She’s the older woman. He’s the man who killed her husband.
Rosalie Carmichael has spent most of her life doing as she’s told. She is the perfect wife, a loving mother, and the aunt everyone calls on when they need a favor.
Her life is peaceful until her happy family is torn apart and she finds herself at the mercy of the Coalition once again.
Scared and alone for the first time since she was sixteen, Rosalie seeks comfort in the arms of her much younger bodyguard. Together they dream of a future where they’re free to love each other out in the open without fear of recriminations or bloody repercussions.
And for six short months it seems as if escape might be possible.
Then the Coalition requests an urgent meeting, and Rosalie is left with an impossible choice.
Choose the bloodless—and loveless—option or follow her heart down the violent path to freedom?
The Optional Aunt is a dark and erotic romantic suspense novel set in a world where deception is the norm and the truth can’t be trusted. It is the second book in The Coalition Collection, a series of interconnected standalones featuring the Ingram-Greaves, Averell, Zidane, and Du Croix crime families.
*Full-length novel, complete with a HEA, and can be read as a standalone*
A moment before Sophia and Ollie enter the room, Zoran takes a seat in the armchair opposite. When Ollie sits next to me, I smile at him and ask in a sunny voice, “Would you like me to make some lunch for the two of us?”
My question deliberately excludes my brother and Sophia. It’s clear from Sophia’s expression that she can tell something happened between me and Zoran. When she shoots him a glance, lifting one eyebrow in a silent query, I pretend that the way they can communicate without words doesn’t hurt. I had that kind of connection with Aaron once—not that Zoran would care since he seems to believe he’s the only person worthy of a love that lasts a lifetime. Even though he lives much more dangerously than Aaron ever did, it seems my brother is exempt from the travails of the rest of us. His hypocrisy is astounding. If Sophia was hurt, he would move heaven and earth to hunt down her attacker. My husband is dead, yet he won’t offer me the same option.
“I could eat,” Ollie replies. He looks at Zoran while I quietly seethe at presumptuous brother. “Are you hungry?”
“You should get going,” I suggest with a sweet smile at Sophia. Intentionally avoiding my brother’s gaze, I continue, “We should keep as much distance between us as possible—that way Roman can’t suspect your involvement in my disappearance.”
“Ah.” Sophia looks between me and Zoran. “We might leave now.”
Biting the inside of my cheek, I cheerfully fake my way through their farewells. As their vehicle disappears down the long, unsealed driveway that leads back to the freeway, the anger I feel toward Zoran for his refusal to give me the answer I want energizes me as a plan consolidates in my head. Everyone seems determined to either push me toward Ollie or warn me away from him. They all feel as if their opinion should be the guiding light in my life. No matter which way I turn, someone is going to be disappointed.
None of them know what I’m going through. I was once a girl in love. Now, I’m just the ghost of the woman Aaron loved. Maybe it’s time for me to take what I need while I can? The deadline Roman has provided is fast approaching.
He wants a blushing bride to replace his dead wife. If I’m going to be tied to that monster for the rest of my life, I should make the most of the time I have before he claims me.
Once my Zoran’s Escalade is out of sight, I dart back inside the safe house. It’s a tiny, two-bedroom bungalow that’s tucked away in a small town on the coast between New York and New Haven. I’m pretty sure that Ollie has been here before—his eyes had lit up with memories when Zoran turned off the freeway. Good or bad, it was hard to tell. His expression had been shuttered by the time we entered the seaside cottage.
Hopefully, I have the medicine he needs to forget.
I rifle through my bags until I find the items I was looking for. Avoiding my reflection in the bathroom mirror so I don’t change my mind, I hurry to brush out my hair and adjust the red headband that holds my hair away from my face. The yellow sundress I pull on doesn’t quite fit the idea I have in mind, but it’ll have to do. Thankfully, it fits like a glove, accentuating my favorite features while camouflaging the signs of our ten-year age gap.
After allowing myself one glimpse in the glass above the basin, I rush through the bungalow until I find Ollie. He’s in the kitchen, shirtless as he rummages through the fridge. Although I’ve spent months platonically sharing his bed, I’ve steadfastly refused to commit the details of his body to memory. Now, that I’ve decided to pursue the forbidden, I allow my gaze to comb his body. From the impossibly broad shoulders, down past the tattoo of a shield with the words “Samaritan’s Soldiers MC Est. 1999” inked over his entire back, to his tight ass and sculpted thighs—every inch of Ollie is mouthwatering.
As he slowly turns around, I examine his chest. There is a posey of poppies inked down his ribs. A Celtic knot filled with shamrocks covers one side of his stomach. But it’s the tattoo of his chest, a Claddagh containing a Mystique cross, that captures my attention. Aaron had the same tattoo in exactly the same spot.
Seeing it verifies that I’m making the right choice.
If I can’t have my husband back, then I’ll settle for the next best thing. With three months of freedom left, I am determined to make the most of every second. By the time Roman claims me as his, there won’t be an inch of my body that remains untouched by the hands of the man he told me to stay away from.
“Holy fuck, Snow,” Ollie drawls. He balances a loaf of bread, ham hock, and sliced cheese in his arms. “You look… you look—what are you doing?”
Swaying my hips, I hold my shoulders back to thrust my half-exposed chest forward for his perusal. When I reach him, I remove the sandwich fixings from his hands, an item at a time, placing them on the bench, before I step close enough to press my breasts against his stomach. His harsh intake of breath makes my desire sing.
He wants me.
I suck my bottom lip into my mouth, biting down on it as I tilt my head to the side and purr, “I’ve been told you like to tie women up then fuck them until they scream for mercy.” The color drains from Ollie’s face. His eyes widen, then narrow to slits when I slide my hand down to his bulge. Cupping his cock over his shorts, I squeeze gently. “I want you to take me like that. Now.”
Ollie doesn’t answer me with words. He doesn’t need to. Seizing hold of my throat with the speed of a striking snake, he spins me around and bends me facedown over the dining table. Once he’s kicked my feet apart, he settles between my legs and presses his erection against my ass. Only the material of his shorts and the lace of my panties separates our skin. I push against him, hissing when he flips up my skirt and spanks my ass with one harsh blow.
He curls his body over mine and lowers his chin to my shoulder. After sinking his teeth into my lobe until I whimper, Ollie snarls in my ear, “You have no idea what you’re asking for, but you’re about to find out. Hold on, Snow… it’s about to get rough.”
Zoe Hill is an Australian writer. Having found her niche spinning tales about love and villains, Zoe loves nothing better than typing all the words and consuming exorbitant amounts of coffee and Skittles while her teens are at school.
A country girl at heart, she is a rabid reader, a metal head, and UFC fanatic. When not writing, Zoe can be found chatting about plot bunnies with her menagerie of animals and musing out loud about how well she’s moonlighting as a competent wife and mother.
Zoe is active online and loves nothing better than chatting about books and memes. Feel free to friend her on Goodreads, check out her website zoehillwrites.com, or search Zoe Hill Writes to find her social media accounts.