Two sisters. One unsolved murder. A sickening plot for revenge.
When Mackenzie Wright attends her first real high school party, held somewhere deep in the woods of her small California town, no one expects to wake up the next morning to news of a gruesome murder. Especially not her own sister’s.
Just one unsolved murder and whatever’s left of the now deserted town.
Mackenzie has spent years with her sister’s death weighing heavily on her shoulders, but it isn’t until she stumbles across a photograph that changes everything for her. The memories, everything from that night, come flashing back in high-speed technicolor and Mackenzie soon finds herself obsessed with the truth.
Determined to find out what really happened to her sister, Mackenzie relies on that one photograph to give her the answers she needs by embedding herself into the lives of five of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles. Consumed by her need for revenge, Mackenzie infiltrates the world of the rich and elite, only to come face-to-face with an alluring complication in the form an elusive playboy.
When enemy lines are drawn, Mackenzie has to choose between her loyalty to her sister and the man who has stolen her heart.
I don't know how to review this without spoilers. And it's all a spoiler, really.
There were parts of it that seemed a little long, but also were necessary (I think) for where the book seems to be going. But, as it's a duet, it's hard to say for certain.
I enjoyed it overall. I'm curious to see what happens. I'm reluctant to say anything about the hero, as it's not certain he is one (although I think he is) and it's definitely not mentioned in the blurb.
So, I enjoyed this book. I want to know what happens next, and I am curious to read the conclusion.
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I don’t know how much time passes, but it’s long enough that it dawns on me Winnie is still gone. She’s no longer in the spot she was when she left to go mingle. She’s nowhere to be found actually. My stomach sloshes as I sway when I climb to my feet. I realize I may have consumed way too much beer. I’ve obviously overestimated myself and my drinking abilities. My legs feel weird, and I’m pretty sure if I bit my tongue off right now, I wouldn’t even feel it. Everything feels blissfully numb. In my drunken state, it takes me a while to process the loud voices being directed at me. “Hey, you! Get over here!” When I pick my gaze up, hazy vision and all, my eyes settle on the group of hulking guys standing not too far away from me, and it’s then I realize the rowdy group is talking to me. My brows pull down, or at least I think they do, and I look over my shoulder, trying to see if these jocks can be talking to anyone else, but, sure enough, I’m the only one here. One of them barks out a laugh at my actions. “Yes, I’m talking to you. Get over here!” The voice is deep. A guy’s voice. When I find the source, my stomach clenches because I recognize who the voice belongs to. Trent Ainsworth. All-around asshole, hot jock, and one of the five Savages of Humboldt County. Yeah, that’s right. I said Savages. Honestly, I think they’re more in line with devils. Because that’s exactly what these assholes are in our small town. Each of their ancestors is a founding family. They’re like great white sharks, swimming amongst a sea of us trout. Or are we sardines? Jesus. I can’t even think straight anymore. Trent’s bastard, jock rich friends call themselves the Savages. Town royalty. Amongst other ridiculous nicknames. Why? No one really knows. They’re like a rabid pack of wolves—the strongest of their pack. They stick together, though it remains unknown who, out of the five of them, is the alpha. Over the years, I’ve watched them from afar. I’ve heard the rumors, and even though they can be just that, rumors; part of me never truly believed it. They were constantly up to no good. If there was a brawl at school or at a party, everyone already knew who was behind it. If there was a commotion in town late at night, the rest of the people in Ferndale knew to stay indoors. If they destructed town property, the sheriff and the rest of the police were never anywhere to be found. If there was a girl in town who swore one of the five had hurt her, nothing would happen. Every single one of them walked around like they didn’t have a single care in the world—and I guess in a way, they didn’t. They were rich as sin, and had mommy and daddy’s money to get them out of any kind of serious trouble. It