The road to a happily ever after in Romanceland is never an easy one. This month, we’re highlighting the dark moments of our favorite romance novels. In The Plot, our hero has a decision to make.
He didn’t know how many hours had passed since he was staring sightlessly at the ceiling, alone in darkness with only his thoughts as company. It had been more than a week since he and Yoko had been together in this bed, ready to make love for the first time. A week since she’d told him she loved him, and he’d said the same to her. Then her sordid confession had been like the hit of a bus.
He still couldn’t take it all in. Whenever he imagined his sweet, innocent Yoko in bed with some other man—or men—he felt he would go mad. When he thought of everything she must have endured, of how brutally she had been robbed of her innocence, he cursed God, fate and whatever monster was responsible for that. If he knew, he would kill him or them with his bare hands—because surely there was more than one person involved in this kind of crime.
But what about her? Had there really been nothing she could do to stop it? Why hadn’t she gone to the police, to the consulate? His mind circled around these questions and always returned to the same point: the threats against her family. How could he judge her when he would do anything to protect his family from harm? What choice did she have? The bastards knew exactly how to control and manipulate her.
He’d read and heard about such things in the news, but tragedies like these seemed far away, things that happened to ignorant women from underdeveloped countries. What a shallow fool he had been! Just like everyone around him, he didn’t stop to think twice about this kind of atrocities. Never had he considered he would meet a victim of human trafficking. Or fall in love with one of the troubled, tortured women whose existence seemed only a theory.
Was he truly in love with Yoko? He’d said so when he didn’t know about her past. But did he love her now? Did her past make a difference? He thought about everything he liked and admired about her: her seriousness, her rare, child-like smiles, her determination, her intelligence. Her beautiful face and enticing body. God, could he love her without thinking of all the men who’d had her?
He rubbed his hands hard over his face. He would have said a real man wouldn’t hold her past against a woman, especially since she’d been forced into it. But was he man enough to love Yoko, to forgive and forget?
His eyes opened and he stared into the blackness, stunned at his selfishness.
Listen to him! Forgive and forget. Who was he, a former thief and breaker of too many laws too count, to judge anyone? Yoko was a victim. She didn’t need his forgiveness, but his love and support. She needed someone to help her get over the horrible traumas and memories that had scarred her soul forever.
Yes, forever. He didn’t fool himself. He knew an experience like hers could never be forgotten. She might have learned to live with it, but the wounds were burned into her mind. Now he understood so many things he hadn’t comprehended before: her reactions, her reluctance and initial suspicion, her reserved nature. She’d suffered terribly, endured things no woman should endure, especially a young girl.
When he recalled her telling him about the first rape—there was no other word for it—that had stripped away her virginity and dignity, he felt tears stinging his eyes. She’d needed comfort, love, healing. Instead, he’d sat there like a statue, unable to move, unable to utter a sound, numbed by shock. She’d left thinking he thought her dirty, as she felt about herself. She never knew the pain that torn his own heart. He ached for her with every cell of his being.
Why then hadn’t he gone after her? Why had he needed all this time to exist like a zombie, day after day, to realize he did love her and wanted her in his life, despite everything? He’d said to himself he needed time to absorb what she’d told him, but truth be told, he was a damned coward. A stronger, better man wouldn’t have brooded all this time, wouldn’t have doubted the feelings he’d professed so ardently only a week ago.
He flung the sheet aside and stood. He hadn’t managed to sleep more than a few restless hours these past days. He descended the stairs and went to the kitchen, where he poured himself a large whiskey. He’d done nothing but drink, moon around the shop and haunt the streets in search of answers. Actually, the answer had been in his heart all along. His head just needed to catch up. He loved Yoko. No matter what her past was, whether she’d had a choice or not, he wanted a future with her.
He wasn’t sure he had the patience and tenderness necessary to help her heal, but he was determined to do his best to try. If she was still willing to accept him. But what if she wasn’t? What if it was too late and he’d lost her because of his gutlessness and hesitation?
Tossing back his drink, he went in search of his phone, praying she would answer. She hadn’t returned to the shop since the fateful day of her graduation, and he couldn’t bring himself to even call her. Now he frantically dialed her number, ignoring the fact that it was nearly three a.m. But when the connection was made, his mouth went dry.
Her number had been disconnected.
REALITY IS NOT A FAIRYTALE. CAN A VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING HAVE A HAPPY ENDING AFTER YEARS OF ABUSE AND DEGRADATION? ESPECIALLY WHEN HER ONLY FOCUS IS GETTING PAYBACK…
At eighteen, Yoko Hirano falls into the tentacles of a human trafficking organization and is forced into prostitution. Her first sexual experience is close to a rape, so she becomes traumatized and her opinions about men are low and unflattering. She uses her charms only as means of manipulation.
Four years later she meets the tall, dark and charming antique dealer Mark Chandler. They both acknowledge reluctantly the complicated chemistry between them, but Yoko’s grand scheme of things doesn’t involve falling in love, nor does she think Mark would want her if he found out about her past. To get revenge and prevent other girls from sharing her fate, she plans to ruin the Chinese triad that has destroyed her life and innocence.
However, she doesn’t realize that Mark can be an asset in her plans of bringing down the powerful mobster Michael Chen and his interlopers. Together, they make a quite formidable pair…
Melinda De Ross is an international author of Romanian origin. She writes in two languages, and her books combine the elegance specific to the European style with the modern appeal of the American culture. She has a Law degree and has been a professional target shooter for over a decade. Her favorite genre to read and write in is Romance, and anytime she prefers to watch a classic movie instead of going to a noisy club.
She loves to hear from her readers, and you can find her at:
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