Guilty as Sin Excerpt

Distance aside, he had a secret. It ate at him every day, but he’d learned to live with it. It was one of the reasons he kept women at a distance. Would Cherie’s opinion of him change once she found out? It wasn’t something he could keep from her forever. He didn’t believe anyone would accept him for who he was, or what he’d been forced to do.
Out of the blue, someone jostled Sinclair’s leg, and a red card dropped into his lap. “Hey! Buddy!”
The man ignored him, continuing on in a hurried pace to the exit. Sinclair turned the card over in his hand. A date, time and location were printed in block letters on the back of it. Shit!
He jumped up and followed, catching sight of the guy as he rounded the corner of the building. Running to catch up, Sinclair ducked a kick to the head, a boot heel grazing his eyebrow. He stepped around and stared at his opponent, trying to place the face. The man wore mirrored shades and a ball cap. Other than average height and build, there wasn’t anything Sinclair recognized about him.
Shouts caught their attention. The man pointed a finger at Sinclair. “You know what to do, unless you want your woman harmed.” Then he took off, disappearing behind some dumpsters.
A couple in the parking lot hurried up to Sinclair, asked if he was all right and inquired about calling the police. Sinclair shook it off, making a few comments about some idiot with road rage, saying he’d take care of speaking to law enforcement. Placated, the couple returned to their vehicle, and Sinclair made his way back into the store.
The crowd remained steady, so he decided a walk to clear his head might help. He went around to Cherie’s side of the table and whispered in her ear. “If it’s okay, I’ve got a little shopping to do.”
“Sure.” Her hazel eyes searched his. “Is everything okay? I saw you rush out of here, and you seemed upset.”
“Everything’s fine,” he assured her. “Just some jerk. I’ll be back shortly. Don’t leave without me.”
“All right. I won’t.” Cherie focused her attention on another fan in front of her.
Sinclair took that as his cue to leave. Hopefully, she’d be safe inside a crowded bookstore surrounded by people. He pushed aside the worrisome thought that if someone truly meant her harm, it wouldn’t matter where she was.
No one is going to harm my woman. He’d die before that happened, but judging by recent events someone clearly sought to make it a reality.
Stepping outside the store, he heaved a sigh, closed his eyes and let the warmth of the sun permeate his body. A five minute respite would be all right.
How long could he blame his father for his own mistake? He never should’ve agreed to a street fight to pay off his father’s debt. Amazing how one wrong move could affect his entire life.
But if he was honest, would he have made any other choice? His dad was flesh and blood. How would he have lived with himself knowing he could have prevented his demise and done nothing? The irony didn’t escape him. He’d fought, refusing to kill. Since he hadn’t heard a peep from his old man, he assumed him dead, therefore his sacrifice had been for naught. Now the mob threatened not only his life, but Cherie’s as well. He had to find a way to make this right. He couldn’t continue to pay penance, nor would he allow Cherie to be sucked into a situation she knew nothing about.