was obvious I didn’t know much about them. We didn’t hang in the same circles and certainly, they didn’t even know of my existence. But what I do know is, they’re trouble, wrapped in beautiful packaging. Want to know how I know they’re trouble? Madison has been trying to get on their radar for years. One night. She just wants one night with any of the relentless Savages who run this town, but I guess none of them have shown any interest in her yet. They’re selective assholes who think they’re more powerful than God. I’m not sure what that says about them—the devils—for turning her down the way they have. I swallow the sudden lump in my throat and force my legs to walk over to them without any drunken mishaps. Of course, that’s too much to ask for. The tip of my beat-up, white Converse snags on air, I guess, and my body hurtles forward. Dizzying colors blur before my eyes—a blend of angry orange, vivid green, and hazy brown. I see the ground coming toward me, but I can’t seem to stop it from happening. Suddenly, strong, warm arms wrap around me, and I’m no longer falling. “Whoa.” The voice chuckles. “Take it easy. You all right, sweetheart?” I look up, my vision splitting on the figure holding me. There’s two of him standing before me and I can’t seem to focus my gaze, no matter how hard I try. Trent Ainsworth is gorgeous in his own right, but up close and personal, he’s a living god. His face breaks out into a grin as he stares down at me and brushes a stray hair off my round face. His finger grazes my freckled cheek, and my heart lurches in my throat. Holy crap. “What’s a beautiful girl like you doing out here alone?” His pretty eyes search my face for answers. Beautiful? Did he really call me beautiful? Blushing under the weight of his gaze, I fumble with my words. “I-I’m not … b-beautiful … you’re not … this isn’t … a-alone …” When Trent chuckles, I’m distracted by the bobbing of his Adam’s apple, but he helps me stand straight, and I notice his hand lingers on my wrist. He’s something larger than life, with the way his whole hand engulfs my arm. I hear his friends, the rest of the hellish crew, laughing behind him, probably at me, but I don’t care. He thinks I’m beautiful? He noticed me? How did this gorgeous guy notice me before my sister? It’s almost too good to be true. Trent glances over his shoulder, and his buddies laugh some more before he turns back toward me. “Want to get away from these assholes and talk?” he offers. I dart my gaze over his shoulder and realize I’m nodding as I stare at his formidable friends. “C’mon,” he says. Wrapping his hand firmly around my wrist, he leads me away from the fire and deeper into the woods. A voice in my head screams not to follow him, but I do. This is the one thing I can have that Madison hasn’t had. Trent Ainsworth. He noticed me. He wants to talk to me. Alone. Me. Trent surprises me by stopping just before the entrance into the woods, so we still have a clear view of his friends and the rest of the party. “Finally,” he breathes, resting his back up against the trunk of one of the many redwoods here. “It feels good to get a little peace and quiet. I was getting tired of pretending to have fun.” His words make me smile. My lips itch to spread across my face, showcasing my braces, but I fight it, opting for a closed-lip smile instead. He was pretending, too? “So who did you come here with?” he asks. I realize he’s trying to have a conversation with me. I clear my throat, moving my foot through the dirt anxiously. “My friend Winnie dragged me here. This is the first party I’ve ever been to, and honestly, I’m not all that impressed.” Trent laughs. It’s deep and husky and so freaking hot. “Ouch. You realize the guys and I put this together?” My cheeks heat in embarrassment. Crap.“I’m sorry,” I say, cringing. He chuckles again. “Don’t apologize. You’re being honest, and I like that. Not many girls are honest nowadays.” His eyes roam my face, and my heart continues its quest to burst out of my chest. His gaze drops down to the cup I realize I still have clutched in my hand. “First time drinking?” “How can you tell?” I tease, my lips twisting with amusement. He shrugs. “You have this pretty flush on your skin. It looks cute.” I dart my gaze down to my feet, trying like hell to hide how happy his comment makes me. “Hey,” he says. His hand lightly touches my chin, forcing my gaze back to his. Before my eyes settle on his, I take in the tattoo on his inner forearm—the one he and all his friends have. It’s a skeleton key with