Once bytten - Sample only

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Chapter One

Hey everyone!! 💖💖

Are you wondering what happened to Ella and James after Ella shot Christian? Does Christian come back for his revenge? Or does he let Ella go and find her happily ever after with James?

Well...guess what???!!!

I just submitted the second and final book of Ella and James’s story - Twice Rescued :-)! It should be live as soon as Inkitt publishes it. Can’t wait to know what you think! 💖💖💖

Hi :-)! Thank you for choosing to read this story. (If you haven’t added it to your reading, remember to do that so you don’t lose it among the thousands of other fantastic stories on here!) And a huge thank you if you have already added the story to your reading list.

It’d be super awesome if you leave a tiny comment, even if it’s just a little emoji, at the end of every chapter. It just tells me you’re still enjoying it and helps me keep my mojo :-)

It was pitch black and bullets were flying all around. James had no idea where his NVGs had gone and it didn’t look like he had the time to look for them. He needed to find cover. Fast. Another volley. From the right. James swung to the left, landing on something soft. Nothing was ever soft in Afghanistan. Even the sand that looked soft and silky from afar was prickly and itchy. He blinked, trying to make sense of his surroundings. Blue numbers stared back at him from a small table. 03:45.

James rubbed a hand over his face, the stubble helping to calm his racing heart a little bit. The shapes around him looked more like bedroom furniture than a truck in the desert. He brushed his fingers through the therapeutic length of his hair, just skimming the tops of his shoulders. He was no longer in the army, no longer in Afghanistan. His hair was long to remind him of that.

The millions of lights that kept New York City awake through the night helped anchor him. Keeping him grounded to reality. He walked to the glass wall that overlooked Central Park and soaked in the sight. Few people could afford the luxury of that sight and he was glad to be one of them. He pulled on his sweats and a hoodie. There was no way he was going back to sleep, might as well make good use of the quiet city to get an early morning run in.

Stepping out of the deliciously warm lobby, he pulled in a deep, freezing breath before starting off on a slow jog which quickly built up in pace. Powering down E 79th street, he almost missed the little shop with the lights on.

When the light, and the slight figure inside the shop, finally registered, James turned around and made his way back. The woman was furiously whipping something in a large bowl, swaying to a beat he couldn’t hear. The soldier in him reared his head. It was unacceptable for anyone to have such complete disregard for situational awareness.

He walked up to the glass door and pushed it in. At least the woman had the sense to lock the door. Whatever sound he’d made must’ve drowned in the beat she was swaying to. With her attention focussed on whatever was in the bowl, she hadn’t noticed him standing at the door, or his first attempt at opening it. He took a moment to study the small shop and the woman inside.

It looked like a bakery or a coffee shop with a seating capacity of about six or eight inside. She probably put up a couple of tables on the sidewalk on good days. There were a couple of such shops on the first floor of his building, so he was pretty certain there was a light switch on the left on the door.

His attention shifted to the woman. She looked tiny and wholly incapable of taking care of herself. And yet she was still unaware of his presence, a mere few feet from her. His temper rose another few notches. She was taking risks that could get her killed. It was time someone taught her a lesson.

He rapped on the door. Startled green eyes snapped up to him as the woman dropped the thing she’d been beating around in the bowl; her hand going to her throat. If nothing else, her animal instincts were still alive! He gave her a full smile, making sure it reached his eyes. That smile had a long, successful record of drawing women in.

Her hands dropped down to the sides of her apron, clutching it until her knuckles turned white. Her eyes yo-yoed between him and the door handle as she took a couple of steps back. James waved at her and mouthed, “Hi.”

Her delicate throat worked as she swallowed. The grip on the apron loosened and she shook her head. Wise girl. But could she stand her ground? Her life could depend on it. But was she aware of that fact? It was time to find out.

He kept the smile in place and rattled the door handle again, more for effect than anything else.

She let go of the apron, laced her fingers together in front of her stomach and took a tentative step forward. James’s smile almost slipped with fury. She was going to open the damn door. Bloody idiot!

“What do you want?” she asked. Her soft voice filtered through the door frame.

“I came out for a jog. Didn’t realise how cold it is today. Could you, maybe, give me a cup of coffee? I know you are not yet open, but it’s really bad out here today and I am quite a bit from home.”

Her eyes travelled over him, almost like a physical caress. He knew he looked like what he was. A wealthy man out for a jog. He crossed his arms across his chest, jammed his hands in his armpits and rocked up on the balls of his feet. He wasn’t cold, but appearances were important. He knew she’d lost the moment her fingers unlaced, she wiped her hands on the apron before taking the final step toward the door. He kept the benign smile pasted on his face while his whole body was coiled, ready for action. He’d done this millions of times, only this time, he needed to be sure to control his strength. It’d be too easy to break the fragile neck.

She unlocked the door, took a deep breath and opened it wide, “Come on in.”

In a flash, the shop drowned in darkness as he switched off the light. He wrapped his fingers around the small throat, shoving her up against the glass wall. She scratched at the fingers cutting off her air. She could still breathe, but barely.

James eased his hold on her throat, but moved in closer, crushing her between his body and the glass. Placing his forearm on the glass near her head, he leaned down, his lips nearly brushing her ear. “You foolish woman,” he whispered.

