by Rachael Wade
New Adult Contemporary
*Contains sexually explicit content and mature subject matter, including language and elements of abuse.*
A gritty New Adult drama about a young woman’s self-destructive quest to find purpose, self-worth, and love in a broken world.
My name is Elise Duchamp. I’m twenty-three years old and I’m known as the town whore.
No, not the kind who exchanges sexual favors for money. The other kind. The kind who gives it all away for free, whenever and however she likes. I am that girl. The one everyone whispers about and the one none of the girls seem to like, because all of their boyfriends either want to sleep with me or already have. Promiscuity is my thing—the kind that slowly, violently turns my insides black, but gives me something I need.
All things considered, I’m not completely reckless. I’m safe, and contrary to popular opinion, I do have a heart. I live in a world of careless choices, and with those choices come careless people. I cannot judge them, because I am one of them. I too bow down to the altar of the self-serving. I am not a good friend. I am not and never could be anyone’s girlfriend. I’m convinced any goodness in me shriveled up and died long ago.
But I am a replacement. That is something I know how to be, and this is a story of the lengths I’d go to in order to keep it that way.
“Stop!” I shriek, thrashing on his lap like a fish out of water. “Ryder, stop!”
He digs at my hip again, sending me tumbling into an endless fit of laughter. My lungs burn because I can’t breathe and my sides ache from the exertion. I topple over and land on my side, and Ryder comes with me, sliding on top of me in one smooth, swift movement. “I think we’ve played enough games for today ,” he says, running the palms of his hands up the sides of my thighs. His thumbs roll slow, soothing circles into my skin before hooking into the sides of my panties to peel them down my legs. My laughter subsides and I look up at him, my chest heaving as I regain my breath. We lie there on the floor in a tangled heap of limbs, while the fire’s warmth gives Ryder’s face a soft glow.
Small pops crackle from the fire and gravitate toward us, saturating the silence.
Lowering his forehead to my shoulder, Ryder kisses the skin there. “Do you feel it yet?”
“Feel what?” Desolation? Helplessness? Excitement? I feel all of those things.
“This.” Ryder’s hand slides down my chest and torso like silk, slipping beneath my skirt, easy as breathing. I gasp as his fingers slip inside of me. “Desire. The same kind I feel for you.”
“You know I do.”
He strokes me for a moment then stops, leaving me panting while he reaches back to the couch to pick up the bowl of ice cream. It’s melted now, each color swirling together like mixed paint. “Feed me,” he whispers, lifting the bowl to me.
My dazed gaze drifts to the bowl. I hesitantly sit up on my elbows and cradle it, watching him curiously as I begin to spoon him the milky leftovers. He accepts a spoonful, then another, groaning in appreciation. He pushes the spoon away when he’s satisfied and I set the bowl down, watching as he brings my hand to his lips. Sucking one finger then the next, he moves slowly from tip to tip, drawing me farther and farther away from our question-and-answer session.
“Ryder,” I breathe.
He closes his lips over my right index finger and sucks, drawing it slowly from his mouth. The mixture of cool and warm coats my skin, and I wonder how I’ll ever enjoy ice cream without Ryder after tonight. “I really want this,” he says. “Us.”
I shut my eyes and he moves in, brushing his lips against mine. “You have us. Right here.”
My eyes drift open.
He deepens the kiss, murmuring against my mouth. “I’ll never just drive away, Elise Duchamp.”
The words zap me like a stun gun. My voice comes out in a light rasp. Small and breathless. “I’ve hurt people, Ryder.”
He studies me for a moment but doesn’t respond, only deepens his kiss. I cave into him, letting him devour me whole. I don’t know what I can give him. I don’t know if I have anything at all. But I do know that Ryder Jacobson is trouble.
The good kind.
About the Author
Rachael Wade is the Amazon bestselling author of The Preservation Series, The Resistance Trilogy, and the upcoming sci-fi series, The Keepers Trilogy. When she’s not writing, she’s busy learning French, watching too many movies, and learning how to protect animals and the environment. Visit her at www.RachaelWade.com
, or come chat with her on Twitter via @RachaelWade
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