Meet the woman shaped by betrayal and the man determined to save her at any cost. From NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING author Skye Warren comes a emotional and realistic Underground Kings, now been made available to read on the addictive romance reading app, Galatea.
Galatea has received recognition from BBC, Forbes and The Guardian for being the go-to place for explosive new romance novels. With over 400 books in its ever growing library, Galatea focusses on romance, fantasy and erotic novels and Underground Kings is set to be another Galatea smash hit.
When Allie finds Colin, she looks to him to fulfill her dark urges. But she never would’ve expected this gritty, brooding man to be a kind badboy underneath who saw things in her she didn’t see in herself.
I’m a cautionary tale. A statistic. A victim. A single teenage mother from the poor part of town. Most of the time I’m too busy working and struggling to care what people think. Survival doesn’t come easy.
I have a dark secret, a pressure valve, a rare moment just for myself. On these nights I visit a club. There I find men who give me what I need. Men who aren’t afraid to take what they want.
Men like Colin.
But he takes more than a few stolen hours. He demands more than my body. He wants my heart and soul—my happily ever after. I never thought I’d be Cinderella. I never thought a man that rough could be my prince
I hugged my knees and stared at the strip of plastic on my bed. A small part of my brain knew it was weird to have it on the comforter, something I’d peed on. The rest of me was too busy freaking out to care.
One night I’d rather forget. The word no said and ignored. A little plus sign in an oval window. The dominoes fell, one after the other, leading to this…
“Maybe it’s wrong,” Shelly whispered, her eyes wide. It took a lot to shock my best friend, but this had done it. Her face was pale, body as tense and still as mine.
I shook my head. “I’ve missed my period twice now.”
Her blue eyes questioned me. “I thought you two weren’t…”
Of course she guessed who the father was. Andrew. He’d been my other best friend. And definitely the only boy I would have trusted with my virginity. Only, I hadn’t trusted him. Or just hadn’t liked him that way. And trust? That had turned out to be a mistake.
That was a lesson I’d never forget. Trust was an awful mistake.
“We weren’t,” I said, my voice hoarse. We weren’t together, weren’t dating.
“Then how?” she asked with a slow blink, uncomprehending. She didn’t want to comprehend, and God, I wished I didn’t have to live with the knowledge either. I wished it were a physical thing I could cut out of my skin. But it was just a memory—and memories lived forever.
I said nothing else as I stared at the plastic strip. As a tear fell down my cheek.
Said nothing, even when Shelly sucked in a breath.
She’d lived through her own daily hell. Maybe that was why she figured it out, when another teenaged girl might have taken my tears for regret. Or maybe she noticed too, how angry he’d become in the weeks and months before.
She hesitated. “Did he… did he force you?”
“No,” I lied, my voice hollow. “Of course not.”
Even on that night I knew I’d never tell anyone what had happened. Not Shelly. And definitely not the police. If they couldn’t protect Shelly from her own father, how could they protect me? They wouldn’t believe me. I’d take the words—the confession, the shame—and bury them deep. So deep no one could ever hear them. Not even me.
Shelly heard them, though. Her expression turned cold. “I’ll kill him.”
My heart clenched. I hated him for what he did. But I loved him as my friend, the one who’d hung out every afternoon and made me smile when my dad hadn’t been back in months. Most of all, I understood him—more than I wanted to.
I knew what went on at his house, even if he’d never actually told me. We were all broken, and we turned on each other with our fear and our fists. It was a cold way to live. A familiar one.
My hands curled into fists, grief and anger and anguish all at once. “He’s gone.”
Shelly shut her eyes, pain clear on her face. We both knew he’d skipped town suddenly.
I just hadn’t told her why.
I’d never wanted her to know. Never wanted anyone to know about the choking terror of that night. And now there was a permanent reminder, a living memory of the worst moments of my life. A baby. I forced myself to think the words. There was a baby inside me right now.
What was I going to do with a baby?
Drop out of school. Get a job. Buy diapers. A sob escaped me, dry and hard.
The bedroom door opened. It took both of us a second to register. No one else was here. No one else was ever here. For one brief second, I thought it was him. Maybe Andrew had come back. Maybe, despite the awfulness of what he’d done, he’d find a way to help.
