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Marlena Altizer Durst lives in her husband’s shadow. He controls her every move―what she wears, the food she eats, and the friends she’s allowed to make. If she disobeys, there are…consequences. And he has all the power.

To outsiders, it seems that she leads a fairy-tale life. But nobody ever wonders if Cinderella was happy after she married the prince. Marlena has traded freedom and safety for luxurious imprisonment, and most days, that seems like a bad bargain. Death may be the only exit she’s allowed. Just like his first wife. And his second. Unless she flips the script.

Some people just need killing.

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On the third day, Michael finally came home. When he did, he brought flowers. Warily I took the white roses, trying to contain my urge to flinch away from the hand that then dropped onto my head. I shivered, controlling my reaction with significant effort.

“You’re upset,” he said. “I may have overreacted, but the idea of losing you … it drives me crazy. I only reacted that way because I love you so much.”

When he put a pretty pink diamond ring on my finger to conclude the apology, I let him draw me close and rested my head on his chest, vowing not to make him feel insecure again. I’d never considered myself irresistible, but Michael clearly thought other men couldn’t see me without wanting me.

Stroking my back, he went on. “Men are animals, Marlena. You’re too innocent to understand that, and that’s why I have to fight twice as hard to keep you that way.”

I swallowed hard. What would Michael say if I told him I already knew? One of my mother’s boyfriends had shown me when I was eleven, and then later, Bobby Ray Hudgens reinforced the lesson. Before, I’d never thought those violations made me dirty, but I had no doubt my husband would feel that way. He’d probably think I was some little Lolita, seducing men with a sway of my hips.

“Oh.” It was the only sound I could make.

My lack of response didn’t matter because he was in the mood to talk. “I’ve never told you this … because I’m not proud of it, but I was married before. She … left me. And it took a long time for me to get over that.”

Left you? Is that what you’re calling it? My heart hardened into titanium, untouchable, impenetrable. But I couldn’t let on how much I already knew—about his past, and I couldn’t think on it too deeply or he might read that awareness in my expression. I understood far too well to be drawn in by diamond rings and repentant smiles.

But I kept up the pretense. “There’s never been anyone else,” I said softly.

“I do know. It’s part of what makes you perfect. But sometimes I lose the thread, and I’m sorry for that.”

It amused me to test him, though, and to see how he’d respond. “I went running in the park yesterday. Vin took me. But there was nothing personal about it.”

Michael nodded. “He gave me a full report before I came in. Now that I’ve had some time, I know you weren’t leading him on. And what happened with Will Stone, well, he’s a lecher, but that’s not your fault.”

It was tough to get the words out, but I could only cower for so long. “Next time you’re upset, if you could dial it down … I was really scared.” There, I said it.

“I’ll never hurt you,” Michael said. “You are my most precious possession, and it’s my greatest joy to protect you.”

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted an I’m sorry, I’ll do better, like he always forced out of me. And the fact was, he had hurt me. I had a circular bruise around my wrist from where he’d hauled me around and another on my hip due to my tumble over the ottoman, deep and blue, fading to green. I bit in the inside of my lip against an instinctive protest. I’m not your possession. I’m not.


To celebrate the release of THE THIRD MRS. DURST by Ann Aguirre we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!

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GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Ann Aguirre. Giveaway ends 8/18/2019 @ 11:59pm EST.


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NY Times and USA Today bestselling author ANN AGUIRRE has been a clown, a clerk, a savior of stray kittens, and a voice actress, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in Mexico with her husband and children. She writes all manner of genre fiction for adults and teens.

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