Use code DAD23 for 20% off + Free shipping on $45+ Shop Now!
If You Dare
By A. R. Torre
Formats and Prices
- ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
- Trade Paperback $18.99 $23.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 10, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Also available from:
The rules are the same. I can’t open the door. I can’t leave. I can’t kill anyone.
The only difference is, I don’t set the rules anymore. Guards in grey uniforms do. It is everything I never wanted and everything I always deserved. I write to you now, from a prison cell. My home for the next twenty to thirty years.
That’s the going term for murder.
Table of Contents
A Preview of The Girl in 6E
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author's intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support of the author's rights.
I had little but my secrets.
They kept me company at night, they formed a protective shield between me and the outside world. Hidden behind them, not one soul had all of me, not one person had wormed past the black tangle of deception. For that's what I was best at. Deception by omission. With my inner circle, I lied by omission. With my clients, I lied by distraction, seduction, and the false front I'd grown so good at portraying. I was good at lying. I'd gotten so good at it that I'd lost the truth in everything. Lost the ability to shift through my own bullshit. Lost the ability to know if I was lying to myself. And in that break, I'd lost the ability to police myself.
I started out this twisted game with three rules.
Don't leave the apartment. I stayed inside apartment 6E for three years before I broke that rule. Just once. Then twice. Then… I've lost count by now.
Never let anyone in. I broke that rule with two people, both of whom met grisly ends.
Don't kill anyone. Two years ago, that rule seemed realistic. I know myself better now.
Now, I will have new rules. New restrictions. They are all designed to keep me safely inside, when it'd be best for everyone involved if I am out. You see, there are a lot of people in prison. And they aren't able to run far.
"YOU KNOW I love you." Jeremy spoke softly against her ear and Deanna stirred, rolling over in bed and pulling the blanket over her head. He tugged on the edge of it but she held it tight. She had strength in her tiny frame and he smiled. Pulled harder and finally broke it clear, her face unveiled when the dark gray sheet was yanked down.
He lived to see her face. The delicate planes of it, the way her nose turned up slightly and her full lips parted in the moment right before she spoke. The arch of her eyebrows, the thick length of her lashes, the piercing amber of her eyes. Storms grew in those eyes; lightning flashed and heat smoldered. He could experience a lifetime in those eyes and never find his way out. Could kiss those lips for centuries and continue to crave the taste. Could dig his hands into the thick mane of her hair, pull her head back, look down into that face, and stay in that moment for the rest of his life.
She wouldn't allow it. Wouldn't allow him more than a passing glance. She was quick, furtive, her beauty hidden behind a flip of her hair, a sharp retort, a sudden burst of overwhelming sexuality. She wouldn't let him stare, wouldn't let him devour, wouldn't let him study. She gave him thin shards of herself and watched closely, with the expectation that he would cut himself and let her drink his blood. And therein lay the problem.
There was a strong possibility he was in love with a psychopath.
WHEN I COME to, the apartment is dark and I am on the floor. I prop myself up with an elbow, then a hand, looking around and trying to find my bearings. Slide far enough right to see the clock: 10:12 p.m. I look to the door and wonder if it is locked. Contemplate checking, but am too tired. My head feels odd, like it weighs a hundred pounds and is wrapped in cotton candy, my brain barely able to think through the mess of it all. I want to sleep, and can't really summon the will to stand, so I crawl on my stomach, along the dark floor, and into bed. Wonder, in the half moment before I fall asleep, where Jeremy is. I start to lift my hand to the pain at my nose, start to try and remember…
I don't notice when my hand hits the floor.
LILY LEANED AGAINST the counter and tapped her fingers on the granite. "Fancy place," she said mildly.
"Not too fancy." Jeremy took four steps in and spun, falling back on the new couch, the leather smacking upon impact.
"Fancier than Prestwick Place."
