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Desperate Choices by Jeanette Cooper
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Genre/Category: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
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Desperate Choices by Jeanette Cooper
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Synopsis

Advisory reader age for this book is 17+

Rochelle Rathbone flirts with danger and becomes involved with Tobias Chandler, Miami drug czar; thus, setting the stage for horrors she never knew existed until after their marriage. Guarded around the clock in his Miami mansion, she becomes his prisoner. She devises a desperate plan and escapes, knowing Tobias will come after her. She meets and falls in love with Michael Matheson. She knows there are only two things that will stop his pursuit of her—her death or his...


Excerpt:

Driving her shiny new car, the combination graduation and birthday present from her parents, Rochelle drove to the address Tobias gave her. She was now eighteen and felt all grown up from the attention Tobias showered upon her. They had met frequently at out of the way places, had talked, laughed, and petted, but nothing more serious. Then immediately after her birthday, he called her private phone to invite her to his home for the first time. The invitation thrilled her. She drove through a neighborhood that flaunted million dollar homes with gated entrances. When she came to the house number she sought she pulled into the driveway and stopped. A stately mansion was secured by a six-foot fence with spikes around the top and boasted a wrought-iron gate with a small gatehouse. She gazed in awe at the spacious lawns on each side of the long driveway leading up to a huge modern structure of mortar, stone, steel, and plate glass windows that reflected the blue sky.

At the entrance, a guard, with a magazine in his hand, stepped from the small gatehouse. He pushed a button and the gates opened with an electrical whirring sound. “Miss Rathbone, drive forward, please. Mr. Chandler is expecting you.”

A bright smile lit Rochelle’s girlish face, and she drove forward with a sense of expectancy. Awed by such grandeur, she stopped in front of the elegant structure with fascinated interest. She opened the car door, climbing out when she spied Tobias coming to greet her.

“Is this all yours?” she blurted out childishly. Looking upward, she saw the outer walls of the house rising to a height of at least three stories.

Tobias ignored the question, and kissed her. “Come inside and I’ll show you around.” His white teeth flashed behind a wide smile and he seemed genuinely happy to see her. They were no longer strangers. They had been together a number of times since their initial meeting. All their visits had been friendly get-togethers. Now, she had just had her eighteenth birthday and was at the legal age of consent.

The tour led directly up the spacious winding stairs to Tobias’s elegantly decorated bedroom with a king size bed and beautiful furnishings. Sliding glass doors opened onto a balcony overlooking green lawns. Tobias reached his arms around Rochelle and kissed her. His hands moved over her body, taking liberties beyond the timid familiarities exercised over the past few weeks. The age restriction no longer applied and now he would take what he had wanted since meeting her.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this day, baby. You know I want you.” His eyes drank in her lovely, creamy smooth complexion and her young woman’s figure.

Rochelle smiled, feeling self-important. Her ego became pumped up by Tobias’s declaration of desire for her. Everything about him thrilled her. Over the weeks when they had met clandestinely, he had touched and fondled her, causing her to yearn for more. Now a simple nod of her head indicated her consent.

With easy abandon, Tobias relieved Rochelle of her clothing and shed his own. His steel-gray eyes scanned her nakedness, the act shaming and thrilling her at once. His hands seemed to be everywhere. A spark of desire struck like lightning as he walked her backward toward the bed, pushing her down until she lay on her back. She had been looking forward to this moment. Having Tobias fondle and entice her over the weeks she had known him had developed into a strong need that begged for repletion. A thrill of anticipation raced through her even while tension tightened her muscles causing her to recline on the bed like a stiff board.

Tobias’s hands slid across her breasts and along the curves of Rochelle’s body to send sensuous chills along the column of her spine. He kissed her until her lips burned with his kisses. He trailed a chain of kisses down to one nipple then the other. The kisses didn’t stop there. They followed a path down to her stomach and beyond. Rochelle’s heart pounded thunderously to her ears.

This was something all new to her. She tensed.

“Relax, baby. Just relax and enjoy it. I’m going to make you feel so good.” He fondled her round breasts to prove it and watched her tiny rosebud nipples rise to delicate pink peaks.

Rochelle was too breathless to speak. She nodded her head, her eyes beseeching him, not knowing what else to expect, but her body was attuning itself to his intimacy.

