Read Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1 Online

Authors: H.M. Ward

Tags: #New Adult Romance

Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1 (9 page)

BOOK: Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1
9.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Being locked in that room, alone, waiting to die, was the single most terrifying experience of my life. Yet, despite the fear of dying, all I could think about is how I haven't done a single thing in my life worth remembering. I’ve spent my life attempting to live up to everybody else's expectations of me.

I want to feel something real for a change. For me. Is it wrong to want to cut those strings and purposefully do the wrong thing once in a while? I want to be free to do what I want, when I want, to be wild for a moment and not care about the consequences.

But what Pete is asking me to do, I just can’t. I can’t be unfaithful to Anthony. Just the fact that I’m having this internal debate in the first place is all sorts of wrong.

Or is it? In the grand scheme of things, when your time comes and life is over, does it matter if you’ve thrown your personal values away to succumb to temptation? What happens if I waste my life because I’ve clung to values too tightly? Will I regret saying no to Pete? Will there be a million
what if’s
that dance through my mind at night?

My silence speaks loudly. I don’t have a quirky comeback or a sassy remark. I don’t say anything. I want to look down, but Pete keeps my chin up with his finger and he’s searching my eyes for any kind of sign.

Pete’s voice is as deadly as a siren’s song. He lulls me, making things twist away from what I thought they should be. His words swirl around my mind as his palms warm my face. A breath away, he asks, “Can you tell me, in all certainty, that you don’t have the least little bit of desire? That there’s nothing between us?” Pete is silent for a while, but when I don’t answer, he raises an eyebrow, slightly cocking his head to the side, waiting. He runs a gentle finger along my cheek.

The response is immediate and all consuming. Butterflies swirl within me, begging to be freed. I can’t think. I don’t know what to do. He makes sense, but this isn’t me. Is it? I can’t tell anymore.

All I have to do is say the word and this very sexual man could be mine for the night. It's tempting, knowing he’s a sure thing. I could do this and never see him again. No one would ever know. I could feel raw, unadulterated passion. Oh, the things he could teach me, the things he could do to my body.

But can I detach my body from my heart and just have sex with a stranger? Can I be unfaithful and live with myself afterwards?

He’s not a stranger anymore.


4:12 am

The thought vibrates through my mind. In that moment, I realize something changed. Earlier in the evening he was a random person, some guy I noticed. Now he’s not. Now he’s a warm touch, and a pair of safe, strong arms. I want to know where his affection for poetry originated. I want to know him. It bothers me. I try to shake it off, because it’s insane. No one knows this guy. Besides, good girls aren’t his type.

“I can’t.” It’s an ambiguous answer. I won’t lie and I can’t say that I haven’t had any desire to give in to him. The desire is there, but I can’t do this. Some lines shouldn’t be crossed and this line is one of them.

But Pete thinks my answer is consent. He closes the distance between us, his body inching toward mine. He places his hands on both my knees and spreads them apart, just enough to let him get closer in between my thighs.

From that one touch, a shiver swallows me whole. I expected him to be forceful, but he’s anything but that. The caress steals my breath, and after everything we’ve been through tonight, I feel like I know him, like walking away will be a loss. I can’t explain it, because it makes no sense. We’re too different, but he’s here with that endearing grin and that damned dimple.

His palm is warm, and rests on the top of my thigh. I stiffen, trying to resist him. I try to push against his hands, but I’m too shaky. As I move, the robe shifts, and I still. Worry swirls in my stomach, pooling with lust that’s burning hotter than the warehouse. The look in his eyes isn’t the same as when he devoured the redhead. It makes me want to say yes. Pete makes me reconsider everything.

Heat pools in my forbidden areas against my will. It doesn’t matter how many times I mentally say no, because my body ignores me. Pete leans in closer and slides his hands over the robe, up my thighs and toward my hips. His fingers hug the curves of my ass over the fabric, truly feeling me like he wants to memorize that curve down to the last detail.