"Anything would have been." Twenty-three Prestwick Place had belonged to their grandmother, inherited by their parents, passed down to Jeremy. Prestwick had burned to the ground nine months earlier. He rubbed a wrist, then realized the gesture and stopped. "I had to set out pots every time it rained."
"No pots here." His sister glanced up to the ceiling. "And… this belongs to your girlfriend?"
"It did. I close on it next week."
"She just had an extra house lying around?"
"I didn't ask. It was cheap, the insurance check came, I took it."
"Doesn't look cheap," Lily said.
"I think she cut me a deal."
From the other room, Olivia tore in, socked feet sliding across the wood floor, hands spread out for balance, blond hair settling into place when she stopped. "There's two bedrooms," she said breathlessly. "Is one mine?"
He couldn't help but laugh. "Sure. Go ahead and claim it. Just don't stick a NO BOYS ALLOWED sign up."
His niece wrinkled her nose as if he'd said something wrong. He probably had. Dealing with a ten-year-old girl was like handling a grenade. One wrong joke and she exploded. "I'm a little old for that," she sniffed.
"My apologies." He glanced at Lily, who bit back a smile.
"Olivia, there's a basket of socks on the dryer. Go match them up."
"Quarter a pair?" She raised her eyes hopefully at him.
"Deal." She cheerfully held up a fist and tapped it against his, then bounded out.
"Damn, you're a cheap ass." His sister plopped down on the love seat, their heads close together.
"Have you seen that stack of socks? I'll go broke in the time it takes you to grill me."
"Am I that obvious?"
He smiled. "You're that dependable. This is the first time you've gotten me alone in a while."
"So spill and I won't pull out my instruments of torture." She rolled over and propped her chin on the arm of the love seat. "Tell me about the mysterious girlfriend who you've kept secret for a year."
"She hasn't been a secret."
"Then why haven't we met her? You brought that teacher by on your second date, yet I haven't even seen a picture of this one."
A picture. He needed a thousand of those, yet had only a handful. He mentally moved that up higher on the to-do list. Capture her on film, since he couldn't seem to do it any other way. "Here." Reaching down, he dug in his pocket, pulled out his cell, and flipped it open. Scrolled through a hundred pointless pics till he got to the one he looked at ten times a week. The one that had been his wallpaper till she'd threatened to cut him open unless he changed it. It was a great one, her in his sweatshirt and nothing else, scrunching her face at the camera while she lifted a soda to her lips. Her hair was in a messy bun, pieces of dark falling around her face, her cheeks flushed. It had been taken on a Sunday morning. She'd taken off work and they'd piled into her bed. Streamed cartoons on her laptop and split leftover Chinese takeout. After the food she'd fallen asleep, her head on his stomach, her hand on his thigh. He'd been rock hard when she stilled, her hand stopping its lazy trail up and down his thigh, her teasing touch driving him crazy. He'd been so close to reaching down, was fighting the urge, trying to focus, prolonging the pleasure as long as he could, when her hand stopped, his breath catching as he shifted slightly. Waited. Ran his hand slowly down her back, his touch a question. Then he leaned forward to see her face. Wheezed out a frustrated breath when he saw her slack features, her closed eyes. Shut his own eyes and focused on the soft puff of her breath against his abs. Willed his cock to go down, for the ache to subside, for Family Guy to work its asexual magic and kill his dirty thoughts.
A hundred shards of memory were tied to that image. He handed the phone over. "This is her."
His sister pushed up on her elbows and grabbed the phone. Her eyebrows raised when she saw the image. "She's cute. Really cute." She sat up fully and examined it closer. "Hmmph. She wasn't too socially awkward to bounce around naked in your sweatshirt. What's she do again?" The question was spit out casually, as if she hadn't asked it ten different ways over the last year.
"Web design." The first time he'd answered the question to anyone. The first time he'd lied about her. He hated it; the words crawled off his tongue and left a sour aftertaste, a strange sensation in his world that was normally so clean and simple. But what could he say? Tell the truth? His sister was already harboring reservations. To reveal that his girlfriend was a cybersex queen wouldn't help a thing.
