Tag Archives: Excerpt

Teaser Tuesday: The Rules Regarding Gray

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Teaser Tuesday: The Rules Regarding Gray

The Rules Regarding GrayThe Rules Regarding Gray is written by Elizabeth Finn and was released September 15th of this year. I just finished reading it and holy guacamole guys this book it soo addicting. Its funny and sassy, while also filled with heart touching moments and demons from the past. The love triangle, which really isn’t one at all, kept me guessing and I highly recommend that y’all at least check it out. Super good read!

Synopsis:

Gracelynn is drowning in an existence that fails to fulfill her. A ballerina by trade, she’s devoted her life to the stage, sacrificing adventure for discipline. When her boyfriend gives her permission to want what she’s not supposed to want, can she walk away? Or will she leap?

Jasper isn’t a man with many boundaries, and “sharing” a woman with his best friend is hardly a new endeavor. But the moment he meets Gracelynn he realizes she’s different. She leaves him feeling alive in a way he’s not used to, and for the first time in his life, he understands what it means to be wanted… Cherished… And he needs more…

But there are rules—rules that forbid Jasper from truly having her. As forbidden desire spirals out of control, Jasper has to decide if he’s willing to fight for something that doesn’t truly belong to him. His best friend doesn’t deserve her, but is Jasper strong enough to believe he does?

Excerpt:

He sat down then as the waiter entered with a couple bottles of red wine. Ian glanced at her. “I know it’s red, but I couldn’t remember what—”

“Malbec you dick,” Jasper commented, but his eyes were on her, and she smiled.

“Well, fuck both of you. You’re both going to have to live with a Cab and a Pinot.”

Dinner was great, the conversation was even better. They laughed and joked around, and she listened intently as they rehashed their youth for her. Ian was clearly a latchkey kid with little supervision, and that didn’t surprise her in the least. Jas was the outsider who most kids were more fearful of than genuinely interested in knowing, and even though that came with a number of amusing stories related to school pranks and fights, it was still sad to hear in a way. But she soaked it up.

“You remember that day your dad showed up at school and pulled you out in the middle of football practice?” Ian glanced at Jas, but Jas remained silent, nodding subtly. “He rolls up in this old Ford Mustang. It was rough, but it was so cool.” Ian chuckled. “He was a big man, your dad. Comes strolling up with that cool-cat swagger of his, and you just took off with him.”

Jasper’s eyes met hers, but he looked away quickly. She wasn’t sure what to make of his disposition at the moment.

“We took bets whether we’d ever see you again.” Ian was silent then.

She looked between them, feeling more tension than anything else. Jasper was staring at the table, but it wasn’t irritation. He just seemed to be somewhere else.

“Well, clearly he came back,” she tried for no other reason than to cut through the thick air that hung around them.

Ian glanced at her. “Yeah, he did. A week later, black eye, scuffs all over his face and limping. He looked cool as hell actually.”

Her eyes snapped to Jas as he looked up to her. His brow flinched, and all she could seem to manage was to stare wide eyed back at him.

“We didn’t get along so well that week,” Jasper commented with little inflection.

Ian chimed in quickly though. “You were a big kid. I bet you left him looking just as bad.” In Ian’s own way, he was trying to support his friend.

Jasper shook his head subtly. “No.” He said nothing else, and he stared at the table for a moment before blowing out a deep breath of air. When he looked back up to Ian, he smirked. “Way to suck the life out of the party, Ian.” He clapped his hand on Ian’s shoulder, smiling and laughing, and then his focus shifted to Gray, and he studied her for a moment as she took a drink of wine.

“How about you, Gray?” Jasper lifted his own glass to his lips.

She shrugged. “I danced. Not much more to say.” She knew she sounded lame.

“There’s always more to say,” he responded.

“No, in her case there really isn’t,” Ian tossed out. “If you can believe it, I’m only the second man she’s ever slept with. Still can’t believe all the shit she’s let me do to her,” he commented as an aside.

