Title: The Queen
Series: The Masterpiece Duet #2
Author: Skye Warren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 19, 2017
I have one chance at a new life. A college education. A future outside of Tanglewood's dark walls. For a breathless moment it seems like I might actually escape.
Then I get a phone call from home.
Damon Scott is my own personal dragon, the fight I've always lost, the secret hope of my heart. And he needs my help right now. Only my mind can solve the puzzle. Only my presence can keep him sane as the city fights against him.
Only my heart can unlock a man with such a tragic past.
This is my final gamble, with everything at stake. One last game to win a future for both of us.
And a love strong enough to break the city apart.
THE QUEEN is the final novel in the bestselling Masterpiece duet, about a game of lies and loyalty, of betrayal and power, and ascension to the city's throne.
âAnd youâre the one who lost,â he says lightly.
âDo you know where he is?â
âOf course. Like you said, he works for me. I would be a careless employer if I let my men go wandering off, gambling and racking up debt and questioning their loyalty to me.â
A shiver runs through me. âThen where is he?â
âHeâs a grown-up, Penny. Like you are now. Heâs responsible for himself. You only need to worry about your studies. Iâm sure Algebraic Topology is taking up plenty of your focus.â
Itâs one of my courses this semester. How does he know that?
âStop playing with me.â
âWhy should I?â he says with a soft laugh. âItâs so much fun.â
Frustration stings my eyes, hot and damp. I look up at the wide-open sky, willing myself not to cry. There are a million stars visible here, most of the land owned by Smith College or one of the other campuses. So much land, so much pride. There arenât buildings climbing on top of other buildings, as if they might sink into the concrete ground if they donât. There arenât glass towers reaching to an endless black sky.
âIâm never coming back,â I say abruptly.
His laugh falls silent. âI know.â
âI hate it there. I hate Tanglewood and being powerless. And most of all I hate you.â
The last part is a lie, because I donât hate him. Iâm drawn to him; Iâm repelled by him. Itâs far too complex a relationship, an equation Iâve never been able to write. It makes me wonder if Iâm lying about the other partsâif maybe some twisted part of me misses home.
If some twisted part of me misses being powerless, too.
âAh, Penny,â he says, sounding infinitely weary. âI hate you too.â
The words shock me, but the hurt inside shocks me more. He shouldnât be able to wound me. Three years away from home, growing up, growing strong. It should have been enough armor to protect against anything he could say to me. But the arrow sinks deep, proving that Iâll never be able to escape him.
âWhat did I do to you?â I ask, quiet, in a voice like Iâm six years old again. Like Iâm speaking to the wild boy I found by the lake, one I lured into my trailer like a wolf.
He answers the same way, a surly teenage boy, fierce and vulnerable at once. âYou made me care. You made me want, when I needed to leave. You made me feel, when I would have preferred to die. You brought me back to life.â
And I condemned him to torture. Thatâs what happened when he sacrificed himself so that I could stay safe. Two children with so few choices. âIâm sorry,â I whisper.
âDonât worry. I got my revenge, after all.â
My blood runs cold, almost subzero at the words. Thereâs only one person left in my sad little family. One person he could hurt. âDid you hurt him?â
âBy giving him a job when he couldnât hold one down? By paying him enough that his daughter could escape the city, could go to a fancy college instead of becoming a corner-store whore? Yes, Iâve been horrible to him. A monster.â
âThen why isnât he answering his phone?â
In the pause I can picture him in a three-piece suit, reclining in one of his ridiculously expensive leather chairs. Some amber liquid in a crystal-cut glass. âDonât come back,â he says, his voice grim. âYou made it out of here. Let that be enough.â
A soft click ends the connection, leaving me bereft.
And more worried than before.
Something is happening in Tanglewood, something bad enough for my father not to call, something horrible enough that even Damon Scott has warned me away. I look up at the infinite stars, but theyâre dimmer than before. The whole world muted. It wasnât a new life that I found so far from home. It was a long dream, and now Iâm painfully awake.
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Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.
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