"Must pay well." Tones of suspicion in the words, heard as easily as she had heard deception in his own.
"I don't ask. Not my business." Or yours.
"Well, what do you ask? Have you met her family?" The question was asked with such hostility that he was grateful for the correct answer to be both truthful and Lily-acceptable.
"No. They passed away when she was in high school."
"Oh, please. All of them?"
"Yes." His quiet tone wiped the snide look off of her face. "You can google it if you want. Her mother killed her entire family, then herself."
Her neck bulged when she swallowed, like a pelican forcing down a fish. "Seriously?"
"Yeah. I think that's where her social anxiety comes from." It wasn't exactly a lie.
She laughed abruptly, the sound high and sharp and inappropriate. "We're not gonna kill her, J."
Again, the truth fell out easier. "She's not worried about that."
"'Cause she's never gonna see us?"
The ugly cut of sharpness was back in her voice, this time tinged with… hurt? Great. His sister, who spits nails out with her breakfast, had her feelings hurt. He reached over and plucked the phone back. Ignored her pout and worked it back into his pocket. "It's that important to you? The meet and greet?"
"I am the most important person in your life." She slid back onto her stomach.
"Ummm… no," he deadpanned. "Brian, Kent, James, Yen. All ranking higher. Plus Olivia. You're looking at spot six or seven, easy."
"Watch it," she warned. "I have no issue taking your beer buddies out of the picture. For the sake of competitive rank alone."
"You know I'm kidding." He stared up at the ceiling. "I'll talk to her. See if I can convince her to a dinner." He wouldn't be able to. No way. He had absolutely no control over that woman.
"I'll cook," she offered. "Whatever you guys want. She'll be well fed if nothing else. And the girl can stand to eat. She does eat, right? More than just those diet dinners you deliver?"
He grinned. "She eats. And she's fine. Don't say anything about her weight."
"She's got to toughen up sometime. I don't want you dating a shrinking violet, J."
A shrinking violet. Jeremy doubted that there was ever a moment that Deanna had been considered that. He tried to picture a meeting of the two women, one that didn't end in combustion, but failed. "She's not a shrinking violet. You don't have to worry about that."
"Oh. My sweet brother." Lily sighed. "You've always been clueless when it comes to your women."
Had he? His sister's track record in being right trumped his tenfold. But in this she was wrong. He knew one thing with Deanna, that she wasn't meek or mild.
In everything else he was clueless.
"THANKS FOR THE place." When Jeremy whispered against my neck, it made the tiny hairs on my skin tickle. I rolled away, his arm bringing me back, turning me to face him. I scooted down on the bed, so my head was at his chest and he moved to his back, our readjustment complete.
"You bought it. Nothing really to thank me for. Thanks for taking it off of my hands." Yes, thank you for purchasing the home I bought for you from me. Thank you for letting me take that hundred-thousand-dollar loss. Thank you for not dying, and for being here beside me. Thank you for not asking questions and for loving me despite all of this.
He laughed softly and it was almost like a cough, the exhale of humor causing his heart to change tempo, to skip a beat under my ear. I moved my hand down his ribs, then back up, this time underneath his shirt. "You know… it has a bedroom. With a real bed. One off the floor."
I smiled in the dark. "You too highfalutin to sleep on a mattress on the floor?"
"I'm just saying. Maybe you could visit. Spend a night. Help me break it in. Mark your territory so none of the bikini model neighbors get any ideas."
