And Then, I Died
by May Sage
Paperback, 250 pages
Published July 15th 2015 by Sage House
“Eliza had been long murdered and buried by Beth.”
Yet, don’t let it fool you: this is her story.
She is Beth Carver – the Bitch. She’s spent her life trying to crush her fears and put the “Incident” on a leash. A broken heroine with the dark past who refuses to let it control her, Beth returns home to take a break from her lifestyle. She didn’t plan on a stranger living in her apartment.
Then, you’ve got Liam Slate – an actual genius. When he sees an issue, he identifies it, isolates it, solves it and sells the solution. However, there are two matters he can’t take control of: his growing desire towards his appealing housemate and the little problem of the target on his back. Someone wants him dead is growing very close to achieving it.
As strong as he is, he needs help and unexpectedly, Beth is the one to provide it.
Liam will be forced to question his past, his way of life, his friends and family, but Beth has a longer journey. The one she needs to understand is herself.
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In light of recent events, Liam was seventy percent certain
he was dreaming.
A little under half a year ago, he would have been
absolutely positive, but all things considered, the scene
unfolding in front of him didn't seem that far-fetched.
The girl, however, surpassed the creativity of his
imagination. Whatever image might be attached next to
“female assassin” on Wikipedia, she wasn't it.
What he saw of her from the staircase where he was
standing was nondescript; comfortable grey layers
drowning the slightest hint of a shape, a ponytail tucked
under an old cap. He would have passed her without
looking back in the streets.
There was nothing wrong with the occasional casual outfit,
but he'd learnt that appearances generally reflected on
characters. Women who hid themselves under the plainest
clothes were either insecure or indifferent to how they were
He respected neither.
As things stood, though, she got his attention; crouched in
front of the door leading to his apartment, she was testing
an assortment of keys in his lock.
Since Liam had hired Jack, they had gone over that sort of
situation a dozen times, so he knew what he was supposed
to do: text the bodyguard and stay hidden until his knight in
shiny armour hurried to the rescue.
He had emphatically nodded each time they'd discussed the
plan. It was a good plan. Of course he'd wait; Jack, a welltrained
ex-Marine, was indubitably more qualified to take
down a professional threat.
There was a catch, though. In each scenario he was
supposed to face an angry meathead or, at the very least, a
James Bondette armed with weapons strapped to her thighs,
not a girl.
Liam wasn't exactly what one would call a Damsel in
Distress. Admittedly, he'd gone through the whole nerdysix-
foot-four-twig thing back in high school, but that
particular phase had been over about a decade ago. He had
swum his way to a scholarship, earning himself a set of
rather well-defined muscles in the process. He wasn't Bruce
Willis, but he could still easily take half the guys he knew;
that wisp of a girl didn't stand a chance against him.
Nonetheless, he would have probably been good and
followed his instructions, if it wasn't for the data. Each
second he twiddled his thumbs brought her closer to the
laptop he'd left on the kitchen counter.
It would take a very good hacker to go around his security,
but could he risk it?
Liam had worked for Charlotte for a year before she'd caved
and asked him why he was wasting his time on her payroll.
He hadn't hated the job; programming was in his blood, and
the innovative softwares Knight Tech came up with weren't
half bad, but it hadn't been exactly satisfying.
“You're better than this. You're better than me, William.”
Thanks to her meddling, he'd posted a dozen patents in
robotics and now owned a thriving business selling his
work. Each and every one of his prototypes, his projects, his
ideas were saved in the laptop he should have locked away.
Making his mind up, he sent a quick text to Jack before
crossing the few steps separating him from the door as
quietly as he could; but suddenly, just as he passed the
threshold, the world went black.
The first thing Liam registered was a horrendous headache,
followed in close second by the throbbing pain on the left
side of his skull and a wave of nausea.
There were voices around him. Loud, annoying, but
reassuringly familiar voices, so he risked opening his eyes.
He recognized the setting and most of the present company.
He was home, in his black and white lounge with its large
sofas, its ugly, oppressive grand piano; Jack stood behind
the instrument, solemn and rigid as he always was when
they had company, and his two noisy neighbours, Charlotte
and Victoria, had taken their place of choice around the sofa
suite. That, he could process.
