Home > Crux Untamed (Hades Hangmen #6)

Crux Untamed (Hades Hangmen #6)
Author: Tillie Cole





Seven years ago . . .


I ran down the hallway. I kept my face forward as I made my way to the bedroom door. My heart was beating so fast it stole my breath. I fumbled with the doorknob. Then, heavy footsteps began to echo down the hallway. My hands shook, fear taking me in its grip. But the doorknob finally turned.

I fled into the room, but before I could get to safety, a hand gripped my arm. Juan spun me around and slammed me against the wall. The breath was knocked out of me, my shoulder blades throbbing from the contact. Juan’s dark eyes pierced mine. He looked as perfect as always.

But he wasn’t perfect. The man I loved . . . had fallen for so quickly and deeply . . . wasn’t the man I thought he was.

He was . . . he was evil.

“Why did you push me, bella?” I froze, every muscle in my body tensing as Juan ran his finger down my face. My lips were shaking, my back flat against the wall.

“I’m . . . I’m sorry,” I whispered, my voice catching on my stuttered breath.

Juan smiled, then leaned in and pressed his lips to mine. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream, to tell him to get the hell away, but I was frozen in fear.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said, his head moving so his nose could run down the side of my neck. His hand held my waist. He still smelled as perfect as always. He still looked as handsome as he had the first day I met him. Everything about him had lured me in. And now I was trapped. A stupid girl tricked by the devil’s pretty smile.

“You’re my queen, bella.” He kissed my neck then cupped my face in his hands. His eyes studied mine—I didn’t know what for. I tried to smile. To prove that he could trust me . . . that he didn’t have to teach me any more lessons. I couldn’t take any more lessons.

But Juan’s hands tightened on my face, squeezing until my legs started to buckle. I tightened my lips, trying to cage in my cry of pain. I squeezed my eyes shut. “Open your eyes, bella,” Juan said, mouth against my ear. Ice-cold shards traveled down my spine. But I did as commanded.

“Good,” he said, smiling proudly. He loosened his grip, and I gasped with relief. “I chose you, bella. I chose you to stand by my side.” Nausea coursed through me when he said, “Your life could have been so different if I hadn’t seen something special within you. Do you know that?”

“Yes,” I replied. And I knew he was right. What I had seen . . . what he did to them . . . I knew it could have been so fucking different for me.

Juan kissed me again, soft and sweet, a complete contrast to the threat he had just laid at my feet. “I can’t keep away from you, bella.” He kissed my forehead. “You’re mine, rosa negra. And I’m never letting you go . . .”



Chapter One



High Ranch, Austin, Texas

Present Day


“Steady . . . steady . . .”

Sandy’s ears flicked back and forth as she heard me soothe her from my place in the center of the ring. I kept my newest mare’s training rein loose as she trotted on the sand. Her coat was lathered with sweat; so was my forehead. The sun was burning a hole in my jean-clad ass.

“Okay, enough for today,” I announced, both to Sandy and myself.

I had just fed her with hay and water and locked her stall door when I heard the all too familiar sound of motorcycles roaring in the distance.

Frowning, I headed out of the barn. I walked to the front of my house and spotted two Harleys as they approached my door.

Styx and Ky, I realized, giving them a surprised wave.

They didn’t wave back.

I perched on the top step of my porch as they pulled to a stop and flicked out their kickstands. Ky smoothed back his long hair and strode toward me. I got to my feet. “What y’all doing here?”

I hugged Ky. He held on a little too long. It was weird. I pulled back, curious, only for him to look out to the distance, checking around my ranch. I was about to ask him what was up when Styx came toward me and gave me a brief one-armed hug.

“Hey, Styx. How’re Mae and Bump?” A flicker of a smile graced Styx’s lips.

“Good,” he signed, but my attention snapped back to Ky when my brother said, “Get inside, sis. We need to talk.”

He grabbed my elbow and guided me forcefully up the porch steps. “Hey!” I said. He pulled harder, not releasing my arm. “Hey! Dickhead!” I wrenched my arm back. I turned on my heel to meet my brother’s moody-ass face. “What the hell are you doing?”

“For once in your fucking life, will you just do as I say, Sia?” Ky said, exasperated. His face was red . . . in fact, so were his eyes.

I crossed my arms across my chest. “What’s wrong? Why are your eyes all bloodshot? Why do you look like shit?” I shook my head. “And more to the point, why are you handling me like a damn child?”

Ky sighed. His eyes closed, and he opened his mouth to speak. But then he didn’t . . .

Styx cleared his throat. “Been a stressful time lately.”

“Why?” I asked, immediately panicked. “Is Lilah okay? Grace?” I quickly checked my brother over for wounds, or . . . hell, I didn’t know what else. What the hell trouble bikers could get into. “Are you okay?”

My heart started pounding, some weird sense of dread seeping through my body like a poison. Ky opened his eyes and nodded. “Everyone’s fine.” But I could see through his pretense. I was just about to call bullshit when Ky blurted, “Garcia’s back.”

I was sure the warm wind was blowing, because I saw strands of my blond hair floating in front of my eyes, but I didn’t feel it. Ky’s mouth was working, saying something I was meant to hear, yet to my ears, he made no sound. I was lost to the memory of heavy footsteps on creaking floorboards as they approached my room. Memories of screams and barked orders scourged my mind . . . and his touch, his fingers running down my back, his lips nipping at my ear as he caressed my burned flesh. As—

“Sia!” Ky was holding my arms, shaking me from my stupor. I blinked, but a suffocating lump clogged my throat. I blinked fast to rid the flood of tears from my eyes. “Sia,” he repeated, softer this time. I stared at my brother, wordlessly. “Get inside.”

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