His Alone By Alexa Riley She thinks I'm perfect. A good boss, a good man. She thinks that I play by the rules. She has no idea who I truly am. Why I'm really here. Paige Turner is trying to outrun her past, but there it is, tossed back in her face anytime she manages to get two steps ahead. She has no idea what a man like me will do to get what he wants. Her need for Ryan got in the way of revenge, took her off course. Redirected her focus. Before she knew it, he'd made his way into her life. Into her heart. I'm dirtier than she knows. She thinks I'm good to the core, but she doesn't know the things I've done. The things I would do for her. True love doesn't let secrets as big as these stay buried. And when the truth about Paige's father is finally exposed, Ryan will do anything to fix everything. Paige has always been his—and his alone.
Dedication To strong women…dare a man to love you exactly as you are.
Six years ago… I SIT IN the metal chair feeling uncomfortable. I do better on my feet. I wish I could at least have my back to a wall, but this isn’t my place, so I do as I’m told. I sit calmly and keep my breathing even, glancing around the room casually, making sure I show nothing. I have one goal here today and it’s to get as close as possible to the man I’m about to meet. Going deeper underground than I ever have before—something I’m not sure I want. This might take me a further down than I’m prepared to go. We’re in a back room of a restaurant in uptown Manhattan, and it’s clearly used for privacy. There are two men at the far wall, standing next to an exit, and two men behind me guarding the way I came in. They both look like muscle; they’d be easy to handle. Too dumb to see what’s coming. Directly in front of me is a small metal table and chair. I hear a click behind me. The door opens, and someone walks through. I wish for the hundredth time that I had my gun on me. I feel naked without it. I know I can defend myself without it, but I like feeling the weight of it against me. And often, someone seeing the hint of it can deescalate a situation. But they took it from me when I walked through the door, so now I have to deal with it. The man who walked in takes a seat at the table and leans forward. He’s in an expensive suit that looks custom-made. The men around him are dressed similarly, myself included. When you’re in this line of work, looks are everything. Even more so for a man like this. Money means everything to him. Money and power. He sets a large manila envelope on the table between us and places his hand on top of it. He holds it there as he looks at me, his sapphire-blue eyes boring into mine as if trying to read me. Good luck, asshole. “I’ve been told good things about you, Ryan. That you’re one to keep cool and one we can trust. Is that true?” “Yes, sir.” The first rule in business is keeping your mouth shut. The second rule is when you talk, say as little as possible. I’ve mastered both of these, and it’s the reason I’m here today. “You’ve worked for me for some time now, and I’d like to give you something of a—” He stops as if to consider what word to use. His smile is wide as he lands on it. “―promotion.” I sit and wait, breathing evenly and staying calm. It’s what I do best. I’m rewarded when he takes his hand off the envelope and pushes it toward me, then leans back in his chair, watching my movements. I don’t flinch, just wait for instructions like a loyal dog. “I need information, and I need you to get it for me. You’re a face that’s not known around here, not associated with me directly. According to what I’ve been able to dig up, you were born in Ukraine and brought to America as a baby. You were raised in Chicago, but ended up in New York a few years ago and made your way into my employment. Is that close enough?” “Yes, sir.” Rule number three, always speak with respect. It’s close but not all of it. Just the parts I want him to know. The most important thing to remember about lying is to keep your lies as close to the truth as possible, only blurring some things. That way, you never forget. He looks me over again, eyes assessing and reassessing. I relax and wait like he wants me to. Just like I know I need to in order to get on his good side. As if getting what he wants, he nods down to the
