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Stay With Me – Book 2: Secrets


Kyra and Stephano’s romance gets hotter by the day! But will their love survive?

In this steamy new adult romance, they struggle to unravel the evil plot which threatens to destroy them. Stephano reacts to the impending threat, determined to protect her. Kyra has issues with trust, and has learned not to count on love. Yet she must share her secrets to protect the man she loves.

“Kyra raked her fingers through Stephano’s hair and deepened the kiss. Sharing her secrets, and baring her soul, acted as foreplay. She had nothing to hide from Stephano, least of all her consuming desire for him. There was no way to hold back. And no reason to.”

Stephano has secrets too!

“Kyra had been so angry at the idea Stephano was hiding something from her. But she was preconditioned to expect disappointment, and had little experience with a normal relationship. When Stephano had arrived with dozens of red roses, she had nearly fallen into his arms right then. But Kyra couldn’t allow that. More than once she had been foolish, and trusted when she shouldn’t have. This time she vowed to hold firm.”

The bond between them deepens as Kyra learns more about the sexy man she has fallen for. Will the truth strengthen their romance or rip them apart?

 

Reviews


Absolutely LOVE Emily Jane Trent. In this new series it focuses on Stephano and Kyra. Their lust for each other is intense and I mean INTENSE. Stephano and Kyra have feeling for each other but both are hesitant to explore it because Kyra is afraid of her past and falling in love while in my opinion Stephano just doesn’t know what he want. Both want each other but both are just taking things slow. Even though it is going slow, it doesn’t mean their exploits aren’t intense. Kelsey Kama R.

The hotness, suspense and attraction was magnified in this installment. The instant chemistry that was in the first book continued. Things were made worse by the threat of a abusive ex. Stephano is determined to make sure that no harm comes to her. They’re are getting closer both physically and emotionally telling each other things they never told anyone. There is so much depth to Stephano than I’ve read in the first one. He’s much more laid back but much fiercer than his older brother. Of course the cliffhanger could be disastrous if Kyra makes the decision to betray Stephano or have faith that he will protect her and make sure that every threat will be squashed. Claudia T.

Excerpt


Stay With Me

Book 2: Secrets

Chapter 1

 

Stephano didn’t want to let Kyra go. If he kept his arms around her, then maybe all of this would go away. No harm would come to her, and the threat would have no force against her. It’s just that he didn’t know exactly what that threat was.

It had something to do with the guy that Kyra had dated years before. Troy Bauer, the abuser who had returned to cause trouble. Although Stephano wasn’t sure why he would bother her now. There had to be a reason, but he was at a loss right then.

With Kyra in his arms, Stephano searched for answers he didn’t have. And he wasn’t sure that Kyra did either. But at least she knew more than he did. It was important for her to enlighten him, so he could take action. Right now, both of them were Troy’s victims. And Stephano despised being in that position.

Staying in the empty parking lot wasn’t smart. Hanging around the castle wasn’t good either, since that location was known. Not that he figured Troy would try to harm her while he was around. Stephano knew something about abusers, enough to know that they preferred to have a woman alone. It was the cowardly way.

Stephano needed to get Kyra back to the villa, behind a locked door. Even though he could protect her, if it came to that, it was best to get her away from this scene. Then they could talk, and he could find out what exactly was going on.

“We need to get out of here,” Stephano said.

Kyra clung a moment longer, then reluctantly released her grip on him. She nodded and wiped a tear from her cheek. Seeing her upset enraged Stephano. No former boyfriend, especially one that had mistreated her, had a right to terrorize her.

He could see in her eyes that Kyra was very afraid. Whatever that guy did to her had left a lasting impression, judging by her response to his reappearance. Stephano turned on the engine and started down the hill. The castle disappeared in his rearview mirror, but the impact of the incident on Kyra did not.

Glancing over at Kyra, he could see her fear. How she clutched the envelope and bit her lip were both signals. Her lovely blue eyes just minutes before had been alight with joy at touring the medieval castle. Now they were downcast.

The shock of finding the envelope on the windshield had sucked the life right out of her. The darkness of Kyra’s past had swamped her, and from the looks of it, she couldn’t see beyond it. Whatever had her in its grip was pretty bad.

Yet he had no intention of allowing Kyra to deal with it by herself. Stephano would handle whatever was needed to free her of this oppression. It annoyed him that the happiness they shared on Christmas day was obliterated, for no good reason he was aware of.

Kyra looked down at her lap, staring at the envelope. She didn’t move or speak, and that worried him. Stephano reached over to squeeze her arm, but got no response. It was as though she was lost to him.

Something had happened in Germany, years before. Stephano had made a mistake bringing her back to the country. He shouldn’t have listened when she said it would be fine. Alarms should have gone off when he observed her fear of the place.