an actual skull outlined and an eye with a triangle around it that rests on the skull’s forehead. It’s kind of creepy. “Don’t hide from me, Mackenzie. You’re absolutely gorgeous.” My breath catches as I stare into his eyes and watch as they fill with heat. So much heat, I feel something stirring in my stomach. The sensation is one I’m not familiar with. Wait—he knows my name? I don’t have the guts to ask how he knows my name. He’s one of the elite. I’m sure they know everything about everyone here in Ferndale. “Thank you,” I breathe out in a rush of air. Trent glances toward the bonfire, and I try to follow his gaze, but his next words have my heart seizing in my chest. “Can I kiss you, Mackenzie?” His hands are already on my face, pulling my mouth toward his, and his body is already leaning closer. My nipples pebble against the material of my bra. It’s such a foreign sensation, one I’ve never experienced before, yet I find it titillating all the same. I say yes before I can think better of it. His lips graze mine lightly at first. I’m so flustered and buzzed, I let out an embarrassing moan into his mouth when he deepens the kiss. I taste him—a mixture of beer and gum. I feel his hands gliding along my overheated skin, and I can smell the burning logs from the bonfire. I can vaguely make out the sound of hollering laughter, but I can’t tell where it’s coming from, and the truth is, I don’t even care. His hands find their place along my hips and slide down my thick thighs, toying with the material of my sweater dress. When his fingers make contact with the skin of my inner thigh, I slip my arms around his neck, and I kiss him. Hard. This is my first kiss, and if this is how all first kisses go, I will never complain another day in my life. This doesn’t even seem real. It’s too perfect, too intimate, too much like a dream. I don’t ever want— “What the fuck is going on?” I jolt away from Trent at the sound of her voice. I’d know it anywhere. Hell, it haunts me in my dreams. And when I get up every morning. Slowly, I turn on my heel and face my sister, who looks completely unhinged. I’ve never ever seen her look this angry. And sadly, all that anger is directed at me. “What in the actual fuck do you think you’re doing, Mackenzie?” I open my mouth to say something, but before I can get words out, Trent steps closer behind me, resting his hand on my hip. “Leave us alone. We’re in the middle of something.” Madison doesn’t acknowledge Trent. Instead, she continues to glare daggers at me. Her anger is written all over her, and I can read every thought that crosses her mind. How dare you. He should be mine. He’s supposed to be mine—they all are. “God, what did you do, promise him a fucking blow job to get him over here with you? You’re disgusting, Kenz,” Madison spits. “And you …” She focuses her wrath on Trent now. “If you go any further with her, you’re going to regret it come tomorrow morning when you realize just how low you stooped while drunk. I think those shots have you mistaking one sister for the other. Come near her again, and I’ll hurt you, Ainsworth.” My throat constricts at her words, and tears burn my eyes. How can she be so mean? So vile? We’re sisters, not enemies. Is it really so bad that Trent would want to kiss me instead of her? There are four other friends she can have. Why can’t she let me just have this one thing? Madison is the queen at everything she does. She has everything, while I’m always shoved in the corner, forgotten about in the shadows. “Screw you, Mads,” I choke out, fighting back embarrassing tears. She laughs at me and crosses her arms over her ample chest. “If you don’t go home with me right now, I’ll tell Dad what a little slut you’ve been tonight. How do you think he’ll react when he finds out I caught you having sex?” I blanch. “What? But I—” “Who do you think he’ll believe?” She’s right. He’ll believe her. It’s always her. Blowing out a sad sigh, I turn toward Trent just as he bends down, his lips grazing my ear. “My friends and I will be here all night. Sneak out and meet me at the kissing rock once you can get out, okay?” I back away and look up at him. I’ve never snuck out before. The thought has never even crossed my mind, but I know tonight will be my first. “Okay.” I smile secretively before I turn on my heel and follow my sister. The whole way back to her car, she’s mumbling angrily under her breath. In my drunken state, I should be worried about her driving, but we don’t live far. Our house is only a few blocks away. “Ugh!” She