A VOW OF HATE by Lylah James
Release Date: January 5th
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“An all-new standalone hate-to-love, arranged marriage romance with a TWIST from Lylah James.”
“Once upon a time…”
Hate consumed him.
Love wrecked me.
That night changed both our lives, turning our beginning into something toxic. We were poison together and there was no antidote.
Our story began like any other fairy tale ended.
With a beautiful wedding.
Killian Spencer became my lawfully wedded husband and I, his dutiful wife.
But he was no Prince Charming. He didn’t come to save me… and he vowed there would be no happily ever after.
Just like the legends I’d read as a little girl, I always thought I’d be the princess in my fairy tale.
Well, I was the villain of our love story.
“Till death do us part…”
Special Pre-Order price at $2.99. Grab it now, before the price goes up after release day!
The ugliness of life is that sometimes we can’t undo what has been done. It doesn’t matter how devastating the outcome is; we can’t turn back time – can’t change the past – can’t fix the future.
“It is what it is,” my father had said that night.
The night I woke up from my coma, bedridden with two broken legs, three fractured ribs, a messed-up spine and a fractured skull… and more scars than I could bear.
One night, four months ago, I made a mistake that ruined more than one life.
Since then, I have learned that grief is just a stage of coming to terms with the situation.
Just like denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Except, I was still on the fourth stage. Depression, my therapist would say with a pitiful sigh.
Misery still choked me every morning as I swallowed down my breakfast and every minute of the day. While it wasn’t as heavy as guilt, the imbedded grief still festered pus like an untreated wound.
But it was the guilt…
Guilt was what killed me everyday.
Pain became my companion; grief was my nightmare and guilt turned out to be my soulmate.
“Julianna, you haven’t had your breakfast yet.”
I could feel her presence behind me but I didn’t turn away from the window. “I’m not hungry.”
Selene, our elderly maid and my only friend, made a sound in the back of her throat. “Your father–”
“He doesn’t need to know,” I said, my nails digging into my palms.
My lungs caved in, my body growing cold. “Stop. Don’t even finish that sentence.”
“Please, stop. Stop trying. Just take the food and leave.”
My shaky voice was followed by silence and then the door clicked close. Her presence disappeared and I was finally able to wallow in self-pity again.
My window overlooked the stables from behind our mansion. My father’s estate expanded many thousand acres, but this spot used to be my favorite view.
Except now, it was nothing but a bitter reminder.
How could our lives change so quickly in merely four months?
If only we hadn’t sneaked out…
If only I hadn’t been so stubborn…
If only I hadn’t been driving that night…
My hand came up, trembling as I touched the black veil. The thin fabric started from below my eyes and hid the rest of my face. I kept my black hair down, with bangs that I never had before, keeping my forehead covered. Only my eyes were visible.
I hear she’s ugly now, that’s why she hides behind the veil, the whispers would say.
It’s good she keeps it covered. I don’t want her to give me nightmares.
Beasty, some sneered.
The poor girl, others pitied.
The whispers didn’t hurt. In fact, they had little effect on me. I had learned to shut the world out while I surrounded myself with my own misery. Jolie, my therapist, said it wasn’t the right coping mechanism. She said I was making it harder on myself.
She said a lot of things, but none of them mattered.
My sister – Gracelynn – was still dead. Because of me.
And I was still here, alive and breathing when it should had been me in her place.
I still remembered her wide-open, dead eyes. I could still smell the unpleasant odor of metallic copper; our blood and sweat. I still saw her mangled face so vividly in my memories and every time I closed my eyes.
I was in that car with her dead body for three hours.
Three hours that felt like three extremely long days.
I passed out many times, regaining consciousness only to see her bloodied face again and again, while I screamed at her to breathe, to stay alive.
Gracelynn wasn’t wearing her seatbelt that night. The force of the impact, and when our car flipped, sent her flying through the windshield. Her screams still echoed in my ears. Her swollen, mangled face with glass shards lodged in her flesh was still seared in my brain.
Most days, I spent my time like this. Listlessly staring out the window, watching the sun rise and set, watching the day go by, turning into months.
It wasn’t like I could run away from my misery. No, I couldn’t even walk.
That accident took more from me than anyone would ever see.
Hours later, the door opened again, bringing me out of my thoughts. I was still rooted in the same spot as Selene left me this morning.
“I’m not hungry,” I said, already knowing who it was. Only two people were allowed in my room. Selene and my father.
My father rarely visited me.
And Selene was the only face I saw everyday. Her presence and the only human contact I had since I woke up from the coma and was brought back to my father’s estate, kept what was left of my sanity intact.
“The room smells like death and despair. Quite frankly, I approve.”
My eyes widened.
My head swam and the collar of my sweater felt too tight.
What was he doing here?
Killian Spencer was the last person I expected to come into my room. The last time we saw each other…
Two months ago, when I visited my sister’s resting place, for the first time. He had been there before me and when I had turned to leave, he didn’t let me go without giving me a piece of his mind.
That was Killian Spencer. The new him.
“Julianna,” he sneered my name. I imagined him curling his lips in distaste.
“Before you say anything,” I started to warn him, but he spoke over me.
“Our fathers have arranged our marriage. It’s being finalized as we speak.”
I shut up and closed my eyes, holding back a desperate cry. He approached me from behind, his footsteps sounding closer. I could feel his body heat. I could smell his strong, spicy cologne. Unique and familiar.
My chest rattled when I exhaled a shaky breath. “You could have refused.”
From my peripheral vision, I saw his hands come up and he placed them over the handles of my wheelchair. For the first time, I realized how powerless I was against him. Weak and fragile.
He could easily hurt me.
And I would let him.