I'd love to spend a night at his place. I had flipped through the pictures online a hundred times, could imagine the feel of the wood floors underneath my bare feet, the sink into the huge jetted tub, the glow of the Sub-Zero fridge when I opened the door late at night. But I couldn't. I slowed the movement of dragging my fingers across his abs and contemplated rolling over. If I had turned away, he'd ask why. Push. And I didn't feel like talking. I felt like staying in the peaceful moment, his heartbeat in my ear, his hand on my back rubbing a soothing pattern. I closed my eyes and wondered at the time. Wondered how much we had left. Soon, it would be nine and Simon would lock the door. But that was at least an hour away. A hour to pretend, for that short time, that we were normal. That I wasn't pushing him out the door to prevent an incident where I might try to kill him.
Once he left, I'd get online. Work for a few hours, then close down the webcams and play. I'd found a new website the week before, a black site where crime photos are posted. A hundred new pics every hour. It's become my midnight snack, my mental feeding ground that I devour in the final moments before sleep. Dr. Derek would flip a shit if he found out. Dr. Derek can kiss my ass.
"What are your plans next week?" My eyes opened at his question.
"Yeah." His fingers brushed gently across the top of my head, threading into my hair and sliding down, the movement heavenly, and I closed my eyes, enjoying the sensation.
"Nothing." Always nothing. The life of a shut-in doesn't really involve plans. "Why?"
"Just asking." A pause before the response, and something in that pause. A decision had been made in those milliseconds. My eyes wanted to reopen, but I held them shut. Let the moment pass.
Our dance of avoidance. We've gotten quite good at it.
THERE WAS A stranger, leaning up against the wall, when Jeremy walked down the sixth-floor hall. The girl had a cell phone out, thumbs furious against the screen. She glanced over once, then back, a second glance that would have, at one point in time, pleased him. But now he had Deanna, had no need for this girl, her hair a loud shade of blond, her jeans tight, eye makeup dark and obvious.
"Hey," she called out, right around the time that he'd raised his hand to the door of 6E. He gave her a nod and knocked. He didn't need to knock; he could've just turned the knob and pushed in. But he liked the question, liked the grin Deanna gave when she swung it open, didn't like any possibility that he was uninvited. Plus, he'd seen her cam before, didn't need a reminder of her job by walking into a live version of the show.
"Hey," the girl repeated, louder this time, pushing her body off the wall and ambling toward him. "Got anything for Evans? 6G?"
He shook his head without checking the list. "Sorry." Reached up and knocked again. Willed Deanna to hurry up. Could see, in his peripheral, the girl crawl closer.
"That's the weirdo's apartment, right?" She giggled and stepped close enough for her cheap perfume to reach him. "I'm Chelsea." She stuck out her hand. Short, dark purple nails flashed in the vicinity of his crotch. Unavoidable. He shifted Deanna's package to the other arm and slid his hand into hers. "Jeremy," he mumbled.
And at that moment, the door swung open.
THE STRANGE BITCH had a grin stretched across her face and was looking up at Jeremy, every tooth in her mouth peeking through sticky glossed lips at him. His eyes darted to mine and he smiled, his grin lopsided and easy, his hand pulling from hers as he stepped forward and kissed my cheek. "Hey, babe." His breath was warm on my cheek, his hand firm as it pushed at my door. The forward step of his foot carrying him across my threshold, a whoosh of hot air floating through the open door and hitting my bare skin. A hundred other details that faded as I focused on her.
The hand, the one that had gripped my boyfriend's hand, lifted higher, past a peek of tan stomach, in front of a tight blue shirt with Betty Boop's face stretched over an impressively perky set of double D's. Her arms crossed and the breasts became even bigger. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"Just being friendly," she drawled, her eyes dropping and sliding over my bra and thong set. A perfectly tweezed eyebrow raised. "Cute outfit."
I didn't respond, my shoulder hitting the door frame as I stared back at her, comfortable. "You just move in?" My snooping of our hall had drastically reduced since I got a life. Still, I couldn't have missed a move, the loud noises of furniture banging and scraping down our thin hall.
She waved a dark-tipped hand down the hall. "Staying in 6G for a while with my brother."