What he didn't get was the presence of the figure in grey
perched on the minibar. The figure which, if memory
served, had broken into his flat and attacked him.
Somehow, nobody seemed to find it rather peculiar.
“You're awake! Here.” Charles was handing him some sort
of medicine and a glass of water; he dropped the pills in his
mouth without question, grateful at the prospect any form of
“I told you he wouldn't need to go to the ER,” the stranger
“Someone want to tell me why my face feels like a train hit
“I kicked it. Sorry.”
This heartfelt apology did convey a whole world of regret
and shame. Or not.
“You knocked me out with a kick?”
His vision was still blurry, but he saw distinctly enough to
judge those legs incapable of administrating much damage
to a grown man.
They were slim.
His gaze slowly crawled up and up the leggings, finally
finding a loose tunic dress doing its best to hide most of the
dips and curves. Despite the sack’s best efforts, her general
form was quite promising. And above, there was flesh.
Tanned, golden flesh.
Damn. Those pills were really good, or somehow, the girl
had been concealing a pleasing cocktail wrapped under her
boring rags and the Giants hat. He couldn't place the actual
heritage those lips, her darker complexion and the green
eyes claimed; all he knew was that the invisible girl-nextdoor
was definitely worth the second glance.
Not a lot of women would have held their own while
standing in the same room as Victoria Grazinski and
“No. I knocked you out with the pressure point in your
neck, before kicking you,” she clarified.
And hell if that wasn't one of the sexiest things he'd ever
heard. He blamed the low, sensual intonations of her voice.
“Someone would like to clarify why it's suddenly alright for
strangers to break inside people's homes and knock them
out?” he asked when it was evident that no one felt an
explanation was necessary.
“Well, that's the thing. You're in my home.”
Liam wasn't the open, sharing type, but as a main
shareholder of Slate Inc, Charles had been one of the
suspects after the third attempt on his life; the police had
interrogated her, which lead to the disclosure of his
The damn woman hadn't been ashamed to use the threat of
tears to make him hire Jack, her own head of security.
After the fourth attack, undertaken by the pizza delivery
guy at his house, Charles had stepped in again, offering him
“Victoria and I rent next door; technically Beth, who owns
the building, lives in the 4A, only it's been at least two years
since her last visit. Let me contact her, we'll see if she says
The elusive Beth hasn't said anything at all, so they'd gone
ahead and signed the paperwork at the end of December.
One of the many security measures now part of his routine
consisted in going to the home he owned down in Brooklyn
every night before leaving by the back door and driving
back to Manhattan. Liam found the whole process
overzealous, but Jack had given his hearty approval and, so
far, nothing led him to think anyone – save for Jack, Vick,
and Charles – knew where he spent his nights.
“And as a matter of fact,” the girl said, her soft alto friendly
as a pit of deadly snake “I'd very much like to know why
you'd think it's yours.”
His glare would have been more effective had she deigned
raising her eyes from the nails she was staring at. Did she
really suggest he might be squatting her place?
Liam didn't take offense at the first insult. The City's
abundant collection of trashy papers constantly threw
unflattering descriptions his way and he was fine with it.
They didn't know much about him, past his inerrant
inability to entertain a pointless, polite conversation with
their journalist. Of course they'd call him a high-handed
autocrat. To an extent, he was.
He could handle criticism. What he couldn't stand was
disdain. He'd come too far to put up with it now.
The girl didn't even bother meeting his gaze as she
addressed him. Some would have seen it as a sign of
timidity, but that couldn't be it. Women who looked like her
weren't shy, they were stuck-up.
A twenty-year old entitled brat didn't know what she was
stepping into if she felt free to undermine him.
It was exactly what the beautiful bitch was: girls of that sort
didn't own buildings like theirs in the most exclusive
neighbourhood of NYC without coming from money.
He wondered at her connection to Victoria and Charles.
They'd referred to her as an old friend, but there had to be
more to it; she was obviously younger, as well as
considerably less accomplished than the two
Vick had spent half a dozen years paving her way up at her
father's investment firm, under a different surname. The
CEO wooden plate had been hers since the instant of her
birth, but when it came, it would be deserved.
Charlotte wasn't front page news as of yet, but it was mainly
because she hid too effectively for anyone to dig out dirt on
her. For starters, she went by Charles and, to her endless
amusement, the public still refer to her as a “he.”
