Title: The Nines
Author: Dakota Madison and Sierra Avalon
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: April 13, 2015
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Dakota Madison and Sierra Avalon team up to bring readers a new breed of antiheroes…THE NINES.
Vengeance is mine not the Lord’s. It’s what I breathe for. It’s what I’m still living for. I live for the moment when I will literally have his eye for mine. It’s been two years. Two long and difficult years, but my plan is nearly complete. When I’m not in a hospital having doctors try to repair my ravaged body I spend my time on the computer, doing hacking jobs for large corporations and governments who don’t want to get their hands dirty or be associated with a job if things go sideways. But they don’t have any reason to worry. I’m meticulous, so I’ll never get caught. Just one thing stands in my way: The mysterious young woman without a past who desperately wants to be part of my future. I just need to figure out why…
THE NINES is an ongoing romantic suspense series. Each book can be read as a STAND ALONE NOVEL or as PART OF THE SERIES.
Vengeance is mine not the Lord’s. It’s what
I breathe for. It’s what I’m still living for. I live for the moment when I
will literally have his eye for mine. It’s been two years. Two long and
difficult years, but my plan is nearly complete. When I’m not in a hospital
having doctors try to repair my ravaged body I spend my time on the computer,
doing hacking jobs for large corporations and governments who don’t want to get
their hands dirty, or be associated with a job if things go sideways. But they
don’t have any reason to worry. I’m meticulous, so I’ll never get caught.
I have the one thing that most people
After I was burned it was difficult for
people to look at me and when they did, it was with pity or disgust, often
Even my own mother.
I don’t want anyone’s pity. And I have
enough disgust towards myself to last five lifetimes.
So I left everything I’ve ever known and
started over on my own.
Now I spend my days and nights in the small
home I inherited from my aunt when she died. I would never have chosen to live
next door to a large state university. It’s often loud and there are young
people everywhere. It’s a constant reminder of everything I lost. I don’t feel
young anymore. I feel like an old man trapped in a twenty-year-old body. If
wisdom is the gift of tragedy I’d rather be ignorant.
I rarely leave home. It’s amazing what you
can have delivered to your door these days. When I do need to go outside, it’s
always at night and I always wear a mask. Not like the ones kids wear on Halloween.
It’s more like the one that the Phantom of the Opera wore, but my mask is black
and was specially designed to cover the burn scars on the left side of my face.
My latest job is for an Eastern European
mob family. Modern day computer espionage has given a whole new meaning to the
term “mob hit.” There’s no blood, no violence, just five million dollars
vanished from several off-shore accounts in the blink of an eye. And I get
fifteen percent. Not bad for a few weeks’ work.
Is it wrong to steal from criminals? I call
it karmic justice. I don’t take jobs that could hurt innocent people. I only
wrong people who have wronged others.
I have the luxury of a hefty bank account
and very few needs. I don’t need to work another day my entire life and I wouldn’t
want for a thing. But I need to keep my mind occupied. So I take hacking jobs
that interest me and I take university classes online.
Having online discussions with my virtual
classmates gives me the illusion of having friends and a social life. I realize
it’s a poor substitute, but it’s the best I can do given my situation.
I try not to dwell on the past. The person
I was, Mr. Popularity, the Class President, the Homecoming King, died the day
my body burned like a barbeque on the Fourth of July.
My life now is in the shadows. Living with
the fringe dwellers on the edge of humanity. I often feel like a man whose body
has died, but his mind hasn’t caught up to that fact yet.
When my computer roars I know I have an
incoming message. It’s from one of my contacts in China. I get a lot of work
from the Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese and don’t have the patience to learn,
so I use an intermediary to broker the deals. He gets fifteen percent of every
deal he mediates.
hear the familiar buzz of SKYPE and when I click on the icon Xiang Yuan appears
on the screen. He’s young, probably just a few years older than me, but much
better dressed. He always wears five hundred dollar suits and I’ve never seen
him wear the same one twice.
“I can get you eight hundred thousand,” he
I don’t reply right away. I like to play
He continues. “With your skills this job
won’t take more than one week. Who else will pay close to a million for one
“The Russians immediately come to mind,” I
“And they’ll slit your throat if you don’t
deliver on time. We have much more patience than that.”
I give a hearty laugh. “You guys are
saints. You’d never slit a hacker’s throat. Maybe I should tell that to Jenks.
Oh, wait. I can’t. You killed him.”
“Jenks got sloppy. That’s one concern I
never have with you. You’re too meticulous.”
I shake my head. “You’re just saying that
because you need me to take the job.”
“You’re the best person for the job,” he
“I’m the only guy you’ve got left.”
“Nine hundred thousand. But that is the
final offer. Do we have a deal?”
I nod. “We have a deal.”
“Good. Let me know when the job is
“Don’t I always?”
Xiang Yuan doesn’t bother with a reply. He
simply disappears from the screen.
I don’t need the money, but it’s an easy
job that will probably only take a few days’ work. They’re offering close to a
million for it. It’s not something I can refuse.
I rise and take a stretch away from my
laptop. Sometimes it starts to feel like an appendage and that’s when I know I
need a little time away from it. I step into the kitchen and make a fresh pot
of coffee. While it’s brewing I glance out my kitchen window. My aunt liked to
garden and the backyard is like a small sanctuary. I like to look at the plants
and flowers, but I can’t be bothered with the maintenance. I have a gardener
who comes by once a week to trim and weed and do whatever else needs to be done
to keep it looking nice. I’ve never actually met the man, but I leave a check
in an envelope for him under a mat on the back porch.
