***HURT is a Dark Romantic Thriller and contains multiple scenes of violence. It is not intended for sensitive audiences or readers under the age of eighteen.***
Award Winning Author, Lydia Michaels, enters the world of DARK ROMANCE with an unforgettably suspenseful psychological thriller!
IT’S GOING TO HURT…
Callan MacGregor might speak with the eloquence of a Scottish poet, but a hard life has turned him into a merciless killer. With a first-hand account of hell, he trusts nothing and no one but the hollow hurt tortured into his bones. Sacrificing all, he must escape Scotland to survive.
Emery Tanner is captivated—to the point of obsession—by the stunning Scotsman tending bar at the Imperial Hotel. With as many dark secrets as he has scars, she hungers to know every exquisite inch of him, but her shy nature leaves her tongue-tied. Despite her sense that innate kindness rests beneath his savage surface, Callan MacGregor is a man to approach with caution—if not fear.
When tragedy strikes and Emery’s world is shattered, she learns just how ruthless Callan can be. Violence has shaped his soul and love has always led to loss in both their broken lives. But as secrets are exposed, they find truth within the hurt and awaken a desire to become whole once more
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(*1k Word Count | PG-13 )
Callan’s teeth clacked with a horrid smack. Precise pain exploded behind his eyes as a fire bloomed under his stinging skin. His face caught the brunt of the assault, flesh splitting and bones throbbing with familiar distress. Thick blood mixed with sweat as rivulets poured down his face.
He spit onto the cement floor and waited for his vision to clear as the beast of a man pounding him like raw mince shuffled back to catch his breath. The buffeted sound of the crowd returned, their hungry cries surrounding the makeshift ring from all angles.
Callan’s throbbing ears siphoned the droning noise in and out to the rapid tempo of his heart. Womp—womp—womp—womp… His skin pulsed to the beat.
His head snapped back. Another blast to the skull. Blood gushed behind his nose, choking off his airway, drenching everything in the metallic flavor of defeat.
Tripping over his feet, he forced his knees to bend, rewarded by several knocks to the ribs. Voices collided in a drunken slur of bloodthirsty chants.
Launching forward, he dodged a fist and blasted a punch into the tender solar plexus of his assigned enemy. The blood-drenched tape over his knuckles did little to protect his hands, each crushing hit pulverizing his brittle bones and weakening his wrists. At this point, they swung like numb ham hocks.
Adrenaline thrummed through his veins. He bunched and bounced like a bobbin on a spool, tethered by a thread to the unknown outcome of the match, prepared for anything—even death.
Heart hammering like a bodhrán, he maneuvered closer, blinking through the opaque film of blood and sweat coating his eyes. No time to wipe it away. Even blinking cost him.
His head snapped back, jaw vibrating, as pain exploded in his ears. The sharp burst spiked through his brain, blowing open his sinuses, and drilling to the base of his spine—tripping him on thin air.
He spit again, never taking his eyes off his opponent.
The dank air mixed with the tang of whisky and desperation. Boarded windows kept the moonlight out and a stale scent of abandonment in.
Everyone in that deserted mill had something to lose. Or everything to gain. But no one had more riding on this than him.
No guarantees. Win, lose. Live, die. So long as the right people got paid, no one gave a **** who got hurt.
A hasty lunge and a miss—bad timing on his part. A solid fist to the ribs whacked the wind from his lungs. It was the only warning before a storm rained over him. His opponent pelted him with fists, caving in his chest and hemming him to the line.
While he’d always been a notably large man, his rival was ****ing huge.
They loved to do this, to cut off his oxygen, hoping he’d black out. If they couldnae get the knockout, they’d go for a collapse. But his ability to take a hit—the sort of hit that would drop an average man—had made him a legend.
Stumbling. Battered. Breathless. He let his rival—and the crowd—assume he was done. The roars of excitement echoed every hit as they fell in a flurry.
The enemy weakened with each blow, slowed with each swing. Callan gasped through it, wearing his opponent down as he gathered his strength like a tidal wave sucks into the ocean before letting go.
The abuse chiseled away the man until only an animal remained. And then…
Like a phoenix of rage, he rose from the ashes. Nimble, with unexpected agility, he drew back, wheezed in a breath of blood and hate, and hurtled forward, rushing his rival and lobbing his ravaged knuckles into his meaty face.
When a man had nothing to lose, he’d do anything to win. No longer shackled by strategy, Callan unleashed.
His skull throbbed with the beat of his pulse. The bastard tumbled into the crowd, tripping over his own feet, only to get hoisted back into the action.
Tasting victory, Callan bared his bloodstained teeth like the devil about to take his prize.
Something dark and inhuman shifted inside of him. Limitless. Unredeemable. Hungry. He cleaved into the enemy, throwing haymakers, ballistic and desperate. It’s him or me.
A blow cuffed his ear, delivering a stunning swirl of black behind his eyes as the roar muffled. Swarming figures blurred.
From the depths of his pain, buried beneath every ache and injustice, he scraped the filthy floor of his soul for every jagged piece of broken determination he could find. He unleashed everything.
“Knock him oot!”
Jumbled chaos scattered his thinking like sparks flying from a blowtorch.
A calm stole through him as his civility disintegrated, sinking into the dark abyss of his soul where he dinnae like to dwell. Barbaric determination took savage hold of his actions, demanding he finish this.
“MacGregor, destroy that scunner!”
His family needed this win. But they also needed him.
Gavin’s elfin face wavered in his mind, too gaunt for a boy of ten, but so hopeful. Innis’s beauty shined like a beacon, her ebony waves framing the delicate angles of her ivory face.
Incarnate hate for every suffered uncertainty spewed from him in a primal rage. The body beneath him slackened and stopped flinching.
“MacGregor, yer gonna murder him!”
The hushed shock of the crowd’s alarm penetrated his haze of savage fury, and his arms slowed. When nothing came at him, he staggered back, his heaving sides pumping like a bellow feeds wind to a flame, only the fire in his opponent’s eyes had died.
He swayed back, panting and confused, as the world took a moment to spin to a stop. The other man lay bloody and still. Callan’s panic and paranoia churned into a frenzy of doubt, waiting to see him breathe.
Balanced on the sharp prick of a needle’s edge, his existence teetered on his opponent’s breath. Though they were enemies in the ring, outside, they were the same.
Unlike the spectators, they came from nothing and would do anything to survive. But if that breath dinnae come, Callan would have to live with that sin for the rest of his life…
THE HURT PLAY LIST
Sound of Silence by Disturbed
Possession by Sarah McLachlan
Stay by Rhianna
Enter Sandman by Metallica
Uninvited by Alanis Morrisette
Quiet by MILCK
Bruises by Lewis Capaldi
Personal Jesus by Marilyn Manson
Psycho Killer by Talking Heads
I Know You Care by Ellie Goulding
Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy
Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray
Nothing Compares 2 U by Chris Cornell
Rise Up by Andra Day
Love Reign O’er Me by The Who
May It Be by EnyaShape of my Heart by Sting
About Lydia Michaels
Lydia Michaels is the award winning author of over 35 romance novels. She is an iBooks Bestsellers and her work has been featured in USA Today. She is the two-time winner of the Author of the Year Award from Happenings Media [2018 & 2019]. In 2015 she won The Best Author Award from The Courier Times. She is a five time nominee for the prestigious RONE Award. Her books are intellectual, emotional, haunting, always centered around love.
Lydia Michaels loves to hear from readers! She can be contacted by email at Lydia@LydiaMichaelsBooks.com