Jasper’s eyes remained on her, but she glanced down at the table, feeling the hot tendrils of embarrassment coursing through her.

“To take a note from Gray’s book, I’m sure she would have told me that herself if she’d wanted me to know.” Jasper’s voice was warm, and when she glanced up, he was looking directly at her rather than Ian. “That doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s more to say. So spill it, Gray.” He demanded with a gentle smile.

She smiled. “Okay. I came from a great family with loving parents who supported me perfectly. I started dance when I was young, and … I was good at it.” She thought about what she wanted to say then. “It was all I did. I knew early on that I wanted to make a career of it, and you don’t do that without giving yourself over to it completely. It was my life. I didn’t go out, have fun, do all those normal kid things. I was in a studio practicing.” She shrugged. Yeah, it was more than lame.

“Nothing wrong with being disciplined,” Jas offered.

“No…” She thought about that for a moment. “But I missed out on life. While other people were out having adventures—”

“And fucking,” Ian threw out.

She rolled her eyes. “I was keeping a strict rehearsal schedule.” Her lips pursed, and her brow flinched as she stared at the table.

But Jaspers warm voice pulled her back to him. “You’re young. You have plenty of time for adventures.”

She glanced at him. “Do I?”

Ian was looking between the two of them but not interrupting.

“I don’t know,” she mused. “Even at my age I feel like I’ve lost part of my life to my career. It’s funny how life feels like it slips away from you without you even knowing it sometimes.” She watched Jasper’s eyes as she spoke.

“Yeah.” He nodded focusing on her intently.

The waiter suddenly appeared in the doorway with their check in his hand. Ian took it, and as the waiter left, it was silent. No one said a word, and her brain swam with a sea of possibilities that were so much bigger than her small little boring world. It was a heady feeling, and she took a deep breath, soaking in the intoxication of it. And then she said it. It wasn’t her desire nor her intention when she walked in, but… She said it.

“I’ve changed my mind.”

******

He stared at her, stunned into silence. His groin was throbbing, his skin was flushing, and breathing had become a nonessential afterthought.

“Well, that settles that,” quipped Ian from beside him.

But Gray’s face remained impassive—much as it had been when she made the comment.

“No, it doesn’t,” Jasper cut in quickly. He turned his focus to Ian. “I need to speak with Gray alone for a moment.” He stared at Ian, refusing to look away.

Ian held the check up. “Why don’t I take care of this, and I’ll meet you both in the parking lot. Perhaps a nightcap at my place?”

Jasper didn’t respond to him, and he waited for Ian to leave before he bothered trying to speak again. But the moment the door closed and he was alone with Gray, he opened his mouth. “Why are you doing this?”

She watched him for a moment, and she swallowed harshly over a lump in her throat. “I guess… I want to do something I’m not supposed to do. I want to want something I’m not supposed to want. I want to make the mistake I’m not supposed to make.” She took a deep breath again.

He nodded but said nothing.

“Are you agreeing?” she asked quietly.

“Yes,” he said quietly.

“Why?”

Every muscle in his body tightened into hardened strands of tension. “Because I want to fuck the hell out of the mistake until I can get her out of my system.”

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Sunday Spoilers: Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Sunday Spoilers: Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This week’s sneak peak comes from the novel Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout. It is the latest installment in the Lux series and is the concluding novel. Armentrout is one of my favorite YA Romance authors and I personally think the Lux series is some of her best work. For those who haven’t of the Lux series, it is a YA Romance centered on Katy (or Kitten), your resident blogger and book-aholic, Daemon, the bad boy hottie next door and his sister Dee, who is sweet as pie and is everyone’s friend. But Daemon and Dee have a secret, they’re not from around here…in fact, there not even from this GALAXY. But they’re not the only otherworldly force at play. As Daemon and Katy grow close (VERY close) they have to battle many threats and obstacles that try to separate them…but how much are they willing to go through for each other? Does love really conquer all?