A warm tear plopped on his hand, warning him his grip was still too strong. Moving his hand from her throat to the other side of her head, he boxed her in, not allowing her any wiggle room. “Now. I’m going to let you go and switch the light on. We’re then going to have a talk. If you fuckin’ even think of screaming, you won’t like the consequences. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she whispered. Her voice came out scratchy. He winced. He’d throttled her too hard.

Switching on the light, he moved away. She stayed put. Shoving his hands into his pockets, James leaned against the display stand.

“What’s your name?” He asked, taking in the trembling girl for the first time. He’d been right about her height, or lack thereof. She didn’t exactly come up to his shoulder and would probably not tip the scale over a hundred pounds sopping wet. One thing was clear, though. She was stunning. From her slim yet full figure, to her bow shaped mouth, her moss green eyes and raven black hair, to her porcelain skin, fucking, stunning.

Her eyes flashed as she tipped her chin up, “What are you planning to do to me?”

He had to smile at that. “Not the answer I was looking for. But I’ll humor you. If I wanted to do something to you, I’d not be standing here talking to you. Now, your name?”

“Then why? What was the point of all this?” She ended in a fit of cough.

He didn’t like to see her suffer because of him. But he’d take it if the alternative was some scumbag killing her, or worse, because she couldn’t be bothered to be careful.

“Would you rather I’d planned to kill you? After raping you?”

She flinched but her eyes stayed on his. He raised a brow and she looked away.


“That wasn’t so hard now, was it, Ella?” James goaded.

“Get out!” she hissed at him and nearly jumped when he let out a deep rumble of a laugh.

“How da…”

“Because you were stupid enough to open the door to a complete stranger in the middle of the night, when you are all fucking alone!” His sharp voice whipped through her indignation.

Ella looked away, finding a random spot somewhere on the floor. “It is a really cold morning!” She tried to justify herself.

“Correct. It was also your life or mine. You chose mine, now I get to do whatever I choose with yours.” Even to his own ears, his voice sounded ominous.

For the first time since he’d let her go, she moved to put more distance between them. “You’re not being fair. You know it’s not so black and white.” Her voice barely carried the distance of the small shop.

“Defenceless and helpless people never get a fair deal, Ella. I am sure you’ve learned that lesson already,” his voice dripped sarcasm as he let his eyes undress her shamelessly.

She stiffened, “I am not helpless. Or defenseless.” She pulled out a pepper spray from a pocket hidden somewhere either on her apron or the jeans. The way the jeans fit her, James was inclined to think it was the apron. The woman was truly priceless. She had the spray pointed at him, declared she was not defenseless, then left her attacker standing. She was far too trusting for her own good.

Fast as a whip, he was on to her, caught her wrist, twisted her arm and had it pinned to her back, her front pressed to him.

“And just like that, you lost the one chance you had of using that weapon of yours.”

Ella closed her eyes, “I understand what you’re telling me. But that’s why I didn’t spray you. Like you said, if you wanted to hurt me, I’d not be standing here talking to you,” she tried to explain.

“You understand nothing,” he barked, letting her go. “Ever heard of self-defense classes? There are tons in this city, some especially for women. Do yourself a favor, get enrolled in one.” He stalked to the door, jerking it open.

“Lock the door behind me. And next time, don’t let a stranger in,” he threw over his shoulder before loping out of sight. It took all the will power he had to not look back at the stunned woman. Ella. The name suited her.

He’d only planned to show her the importance of being aware of her surroundings, to not trust strangers. However, walking away from the shop, he knew this wouldn’t be the last time he’d see her. Her ring finger was bare, which made her fair game.

Ella stared at the empty space the man left behind. It took her a while to wake up to the empty shop and lock the door. She wanted to rant about how insane he was, but couldn’t, in all honesty, deny that he did have a point. He’d proven it beyond any doubt. His words were ringing in her ears. It wasn’t the first time she’d been told to take self-defense classes and it was certainly not the first time she was seriously thinking about it. It’s just that there was so little time in the day!

She was an early riser, but four am was early even for her. After being on her feet for pretty much ten hours straight, all she wanted to do after packing up the last of the chairs at three pm was to get her feet off the ground. She could do something on Sunday, but that was the only day she had for herself. Self-defense wasn’t something she wanted to do in her ‘me’ time.

The oven timer dinged, waking her from her day-dreams. She’d better get on with the batch she was working on when the man interrupted. She cursed herself once again. The speed, strength, and precision of his attack meant that he had to be a soldier of some description. She had first hand experience of all three which she wasn’t going to forget any time soon.

What if…? The thought came unbidden to her, making her stumble. She steadied herself on the display counter. She didn’t dare finish the thought. If he was spec ops like Christian, it was a very small world up there in the top echelons of the US military. She closed her eyes, hauling in a deep breath. She had her ‘go-bag’ packed for when Christian found her. He would find her eventually, she had no doubt about that. All Ella hoped for was a warning, so she could run before he caught her.

She baked every morning. Every morning die-hard joggers jogged past her little coffee shop. Why did this man decide to pull his stunt today? She desperately wanted to run upstairs, pick her bag, and leave the city. She dug her heels in - she’d not run at the first sign of trouble. She’d built up a comfortable life in the last two years. Christian wouldn’t ruin it so easily! Besides, may be, just may be, this was just a coincidence, and that man didn’t really work for Christian.

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