“You want this, don’t you, baby?” he asked hoarsely, his mouth, hands, and fingers enticing her as never before over the entirety of her shapely body.

Rochelle’s green eyes stretched open wide, resembling a frightened doe. Her response to Tobias’s question was a yes that sounded more like a squeak.

“You have a beautiful body,” Tobias whispered, his voice husky. His hands explored her, touching, feeling, and possessively plundering every inch of her. He slid his fingers up the inside of her thighs. He bent his head again to her lips, while his hand and fingers took liberties with every valley and curve. Although tense, Rochelle became aware of the natural response of her body beneath his bold caresses.

Stimulated by the fiery intensity of his need, Tobias moved between her legs taking a position on top of her. She lay beneath him, still and unmoving. Then he entered her, gently and slowly this first time, finally sending a stabbing thrust to deflower her youth.

“So good, so good,” he groaned hoarsely in her ear just before his explosive release.

He groaned, jerked, and shuddered, letting his full weight rest upon her. Unable to breathe, Rochelle pushed her hands against his shoulders, and he rolled off her, totally spent. He spread out his arms and legs in loose repose with no thought for modesty. Rochelle pulled the sheet up to cover her, diverting her attention to the ceiling.

Rochelle felt needy. She had reached a high point that felt like pure ecstasy in the making, and then nothing when Tobias finished with her. Was that all there was to it? Wasn’t she supposed to experience some sort of pleasure such as he seemed to gain from their sexual encounter? An unfulfilled longing resided in her lower abdomen.

She glanced over at him, feeling slightly abandoned, wishing he would hold her. She scooted over next to him and spread her arm across his chest, snuggling her face up against his neck and cheek.

“Baby, you’re wonderful. You made daddy feel really good.”

Rochelle winced, wishing he would not use the word daddy in relation to their intimacy. Her daddy would kill her if he knew what she had just done. She snuggled up against him, and the throbbing need inside her was slow to dissolve.

FOLLOWING THAT DAY of lost innocence, Rochelle felt terribly grown up. What few girlfriends she still had seemed young and childish, their example of a night out being a trip to the pizza parlor with the gang. Such pastimes were too tame for Rochelle now after her induction into more grownup activities with Tobias. She had outgrown her old classmates.

Tobias took her to posh restaurants and lively nightclubs and discos. He provided her a wardrobe of expensive clothing, which she kept at his home. He gave her money to buy more anytime she wanted. She grew into their busy nightlife, and since she wasn’t twenty-one, she sipped on cokes while Tobias and his friends drank scotch, bourbon, gin, or vodka.

Following her graduation from high school, she enrolled and started classes at the local university. Her and Tobias’s secret affair—which Rochelle continually hid from her parents by telling them she was going out with friends—went on during her freshman year at the university. When she was ready to start her sophomore year, Tobias decided he wanted to marry her.

At about that same time, Joshua Rathbone, Rochelle’s father, learned that all Rochelle’s nights out hadn’t been trips to the library or outings with her girlfriends after all. Through friends who saw them out in public, he learned of his daughter’s relationship with Tobias Chandler.

Rochelle’s parents went crazy with shock, anger, and dismay.

“For God’s sake, you have to be out of your mind.” Angela Rathbone cried hysterically. “The man is old enough to be your father, and if that isn’t bad enough, he’s a known criminal. Do you have any idea what kind of situation you’re getting yourself into with this man? Do you know what you’re doing?”

“Mom…” Rochelle started, not with an answer, but with a rebuttal.

Before she could say more, her father interrupted. “Rochelle, you will not see that man again. I forbid it! Do you understand me? I forbid it!” he said in raised voice and controlled anger. The news of his daughter having an affair with Tobias Chandler was the worse news of his life.

“Dad, you can’t forbid it. I’m a woman now and have a right to make my own decisions,” she quarreled, exercising an uncommon bravado not familiar to her parents.

Joshua hit the ceiling. “A woman! Good God, you are nothing but a child. A woman would have better sense than to let that criminal bastard compromise her.”

“He’s not a bastard, and it won’t do you any good to call him names,” Rochelle raised her voice. “I have a right to make decisions about my life. I’m doing what I want, and I won’t listen to this.”

