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Her Rival’s Touch (Island of Ys #2)
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Liam Neale has spent eight years searching for the woman who rocked his world—and then robbed him. But Kenzie’s not just any woman. She’s the most volatile of the Horsemen that rule the Island of Ys. War.
With the Horsemen’s revenge plot finally picking up speed, the last thing Kenzie needs is the distraction Liam offers. If she had a little more self-control, maybe she could keep her hands off him, but Kenzie and self-control have never been on speaking terms. Determined to have her cake and eat it too, Kenzie offers Liam a bargain—a seven day fling and then he leaves the island forever.
But the Horsemen’s enemies are circling and it’s never been more hazardous to be attached to the Island of Ys. All Liam wants to do is protect Kenzie from the demons of her past, but with the clock ticking down and her trust in short supply, they’re both in more danger than either of them could have dreamed.
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When the Island of Ys was created and the Horsemen chose their monikers, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Kenzie should be War. Hers, least of all. She was the fighter, the one who went balls to the wall in any confrontation—and usually came out on top.
She was also the one currently hiding in the staff kitchen of their casino, Pleasure.
The various cooks and servers cast her curious looks, but they knew better than to ask actual questions about why she was lurking there instead of literally anywhere else in Pleasure. The casino had passageways built in a warren through it so the Horsemen could move about as they pleased, and if she wanted to avoid a certain person, those passageways would be a better option.
Or they would be if they didn’t house her siblings.
Kenzie sighed and poked at the plate the head chef had slammed in front of her a few minutes ago. She couldn’t keep going on like this. There were things in motion that required her presence, things she should be happy to finally put to bed. Vengeance. Justice. The term didn’t matter. What did matter was punishing the people responsible for hurting her, her siblings, and hundreds of other innocent children.
That’s what she should be focused on.
Not the man currently stalking her through Pleasure’s floors.
She sighed again and bumped her head against the wall. She should just talk to him. It would dispel any notions he had about her. Liam Neale might have come to this island to… Well, she still wasn’t quite sure why he’d come to compete in the Wild Hunt, but it didn’t matter. He lost. End of story.
Or at least it should have been.
The phone on the wall next to her head rang and she cursed. No point in ignoring it. He’d just keep calling. With a third, much more dramatic sigh, she yanked the receiver down. “What?”
“Come back to the hub. You’re making the kitchen staff nervous by lurking down there.” Ryu. Her brother in everything but blood.
“I tried that. Amarante told me to stop hiding and deal with Liam.”
Ryu paused, probably to let her think about the stupidity of the situation she now found herself in. “And yet you’re still hiding, and Liam still hasn’t been dealt with.”
“Kenzie, since when do you avoid a confrontation?”
That was the question, wasn’t it? If Liam was any other person, he’d have long since been hog-tied and put on a boat or helicopter off the island. But in the single conversation they’d had, she hadn’t come out on top. In fact, she hadn’t even been sure which way was up when she walked away from it. “Something’s off about him.”
“Shut it, Ryu.”
He made a sound that might have been a muffled laugh. “If you don’t handle him, Amarante will.”
Their sister wouldn’t be gentle. Not when the thing they’d worked fifteen long years to accomplish was finally in motion. The initial stage of their plan worked. They’d acquired the Bookkeeper who ran the money funneled into that hellhole of a camp back in the day. The woman had given them three names. Not the top of the power structure—no one seemed to know who that was—but three people who had actually run the day to day tortures. One of them would know the party ultimately responsible. One of them had to.
In the meantime, they would remove those three blights from the world.
As soon as they tracked them down.
They couldn’t do that with Liam hanging around, sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. He wasn’t like the other patrons. He wasn’t here to gamble or relax or indulge in the best fantasies money could buy. He stalked around like a beast in a cage, and it didn’t seem to matter to him that he’d chosen to be there.
Ryu apparently got tired of her waffling and said, “He’s making the other guests nervous, and that’s bad for business. You have to get rid of him. Today.”
Or Amarante would do it herself. If Liam decided to be difficult in the process, she might even do it in a more permanent way. Given the man’s short track record on the island, difficult was his middle name.
Amarante hadn’t chosen Death’s role without good reason.
“Fine. I’ll take care of it.” She hung up and stood. Kenzie never held off once she’d decided on a course, and now was no exception. No matter how nervous he made her for reasons she refused to acknowledge, at the end of the day, Liam was just a man, and Kenzie had dealt with men before.
She adjusted her dress—red and hugging her body in a way that made her feel ten feet tall and invincible. She paused to thank the head chef for the meal and then strode out of the kitchen and down the hall to the main casino floor. Unlike their second casino on the south half of the island, Pain, this one was set up the same way casinos were around the world. Slots lined the walls and created walkways through the floor, broken up only by various other games—roulette and blackjack and craps. Several bars ensured alcohol was never too far away.