He promised to leave me alone, but that was a lie. I should have known he’d have this pull on me—seeping through my skin and into my bones, burning me from the outside in. It’s just like when we were kids, and I can no longer avoid him. I’ve accepted it, but what will it take to convince him that I am no longer his? Is that really what I want?
I told her I’d leave her alone. But who was I kidding? I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge. He stole my girl—my future—from me. I’m coming back with a vengeance. I’m taking back what he took from me. After all the secrets and lies, can we come back from this? Even if it breaks me, I’ll stop at nothing to protect what’s always been mine.
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“Keep doing that,” Sean breathes, pulling my bottom lip into his mouth before releasing it.
I scratch my nails up and down his back, running my other hand through his golden brown hair. He’s got it cut really short, and I like it. “This?”
He switches to my top lip. “Yeah, it feels good,” he says, hungrily moving back and forth over my mouth. When he rocks against me, our tongues collide. I softly moan, enjoying the friction it brings. He squeezes my breast then glides down my quivering stomach, meeting the edge of my shorts. The familiar confusion settles in.
“Are you wet for me?” His voice is husky as his fingers slip inside of my panties. Desire pools in his eyes.
It’s all in your head, Reese. You can do this.
Meeting his gaze, he asks, “Do you want me?”
I feel conflicted, not wanting to hurt him. He senses my hesitation and rolls off me, rubbing the space between his brows.
“It still feels like we’re rushing things. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” he replies, clearly frustrated. “Give me a minute to lose this semi, and I’ll be fine.”
“I didn’t mean to get your hopes up.” I scoot back against the headboard and fasten my shorts. He lets out an exaggerated breath. It’s been a few months since we’ve called our relationship ‘official.’ He’s never pressured me for sex, but it’s clear my hesitancy is wearing on him.
“It’s your first time. You’re nervous,” he replies, looking straight ahead. I can tell he’s thinking into it. Ever since Luke’s return, I’ve sensed his insecurity. We haven’t spoken since the night he came back, but it doesn’t make Sean feel any better. He knows how much Luke meant to me.
“You’re leaving?” I ask as he climbs out of bed.
Grabbing his light blue polo, he pulls it over his head, and makes a weak attempt to cover his erection. “It’s late,” he says, tapping twice on the doorframe. “I should go.” He starts down the hall.
“Wait.” I jump out of bed, meeting him in the middle. “I love you. You know that, right?” We’ve said it before, but I want him to know that I mean it. “I’m just protecting my heart.”
His eyes soften. I hope that means he believes me.
“What’s up guys?” Logan calls from the other room.
We glance toward the couch, where he and Gia are spooning, the volume on the television set low. I purse my lips, unaware we had an audience, then my eyes move to the fresh bouquet of Calla lilies displayed on our table. A shot of fear bolts through me, and I try to speed things along, lightly pushing Sean forward. “Will I see you tomorrow, or will you be working?”
“Depends on what I get done tonight.”
“Well, you better get going then.”
I move him to the door, and he pauses and turns to Logan.
“Dude. You’re going to have to quit that.” He tips his head toward the flowers with a half grin on his face. “You’re making me look bad.”
I cringe, glancing at Logan. To say he looks confused is an understatement.
“The flowers,” Sean confirms.
Logan lifts his head. His eyes flick from me to the lilies before he relaxes against the pillow. He focuses back on the television. “Wish I could take the credit, man, but those aren’t from me.”
Gia silently apologizes with her eyes. Logan doesn’t know any better. It isn’t her fault. I’m the one who chose to lie to my boyfriend. Hurrying us out the door, I prepare for an argument.
“You lied to me,” Sean says sharply, not wasting any time. His hair glistens under the porch light.
“It’s not what you think.”
“It’s not? Because I’m thinking Luke sent you those flowers.”
“You’re right. He did,” I pause, sighing. “But they don’t mean anything. I just wasn’t sure how to tell you. I knew it would upset you.”
He looks disgusted. “And that makes it okay?”
I sit on the porch bench right outside the door. “Of course it doesn’t. I should have been honest with you. Lying was stupid.” Feeling defeated, I put my head in my hands.
“Is there anything else I need to know, while we’re being honest with each other? Just get it all out now. I don’t want any more surprises.”
Uh yeah, Luke has a wife. I shake my head. “There’s nothing.” His jaw ticks like he doesn’t believe me. “Stop reading into this like it’s more than it is. They’re just flowers, Sean.”
“Just flowers,” he murmurs lowly, rubbing his hand against his forehead. “Is he the reason you won’t let me fuck you?”
