“I have chills. This is unlike anything I’ve read.” –Ava Harrison, USA Today bestselling author
Darling Venom, an all-consuming romance from Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Parker S. Huntington is now live!
My first love ended in tragedy. My second began with his brother.
From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes an angsty, broken love story.
I wasn’t supposed to be on that roof on Valentine’s Day. Neither was Kellan Marchetti, the school’s designated freak.
We met on the verge of ending our lives. Somehow, the tattered strings of our tragedies tangled and tightened into an unlikely bond.
We decided not to take the plunge and agreed to check on each other every Valentine’s Day until school ended. Same time. One roof. Two restless souls.
We kept our promise for three years. On the fourth, Kellan made a decision, and I was left to deal with the consequences. Just when I thought our story ended, another one began.
They say all love stories look the same and taste different. Mine was venomous, disgraceful, and written in scarlet scars. My name is Charlotte Richards, but you can call me Venom.
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I dropped my voice. “Look, I have questions.”
“The answer to all of them is no.”
“Then one of them is, ‘Would you mind it very much if we talked about Kellan for a few minutes?’”
“Ha. Ha,” she deadpanned, but I wasn’t laughing. “Go. Away.”
The grunting behind me intensified. I never took the subway, and now I remembered why. Other than the fact that it smelled like a public toilet, BO, and clinical depression, it was also a hostile environment.
“Not until you give me some answers after the bomb you dropped in my office yesterday.”
A guy in a hoodie tapped my shoulder. “Hey, can you hit on this fine ass standing on the right side of the escalator like a goddamn New Yorker? People are trying to pass through.”
I shifted to the right side, two steps below Miss Richards. Which reminded me…
“What’s your name, anyway?”
My nose was level with her head. She smelled like sugar cookies and cypress. Maybe even coconut. More importantly—not like stale piss.
“None of your business.”
“Cute name. Artsy parents?”
“Dead parents,” she gritted out. “You’re bothering me.”
I told myself her parents were not really dead, so I could keep pestering her with a clear conscience. “Give me what I want, and I’ll leave you alone.”
Her head snapped in my direction, her dramatic eyebrows pinched together in anger. “Kellan was right.”
It hit like a bullet to the gut, but I smiled through the pain. Cocky and unaffected and everything I was known for. The aloof, charming ob-gyn with the bronze heart.
She stormed to the platform. I tailed her. My patience, already a rare commodity, evaporated. Her train arrived, and Miss Richards stepped in. I did the same. I had no idea where we were headed. Hopefully Hell, so I could have the home-field advantage.
I realized on the train that, excluding the month after Kellan’s death, I hadn’t done anything out of character or off my schedule for at least a decade. Yet, I took the seat next to her. She tugged a stack of papers from her leather briefcase. A manuscript. She uncapped a yellow highlighter with her teeth and struck a line on the page in her lap.
“If I were you, I would cooperate,” I said through a tight-lipped smile, aware of the fact that people were watching us. Getting arrested for harassment would be the kiss of death to my career. Living without answers, however, seemed like a bigger punishment.
She flipped a page in the manuscript, forcing me to switch to the not-so-nice method. Clearly, I should have gone that route the minute I’d found her. There were not a lot of opportunities to salvage a relationship that began with you staring into a woman’s eyes while coming deep inside another.
“I guess you leave me no choice but to tell your boss you flung my door open yesterday, caught me having sex, and decided to make yourself comfortable and watch.” I took out my phone and began texting Reagan Rothschild.
Miss Richards snapped her head up in horror. “Wait.”
My thumbs kept flying across my iPhone. She should have knocked on my door as soon as I’d lost him. No one had come to talk to me and Terry, other than Principal Brooks and a couple of guilt-ridden teachers who’d hardly even remembered anything significant about my brother.
Kellan had died, and not one of his peers came to offer their condolences.
She slapped her hand over my phone. I dragged my eyes up to meet hers. She averted her gaze.
“Where can we talk?” I demanded.
She flinched. I wanted to shake the answers out of her. I didn’t even know why I cared so much. Finding out what made him do this wouldn’t bring him back. A part of me just wanted to punish her for not offering her condolences.
Her forehead crumpled. “About Kellan?”
“No, about your fabulous beret. Your fashion choices charm me.” I bared my teeth like a beast. “Of course, it’s about Kellan.” The way she stared at me, with enough hatred to freeze the sun, made me want to laugh in her face.
She thought I cared about her opinion of me. She thought I cared, period. I’d stopped caring the day he died. Threw myself into my work, not bothering to build a life outside of it.
“Well?” I popped an eyebrow.
“Fine. But not today.”
“I have plans.”
What could be more important than Kellan?
She tipped her chin up. “I don’t want to.”
I fished my phone out and resumed my text to Reagan. Miss Richards slapped it away. It fell in my lap, and the lock screen image—of Kellan hiding behind a book, grinning—flashed. I flipped the phone on its screen. She sucked in a breath.
“I’m taking my sister to the dermatologist,” she answered, more softly. Which didn’t make sense. Most dermatologists in my building closed by five. Six, at the latest. But I didn’t press on account of the fact that I didn’t want to give her any reason to change her mind.
“Tomorrow. There’s a little café right across from my office—”
“I know the place,” I shot out. “Time?”
I noticed her right leg was jumpy, rocking up and down. A nervous tick.
“Now let’s start over. Do you have a name, Miss Richards?”
“Charlotte. My name is Charlotte.” She licked her lips. “I would say it’s nice to meet you, but we both know that’s not the case.”
I got up and off the train without looking back at Charlotte.
“Wait,” she called. “Shouldn’t we exchange numbers or something?” I could practically hear her blush.
Rather than turning around, I exited the doors as I answered her. “No. I don’t want anything to do with you after tomorrow.”
About Parker S. Huntington
Parker S. Huntington is a USA Today bestselling author from Orange County, California. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside and a Master’s in Liberal Arts in Literature and Creative Writing from Harvard University.
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