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Eli’s Triumph (Reapers MC #6.7)
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Joanna Wylde comes a new story in her Reapers MC series…
Peaches Taylor spent the last seven years slinging drinks and dodging drunks at the Starkwood Saloon. Some might call it a dead end job, but to her it was an investment—another six months, and she’d have enough money to buy the place.
Life would’ve been perfect if Eli hadn’t come home.
Eli King is ready to settle down. He stood by his brothers when they needed him, paying the price for their freedom with his own. Now it’s time to claim his reward—the Starkwood Saloon. He’s got the cash to buy the bar, the skills to run it, and just one person standing between him and his dream: Peaches Taylor.
She’s been driving him crazy since they were kids, and not in the good way. When she was six, she shoved a spider down his pants. When he was ten, he locked her in a closet overnight. Then she hot-wired his car at seventeen, and things got ugly…
They’re adults now, and the Starkwood isn’t a toy to fight over—it’s the hill they’ll die on. No prisoners. No compromises. No mercy.
Peaches Taylor and Eli King are going to war.
**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**
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One Thousand and One Dark Nights
Once upon a time, in the future…
I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.
I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and
the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast
library at my father’s home and collected thousands
of volumes of fantastic tales.
I learned all about ancient races and bygone
times. About myths and legends and dreams of all
people through the millennium. And the more I read
the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered
that I was able to travel into the stories… to actually
become part of them.
I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher
and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I
would not be telling you this tale now.
But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off
One afternoon, curious about the myth of the
Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to
see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar
(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then
sent yesterday’s wife to be beheaded. It was written
and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,
the vizier’s daughter, he’d killed one thousand
Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived
in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged
places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had
never occurred before and that still to this day, I
Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have
taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can
protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to
protect herself and stay alive.
Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.
And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a
point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.
And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that
he might hear the rest of my dark tale.
As soon as I finish a story… I begin a new
one… like the one that you, dear reader, have before
24 years ago
“Do you really think he can get away with it?” I asked, glancing toward Lemur. “I mean, I know he’s evil enough…but I don’t think Gus would let him, would he?”
The grubby little stuffed animal stared back at me, glass eyes cracked from hitting the floor too many times. His pink teacup sat on its saucer, untouched. He didn’t say anything out loud, but I saw the answer in his face.
He didn’t trust Eli King.
Neither did Eden, the doll sitting next to Lemur. She hadn’t touched her tea, either, and who could blame her? Everything had been wrong since Eli moved in with us. Even our imaginary tea tasted wrong. Now it was nothing but water, and my special cakes were only chunks of bread.
My eyes slid toward the fourth place setting, set carefully on the old bandanna. The blue cup. That’s where Gus was supposed to sit. It should be me, Lemur, Eden, and Gus.
But Gus was too busy to play with us today. He was working on his motorcycle, and he’d asked stupid Eli to help him. Sliding on my butt across the porch’s battered boards, I peered through the railing to study the two of them.
They crouched in the driveway next to the bike—my giant, grumpy, snuggly Gus and a stinky boy who liked to think he was so much older than me, but he wasn’t. Eli was only seven, and they were making him do first grade over again. Maybe he’d flunk this year, too. Then we’d be in the same class.
Gus poked at the engine with one of his tools. I couldn’t see what kind because Eli was between me and him, which was pretty much where he always was.
Between me and Gus.
And if Lemur was right, Eli was doing it on purpose. Eden agreed… Sometimes, Lemur was wrong, but Eden? Eden was almost always right, and the two of them together had never been wrong before. There was only enough space for one kid in this house, and Eli was ruthless.
He’d already taken over half my bedroom.
My eyes narrowed as I considered his messy brown hair, hanging too long across the back of his neck. Maybe I could Superglue it to the bed while he was sleeping.
“Eli, go grab me a beer,” Gus said, his deep voice rumbling across the yard. His bike rumbled like that, too. It needed a tune-up because the motorcycle club was doing something very important later this week.
Fixing the bike was worth canceling the tea party. I was okay with that. But when Gus needed a helper, he should’ve called me. I was the one who should be running toward the kitchen door to fetch a bottle.
“I’ve got to get rid of him,” I whispered softly, trying to think of something. There had to be a way to make Eli go away. “I wonder if he’s scared of spiders?”