Authors: Sherri Thomas
Irritation flared, and she met his glare with annoyance. “It’s my middle name. Jordan Lynn Reece. As for using it, I didn’t know you from Adam.”
The corner of his mouth tilted up and his eyes darkened. “But we got acquainted real quick.”
“As much as you can in the span of twelve hours.”
“I memorized every inch of your body, every sound you made…every whimper.”
She stumbled back and held up a hand. “Don’t.”
Trent’s gaze shifted to her mouth. His warm palm caressed the side of her cheek. “Why the charade?”
Her heartbeat sped up at his contact. “I didn’t think you’d remember me.” She cringed at the admission. Damn him and his closeness, and damn her loosened tongue.
His hand slipped to the nape of her neck and massaged the tight muscles. Fighting the urge to moan, she held herself rigid, refusing to let him see how he affected her.
“How could I forget the most fearless, open, passionate girl I’d ever met?”
That girl was long gone. Life’s harsh lessons sucked the innocence right out of her…leaving barely a shell of a woman behind. She dropped her gaze. This time, she had to make the right decisions.
He nudged the underside of her chin with a bent finger and gave a lopsided grin. “I’m kind of fond of the girl who stripped off every scrap of clothin’ and dove into the pond with my headlights lightin’ the way.”
Again, that night flashed back…
After Rachelle left and the bonfire died down, Trent offered to take her home, but not wanting to face her parents or end the fun, she declined and spent hours in the man’s arms, talking, laughing, learning his body.
The next morning, she had him drop her off a few blocks away from her house, saying she needed to visit a friend before going home. When in truth, she didn’t want her parents to see her getting out of a man’s truck. Though he gave her his number, in all the confusion following that day, she wasn’t sure whatever happened to the slip of paper.
A calloused thumb stroked her bottom lip, bringing her attention back to the present and his mouth hovering above hers. His breath caressed her skin.
Energy radiated off him in waves. “We could pick up where we left off.”
Trying desperately to disentangle herself from the trance he wrapped around her, she moved to put space between them. “N-no.”
“You don’t sound so sure.” He moved closer, and large palms bracketed her face as his lips grazed hers in the barest contact. “This feels good. You feel good.” His fingers treaded into her hair as he crushed her mouth with raw passion and teased the seam of her sealed mouth with his tongue.
Jordan’s knees threatened to buckle, and she grabbed a fistful of his shirt. Shame and uncertainty melted into the heat of his kiss, sweeping her up. Shaking and lost in the need for comfort, she let him carry her back to those blissful hours. She wanted to be absorbed into his skin. To quiver with excitement the way he’d made her do in the past. To forget the heartache of seeing the pile of ashes where her home once sat. The tragedy in the following months. The guilt. The heartache. Even for a split second.
She shoved aside the anguish flowing deep and reveled in the building passion. Strong hands roamed over her hips, up and down her back, guiding her closer until no air circulated between their bodies. He moaned and seized possession of her in every way.
Terrified that dreadful morning would invade her mind, but also afraid he’d stop making her feel alive, she clung to him. He made her lose her head and want to be the wild girl he once knew.
But she was an adult now, capable of controlling her hormones, and she refused to go back in time.
Jordan flattened a hand on his chest. “I can’t do this,” she mumbled, tearing away and rushing to stare out the window into the night. God, his hot skin felt solid and strong. She rubbed her hands together to rid the feel of his body. “I’m not the same person. I can’t be her.” She was stronger now, which was why the panic attacks happened in the middle of the night when she was most vulnerable.
“I’m not asking you to be anyone you’re not.”
A bitter laugh slipped from her lips before she could stop it. How could he cause her to doubt everything she stood for in the span of two seconds? One touch and bam, she couldn’t remember her own name. “You’re asking a lot more than that.” Coldness enveloped her as she wrapped her arms around herself. “I’ve been someone I’m not for so long, I don’t know who I am anymore.”
“I know the feeling.”
