Book #1 of the Bestselling Consequences series:
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a suspenseful thriller about secrets and deception, passion and love, choices and consequences.
Every action has consequences.
Waking in an unfamiliar bedroom in a luxurious mansion, Claire Nichols is terrified to discover that a chance encounter led her into the cruel hands of her abductor, Anthony Rawlings. Claire has no understanding of why she’s there, but it’s been made abundantly clear—she is now his acquisition and every action has consequences.
Learn the rules to survive.
Captivate the captor.To fit together the pieces of the puzzle, Claire must follow his rules. Will her plan work, or will Anthony become enthralled by Claire’s beauty, resilience, and determination, changing the game forever? If that happens, will either of them survive the consequences?
The stark contrast in volume left Claire’s ears ringing as the limousine pulled away from the curb. Her mind swirled with thoughts, the evening was wonderful: music, champagne, people, theater, everything. They were riding for a few minutes when she realized Anthony hadn’t spoken since they entered the limousine. Her heart rate increased as she contemplated the possibility he was upset. She told herself he couldn’t be. She did everything everyone told her to do. She kept up appearances and let him do most of the talking. She felt his eyes upon her, but was afraid to turn and face them. The ringing in her ears turned to silence—completely devoid of sound—silence. She adjusted her new mask and turned. “That was a magnificent evening, thank you again.”
“Do you really think so?”
She wondered if he was asking about the symphony or her. “I do. The music was performed beautifully, and you were right about the conductor.” Her pulse quickened, unable to take the suspense any longer, she asked, “Did I do all right?”
“What do you think?”
She contemplated her answer. “I think I did well. I listened to Catherine, and to you, and did well.” She hoped her voice didn’t expose her insecurity.
Anthony didn’t respond but reached into his briefcase. Claire assumed the conversation was now over, and he planned to resume work. She decided if the conversation was over and he didn’t say she failed, she must have succeeded. She exhaled.
Suddenly, he turned to her and extended a square black velvet box. “I believe you did well.” She liked the tone of his voice, it sounded like the man at the theater. “I told you every action has a consequence. That can be negative, as we’ve seen, or positive. I believe that tonight, you earned a positive consequence.”
“Anthony, I don’t need a gift. I wanted to make you proud. If I did that, then I’m happy and that’s enough.”
“It is a gift, or at least I believe it was; however, it’s not new.” Anthony still held the box before Claire. With the running lights illuminating the cabin she could see his smile: genuine, not cruel or sadistic. “Will it always be this difficult to get you to open gifts?”
She took the box. “You have my curiosity piqued. What are you giving me that’s old?”
She opened the velvet hinged box. The lump in her throat made her choke, unable to speak. The dainty white gold chain with a pearl on a white gold cross hung on the satin. The surprise overwhelmed her. She only saw the necklace for a millisecond before her eyes filled with tears. She looked at Anthony again, tears trickling down her cheeks. “How did you? Where did you get this? It was my grandmother’s.”
“It was in your apartment in Atlanta when it was cleaned out. I thought you might want to have it. Do you?”
Claire listened to his words. Her apartment had been cleaned out. Where were the rest of her things? She needed to compartmentalize. Right now, she concentrated on her grandmother’s necklace. “Oh, yes, I do!”
He asked if he could help her put it on. She nodded, yes. A verbal answer wasn’t required. Next, he took the box out of her hand and started to remove the satin board. Claire observed his tenderness as he held the fine chain and delicate clasp. She turned away and he draped the necklace around her neck. Taking the compact out of her purse, she watched as the pearl moved up and down to the beat of her heart.
“Anthony, there isn’t a necklace you could have bought that would mean more to me than this.” Her tears dried, yet her emerald-green eyes sparkled.
“People who know me well, and they are numbered, call me Tony. You may call me Tony.”
“Thank you, Tony. This has been an amazing night. How can I ever thank you?”
Tony turned off the riding lights in the cabin. Home was still over a half hour away and the window between them and Eric was closed. His smile morphed into a devilish grin. “I have a few ideas.”
Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Together with her high-school sweetheart and husband of twenty-eight years, they've raised three children. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she's not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time with her family and friends. Her pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!