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Crimson Hill Series (Book 4-6)

Crimson Hill Series (Book 4-6)

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This is a box set of books 4-6 from the Crimson Hill Series.  Books are delivered by Bookfunnel for reading on any device. 

No Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, Jack Knight visited Black Lane, Kingston’s most notorious ghetto, where he met Cambria Simmonds, a damsel in distress. What was a knight to do but help her out in her time of need?

Cambria did not believe in fairy tales. Life in Black Lane was too realistic for that. She was sister to famous madam and brothel owner, Dusty, and her life was under constant threat from Milo, the gangster who ruled the area with an iron fist.

Despite the odds, things were going quite well for her and Jack. But when her knight disappeared and lost contact with her, Cambria had to decide if she should pursue him and a chance of happiness or deal with her life the way it was. After all, life was no fairy tale...

No Letting Go

Chevelle Bradford had thought she was over Othneil Wiley, the father of her sons and her first love, but after a reconnection at their son’s wedding, she was rethinking just how ‘over’ him she was.

Othneil Wiley knew that he had made too many mistakes in the past to just blithely stroll back into Chevelle’s life, but he wanted her badly. They had both changed and matured, and he knew they could work the second time around.

No Strings Attached

After finding out that her time for having a baby was running out due to a genetic disorder in her family, Shay Driscoll had a decision to make. She wanted to experience motherhood but didn’t want to use an anonymous sperm donor.

Fortunately, her best friend Jeremiah Nelson said he would help, they had been friends for years, and he was the perfect candidate. He ticked all the right boxes as a partner and a father. But Shay would ignore the partner part for now because she had vowed never to get married and just focus on their baby-making project.

They both agreed that theirs would be a no strings attached arrangement, and after she had the baby, they would return to being friends. So why were they feeling differently after the baby was born?

