“Who am I? For all intents and purposes, I am the nice guy; the loyal brother and decent citizen. I am quiet and non-confrontational. I am the brother nobody worries about and can always depend upon. To my family, I am the good one. However, that’s only what they see on the outside.” ~ Jeremy Evans
Outwardly, Jeremy Evans is a typical guy, the calmest of the Evans brothers. He’s obsessed with cars, enjoys the company of beautiful women, and is devoted to his family. Inwardly, however, Jeremy is a ticking time bomb. Torn between what’s right versus what’s wrong. When the attempted rape on Darcie occurs, Jeremy finally loses the battle within himself. The pure hatred for Sulfur Heights consumes him and escape is all he thinks about.
One year later, he is secretly engrossed by the drug-infested underworld. Jeremy’s double life leads him on dark and sinister paths of drugs, violence, and rage. The Evans family is destroyed after Presley’s murder and consequently, Jeremy’s arrest. He’s sent to prison where he’s forced to survive with the mistakes he’s made on his conscience. However, only one thought lingers. It consumes the years he spends locked in a cell. Retribution.
Cami Ryker used to have a picture perfect life. She was loved by her family and happy with her life until her brother’s sudden death tore her family apart. Cami is forced to care for her ailing mother and assume the responsibilities of a normal adult. However, when the bills are paid and her mother is tucked away for the night, Cami likes to cloud her mind in order to escape her daily struggles. Late one night, a stranger trolling the streets rescues her in a dark alley. The mysterious stranger will become one of the most important people in her life until the day he’s sent to prison.
Four years later, Jeremy is released and seeking redemption for his mistakes, but the betrayal is still thriving amongst the Evans family. Will Jeremy finally find the solace within to gain the forgiveness from his family that he desperately craves? And is it possible for Jeremy to save those he loves and exonerate himself in the process?
**Mature Content Warning** 17+ for language and sexual content**
“Really?” Jake screams and steps closer. “You’re not sorry for getting Presley killed? All of that had to do with you. You know that, right?”
“I was trying to protect her!” My belly is touching Jake’s and we are going to blow up on one another. I can sense it.
“How were you protecting her? She’s fucking dead, Jeremy! Take some goddamn responsibility for what you’ve done!” Jake pushes on my chest, but I don’t waver.
I stand my ground and wait for him to hit me. Once he hits me, then my switch will be fully turned over. The beast is pacing like a rabid animal inside of me. He’s screaming and clawing, trying to get out of me, but I can’t allow that to happen. Jake will be dead if it does. The red is seeping into my line of sight, and soon, it will consume me. Soon, there will be no stopping it. I need to assess what’s really happening right now. I am on the verge of killing my brother, my twin. I will never be able to live with myself if I allow that.
I take a step back and expel deep gasps of air. I turn my back and thread my fingers behind my head. I need to walk. I have to get as far as I can away from this situation before it moves from bad to worse. I slowly walk away from Jake, hoping he doesn’t pursue. Yet the more I move away, the more my inner beast beckons me to attack. I am fighting to keep him inside, but it’s impossible when I’ve been that horrible person for so long.
My skin is lit on fire, and I feel like I’m boiling from the inside. Sweat is generating and makes my skin slick. I grab ahold of the back of my shirt and rip it over my head. My bleeding arm is aching, but I ignore it. I toss my shirt to the ground and walk to the garage. I stalk back and forth, trying to keep myself from losing it when suddenly the anger is too much to bear. I pull my fist back and slam it into the wall. My knuckles crack loudly. Instant pain shoots through my hand and up my arm.
I want to feel the pain, though. I need to feel the pain. I deserve to feel pain. I torture myself some more and start laying blow after blow into the wood. I smash my fist into the unforgiving building until I cannot stand another second of it. Then, I release a loud, guttural scream. It’s a scream in anger and agony.
When I turn to face my brother, I’m looking at two of them. Reggie is standing beside Jake, arms crossed and indifferent. Jake, on the other hand, is staring at me in disbelief. He is studying me and trying to see if I’m the brother he used to know. However, the look in his eyes is telling me I’m a stranger. They’ve never seen this side of me before, and it’s the part of me I’ve been living for years. I’m familiar with and comfortable in this mind’s state.
My breathing is labored and the pain in my arm is growing to great heights. I can no longer stand the intensity as it burns my entire arm. I fall to my knees and hold my wounded hand against my sweaty chest.
As Reggie looks to me, his indifference finally fading, he sees me for the brother he once loved and falls to my side. I hold my head up and connect my eyes to his. They are filled with worry and concern. I’ve done an amazing job destroying my family, but the little part of me that’s left hopes my family can see I really do want to be with them. It will just take me time to shed my past.
“What happened to the brother I used to know?” Reggie’s voice is quiet and scared. Not since Darcie’s situation with Robert have I ever seen Reggie this frightened.
I glance down at the ground and try to think of what happened to his brother. I rack my brain, digging in the depths of my memory to find out what the hell happened to him—to me. Nothing comes to mind other than my execution. The Jeremy Evans they knew and once loved is dead.
I look back to Reggie and answer as honestly as I can. “He died a long time ago.”
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M.S. Brannon was born and raised in the Midwest. She still resides there today with her wonderful husband and son. When she is not writing or reading, M.S. Brannon spends time with her family, watching movies, and discovering new music. She writes romance because she believes love and heartache is the rawest emotion one can experience.