Nevertheless, she had emptied her fair share of inkwells; it
was common knowledge that KS, the interactive, fast,
secure, and entirely free operating system most schools and
businesses had embraced, had been launched from her dorm
What have you done, little girl, to give you the right to
breathe our air?
Thankfully, Victoria took pity on them both, interjecting
before he could open his mouth:
“I texted you a couple of months ago about renting your
place to a friend for a little while.”
The hellcat immediately retracted her fangs and claws. Her
voice lost all its edge as she responded almost
“You know I don't have access to my phone most of the
time. I just got it back and there were about two hundred
unread messages from you. I thought we could catch up at
home. And by the sound of it, we'll definitely have the time;
I'm crashing on your couch, if you don't mind.”
The bitch wasn't playing fair. Had she proved herself
difficult, demanded he'd left the premises, he could have
bitten back, shaken a copy of his tenancy agreement in front
of her nose and talked about lawyers and court. However,
she didn't even sound annoyed about the unappealing
prospect of bunking on Charles and Vick's sofa.
So, he offered reluctantly, “I can go. I'll need less than an
hour to pack.”
It was a shame; the apartment was perfection. Had he not
felt foolishly attached to his home and ever reluctant to
needlessly spend what he earned, it was exactly the sort of
place he would have purchased.
Large open space, floor to ceiling windows in each room
save for the very atmospheric, dark master bedroom painted
in the deepest shade of wine. The minimalist décor married
to the antique furnishing just worked for him. He was even
going to miss the obnoxious piano gathering dust Sunday
through Saturday, up until Linda painstakingly polished it.
He had been surprised that a woman had lived in this
setting, but now that he saw her, from the Converses to the
old baseball hat, he got it; she was missing the froufrou and
taffeta gene. Was she even wearing any makeup? He was no
expert in cosmetics, but he would have sworn she wasn't.
Liam didn't mistake this as a form of humility; she was
simply conscious of the fact that her honey skin and those
long, dark lashes of hers didn't require enhancement.
“No,” she refused, to his surprise. “You're paying rent and
I'm only here for a few months, regardless.”
Vick and Charles' eyes popped out from their pretty faces as
they took that in. From what he'd gathered, the girl wasn't
known to stay in town more than an occasional weekend
here and there.
“They made me take about five years’ worth of holidays.”
Boys born in his neighbourhood didn't make it to where he
now stood without a fairly good bullshit meter, and the
detector was buzzing something fierce. She was lying, her
countenance screamed it: the change of tone, the way she
crossed and uncrossed those legs...
While the enticing movement of the limbs was unnerving,
the duplicity didn't bother him; according to statistics,
women lied about three times a day – men, twice as much.
I'm fine. Nothing is the matter. Don't worry about it. Your
butt doesn't look fat in that dress. I'm on holidays.
That couldn't be much of a fib: she'd resigned, been
suspended, or sacked. Not a lot of people would have felt
comfortable admitting failure in a room full of young,
To be entirely honest, the reason why she didn't want them
to know the ins and outs of her presence didn't score very
high on the list of things he'd like to clear up at the minute.
All he wanted was to get the conversation back on track and
resolve the situation as soon as humanly possible.
High-handed autocrats had a tendency to deal with hiccups
“You can't spend months on the couch next door,” he heard
himself say, angling to the logical suggestion he hoped Vick
or Charles might come to.
He didn't relish in the idea of being the one pointing it out,
but the girl had to stay with him.
God knew there was enough space in her flat and he
preferred that to the only other option: he'd have to move
“Hell, you can't spend a night there; that thing is a torture
He tuned out Vick's protests in defence of her bright yellow
monstrosity made of the slimiest leather known to man.
That couch was so vile their surround-sound system, the
alcohol, and the company barely made up for it.
“Anyway, you should stay. There are three bedrooms here,
only two next door.”
He wished he could have sounded more enthusiastic but
cohabiting with the brat was going to be a challenging
experience. It had a shade of domesticity.
Liam didn't do domesticity, relationships, or anything
involving another living human being capable of reaching
him emotionally. His upbringing had taught him better.