6G. Simon's place. Brother. My eyes dragged over her hair, skin, eyes. They seemed clear and clean, no evidence of drugs present. Her lips moved, the white glimpse of her straight teeth making another unwelcome appearance. I studied her features and tried to conjure up Simon's face. Tried to recall if, behind the unmaintained exterior, he had been blessed with the genetic makeup this girl carried. I didn't see it. They were too different. She clean. He dirty. She attractive. He disgusting.
Chelsea. Of course she was. I felt the shift of Jeremy behind me, heard the slide of cardboard as he moved my mountain of boxes enough to fit in the next addition. Heard the slice of his box cutter as he ripped apart and broke down one of the empty ones. "Have a nice day, Chelsea." I shut the door as she started to respond.
"Have a nice day?" Jeremy mocked my response from behind me.
I turned to face him. "Too sweet?" I asked, tilting my head and surveying him. His legs were spread slightly, a box cutter still in his grip. He raised a wrist to wipe at his mouth and his bicep flexed.
He shrugged and the blade flashed against one of my cam lights. "Just was a little tamer than I was expecting. I figured you'd drag her in here and jump on top of her."
"Is that what you wanted, Mr. Pacer?" I stepped forward and watched the casual flip of his thumb as he retracted the blade, his eyes narrowing slightly as he caught me watching it. "Deanna…," he warned.
"I'm fine." I stepped closer and unhooked my bra. Took one more step, reaching a hand out and tugging the box cutter free, his body tensing. I didn't look at it, held my own breath until the moment I tossed it off to the side, the hit and skitter of metal indicating its harmless slide to the far side of the room. I exhaled, the tension leaving his limbs as he returned his attention to my face, a drugged arousal clouding over him as his gaze dropped to my now-bare breasts. "But I'm gonna need you on the bed. Now." I shoved on his chest, and he staggered back in the direction of my bed, a smile returning to his face.
I pounced on him.
Unzipped and pulled him out.
Silenced his mutters of time with my mouth as I straddled his cock and sat down atop it.
And sometime, right before I came, I forgot about the box cutter.
"YOU'RE INVITED TO family dinner this Sunday. My sister wants you there."
My fork stopped halfway to my lips, a wrap of pad thai noodles slipping free in the gap of time. I looked at Jeremy and noted the way his eyes slid from me. He wet his lips and—for the first time in recent memory—I didn't want to grab his shirt and kiss said lips.
"Your sister wants me there?" An interesting choice of words. He set down his fork and sat back in the chair. Lifted his chin and looked at me straight on.
"What about you? What do you want?"
His shoulders lifted but nothing else moved, the casual gesture not matching with any other line in his body. His neck was stiff, his jaw set, his eyes now boring defiantly into me. He was physically prepped, as if for battle. It was a ridiculously hot look. I set down my own fork. "You don't care?" I mimicked him, sitting back in my chair, the metal of its back ice-cold against my bare skin. I should have pulled on a sweatshirt. Or turned up the thermostat. Something so that, right now, I didn't look like a shivering pussy.
"I don't care." He said the words dully, without emotion, but I saw the darkening of green, the way his hand tightened on the thigh of his jeans. Something was going on.
"You look like you care."
"It'd be nice for you to meet my family. For us to be normal."
