks running!
Dark. Powerful. Dangerous.
Philip Murphy has all of Chicago under his thumb. Except me.
We met in a perfect storm of violence and lust. He saved me and then disappeared from my life. Now I pretend I never knew that kind of darkness. I focus on midterms and campus parties, as if they can wipe the slate clean.
Then he turns up outside my dorm room—wounded and barely conscious. He’s the head of a crime syndicate, a powerful man, but he needs me now. There are traitors in his midst.
I can help him, but I can’t fall for him.
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This scene is an alternate POV scene, written from the hero’s POV. It’s time to meet Philip Murphy…
* * *
“That’s rich,” I muttered into the phone. Apparently the company I’d had my eye on had filed for bankruptcy. That meant the assets would be tied up in courts for years.
My lawyer laughed over the phone. “So you’ll buy it at auction. Be patient.”
I took a second to consider the merits of patience. And found none.
“Put me together a dossier when the court assigns a judge,” I said, tossing my pen on the desk. A pile of papers ten sheets thick covered the smooth wood surface.
Then I hung up. He would know what I meant. A dossier included all the pertinent information to speed things along—whether the judge could be bought, any skeletons in his closet that could be exploited.
I didn’t wait for luck to favor me. If I had, I’d still be tucked into an east end tenement, shaking down overdue debtors for a meager living. No, I made my own goddamn luck. I forged a reputation as a problem solver, the go-to man when shit needed to get done. Bribes, blackmail, anything at all.
In the decade that passed I had added a few zeros to my bank account balance, but some things never changed. I did whatever it took to get the job done.
The second I left my office I knew something was wrong. While I trusted Drew to manage my business operations, Adrian managed my personal life. He was in charge of my house—and the network of safehouses I kept in the city and around the country.
His lips firmed, betraying worry I rarely saw unless we were being shot at.
“What happened?” I asked, rolling up my sleeves. It was late, and I was spoiling for a fight after learning the news about the company. Spoiled, Shelly had called me. She’d been my lover once, my mistress for a while, and now she was nothing at all—not after she became an informant for the cops.
Then Adrian’s expression made sense. Fuck.
“She’s here, isn’t she?” I strode through the house, glancing into rooms as I went.
“Don’t be angry,” Adrian said, following. “It looks like she’s in trouble. You know she wouldn’t come here if—” If she had anywhere else to go.
“Leave.” The word came out more like a growl. Adrian was handy with a weapon, something that wasn’t obvious from his dapper vests and boyish face. He’d had my back on more than one occasion. That was the only reason I wasn’t ripping into him right now. Shelly was a persona non grata around here, and Adrian fucking knew that.
And what was she doing showing her face here?
It must be truly bad, I realized. She couldn’t know if I would shoot her on sight.
I still wasn’t sure, myself.
I saw her as soon as I turned the corner into the main living area. But it wasn’t Shelly I saw.
It was a girl curled up on the armchair. That chair. I had sat in it a hundred times, felt the curve of the wide arms, the plushness of the cushion. It had felt like an ordinary armchair, but somehow it looked giant-sized as it held her. She looked small, almost doll-sized.
And I had never seen her before in my life.
Without realizing it, my legs moved me across the room. Absently, I realized that Shelly lay sleeping on the couch on her side. From somewhere far away, I knew that this was the reason she had come. This girl and the faint bruise mark forming on her cheek. Whatever trouble this girl had found herself in, Shelly had brought her here.
Was she insane? This wasn’t a safe haven. I wasn’t anyone’s white knight.
But I couldn’t look away from the girl’s delicate features, the pale blush of her lips, the skin at her temple so fine I could see the blue-green veins underneath. Her hair was a dark brown, falling around her face like a shield. The slinky dress she wore revealed slender arms and legs, dotted with bruises.
The sight of them filled me with rage. Who had touched her? And where could I find them?
Then I caught myself. This wasn’t my business. I didn’t make a habit of rescuing strays.
Except as I watched her lips moved, forming a word I couldn’t hear. Her pale eyelids twitched, and I realized she was dreaming. No, she was having a nightmare, probably imagining the people who had hurt her.
She shivered, and goose bumps rose on her flesh. I tried not to touch her with my gaze, tried not to notice the line of her collarbone and the dip of her cleavage. She was way too young for me.