My breath hitches. My plan to pull away doesn’t work—I can’t do it. The desk is on one side and Pete is on the other. Words escape me and I wish things were different, but I can’t do this. I have to say something to stop him. My head and my heart are screaming at me, telling me to push him away, but my body is clearly into him.

My eyes scan up and down his body slowly, wondering what he looks like underneath those clothes. I try to imagine every curve and dip of his toned muscles. I start chewing my lower lip and he must see the inner struggle going on inside my head, because he slows. He won’t push me. His hands linger, waiting while his lips part.

That beautiful blue gaze fixates on my robe. He’s undressing me with those perfect eyes. He's too close, and the heat coming off of him calls to me. Pete mixes with that body wash and it’s hard not to lean in and inhale him.

I place both hands on his chest to push away. It doesn’t matter how much I want to trail my fingers under his shirt and across his chest, to feel how smooth and hard he really is—I can’t run my thumbs over his nipples and feel them harden from my touch. I won’t.

I’ve never had these thoughts about anyone before. It catches me off-guard and instead of pushing him away, I linger. His eyes consume me and I want him so badly I think I may give in. He’s breaking me, coaxing me to be someone I’m not and it scares me.

“I can’t.” My voice is a breath and I push against his chest, trying to shove him away from me, but it hurts. My wounds are bandaged, but they aren’t healed.

When he speaks again, his voice sounds self-assured and arrogant, "I saw how you were looking at me earlier, when I was with that other woman. You want me, but you’re too scared to admit it. Let go of your ridiculous principles; they’re holding you back. It’s only sex."

I laugh, but there’s no mirth in it. Pete catches my lip between his fingers and the smile fades from my face. I tug away, freeing my mouth. “This is a game to you, and maybe at some other time I’d be willing to play, but don’t ask me to betray myself. You ran into a burning building for me. Don’t push me like this; we both know I’ll break. Peter, please.”

Using his full name does something to him and his cocky expression washes away. I see the passionate poet, the man who thinks love is a hoax. “What if it’s not breaking? What if it’s fate and this is our chance, Gina? What if you’re here because that’s what was supposed to happen? If you walk away, you’ll never know. How can you live like that?”

I shake my head fervently, still pushing against his chest and he stares down at me intently, brushing a stray strand of hair off of my cheek. My eyes flutter closed for an instant, in hope that blocking him from my sight will help extinguish this unwanted fire building up inside of me, but it only heightens my other senses, making his touch more decadent. I need to move, but he’s got me trapped on his desk with one hand on my backside and his whole body blocking me from the front.

I gasp and try to talk, but my rationality is failing. “I’m pretty sure that line only works on high school girls.”

Pete laughs. “That’s not what I meant. Two people meet by chance, the way we did—do you really think this is nothing?”

I tense and look at his perfect mouth, thinking. “It’s something.”

“Then say it, tell me to stop and I will.” As he speaks, he presses his fingertip to my cheek and slides it along my jaw, down my throat, over my collar bone until he’s drifting along the neckline of my robe where it plunges down toward my chest.

My breasts scream for his attention, begging for his hand to dip under the fabric, but he doesn't. He keeps on trailing his fingers down lower until they reach the knot at the belt and I stop breathing altogether.

Time is suspended. My eyes close for a moment, as I savor the sensation of his touch and the way his warm breath washes across my face. He smells so good, like sex and warmth.

“We shouldn’t…” It’s barely a whisper, but my plea is there.

Why won’t he listen? He’s so sure that this is what I want. Is he really so used to having women throw themselves at him, that he can’t fathom someone would actually turn him down?

I open my eyes and stare at his parted lips, imagining him leaning in, imagining him kissing me, and the thoughts frightens me. I've already done so much tonight, this is wrong. I don't know what to do. My body is frozen in place, but my insides are burning. If I don’t act now, he’ll undo that knot, exposing my body to him. I don’t think I’ll have the resolve to push him away if things go that far. He’ll be taking me, right here on this desk.

I’m assaulted by images of me screaming his name, my fingers tangled in his hair as he pushes into me, being taken in ways I've never been taken before, his mouth and his hands all over me. He is pure, sinful temptation. I doubt anyone has told him no before. There’s an ache in my chest and I realize that it's from my heart pounding.


