He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.
But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.
And you might crave him more than your next breath.
“Sexy, dark and thrilling. I loved every second of it!” – New York Times bestselling author Katie Reus
Prisoner by Annika Martin & Skye Warren
Genres: New Adult, Romance
I back up until the truck stops me. I’m sweating, but the hot metal is almost a relief. Warmer and more human than the flesh-and-blood beast that looms in front of me.
But I have something to say too. Something true. And I want him to listen. “You might hurt me. You might touch me. But I will never, ever touch you. Not of my own free will.”
I’m shaking by the time I’m finished talking. Tears are threatening again, but I don’t care about them. They don’t make me weak. I know what real weakness is. I saw it inject itself with drugs and hook up with abusive men just to get its fix. I watched it die. That will never be me. Never.
He reaches up to cup my cheek—the side without the scrape. On purpose? I don’t know. He trails his thumb over my eyebrow and down my temple. Places he couldn’t touch when I had my glasses. Like he’s learning me, mapping my face. The inside of my chest feels bright and quivery, but I keep my frown.
“So I can touch you?” he asks gently. “But you won’t touch me back.”
My voice trembles. “I didn’t say that.”
“Didn’t you?” His hand trails lower, down my neck. Goose bumps rise all across my chest and over my arms despite the heat.
He caresses my skin right where my collarbone is, softly, with the back of his knuckles. I clench my fists at my sides, dreading what comes next. He’s going to keep moving lower, until he’s touching my breasts. And then what will I do? Cry? Scream? There’s no one to hear me. The guy from the truck has disappeared over the ridge.
I let my eyes close. “Stop.”
“You don’t want this.” His tone is conversational.
“I hate you.”
“What do you want, then?”
“I want you to die. I want to hurt you. I want you to let me go.”
He laughs softly, a puff of breath against my forehead. “In that order?”
My teeth clench together. “Take your pick.”
“You know what I think, Abby? I can call you that, right? It’s cute. Like you.” His hand curves to the side, feathering light touches along the cashmere of my sweater. He grips my hip as if we’re dancing. And we are dancing. It’s a sick song he plays.
“I think you want to fix me. That’s what you were doing at the prison. That’s what you’re doing now. But the thing is, Abby, it’s not going to work.”
1. How did you come up with the idea for this story?Prisoner was my first collaboration with author Annika Martin. She and I first met because I’d read her books (love them!) and she read mine. We were both in a boxed set together, MAKE ME. We were chatting over email and came up with the idea to write a book together. We knew it would be edgy, and dark, and also fun! And so, Prisoner was born.
2. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Nothing and everything. I love the actual writing, coming up with a story and falling in love with them. But reader expectation is such a tough thing—it’s tough in any genre but has particular challenges for dark books. Even the word dark means different things to different readers. But ultimately I can only write the books I love and hope that my readers enjoy them. 3. What are your current projects? I’m working on a boxed set with two of my books, Trust in Me and Don’t Let go, which will have some exclusive content—a new prologue and epilogue. That’s coming in November. And next I’ll have a dark mafia based on the Cinderella fairy tale.
4. When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I have most of it when I start. The characters always come first for me. They have to be “speaking” to me, not as voices per se, but where I feel their voice coming out in my writing. I usually also know the way they meet, the early plot points—and since I write romance, even if it’s dark, I know where they’re heading. However, something always surprises me in the later part of a book or during revisions, and that’s a great feeling.
5.Why did you choose to write dark romance/dark NA romantic suspense stories?
An author friend of mine commented recently that she thinks the most interesting stuff happens in the gray areas, in the dark moments, and I agree. Dark subjects and especially issues of dubious consent and serious criminal behavior are things I would kind of run up to and run back from, or just avoid in previous books, but I have been loving just writing into them, like riding a ship into the storm and seeing what happens. It’s really exhilarating, and also, partnering with Skye on it has been great.
I’m a NYT bestselling author living a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi with my awesome husband and two cats in a home full of plants, sunshine and books. I’m heavy into writing love stories about criminals–some of them are dirty and fun (my Kinky bank robbers!) others are dark and intense (Prisoner!)
I also write gritty romantic suspense as the RITA-award winning author Carolyn Crane.