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Forbidden Flaws

Pepper Winters

  Forbidden Flaws

  Copyright © 2014 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 2014

  Cover Design: by Kellie at Book Cover by Design

  Editing by: Jenny Sims

  Images in Manuscript from Canstock Photos:



  The privileged existence we all enjoyed.

  Some squandered it. Some adored it. Others tried to destroy or hoard it. But no matter how hard we tried, we were merely passengers travelling through time.

  I thought I’d built the perfect life for myself: a career I was proud of, a body I was comfortable in, and a husband who worshipped me. My life was the perfect illusion of happiness. No one saw the flaws hidden beneath the polished veneer. No one saw my heart breaking as the truth smashed through the lies. And no one was there to save me.


  I almost lost mine.

  But fate decided it wasn’t done with me.

  Fate gave me him.

  Not once, but twice.

  The first time, I didn’t know the gift I held.

  The second, I was too broken to deserve him.

  Chapter 1

  "CRAP, WHERE IS IT? Where is it?" I screamed, tearing around my dark hotel room.

  When I’d arrived six hours ago, I thought the space-ship shaped coffee table was fashionable, the thick ruffled curtains ideal, and the oversized walnut desk perfect. Now, I found them instigators to my demise.

  "Dammit, where the hell—"

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  The smoke alarm tore through my ears, just like it had torn through my sleep. My brain shredded with the noise.

  Run, Saff. Leave it.

  Common-sense told me to abandon my worldly possessions and save my life, but my heart didn’t want to leave behind the eight hundred page script I’d just earned, or the freshly signed contract, solidifying my spot in an A-list movie in freaking Hollywood. They were priceless. They signified winds of change—of luck and happiness coming my way.

  I won’t leave them behind. I won’t!

  I ran blindly, wishing like hell that the lights worked. The room was pitch black, worse than a tomb or crypt because I wasn’t dead yet, but might be very soon if I didn’t run.

  Tripping over a large slippery bag, I cried out as carpet burn singed my knees. My heart plummeted, remembering the insanely expensive, and not able to afford yet, shopping spree I’d indulged in. I’d had such fun…was it only a few hours ago? Shopping in the streets of Brisbane, spending money that I had yet to be paid, designing my new life based on recommendations by couture and Vogue.

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  My stomach rolled. I had to stop being so stupid. None of this stuff would matter if I were dead.

  Grab the laptop. Leave everything else.

  Clambering to my feet, I inched as fast as possible with my arms outstretched and eyes completely useless in the dark. Where did I put it?

  I fumbled over to the desk for my computer. The only thing with a lifetime of photos on it. The only thing left of my parent’s smiling faces. I was such an idiot not to upload the images onto a secondary device while I had the chance.

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  The shrill siren tore through my determination, sending spiders scurrying down my back.

  It was too late. I had to go.

  I had to leave everything behind.

  I gritted my teeth and shuffled as fast as I could through the foreign room. Colliding off the wall, my fingertips followed the corners and smoothness of the perimeter, making my way as fast as possible.

  Beep. Beep. Beep!


  Shit. I stopped, my heart hurling itself against my chest at a hundred miles an hour. My passport. Freshly minted and locked in the safe with my one-way ticket to Los Angeles. The hotel assured me it was the safest place for such precious items—now, it was my worst enemy.

  Just leave!

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  My lungs sucked in air, panic whizzing in my blood. The superficial part of me wanted to stay, to guard everything that poised me for a better life, but instinct finally roared into being, kicking my ridiculous butt and propelling me toward the exit.

  Beep. Beep. Beep!

  I found the door and wrenched it wide, falling into the corridor.

  I blinked. The lights were off; only the emergency exit sign cast its eerie green glow, illuminating the thick gold carpet and the gorgeous aboriginal paintings of the fourteenth floor.

  There was no smoke, no flames or screams or burning.

  Doesn’t mean the building isn’t on fire.

  Trying to calm my breathing, I jogged down the corridor toward the glowing sign. My blonde hair bounced and tickled my exposed back with every step.

  The closer I got, the louder the sound of pounding feet echoed in the stairwell. Glad to know it wasn’t just me taking their sweet time to escape.

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  God, I wanted to cover my ears—the alarm almost made my ears bleed from shrieking.

  Yanking open the exit door, I darted down the first flight of uncarpeted stairs. The rough concrete stung the soles of my feet but now was not a time to be precious.

  Grabbing the banister, I shot down the next flight, almost careening into a man dressed in boxers and a t-shirt.

  He looked over his shoulder, his brown eyes immediately dropping to my chest.

  I flushed with horror.

  Oh, my God!

  My underwear!

  The man smirked, jogging down another few steps, never taking his eyes off my very sexy, and entirely too revealing, lingerie.

  "Must say this alarm had pissed me off, but now I’m rather happy." His face crinkled in a smug grin. "Nice get-up."

