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Life can feel like a cruel joke. I grew up poor and motherless, with a father who never got over his wife’s abandonment. But now he’s gone too, and I’m dead set on finding the woman who so carelessly tossed me aside when I was a baby.

I want revenge. And I’m going to get back at my mother any way that I can.

I change my name. Start my new life in college, and just happen to cross paths with the gorgeous, ultra-rich Rhett Montgomery. He’s immediately interested in me, not that I’m surprised.

You see, I planned it that way. I meant for him to find me. He’s the one connection to my mother, and I’m using him, so I can destroy her. But I didn’t plan on Rhett being so charming. Sweet. Sexy.

And I definitely didn’t plan on falling for him either…


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Her Defiant Heart

Monica Murphy

BOOK SERIES: 

A brand new contemporary romance is available now from Monica Murphy, and I have a little sneak peek for you. This is the first book in the Damaged Hearts trilogy.

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Excerpt

We go to the movies after dinner, and it’s so normal, such a typical date, yet something I’ve never done with a guy before. Standing in line in front of the movie theater feels surreal. It’s cold out and I’m standing close to Rhett, my side pressing against his and he wraps his arm around my shoulders, giving me a squeeze.

“I can feel you trembling,” he tells me laughingly, and I laugh too, pretending that yes, I’m so cold.

My trembling is more from nerves. Just standing next to him makes me feel edgy. Scared. Excited.

Aroused.

I turn toward him, relishing his warmth, his scent. He smells amazing, woodsy yet citrusy, and I breathe him in deep. He has no clue his effect on me, and that’s probably best. I don’t want him to know the power he holds over me. How I have to work so hard to fight it, to remind myself why I’m with him.

Tonight, I don’t want to remember.

I sneak a glance at his face. He’s staring straight ahead, scanning the giant movie listings board, and I admire his sexy jawline, those defined cheekbones. He’s got a rich boy face. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. There’s nothing soft about Rhett Montgomery. He’s all sharp lines and moneyed features. He inherited his good looks from a long line of attractive rich people that goes back generations.

It’s intoxicating, all that rich sexiness. It’s not just his looks either, but the way he carries himself, how he speaks, the cut of his clothing, the silk of his hair, the tone of his voice. It all screams money. And as I’ve gotten to know him, I realize I want a piece of it, a piece of him, if only for this moment.

“Funny or scary?” Rhett looks down, catches me staring. I don’t look away and neither does he. The pleased smile on his face tells me he likes that I was watching him. “What are you in the mood for?”

“Scary,” I tell him. I can envision me hiding my face in his shoulder, him having to hold me close. Jumping in his arms every time I’m startled. I like the direction this is going.

“Scary it is then.” He removes his arm from my shoulders when we’re next in line to pay, and I feel hollow. That arm around me was like a public claiming, and I never thought I’d be the type to like that sort of thing, but I do.

Once Rhett pays for our tickets, we enter the main lobby, and I may sound like a total idiot right now, but I’m dazzled. The lobby is enormous, lit up like I imagine Las Vegas is, and it’s full of people. The concession stand has lines, the scent of popcorn lingers in the air and I watch a kid no older than eight haul away a bucket of popcorn and a cup of soda, both items almost as big as him.

“I want popcorn,” I admit, and Rhett laughs.

“Same,” he agrees, steering me toward the concession counter. We stand in line and I remain quiet, listening to the conversations around us, spying on people. Rhett checks his phone discreetly—I’m sure he doesn’t want to seem rude on our date—but I don’t mind. It gives me time to observe, to figure out how I should act.

The girl behind us is telling her friend how she saw the trailer for the scary movie we’re going to see, and how she nearly peed her pants, it frightened her so bad. The couple ahead of us are also going to see the same movie, and they’re both discussing the director, who’s well known and respected in the movie world, so they expect this to be a decent movie and not trash, as the guy tells her.

By the time we’re seated in the hushed quiet of the theater showing our movie, the giant popcorn bucket wedged between us, I’m feeling anxious. Why, I don’t know.

“Are you regretting our movie choice?” Rhett asks, his voice low.

I turn to look at him, startled to find his face so close to mine. “What do you mean?”

“You’re squirming in your seat and the movie hasn’t even started yet,” he says, his voice teasing.

“Oh, I guess I’m not the biggest fan of scary movies,” I confess.

His brows draw together in seeming confusion. I love when he does that. “But you’re the one who wanted to see a scary movie.”

“I guess I liked the idea of you holding me close during the bad parts,” I murmur.

His smile is knowing as he slips his arms around the back of my chair, his hand dropping to my shoulder. “I’m here for you. You want to jump in my lap, bury your face in my neck? I’m your man.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “How kind of you to offer up your services.”

“If a beautiful woman wants to throw herself at me in the middle of a movie, I’m not going to protest.”

My entire body goes hot at him calling me a beautiful woman. It’s dangerous, how easily I could get used to his compliments.

I part my lips, ready to continue our conversation, when the lights go dim and the screen flashes with theater-themed messages about turning the ringer off your cell phones and how we shouldn’t talk too loud. Rhett removes his arm from the back of my seat as I settle into my oversized reclining chair and reach for some popcorn at the same time he does too.

It’s downright intimate, our sharing the popcorn, sitting in the dark, our gazes glued to the big screen. I forget about everyone else sitting by us. All I can focus on is the man sitting next to me, his knee occasionally brushing against mine as he shifts around in his seat, like he can’t get comfortable.

Once the movie finally starts, I realize quick the subject matter is a little too close to home. It’s about a woman who’s seeking vengeance on the man who killed her husband—and this man was her husband’s business partner. I mean, my situation is totally different, but then again…it’s not. Vengeance is vengeance, and as the story unfolds, I become more and more uncomfortable. She not only wants to destroy the business partner who was acquitted of murdering her husband for lack of evidence, but his entire family as well. His friends, his business…everything and everyone that means something to him, she wants to eliminate.

And I can relate. I really can. She’s laughing and crying and trying to kill the man’s wife, setting his home on fire, chasing after his precious dog so she can brutally kill him, for the love of God, and I’m still rooting for her.

I shouldn’t be rooting for her. Not at all. But I understand her anger and how it drives her to do such horrible things. Things I don’t think I’m capable of.

Maybe I am, though. Maybe we all are, if we’re pushed hard enough.

I think of my mother. Does she ever think of me? Remember me? Would she recognize me if I met her on the street?

She better not, because that’s why I’m here.

Just like that, I’m mad. Anger is all I’ve had left for so long, and I reveled in it. My anger fueled me, and I needed it like air.

Rhett suddenly takes my hand and laces our fingers together loosely. Lost in my own thoughts, the sweet gesture startles me, and I glance over at him to find he’s already watching me, his lips curled in the faintest smile.

“This movie is crazy,” he whispers, his eye wide in the darkness. “She’s crazy.”

My heart falls. If he thinks she’s crazy…

What will he think of me?

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