Authors: Rebecca Shea
Copyright ©2013 Rebecca Martinez
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and storylines are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
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Cover photo by: Aleksandra Kirievskaya
Cover design by: Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations
Edited by: Mary Kelley, Adept Edits
Formatted by: Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
One of my favorite author’s Michelle Leighton wrote,
“Every broken person’s worst fear—that no one will be able to love us in spite of our scars.”
This book is dedicated to anyone who’s ever been broken. You are loved—scars and all.
Being a wallflower is definitely not my style. I normally work the room: socializing, making the rounds—enjoying myself. I usually know everyone and am rarely the outsider. Yet, here I stand, pressed against the wall in the living room of a house that is too small for this many people. It’s family weekend at the University of Arizona, and we’ve come to see Gabe and watch his football game. Gabe is a junior and a wide receiver for the U of A football team.
I’m here for the weekend with the Garcia’s since my dad is working. I normally stay with the Garcia’s, our neighbors in Santa Ruiz, when my father can’t be around because of his job. They have watched me for at least four days a week for the last thirteen years while my dad spent his time climbing the career ladder. Dad is the Fire Chief for the Santa Ruiz Fire Department—I’m very much an afterthought for him. The Garcia’s, Gabe’s family, have really taken me in and accepted me as a member of their family.
Trying to look normal while holding a red Solo cup of diet coke, I sneak glances at Gabe while he moves around his house, entertaining the people who are here at his party. Ava, Gabe’s little sister, and my best friend, is talking to Josh, one of Gabe’s roommates that she met on a previous trip to Arizona. Pulling my cell phone from my back pocket, I tap out a text message to Max, one of my friends at home.
What am I missing in Santa Ruiz?
Adrian and Me ;) How’s AZ?
God, if he only knew what my interpretation of ‘hot’ really meant.
I can’t imagine I’m missing much back home. The life of an honor-roll student in Santa Ruiz is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but normally Ava and I would be spending the evening with Max and Adrian, our two best ‘guy friends’, going to dinner or to the movies.
Waiting for Max to text me back, I find Gabe again in the sea of people. Some tramp is hanging on his arm and whispering in his ear. Leaning forward to get a better look, I feel the cold drink running down the front of me before an overly large man falls into me, pinning me against the wall.
“What the fuck!” I yell, trying to push him forward so I can breathe.
“Ah, sorry,” he says, laughing as he backs away.
I’m definitely out of my element here. The girls are gorgeous and hardly wearing any clothes while the boys are not really boys anymore, but men. And here I stand, in a corner, covered in an entire cup of cheap keg beer.
“Fucking great,” I mumble to myself, shoving my phone into my back pocket while tugging at my fitted white cap-sleeve t-shirt that looks as if it’s been painted on. My denim shorts are wet down the front too, so not only do I have a wet t-shirt, but it also looks like I’ve pissed myself.
“What happened?” Gabe is laughing when he takes in the sight of me drenched in beer.
“What does it look like?” I ask sarcastically, glaring at the beast of a man that dumped his drink down the front of me. Grabbing my hand, Gabe pulls me through the crowded living room and down a hallway. Pulling the keys from his front pocket, he unlocks his door.
“You have to lock your bedroom door?” I ask him.
“We all do. There are so many people in and out of here, I don’t want them messing with my shit,” he says pulling me into his room and closing the door behind us.
The room is dark, the only light coming from the glow of a small desk lamp. Gabe hasn’t changed since he’s left home; his room is immaculate. There’s nothing on the floor, and even his desk is neat and orderly. Opening the closet door, he pulls a navy blue t-shirt off a hanger and hands it to me.
“Here, change into this,” he says, brushing past me. He sits down at his desk and begins checking his e-mail. I back away a bit more into the dark, turning around so my back is to him. Pulling my wet t-shirt off of me, I toss it to the floor and pull the clean t-shirt over my head. It’s so big that it hangs past my cut-off jean shorts, and now it looks like I’m not wearing any bottoms. I can smell the laundry detergent on the shirt, but I can also smell the slightest hint of Gabe. I pull the collar of the shirt up just under my nose and inhale deeply. Turning back around, Gabe is sitting in his chair watching me.
“You look good in my shirt,” he says quietly.
“Thanks for letting me borrow it,” I smile and chew in the inside of my bottom lip nervously. His hazel eyes shift to rake over me from head to toe. Fidgeting with the hem of his too long t-shirt, my pulse starts racing. He continues to stare at me, not saying anything.
“What?” I ask him, tilting my head.
Pushing himself up from his chair, he walks toward me, stopping to pick up my wet t-shirt. Standing up he inches closer to me, so that we’re face to face and I can feel his warm breath sweep across my cheek. Smelling his light cologne, or maybe it’s his body wash, whatever it is, it’s perfection.
“I missed you,” he whispers, our eyes never breaking contact. “I’m glad you came this weekend.”
“I missed you too,” I whisper back, swallowing hard. “It’s quiet without you at home.”
“Tell me how much you have missed me, Jess.” Gabe orders, causing a slight tremble to roll through my body. I can feel my pulse beating in the back of my throat, making it difficult to swallow. Before I have time to reply, Gabe’s nose presses against the side of mine, his lips mere millimeters from mine. I want so badly to just lean forward, to press my lips to his, but I’m too nervous.
“I’ve missed you . . . a lot,” I stutter quietly. With a slight lean his soft lips press against mine, and my head falls back just slightly. Gabe pulls my bottom lip into his mouth and gently sucks. My legs tremble as he moves his soft lips across mine and my stomach flips as he deepens his kiss. Pausing, he pulls away and holds my face with both of his hands. Looking deeply into my eyes, he’s searching for unspoken desires. My heart races as my lips answer and I press my mouth to his, capturing the only thing I’ve ever wanted—him.