brusquely growls. “I can’t believe you would stoop this low and do this to me.” “Me?” I damn near screech. “Why is it so hard for you to get along with me, Madison?” I yell. “Why is everything always about you? You have everything already. Why can’t I have this one thing? He noticed me. Maybe he actually even likes me. Why can’t you just let me have this? Why do you have to ruin this for me, too?” “Newsflash, Mackenzie, he doesn’t like you. He isn’t interested in you. He wants me. He’s just using you to get to me.” I laugh darkly. It’s such an odd, foreign sound as it bursts past my lips. “Bullshit. You wouldn’t be so angry if that was true. You hate that he chose me over you. You can’t believe he wants to meet me at the kissing rock tonight and not you!” She stops walking and turns to me with fire in her eyes. “He told you to meet him at the kissing rock tonight?” I nod smugly. “He did.” Her lips curl into a sneer. “Get in the car. We’re going home.” The drive home is silent and awkward. When Madison parks in the driveway, the look she shoots my way makes me want to cry like a frightened little girl. That’s the power of Madison’s glare. She has the capacity to eviscerate and kill with a single glance. “You’re going to go inside and be the good girl everyone knows you are. This isn’t you, Mackenzie. Stop trying to be like me.” “I’m not trying to be you,” I mumble. “Oh, yeah? Trying to take Trent from me says otherwise. Just get inside before I make the next year of your life a living hell.” “Where are you going?” I ask as I push the door open. “To meet Trent at the kissing rock, of course.” My stomach bottoms out, and my heart shatters. “But …” She smirks in satisfaction. “We all know I’m the hotter sister everyone wants—might as well give Trent a night he’ll never forget.” “But he said me. He wanted me. He won’t sleep with you after tonight. I just know he won’t.” Madison laughs. “He’s drunk, Mackenzie. He doesn’t care about you, or who shows up at the rock. He just wants to fuck, and we all know you can’t do that. Now shut my door.” With tears swimming in my eyes, I do as she says and shut the door. When I walk into the house, I know my parents are sleeping because all the lights are off. I climb up the stairs and head straight to the shower. The tears fall in hot streams, and I cry freely without fear my sister will hear and use it against me somehow. It’s unfair. Why is it always her? She gets everything while I get nothing. I’m always the afterthought. The loser. The nobody. I don’t know why I thought tonight would be any different. I climb into bed, inflamed ankles and all, and sob into my pillow until I drift off to sleep. When I wake up the next morning, it’s to a shrill scream coming from the kitchen. I run downstairs, and my feet slow on the final steps when I see two police officers, and in the kitchen near the front door, my mom is on her knees with tears streaming down her face. Sheriff Keller stands in front of her with an expression that makes my stomach sour. “We’re sorry, Monica.” His next words have my stomach hollowing out and the blood draining from my face. Body’s been identified. Found at kissing rock. Homicide investigation. I shake my head, trying to make sense of what he’s saying. It can’t be. There’s no way. “We’re looking into all possible leads on what could’ve happened to your daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Wright. Her body showed signs of trauma as well as …” he clears his throat, “as well as signs of assault.” “What does that mean?” my father asks, voice hoarse. Keller sighs. “Michael … it means she was raped.” “My baby!” my mom screams, and the sound of it rains nails down my back. I sway violently on my feet and clutch the banister rail for support as realization sets in. My sister was murdered. Her body was found at the kissing rock. The very last place I was supposed to meet Trent and his friends last night. Madison wasn’t supposed to be found dead at that rock this morning. It was supposed to be me.
About S.M. Soto
S.M. Soto was born and raised in Northern, California where she currently resides with her son. Her love for reading began when she was a young girl, and has only continued to grow into adulthood. S.M. lives for reading books in the romance genre and writing novels with relatable characters. She refers to herself as a bit of a romance junkie. S.M. loves to connect with readers and eat copious of donuts that will surely lead to her demise.
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