I’m drowning in the numbness. It’s pulling me under and I can’t see the surface. It’s easier to pretend I can’t feel. And the longer you pretend, the easier it is to believe. But he wants to save me. Only he can’t. I have to save myself…and I don’t know if I want to.
Rowan Sinclair’s life has been anything but easy. With an alcoholic mother and a sleazy stepfather, it’s been her responsibility to raise her younger siblings. At twenty-one she’s chained to a life she doesn’t want, but sees no other alternative. After all, what would happen to her brother and sister if she were to leave?
Trenton Wentworth sees the pain behind Rowan’s eyes. He wants nothing more than to make it disappear. To hold her. To love her. Except Rowan keeps everyone at a safe distance. But if there’s anyone that can break down the walls she’s built around herself, it’s Trent. So she avoids him at all costs. But Trent isn’t one to be easily evaded. He’s stubborn and determined. He’ll save this girl even if it costs him everything.
Love, lies, and deception.
That’s the name of the game when you’re Tempting Rowan.
“Just the two of you?” A waitress appeared beside our table, glaring at Jude. Geez, I couldn’t go anywhere with guy. Had he slept with everyone?
“Yeah, just the two of us,” Jude replied, leaning back in the booth with an easy grin.
She dropped the menus on the table and the plastic made a smacking sound as it hit the table. “What can I get you to drink then?”
“Water,” I answered.
“Same,” Jude replied, smiling at the waitress.
She rolled her eyes and turned sharply on her heel.
“She’s so going to spit in my drink,” I grumbled.
Jude chuckled, pulling off his beanie and running his fingers through his hair. “Nah, she won’t bother you. It’s me that’ll be drinking her spit.”
“Ew,” I wrinkled my nose. “Anyway,” I picked up the menu, “what’s good here?”
“Everything,” he replied.
“That’s real helpful, Jude.”
“Hey, it’s the truth,” he chuckled, scratching his stubbled jaw.
Since I was starving and running out of time before I had to get to work, I ordered a turkey club sandwich. Jude ordered the same and cheese fries for an appetizer.
“Uh…Rowan?” He leaned forward with both his hands on the table, looking at something over my shoulder.
“Yes?” I responded, inspecting my water for any foreign substances.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“God no, Jude! You know that! And no, I’m not going to date you!”
“Hey,” he raised his hands in defense, “I know you’re not interested in me, that’s why we’re friends. But that dude over there is glaring at me like he wants to rip my balls from my body.”
“Thanks for that disturbing visual, Jude,” I groaned.
I looked over my shoulder to see who he was talking about, but couldn’t see anything, because the top of the booth blocked my line of sight.
“Did he leave?” I asked.
“Nope,” Jude picked up the wrapper from his straw and began playing with it, “he’s still staring. I think he’s planning to kill me and trying to figure out the best place to hide my body so no one finds me.” He reached across the table and took my hand. “If I don’t make it out of this alive, please tell my mom I love her.”
“Are you sure you’re not studying to be an actor?” I pulled my hand from his grasp.
“Oh, fuck,” Jude paled, sitting up straight, “he’s coming over. I think he’s pissed that I held your hand.”
“Hello, Rowan.” Both words were said through gritted teeth, telling me the person who spoke them was beyond mad.
A shiver danced down my spine as I recognized the voice.
“Hi, Trenton.” I tried to keep my tone light and sound unaffected, even though my whole body was humming with pleasant zings at his close proximity.
“You know this guy?” Jude asked me, his mouth falling open in shock that I might possibly know someone other than him that possessed a penis.
I nodded. There was no way I could deny it, and I didn’t want Trent to cause a scene. Well, an even bigger scene.
“Oh, she knows me better than I’m sure she knows you,” Trent smiled—and there was nothing pleasant about it—as he slid into the booth beside me. “Who are you?”
“You don’t have to say anything,” I warned Jude, taking a sip of water.
Trent glared at me.
Jude swallowed thickly, looking like a deer caught in headlights. “I’m Jude.”
“And are you on a date with my friend here?” Trent tilted his head towards me.
“No-o-o.” Jude’s voice shook. Scaredy-cat. “We’re just grabbing a bite to eat.” Jude was a tough guy, and I found the fact that he was scared of Trent to be hilarious. I’m sure with the way Jude got around he’d run into plenty of jealous boyfriends, and had to fight his way out of a sticky situation, but something about Trent had him shaking in his boots.
“Yeah, and I bet you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to get her to go back to your place, aren’t you? I bet she’s just another conquest to someone like you. I know your type. You’re always looking for an easy fuck. So, I suggest you look elsewhere.”
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped at Trent’s words. I punched his arm as hard as I could, forcing him to acknowledge my presence. I could tell Jude was pissed too, and opened his mouth to say something to Trent, but I didn’t need Jude to fight my battles.
“I can’t believe you just said that to him,” I spat at Trent, keeping my voice hushed so we didn’t disturb the other people in the restaurant.
“Yeah, well,” Trent reached up and ran his fingers nervously through his hair, obviously ashamed of his behavior, “I’m a bit pissed off that you keep wanting to brush me off, but you’re out with this guy. You turned me down for dinner last night, but here you are with him,” he pointed a forceful finger at Jude.
“This guy,” Jude pointed to himself, “has a name, and it’s Jude. J. U. D. E.”
“Do I look like I care?” Trent glared, his nostrils flaring with anger.
“I’m not on a date, so stop being rude to him,” I told Trent. I was tempted to kick him, but since he was beside me, that would’ve been quite difficult.