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  I wanted to slap him.

  My arms wrapped around my breasts hidden just barely in the scantily sheer Provocateur lace that I’d purchased after my audition. The G-string was silver and black, and hid exactly nothing of the fresh Brazilian wax I’d suffered all in the name of Hollywood perfection.

  Mortification painted my cheeks. "Stop looking."

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  He laughed. "Shouldn’t wear something like that if you don’t want blokes to look." Giving me a wink, he turned away and disappeared down the stairs with a tsunami of people pouring in from the other levels.

  Half-naked and fully dressed bodies swarmed around me, all descending as fast as possible.

  I knew I should move, but my legs were frozen. I couldn’t go outside like this!

  Beep. Beep. Beep.

  You’re in a burning building with the smoke alarm repeating that your life is in peril. Leave, Saff, for God’s sake.

ating myself and the idiocy of my knickers, I hurled myself down the next flight of stairs. There were no drapes or upholstery to snag and hide my indecency—there was nothing left to do but run.

  My toes gripped the concrete; I tried my hardest not to think of people watching my mostly naked butt.

  The stairwell echoed with the mind-splintering alarm and people’s urgent voices. The walls hemmed us in, closing heavier and heavier with claustrophobia.

  I wanted out. I wanted fresh air and safety. Lengthening my stride, I took two steps at a time—my bare feet nimble.

  Beep Be—

  The alarm cut off—strangled, leaving blistering silence in its wake.

  I looked up to the ceiling, expecting to see flames attacking the warning system, but there was nothing—just a pure white ceiling.

  Then I was blinded as bright fluorescents switched on, drenching the non-descript stairwell and perspiring guests with light.

  The intercom clicked into life.

  "There is no cause for alarm. We apologise for the inconvenience. We repeat, there is no cause for alarm."

  Static and crackle interrupted the speaker before continuing:

  "Please, return to your rooms at your earliest convenience. There is no fire, just a faulty connection with our electrical system. We repeat, the local fire station has assured us it’s a false alarm. You are encouraged to return to your rooms. We apologise again for this inconvenience."

  "Inconvenience? A mad run at three fucking a.m.? That’s more than a damn inconvenience," a man with a beer belly growled.

  A woman with two snivelling children scowled. "Bloody fantastic. We have a flight in three hours. No way will I get them back to sleep."

  Grumbles and curses rose from the displaced and rudely awoken guests.

  My own annoyance sat heavy on my chest, but in reality, I would’ve preferred the mad dash than burning alive in my bed—half-naked or not.

  Shuffles and footsteps changed direction, trading jogging for an angry plod back up to their rooms.

  Wives stalked past with bleary-eyed husbands, their curled upper lips shouting just what they thought of my attire, while their husbands did their best not to get caught gawking.

  Keeping one arm around my chest and the other pointed between my legs, I swallowed my pride and turned around, following the herd upstairs. So what—children and fat men could see my G-stringed butt. In a few months, my breasts would be broadcast on every movie screen around the world. Fellow actors would touch me in places not many people had, producers would order me to make my ‘cum face’ more believable, and old high school friends would witness the full frontal that I’d agreed to do to land the role.

  Embarrassment had no room in my world anymore—not if I wanted a successful career.

  It’s just skin.

  Cocking my chin, I dropped my arms, and climbed the rest of the stairs with shaky confidence.

  Chapter 2

  THE MOMENT I charged through the heavy fire door and back onto my floor, I grabbed a glossy magazine—the only thing on the skinny side table—and fanned the pages against my chest while striding toward my door.

  Sure, it was only skin, but I had to cultivate my confidence. Baby steps.

  I couldn’t expect to be the sleek, poised actress I portrayed at my audition overnight. After all, I came from a small town a few hours from Sydney. I’d been on my own for six years, since my parents died in a horrible bush fire, and used the measly life insurance to pay for a course in drama.

  Every day had been a struggle.

  Every day I ached for company.

  And every damn day I looked at the poster of Los Angeles and vowed that I would make it.

  The day my parents died, I died, too. I cut myself off from friends—removed myself from the human race—and spent my time as a hermit. It wasn’t until I realised I’d been acting impeccably when asked the question ‘how are you’ that my coping mechanism had given me a way to freedom. I could create a world where I’d become different characters with different problems and heartaches—I would be safe from feeling the truth.

  I would be a chameleon.

  Reaching my door, in the regiment of other doors, I pressed down on the handle.

  I frowned as it didn’t budge.

  I pressed on the handle…


  Of course, it’s locked. And where was the key? In the stupid switch that permitted lights to turn on—inside the room.

  "Great," I groaned, pressing my forehead against the smooth veneer. Not only was it three a.m., but I now had to head to reception and ask for a spare key.