Lux Series:

1) Obsidian

2) Onyx

3) Opal

3.5) Shadows (Dawson’s story)

4) Opposition

Jennifer L. Armentrout has also started writing a branch off series based on the Arum. This first (and so far only) book that has been released is Obsession, and if you love the Lux Series, this book will shake the very foundation of your knowledge on the Arum. I most definitely recommend reading it though!

Opposition Excerpt:

I locked up, throat dry as he stalked toward us.
He cut Quincy a dangerous look as he stepped around me. The moment his hands folded over my shoulders from behind, holding me in place, I thought I’d throw up. Like literally hurl all over the smug-looking Luxen in front of me.
 I jerked, pressing into Daemon as Quincy reached for me once more, gripping my chin with cool fingers, but I couldn’t shy away. Daemon was an unmovable wall.
Daemon stiffened behind me as Quincy lowered his head so that we were eye level. I never thought I’d ever be in this situation, that instead of Daemon protecting me, he would be allowing some random, really skeevy Luxen guy to get all up in my face. Not since the day at the lake, the first time he’d opened up to me and told me about his brother.
“She feels different,” Quincy announced, his hands sliding down my neck to where my pulse beat rapidly. “Not like other humans. Besides sensing something in them, we’d be able to tell by feel.” He paused, his gaze flicking up to Daemon. The Luxen’s smile turned brittle as his long, tapered fingers circled my neck. “You’re very angry.”

“Really?” Daemon’s hands flexed around my arms. “Remember what I told you before? That statement still stands.”
 
“Is that so?” Quincy hesitated, and then he placed his hand above my chest, the same place I’d seen the Luxen touch in the supermarket.
A low rumble reverberated along my back, and I wasn’t sure if it was from Daemon or if it was me shaking so badly. The Luxen’s brows knitted in concentration, and then he glanced at Rolland.
“Nothing,” he said. “I cannot assimilate her DNA.”
 
My eyes widened in understanding. My God, I’d seen what had happened to the humans after their DNA had been assimilated at a rapid clip. He would’ve killed me! And Daemon, but at this point, I wanted to knee Daemon in the groin. Anger burned its way through me as I twisted in his grasp, trying to get free, because I needed space, but his grip tightened as furious tears stung my eyes.
 
“That’s an interesting development,” Rolland commented. “What else can you two do? We know that if one dies, the other does. She obviously has access to the Source. Is there anything else?”
“She won’t get sick. Like us.” Daemon’s words were short, to the point. “And she’s fast and strong.”
 
I sucked in a sharp breath as the blister of something ugly, of betrayal, curled around my heart.
“Remarkable.” Rolland clapped his hands as if we’d per- formed Swan Lake instead of just standing there in front of him. “And that is all?” Sadi asked, looking wholly unimpressed.
“Yes,” Daemon answered, and my eyes widened, but I schooled my features blank.
I held my breath, but Dee didn’t disagree. Both of them had just blatantly lied by omission. There was more. When he was in his true form, Daemon and I could communicate the way he did with other Luxen. I didn’t know what to think about that, but hope sparked deep in my chest. My gaze darted to Dee, but she was staring at the wall as if there was something amazing going on there.
What was really happening here? There was more—
 
My thoughts careened off, crashing in a fiery glory as Quincy, who wasn’t even looking at me but was eyeballing Daemon, slid his hand down my chest, like right on my chest. Shock rippled through me, quickly followed by red-hot rage and bitter disgust. Every part of me recoiled.
 
Suddenly, I was sliding across the wood floor and bumping into an empty leather chair. Startled, I lifted my head and peered through the length of matted hair that had fallen across my face.
The two Luxen were locked in an epic stare down, and across from me, Dee was no longer staring at the wall, but was focused on her brother. It was so quiet in the room that you could hear a fly hiccup.
 
And then Daemon exploded like a bottle rocket.
 