He was hopeful, though. The girl didn't appear to be a
While the enthusiastic lovers he'd taken to bed frightened
him in broad daylight, the trio scattered around the room
Analytic by trade and temperament, he'd already come up
with a theory explaining his friendship with Victoria and
Charlotte: They were as wary of emotional involvement as
he. He could go next door every night with a bottle of wine,
takeout, a Blu-ray, and neither would be likely to write Mrs
W. B. Slate on their diary the next morning.
But he'd been cautious at first. Their familiarity was built on
years of acquaintance.
The new girl? Zero awkwardness. He just knew she had no
intention to step anywhere near his boundaries; her
demeanour was too cold to suggest otherwise.
Whatever her requirements for potential mates might be, he
hadn't made the cut.
It was reassuring and perhaps a little bit irritating at the
same time. Daunting as being seen as a potential future
wallet could be, he was accustomed to it – as successful
men of twenty-nine generally were.
“No need, I have other flats nearby. They might just need
some cleaning and... Why are you shaking your head?”
“You've left me in charge of them, Beth,” Vick reminded
her. “They're rented out.”
“You've rented all of my properties?”
«Entitled brat» appeared more accurate each time she
opened that mouth of hers.
“My company has grown over the last couple of years.”
Charles cut in.
Understatement: Knight Tech, run by three members of
staff in 2012, now occupied two floors in the glass building
they shared with Slate Inc.
“The recruits from out of town were grateful to find flats in
Manhattan straight away.”
“No worries, I'll take a room next door for now.” she said,
no doubt referring to the overpriced, understaffed
establishment on their left. “If you've rented three dozen
flats out, I can afford it.”
Liam was familiar with the hotel; he had indefinitely
booked their best suite for Jack's use in an effort to keep the
bodyguard close yet out of his face. It wasn't the worst place
to stay, but he felt uneasy at the prospect of letting her
spend money on a room. Vick had only asked a grand a
month from him; a thousand dollars, for a very newly
renovated three bedroom with library, office, and a gym,
carved into the fourth and last floor of a handsome Upper
East Side townhouse. The girl would spend at least as much
per night next door.
“It's unnecessary; I haven't taken up the master bedroom
and I practically live at work in any case. I'm sure we can
put up with each other for a little while. You're staying.”
It came out as an order, because it was exactly that.
For the first time, she looked directly at him, her green eyes
blazing as she conveyed as much distrust, dislike, and ire as
one could through a single glance.
People were generally against insulting women.
Nobody ever thought twice when referring to a man as a
complete dickhead; however, in this day and age, years of
PR wouldn't cover the damage he'd cause by calling a
woman names. It just wasn't the done thing, even when the
woman's behaviour made the words entirely accurate.
Fuck that. They'd justly fought for their independence, their
respect, their rights, and here it was: Respectfully, equally,
PCly, Elizabeth Carver is a bitch.
He did his best to hide the smile forming at the corner of his
mouth, but failed miserably; and strangely, right when he
felt his upper lip curling up on the left side, she nodded and
crossed the room, hand outstretched, offering to shake his.
It was only then, holding the small palm, meeting those
angry eyes, that he felt it.
While its potency wasn't by any means ordinary, he had no
issue identifying the cause of that spark. He had
experienced it before, to some degree. Chemistry. Pure,
undiluted chemistry between his body and hers.
However, when Liam could barely hold a coherent thought
as the shock passed through his limbs, she seemed entirely
unaffected by the explosion of senses he'd just survived.
He could think of nothing but the feel of that soft skin
against his… but he thoroughly despised men unable to
back off when a lady wasn't interested and he could tell: she
really, really wasn't.
About the Author:
Once Upon A Time, there was a little girl who just loved telling her own stories. Fast-forward about two decades? Not a lot of change, there.
My mother's collection of novels extends to three rooms, the stepfather who raised me writes awesome short stories: really, I didn't have a choice, I caught a bug.
I absolutely love writing, and I thought it was past time I shared some of my work.
Now And then, I died is published, I am working on my modern Cinderella, Artless – a post-apocalyptic fiction which is going to be amazing – And then, I ran as well as Play with fire. That’s a handful, but oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead :P
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congrats on the new releaseReplyDelete
I love the sound of this. Great blurb.ReplyDelete
You are quite the talent. I love the cover, and I can't wait to read your book.ReplyDelete