She glanced over, and the compassion in his features shocked her. When was the last time someone listened? Really listened to her? Understood her? Held her? God, she wanted Trent to hold her in the worst way. For him to be all she made him to be in her mind.
Unable to give in to her desires, she perched on the edge of the couch.
You’re stronger than this. You do not need a cowboy to hold you up.
She pulled her armor back in place and straightened her back.
“Maybe we can help find each other.” He settled on the sofa and leaned forward, his leg brushing hers. “What’s the harm in that?”
“A lot.” Feeling his gaze, she lowered her sights to the floor.
The silence stretched until she was sure she’d explode from feeling him next to her, feeling the inquisitive stare.
“I looked for you.”
Her stomach swooped downward. If he’d discovered what happened in the months following, surely he’d have confronted her…wouldn’t he? She searched his face for a clue. If she reflected on the outcome of their night together, she’d go on overload for sure.
“No one knew the mysterious girl who blew in and out of my life. I guess if I’d known your real name, maybe I’d have gotten answers, huh?”
Realizing he never found out about her condition, she relaxed her tight shoulder muscles a fraction. Still, by not giving him her given name, she not only protected herself needlessly from her parents discovering her whereabouts, but she also prevented him from locating her.
She’d asked about him, too. Turned out Rachelle didn’t know the gang at the fire. Her
had overheard a group at the mall discussing the bonfire and, always one for adventure, happened to get directions from one of her acquaintances.
Weeks later, Jordan even found herself driving around trying to find the shack where she’d spent the night with the very hot and sexy cowboy, trying to find one last sliver of sunshine in her increasingly darkening world after the last night she ever disobeyed her parents. The weeks following her parents’ death, life as she knew it tumbled out of control. Having nowhere to go, she moved in with her only living relatives.
What a mistake.
He fingered a strand of hair on her shoulder. “You told me you wanted to live on the edge. You never wanted to grow up.”
“Yeah, well, we all know that’s not possible.” Not able to sit close any longer, she sprang to her feet and fled to the kitchen window. She stared out the glass toward the barns as the last shadows disappeared behind the rolling pasture.
After a few moments, she inhaled a deep breath and faced him.
Trent observed the anguish in Jordan’s beautiful face. Time and maturity sharpened her features, making her breathtaking, but the pain lurking in the depths of those mesmerizing blue eyes caught him off guard, as much as seeing her at his family’s table. She returned from his past, but Darcy introducing her as Jordan had given him a momentary pause. But the longer he stayed next to her, listening to the voice, his thigh rubbing hers, he knew this was his Lynn no matter what name she used.
But why the hell did he care?
was the one who never called him after that night. And he’d be damned if he’d ask why or chase after a woman that didn’t want him. Hadn’t he been through enough?
Yet, here he was, reminiscing, feeling her, kissing her.
This black-haired beauty always carried a different affect on him. She made him feel alive, something he thought he’d never feel again. His body recharged, and the impact rammed him harder than the bullet that had pierced his shoulder.
She put her arms around herself in a protective gesture. “I was a teenager walking on the wild side. A little reckless if you ask me.”
Where was this coming from? She’d trekked from wild and rebellious to borderline uptight. Was she capable of changing that much?
Yes. Look at April.
He refused to venture down that road. After all, his ex-fiancée hadn’t changed. His eyes just opened to her bipolar disorder. Never had he underwent this rush of adrenaline or gut clenching awareness with April.
Contrary to the words coming out of this lady’s mouth, he refused to believe her. Sure, the girl in his arms had been out for a good time, a way to rebel against the rules her parents set, but she’d craved understanding of her actions. This he knew because she spent precious time explaining how people believed the worst about her, believed the boys at school. She confided how her reputation contained far more adventures than truth. How the tales were easier to go along with than deny.
And tonight, he caught a glimpse of that fiery female with one touch of their lips.
Trent crossed the room, noting the wariness on her face. He wondered how much more it’d take to break her ladylike demeanor and release her passion.
“Stop. Don’t come any closer.” Her pupils grew, and she shook her head, sending black hair sliding across her chest.