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Teaser Thursday

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Here is an excerpt from Aurora Rose Reynolds’ series Until. This excerpt is from the first in the series, Until November. I have personally read this book a couple of months ago and fell in love with it, the whole series, and everything else written by Reynolds. Hope y’all enjoy!

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“So, what are we doing today? Can we go riding?” I ask excitedly.

“No, someone’s coming over in an hour,” he says, wiping his mouth.

“O…kay,” I say slowly, waiting for him to tell me who is coming over. He doesn’t say anything, just smiles. “So, who is it?” I ask after he still doesn’t say anything.

“You’ll see.” He shrugs.

“So, you’re not going to tell me who it is?”

“Nope,” he says, putting his cup and plate into the sink without rinsing it. He starts to walk away, so I clear my throat to get his attention. When he looks at me, I nod my head in the direction of the sink and he raises his eyebrows. So, I nod my head in the direction of the sink again. “Do you have a tic, baby?” he asks, his mouth twitching.

I narrowed my eyes. “I’m not your maid, Asher.” He straight out smiles, giving me the dimple, then walks to the sink, takes his plate and cup out, still without rinsing them, and places them in the dishwasher. “You have to rinse it before you put it in the dishwasher,” I tell him, feeling and sounding like a total nag.

“It’s a dishwasher,” he says slowly, walking towards me.

“Ye—” Before I can get the words out, his mouth is on mine. The kiss is deep, wet, and so yummy, that when he pulls his mouth away, my hands are wrapped around his neck and my legs are around his hips. I’m in an Asher fog so deep that he could tell me that it’s not a dishwasher, but a microwave, and I would agree with him completely.

My eyes flutter open. He’s looking down at me with a cocky smile and mumbles, “That’s better.” Then, he squeezes my ass in his hands, sets me on the counter and leaves the kitchen, putting on his shirt as he goes.

“Holy crap,” I whisper. Beast looks at me, grunts, then walks to his dog bed and lays down, completely disappointed in my lack of willpower. “It’s not my fault,” I mumble to my dog. He lets out a breath and shuts his eyes, completely dismissing me. “It’s not,” I say, still mumbling. I hop off the counter, take Asher’s dishes from the dishwasher, rinse off the cream cheese so it doesn’t harden onto the plate, rinse out the cup then place them both back in the dishwasher. The whole time, I’m smiling.

Sunday Spoilers!

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This week’s Sunday Spoilers is an excerpt from The Host (mainly because I just watched the movie today…its really good). The book is amazing as well as the movie, and I hope y’all enjoy the sneak peek!

Excerpt:

The_Host_PosterI knew it would begin with the end, and the end would look like death to these eyes. I had been warned.

Not these eyes. My eyes. Mine. This was me now. The language I found myself using was odd, but it made sense. Choppy, boxy, blind, and linear. Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I’d used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression. Sometimes beauty. My language now. My native tongue.

With the truest instinct of my kind, I’d bound myself securely into the body’s center of thought, twined myself inescapably into its every breath and reflex until it was no longer a separate entity. It was me.

Not the body, my body.

I felt the sedation wearing off and lucidity taking its place. I braced myself for the onslaught of the first memory, which would really be the last memory—the last moments this body had experienced, the memory of the end. I had been warned thoroughly of what would happen now. These human emotions would be stronger, more vital than the feelings of any other species I had been. I had tried to prepare myself.

The memory came. And, as I’d been warned, it was not something that could ever be prepared for.

It seared with sharp color and ringing sound. Cold on her skin, pain gripping her limbs, burning them. The taste was fiercely metallic in her mouth. And there was the new sense, the fifth sense I’d never had, that took the particles from the air and transformed them into strange messages and pleasures and warnings in her brain—scents. They were distracting, confusing to me, but not to her memory. The memory had no time for the novelties of smell. The memory was only fear.

Fear locked her in a vise, goading the blunt, clumsy limbs forward but hampering them at the same time. To flee, to run—it was all she could do.