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No Fairy Tale

Chapter One

Jack had no idea what he was doing heading toward a nightclub in one of Kingston's most notorious ghettos. He had never been to a nightclub. He had never seen the throbbing underbelly of Jamaica's inner-city and had no idea that this was how some people lived. He was tense from the moment they had driven off the main road of the business district in downtown Kingston into the narrow alleyways of zinc fences and suspicious faces. They peered at his brother's late model Mercedes S-Class.
“Don't look so scared,” Chex grinned. “The windows are bulletproof. Besides, nobody will touch the car, not while Danger is driving.”
“And not while we are going to Milo's girlfriend's place.” Danger turned to him. “This is a nonviolent zone. Milo rules this area with an iron fist, and Dusty is his first lady."
Jack shuddered. His brother's driver also doubled as his security guard. Danger was actually the man's official name. He looked quite dangerous too. He was dressed in full black and was packing guns all over his body.
Chex was not one bit perturbed by the neighborhood or the time of night. Jack glanced at his watch surreptitiously. If he were in Crimson Hills, he would be in bed by now. He would be getting up in four and a half hours because working on a farm involved an early waking time and an early night.
Chex, who was a music producer and a party promoter, did the opposite. He went to bed in the wee hours of the morning and woke up near three o'clock in the evening.
It was a culture shock for Jack when he finally escaped from Crimson Hills and went to live with his brothers at their grandfather's mansion in Stony Hill. He had been lunging from one shocking situation to another. It was a vastly different life from the one he had lived under the tyrannical reign of their overly religious father, Maurice Knight.
His brothers had long left the fold and even changed their name to their maternal surname of Hastings. Phillip, the eldest, had trained as a lawyer, but he ran their grandfather’s chain of hardware stores, Hastings Hardware. Chex was a music producer who apparently lived on the edge if these nighttime jaunts were anything to go by.
They were never mentioned at Crimson Hill. He had naively thought that the boys he remembered from childhood were lost causes who would burn in eternal hell because they dared to disobey their father by leaving the hallowed grounds of Knightsbridge Farm, where it was peaceful, safe, and untainted by the vanities of the world.
He was surprised when he escaped to find that there was a happy family living beyond the gates of the Knightsbridge farm. He had been even more surprised when his mother, who hardly spoke up for herself, had slipped him Phillip's number and told him to call Phillip.
His mother had assured him that Phillip would ensure that he would be okay.
Out in the world for the first time at twenty-six, Jack had suffered deep remorse and wanted to return home. What did he know about living outside of Knightsbridge and being an independent adult? The farm was all he knew. Yes, he had moved from the main house and lived by himself in one of the workers' houses at Knightsbridge, but that was with his father's approval. The house he lived in was near enough to his parent's house to appease the old man that he hadn’t really left Knightsbridge but was close enough so his father could control his life.
Jack had never had the guts to move forward. He had been tied with the invisible strings of dependency and empty promises that one day he would inherit the place and run it as he wanted.
He had gone to high school a mile from the farm. He had gone to the community college nearby and majored in agricultural technology. His days were filled with working on the farm, church on Sundays, and the occasional church-related activities. He had no concept of what it meant to be truly independent and to live like his peers.
For some reason eight weeks ago, he had packed two bags. Even with just a few dollars in his account, he was determined to leave.
“You don't have any money,” his father had taunted. “What will you do, sell your body?” Maurice had guffawed like the tyrant that he was. He had looked over Jack's leanly muscular tall frame and shook his head. “You look like you are still in your teens. That baby face of yours is not showing your age. Maybe some older woman will take pity on you and take you home and make you her sex slave.”
Jack didn't argue because Maurice was right. Unlike the other farmhands, he was not paid. His father claimed that his years of labor, beginning from when he was too small to remember, was an investment in the farm that would one day be his.
Anything he needed, he had to request from his father, which included the basics. It had gotten too humiliating for words. He couldn't even buy a patty without his father signing off on it. He doled out money to him like a stingy Santa Claus, questioning his every move.
Jack could not let that continue, but he had lost his nerve when exiting the seventy-acre farm. Luckily, Phillip had called him.
“Mom says you are busting out. I am coming to get you. Don't go back to Maurice. Find somewhere to go and wait for me.”
That's how Jack finally escaped. He waited for Phillip at Wimple's Bakery, pouring his heart out to Jill, who had sat with him until his brother got there.
When he arrived in Kingston, he was shocked to hear that his grandfather, Eustace Hastings, his mother's father, had left his considerable wealth to his only daughter and her children. Jack's share was so mind-bogglingly unreal that it had taken him a few days to comprehend that he was rich.
