Valiant:Joker's Wrath MC

By: Bella Jewel

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


As always, my heartfelt thanks to every single blogger, reader and author that has supported my journey. From reading my books, to sharing them, to raving about them, to being there for me. Thank you. My career would be nothing without any of you.

A huge thanks to Kylie from Give Me Books for organizing my reveals and blitzes. You do such an amazing job. No matter how many times I use you, I am always blown away by how efficient you are. Nothing is ever a drama. Thank you for giving me so much support.

A massive thanks to Ben Ellis from BE Designs for this gorgeous cover. Not only did you come in at the last minute, you did an absolutely incredible job. I honestly have no words to explain how grateful I am to you for all the help you put in. I’m forever in your debt.

A big, heartfelt thanks to Ready, Set, Edit for doing this book for me at the last moment. I really appreciate the time you took to help me out, and how patient you were when my kids weren’t well!! Thank you so much, lovely.

And of course, to my admin, MJ, for ALWAYS keeping my page running beautifully. I couldn’t do it without you, girly. I love your teasers and your passion; thank you for taking the time out of your life to help this poor girl keep everything running.

And, last but certainly not least, to my loyal readers. To each and every one of you that picks up my books and give me a chance. To the reviews you write, good or bad. To the time you take to make me a better person. You make this real for me; never stop giving such love and passion. You make our journey so amazing.





PROLOGUE


Run.

Run as fast as you can.

Don’t look back.

No matter what. Do not look back.

My feet pound the pavement as I charge toward the trees; the thick, brutal looking trees. Even those they are heaven sent. Their branches will tear the skin from my arms, their trunks will trip me, they will scratch and scrape me, but even then, what they’re offering is so much better than what’s coming behind me.

“Running won’t save you, bitch!”

Angry. Terrifying. The bark of a voice that once sounded kind—soft, even. The anger of a man that I once called my boyfriend. The love of my life. The man I wanted to spend eternity with. How can one change so quickly? How can someone go from loving to a monster in a matter of months? How can everything good be stripped from their soul, only to be replaced with ugliness?

So much ugliness.

I know the answer to that.

Drugs.

I reach the trees and take a staggering breath before shoving my body amongst them. I’m right. Skin is torn from my arms, I’m being scratched and scraped at every turn, but they’re sheltering me. Even in their worst moments, they’re sheltering me, and I’m grateful for their protection.

“If you don’t fucking stop, it’ll fucking hurt!”

Threats.

Only they’re not really threats, they’re promises. If he gets ahold of me. If his hands curl around my throat, if his fists find my face, if his feet find my body ... Those threats will be promises. And I’ll hurt.

I’m so tired of hurting.

I’m not sure that running will do me any good. I don’t honestly know that it’ll help anything. But I’ll do whatever it takes. Even if it means I fail. I’ll fight with the last piece of strength I have left. I will because I have to. Because I want to. Because I need to taste freedom on my tongue again. I need to remember what it felt like to not be afraid.

Panting, I push deeper and deeper into the trees. Where I’m going to go, I don’t know. I’ll find somewhere. I’ll start again. I’ll change my name. I’ll do whatever it takes. I will.

My hands go out in front of me, shoving branches out of the way as my feet navigate the thick woodlands that surround me. It’s dead silent. Not a sound to be heard. Do they all hear him coming and run too? Do the animals duck for shelter? Do the birds fly away?

They’d be smart to.

Run, run.

I’m nearly there.

I’m nearly free.

I’m nearly ...

A hand curls around my throat, jerking me backwards. Pain explodes in my body as something tugs my hair so hard my eyes water. My feet give way; I fall backwards into a hard, muscled chest. No. No, please. I was so close. I was so damned close. I could taste it. I could feel it.

Please.

“You’re going to wish you never fucking did that.”

The hiss in my ear comes only moments before a fist hits the side of my head so hard my world goes black.

I was so close.





CHAPTER 1


NOW – BAYLEE


I jerk awake, my hand going to my chest to ease my pounding heart. A few shaky breaths escape my lips, and for a moment, I sit, panting, wondering where the hell I am. My eyes focus, and after a few moments, I remember. I’m at home. I’m safe. He isn’t here. He’s gone. He won’t find me.

He won’t.

My fingers tremble as I clutch my chest, afraid to let it go, afraid my heart will burst out in a futile attempt to stop feeling this kind of pressure every single moment of its life. I close my eyes, steady my breathing, and only then do I drop my hand, letting it fall to my side.

Gone. Safe.

Gone. Safe.

Gone. Safe.

I turn in my bed, sliding my legs out and placing my feet on the floor. The carpet is soft between my toes, and it feels nice, comforting even. With trembling fingers, I reach over and grab my phone from the nightstand, staring down at the screen. No missed calls. No messages. Nothing. Exactly how I like it. Exactly how I need it.