“Why?” He closed the distance. “Because you and I both know a lot more happened.”
She’d confided that night how she enjoyed taking on the bad girl role, said it fed her spirit, and while she may have played around with a few guys, Trent was the only man she’d had sex with, save for one regretful first attempt. Not that he was proud of it, but knowing had stroked his ego. And starved for affection, for a tender hand, she gave every inch of herself over to his loving.
“You know nothing.”
He put both hands on the counter, one on each side of her hips, and held her stare. “I know your parents conceiving you late in life embarrassed you ’cause your friends’ parents were younger. I know your father’s in a wheelchair, and at the age of seven you fell off your bike and broke your wrist. Then when you turned thirteen you became horse crazy. At fourteen you loved cowboys.” He stepped closer, his chest grazing hers. “I know you lost your virginity to a heartless teenager who bordered from clumsy to an inexperienced ass. And you have a scar right here…” He ran a finger down to the tip of her right breast and fought back a smile when she sucked in a quick breath. “…from when you fell off a horse and landed on a jagged rock.” He amazed himself with the details he recalled from her whispered words six years ago, and yet, he couldn’t remember his ex-fiancée’s birthday or favorite color.
Jordan’s mouth opened then closed.
“I also know,” he lowered his voice along with his head, “I drive you crazy when I kiss you here…” Tasting the salty skin below her ear, he groaned and nipped her neck.
Her head fell back. “T-Trent. Stop. Why are you doing this to me?”
Why indeed? Taking one more nibble of her delectable flesh, he ended his attack and stared into the never ending depths of her eyes before catching her face in his hands. “I want to see sparks light up those baby blues.”
“Please, leave me alone,” she begged, shutting him out, but not before he glimpsed a flash of desire.
God, help him. His lips lingered above hers, and the suggestion of biting her bottom rim filtered into his head. The longing to rid the dark cloud hanging over her and release the spirit of the girl who’d stolen his breath flooded his senses.
She yanked free and vaulted away. “Why can’t you leave it be? Leave
He’d been asking himself the same question since he brought her here, but those few hours they spent together were embedded in his memory stronger than any other. The girl he held in his arms was more woman than any he’d been with to date. She had a tough time growing up and hid beneath a tough exterior, but for reasons unknown, she let her guard down and opened up to him, telling him a lot more about herself with her body than words.
“Same reason you can’t face me.” He grasped her hips and pulled her vertebrae to his chest.
A small cry sounded from her lips.
“Life’s about change. Sometimes not for the better, but you have to fight your way through,” he whispered. “I’ve faced my share of battles, and up ’til this mornin’ I didn’t realize how far I’ve let my scars take me.”
He kissed the side of her neck and rotated her in his arms. Then, because the temptation was too great, he captured sweet lips in a passionate and frustrating kiss before walking out the door.
Trent’s mood spiraled downhill. Irritation ate at his gut. Confusion filled his head. Jordan showing up stirred many memories and feelings. Feelings he should have had for April. How, in the span of hours, could a person develop such a powerful bond with someone? One that drew him in with every fiber of his being.
He paced the grounds as guilt ate at him for having such a strong attraction toward Jordan.
April hadn’t held his attention or his love. She’d been a body to hang out with, to argue with, to release physical energy.
. The admission made him sound like a calloused ass, but the need to acknowledge the truth for what it was filled him as he reflected on the night he met Lynn…Jordan. Like a magnetic force, an undeniable current pulled him to the raven-haired beauty from the first time he laid eyes on her dancing on the tailgate of his pickup.
She had been a wild, carefree, eighteen-year-old girl who stimulated him in ways he never fathomed. She had intrigued him from the moment her wide, blue eyes met his.
He leaned on the side of the barn and recalled the longing in her voice when she spoke of her life, how
unfair things had been at home, and how her parents never understood. The sound of her sweet voice while she divulged the details of her past. The shy way she ducked her head when she realized all the information and feelings she confessed
How those blue eyes had gone molten when he sank into her warm flesh, and she arched her back and cried out his name.