Phillip had taken on the role of business adviser and stable older brother. Chex though a businessman in his own right, was the fun one and still quite immature. He was determined to rid Jack of all vestiges of innocence. He encouraged Jack to live a little. Something Jack had no concept of. He had been working since he was a tot, and vacations were not familiar concepts to him. What did one do if there was nothing to do? Think? He had enough of that.
He had loved going to Knightsbridge every day and overseeing different farming projects, coming up with ways to market Knightsbridge and haul it into the twenty-first century without his father realizing it.
Within three days of arriving at the house Jack was begging Phillip to let him do something at the hardware store, preferably in the lawn and garden section. His mini-vacation had made him tired. His need to be constantly on the move did not mix with sitting still and watching television.
He was particularly interested in designing greenhouses. He was quite experienced with that aspect of the business. It was something he did at Knightsbridge farm, and for him, it was fun. He was also interested in landscape design. He got a rush from planning his own garden space and that of his fellow neighbors at Knightsbridge. He had always felt as if that was something he could do professionally.
His immediate manager at Hastings Hardware, Felix, had promptly plopped him in the greenhouse supplies area, quite pleased with his addition to the department. Nobody had his sort of experience and ideas, and he had been a hit with the customers from day one. After a consultation or two with him, some of them wanted him to set up their greenhouses or redo their landscape. He was in high demand. He would be late for his job tomorrow. It was his first paying gig as a landscape designer. He didn't want to mess it up. He sensed that he had something good going on in the field. He shouldn’t have done this outing with Chex on a Sunday night.
They stopped near the end of the road where a— caution, do not cross— sign stretched across the narrow road.
“We walk from here,” Chex said. “Stay close to me and Danger and try not to stare at anyone with your mouth half opened.”
Jack snapped his mouth shut; it was already half-open as he peered out the window.
“So, where is the nightclub?”
“In a cul-de-sac at the end of the street,” Chex sighed. “It's in a building that used to be a church.”
“A church?” Jack blanched.
“You promised to keep an open mind," Chex said. "The owner's mother used to run it as a church. She died, and her daughter repurposed the place and runs it as a nightclub."
“But that's sacrilegious!” Jack shook his head. “I can't go there.”
“No, it's not sacrilegious.” Chex shook his head. “They used to do the same things under the table at the church that they do at this nightclub. They just treat it differently, that's all. People just need to call a building a church, and people lose their minds thinking it's holy.”
“What does that mean, under the table?” Jack asked.
“Listen, Jack,” Chex said. “You are mostly innocent to the ways of the world. You should keep some of that wide-eyed wonder intact. Trust me, you don't want to know everything. What you need to do tonight is lose that virginity of yours. Go with the flow.”
“I didn't tell you that I want to lose my virginity here in the heart of the ghetto with some ghastly female from the streets,” Jack whispered, looking over at Danger, who was pretending that he wasn't hearing them. Now he was sorry he told Chex that he had never had sex.
Chex laughed. “This is the best place to do it. I'll ask Dusty to get one of her ‘cleaner’ girls to break you in.”
Jack closed his eyes in mortification. “Chex, hold on a sec…."
“That’s the nightclub,” Chex said, pointing to a building that had neon signs of half-naked girls flashing pink and red on a black plate glass window. The name Dusty’s Boudoir swung from iron supports.
Music was being played in there. He could feel the vibrations from the street.
“I should go sit in the car…” the rest of his sentence was drowned out when Chex was greeted loudly by men who looked like thugs, but they were obviously friendly thugs.
They were slapping his brother on the back, greeting him like he was a long-lost brother.
“Looking forward to hearing what you guys have tonight,” Chex said, bumping fists with a few of them.
Jack inhaled raggedly. What was he doing here? He was nothing like these people. Come to think of it, he was nothing like Chex.
They didn’t even look alike. Chex was short and muscular. He had a short broadish nose, thick eyebrows, light brown eyes, and a caramel complexion that tended toward the pale because he lived his life without the sun.
Jack, on the other hand, was tall and lanky, he was a little over six feet tall, and he struggled to gain weight. At least his biceps were not as puny as they were two years ago. He had gotten serious about the gym lately, and his arms and shoulders were looking a lot more defined these days.
As for his face, he looked young for his age. Some people still thought he was in his teens. He had a short straight nose with a slight upturn at the end and doe eyes that made him look unassuming and nonthreatening. He inherited his face from his mother and her curly hair, which he usually kept high on the top and shaved off on the sides.
He was described as cute throughout the years, and he always got special treatment because of his looks. His female teachers had loved him and singled him out as their pet. The older ladies at church were overprotective of him. People, in general, liked him.
Added to the looks was the attitude; he was naturally shy. His father had instilled in him a mannerly attitude by sheer terror, beating him at the slightest infraction. The man had literally taken 'spare the rod and spoil the child' to unusual heights while he was growing up. Even if he wasn't doing anything, it was cause for a beating. His father had taken child abuse as sport, and because of that, Jack had reigned in his natural enthusiasm for life.
