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Savage Love

Savage Love

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Levin is a good man. An honorable one. There’s never any question that he’ll come back to me, be a father to our child–and marry me, if that’s what I want. But Levin is still a man haunted by past loss. He wants to make me happy, but the one thing I want is the one thing he can’t give me.

Savage Love is the first book in the Savage Trilogy. The trilogy is complete. Reading order Savage Assassin, Savage Princess, Savage Love. 

Main Tropes

  • Protector to Lover
  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Unexpected Pregnancy

Synopsis

They say be careful what you wish for. I never understood that until now.

I should be happy. I’m safely in Boston, reunited with my sister, and on the verge of a future I never dreamed was possible for myself. My life should look brighter than ever, on the other side of the dangers we faced in Rio.

But Levin is gone. And without him, it feels like nothing is as it should be. Until the unexpected happens–the one thing that could bring him back to my side.

I’m pregnant.

Levin is a good man. An honorable one. There’s never any question that he’ll come back to me, be a father to our child–and marry me, if that’s what I want. But Levin is still a man haunted by past loss. He wants to make me happy, but the one thing I want is the one thing he can’t give me.

His heart.

Levin is the man I want. And I’m willing to fight for this love.

Click Here To Read An Excerpt

Chapter One

Elena

Elena,

If you’re reading this, I’ve left for New York. I’m sorry for the early departure, but I think we said everything that could be said last night. I meant it all—you deserve better than me, better than someone carrying the weight of a former life on his shoulders, who can’t be all the things to you that you should have. 

Despite that, I do care for you, Elena. I think you know that. And I want to leave you with that, at least, so that you don’t wonder. In time, you’ll see that it’s better this way, as I do. You’ll find more happiness without me than you would by my side, even if you don’t realize that now. 

I wouldn’t change what happened. But it needs to remain in the past. I want only the best for your future—and I hope you understand that’s why I’m gone.

We shouldn’t see each other again. In time, it will hurt less. I promise you that.

Goodbye, Elena. I’m grateful to have known you.

–Levin


I’ve read the letter so many times now. I could probably repeat it from memory if I wanted to.

I don’t.

I never knew what heartbreak felt like before. I’ve read about it plenty of times, in all the romance novels I devoured in my bedroom back home. In those books, the heartbreak never lasted. Eventually, the hero always comes back. He realizes he was wrong and begs the heroine to forgive him. Some of them make the hero grovel more than others, but in the end, he’s always forgiven, because he loves her so much. Because he can’t live without her.

Clearly, Levin can live without me.

And I was an idiot to ever think otherwise.

I don’t know how long I sit on my floor, sobbing. I thought I was going to cry last night when I went to bed before everyone else—that I’d finally be alone in my new room and all the stress and worry, and fear of the past weeks would explode all at once. 

That’s not what happened, though.

I couldn’t cry. I laid there awake in the darkness, staring up at the ceiling, faintly hearing the sounds of Isabella and Niall and Levin’s voices from another part of the house, and I waited for the tears to come.

They never did, and I finally fell asleep, until I’d woken in the middle of the night, mouth dry and wide-awake.

I’d gone to the kitchen for water and saw Levin in the backyard. I’d gone to him, of course, because how could I not? He was leaving in the morning, and I wanted so desperately for him to stay. For him to change his mind in the last moment, the way the heroes of romance novels sometimes do, when they realize what a terrible mistake they’re about to make.

After all, everything had worked out so far, hadn’t it–despite all odds? We survived a plane crash. We dodged bullets through Rio de Janeiro, and Levin won money in poker games to keep us afloat. I kept him alive when he was nearly murdered after one of those games, stabbed in the side.

I killed men to keep him alive. 

At the very end, he won the game that got us our way out of Rio. And when that went upside down, he fought through men who wanted to kill him in order to get me safely home.

How could that not end in a happily-ever-after for us?

I didn’t feel naive or innocent anymore, after everything that had happened. But now I do, sitting on my bedroom floor, clutching Levin’s goodbye letter to me. I feel stupid. 

You don’t have to be alone forever, you know. What we had was real. I know you know that—it doesn’t have to be over.

You know it does, Elena.

Did you feel anything? Did you love me at all?

Remembering the conversation makes my heart ache like I’m the one who’s been stabbed. I’d put myself out there one last time, but it hadn’t been enough. He’s so sure that I should be with someone my own age. Someone like me.

But there isn’t going to be anyone like me here. Not anymore—not after what I’ve seen and done. I’m not the same girl he thinks I am.

My job was to protect you. I’ve done that. There’s nothing more I can do for you. You deserve better than a man nearly twenty years older than you, who’s lived a hard life and can’t love someone the way you deserve to be loved. The only thing I can still do is protect you, by going far enough way from you that you can get over what we had and have your own life. And tomorrow, that’s what I’m going to do?

And you? Are you going to get over it?

I want to believe that he’s not going to get over it. That he never will. But I don’t know what I believe any longer.

