From the New York Times bestselling author of Taking Chances, From Ashes, and Stealing Harper, comes the new unforgettable adult romance Molly McAdams’ fans have been waiting for—the sizzling story of a young woman who must place her trust in the one man who can break through her defenses.
A night they will always remember…a connection neither can deny…a secret that could destroy it all…
When Kennedy Ryan moves to California, she never expects to come face-to-face with Liam Taylor—the intriguing man who has haunted her thoughts for a year. A man who led her to breaking every one of her rules for a single night of passion that ended up meaning more than it was ever supposed to. Accustomed to disastrous experiences with men, Kennedy shields herself before he can break down more of the carefully built control she’s clung to for the last four years. But every time she sees Liam, she feels her resolve weakening.
Liam Taylor has been asked to help socialize his boss’s nieces. But what he thinks sounds more like a babysitting job ends up leading him to the only girl who ever slipped away before morning—a girl he thought he’d never find again. And now that she’s within reach, Liam’s determined to never let her go.
But when a secret from her past tests their relationship, will they be able to cling to the trust Liam has worked so hard to build?
Coming June 9th!!!!!
Cracking an eye open, I immediately shut it against the harsh light coming into the room and bit back a groan from the pounding in my head. Making another attempt—this time with both eyes—I squinted at the unfamiliar hotel room and blinked a few times before letting my eyes open all the way as I took in my surroundings. Well, as much of them as I could without moving.
There was a heavy arm draped uncomfortably over my waist, a forehead pressed to the back of my head, a nose to the back of my neck, and an erection to my butt. What. The. Hell. I was naked; he was naked. Why are we naked, and who is behind me? If I wasn’t seconds from screaming for someone to help me, I might have snorted. The why was obvious, there was a familiar ache between my legs, and my lips felt puffy from kissing and where he’d bitten down on them.
I inhaled softly. He. Him. Oh God.
Flashes from last night took turns assaulting me with the pounding in my head. Impromptu trip to Vegas with the girls after finals ended. Dancing. Club. Drinks. Arctic blue eyes captivating me. More drinks and dancing. Himholding me close, and not close enough. Lips against mine. Stumbling into a room. Hands searching. His tall, hard body pressing mine against the bed—still not close enough.
My eyes immediately went to my left hand, and I exhaled slowly in relief when I didn’t find a ring there. Thank God, the last thing I need is a marriage as result of a drunken night in Vegas. I rolled my eyes. The last thing I needed was a man in my life, period. And if my family didn’t kill me for it, I would have died from embarrassment if I had ended up with a ring on my finger after last night. Because unlike what everyone loves to believe so they can feel better about their dirty deeds while in Sin City, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
Trying not to wake him, I slowly slid out from under his arm and off the bed to search for my clothes. Once I was dressed, I told myself to just leave, but I couldn’t help it—I turned to look at him in the light. I needed to be sure I hadn’t made him up.
The images from last night tore through my mind again when I saw the large, tattooed arm resting where my body had just been. The muscles were well defined even relaxed, and the face had a boyish charm now that hewas asleep. Such a difference from the predatory stare and knowing smirk I kept seeing in my mind. Before I could stop myself, I gently ran my fingers through his dirty-blond hair that, now in the sunlight, I could see had a red tint to it. And I knew if he opened them, those arctic blue eyes would once again captivate me.
But I couldn’t risk that.
I’d already stayed too long; I’d already made a mistake with him. Drunken one-night stands weren’t my thing. Drunken one-night stands with strangers in Vegas were even worse.
Straightening, I turned and walked quietly from the room.
May 21 … One year later
“Why are you trying to doing this to me?” Kira yelled as she stood from where she’d been sitting on the couch.
I looked over at my identical twin to see a look of horror on her face, and waited for the freak-out that I knew was only seconds away. Shifting my attention back to our parents, I mumbled, “Told you it wouldn’t go over well.”
“But—you can’t—Kennedy, why—Zane’s in Florida,” Kira sputtered out, and I rolled my eyes at the same time as my dad.
“Is that supposed to mean something to me?” Dad asked as he crossed his large tattooed arms over his chest.
