Read Online Books/Novels:

The Living Canvas (Master of Trickery Duet #2)

Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

Pepper Winters

Language:
English
Book Information:

“Must be brave, stubborn, and impervious to the tempers of loved ones.”

The first line hissed with history.

“Hours are endless, pay is non-existence, quitting absolutely forbidden.”

The second line ached with truth.

“Able to function on no sleep, refrain from running when times get hard, and be more than just a living canvas but a lover.”

The third thrummed with honesty.

“Other attributes required: forgiving, opinionated, and not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. Must also enjoy being touched and kissed at any time of my choosing.”

The fourth glowed with promise.

“Call or email ‘YOUR HEART, HIS SOUL’ if interested in applying.”

The final made my future unfold.

The advert was so similar to one I should never have applied for.
A twist of fate that brought two destined people back together.
A job I would take in a heartbeat if the employer could offer such terms.
But I wasn’t free.
Neither was Gil.
Therefore, my interview could never happen.

Books in Series:

Master of Trickery Duet Series by Pepper Winters

Books by Author:

Pepper Winters Books

Prologue

______________________________

Olin

WHEN DID KINDNESS become weakness?

When did compassion become blindness?

I believed strength, true strength, came from seeing past someone’s actions and trusting the goodness inside them. I believed words were just words and lies were just lies and they didn’t really matter, because, in the end, the truth always came out.

A person was a product of their upbringing and society’s doctrine, and so, I chose to see past that creation and see the real soul hurting underneath.

I chose weakness to be kind.

I became blind to show compassion.

It made a total fool out of me…

Chapter One

______________________________

Gil

-The Past-

TALLUP DISAPPEARED.

Seven months, three weeks, and eight days after that God-awful night in Motel Gardenia, Tallup vanished from school. She’d ensured my life had remained an utter misery. Her attention constantly on me. Her threats chasing me, her rules hunting me.

She’d steadily let herself go—no longer wearing tight, prim skirt-suits but hiding her small frame in loose-fitting dresses. Her face fattened, along with her waistline, and fellow teachers joked that she’d reached middle-age spread.

I didn’t care she no longer looked like a soul-sucking succubus. I was glad she resembled the rotting grossness inside.

Thanks to her, I could no longer look at Olin with Justin.

I could no longer pretend life was okay.

Distance hadn’t healed my heart. Love hadn’t triumphed over evil.

I found it excruciatingly difficult to keep my distance, all the while far too disgusted with myself to ever talk to Olin.

Every day, it grew harder and harder to stay in town.

I only had a few months until graduation. I honestly didn’t know what kept me from leaving. I knew what I wanted to be now: I was an artist. It was the cure to my insanity. And artists didn’t need degrees or university accolades. Artists were talented, or not—born with the gift or refused such a skill.

I had everything I needed to succeed.

And I needed to run. Run. Run.

Run far away and never look back.

But Olin…

I’d lost her but at least I could still protect her. We walked the same streets. Attended the same school. Lived in the same town. That tiny piece of togetherness sustained me and imprisoned me whenever I thought of leaving.

But then…Tallup vanished.

A new teacher replaced her. Education continued on as if nothing odd had occurred. And the principal made a half-hearted attempt at explaining the switch. Tallup got a job teaching English in Japan. She’d accepted. She’d be missed. Yada yada.

For a week, I didn’t trust it.

Every day, I expected Tallup to be at the front of class, ready to stare me into submission, her smirk hidden at breaking Olin and me apart.

But Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…she didn’t return.

The next week, hope did its best to make me drunk. Instead of listening to lessons, I plotted ways to talk to Olin. To explain. To fix us.

But each time I tried to catch Olin’s gaze, Justin was there. Making her smile through her sadness, his touch soothing her sorrows away.

By the third week of Tallup missing, I grew braver.

She’d crippled me—taken my virginity, my goodness, my strength and left me lacking in every way. But…with her gone, I was free.

Free to chase Olin and claim her back.

But…I’m not free.

Because why would Olin ever forgive me? Why would she ever love me?

She’d given her heart to someone else, and as much as that crucified me—worse than any forced sex or drunken beating—I had to honour her choice.

I left school knowing I’d lost any right to her.

I went to bed so fucking sick of being weak.

I made a pact to talk to her on Monday.

To lay the truth at her feet.

To let her judge me, hurt me, hate me.

And then…I’d kiss her.

I’d kiss her.

Beg her.

Do anything to make her mine.

And if she forgave me, I would never, ever let go.

* * * * *

Sunday night.

Fate decided it hadn’t finished toying with me, delivering its final blow on my tragic mess of a life.

I had a script planned. Every word and apology ready for Monday morning and making Olin mine.

But then, a visitor arrived.

Not a man looking for a whore, or a drug dealer looking for his cut.

Just a petite woman with the soul of the devil.

My teacher.

Who’d been missing.

Who’d come to finish me.

I’d answered the knock thanks to my father being drunk in his bed and his current whores having fifteen minutes rest before new clients arrived.

The house was quiet, for once, and I had homework to do before I left for an evening of graffiti.

But as I wrenched open the door, my fist curled around the handle and my heart stopped beating. Tallup stood on my dirty stoop, her hair dull and eyes angry. Her cheeks pinched with age and sleeplessness.

The fury inside me exploded outward. “What the fuck are you doing here!?”

We weren’t on school property.

No one could hear us.

I refused to be polite to this bitch.


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