Love isn't supposed to be an addiction. It isn't supposed to leave you bleeding.
Kona pushed, Keira pulled, and in their wake, they left behind destruction.
She sacrificed everything for him.
It wasn't enough.
But the wounds of the past can never be completely forgotten and still the flame remains, slumbers between the pleasure of yesterday and the thought of what might have been.
Now, sixteen years later, Keira returns home to bury the mother who betrayed her, just as Kona tries to hold onto what remains of his NFL career with the New Orleans Steamers. Across the crowded bustle of a busy French Market, their paths collide, conjuring forgotten memories of a consuming touch, skin on skin, and the still smoldering fire that begs to be rekindled.
When Kona realizes the trifecta of betrayal—his, Keira's and those lies told to keep them apart—his life is irrevocably changed and he once again takes Keira down with him into the fire that threatens to ignite them both.
Giveaway . . .
The Excerpt . . .
Kona still makes low groans in his throat when he kisses her; still has the softest lips, the most demanding, wide tongue.
She can’t help herself. He’s an addiction, her favorite drug. She wants a hit. She wants a million hits of him.
She feels the swift lick of disappointment when Kona pulls back, but it disappears with his fingers holding her face and the tips smoothing just over her cheekbones.
“My dirty little rascal,” he says, but he doesn’t return her smile, seems struck by how close they are standing, how easy this has been, to fall back into old habits. It was returning…their reactions to one another were primal, instinctual. Un-fucking-avoidable.
The song ends, but Kona hasn’t stopped examining her face. His breath is still hot and panting over her cheeks. It would be easy, so fucking easy, to let him consume her. Every touch is a recall of all the dangerous, desperate emotions Kona sparked in her. Every look dulls her memory, makes her forget how he hurt her, how he broke the promises he swore he’d always keep.
Kona leans in again, somehow moving closer, another hit that will edge her toward overdose and she stops him. The rational part of Keira’s mind pushes back the sensation of his touch and the embers are extinguished.
He pauses, but doesn’t move away from her, doesn’t move his fingers from her skin.
“Wildcat, come on.”
“What are we doing?” Keira knows that expression. It hasn’t changed in sixteen years. Kona’s face is calm, but he frowns, forehead wrinkling in his agitation and Keira stops another attempt of his lips against her mouth. She pushes him back, palm flat against that tempting chest. “How’d this happen?”
Kona’s shoulders sag and finally, her skin is free of his touch.
“Memory lane,” he says.
“That’s a dangerous place.”
“If you say so.”
“I can’t do this with you.” She takes a breath. “I can’t ever do this with you again.”
His anger isn’t quick, not the instant snap of frustration she’d always known from him, but there is no humor on his face and despite her small rejection, he hasn’t moved his arms from the brick behind her. “Why the hell not?”
“I told you. We were not good together. I can’t…” Another slow breath and Keira tries to calm, to ignore the sweet scent of his skin. “I won’t be like that again.”
Too easy, she thinks, reminding herself how effortlessly Kona consumes her. Moth to flame, eager to die in the fire. She hated who she was with him, most days. She hated that she forgot good sense, any smidgeon of reason when he was around her. She didn’t like who she’d been at eighteen and it was that girl, that unbalanced, obsessed girl, that Keira had been running from all these years. She wouldn’t let that girl return, not now, not even for Kona.
When she slips out of the cage of his impossibly large arms, Kona reacts, old habits flirting to the surface. He grabs her arm and for a quick second, Keira feels her teenage self return. His fingers are hot on her bicep, licking heat, anger, passion, through her limbs and Keira fears the sensation, hates that she loves it so much, that she’d missed it more than she wants to admit.
Just like that, she’s ready to react, to fight and it takes all Keira’s strength to repress that inclination. “Don’t…”And at her small warning, Kona jerks back, hands up as though she burned him. “You see what I mean? Three weeks and it’s starting already.”
“I’m sorry.” Keira thinks that he might be telling the truth. He fans his fingers through his hair, eyes rounded as though he can’t believe how he’d reacted. “Please,” Kona says, taking a tentative step forward, voice easy, calm. “Don’t leave.”
She doesn’t want to see that expression on his face; the one that tells her he’s different, that his overwhelming presence is no longer dangerous. He’d fooled her once. He won’t get a second chance. A quick shake of her head and Keira turns away from him, tries to focuses on a plane above shooting away from the city, wishing she was on it. Kona’s breath warms her neck and Keira cringes at how much she’d missed this—him, her, the heat, the passion and it is like refusing the best high she’s ever had. She wants it so desperately, wants to forget all his sins just for a moment, just for one small taste of how good he made her body feel. “If I don’t walk away right now, I’m going to kiss you again.”
Kona’s low voice is heady, firm and Keira has to tighten her eyes closed when his fingertip slides down her spine. “I want you to.”
“I can’t. We…no, we can’t.”
“You’re scared,” he says, mouth hot against her neck.
“I’m petrified.” Despite herself, Keira leans back, lets Kona wrap his hands around her waist.
“I would never hurt you. You know I’d never touch you, not like that.”
No, he never had. Not once. She’d slapped him and punched him because she was angry, because they were twisted, because they both got off on it. But Kona had never returned the favor. His wounds cut deeeper.
“You’re no good for me. You were never good for me.” Keira turns, takes a step back so she can look at his face, so she can see how determined he is to change her mind. “I was a crazy person with you. Obsessed. I can’t relive the past.”
“I’m not the same person.” Kona pulls her forward, gripping her waist in his too large hands until their bodies are flush, until Keira can feel the hard, delicious planes of his chest and the corded muscles of his thighs. She knows he won’t hurt her. She knows he won’t let her go. Kona takes her face again, moving her chin so she’s forced to look at him. “You’re not the same, Wildcat and that was a long time ago.”
And then Keira lets that girl sneak to the surface. She lets her take Kona’s mouth, pull his shirt so that her tongue licks against a wide expanse of tempting, copper skin. She lets that girl enjoy Kona’s mouth, his hands, the way he feels hard, demanding against her, until the night darkens, deepens and her rejection, though halfhearted, comes again.
Kona stops pushing, stops demanding and before he leaves Keira out on that balcony, he reminds her why she’d loved him in the first place. He reminds her why she should love him again.
“I only know one thing—no one sets my skin on fire like you do. No one. Not one person has ever made me feel like I’m alive like you. That hasn’t changed, not in sixteen years. Don’t try to pretend it isn’t the same for you.”
About Eden Butler . . .
Her debut novel, a New Adult, Contemporary (no cliffie) Romance, “Chasing Serenity” launched in October 2013 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller.
When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, Eden edits, reads and spends way too much time watching rugby, Doctor Who and New Orleans Saints football.
She is currently living under teenage rule alongside her husband in southeast Louisiana. Please send help.
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