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Pepper Winters


  Dollar Series #4


  New York Times Bestseller

  Pepper Winters

  Thousands (Dollar Series #4)

  Copyright © 2017 Pepper Winters

  Published by Pepper Winters

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it to the seller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

  Published: Pepper Winters 2017: [email protected]

  Cover Design: by Kellie at Book Cover by Design & Ari @ Cover it! Designs

  Editing by: Editing 4 Indies (Jenny Sims)


  Pepper Winters is a multiple New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today International Bestseller.

  All Pepper’s books are available in e-book, paperback, & audio.


  New York Times Bestseller ‘Monsters in the Dark’ Trilogy

  “Voted Best Dark Romance, Best Dark Hero, #1 Erotic Romance”

  Start the Trilogy FREE with

  Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1) CLICK TO BUY

  Multiple New York Times Bestseller ‘Indebted’ Series

  “Voted Vintagely Dark & Delicious. A true twist on Romeo & Juliet”

  Start the Series FREE with

  Debt Inheritance (Indebted #1) CLICK TO READ


  USA Today Bestseller ‘Destroyed’ CLICK TO BUY

  “Voted Best Tear-Jerker, #1 Romantic Suspense”


  USA Today Bestseller ‘Unseen Messages’ CLICK TO BUY

  “Voted Best Epic Survival Romance 2016, Castaway meets The Notebook”


  Multiple USA Today Bestseller ‘Pure Corruption’ Duology

  “Sinful & Suspenseful, an Amnesia Tale full of Alphas and Heart”

  Start the Duology with:

  Ruin & Rule (Pure Corruption #1) CLICK TO BUY


  Multiple USA Today Bestseller ‘Dollar’ Series

  “Elder Prest will steal your heart. A captive love-story with salvation at its core.”

  Start this series for only 99c with

  Pennies (Dollar Series #1) CLICK TO BUY


  Brand New Release ‘Truth & Lies’ Duet

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  Crown of Lies (Truth & Lies #1) CLICK TO BUY


  #1 Romantic Comedy Bestseller ‘Can’t Touch This’ CLICK TO BUY

  “Voted Best Rom Com of 2016. Pets, love, and chemistry.”


  For 2017 and beyond titles please CLICK HERE


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  Facebook Group: Peppers Playgound


  Thousands Blurb

  “Love had been stolen from me for reasons entirely my fault. But then a miracle happened, and Pim gave me something I thought was lost forever. She gave me a love I’d earned. Love that ruined me. Love that made me hopelessly hers...”

  Once upon a time, I didn’t think I’d ever be normal.

  Now, I’m talking and trusting, and it’s all thanks to Elder.

  He gave me my life back, and I gave him my heart, but love stories like ours are never simple.

  I did something to protect him.

  He did something to survive me.

  We screwed up.

  And now, it’s no longer just about us.

  It’s about safety, sanctuary, and sin.



  Thousands Blurb


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four







  I BELIEVED WHEN I was younger that hard work resulted in the ultimate pay-off. That the rewards gained from obsession were enough to justify hurting those I loved.

  I always knew I lied to myself.

  I always understood what the hidden frowns and unhappy glances meant when I became wrapped up in unhealthy addictions.

  However, it wasn’t until they banished me that I finally came to terms with just how terrible one-tracked mindedness could be.

  I was the reason for my loved one’s deaths, and being ostracised from my family was the least I deserved.

  I was a monster.

  I knew that.

  Until Pim.

  Until one woman gave me love despite all my flaws. She showed me I could have a life if I only harnessed myself better. If I learned how to stay in control for longer. If I finally replaced the heart I’d long since destroyed.

  I started to believe her.

  I grew that fucking heart.

  Only for her to shatter it when she copied my family and left.

  Chapter One



  ONE, TWO, THREE times, I paced the second bedroom.

  One, two, three times, I strode to the door and almost turned the handle to return to her.

  One, two, three times, I sat on the bed and clutched my aching skull, willing myself to stay in control until Selix arrived.

  I gritted my teeth as the driving demands muttered ceaselessly in my head. There was no reprieve. No help. I’d run out of marijuana and just the knowledge that Pim was outside that door—waiting to ask more questions, to interrogate me with a sexy fierceness in her eyes and gorgeous bravery in
her spine—made it that much harder to stay away.