I’ve failed.

The memory that was not mine was so frighteningly strong and clear that it sliced through my control—overwhelmed the detachment, the knowledge that this was just a memory and not me. Sucked into the hell that was the last minute of her life, I was she, and we were running.

It’s so dark. I can’t see. I can’t see the floor. I can’t see my hands stretched out in front of me. I run blind and try to hear the pursuit I can feel behind me, but the pulse is so loud behind my ears it drowns everything else out.

It’s cold. It shouldn’t matter now, but it hurts. I’m so cold.

The air in her nose was uncomfortable. Bad. A bad smell. For one second, that discomfort pulled me free of the memory. But it was only a second, and then I was dragged in again, and my eyes filled with horrified tears.

I’m lost, we’re lost. It’s over.

They’re right behind me now, loud and close. There are so many footsteps! I am alone. I’ve failed. The Seekers are calling. The sound of their voices twists my stomach. I’m going to be sick.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” one lies, trying to calm me, to slow me. Her voice is disturbed by the effort of her breathing.

“Be careful!” another shouts in warning.

“Don’t hurt yourself,” one of them pleads. A deep voice, full of concern.

Concern!

Heat shot through my veins, and a violent hatred nearly choked me.

I had never felt such an emotion as this in all my lives. For another second, my revulsion pulled me away from the memory. A high, shrill keening pierced my ears and pulsed in my head. The sound scraped through my airways. There was a weak pain in my throat.

Screaming, my body explained. You’re screaming.

I froze in shock, and the sound broke off abruptly.

This was not a memory.

My body—she was thinking! Speaking to me!

But the memory was stronger, in that moment, than my astonishment.

“Please!” they cry. “There is danger ahead!”

The danger is behind! I scream back in my mind. But I see what they mean. A feeble stream of light, coming from who knows where, shines on the end of the hall. It is not the flat wall or the locked door, the dead end I feared and expected. It is a black hole.

An elevator shaft. Abandoned, empty, and condemned, like this building. Once a hiding place, now a tomb.

A surge of relief floods through me as I race forward. There is a way. No way to survive, but perhaps a way to win.

No, no, no! This thought was all mine, and I fought to pull myself away from her, but we were together. And we sprinted for the edge of death.

“Please!” The shouts are more desperate.

I feel like laughing when I know that I am fast enough. I imagine their hands clutching for me just inches behind my back. But I am as fast as I need to be. I don’t even pause at the end of the floor. The hole rises up to meet me midstride.

The emptiness swallows me. My legs flail, useless. My hands grip the air, claw through it, searching for anything solid. Cold blows past me like tornado winds.

I hear the thud before I feel it. . . . The wind is gone. . . .

And then pain is everywhere. . . . Pain is everything.

Make it stop.

Not high enough, I whisper to myself through the pain.

When will the pain end? When . . . ?

The blackness swallowed up the agony, and I was weak with gratitude that the memory had come to this most final of conclusions. The blackness took all, and I was free. I took a breath to steady myself, as was this body’s habit. My body.

But then the color rushed back, the memory reared up and engulfed me again.

No! I panicked, fearing the cold and the pain and the very fear itself.

But this was not the same memory. This was a memory within a memory—a final memory, like a last gasp of air—yet, somehow, even stronger than the first.

The blackness took all but this: a face.

The face was as alien to me as the faceless serpentine tentacles of my last host body would be to this new body. I’d seen this kind of face in the images I had been given to prepare for this world. It was hard to tell them apart, to see the tiny variations in color and shape that were the only markers of the individual. So much the same, all of them. Noses centered in the middle of the sphere, eyes above and mouths below, ears around the sides. A collection of senses, all but touch, concentrated in one place. Skin over bones, hair growing on the crown and in strange furry lines above the eyes. Some had more fur lower down on the jaw; those were always males. The colors ranged through the brown scale from pale cream to a deep almost-black. Aside from that, how to know one from the other?