“Then what are you doing?” Trent looked from me to Jude.
“Why should I tell you? You’re the one that came over here like a dog pissing on its territory,” I seethed.
“Oh, this is good,” Jude chuckled. I turned in his direction to see him shoving cheese fries in his mouth. “Please, continue.”
I ignored Jude and went back to glaring at Trent. I was embarrassed by his behavior and I knew I’d have a lot of explaining to do, because Jude would want to know what was going on between Trent and I. I’d do my best to avoid that conversation for as long as possible. I didn’t want to go into details with Jude about my past with Trenton.
“And you’re the one that acts like you hate me, then I kiss you, and it’s obvious you do want me,” Trent countered, referring to the night after we shopped for groceries. “You can keep denying this as long as you want, but as long as your body continues reacting to me, I’ll keep coming back.”
“You kissed him?” Jude asked, dipping three fries in ranch. Of course, out of all of that the only part Jude noticed included kissing.
“He kissed me,” I argued, glaring daggers at the two guys. “And it hardly was a kiss at all.”
“Whatever you need to tell yourself to feel better,” Trent smirked in my direction. “Can I have some of those?” He asked Jude, pointing to the fries.
“Sure, as long as you promise not to kill me and cut me up into tiny pieces,” Jude shrugged, sliding the plate closer to where Trent and I sat. I guessed they were best friends forever now thanks to the magical bond of cheese fries. “Now, tell me about this kiss,” Jude probed Trent for answers.
“There’s nothing to tell,” I spoke up before Trent could open his big fat mouth.
“It was a simple kiss goodnight,” Trent shrugged, taking a fry as he talked over me.
“You naughty girl, Rowan. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me,” Jude winked.
“Why would I tell you?” I muttered under my breath. “You’re a guy. Besides, it wasn’t worth talking about.”
“Burn,” Jude coughed, eyeing Trent warily in case he decided to jump across the table and strangle him.
“Well, then,” Trenton turned to face me, a challenge glimmering in his blue eyes, “I guess I’ll have to give you something to talk about then.”
In a lightning fast move, he grabbed my face between his large hands and pressed his lips against mine. The kiss was demanding and forceful, but somehow still passionate. It was the kind of combination that left your world spinning. I found my traitorous body responding to the feel of his tongue against my lips. I felt insecure and unsure what to do. I hadn’t been with anyone since Trenton and that had been five years ago, so I was clearly out of practice. I found that my body seemed to know what to do though, despite my lack of knowledge. I grasped his sweatshirt between my fingers, curling the fabric into my fist. His tongue flicked against mine and a soft moan escaped me. My mind had gone completely blank and all I could do was feel. My lips followed his in a passionate dance.
Cold water flicked against my face and I pulled away from Trent. We both wiped our faces and looked in the direction the water had come from. Jude sat there grinning, wiping his hands on a napkin. “Y’all looked like you needed a cold shower. Seeing as how we’re a little low on showers at the moment,” he looked around the restaurant, “I thought this would suffice,” he pointed to his glass of water.
Giveaway: Signed paperback set of the Trace + Olivia Series plus swag.
“It’s snowing!” I exclaimed, smiling at the large snowflakes falling from the sky.
I spread my arms out wide and stuck my tongue out in the hopes of catching one.
“Rowan, what are you doing?” Trent laughed as he watched me act like a little kid.
I continued to spin around, marveling at the sound escaping me. I was giggling. I don’t know if I’d ever giggled in my entire life.
“I’m living,” I finally answered as the snow swirled around us. I had never allowed myself to let go and be so free. I was finding that I really liked it. I felt like a weight was being lifted from my shoulders as I danced down the street, the snow falling into my hair, and sticking to my clothes. The cold didn’t touch me though. I was oddly warm, Trenton’s gaze heating my body.
I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and suddenly I started to fall right into the street, straight into oncoming traffic. Trent darted forward, wrapping a solid hand around my arm and yanking me against his chest before I could go splat. My body thudded against his with the impact and we stumbled back.
“Whoa,” he said, one hand on my waist, trying to balance us and keep us from falling. I clasped the soft fabric of his coat in my hands. I looked into his eyes and I was overcome by the one emotion I fought so hard to keep dormant—desire.
I didn’t think. I didn’t hesitate. I took what I wanted. I was tall, but Trenton was taller, so I brought myself up to my tiptoes and crashed my lips against his. My heart raced in my chest at the intensity. The hand that was at my waist came up to cup the nape of my neck, his fingers gathering my long hair in its grasp. He lightly bit my bottom lip and growled against my lips, “I can’t deny this much longer. I want your legs wrapped around my waist, and I want to bury myself deep inside you.”
I gasped at his words. Boldly, I leaned up and whispered in his ear, “Then do it.”
“Fuck,” he groaned, his fingers digging into my hip. His eyes scanned my face, searching for something. A shiver passed over his body and he closed his eyes. Opening them, he bit his lip, and it had to be the sexiest thing I had ever seen. “Are you sure?”
“Do you even need to ask?” I gasped, looking up at him as snowflakes stuck to my lashes.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he took my face between his two large hands and kissed me until I forgot about everything except him. My cheeks warmed from the heat of his hands and my lips moved against his like they had a mind of their own.
This was it.
This was our now.
Micalea Smeltzer is an author from Virginia. Her name is pronounced Muh-call-e-uh. She is permanently glued to her computer, where she constantly writes. She has to listen to music when she writes and has a playlist for every book she’s ever started. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading a book or playing with her three dogs.
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