Exclusive Excerpt: Damien - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

I am Damien Stark. From the outside, I have a perfect life. A billionaire with a beautiful family. But if you could see inside my head, you’d know I’m as f-ed up as a person can be. Now more than ever.

I’m driven, relentless, and successful, but all of that means nothing without my wife and daughters. They’re my entire world, and I failed them. Now I can barely look at them without drowning in an abyss of self-recrimination.

Only one thing keeps me sane—losing myself in my wife’s silken caresses where I can pour all my pain into the one thing I know I can give her. Pleasure.

But the threats against my family are real, and I won’t let anything happen to them ever again. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe—pay any price, embrace any darkness. They are mine.

I am Damien Stark. Do you want to see inside my head? Careful what you wish for.

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Romance

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Exclusive Excerpt: Damien
By J. Kenner

Exclusive Excerpt: Damien

Author J. Kenner is back with DAMIEN—a new installment in the Stark saga which gives fans of the series more Damien and Nikki, but this time their family faces a new threat and Damien is determined to keep those he loves the most safe… whatever the cost.

I’m so excited to give you a sneak peek from DAMIEN, out tomorrow!

He hooked a finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. “Are you okay?” he repeated, not breathing until he saw her nod.

“Okay? God, Damien, yes. I’m perfect.” A laugh bubbled out. “Now I am.”

He frowned, but she just smiled broadly.

“Don’t you get it?” she asked. “Oh, Damien. Don’t you see? I thought I’d lost you. I really and truly thought I’d lost you.”

“Lost me?” They lay together on the chaise facing each other, and he held her close in defense against the chill from the ocean breeze. “What are you talking about?”

She kissed his chin, then tilted her head so that she was looking into his eyes. “Do you remember the girls’ party? When it was wrapping up? How we made love in the library?”

“Are you kidding? Of course I remember.” She’d amazed him that day. She’d shown him a video that Jamie had helped her make. A video that had since been released to the press, and which had drawn uniformly positive comments and a flood of support.

In the video, she talked about being a cutter. About how she hoped that sharing her struggle would help others, especially teens who were battling self-harm.

More than that, she talked about him. About how Damien had been her rock through the years. How he still was even though she’d gone over the edge and cut during the kidnapping. About how he’d pulled her back. Anchored her.

And about how she knew that he would always be there for her, and how that knowledge gave her strength.

Her words had lifted him up, and he’d pulled her to him. They’d made love on the mezzanine, hidden from view from the last of the party guests.

“You held me as if I was fragile that night,” she told him now.

He swallowed. “So now tenderness is verboten?”

“Don’t play games with me,” she said, her voice firm, but her tone gentle. “Anyone else, but not me. You’ve spent the entirety of our marriage—of our relationship—telling me I’m not fragile. Which means that when you start treating me like I’m made of glass, I know something’s wrong. Damien,” she added, her voice breaking, “that’s the only time we’ve made love since we got Anne back.”

He closed his eyes, shocked by the realization that she was right.

“Talk to me,” she demanded. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

He wanted to. God help him, he wanted to spill out the words. But how could he confess so much weakness when she needed him to be strong? “I’m fine now,” he said, tracing the outline of her body with his fingertip. “Really. I was lost in the dark, but you guided me back.” He met her eyes, then kissed her gently. “Don’t you know that you’ll always be my path back into the light?”

She blinked, tears pooling in her eyes, then leaned forward to rest her forehead on his. “Damien.” His name was barely a breath, but it ricocheted through him, full of love and longing. He closed his eyes, his heart pounding. She’d told the world that he was her anchor? The hell with that. She was his—and she always would be.

“Damien,” she said again, and this time when she pulled back, he heard the core of steel in her voice. He opened his eyes, and saw that the tears were gone, replaced by a firm determination. For a moment, she studied his face. Then she slid off the chaise lounge and stood as he sat up, surprised.

“I will always guide you back,” she said, moving the short distance to pick up the robe, then wrapping herself in it. “And you’ll do the same for me.”

She picked up his shorts and her nightgown, then brought them to the chaise and dropped them on the cushion beside him while she remained standing. “That’s what we are to each other.”

“We are,” he agreed.

She sat. “Which is why if you won’t tell me what’s wrong, I will.”

He said nothing, but his heart skipped a beat.

“You think you failed.” She opened the robe and trailed her finger over the still-raw wound on her thigh. “You look at what I did and you see failure, and no video is going to change that. Do you think I don’t know you well enough to understand that?”

He stayed silent, barely breathing, but her words hung like hope in the moonlit sky. And he listened.

“You think you failed, but you didn’t. And maybe if it had just been me, you would have seen that. But the universe has been a bitch, and the world that you see is skewed.”

She took his hand into hers. “We can’t ever erase what happened. And I would give anything—anything—to have spared Anne, you, all of us. But it wasn’t your fault.” She cupped his cheek and held his gaze. “It was not your fault,” she repeated, her voice as soft as a lullaby.

“It was horrible and terrifying and awful, and when she was gone I didn’t know if I could survive. But I did, Damien. We did. And Anne is okay. Were you even with us today? We played in the pool. We sang stupid songs and cooked burgers on the grill and made a birthday cake. And she wore her yellow floaties and she smiled and laughed and splashed water on her daddy.”

She was crying again, tears glistening like diamonds. “Weren’t you there with us? Didn’t you see the joy today?”

“You know I did.” His voice sounded hollow, as if it came from a long way away.

“Then let yourself feel it, too,” she said. “Because today didn’t feel like failure to me. Today felt like love.”

He wanted to speak, but the words stuck in his throat.

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