I wiggle my hips on the desk, trying to get away from his grasp, pushing against his chest, but he takes my hands in his and brings them behind my back, holding both my wrists with one of his strong hands. He's looking straight into my eyes and, God, he's gorgeous! His blue eyes pop out in contrast with that perfectly sexy dark stubble along his jaw and I have the sudden urge to slap him for being so desirable, but I can’t. He’s holding me tightly and I can’t break free.

“Gina—” Pulling me toward him on the desk, I’m pressed up against his body in a way that I can clearly feel how much he wants me. Shockingly, I can also tell that he is not the only one aroused. Feeling him so hard and ready, that exquisite pressure right on my already sensitive areas is enough to make me whimper.

At the sound, he closes his eyes for a moment and smiles. Part of me wants to move, to press into him more, to feel him. I don't, because a bigger part of me is angry my body is betraying me. I don’t want to be this person.

“I’m not a slut. I don’t do things like this. Pete…”

“You’re not, I know. Believe me, I know. I’d never have a chance with a woman like you, not ever, but tonight went wrong and here we are. The question is, can you really tell me that you don’t want this? I’ll back away, right now.” He scans me, waiting, but I don’t respond.

All the things he said are flooding through my mind in a tornado, ripping away all my preconceived notions. Everything around us is quiet. The only sounds are our rapid breaths.

With silence as his only answer, Pete begins to step back and drops his hands. “Wait.” My voice is small, almost not there.

Pete catches my eyes and sees my answer. He broke me. He actually got me to say it, to beg him to come back.

His eyes darken as his head dips toward my neck. His strong arms wrap around me, pulling me tightly into his chest. My thighs part and he’s back where he was a moment ago. My head tips sideways, welcoming his lips and I moan softly without meaning to.

“That’s it. Let go, Gina. Let your body do what it wants to. Give in.”

His breath is so hot on my skin. His soft lips touch my neck, and I feel like I’m going to explode. That sexy mouth leaves a trail of flaming kisses along my neck, making me lean into his embrace. Another little whimper escapes my lips. I can feel the soft moistness of his tongue as it connects with the skin on my neck and the sharp bite of his teeth as he nibbles his way down.

One of Pete’s hands is still holding mine firmly behind my back, while the other slides down my throat and grabs hold of my fluffy collar. His fingers dip inside, barely brushing my breast. The response is instant, I rock my hips into his once.

This time, my whimper is more like a soft moan as pressure slowly builds. I fight every natural instinct I have, holding myself back from rocking into him again and again. But it’s hard, because I’ve never felt this way before. It’s overpowering and all-consuming. I want it to stop, but only because I’m not supposed to like it so much.

Memories flash through my mind: the girl at the party, the way Pete held her against the wall, the way I imagined myself in her place while he kissed her neck and held her hands above her head, while he made love… no, fucked her, up against the wall.

This is not love. For Pete, this is fucking and it has nothing to do with sentimentality. If I don't stop this now, there won't be any going back. I’m about to say something, anything. But I can’t. He caught me in his trap and I can’t pull away, not anymore.

If I’d met the poet he’s hiding inside that beautiful head, I would have fallen for him a long time ago. He’s worth breaking up with Anthony. He’s worth the risk, the heartache, everything—just to know him a little bit better, to be held in those arms for one night. I can’t say no and realize I don’t want to stop, but I have to.

I open my mouth, ready to tell him that, and take a deep breath, but Pete suddenly stops. He sucks in a shaky breath and backs away, letting my hands fall free.

His wild blue eyes are so torn, but I can’t imagine why. Breathing heavily, he takes a couple steps back and runs a hand across his face and through his hair, while studying me from the corner of his eyes. There is no mistaking the shape of his impressive length straining upwards under his light cotton pants.

When I look up to his face the spell is broken. He’s flushed, but the look he gives me is a mixture of remorse and anger, like he regrets the past few moments.

BOOK: Life Before Damaged, Vol. 1
9.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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