envelope, and I finally reach out, taking it. I hold it in my hands but don’t make a move to open it. I know him. He wants people to follow his every word, and if he wants me to open it, he’ll tell me. “Once this meeting is over, we won’t meet face-to-face again. You’ll have my direct number and communicate with me weekly, giving me any information you can. All that you need to know is in there.” He stands, buttoning his suit jacket, and I stand with him, holding the envelope. He stretches out his hand, and as much as I don’t want to take it, I remember rule number three. When he grips my palm, he pulls me forward a slight inch, but it’s a power play. He wants to be the one in control, and though I’m much larger than him and far more skilled at killing a man, I allow him this move. Men like him need to keep the ego. It’s all they have. “I think you’re going to be exactly right for this job, Ryan. You look like a Boy Scout.” His evil grin makes my stomach clench as he releases my hand. He walks out of the room, and three of the bodyguards follow him. The fourth stops and hands me my gun, and I tuck it back into my holster as I watch him leave. Once I’m alone, I clutch the envelope and walk out the back exit. I walk two blocks up to a park and look for an empty bench. When I sit down, I open the envelope and flip through the contents. The first few pages are exactly what I expected. There are instructions to get as much information as possible on one particular person. There are pictures of locations, property, known assets and people of interest. I know who this is. It’s his estranged son, Miles Osbourne. Everyone knows of the rift. But no one knows why. It was so bad Miles even changed his name back to his mother’s maiden name, Osborne. That had to really piss off a man like Alexander Owens. I’m guessing the rift is because Miles knows all about his dear old dad and wants nothing to do with him, but it doesn’t look like Alexander feels the same. He wants Miles as close as possible, and he’s going to use me to get that. The last piece of paper contains one sentence. The words make a chill run down my spine, and I stare at them for a long moment. There’s an accompanying photo stapled to the page. If she shows up, you alert me immediately. The police suspect Alexander has had a hand in the deaths of three women, and I wonder if this one is another of his mistresses. Flipping the note over, I see the picture and my chest tightens as my breath catches. I reach out, touching the photo with the tip of my index finger. It’s a little blurry and taken from the side, but there’s no mistaking the beauty of the redhead in the photograph. Something about her touches a place inside me, and all my plans change. My blood pumps through my veins and I can feel my adrenaline rising. I will do what I need to do to make this plan work, but there’s no way I’m handing this girl over to him. I look at the picture and I see it. This isn’t a mistress. The same blue eyes I was staring at across the table look at me from the photo. I pull out the photo of Miles. There it is. She’s his daughter, and I’m guessing she has all kinds of little secrets on her father. Ones he doesn’t want anyone to know. I’ve been hired by Alexander Owens to get close to his son, and that’s what I’ll do. I’ll be best fucking friends with Miles Osborne before the week is over, but I won’t ever harm the redhead. Ever. I need her.
SHE THINKS I’M perfect. She thinks I look like Captain America. That I play by the rules. But she has no idea who I truly am. Or why I’m really here. She thinks Miles was obsessed. She has no idea what obsession is. What a man like me will do to get what he wants. I’m dirtier than she knows. She thinks I’m good to the core, but she doesn’t know the things I’ve done. The things I would do for her. Only her.
Chapter One Paige
I DIDN’T KNOW you could actually feel someone’s eyes on you. I don’t mean that creeping feeling when you think someone is staring at you and all the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. No, this is different. I can feel his eyes on every part of my skin. They make my body warm, in places I didn’t even know existed. A part of me I’d buried long ago. Other girls probably feel this all the time, but not me. It’s like he has intimate knowledge of my body, and somehow it belongs to him. His eyes, roaming my body, fascinate me. I remember every detail about them, and it’s both a blessing and a curse. When I look at him, I never know what eyes I’ll receive. Sometimes they’re bright green like a fresh shamrock. Other times, when the light hits just right, little blue specks shine through, making them appear almost cerulean. But my favorite is when they turn a dark green. They’re the color of a morning forest, soft and crisp, and I know he’s playing it cool. I often wonder if I’m the only one who can see the difference. He’s always so calm and cool, but his eyes probably show me more than he wants. Or maybe I’m the one doing a little too much staring. It makes me wonder if there’s more to this man who always seems so perfect. He’s too good and clean. If he knew everything about me, I probably wouldn’t get those eyes on me like I do now. The ones I secretly love. At first I thought Ryan Justice didn’t like me, but over the years I’ve noticed it isn’t dislike, no matter how hard I try to annoy him. The annoyance I once read in his eyes has turned out to be hunger. The more I poke at him and push him away, the more that hunger grows. Or maybe that’s my own I’m feeling. I should stay as far away from him as possible, because he could break me. I’ve already had one man...