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Cassie Morgan is in trouble. He’s the one man who should protect her, but the apocalypse changed everything. Will he sell her to save himself?

The Road to Ruin is Book 1 of A World Torn Down, a post-apocalyptic revenge thriller, that follows billionaire bad-boy Dan Morgan and his spoilt, but neglected trophy wife Cassie through the apocalypse and beyond.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Three Years After Breakout

Leg hooked over the carved arm of the chair, Deacon pulls at the crotch of his blue jeans, the ridge of the sewn seam hard beneath his fingers, and slides his eyes over the woman’s khaki shirt and tightly-belted combats. He hasn’t seen one this feisty in a while. He lifts his leg from its rest over the arm and lets his well-scuffed boot thud to the floor. She isn’t looking her best, that’s for sure. Dirt smears across her tear-stained cheeks and what’s left of the bright-blonde she used to be straggles at the ends of her long dark hair. That’ll be the first thing he’ll change – cut it off – tidy her up a bit.

She’s an uptight piece for sure, but he likes his snatch with a bit of bite, it makes taking it all the more exciting.

He stands up from the chair, pushing against its heavily carved, wooden arms and adjusts his jeans. One thing about having to live on skank in this god-forsaken world, whatever fat he’d carried before it all turned to crap, is long gone. He smiles as his thumbs slip beneath the tops of his faded blues and over the defined muscles of his belly then steps down from the platform with a heavy thud to the floor. Dust jumps from between the worn wooden boards and dances about his ankles, whirling in the warm sun streaming through the barred windows.

Above the stink of mildew rising up from the beer cellar, and the skank roasting in the kitchen, Deacon smells the sourness of fear. He doesn’t think it comes from her and turns his attention to her man. He’s dishevelled, gaunt beneath his unkempt beard. The worn combats are patched and dirt-stained and the darkening bruise on his split brow narrows his eye. The past three years obviously haven’t been good to him, but he recognises those eyes, the still arrogant scowl. Morgan. Dan Morgan. A name – a face – Deacon has scorched onto his memory. He watches as Morgan’s eyes flit anxious between the willing henchmen taking large strides to stand massive beside him. Deacon smiles, satisfaction melding with the grinding ache, as Morgan’s fists clench tight, white and angular. Morgan steps in front of the woman. She looks out at Deacon from behind the loser’s broad, but bony shoulder, her eyes wide, but he can’t tell if it’s with defiance or fear. Let them try to stop him having what he wants. He smirks as their eyes meet but she holds her ground and keeps his gaze.

They’re blue!

For a moment, he waivers. Her eyes, with their bright intensity, remind him of Jules. Memory pushes at him—Jules smiling, her blonde hair splayed across the pillow, holding the covers of their bed open, calling him to her warmth and then—the blood. Oh, God!

He pushes at the memory, tries to force it back into its box as he steps towards the woman, but it has taken him now. The blood and her eyes! He’d held her in those last agonising moments as she thrashed. He’d held her so tight wanting to take her pain, told her to go, that he’d find her on the other side. He swallows hard at the memories—her terrified eyes staring into him and the stink of fear strong in his nostrils. He’d stared back and watched as they filled with blood, thankful when her heart stopped beating.

He clenches his jaw, pushes the memory away and blinks in the dust-laden light. Another step forward and he stares again at Morgan, his face tight, his scowl grim. Focus that hate, dumbass! Now isn’t the time to be weak – get maudlin – not when he has this wretch to deal with. Losing his woman will serve him right.

“What do you want for it then?”

“Huh? It?” Morgan questions, his brow furrows as he looks from Deacon to the hard-faced henchmen behind. He grasps for the woman’s hand.

“Yeah, it,” Deacon nods towards her. “Your woman. How much?” Now he’s back in control, he’s going to enjoy this game.

“Hey!” the woman interrupts, her frown deeper than Morgan’s. “How dare you!”

“Hah! How dare I? How dare you come onto my patch without the means to pay the crossing fee.” Deacon retorts, a smirk creasing the corner of his mouth.

“I’m not an ‘it’! I’m a woman and I have a name.”

He watches as she stands to her full height and shakes back her hair. The breasts pushing against her ragged khaki shirt make him want her even more. He can almost feel her long slender legs wrapping around his waist.

“I know that, honey. Now pipe down whilst I agree a price with your man. Payment is due.”

His smile deepens. Oh yes, this is going to be good.

“Price? Dan! Dan, tell him I’m not for sale,” the woman urges, her voice confident, eyes searching, as she turns to Morgan. Deacon smiles as he watches Dan Morgan’s face, recognising the flicker of uncertainty in his eyes. “Tell him, Dan,” she repeats. “Tell him I’m not for sale.” Dan opens his mouth.

“Let me tell you what’s on offer here,” Deacon interrupts. “I’ll make it real simple for you, Dan. You owe me and you need to get somewhere far, far away, somewhere no one will know you. Right?” Dan’s face drops. Deacon walks up to him, stands inches from his face and leans in. “I know who you are Dan,” he growls low. “And if I let everyone else know who you are they’ll be on you like a pack of wolves. There’s no one round here who wants the Exile living with them.” Dan sags. “Now,” Deacon continues stepping back, his voice loud. “You have a choice, Dan. I’ll give you two wheels and a tank of petrol in exchange for your woman. That’ll make it easy for you to get your stinking carcass away from here.” Deacon moves behind Morgan, towering over him and slides his arm around the woman’s waist. “Don’t worry,” he says spreading his fingers along her ribcage and pulling her to him. “I’ll take real good care of her.”

“Dan!” she cries, the muscles of her belly taut beneath his fingers as he bends to her and nuzzles against the softness of her neck. His heart thuds a little harder as she grasps his arm with her fingers, her efforts useless against his steel grip.

Deacon watches Morgan closely. Morgan’s eyes flit from the woman’s face, Deacon’s arms holding her tight, and across to the window that looks over the yard to the high, barbed fence of the compound, and then back to his own amused, questioning gaze.

“So Dan. What do you say? Your freedom for your woman? Or are you going to stay here to face the wolves? I’ll even throw in a wrapping of skank and a quarter barrel of water.”

“Dan! Tell him!”

***

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Chapter One of Exile, Book 1 of my new post-apocalyptic series. Publication is scheduled for Wednesday 1st November. Join my Facebook page for updates or sign up below for notifications of publication.