From my kitchen window I also have a
slightly obstructed view of the small street I live on. The fact that it’s
Macedonia Boulevard and my name is Alexander is a coincidence that is not lost
house is one block removed from one of the major thoroughfares the students
frequent, so it’s not as noisy as it could be for being so close to campus. I’m
still just a few blocks away from some of the dorms and much of the off-campus
surprised to see a beautiful girl, carrying a backpack, stop right next to my
house. I have no idea who she is, or why she’s stopped there, but she looks
Her long, dark hair moves slightly in the
breeze and when it finally blows away from her face I can see her magnificent
brown eyes and perfect pink lips. If my wishes came true and I was finally dead
I know I’d be looking at the face of an angel.
I shouldn’t be standing in front of my
window in the daylight staring at her. If she turned at just the right angle she
could see me, and that wouldn’t be pretty. It would probably traumatize her. I
need to move away from the window, but I can’t. I’m completely mesmerized by
When she looks at the street sign then
looks up and down the block again there’s little doubt in my mind that she’s
lost. I want to tell her that she’s just a block from campus. She hasn’t
wandered too far afield. But I can’t leave the house, especially not in the
daylight. I know as soon as she took one good look at me she’d probably run away
screaming before I even had a chance to utter a word.
As she heaves a large sigh my gaze is
immediately drawn to her chest. She’s wearing a pale pink sundress that fits
like a glove and accentuates all of the lovely curves of her petite body. For a
few moments I think about what it would be like to have my hands on her body.
To touch her in the most intimate of ways. To run my fingers along her perfect,
Then I chide myself for even giving in to
those thoughts. There’s no use in imagining what I can never have again. Access
to a woman’s body is something I lost forever. No woman would ever consider
being with someone as damaged and disfigured as I am.
I considered my life over the day that half
of my flesh was burned off of my body. The doctors working on me didn’t think I
would live. They called it a miracle that I didn’t die. I call it a life
sentence with no chance of parole.
I realized pretty quickly that my life had
irrevocably changed. What I didn’t really understand until much later was the
impact my injuries would have on the other people in my life.
It wasn’t until my high school girlfriend,
Sara, was finally allowed to visit me that reality punched me in the face and
knocked my teeth out. Sara and I had been together for over a year when it
happened. She would have been burned just like me if she didn’t have a doctor’s
appointment that morning and arrived late to school.
Her allergy shots kept her from dying in
the blaze, or even worse, surviving it like I did.
She told me that she loved me nearly every
day we were together. She was supposed to be my soul mate. We were supposed to
spend our lives together.
But when she saw me in the hospital for the
first time after the school bombing it was like she didn’t know me. When she
looked at me all the love vanished from her beautiful brown eyes. It was like
she was looking at a complete stranger.
That was the moment I knew my life as I had
known it was over. Sara never came back to visit me and I never saw her again.
I spent my senior year of high school being
homeschooled because I was in and out of the hospital so much. I’m smart and
was always a good student so I finished all of my work early and started taking
college classes in January of what was supposed to be my senior year of high
I traded in my high school prom and senior
graduation parties for a life of worldwide hacking jobs and built my reputation
as one of the best in the field of cyber espionage.
a brief moment I panic because the girl standing outside my house turns to face
me and for a second it’s almost like she can see inside of my house and she’s
But I know it’s not possible. If she really
had caught a glimpse of me she would have already backed away in horror,
The girl just looks puzzled. Her head is
cocked like she’s trying to figure something out. Then I see her walk towards
the front of my house.
I hurry out of the kitchen and into the
living room. I move the curtains on the front windows the slightest bit so that
I can just make out what she’s doing. She’s standing right outside on the front
walk way, staring at my front entrance.
What in the world could she possibly want
Then it occurs to me. Maybe it’s not me she
wants at all. Maybe she’s one of my aunt’s former students.
She looks down at a small piece of paper in
her hands and then looks back up at the house. It’s almost as if she’s trying
to decide whether or not she should walk up to the front door and knock.
I’m not sure what I’ll do if she does
decide to knock on the door. It’s broad daylight. I only have deliveries come
at night, when it’s difficult to see me, and I always leave the lights off,
obscuring their view of me even further.
I hold my breath waiting to see what the
girl will do. Just when I think she might make her way up to the door she takes
off down the road instead.
I breathe a small sigh of relief that I don’t
have to deal with her at the door. But in a small way I also feel a twinge of
FALL TO PIECES (Velvet Revolver)
IT’S BEEN AWHILE (Staind)
BAD COMPANY (Five Finger Death Punch)
KRYPTONITE (3 Doors Down)
WISH YOU WERE HERE (Pink Floyd)
USA TODAY Bestselling author Dakota Madison is known for writing New Adult and contemporary romance with a little spice and lots of heart. She likes to explore current social issues in her work. Dakota is a winner of the prestigious RONE Award for Excellence in the Indie and Small Publishing Industry. When she’s not at her computer creating spicy stories Dakota likes to spend time with her husband and their bloodhounds at their home outside Phoenix, Arizona. Dakota also writes under the pen names SAVANNAH YOUNG, SIERRA AVALON and REN MONTERREY.