He was the yes sir, no sir, kind of fellow. No asking without a please, no getting without a thank you. One of his girlfriends from high school said he was a grandmother's dream right after she had ditched him for a bad boy type.
“You are just too good for me,” she had said. “Such a pity because you are so cute but boring as hell.”
If she could see him now. Boring Jack was in the heart of the ghetto, and one of Dusty’s cleaner girls was going to break him in.
He felt less than a person thinking about it. He didn't like the sex act to be described in such stark, soulless terms. He had not reached the ripe old age of twenty-six to be ‘broken in’ by a stranger.
If he had wanted an emotionless anonymous tussle between the sheets or in dirty streets at the side of a building, any number of girls would have sufficed through the years. He had almost gone all the way with Nora Beckles, just a few months ago, when he had remembered something his old friend the irreverent Mrs. Bridge from church had said.
“Look, Jack, if you can’t see yourself being a potential father to her kids, don’t put your swimmers in her. Even if you wear protection, just a little mistake will make that woman the mother of your child and connected to you for the rest of your life. A few minutes of pleasure is not worth being connected to some of these ladies. It is sheer torture and unmitigated hell. My son didn’t listen to me, and now he is connected with the worse female on this side of planet earth. She demands money from him and won’t let him see his kid; it’s sad.”
He had looked in Nora’s face and knew he couldn’t see himself connected to her for the rest of his life.
“I am not going to just throw you into the lion’s den,” Chex looked around at him. “I’ll have a serious talk with Dusty first.”
Jack shook his head. “I am really not interested, Chex.”
“You will be,” Chex said mysteriously. “Dusty has some really good girls here. I tried a few myself.”
Now that was cringe-worthy, Jack thought in despair. If ever there was a statement designed to turn him off. Call him old-fashioned, but he didn’t want a woman who had slept with his brother.
Chex walked to the big black door of the building, and a tall, thick fellow almost as big as Danger opened it and nodded them through.
Jack followed Chex into the dark caverns of the hallway and then into an unexpectedly upscale and surprisingly clean space. It had lots of black and red leather furniture and mirrors in the ceiling. Every table had a pole as its centerpiece. Half-naked girls languidly danced on them.
Both men and women sat around and watched them.
Chex walked confidently into the semi-packed area. He walked past a circular bar with an ice sculptor and a dance area that had throbbing music. It was packed with patrons. They were doing some kind of party game that involved gyrating on each other.
Chex headed to a door that was cordoned off with velvet ropes, marked VIP only.
Another bouncer was at that door. He opened it when Chex came near, and they walked through.
“This is where we get the cleaner girls and the overpriced liquor,” Chex chuckled. “And the music is a bit more muted, but I'll be going to the dancehall area soon. I want to see if anyone has potential at the open mic segment.”
It was less noisy, Jack acknowledged, and it looked more like a restaurant. There had the same black leather seats, but the tables did not have poles. Waitresses in little black dresses flitted to and fro with trays in their hands as they went from the tables to a bar that was smaller than the one out front.
“Chex,” a smiling woman in a tight little red dress acknowledged him warmly. “Your table is ready.”
Chex took it all in as if it were something he was used to.
“Hey Misha,” he smiled at the woman seductively. “I have been missing you.”
She snorted inelegantly. “Is that so? If you were missing me, you would call. Take me out on a proper date.”
“And risk your man killing me?” Chex chuckled. “No thanks, Misha.”
“I'll ditch the man if you move me uptown in your mansion,” she smiled at him seductively.
Jack frowned at their banter. There was no way he could joke so casually about cheating and having a transactional relationship. He was obviously too innocent for this world.
Misha led them to a table near the back, and Chex sat in the middle of the semi-circular seat and ordered the usual.
“And tell Dusty, I am here,” Chex said. “I want to talk to her.”
“She is at the house; she hasn’t come over yet." Misha murmured. “But you can call her, and she’ll make arrangements for you, if that’s what you want.”
Chex nodded. “That’s what I want.”
Jack perched uncomfortably at one end of the seat, and Danger headed to the bar area.
“Listen, Chex,” Jack said hesitantly. “I am not in the mood for a girl to break me in. I just wanted to see what you get up to at nights.”
Chex laughed. “Little bro, I will never steer you wrong. I will make sure you have a blast.”
One of the girls in the little black dress came with a bottle of Chex’s usual drink.
“I don’t drink, besides I have work tomorrow.” Jack shook his head.
Chex didn’t argue. “Soda water for my brother,” he said to the waitress.
“I won’t force you to take a drink, though it would calm you down some.” Chex shrugged, “one vice at a time. I don't want you too wasted when you meet the girl that Dusty chooses for you. I'll just give her a call now. I heard she has new girls.”
Jack sighed and leaned back in the surprisingly comfortable chair. What was he protesting about? Chex could not force him to have sex with anyone. It was all his choice. Besides, tonight was the first, and the last time he was ever doing something like this. He would just soak up the experience and laugh about it later.