But no. He had to bring her skiing, which now seemed unimportant. Only Kyra mattered. And he had let her down by putting her in harm’s way. Stephano intended to fix that error, and take her away from all of this as soon as he could.

Yet he was determined to know the full details. Without that, Stephano worked at a disadvantage. He didn’t know if he was dealing with emotion only, or a tangible force that would move against them. A few days ago, Kyra had said that he didn’t know Troy like she did.

That was true. But that would change. Stephano would get to know everything about the man that he needed to. Whatever it took to back him off and get him out of Kyra’s life. Troy had messed with the wrong guy. If he thought he could bully a defenseless woman, he was going to find out otherwise.

The sloped roof of Villa Elben came into view. It had begun to snow, and drifts were sifting over the trees and lawn. Stephano parked and went around the car to assist Kyra. She got out, moving slowly, with a faraway look in her eyes.

It hurt Stephano to see her that way, and he hurried to get inside to take care of Kyra. Once the door shut, he slid the deadbolt in place. After dropping his coat on a nearby chair, he turned up the heat and went to get hot drinks. It was below freezing outside, and it would take a bit for the suite to warm up.

From the kitchen, he could hear the click of Kyra’s boots on the tile. At least her pacing meant she was moving, alleviating his concern about her completely withdrawing from him. With a mug of tea in each hand, Stephano returned to the main room.

Kyra had slipped off her boots, and was curled into a ball on the sofa. She held the tiny gold necklace in one hand and stared into space. Stephano placed the tea in front of her and sat on the other end of the sofa.

“Drink some tea,” he said. “You need to warm up.”

She didn’t answer. Instead Kyra closed her eyes and remained still. He wondered if she had fallen asleep. Stephano sipped his tea and watched her. They were secure in the room, so nothing was going to happen then. For now they were safe.

Kyra had time. Once she recovered from the shock, Stephano would encourage her to enlighten him on her history with Troy. Clearly, the former boyfriend was harassing her. It was still possible the painting that had appeared on the wall of the Italian restaurant was coincidence.

Although he doubted it. But there was no explanation for the necklace being left for Kyra to find, other than the obvious one. It was Troy’s attempt to intimidate her. To remind her of when she was with him, and reignite her fear of him.

That it had worked so well was disheartening. Stephano put his hand on Kyra’s hip, letting her know he was there. The only sound in the room was the fan laboring to heat the room. Christmas day had edged toward dusk, and the snow continued to fall.

Looking out the window, Stephano could see the trees blowing and white piling up on the branches. It was a stormy night, but fortunately there was no reason to leave the room. Even snowed in, food would be available in the restaurant downstairs.

His stomach rumbled, but Stephano ignored it. Whether he could persuade Kyra to join him for dinner, he didn’t know. He felt the warmth of her body, and watched her chest move with her steady breathing. Her skin was pale, and her perfect lips were still.

So many times, Stephano had kissed those lips and touched her soft cheek. Then Kyra had been happy, and felt the joy they shared. He wondered if she would again, and hoped he had the power to cure her. If only she knew how much he cared, it would have to make a difference.

As though hearing his thoughts, Kyra opened her eyes. At first she looked straight ahead, as if remembering where she was. Then she pushed her body upright and sat on the sofa. She fingered the necklace, lost in thought.

Kyra finally spoke, her voice barely audible. “I’m afraid, Stephano.”

He slid closer and put his arm around her. “I know, baby. I’m here. Troy won’t get by me.”

Kyra looked up at him, but didn’t seem reassured. “He wants me to know he’s found me,” she said. “Troy won’t be satisfied until I cower to him.”

“That won’t happen,” Stephano said. “This is one game Troy can’t win.”

She stood and walked to the window. Stephano watched her. Kyra’s long hair was disheveled by the wind, but she looked as lovely as ever to him. Her slender figure, outlined under the sweater and jeans, was lovely.

But she looked unusually frail. Stephano imagined some brute attacking her, and gritted his teeth. It wouldn’t happen again. He swore it wouldn’t. Kyra rubbed the back of her neck and sighed. Then she turned to face him.

“Brook gave me this necklace when I graduated from high school,” she said. “My parents just got me a card, and even that was an effort for them.”

Stephano leaned forward and propped his elbows on his knees. “You weren’t close to your parents, even when you were young?”

She shook her head. “Not really. But I still tried. I wanted my parents’ approval, and couldn’t understand my father’s indifference. Or my mother’s need to change me, to make me into someone I’m not.”

Stephano watched her, trying to understand parents like that. Or how anyone could be blind to how special Kyra was. “That’s very unfortunate. Your parents lost out as much as you did.”

Kyra looked at the necklace draped over her hand. “This necklace meant a lot to me. I’ve always been close to my sister. And when she gave this to me, I cried.” She fingered a small locket at the end of the chain, then opened it. “Inside is a picture of us together. I used to look at this sometimes when I felt alone. It made me feel close to my sister.”