A soft knock at my door startles me out of my miserable train of thought. I wipe at my face, suddenly alarmed at the thought of Isabella seeing me like this—or whoever is on the other side of the door. No one other than Levin and I know what happened between us—and I planned on keeping it that way.

“Yes?” I call out, trying to keep my watery voice from shaking, but I don’t do a very good job.

“Elena?” It’s Isabella, as I expected. “Are you alright? Can I come in?”

“Um—sure.” If I tell her no, she’ll be even more suspicious that something is really wrong. I wipe harder at my eyes and face, getting to my feet and folding the letter up in my hand, looking for somewhere to put it.

She opens the door before I can.

“Elena?” She stands in the doorway, her pretty face creased with concern. I’ve always thought my sister was the more beautiful of the two of us. She has sharper features, an ocean of thick dark hair, and the most perfect figure I think anyone could ever be blessed with. I’m softer in some places than I’d like to be, but Isabella is a vision. She’s also much more fiery than I am—all it takes is one look at her narrow dark eyes to see that she takes absolutely no one’s shit.

I used to not be that way. But some things have changed.

“What’s wrong?” She steps into the room, closing the door behind her. Her gaze sweeps over my face, and I see instantly that I haven’t done a good enough job of hiding that I’ve been crying. I’m not surprised—my face feels puffy and swollen. Isabella has always been quick to pick up on things like that anyway, especially when it comes to me. “Is it—did something happen?”

Her gaze flicks to the letter in my hand. “What’s that?”

“Nothing.” I swallow hard, walking quickly to the nightstand and depositing it there. “It’s no big deal.”

“You’ve never lied to me, Elena. I wish you wouldn’t start now.” She purses her lips. “You know papa called me. He told me to make sure I took care of you. That was weeks ago—when you were supposed to be coming straight here from Mexico. We’ve had no idea where you were. I’ve been so worried. If it wasn’t for Niall keeping me calm—”

“If I could have gotten in touch with you, I would have.” I look at her apologetically. “There wasn’t any way–”

“I know that. I’ve been through something similar, remember?” Isabella lets out a small, sharp breath. “But if something happened to you in Rio, something that’s bothering you–”

I haven’t gotten to talk to my sister very much since she left. But I can’t imagine she likes thinking about what happened to her—about being kidnapped by Diego in a very similar fashion, nearly forced to marry him, and sent to the bride-tamer to be broken to Diego’s will. If it weren’t for Niall, she might be back home still, trapped in a horrific marriage to the man responsible for so much of our pain. I’d be back there, too, probably on the verge of my own arranged marriage. I would never have met Levin. And Isabella—

She wouldn’t be here, in this cozy house, with her devoted husband and my little niece. 

I know Isabella well enough to know that she’s the kind of person who would prefer to look forward instead of backward. But I also know she would understand at least part of what I’ve gone through.

I just don’t think she’ll understand about Levin.

“I’m fine.” I take a deep breath, trying to force a smile onto my face, but I can see she’s not buying it.

“Who is the letter from?” Isabella narrows her eyes at me. “I’m not trying to parent you, Elena, but when I come in your room and find you sobbing–”

“I’m not sobbing–”

“You were.” She steps past me, reaching for the letter. I try to block her, but she’s too quick. I should have known she’d go for it—Isabella has always been a bit of a bossy older sister. She’s always believed she knows best—and a lot of the time, that’s true. But now that our parents have told her to look out for me, I have no doubt that she’s going to take that far too much to heart. 

She opens the letter before I can snatch it away from her. I see her face go from concerned to angry in an instant, and she looks up at me, a furious expression in her sharp dark eyes.

“What the hell, Elena?” Her fist crumples around the letter, and it’s all I can do not to snatch it away from her. If I do, it’ll tear, and it’s all I have left of him.

Just thinking that makes me feel so pathetic I can’t stand it.

“What did he do?” Isabella’s lips are pressed together, turning white at the edges, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen my sister so angry. She’s not angry at me, I don’t think, but if Levin were here, she’d be flying at him. It’s him that I think she’s pissed at.

He didn’t do anything–”

“It sure sounds like he did!” Isabella tosses the letter onto the bed, crossing her arms over her chest. “It sounds like he took advantage of you.”

“He didn’t!” I shake my head, trying to think of how to make her understand. All of my emotions feel frayed, my mind foggy. “I–I initiated most of it. He tried to tell me no, but I insisted–”

Isabella’s mouth twists. “He’s nearly forty,” she spits out. “He should have had more goddamned self-control.”

“Like Niall?” I glare at her, and from the look on her face, I almost regret saying anything. But I’m upset too. “I know how things went between the two of you, Isabella. I just took a page out of your book and made my own choice–”

“Don’t try to make this about me.” Isabella crosses her arms, a mirror of me. “Niall didn’t know who I was. Levin knew very well who you were and what his job was. It was to protect you, not…not—”

“Fuck me?” I supply helpfully, and Isabella’s eyes widen.