“Excuse me?” My stomach drops.
“You heard me.”
“Of course not!” I stand and look directly into his eyes. I’ve always known this was in the back of his mind, but the way he said it hurts. “I can’t believe you just said that!” Luke’s dog barks across the way, and my gaze slides towards his place. “Keep your voice down! You’re being loud.”
“So what if he hears me,” he spits.
“I told you. We haven’t spoken since the day he moved back.”
“How do I know that isn’t bullshit?”
“Because it isn’t.” He only knows a quarter of what happened that night. I left out the candlelit dinner and the wife—a wife I’ve rarely seen around here. I assume they’re having problems already. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Two days after we’d met on the rooftop, my heart shattered all over again, when I spotted a woman carrying boxes into his house. I recognized her immediately and ran to the toilet to dry heave, then silently bawled for an hour. I wasn’t prepared to have it shoved in my face. A part of me had hoped that, if I let Luke explain like he’d asked, we’d somehow be able to move on from this, but my logical side told me to let him go. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as my mother—constantly living in denial. I refused to be that girl.
The next night I walked out my front door and came face to face with a large German Shepard. Startled, I took a cautious step back. He sat on his hind legs, lifting a paw like he wanted to shake. Hesitantly, I leaned down to pet him, admiring his brindle fur coat. “Hey there, big boy. You scared me for a minute.” I smiled, and he happily panted in return. “Good thing you’re friendly. Are you lost?”
“Chance,” called the voice of the woman from the day before, standing in front of Luke’s place. I froze when she walked over, sizing me up with an eyebrow raised. I’m not sure if she recognized me from the hospital. “I’m Rachelle,” she said, reaching out her hand. It took me a second to take it. She exuded confidence and was disgustingly fit. I wanted to throw up again.
“Reese,” I replied with a clear of my throat, before we shook hands.
Flipping her hair over her shoulder, her eyes fell on Chance. “Sorry. Blame it on his father. I told him Chance had mastered opening doors.” She tipped her head toward their house. “But Luke had other things on his mind, if you know what I mean.” She laughed half-heartedly. “You know men. Maybe next time he’ll put him away first, like I’d asked.” Reaching for his collar, she said, “C’mon boy. Let’s go,” dragging him back to the house. “It was nice to meet you,” she said right as she shut the door.
That was the last time I saw her.
“For two damn months this has gone on! You couldn’t tell him to stop?” Sean yells, snapping me out of the memory.
“I didn’t want to face him. I … I thought if I ignored it, he’d get the hint and stop sending the flowers.”
“You’ve got ‘em in the center of your living room!”
“At first I threw them away, even using his garbage can, so he’d see them.”
“You’re giving him the wrong idea, Reese!”
“Stop yelling! I can hear you!” I shout, as loud as him.
“Are you going to tell him, or am I?” His fists clench at his sides.
“You okay, Reese?” Luke calls, standing twenty feet away. My breath catches as he strides over. Sean pulls me in for a possessive kiss, making things more awkward than they already are. Forcing my eyes shut, I give in, though I’m not done being pissed. What he’d said earlier was disrespectful, but I need to show him there’s no reason for his insecurity. Luke and I are truly over.
“You gonna let her answer, or are we gonna stand here all night?”
My skin responds to the familiar voice as if it were touching me. Oh God, he’s so close.
Sean releases me, wiping his mouth. “Mind your own business. She’s not your concern anymore.”
Ignoring Sean completely, Luke asks me again, “You okay Reese?” His eyes search deep, like he’s invading my soul. Chills shoot up the back of my neck. I don’t know how he does it. He’s shirtless and freshly showered—wearing low-slung shorts that show off his muscular physique, and the sexy V framing his pelvic area, one I’ve been known to stare at.
I drag my eyes away from his body, breathing in his intoxicating scent. He’s married, Reese. He’s a liar! Remember?
“She’ll be fine once you leave her alone. And stop sending the flowers,” Sean growls. “She doesn’t want them.”
“You gonna buy them for her?” Luke asks without casting him a glance. A conflict of emotions burns inside my chest. How can he be so protective on one hand, yet so hurtful on another?
“I said she doesn’t want you here, man. Go back inside.”
The tension continues to thicken. I place a hand over Sean’s chest, giving it a slight shove. “Let’s get you home.” If he doesn’t shut up, he’s going to get his butt kicked.
“Do you always let him speak for you?”
Whipping around to face Luke, I spit, “I think you know me better than that, and frankly, it’s none of your business.”
He moves a little too close, dipping down to meet my eyes. “You being honest with me?”