This face I would have known among millions.

This face was a hard rectangle, the shape of the bones strong under the skin. In color it was a light golden brown. The hair was just a few shades darker than the skin, except where flaxen streaks lightened it, and it covered only the head and the odd fur stripes above the eyes. The circular irises in the white eyeballs were darker than the hair but, like the hair, flecked with light. There were small lines around the eyes, and her memories told me the lines were from smiling and squinting into sunlight.

I knew nothing of what passed for beauty among these strangers, and yet I knew that this face was beautiful. I wanted to keep looking at it. As soon as I realized this, it disappeared.

Mine, spoke the alien thought that should not have existed.

Again, I was frozen, stunned. There should have been no one here but me. And yet this thought was so strong and so aware!

Impossible. How was she still here? This was me now.

Mine, I rebuked her, the power and authority that belonged to me alone flowing through the word. Everything is mine.

So why am I talking back to her? I wondered as the voices interrupted my thoughts.

Teaser Tuesday

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This week’s Teaser Tuesday is an excerpt from Stay, written by Kelly Mooney. It is actually a really good book, so if you like this excerpt please go out and read it for yourself. Enjoy and happy readings!

 

untitledExcerpt:

And I was scared. Maybe he knew something was wrong by the way I’d acted earlier, but I wasn’t sure. We always talked about our future together like it was a no-brainer, but for some reason that night he made me promise him that no matter what happened, or what went wrong, that I would come to him before doing anything that I’d regret. I wanted to. I did. I loved him more than anything it his world and I really thought long and hard about my decision. For the first time in my life, I lied to the only man I’d ever loved. And probably would ever love.

I lied to Luke Matthews. As he held me in his arms, his index finger slid slowly down until it reached my knee. He wrapped his strong hand, ”

“It’s nothing.” He took a deep breath and then exhaled, kissing the corner of my mouth, then the other side.

t taken his eyes off of me,so I held back the tears.

“I love you for wanting to try, but you can’t this time.”He cocked his head scanning my face for a minute before he spoke again.

“Is itschool? Are you doing okay?”I shook my head.

“School’s fine.”Luke grinned.

“I almost forgot.” He pushed away from me, shuffling over tohis desk, and rifled through a bunch o papers. He pounced back on the bed likean excited kid on Christmas morning. “I got something for you. Well, I did some investigation for you.” He held the manila folder over his head, making me reach out for it. “Before I give this toou, you need to promise me not to getall pissy.”

I rolled my eyes. “I promise.”

Sunday Excerpts!

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Here’s a little Sunday sneak peak at the novel Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest! Now, I haven’t personally read any from this series or author, but just from doing some research I’ve learned that its a really popular series. Right now there are five books in the series, with the fifth book having been released not too long ago and the sixth in the process of being released (not sure when, but I’ll find out). It looks like a good series though and I will be definitely checking it out! Enjoy!!

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Synopsis:

On the evening of Sofia Claremont’s seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.
A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.Sofia’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.
Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? …or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

 

Excerpt:

I was taking an evening stroll along the beach, feeling the smooth sand under my bare feet with every step. The rhythmic crashing of heavy waves against the shore soothed my ears. My skin was tingling with every blow of the gentle summer breeze, the distinct scent of ocean salt filling my nostrils. As I dabbed cherry-flavored Chapstick over my parched lips, they formed a bitter smile. The balm only served to add its sweet taste to the numerous sensations engulfing me at that particular moment.

I’ve always found myself completely attuned to all five of my senses, but that night, I was to all but one. My sight was blurred by the tears I was fighting to hold back. I couldn’t appreciate the exotic scene around me. All I could think about was the disappointed expression on my best friend’s handsome face.               Benjamin Hudson was the only person in the world who could make me feel the way I did that night.               Perhaps the sorrow I felt was mostly due to the fact that I still held expectations – expectations I knew would only ever cause me pain.