I studied the bruises circling her wrist. Way too broken for me.
Turning away gave me a chance to regain my control. I didn’t like the way I’d grown hard taking in her small curves. I especially didn’t like the way my chest grew tight studying those bruises.
I’d seen bodies before, seen pain. This was nothing new.
She was nothing new.
But my body felt electric somehow, come alight at each nerve ending. The wiring had always been here, but it had never been on—not until my eyes had landed on her. What was this? Attraction? A quirk of biology? I didn’t fucking care, but I wasn’t going to let it control me.
I went to the room next door to find a blanket. When I came back, she had shifted.
A hitch of breath. A shudder.
I had to wake her up, couldn’t let her suffer this…
“No,” she whimpered, and the word cracked something inside me.
“Shh,” I said. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Then her eyes opened, and the force of her hazy chocolate eyes struck me like a whip. So much pain, so much fucking hope. I stood there, holding the blanket, reverberating from impact. Part of me was afraid to look at her, the other part unable to look away.
Sleep drained from her eyes, replaced by fear. “You’re Philip.”
So Shelly had told her about me. Nothing good, I was sure. “And you are?”
Her slender shoulder lifted in a shrug. “She calls me Ella.”
A strange way to answer. And I shouldn’t have been so intrigued. I glanced at Shelly, a woman I had once loved and hated. Maybe I still did, but it felt somehow as though this girl was her penance, her gift to me, wrapped up in torn silk and darkening bruises. “Why did she bring you here?”
Wariness crossed her face. “Please don’t hurt her. She saved me.”
I frowned, not liking the fear in her eyes. “Why would you say that?”
I wanted to hear those whimpers with other meaning, wanted to see the skin those scraps of silk covered. But she couldn’t have been older than sixteen. Too young, too broken.
She blinked rapidly, clearly worried. “No reason.”
Her expression was adorable. I laughed softly at the way her nose scrunched up, the questions in her eyes. She gave away every thought she had, every fear, every hope. She was completely exposed, vulnerable, and I found myself entranced.
“All right, Ella,” I said gently, hoping to put her at ease. Shelly must have told her about the betrayal, about being an informant. “I’m not going to hurt her. Even if she is fucking a cop.”
Her slender throat worked as she swallowed. “Please.”
That word coming from her sweet mouth. My body flushed hotly, unconcerned that she begged me out of fear instead of desire. I had done too many things in this life to be concerned with morality. She was here like a fucking offering, dressed to entice any man, designed to draw every protective, possessive instinct. I could have her. She was mine.
I reached for her, and she flinched. It didn’t even bother me, not enough to stop. I touched her cheek, lightly, a tease for myself, a taunt. I shouldn’t take her. But God, she felt like a dream, trembling at my touch. And the look in her eyes promised a man everything, anything, mine for the taking.
“So soft,” I murmured. “You don’t even know what you’re begging for, do you?”
Her breathing was shallow. She was aroused even if she didn’t understand it. “I’m not.”
I managed to maintain my air of detachment, when all I wanted to do was bury my face in her hair, clasp her close to my body—when all I wanted to do was shield her from a callused world I knew too well.
“Not what?” I asked, my voice cold. “Not begging?”
“Let us stay,” she whispered, begging after all.
No trust. Who had done this to her? My lawyer’s advice came back to me. Patience. Shelly would tell me. No doubt it was someone dangerous if she had brought Ella here instead of her cop. Whoever it was, I’d make them regret laying a finger on this girl.
I didn’t know when I had decided to protect her. Was it when I touched her cheek, when she looked at me with those soulful eyes? It felt like something ancient, pre-ordained. Momentous, as if everything had been leading to this.
But if I was truly going to protect her, I had to do it right.
I had to protect her, even from myself.
I placed the blanket over her, covering up all that beautiful, marked skin. “Rest,” I said. “We’ll figure it out in the morning.”
She might have fought me, but instead her eyelids fluttered closed. Her fists clenched around the blanket, drawing it close, pulling comfort from what I’d given her. And God, that feeling was addictive. I wanted to give her more, to watch her hold on tight.
Except she was too broken for me.
At least part of me thought so. The other part thought: Patience.