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Altered By Fire (Undercover Sinners #1)
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My life changed in an instant, altered by fire, irreparably damaged.
My father, a notorious mob boss, either wants me back or wants me dead.
Arsen, Colt, Weston, Mace, and Hawke.
Either way, in their arms, I catch fire.
**NOTE: This book was originally published as Five Fathers by Kate Morgan. It has undergone a rewrite but the core story remains the same.**
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Sin or piety.
Those are the two things I’m choosing between when I stumble up those stone steps, coughing on smoke and choking on tears. As I careen into that church, I’m making an unconscious decision between Heaven or Hell, pain or pleasure. But sometimes, pleasure brings more hurt than pain.
I’ve learned my lesson the hard way and that’s why I’m doing this, giving up everything I know and love for a whole new life. A life dedicated to something, someone, other than myself.
The thing is, sometimes fate has other ideas.
Out of all the churches in town, I pick this one. This building with its vaulted ceilings and stained glass and all its secrets.
This building that houses them.
My five worst sins.
My five most awesome pleasures.
My high heels are loud, almost frantic when I hurry into the hushed quiet of Our Lady of Sorrows, clacking my way across the church’s old stone floors as I wobble my way down an aisle of empty pews toward the front of the room, the dais, and the crucifix … and the broad-shouldered man standing in front of it.
Stopping within arm’s length of the priest, my knees give out and I collapse. My bare knees strike the stone floor painfully, but I don’t cry out. My focus is glued to the man in front of me like he’s my salvation.
But that man, he’s going to damn me to hell.
I just don’t know it yet.
“Excuse me,” I whisper with a quiver in my voice, because my hands are shaking and I’m cold as hell. I fled for my life in an almost indecent red cocktail dress, spattered with blood and ash, smelling like smoke. I’m a stain of sin against the pious, muted colors of the church. “I don’t really know what I’m doing here …” I start, but that’s a lie.
Thirty seconds in a holy place and already, I’m breaking the rules.
I wrap my trembling arms around myself and curl my frozen fingers into my sides, waiting for the man to turn around and acknowledge me. As soon as he does, I feel my resolve cracking into pieces, bits of shattered glass that seem to cut.
The man in front of me is tall, taller than me even if I stood in my four-inch designer heels. And he’s broad, too, muscular even beneath the black and white robes that cloak his beautiful form. As soon as his gray eyes meet mine, I know I’m in trouble. I don’t have good impulse control.
That’s why I’m here.
At least … that’s what caused this whole mess in the first place.
I walked out of that cursed den of sinners, that glittering dinner party, with a forced calm born of severe shock. The second those elevator doors closed behind me, I ran for my damn life. Now here I am on my knees, gaping up at a man of the cloth like I’m ten seconds away from tearing all his clothes off.
What is wrong with me?
“If you tell me why you’re here,” he starts, and I feel my body flood with cold, and then blazing heat. This man is a priest and yet his voice is sex incarnate. I can feel it rolling across the bare skin of my arms and legs like a hot tongue. “Then maybe I can help you figure that out.”
He crosses his arms over his broad chest, sleeves sliding up a bit to reveal a plethora of tattoos. Are priests allowed to have tattoos? Maybe it’s okay if they come in with them so long as they don’t get more?
I have no idea.
I’m not religious.
I just know that I need a change.
Something to save me … and my soul.
More like, somewhere to hide, so that my father doesn’t hunt me down and kill me, too.
“I want to become a nun,” I blurt, kneeling there in a cherry red cocktail dress with my nipples hard as points, no panties, my skin rippling with goose bumps at the sight of the gorgeous man standing in front of me. My skin is smeared with darkness, and I don’t know which spots are blood and which are soot.
But as soon as the words leave my lips, I know I’m dead serious.
If anyone can reform a woman like me, it has to be the church. Right?
I suck in a deep breath as the priest leans down. His warm fingers touch my arms ever so lightly as he encourages me back to my feet, then looks me over. His face this hard, wicked sculpture of masculinity, the lower half lightly stubbled, his dark hair short and well-kempt. He has the look of a leader, a fighter, someone who doesn’t take any shit. I think I’m supposed to feel comfortable enough to confide in this man, tell him my sins, let him fill me with the word of God.