What if your worst nightmare was the only thing you wanted?
Lydia worries she’ll never recover from a violent assault at the hands of an intruder. Therapy isn’t working and her friends aren’t a comfort. All she can think about is how helpless and afraid she was.
Then she meets Isaac.
He’s everything she wants to be: cool, calm and controlled. Trauma doesn’t seem to affect him. Emotions don’t bother him. And best of all, he’s prepared to teach her. He shows her how to fight. How to defend herself. How to guard her heart.
But Isaac soon finds he can’t guard his heart from her. She’s starting to make him see all the things he’s been missing, in his closed off and far too brutal life. The only problem is:
He has a terrible secret.
And if he lets himself give in to the desire that’s building between them, her world may well be torn apart again.
Here’s an excerpt:
It wasn’t a shock when he stopped replying, this time. But it was about a hundred times more annoying. He was the one who’d set the tone of their conversations—she’d just let him. Yet, somehow, here she was, in the near darkness, with a silent phone in her lap.
In fact, the phone was so silent that when it suddenly rang she almost screamed. She came pretty close to hurling it across the room. She had to calm herself down before she could answer, just so he wouldn’t think it was him who’d gotten her all out of breath.
“Well, this is the very last thing I expected you to do,” she said, as breezily as she could. And then she heard that voice, and breezy immediately started to slip away.
“I didn’t just want to cut off in the middle of a conversation.”
“Yeah, but talking like this is probably going to be a lot worse than texting.”
“Nothing could be worse than texting. I thought it would be safe, and instead, it just feels like I’ve been freed to say whatever I want. Do you know how close I came to asking you what your body was doing? The answer is very,” he said.
And suddenly, she was very glad he couldn’t see her right now. His voice kind of dipped on that last word, and when it did, her toes actually curled. She had to fan herself with one hand.
But she managed to keep her voice somewhat under control.
At the very least, she kept some amusement in it. “And you think calling me is going to stop that happening?”
“I did when I hit your number. Now, I have my doubts.”
“You should. Because the urge to say is getting bigger by the second.”
“Then I guess I’ll have to do my best to dissuade you.”
“You can try, I suppose.”
She could almost hear him mulling it over.
And it didn’t take much to picture, either.
That look to the heavens. The way he ran a hand through his hair.
Then finally, finally, “Yesterday, I found a dead rat under my sink.”
Though unfortunately for him, it didn’t quite hit the mark.
“That was a good effort. But the words are still on the tip of my tongue.”
“Fine. So maybe I should tell you about the documentary I watched on soil erosion.”
“Go ahead. Just hearing your voice say those words is enough to get me started,” she said, and the best part was: she didn’t even have to lie. He said soil the way most people said sex. The tip of his tongue just seemed to caress it.
But he wasn’t having any of it. “Then I’ll be completely silent.”
“So I can hear nothing but your breathing?”
“Yeah. But the breathing is perfectly ordinary.”
“It doesn’t sound ordinary now. God knows where it’ll be when I start telling you all about the teeth I’ve sunk into my lower lip and the hands I’m currently pretending are yours.”
“If you want to really pretend they’re mine you should be clenching your fists so tight you can feel your pulse beating in the middle of them. And then, once you’ve got that down, try hitting yourself in the thigh until you stop any desire that tries to get a hold of you.”
Now it was her turn to fall silent. Though possibly fall silent was the wrong term.
It felt much more like someone had just ripped any and all words right out of her.
Suddenly, all she could do was picture him, like that.
Picture him, so desperate to restrain himself.
And when she did finally speak, she knew she sounded stunned.
“Is that really what you’re doing right now?”
“I’m gonna have a bruise the size of a grapefruit tomorrow,” he said.
Then somehow she just couldn’t help herself.
“Oh fuck, that’s so hot. Oh, my god that’s the hottest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“You can’t be serious. Lydia, tell me you’re not serious.”
“I would, but I’m too busy picturing you seething with repressed lust.”
“I’m hardly seething. I just want to punch myself a lot, and I feel sort of like I’m wearing twelve invisible sweaters and talking is getting kind of hard, and oh Jesus, yeah, I see it now. I see what you’re saying.”
She nodded firmly at nothing. Though, she was pretty sure that firmness showed in her voice. “Great. So now you can describe it in full to me.”
“I just did. And now I want to take it all back.”
“Why? Nothing can happen here.”
“Things are already happening.”
She pictured his fist again, thumping into his thigh.
Her own hand, now somehow almost covering her breast.
But it just wasn’t enough to suggest they should stop.
It wasn’t anywhere near enough.
“Yeah, but none of them can ever include physical contact between us, Isaac. You’re not going to accidentally fall dick first into my vagina. I can’t fling my clit at your face.”
“True, but you can say it. You can say crazy bullshit like that and still make me go out of my mind—simply because the word clit was in there. It was there and I heard your voice curl around the word, and now all I can think about is what it would be like if you did some sane version of that. If you pushed my face between your legs or climbed up until your pussy was right there, right against my mouth and tongue, and oh fuck, fuck.” She heard sounds following the cursing. Like maybe he was banging his phone against something. Then a second later, “I have to hang up.”
Just like that. I have to hang up.
After those words.
“Don’t you dare hang—”
“I’m sorry honey but I can’t control myself with you.”
“I don’t need you to control yourself. I need you to—”
“You don’t need me to do anything. You’ll be fine, I promise,” he said, and that was pretty much her limit. Just hearing that one word: promise.
Like he was her kindly babysitter sending her off to school.
She simply couldn’t let him carry on like this.
“Not if I die of unfulfilled desire, Isaac. Goddamn it, are you really going to do this to me again? I’m shaking so hard my teeth are rattling in my head. If I get any hotter I’m going to melt through the bed. And I know, I know I could let you go now and just make myself come and then pretend everything is cool, but oh my god, it would be so much sweeter if you let me hear you while I do.”
Silence, then. Enough of it that she was sure she’d gone too far.
That he’d hung up, just like he’d said.
Then he spoke, and she breathed out again.
“I think it would be sweet, too, honey.”
“Then why the fuck can’t you just—”
“Because I don’t know how much of that feeling is for you, to give something to you, and how much of it is for myself. How much of it is just this selfish desire to hear what happens when I talk dirty to you. If it was seventy/thirty I think I could go with it and still live with myself. But the truth is, it isn’t even close. It’s fifty/fifty at best. And that’s not good enough.”
Now it was her turn to be silent.
And when she could finally summon words, they were shaky. “Jesus, Isaac. Only to you, the most amazing man to ever exist outside of my imagination, could fifty/fifty be not good enough. I’ve been with guys where I’ve prayed for fifty/fifty. Where fifty/fifty seemed like an impossible dream that you might have to use wizardry to achieve. There have been times I’ve settled for ten percent, for fuck’s sake, and you think half is bad?”
“No.” He paused, and she could practically hear him considering his words. She could see his expression, when he did it. The way his gaze always seemed to search the empty air for answers. Then, slowly, “I think…I think no one has ever seen me the way you do.”
“I don’t know why. You never make it difficult.”
“Not even when I’m refusing to do this with you?”
“Especially when you’re refusing to do this with me. Because as much as I hate it, I understand why you’re doing it so fucking deeply that I will never forget it. It will probably be my last memory on my death bed—that time Isaac Morales was so fundamentally kind and decent that he thought twenty percent of extra wanting was way too much,” she said, then waited for his silence. She expected his silence, for that.
But none came.
“If I was there, I would kiss you.”
“Well, that is definitely a start.”
“It would only be a start if it was on the lips, honey. Where I’m thinking of kissing you is more like the place most people save for last.”
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