By: Skye Warren

Forbidden fruit never tasted this sweet…

“Swoon-worthy, forbidden, and sexy, Liam North is my new obsession.”

– New York Times bestselling author Claire Contreras

The world knows Samantha Brooks as the violin prodigy. She guards her secret truth—the desire she harbors for her guardian.

Liam North got custody of her six years ago. She’s all grown up now, but he still treats her like a child. No matter how much he wants her.

No matter how bad he aches for one taste.

Her sweet overtures break down the ex-soldier’s defenses, but there’s more at stake than her body. Every touch, every kiss, every night. The closer she gets, the more exposed his darkest secret. She’s one step away from finding out what happened the night she lost her family.

One step away from leaving him forever.


Beethoven would count out exactly sixty coffee beans each time he had a cup.


The whir of the espresso machine lures me downstairs.

I’m not naturally an early riser, especially on a Saturday, but Liam always waits for me. The food could get cold, but he’d still be there, with his newspaper and his endless patience and his deep green eyes.

He gives me a small nod in greeting.

Only the sound of foaming milk breaks the morning quiet. There’s avocado toast with walnut oil and fresh lemon juice at my place. On the other side of the table, scrambled egg whites and steamed broccoli. A ritual we’ve shared for the past six years…

And it’s going to end in a matter of weeks when I graduate high school.

When I turn eighteen. When I leave for the music tour that will take me around the country and across the globe… away from the man I’ve come to need more than I should.

“The interviewer from Classical Notes should be here at noon,” he says, handing me a steaming mug with Earl Grey and lavender and a liberal splash of cream. He would never use anything as sweet and unnecessary as cream in his own drinks, but thankfully he’s never controlled what I eat. He only controls everything else.

The reporter is doing a profile on me for the magazine. The famous child prodigy. Ugh. That’s the last thing a seventeen-year-old girl wants to be called—a child.

I’m almost an adult now, but the label follows me around.

I take a fortifying sip of the hot liquid, closing my eyes against the burn. When I open them again, Liam looks at me with a strange expression. That’s when I realize I let out a moan of pleasure. “Sounds good,” I say a little too brightly, trying to cover my embarrassment.

He clears his throat and takes a seat at the head of the table. “Right. Well. I doubt the interview will take very long. I’ll let him know you need to practice.”

A strange thrill moves through me. Defiance? Not exactly, but I feel energized all the same. He doesn’t have to protect me anymore. And soon he won’t have the right. The tour is going to change everything for me—and between us. I look forward to it as much as I dread it. “I do need to practice, but you don’t have to rush the interview.”

“Remember,” he says as if I hadn’t spoken. “You don’t have to answer anything you don’t like. If a question gets too personal, I’ll step in.”

My cheeks heat. Of course I know why he’s being so protective. There were some disastrous interviews when I was six, seven, eight years old. Daddy didn’t care to be in the room with me. Some of the questions would be inappropriate or downright aggressive. The classical music world is basically a viper’s nest, and child prodigies are regarded with a mixture of awe and distrust.

And then there was the interviewer from a national newspaper. He had been ushered into the drawing room and left alone with me for thirty uncomfortable minutes, where he coaxed me to sit on his lap and nuzzled my neck. Daddy’s aide found me crying in a closet hours later.

All of that is in the past. I’m no longer a scared little girl.

I shrug as if it doesn’t bother me. “These classical music reporters ask the same questions. Who’s my favorite composer? Who do I want to play with in the future?”

Liam’s stern expression doesn’t waver. No doubt he remembers how I had trembled before the first interview, shortly after he got custody of me. I’d brokenly shared the story with him. At the time I was too afraid that he would give me away if I didn’t tell the truth, to make anything up. So I told him about the reporter who held me on his lap. From that moment on I never did an interview alone. Liam is always there, always protecting me.

“Who do you want to play with?” he asks, his tone mild. As if he hasn’t heard me wax poetic about my favorite violinists and maestros for years.