“You say this and yet you know how important this marriage is for both our families,” Killian mocked.
My fingers latched onto my silver, charm bracelet. With a frantic need, I used the sharp edge of the heart and dug it deep into my wrist. I winced and the pain made me think. Made me feel alive. “Is that the only reason why you agreed to this marriage?”
He bent forward, bringing his head closer to mine. I felt his breath against my ear. “You know very well what my reasons are.”
“You could just kill me,” I said. “Make it easy for both of us, don’t you think?”
“Why should you have an easy death?” The hatred in his voice was unmistakeable. “She died a cruel death, Julianna. And you will suffer a worse fate.”
There it was. This was the reason why we were poison together.
I killed his love and he wanted vengeance.
“Do you know what date today is?”
How could I forget?
Killian was still too close. His presence was suffocating. “She was supposed to walk down the aisle today,” he said, deadly and heartless. But I didn’t miss the pain and the longing in his voice.
Gracelynn would have been the prettiest bride ever. I closed my eyes and choked on the sob threatening to spill from my throat.
My sniffling filled the room and there was Killian’s dreadful silence. His silence was eerie and disturbing. Killian was deadlier than a viper, as he waited for the right moment to strike.
He moved around my wheelchair and stood in front of me. Dressed in all black, he was an imposing figure. I dragged my gaze up, from his polished leather shoes, up to his strong thighs, his wide chest and shoulders and then his face. Full lips, dark eyes and a glacial expression.
Our eyes met and he blinked, once, as if to shake the image of me from his brain. As if I was a ghost, haunting him.
Maybe I was.
Killian leaned against the window, his hands going to the sill as he crossed his ankles. He looked every bit the powerful and confident man he was. So devious, so in control, so cruel.
I fidgeted under his gaze, feeling so out of control while he was so contained.
I blinked. “What?”
There was a tick in his left cheek, his muscles clenching, and his jaw hardened. Killian nodded at my legs – useless and frail. “Your father said it’ll take you a long time to walk again, if you ever will. With all the necessary therapy, he’s giving you two years.”
I swallowed. “Two years…?”
“Two years so you can walk down the aisle. Our wedding will be held on this day, two years from now.”
I knew this was coming. My father warned me beforehand – I’d have to take Gracelynn’s place at the altar – but I was still not prepared for this announcement.
“What if I can’t walk again?”
He grinned cruelly. “Then, I’ll drag you down the aisle, on your fucking knees, if I have to.”
I sucked in a shuddering breath. Killian stepped away from the window and bent forward, bringing his face closer to mine. I couldn’t even move. My wheelchair kept me in place. His breath feathered over my veil, right over my lips. “Listen to me very carefully. You will marry me; you will pay for your sins and you will die at my hands.”
He didn’t see that I was already paying for my mistakes.
Just like everyone else, Killian didn’t see me. They saw my veil. They saw my sin.
No one saw Julianna Romano anymore.
They didn’t see my remorse– or that my sister’s ghost haunted me.
My nails dug deeper into my palm, drawing blood. I lifted my chin up, matching his cold stare. “You’ve made yourself very clear, Killian Spencer.”
He chuckled at my show of I’m-not-scared-of-you-do-your-worst. It was a weak attempt at bravery, but I didn’t want him to think I was as powerless as he thought I was.
My life was already hell. But I still had some kind of control over what Killian could do to me, even though I deserved everything he said.
I should pay for my sin.
I should suffer.
I should die at his hands.
It was his right. After all, I killed his heart.
It would have been easy to say that Killian was the villain. But it was far from the truth. He was just another casualty of my mistakes and the end result of my sins.
I was the villain in this messy fairy tale.
His hand came up to my face and I flinched, expecting him to strike me, but he didn’t. Killian curled a finger around a strand of black hair and then pulled. Hard enough to burn my scalp. “I will break you, Julianna Romano.”
You can’t break what’s already broken.
I turned my face away, no longer able to look into his dark eyes. There was just something in them. Something that made me ache.
“You’ve said what you came here to say. You can leave now.”
Killian pulled back and strode away. I clutched my chest, bearing the pain that seemed to dig itself deeper under my flesh. It wasn’t just my heart that ached. It was my soul that was tormented.
“Oh right, I forgot to give you this.” He fished something out of his pocket and then carelessly threw it my way. It skidded on the shiny floor, a few feet away from my wheelchair.
“Your ring,” Killian said coldly, his voice dripping with venom. “Wear it. Happy engagement to us.”
After he was long gone, Selene came back. Without a word, she lifted the ring from the floor and handed it to me. I took it from her, staring at the extravagant diamond ring. The rock was huge and nothing like my personal taste. But then again, this wedding wasn’t about me and Killian could care less about my preferences.
It was heavy in my palm, but the weight was more than just the shiny diamond itself.
I loathed it.
And yet, I still wore it on my ring finger.
When my father came into my room much later, he smiled approvingly at the sight of my ring, patted me on the hand and then walked away without a word.
It was official.
Two years from now, I would be Killian’s wife.
This marriage was his vengeance – the vows would not be of love, but of hatred.
His retaliation. My atonement. One imperfect marriage.
About the Author:
Lylah James lives somewhere in Canada. She is usually pretty busy but she uses all her spare time to write. If she is not studying, sleeping, writing or working – she can be found with her nose buried in a good romance book, preferably with a hot alpha male.
Writing is her passion. The voices in her head won’t stop and she believes they deserve to be heard and read. Lylah James writes about drool worthy and total alpha males, with strong and sweet heroines. She makes her readers cry – sob their eyes out, swoon, curse, rage and fall in love. Mostly known as the Queen of cliffhanger and the #evilauthorwithablacksoul, she likes to break her readers’ hearts and then mend them again.
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