Stephano wanted to block out the world and tell her not to be afraid. She looked beautiful yet delicate. And desperately in need of some support. That he was willing to offer it was not in question. Whether she would accept it was another.

She closed the locket and came back to the sofa. Kyra sat on the end and leaned against the arm to look at him. “I wore this necklace every day. I had it on that last time I was with Troy.” Her expression clouded.

“What happened?”

Kyra grimaced. “I was alone with him in Stuttgart, my first time in Germany. And it was supposed to be a vacation for us. He has family there.” She paused. “It was a nightmare. He had hurt me before…but I forgave him.” She looked into his eyes. “I believed he didn’t mean it. That he did care about me.”

Stephano slid closer and took her hand.

Tears filled Kyra’s eyes. “The memory of what happened will be with me always. I can still see him so angry. Troy’s face was red, and the muscles in his arms bunched just before he hit me.” She wiped the tears with the back of her hand.

Stephano’s muscles tensed, but he continued to listen.

“I talked back to him, and refused to obey. That infuriated him,” she said. “I knew it would, but I did it anyway. It was like I couldn’t help it.”

Kyra didn’t respond when he squeezed her hand for support. She looked into the distance, as if reliving that moment so many years before. “It was horrible. Troy was strong. He’s muscled and I was afraid of him…although I don’t know if I had really admitted that before then.”

She looked down at her lap. “I shouldn’t have let him push me around, but I did. Troy exploded. He went crazy. And he hit me…hard. I thought he had broken my shoulder. The force knocked me across the room.”

Stephano’s jaw stiffened. Only with great effort did he keep silent.

Kyra looked over, trembling. “I couldn’t stop him, Stephano. I tried to get away. I can hardly recall what I screamed at him.” She took a breath. “Whatever it was made him come after me again. He grabbed my hair, catching my necklace along with it. When he yanked, it dragged me off my feet. I was crying.”

He held Kyra’s hand between his, wishing Troy was there so he could tear him apart limb from limb.

“I was so upset,” she said. “I didn’t know I’d lost the necklace. It was dark, I remember. And Troy overpowered me. He’d been drinking, and I was suffocating from the smell of alcohol on his breath.”

“How did you get away?”

“It’s all sort of a blur,” Kyra said. “After knocking me around, Troy grabbed me and ripped my clothes off. He had his way with me, and I was horrified. We’d had sex before, but not like that. I couldn’t fight him off.”

“Jesus, Kyra.”

She shook her head. “Anyway, he’d had a lot to drink. And when Troy passed out, I was able to slip away. I was very quiet. My heart was pounding the whole time. I’ll never forget how scared I was. I thought if Troy woke up, he might kill me. Especially if he realized I was leaving.”

“So you got out of the room?” Stephano said.

“I was careful in the dark. I only took what was easy to grab. And my purse.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes with the necklace still in her hand. “I couldn’t go to the airport because I knew he would follow me. So I walked several blocks and got a taxi.”

“So where did you go?”

“I didn’t think he could follow me, since I hadn’t used the taxi drivers at the hotel where we were staying. If he asked, no one would know anything,” she said. “And I went out a side door so the bellhop wouldn’t see me.

Kyra set the necklace down on the table. “I took a taxi to the airport in Basel and got the first departing flight. I’m sure Troy was out for a while. And when he noticed I was gone, he probably checked with hotel staff. Even if he thought of other ways I could get out of the country, it was too late.”

“Thank God you escaped,” Stephano said.

“I nearly didn’t,” she said. “And I was terrified he would catch me before I got home. The fact that I’d left him was too big an insult. Troy would have retaliated.”

“Did he follow you?”

Kyra’s lips thinned into a bit of a smile, but no joy showed in her eyes. “Well, his arrogance was his undoing,” she said. “He didn’t know how I’d left Germany. But he figured I’d go home, and when he got there I’d be waiting.”

“He really thought you’d see him again?” Stephano said.

“I know it’s hard to believe,” she said. “Yet Troy really thought he was God’s gift, you know. It was unimaginable that I would leave him. Plus, he would force me to stay if he had to.”

Stephano raised his brows. “So he was in no hurry to get back, thinking he would take care of you…whenever?”

“Exactly.” Kyra seemed to lighten up. “And that worked in my favor. I told my parents what happened, and showed them my bruised shoulder. There were scratches on my face and bruises on my legs. They had no choice but to listen to me.”

“And did they do anything about it?” Stephano said.

“I didn’t wait to find out. But my sister told me Troy was furious when he returned to California and discovered I was gone. I took my money from savings, and the next morning I vanished. My parents had not believed me before, and I dreaded Troy returning. I knew he would tell his side of the story and make it all look like my fault.” Kyra looked directly at him and lifted her chin. “I left and didn’t look back.”