  Even with a wall and locked door between us, I struggled to keep my distance. This morning was fucking taxing, but last night had been the longest I’d ever endured.

  I’d told Pim the truth about how hard I’d fought to stay away. The only thing giving me strength was thinking of my baby brother. Of the atrocities I’d caused and the many more I might make if I gave in to the malicious chatter inside my head.

  I winced all over again, recalling her face as I deliberately broke her heart.

  My awful slur of ‘You’re not worth it,’ echoed sickly, making me suffocate with self-hatred.

  She’d been right to call me a liar.

  I was a fucking falsifier who couldn’t keep his story straight. Even to himself. So many instances I’d told her the truth, only to cover it up immediately with deceit.

  One moment, I told her I didn’t want her body, only her mind.

  The next, I admitted I couldn’t breathe without touching her.

  One day, I told her she owed me every penny I placed on her self-worth.

  The next, I retracted the hypocrisy and delivered her freedom free from any debt.

  Yet, she didn’t take it.

  She stood before me and accepted my forgeries as if she didn’t hear what I spoke but only what I was desperate to keep hidden.

  She’d swum into my veins and infiltrated my soul without me knowing. By the time I understood what she’d was too late. She’d reached inside my chest and fished out my heart. She’d gutted it, filleted it, and slapped it on a goddamn frying pan.

  I had the power to stop my pain.

  All it would take was six steps to the door and a twist of the lock to sink into the addiction I despised. If all I cared about was myself, then fine. I wouldn’t be sitting here rocking like a junkie, counting down the seconds for Selix to arrive to fix this. I would be out there, balls deep in Pim.

  But unfortunately, by taking my heart, she’d given me something I’d been lacking since the flames ate my childhood and family.

  She’d given me culpability.

  And an even larger dose of self-control to never put myself first again—no matter how loud the whispers howled.

  I wouldn’t put her in danger again. I would drive a stake through my heartless chest before I let that happen.

  She was worth it.

  Ten times, no, a thousand times fucking worth it.

  She was worth more than any fortune or vengeance. And that was what sealed my deal with the devil plotting on my shoulder.

  I couldn’t do this anymore.

  Nothing in the world would seduce me into marching back to her, pushing her onto the bed, and ripping off every piece of clothing between us. I wouldn’t admit that the only way I could continue living was either with her naked and under me for the rest of our days or far, far away where she turned back into a stranger and I could return to my strictly regimented life.

  Both options weren’t healthy and sure as hell weren’t acceptable.

  But...she’s worth it.

  And that was the lie I’d never rectify.

  She had to believe she wasn’t worth it.

  She had to hate me for what I’d done.

  She had to accept my lies as truth—had to see me as the addict I was and not the quixotic lover she hoped.

  Despite the morbidness of my thoughts, one piece of sanity remained. A knowledge of how my mind worked and a tentative hope that two solutions might save me as they had before.

  Distance and time.

  There was such a thing as cooling off, and I was in desperate need of it.

  In my past, the way to ‘cure’ me of my current obsession was brain boredom—where my mind suddenly decided it had conquered all it needed to, and the fog lifted, letting me see the world without addiction again.

  A universe of sensations existed past that one compulsion, and it always seemed as if I’d stepped from a vortex of nothing but origami, origami, or fight, fight, fight to breathe a deep sigh of relief and be sane.

  It took a while. It wasn’t guaranteed. But it could happen with Pim. I could grow bored of her...

  I rolled my eyes.


  The more time I spent with her, the more fascinated I became.

  Okay, time might not work...but perhaps distance could.

  The second way of breaking my OCD was separation from the cause. To ignore the screaming demands to over focus and indulge. To ride through the detox no matter how agonising.

  Some obsessions only took a day to overcome. Simple things like a song that’d captured my attention only for me to play it repetitively, hour after hour, until I physically couldn’t listen to the beat without wanting to kill myself while at the same time, unable to stop pressing play.

  In those cases, all I needed to do was throw away the CD, or burn the iPod, or turn off the internet even as my cello called to me.