I reasoned to myself that I had the right to be hurt. It was my birthday. He was my best friend. He shouldn’t have forgotten.

But he did. Again.

I knew the disappointment in his chiseled face was more toward himself than me. I knew he could beat himself up endlessly over his careless slip-ups, and do believe me when I say that he had many of those. So, that night, I was wondering to myself whether I had just over-reacted.

I would find myself deciding that I did, in fact, over-react and that it was time to stop wallowing. I’d turn back toward the villa the Hudsons rented for their family vacation, determined to just start having fun again with the most important person in my life, but then I’d remember…

I’d remember what it felt like to see him with his arms around Tanya Wilson, the gorgeous blonde he’d had the hots for all summer.

The image quickly threw all thoughts of kissing and making up with Ben out the window. “Gosh, Sofia… I’m so sorry… I’m an awful best friend…” were the words that came out of his mouth when he realized his mistake. I walked out on him and ended up at the beach, wanting to hit myself over the head for being so sensitive.

I was being unfair. After all, it wasn’t Ben’s fault that I fell for the biggest cliché of all time when I decided to grow non-best-friend-like feelings for my best friend. That was why seeing him with Tanya hurt so much, especially realizing that I could never be like Tanya. I simply wasn’t the type of girl a guy like Ben would go for. I knew that and yet I still allowed myself to fall for his charms. I hated myself for it, but it was what it was. At that time, I was so sure that he was indeed the “love of my life”. But could anyone really blame me for how I felt around him?

Ben was as dreamy as dreamy gets. He was tall, well-built, smart and had that dashing smile that would put to shame those of the models gracing the covers of any magazine. He was fun, confident and popular. He was also sweet and kind whenever he wanted to be. More than any of that, he saw me. He gave me the time of day when no one else – not even my own parents – would. It was with Ben that I never felt invisible…except when Tanya was around.

As I took that evening stroll, I knew I was fooling myself. There was no way I could stay mad at Ben for long. I liked to think of myself as strong and independent, but truth be told, I couldn’t imagine a life without Ben in it. My dependence on him scared me. It was frightening realizing that I needed another person as much as I needed him.

I’d been meandering along the shore for about an hour when I suddenly sensed that I wasn’t alone. Someone was approaching me from behind. My heart leapt. I was so sure it was Ben, that when a stranger showed up beside me, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.

He must have noticed, because a smirk formed on his lips. “Were you expecting someone else, love?” I eyed him suspiciously, remembering how many times my father had told me not to talk to strangers. I looked him over, taking in his appearance. My eyes widened. I couldn’t find words to describe how fine a man he was. He was almost beautiful. The first thing I took notice of was how his blue eyes were about three shades brighter than any I’d ever seen before. It was such a stark contrast to his pale – almost white – skin and dark hair. Standing beside me, he was easily more than half a foot taller. His height, broad shoulders and lean build reminded me of Ben, but he had a presence that was far more imposing than my best friend’s.

My gaze settled on his face.

I realized that he was inspecting me just as closely as I was him. His eyes on me suddenly made me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. I gave my father’s advice a second thought, but quickly canceled out all notions of heeding to his counsel when I reminded myself that he stopped caring a long time ago.

I straightened to my full height and mustered all the courage I had to keep myself from running away from this stranger.

Big mistake.

The confident smirk didn’t leave his face for even a moment.

“Like what you see?”

“A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?” I scoffed, annoyed by his audacity.

He stepped forward, closer to me, and leaned his head toward mine.

“Don’t I have the right to be?”

He knew he looked good and wasn’t about to act like he didn’t.

“Whatever,” was my oh-so-brilliant comeback.

My shoulders sagged with defeat as I took a step back, unsettled by how close he was now. I rolled my eyes and did a one-eighty, not quite in the mood to play whatever game this stranger was proposing.

I would soon realize that I was about to play his game whether I liked it or not.