Not willing to give Kira time to respond to that kind of question, I started talking over Dad before he could finish. “Did you ever think that maybe a little distance might be a good thing for the two of you? And did you not hear Dad? These guys are out of prison, Kira!” I shouted, punctuating the last few words in case she’d missed the memo the first time around.
“Maybe Zane will go with you,” Mom offered with a sympathetic look on her face that I knew was as well practiced as it was a lie. The worry was still there in her eyes, as was the eagerness to get us away from Florida … and it wasn’t exactly a secret that we all wanted Kira to get space from Zane.
They’d been together since we were fifteen, and the more time went on, the more Kira’s world revolved around only him. It was annoying.
“And leave his job?” Kira countered.
“Well, then maybe this will be good for you, like Kennedy said. Get a break from Zane so you can see other options. You girls are only twenty-two, you just graduated from college, and you’re too young to be getting serious anyway, Kira, just ask Kennedy. You’ll regret not enjoying life first.”
“Wow, thanks for that, Mom. What’s that supposed to mean?”
Before she could respond to me, my dad’s head jerked back and he sent Mom a look. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? You were twenty-one when we got engaged.”
“Do I look like I’m not enjoying life suddenly? What did I miss?” I asked Kira as Dad spoke, but she didn’t make any indication that she’d even heard me.
“Seriously, Kash?” Mom shot Dad a look that even I was impressed by. “That was different. We were different. She’s only dated Zane.”
“Can we get back to the more important discussion?” I cut in before Dad could respond, and looked back to Kira. “I’m going to California. You’re going with me. Zane can deal with it.”
“You can’t do this! I’m not going!” Kira shrieked as the tears started.
“You act like I’m giving either of you a choice. Both of you need to start accepting this.”
My eyes widened at my dad’s dark tone, and I shot right back, “You act like you still have a say in our lives. You haven’t for four years. And if you remember, I’m going along with what you want without complaint. So don’t throw me into the same category as Kira when she’s the only one fighting you on this.”
One dark eyebrow rose, and I saw Kira sink back onto the couch from the look he was giving. Too bad I was just like him: hardheaded and stubborn. I might be my sister’s mirror image, but I was nothing like her. I raised one eyebrow back at him, and Mom sighed.
“I don’t know how I put up with you two sometimes,” she groaned, rubbing her hand over her forehead. Looking at Kira, she said, “You’re going to California, no more discussion. This is for your safety, why can’t you see that?”
“I’m not going!” Kira sobbed. “Who cares if some guys Dad put away years ago are out of prison?”
I snorted, but before I could respond, Uncle Mason’s deep voice sounded directly behind us. “These men do.”
I turned quickly to look at him, and tried not to laugh when he gave Dad a questioning look and mouthed, “Zane?” as he gestured to Kira.
“Is there any other reason she would be freaking out like this?” I asked as I stood to go give him a hug.
“Are you both packed?” he asked.
“Packed?” Kira yelled again. “They just told us! I haven’t even called Zane!”
“Oh my God, no one cares.”
“Kennedy,” Mom chastised, but I knew she was thinking the same thing.
As soon as Kira was out of the room, I sighed and headed to my room to pack as much as I could. Kira was already packing and sobbing into her phone when I passed her room, and I somehow managed to hold back an eye roll. Never mind that our parents had just told us that our family was being threatened by members of a gang our dad and uncle Mason had put away over twenty years ago. A gang whose members had kidnapped our mom before we were born and held her for over a month in an attempt to free their main members from prison. Or that a chunk of them were getting out of prison within the next handful of months. Or that Kira and I were the main targets in their threats. Nope … none of that mattered to Kira right now. What mattered was that we were going to be living in California for the time being—close to our mom’s side of the family—and Zane wouldn’t be going with us. No Zane meant devastation in Kira’s world. She couldn’t even get dressed without telling everyone about a memory with Zane in that outfit, or that it was one of his many favorites.
Snatching a hairband off my desk, I pulled my thick, black hair into a messy bun on the top of my head and started packing. I didn’t turn to face Kira when she came into my room ten minutes later, but I knew she was there.
“How could you do this to me?” she asked quietly, her words breaking with emotion. “You’re supposed to be on my side, you’re always supposed to be on my side. And you went behind my back and planned this with Mom and Dad without even warning me?”
