Release Date: November 19, 2018
Cover Design: Amy Q / Q Designs
One unfortunate decision had bought me a life sentence, serving time alongside the gang I’d worked years to avoid. My affiliation with Union 21 had wreaked havoc all around me.
Then came Diamond.
In a world filled with neon-pink lights, glitter, and rhinestones, she was a flawless gem. While she didn’t realize her worth, I recognized her value—priceless.
I’d stop at nothing to have her, even if that meant going against the most powerful drug lord around.
Friends come and go, but Diamond is forever.
Fury was easier to manage than fear, and that was the emotion I’d clung to while I took off my clothes for the likes of a bunch of losers who thought running the streets was more productive than lucrative jobs. I’d do what I had to in order to keep my mom safe, even if it meant sacrificing my dignity to people who didn’t matter. They couldn’t touch me on the stage, so that was where I’d stayed. And as soon as I’d finished, I hadn’t bothered to get dressed.
While I waited for Sam on the corner, I pulled the zipper on my corset, securing my breasts back in a cage one size too small. The wind picked up, and my hair whipped with the breeze. It dawned on me that to any passerby, I appeared to be working the street. The last thing I needed was to get propositioned for sex. I dug a pair of black shorts from my bag, slipped them over my stockings, and slid my arms through my black, leather jacket. It wasn’t much, but at least I wouldn’t be arrested if a cop came by before my ride showed.
The back door to Club Swank slammed against the brick building, startling me. My heart raced from the sudden adrenaline rush, but it didn’t settle, even after I saw who’d caused the commotion. I’d never seen him, even though I was familiar with all his friends, which meant he was U21 just like the rest of the deadbeats inside. Although, there was something different that I couldn’t put my finger on. I’d noticed him before I went on, and he hadn’t interacted with the other girls. He hadn’t put a single dollar in anyone’s lingerie. He hadn’t so much as paid the least bit of attention to anyone other than Chase Silvano. Everything about him screamed Union member. Aside from his face, ink covered every inch of visible flesh—stunning ink, but ink all the same. The huge gauges in his ears would normally turn me off, yet somehow, they suited him. And who the hell thought a nose ring could make a man look so broody. Every nuance hardened him. Add to it the T-shirt that hugged his biceps and caressed his pecs, the jeans I imagined that hung in the perfect spot to highlight the V God gave well-built men, the flat-studded belt, and black Doc Martens, and he was sin amped up on testosterone.
And then my eyes met his.
He didn’t see through me; he saw me. His dark eyes clung to mine like he could read my secrets. But instead of extorting them the way U21 was famous for, it was as if he tried to cloak them from across the room. Shield me from exposure. Protect me from the thugs. He hadn’t moved then, and he didn’t move now. The man held my stare across the parking lot, and then Sam pulled up in the same black Lexus he’d dropped me off in. Only this time, the back door to the sedan opened, and my mother sat inside.
The right side of her face was puffy and tinted an irritated shade of pink. Dried blood clung to her nostril. She’d pissed off someone, and while I couldn’t be certain of exactly who, even I could hit an elephant with a dart on that guess. I didn’t bother to look back when I slid in next to my mom. Sam didn’t wait for me to pull the door closed, either. He took off, and the gravitational pull of the sharp left turn shut it on its own.
“Ma, what happened to your face?”
Sam’s eyes flicked to the rearview mirror and dared my mother to answer honestly.
She waved me off. “You know me. I’m just clumsy. I’m fine.” Clearly, she wasn’t. Studying her face, her nose leaned slightly left where it had always been straight. She’d been hit…hard.
I hated seeing her like this, but she had known what she was getting into when she decided slinging dope would be more profitable than her job at the call center. And just like every other woman on U21’s payroll, she’d fallen victim to the pull of her product. It began with a line here and there to keep up with the late-night hours, then she skimmed off customers without their knowledge, and when she started turning up short with Sam, trouble began. And that left us in our current predicament.
One of Five ARC’s for Dear Diamond
About the Author
Bestselling author, Stephie Walls is a lover of words–the more poetic the better. She lives on the outskirts of Greenville, South Carolina in her own veritable zoo with two dogs, three cats, and Magoo (in no preferential order). She would thrive on coffee, books, and Charlie Hunnam if it were possible, but since it’s not, add in some Chinese food or sushi and she’s one happy girl.
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