  A few days cold turkey and the storm summoning me to drink its venomous rain and live in its rancid clouds dispersed into clear skies once again.

  It’s worked before.

  It can work again.

  If I could avoid Pimlico for a few days...a week maybe...then I could forget the nirvana of being inside her and go back to the way things were. Platonic things. Rescuer and recovering things.

  All I need is time.

  Checking my watch, I ignored the twitch to check it one, two, three, and noticed an hour had gone by since I’d yelled at her.

  Guilt chewed caverns inside me.

  I’m a bastard to say she wasn’t worth it.

  She was worth so much more than what I had to give, and that fucking terrified me. I’d hurt myself before I hurt another person I love—

  My spine shot straight.


  For the second time, that sneaky word snaked into my thoughts.

  I knew sibling and parental love. I understood what it was like to give someone my heart unconditionally because of blood and obligation.

  But to go from strangers to in love.

  To hand over my everything and be happy that I had the ability to fall instead of freak out about what this meant.

  Am I in love?

  Was that what churned inside my chest? The sickening knowledge that I would throw myself out of the window if it meant it was the only way to keep Pim safe, or was it yet another layer of guilt knowing what she’d lived?

  The question hissed through my blood, twisting the need for physical intimacy into something entirely different.

  She was the one making me hurt.

  But she could also be the one to make me better.

  All my previous rationales vanished.

  Glancing at the door, I stood before I gave myself permission. I’d tell her exactly what had to happen. That for the next week, she’d have to stay in quarantine for her own protection. If we crossed paths, a minimum distance would be recognised at all times with staff present. And above all, no touching.

  If she obeyed, I could get myself under control again, and we could go back to being friends.

  I could continue to love her. Care for her. Cherish her. And she would be given everything she ever wanted.

  My hand clamped over the door-knob while my mind entered a fugue, desperate to earn Pim’s laugh again, to watch her steal something inconsequential all the while stealing my heart.

  That was what I needed.

  She was what I needed.

  We can make this work.

  We could sail side by side as cohabiters until we arrived in England. There, I’d set her free because it was the right thing to do.

  I would forever be her No One, and who knew? Perhaps we could remain pen friends while I sailed the seas searching for redemption and she slotted back into the life she was stolen from.

  The idea warmed my aching heart while at the same time crushing it beneath its vicious shoe.

  Wishing I ha
d a joint to take the edge off, I yanked open the door and stepped into the suite’s lounge.

  My eyes fell to the carpet where she’d stood and begged me to talk to her.


  The thick floor-covering held no indents of her feet, no sign she’d been there at all. Of course, she wouldn’t remain standing for over an hour. She’d return to somewhere far more comfortable.

  The bed.

  I couldn’t approach such a thing—especially after we’d had sex on it—but I gritted my teeth and stalked toward the bedroom we’d shared. To the crumpled sheets and the lingering scent of sadness and lust.


  Instantly, I missed her presence.

  There was no rustle of femininity. No prickle of her eyes on my body.

  No silent mouse or brave Pimlico.

  The room was bare.

  My stomach turned to lead as I spun slowly, peering into the bathroom, believing any second she’d come out and I’d stride forward and gather her in a bone-crunching hug.

  A hug that would turn to kissing.

  A kiss that would turn to touching.

  A touch that would turn to fucking.

  A nightmare







  Inhaling hard, I pinched the bridge of my nose, shoving aside those thoughts and focusing on the vacant room.

  She was gone.

  Which was probably a good thing. An excellent thing. But the knowledge she’d snuck out while I sulked in the other room tore my skin from my skeleton.

  Then my gaze fell on the folded note on the bed.

  Ah, shit.

  Raking fingernails over my scalp, I shook my head as if denial would change the finality of the white paper.

  “No.” I backed away rather than shot for it.

  I already knew what it said. This was my fault. I’d scared her off. I’d hurt her. Through my actions and harshness, I’d told her to leave. I’d wanted this to happen even though I’d negate such a claim.


  She’d been too strong for her own good. She’d ignored her distrust of strangers and choosen a corrupt world over me.

  Forcing myself forward, I picked up the letter.

  The penmanship was familiar from reading her notes to No One. My eyes skimmed the text—absorbing the theme but unable to fully soak in her crippling message.