And God, I needed help from somewhere.
It wasn’t Andrew. It was my father, back early from a long haul to California.
“You girls want some pizza?” His gaze narrowed on the white strip on the bed. “What the hell is that?”
I grabbed the pregnancy test and shoved it behind me. “Nothing.”
My father stepped forward, his weathered face dark, eyes filling with rage. “That better belong to your friend there. She looks the type to get knocked up.”
My jaw clenched. “Don’t talk about her like that.”
“Then it’s yours?” He stepped forward. In the small room, that brought him right next to me. In a flash he’d twisted my arm. With a cry, I dropped the test to the ground. “Is that what you been doing in this room every time I’m on the road?”
He picked up the pregnancy test and stared at it.
I begged him, but only in my mind. Try to understand. Support me. Please.
I need you to be my dad now.
“Get out,” he said, his voice low. “You want to spread your legs and get yourself knocked up? Get out of my house.”
I stood there, frozen. Even when he picked up my lamp and threw it to the wall.
It shattered and fell to the carpet in a thousand pieces.
Shelly grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the room—and out the front door. The white strip of plastic came flying out the door after us. It landed in the dirt at my feet. I looked up at the house, knowing it would be the last time I was ever here.
Maybe the old manufactured double-wide wasn’t much by some standards, but it was my home. And maybe my dad was gone more than he was here. But this had been my life. I hadn’t wanted it to end. Hadn’t been ready for it to be over. How was I going to live now?
I pressed a hand to my stomach. How was I going to support this baby?
I didn’t know the answers. The only thing I knew was that I’d figure it out alone. Or with Shelly. But I would never again trust a man. I’d never give him the chance to hurt me or throw me out.
2 months earlier.
There’s a certain sultry walk a woman has when she’s aroused that can’t be faked.
I’d perfected the art of come and get me clothes. A surprising number of men asked me out, even at a grungy club on a Saturday night. Cute little college girl, they thought, out for a good time. I saved us all time by dressing my part.
Tonight’s ensemble consisted of a tight halter and short skirt with cheap, high-heeled sandals, bouncing hair, and bloodred toenails. The scornful looks of the other women didn’t escape me, but I wasn’t so different from them. I wanted to be desired, held, touched.
My gaze panned to the man at the bar, the one I’d been watching all night. He nursed a beer, his profile harsh against the fluid backdrop of writhing bodies. His gray T-shirt hung loose on his abs but snug around thick arms, covering part of his tattoo.
Dark eyes tracked me the way mine tracked him.
His expression was unreadable, but I knew what he wanted. What else was there?
He was hot in a scary way, and that was perfect. Not that I was discerning.
There were plenty of men here, men whose blackened pasts matched my own.
A woman approached him. Something dark and decidedly feminine roiled up inside me.
She was gorgeous. If he wanted to score, he probably couldn’t do better, even with me.
I tried not to stare. She walked away a minute later—rejected. I felt unaccountably smug. Which was stupid, since I didn’t have him either. Maybe no one had a chance with this guy. I was pretty enough, in a girl-next-door kind of way. Common, though, underneath my facade —brown hair and brown eyes were standard issue around here.
I glanced up to see a cute guy wearing a sharp dress shirt checking me out. Probably an investment banker or something upstanding like that. Grinning and hopeful. Had I ever been that young? No, I was probably younger. At nineteen I had seen it all. The world had already crumbled around me and been rebuilt, brick by brick.
“Sorry, man,” I said. “Keep moving.”
“Aww, not even one dance?”
His puppy-dog eyes cajoled a smile from me. How nice it might feel to be one of the girls with nothing to worry about except whether this guy would call tomorrow morning. But I was too broken for his easy smile. I’d only end up hurting him.
“I am sorry,” I said, wistfulness seeping into my voice. “You’ll thank me later.”
Regret panged in my chest as the crowd sucked him back in, but I’d done the right thing. Even if he were only interested in a one-night hookup, I was too toxic for the likes of him.