Then Sean’s up in Luke’s face. “She can’t stand being near you, asshole! Take the fucking hint!”
Luke smirks, taunting him. “You keep telling yourself that, buddy. Reese and I have a past. I can read her like a book.” He straightens his shoulders. “Whether she’s hiding something, her emotions, her truths, her lies … all of it.”
Oh God … where is he going with this?
“That’s special. Really, I’m touched. But where were you when her father died, huh? ‘Cause I was drying her tears, picking up the pieces you left behind. You dumb piece of shit!”
I watch Luke’s expression change to lethal. When he turns to me, his jaw is clenched. “If you care about him at all, you’ll convince him to walk away.” His voice is a low growl.
I take his threat seriously, grabbing onto Sean’s arm. “It’s late. You have work to do. Remember?” I plead, keeping my voice as calm as I can muster, but I’m not sure that it’s helping. He still hasn’t budged.
“Tell him what you said about the flowers. I’ll go home once you’re inside. I’d be crazy to leave him alone with you.”
“Luke would never hurt me.”
He snorts, then Luke rams himself hard into his chest. “Something funny, prick?” Before I can blink, he’s bumping him again. There isn’t a contest on who would win, if things got ugly. Luke’s an expert, and he towers over Sean.
I work my way between them, placing a hand on both of their chests, giving Sean a look of warning. Then I turn my attention to Luke. “I don’t think it’s appropriate that you send me flowers.” A lump forms in my throat. “I need you to stop.” Why do I feel sorry for him?
His hands slip deep into his pockets, and slowly he backs away, showing no flicker of emotion. “Done,” is all he says.
I lift my chin. Glad I’ve made it easy. Now run along to your wife, wherever she is.
When he reaches his front door, I give Sean a glare. He’s still on my shit list. “Told you—you have nothing to worry about.”
He wraps his arms around me, kissing the side of my neck, even though I slightly protest. “Something tells me he’s not done yet.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“See you in the morning,” Luke calls from his doorway. His arms stretched out wide, he grips the frame.
Sean tenses, and I stare at Luke, confused.
Every ripple of his torso is on display under the porch light. “Work,” he replies, with his gaze fixed on Sean, no matter that I’m who asked the question. “I’m back at the gym.”
My mouth falls open, the beat of my heart triples its pace, and I stand there, speechless.
He's the stereotypical fighter- 100 percent alpha male. The kind of guy a girl should avoid at all costs. When he's hired to privately train me, avoiding him isn't an option. Most girls would love to drop their panties, even if it is just to catch a glimpse of his dimpled smile. I won't fall victim to his charm. That's what I tell myself at least, though it's torture when my mind's at war with my body. Something about the tattooed bad boy draws me in. It isn't just the broad shoulders, piercing eyes, and muscular frame that has me entranced. Luke Ryann has a secret. And I plan to find out what it is.
Recommended for mature audiences due to language, violence and sexual situations
Where to purchase RAISING RYANN:
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raising-ryann-alyssa-rae-taylor/1116359865?ean=2940148400561
USA Today bestselling author Alyssa Rae Taylor amplifies the angst-filled love story that started in Raising Ryann.
What happens when the person you love becomes threatened by your very existence? How far will you go to keep them safe?
Luke Ryann will do anything to protect the woman he loves, even if it means shattering her heart. When the mystery of his past comes back to haunt him, he leaves Reese behind and enters the life of crime he had worked so hard to escape. When all is said and done, will he be able to get out of this alive, or will he be in over his head?
She's been in love with him since her childhood, but now she questions everything. After Reese Johnson discovers Luke's disappearance has nothing to do with the MMA, she faces a difficult choice. Can she find it in her heart to forgive him? Or will the secrets and lies be too damaging for her to trust again? Will this couple ever have a chance? You know what they say.
Sometimes ... love just isn't enough.
Resisting Ryann is the second book in The Bad Boy Reformed trilogy. This story isn't just a romance. It's filled with action, suspense, mystery, and a touch of humor.New adult romance. Recommended for mature readers due to situations of abuse, violence, language, and sexual content.
Where to purchase RESISTING RYANN
USA Today Bestselling author Alyssa Rae Taylor lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, their three daughters, two English bulldogs and a miniature pig. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and watching Sam & Dean Winchester fight off scary creatures on the WB. She enjoys stories that tug at her emotions and isn't a fan of the insta-love type of romance. Her dream is to travel the world with her husband and children beside her. The first time she started writing, she couldn't stop, which leads to now, and the publication of the Bad Boy Reformed Series,