Title: A Harmless Little Game
Series: Harmless #1
Author: Meli Raine
Genre: Political Thriller/Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Four years ago I lost my virginity on live, streaming television.
Too bad I wasn’t awake for it.
The video went viral. Of course it would. A Senator’s daughter on camera? Wouldn’t you click “share”? Besides, that’s what three of the four guys in the video did.
They shared me.
But that fourth guy? The nondescript one in the background in the upper left corner of the screen, just sitting on the couch? The only one who did nothing?
Not one single thing.
That was my boyfriend, Drew.
And that was the last time I saw him.
Until today, when my father—now on a path to the White House—hired him as head of security for my new team as I return home after four years of “recovering” in an undisclosed location that involved white lab coats, needles, pills and damage control.
You see, the other three guys never went to jail. Never had charges pressed.
Never faced consequences.
* * *
A Harmless Little Game is the first in this political thriller/romantic suspense trilogy by USA Today bestselling author Meli Raine.
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In the video I’m wearing three scarves. One around my waist as a bright, electric blue belt that cuts neatly through my white, A-line dress.
One around my pony tail, a vibrant purple that was supposed to be the “in” color that season. Maybe even the next season. I think I was trying to be ahead of the trends. I don’t really remember why I picked it.
Can’t we just say I liked it? Isn’t that enough?
And, finally, one around my neck, a red scarf the color of pinched skin and flushed fever. The color of arousal.
The color of pain.
When I got dressed that morning I didn’t know. Couldn’t know.
I had no idea three fashion accessories would be used to tie me up so a group of “friends” could assault me. It was as impossible as thinking that my morning coffee mug would be used to bash in my skull, or that my purse would be used to choke me. That just doesn’t happen. Shouldn’t happen.
Boring objects in our lives should not be used to hurt us.
But those scarves burned. They bound me. They held me in place.
They gagged me.
Those objects of beauty became instruments of torture.
I don’t blame the scarves. They’re just pieces of cloth.
The men who used them are the ones I hold responsible.
And the man who did nothing to stop what happened was the worst of all.
Here’s some basic arithmetic:
What do you think hurt me the most? The scarves? The hot, swollen, unlubricated flesh that violated me like I was just a fold of meat to jack off into? The wrenched shoulders and torn ACL from being trussed and tied up like something in a bad porno? The broken cheekbone from being raped from behind so hard my face smashed into the coffee table leg more times than the ER doctor could document?
Or knowing that my boyfriend—my best friend—just sat there on the couch and watched?
Short, clipped chestnut hair. Brown eyes the color of well-worn leather, eyes that blaze with intelligence and a guardedness no one could ever breach. He’s bigger than the last time I saw him, four years ago. Broader. More muscular. He’s a controlled, contained man who has a James Bond air to him.
And he’s looking at me right now with eyes so cold they might as well be icebergs.
“Lindsay, let me introduce you to Andrew,” Stacia starts.
Drew. Oh, God, it’s true.
“Andrew Foster will be your new security specialist. He and his team will keep you safe.”
Stacia’s eyes leap from Drew to me and back. “Is there a problem?” she asks, brows turning down. That’s more emotion than I’ve seen in her for four years. Her gaze darts between me and Drew, assessing the situation. No matter what, I lose if she decides something’s going sour here.
Even if Drew is the one gone bad.
“No.” Drew and I say the word at the exact same moment, in the same tone of voice. It sounds like a sharp clap, a single sound that shatters noise.
“You two know each other?” Stacia asks, her fingers caressing the paper. Without that discharge form, I can’t leave. If Drew ruins this for me, it will be the second time in my life he’s fucked up.
The first time was four years ago when he let three of our friends rape me.
“I’m sorry,” he says. My ear is pressed against his broad, hard chest. I feel the words more than I hear them. The vibration and cadence make it clear he’s apologizing. Heat radiates off him like he’s the sun and I’m in his orbit.
I break away. I’m not his moon.
“You should be sorry,” I snap, marching toward my destination, fighting the soft ground. I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to do this. Not now. Definitely not right now. I haven’t seen him for four years. Four long, painful, horrible years. More than 1,400 days of waking every morning knowing I wasn’t with him. Knowing he sat there that night and did nothing while three men raped me. Degraded me. Used and abused me and enjoyed it.
My body goes into a full-blown supernova, skin on fire at the thought. My rage cannot be contained by a mere mortal body.
I turn around. He’s right there, following me.
“Go the fuck away, Drew. I told you. I hate your guts. Leave me alone.”
At least, I think that’s what I say. My mind can’t process words and thoughts right now. I am fixated on the red door at the back entrance of the house, the sprawling mansion that is the only home I’ve ever known, aside from Daddy’s townhome in Washington D.C. If I can make it to that red door without Drew touching me, if I can make it to my bedroom and to my medications where I can take enough to fall asleep, maybe I can get my brain to work again.
And stop the flood of emotions that are making me crazy.
ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE HARMLESS SERIES
#2 A Harmless Little Ruse
#3 A Harmless Little Plan
Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them.
Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.