  I peered at the magazine. Perhaps I could make a dress type thing or even a micro skirt out of its pages—would that be better than flashing my feminine charms?

  At least life decided it had tormented me enough as no other guests entered the floor. I was alone. For now.

  What should I do? Wait till most of the guests were back in their rooms, then make my way stealthily to the lobby? Could I use the lift, or did I have to walk the stairwell of shame again?

  A small laugh escaped me. "God, this is just the beginning I needed."

  My head snapped up as the emergency exit slammed open and a couple dressed in flannel pyjamas siphoned into the corridor.

  Flannel. Of course.

  Next to their buttoned up floral and striped goodie-two-shoes flannel, I looked like the hotel whore.

  I pressed my back against my door, fanning out the magazine and positioning it over my breasts.

  "Evening," the husband said, his eyes flickering between my gaze and my sheer knickers. His wife scowled, picking up her pace and fishing a key card from her pyjama pocket.

  Damn, what I wouldn’t give for a key. I had sanctuary behind me. One tiny piece of plastic had the power to end this night of horrors, but no—I had to leave it behind and grant myself more misery.

  "Evening," I muttered as the couple drifted past. The wife stabbed the key into the lock, waited impatiently for the blinking green light, then disappeared into the room a few doors down. The husband shrugged, giving me an awkward smile. "Um, have a good night."

  The wife reached out and jerked her man inside, slamming the door like a vicious slap in my face.

  "Great," I muttered. "Everyone thinks I’m a home wrecker just for some scraps of material."

  If only they knew how completely wrong they were. First impressions were always dangerous. Up until four days ago, I hadn’t had a haircut in six years, worn make-up in four, and preferred baggy track pants and my father’s tatty t-shirts over Victoria’s Secret.

  The girl people saw today was a perfectly crafted persona of a successful actress with the world at her feet. I meant to live the role so brilliantly that even I believed the lie.

  But it would take time.

  My nails might be buffed and my body plucked and waxed within an inch of being bald, and I might wear clothes that any respecting girl from my hometown would turn her nose up at, but it was the part I had to play.

  A part I had every intention of embracing.

  Spinning around, I tried my door again. Why? Who the hell knew? Maybe leprechauns had somehow granted me a reprieve.

  My skin broke out in goosebumps. The hotel’s air-conditioning had sprung into action, fighting imaginary fire with arctic gusts.

  Keeping my grey eyes trained on the exit, I waited to see if any more stragglers would appear.

  Two minutes passed.

  Three minutes.

  Good enough.

  Flattening my arms over the magazine like a shield, I pushed off from my door and made the decision to dash. My toes sank into the plush carpet as I trotted toward the lift in my three hundred dollar underwear.

  The buttons of the elevator glowed, welcoming me with every step. So close.

  The emergency door opened.


  I slammed to a stop as the exit spewed forth a man dressed in a suit with lipstick marks on his white collar and pink smud
ges on his cheek.


  His eyebrow twitched, a smirk twisting his lips. He couldn’t have been more than mid-thirties, and the wedding band on his finger hinted it might not have been his wife mauling him.

  "Well, aren’t you a pretty sight. If I knew a fire alarm brought out creatures like you, I would’ve set the thing off myself." He stopped, eyes slithering over my body.

  Gritting my teeth, I turned the magazine sideways, earning a few extra inches to hide behind. Not that it helped. I either had to choose between exposing my nipples or the freshly waxed landing strip between my legs.

  "Waiting for someone?" he asked, moving closer.

  I backed away, plastering myself against some unfortunate person’s door. If they opened it, they’d get my backside in their face. Tilting my chin to stare into his brown eyes, I nodded. "Yes, as a matter of fact."

  The man looked left and right, waving a hand at the empty corridor.

  Of course, it was empty now. Heaven forbid anyone else arrive when I actually wanted more eyes on me to ensure my safety.

  He ran a hand through his messy black hair, smiling as if he were God’s gift to women. "Want me to keep you company while you wait?"

  Narrowing my grey eyes, I said, "No, I don’t. How about you scurry along to your wife…or your mistress? I’m guessing the lipstick might not be your wife’s colour?" My blonde hair stuck to my nape with a sudden flush of nerves.

  He froze, anger darkening his face. "Clever. But I wouldn’t be so cocky if I were you." He took another step.

  I stood my ground. What could he do? We were in a busy hotel with guests within screaming distance.

  "Not cocky, just sleep deprived. I suggest you leave before I get mean."

  He leaned closer. "I like mean."

  God, he was an idiot.

  "Go torment someone else. I’m not interested."

  "Any woman wearing see-through underwear is guaranteed to be interested." He laughed. "Don’t treat me like a fool."

  "I’ll treat you like a rapist and scream if you don’t bugger off."

  He frowned. "That’s a bad word to use, pretty girl. Anyone ever tell you—"