I glanced over my shoulder, my eyebrows rising at her assumption. “I didn’t plan shit, Kira. They told me while you were talking to Zane right before they asked you to get off the phone. They just wanted me to know because they thought you would freak out and they needed me to be able to try to talk you into it calmly—rather than hitting us both with the news at the same time. The only difference between you and me is I have no problem with this move because I’m not stupid enough to think that the gang won’t actually make good on their threats if we stay here. Or try to.”
I went back to packing, and there was a couple minutes of silence before she said, “I know why you’re all really doing this. Don’t think for a second that I’m stupid enough not to realize this is about Zane.”
I released a heavy breath and shook my head. “Despite what you think, this has nothing to do with you and your boyfriend. But I do think that this is something we need to do, and I think it will be good for us.”
“I won’t forgive you for this. You of all people should realize how much this is going to kill me.”
My breath caught, but I didn’t reply. I knew I couldn’t without lashing out at her. Without another word, she left my room. The only sounds were her soft cries and her feet on the hardwood as she walked away.
“So now that you have us on a private jet—which just makes this all the more weird, by the way—do you mind telling us details about where we’ll be spending the next however long?” I asked Uncle Mason a few hours later.
“Didn’t your mom and dad tell you everything?”
I gave him a look that he immediately laughed at.
“Okay, tell me what you know, and I’ll fill in the blanks.”
“Basically, all I know is that Juarez and a handful of others from his crew are up for probation within a few months of each other starting next week. They’re somehow threatening us—but more specifically, Kira and me—and Mom and Dad think it would be best if we weren’t near Tampa. Since we just graduated and don’t have a reason to stay up in Tallahassee anymore, the only other place to go is California near Mom’s family, and we’ll be there for an undetermined amount of time.”
“I wasn’t told most of that,” Kira muttered from where she was sulking across the aisle.
“You were told that,” I shot back. “All of that. You just couldn’t get past the California-equals-no-Zane part, and flipped while they told you the rest!”
Before we could start on another war, Uncle Mason spoke up. “You’ll be just North of San Diego, near your Uncle Eli. He’s already been looking into places for you to live, and your parents are working something out with them for a car.”
“Lovely. Sounds like everyone is already completely filled in,” Kira sneered.
Uncle Mason didn’t respond for a long time, he just sat there staring at Kira with a somber expression. It was so unlike him. “I don’t want you two to have to do this any more than you do, trust me. Your dad and I know better than anyone what it’s like to pick up and move at a moment’s notice and not be able to have a say in it, so we know what you’re going through.”
Kira mumbled something too low for me to hear, but it was obvious in her expression that she didn’t agree with him.
After a subtle shake of my head, I looked back at Uncle Mason and tapped his leg with my foot to get his attention again. “Okay, so we’ve heard about Juarez’s gang and what happened with Mom being taken. But here’s what I don’t understand and am having a little bit of trouble with. Why after so much time has passed do you think it’s them threatening us? Wouldn’t they be over it by now? I mean, couldn’t it just as easily be someone you’ve arrested recently, and you’re just jumping ahead and thinking its Juarez?”
Uncle Mason was already shaking his head before I even finished asking my questions. “No. It may have been twenty-three years ago, but we haven’t forgotten what happened, and we know for a fact they haven’t and are still holding a grudge because there have been letters delivered to your dad.”
“What did they say?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“What did they say?” I asked louder, and Kira leaned toward us in her seat to hear his response.
“I said it doesn’t—”
“We deserve to know!” I snapped.
After a beat of silence, he admitted, “They’ve said, ‘Can’t wait to meet the rest of your family’, or ‘How are those daughters of yours?’” Uncle Mason sighed heavily and looked out the window for a few seconds.
“That’s it?” I asked when he didn’t continue. “I mean, that’s really creepy but it doesn’t prove much of anything.”
“It does, because at the bottom it had the gang’s symbol. A symbol your dad and I used to have tattooed on us when we were undercover. A symbol they left spray-painted on your parents’ wall after kidnapping your mom.”
“Oh,” I breathed, and Uncle Mason sent me a look.