I turned back to the guy at the bar. He caught my eye, looking—if possible—surlier. Cold and mean. Perfect. I wouldn’t taint him, and he could give me what I craved. Since Tall, Dark, and Stoic hadn’t deigned to make a move on me, I would do the pursuing. A surprising little twist for the night, but I could go with it.
I squeezed in beside him at the bar. Up close his size was impressive and a little intimidating, but that only strengthened my resolve. He could give me what I needed.
“Hey, tough guy,” I shouted over the din.
He looked up at me from his beer. I faltered a bit at the total lack of emotion in his face and fought an automatic instinct to retreat. His eyes were a deep brown, almost pretty, but remote and flat. Dark hair was cut short, bristly. His nose was prominent and slightly crooked, like it had been broken. Maybe more than once.
He looked mean, which was a good thing, but I was used to a little more effort. Even horrible jerks provided a fake smile or smarmy line for the sake of the pickup. There was a script to these things, but he wasn’t playing his part.
My club persona and beer from earlier lent me confidence. Whatever was bothering him—a bad day at the construction site or maybe a fight with the old lady—I didn’t care. He was here, so he needed this as much as I did.
I planted my elbow on the bar. “I saw you looking at me earlier.”
He raised an eyebrow. I shrugged. He was making me work for it, but I found myself more amused than annoyed.
“Buy me a drink?” I asked.
He considered me, then nodded and signaled the bartender.
The beat of the club reverberated as I took a sip. “So do you talk?”
His lips twitched. “Yeah, I talk.”
“Okay.” I leaned in close to hear him better. “What do you talk about?”
He ignored my question—or maybe answered it—by asking, “What are you doing here?” Almost like he was asking something deeper, but that had to be the alcohol talking.
“I’m trying to meet a man, that’s what I’m doing here.” I pulled off a breathy laugh I was pretty proud of.
He didn’t react, didn’t appear surprised or even interested, the bastard. He just looked at me. “Why?”
I decided on honesty. “Because I need it.”
He seemed to weigh the truth of my words, then nodded toward the exit. “All right, let’s go.” He got up and threw some cash on the bar.
His easy acceptance caught me off guard, just for a moment. But it shouldn’t have surprised me, because…well, because men always wanted women. That’s what I liked about them—they didn’t even bother trying to hide it. It was worse when I hadn’t seen it coming, when it had sneaked up on me— Now wasn’t the time to think of that. It was never the right time to think of that.
He tucked his hand under my elbow, guiding me. He used his body to maneuver us through the crowd, almost as a shield. The whole thing was so gentlemanly, given what we were about to do, that I wondered if he’d heard me right. Maybe he’d want to get coffee or something, and wouldn’t that be awkward all around?
But he was a man, and I was a woman—this could only end one way.
When we exited the club, I couldn’t help sucking in several deep breaths. Even the faint smell of street sewage was refreshing, washing the stench of smoke, alcohol, and countless perfumes from my lungs. I never liked the crowds. The press of bodies, the mingling smell of sweat, the small bumps from all around. Tiny violations that were somehow okay since everyone did it.
As my heart rate settled, he inspected me as if he could read me. He couldn’t. “What’s your name?” I asked to distract him.
“Nice to meet you, Allie. Your place or mine?”
I was comfortable again.
“We don’t need to go anywhere. Let’s get started right here.” I let a soft moan escape me and clasped myself to the brick wall named Colin.
He raised his eyebrows. “In the parking lot?”
“Or in my car. Whatever.”
“I’m not getting with you in a car. It’s forty degrees out.”
I was hardly in this for comfort. I’d done it in colder weather just this past winter. “I don’t mind.”
“Well, I do.”
“Fine.” I was willing to give him so much. Why couldn’t he take it the way I wanted? “Then we can go to the motel over there. You’re paying.”
He didn’t look happy. I wasn’t either, but I couldn’t budge on this. Going to an apartment might be the norm for hookups, but my hookups weren’t normal.
Going to their houses where they might do God knows what was out of the question. And I wasn’t about to bring one of these guys home.
“Not there,” he said. “I’ll pick the place.”
Download Galatea in your app store now and find out how Allie’s night ends up by reading Underground Kings in its entirety.
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