“Elena–”

“We were stranded on a beach. We’d been in a plane crash. We were eating fucking barbecued snake meat that Levin shot, for fuck’s sake. We had no idea how long we were going to live—and I didn’t want to die a fucking virgin!” I stare at Isabella, willing her to understand. “Are you telling me you wouldn’t have done the same thing?”

“That’s not the point–”

“Then what is?”

“He should have—”

“What?” I burst out, feeling tears well up in my eyes again. “He should have stayed? I wanted him to. But he’s telling the truth when he says that he let me know what this was from the start. It’s my fault for—”

I can’t finish the sentence. I can’t put into words what I feel for Levin, because it hurts too much. If I say it aloud, it will be too real.

I can’t stand that, not with him gone forever.

Isabella lets out a sharp breath. “I can see you’re upset,” she says finally. “We can talk about this more later. If you don’t want to come out for breakfast—I can bring you something. Just take some time until you feel better.”

She looks at me, her teeth worrying at her lower lip, and then I hear a baby’s cry from somewhere else in the house. “I need to go help Niall,” she says, looking torn. “Elena–”

“It’s fine. I’ll come out in a little bit. Go take care of Aisling,” I tell her encouragingly, and Isabella lets out a sigh.

“I’ll be back,” she says finally.

I sink onto the edge of the bed, looking at the crumpled letter next to me. A part of me wants to read it again, but I don’t.

What’s the point, anyway? It won’t change anything.

I sit there, feeling numb, until I hear raised voices from down the hall. It’s Isabella and Niall, and I know I shouldn’t eavesdrop. But I have a feeling it has to do with me, and I can’t contain my curiosity.

Listening in on a conversation is far from the worst thing I’ve done recently.

I step out of my room, leaving the door cracked as I inch down the hall toward their room. The house that they live in is small in comparison to the one we grew up in—five bedrooms and three bathrooms, two stories, and an attic. The outside is grey-painted clapboard, with shutters and pretty window boxes and a picket fence around it, a landscaped backyard that overlooks the water with a huge deck in the back. It’s the kind of sweet suburban home I imagined when I thought about Boston, and it doesn’t disappoint. Isabella said last night that it was Niall’s childhood home, inherited from his parents, and it fits him. He’s not much like the other men that I’ve met—he’s more ordinary, down to earth. He reminds me of Levin, in a way—rougher and earthier than someone like Connor or our father.

This is a house, not a mansion, and I like it that way. It doesn’t feel too big, like I’m rattling around inside of it.

“What the fuck was he thinking?” As I creep closer to the door, I hear Isabella hiss from inside the room. “Taking advantage of her–”

“He wouldn’t have hurt her, lass,” I hear Niall’s deep, Irish-accented voice. “If that’s what happened between them, then it must have been her choice–”

“Are you blaming Elena for this?” Isabella’s voice is outraged.

“No, lass, I’m saying there’s likely no blame to be had. Remember when we—”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake! I’ll tell you the same thing I told Elena, this isn’t about us. You didn’t know who I was–”

Niall chuckles. “Lass, if I’m being honest? I can’t tell you if it would have made a difference. You in that red dress—”

His voice turns husky, and my cheeks flush. This is a conversation more intimate than I should be hearing—–but it makes my chest ache, too. I want to hear Levin say that to me—that regardless of the circumstances, he’d make the same choice. I’ll never get that from him now.

“Stop that.” Isabella clearly isn’t having any of it, not right now. “He should have known better. His job was to protect her, not deflower her!”

Niall chuckles again. “Deflower her? Lass, I didn’t think you subscribed to all that bullshit. If Elena wanted to make her own choice, didn’t she deserve that too? After all—”

“She’s young. Innocent. They were in a situation where they thought they were going to die, and he didn’t tell her no! He had all the power–”

“I know Levin,” Niall says reassuringly. “I guarantee you he spent a lot of time turning Elena down before anything finally happened between them. And whatever did happen—it wouldn’t have happened without her consent. That’s not the kind of man he is. So whatever occurred between them—and I’m hesitant to say it’s anything other than their business—it was—”

“I don’t care,” Isabella snaps. “I don’t want him anywhere near my sister. Is that understood? I don’t want him in this house. I don’t want to hear or speak to him again.”

Whatever Niall says in response to that, trying to mollify her, I don’t hear. I back away from the door, tears welling in my eyes, because I’ve heard enough of the conversation. Whatever comes next doesn’t matter, because Levin isn’t coming back. Isabella doesn’t need to worry about that.

I go back to my room, tears sliding down my cheeks as I crawl onto the bed, curling on my side into a tight ball. I never knew anything could hurt this badly. It feels like a physical pain, like someone has reached into my chest and strangled my heart, like I can’t breathe.

Levin left me because he thought I deserved someone else. Someone better.

But there isn’t ever going to be anyone else for me.

I wish he understood that.

I wish he cared.

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