Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
I was twelve when a stranger at a train station taught me the meaning of ugly. He forced himself on me and threatened to kill my family if I told.
I stayed silent and the ugliness grew.
Now, that word rolls in film clips through my mind. All I’ve done since my best friend, Keyon Arias, left town is cement how ugly I am. Ugly on the inside—deep down to my core. On the outside… I am a Vixen. I flash men a smile and make them moan out pleasure I control.
Not them. Never them.
After five years of being away, my beautiful boy has come back to town for his father’s masquerade ball. He’s different. Hard muscle supersedes the skin and bone of his once boyish frame. One thing hasn’t changed though: the murderous look in his eyes when he slaughters his opponents. In the ring, I see the bullied boy, all grown up, dominating in ways he couldn’t in high school.
He’s the mayor’s son. The rising MMA fighter. The beautiful one.
I’m not the Paislee Cain of before, not the sweet girl he once knew, the one who chased away his bullies. I’m the town slut. The dirty girl whose shame will never fade no matter how many men I use. He’d disown what I’ve become.
Because beautiful can never love ugly.
The most vibrant moments of my life flicker through my brain like film clips. If I concentrate long enough, they suck in sound until they become so real they mix in the scents from my memories too. Already, I realize today will morph into a clip that’ll join the rest of them—the short version of today, what I’m watching right now.
In this moment, he doesn’t star in a snippet at the back of my brain. He’s almost tangible, himself in ways I haven’t seen him in years.
Heat glistened off him when he strutted into the cage, arms high in preempted victory and with a cocky smile on his mouth. But now, minutes into the match, he’s not smiling anymore, no, because Keyon is fighting hard.
He always did that. Fought hard, I mean. And I wasn’t afraid for him back when I knew him either. Who can be afraid for someone who looks murderous?
I don’t mind his back toward the camera while he delivers the last decisive blow to his opponent; I enjoy the sight of skin and muscles under glaring spotlights and sweat that flies off hair and lashes when he turns.
The local TV station replays Keyon’s knockout in slow motion, while I consider what’s most real; replays like these on a TV screen versus what’s in my brain—those special clips from years ago. I let the thought go and ponder instead how Keyon and what’s-his-name survive the punishment they give each other.
I’ve kept close track of Keyon in the news. This is the first televised event he’s been a part of, so until now I’ve found him on the Internet and in our flimsy newspaper, the Rigita Gazette.
From the first glimpse of his face on TV, I saw the same impatience as before. Wildfire still burns in his eyes, and dedication radiates off him like red-hot quicksilver. In my imagination, Keyon is rattling the starting gates, dying to be freed into a world where he can rule, destroy, feast on his power without inhibitions.
Between studies, teaching, and advising, Sunniva has spent her entire adult life in a college environment. Most of her novels are new adult romance geared toward smart, passionate readers with a love for eclectic language and engaging their brain as well as their heart while reading.
Born in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the author spent her early twenties making the world her playground. Southern Europe: Spain, Italy, Greece–Argentina: Buenos Aires, in particular. The United States finally kept her interest, and after half a decade in Los Angeles, she now lounges in the beautiful city of Savannah.
Sometimes, Sunniva writes with a paranormal twist (Shattering Halos, Stargazer, and Cat Love). At other times, it’s contemporary (Pandora Wild Child, Leon’s Way, Adrenaline Crush, Walking Heartbreak, and Dodging Trains, coming in late March 2016).
This author is the happiest when her characters let their emotions run off with them, shaping her stories in ways she never foresaw. She loves bad-boys and good-boys run amok, and like in real life, her goal is to keep the reader on her toes until the end of each story.