Joshua was well aware of defiance among young people. It had become a sort of juvenile revolution with youngsters of all ages declaring their independence before they were mature enough to take responsibility for their actions. Once normal households had become war zones where parents screamed and fought for control by attempting to exercise parental influence, often in a losing battle with their children. With a kind of feel-good mentality among youths, they sought life in the moment, in the fast lane. Drug use was rampant, as was sexual promiscuity. Youth were in turmoil, but Joshua never expected this kind of behavior from his daughter who had a proper upbringing.

Joshua and Angela raised Rochelle in a morally prudent environment revolving around church, community, and civic affairs. They submersed her in a life complemented by good up-right friends, and set proper standards of behavior exemplified by their own conduct. They never counted on outer influences compromising everything taught her at home.

Now, tormented by Rochelle’s association with Tobias Chandler, Joshua looked back and wondered where he and Angela went wrong. Perhaps they had protected Rochelle too much, instead of acquainting her with the ills of a sick society filled with drugs, perverse sex, murder, rape, and a hoard of crimes against mankind. Knowing Rochelle was innocent prey to a man like Tobias Chandler, Joshua felt the urge to kill him for destroying his child’s innocence.

“As God is my witness, Rochelle,” Joshua exploded, a rarity for his commonly dignified manner, “I’ll damn well lock you in your room if I have to rather than see you ruin your life with some low-life criminal. Everybody in the justice system knows he runs the drug trade in Miami. He’s involved with every low-life who has connections to the drug cartel out of Columbia.”

“That’s a lie! You’re saying that because you don’t want me to see him,” she argued.

“Do you think I’ve defended criminals in the courtroom all these years with blinders on? The State Attorney’s office has been seeking evidence on Tobias Chandler for several months now.”

“Then why haven’t they arrested him?” Rochelle countered.

“Oh they will, mark my word, just as soon as they get enough evidence to make the charges stick. He’s going down sooner or later, and you can count on that.”

“I don’t believe any of this. You would say anything to break us up. You’re just saying these things about Tobias because you don’t want me to see him.”

“What in the hell will it take to get through that thick skull of yours? Rochelle, Tobias Chandler is a known criminal. He’s an evil and dangerous man.”

Rochelle’s voice rose again. “I don’t believe it! I’ve never seen him involved in anything connected with drugs.”

Joshua guffawed with disgust. “Did you believe he would advertise his illegal dealings? Of course, you don’t see anything suspicious or illegal. Neither does anyone else or the state attorney would have squashed his organization already.”

Rochelle pursed her lips, tilting her head at a disgusted angle, and stared defiantly from the corner of her eyes at nothing in particular.

“Let me tell you a horror story about Chandler. A while back, I represented a man called Hobart Pascal, who was one of the cartel’s front men. The police charged him with murdering an innocent man who accidentally overheard a conversation about a shipment of drugs. Hobart killed the man to silence him. When the trial turned sour, Chandler feared Hobart might make a deal with the prosecutor’s office to turn state’s evidence against him. Hobart was found hung in his cell.”

“Then it was someone else. Tobias would never do anything like you’re suggesting,” she stated in bitter defiance.

“No, he wouldn’t do something like that directly, but he delegates. It’s his job to keep the drug market running smoothly and keep the players out of jail. He has at least a fifth of the police department on his payroll. Drug marketing is big business, Rochelle, and Tobias Chandler is Colombia’s kingpin, the liaison between them and drug distribution. Chandler will go down eventually and he’ll destroy you with him. Can’t you see that I’m trying to protect you?”

Raising her chin defiantly, Rochelle stated adamantly. “Dad, I know you and mom mean well, and I don’t want to hurt either of you, but I love him. I can’t give him up, and I won’t give him up.”

“Rochelle, I swear I’ll lock you in your room before I’ll see you ruin your life on a man like Tobias Chandler,” Joshua declared, his face bright red with anger as he hovered threateningly above his daughter, restraining himself from actually hitting her for the first time in his life.

“It would be a tragic mistake for you to try such a thing, Dad. If you make me choose, I’ll leave here and go live with Tobias.”

Angela came to her feet, her face splotched red. She reached out and slashed her hand across Rochelle’s cheek. “How can you be such an idiot? Your father is an attorney and has defended enough criminals that he knows what he’s talking about. You need to listen to him. Even I know what Tobias Chandler is. He’ll use you until he tires of you and then you’ll be found in some lake or dump somewhere. Is that what you want?”

Touching her hand to her stinging cheek, Rochelle jumped up from her chair and raced from the room.