When the anger came it burned, hot and red through my chest, a hundred emotions pushing out in veins that were too skinny to handle them all. It'd be nice for you to meet my family. It'd be nice for him to meet my family too. Would be nice to have a family to introduce. How dare he shove that in my face? How could I sit there, with his family, and not think of my own? Not compare every hug, every I love you, every child, mother, and father, with my own? For us to be normal. Yeah, J. I'd like to be normal too. I'd like to sit across from my boyfriend and get angry and not think about cutting open his stomach. I'd like to walk outside and not try to kill someone. I'd like to pick a boyfriend because of choices, not because he's the only fuckin' person in three years who hadn't run screaming or died beneath my hands. I closed my eyes and tilted my chair back, felt the lift of the feet, the hover, and gripped the table's edge for balance. Counted to ten like Dr. Derek taught me. Envisioned a white expanse before me, all distractions, all thoughts fading, muting, in the white. I wondered, with the tilt of my world back, if I needed to do a curl. Roll my body into a ball and let my fantasies run wild. Distract myself from the stabbing pain of memories that his flippant statement just brought on. I'd never curled in front of Jeremy before. Dr. Derek said it would freak him out. Suggested the white method instead. The white method sucks. It gives me no release, no break, is the equivalent of unpopped ears when coming off a flight, my desire to hold my nose and blow out my world an intense itch. I gripped the table's edge and heard, across the span of white, him speak.
"Is that too much to ask?"
I pushed against the table's edge and let myself fall.
I'M EXAMINING MY face in the bathroom mirror. Today started out late, a killer headache keeping me in bed until almost noon, two Vicodin barely taking the sting off. When I finally crawled out of bed, I showered, then pulled on a baby-blue camisole and matching thong, blow-drying my hair on the floor by my bed, checking e-mails as the hot air did its thing. When I flipped on the bright lights and climbed onto the cam bed, hooking my laptop in and stretching out on the comforter, my face was off camera, my waist and hips on full display, my fingers busy as they logged into different sites and sent my live feed into every corner of cyberspace. When I propped up on one elbow, panning out, and smiled for my viewers, I didn't understand the image on the screen. I leaned closer to the cam and flinched in surprise, jerking out a hand and ending the stream, my body rolling off of the bed, my feet quick as they hurried to the bathroom. And now, my hand clenched on the edge of the medicine cabinet mirror, I stare into my reflection and at the broken, bloody mess that is my nose. Did I do this? Knock myself out again with another dramatic fall to the floor? Lose control trying to get out of my locked door and headbutt the steel? I've never done that before, never caused any more damage than a few broken nails and occasional bruises.
- "One of the most eagerly anticipated sequels of the year, Do Not Disturb is every bit as twisted and exciting as its predecessor.... If you enjoy your thrillers intensely raw, dark and unusual, look no further. Torre is captivating."—RT Book Reviews on Do Not Disturb
- "Dark, edgy, and thrilling in a completely unexpected way."—Lisa Renee Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Inside Out series on The Girl in 6E
- "A.R. Torre's The Girl in 6E lifts the veil on the dark, erotic world of camming, but the book contains so many more surprises than that. At the novel's core, a tender heart beats, and the increasingly suspenseful pages fly by as its deepest secrets are revealed. This is a taut, edgy, thrill ride, powerfully gripping and impossible to turn away from."—David Bell, author of Never Come Back and Cemetery Girl
- "An incredible debut. Gritty, unique, primal, full of angst, oddly feminist, and right up my alley. The Girl in 6E deviates from formulaic romance to deliver something truly special and worthy of praise and attention. A dark soul like me isn't often surprised by controversy or taboo subject matter, but this book delivers and I'll be reading more A.R. Torre books in the future. Kudos!"—CJ Roberts, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Dark Duet
- "The Girl in 6E is uniquely twisted and captivates from the beginning. The premise is entirely original, as are the characters and the pacing. The main character may be a cold killer, but inside is a woman with a soul who sacrifices everything to keep from unleashing herself on the world.... Torre has written a beautifully warped thriller that will be staying with this reviewer for a long time to come."—RT Book Reviews, Top Pick! (4.5 Stars)
- "A taut thriller unlike any suspense novel today."—The Quincy Herald-Whig on The Girl in 6E
- "It's not for the feint hearted, granted, but A.R Torre does an incredible job of taking a sensitive subject matter and telling a compelling and thought-provoking story...The Girl in 6E is definitely worth a peek. "—Jodi Ellen Malpas, #1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author
- On Sale
- Nov 10, 2015
- Page Count
- 368 pages