Love and Relativity
by Rachael Wade
New Adult Contemporary
Love, life, and happily ever after? It’s all relative.
Marine biology student Emma Pierce lives in paradise—geographically speaking, anyway. Stranded on Sanibel Island, Florida, she works at a nursing home by day and spends her nights dodging the island’s infamous bad boy, Jackson Taylor, at her favorite karaoke bar. Trying to heal from the loss of her sister and a failed relationship she rerouted her life for, she’s ready to graduate and finally leave Florida behind.
When a run-in with Jackson and his rowdy crew goes sour at the bar one night, sparks fly and irreversible damage is done. It’s no secret that Jackson loves to get underneath her skin, but this time he’s gone too far. Now all he wants is to earn her forgiveness before she’s gone for good, but their ideas of closure—and the future—are enough to keep them worlds apart.
This is a stand-alone title but coordinates with The Preservation Series.
Jackson’s lap was warm. He smelled like coconut, his skin sticky from sunscreen. I breathed him in and opened my eyes, my gaze rolling upward, travelling over his neck and cheekbones until they landed on his blue irises. They stared down at me, soft and full of some unnamed emotion.
I looked away.
“Can I make you some soup?” he asked, standing and lifting me with him, carrying me over to the recliner. He draped me across it and then covered me with a blanket, brushing the hair from my eyes.
“Okay, how about pumpkin pie?”
That earned him a small smile. It hurt, but seeing him return the effort with his own grin was so worth it.
“Soup is fine, thank you. Aren’t I interrupting your Friday night fun? Don’t you have a fight to pick or a girl to chase around or something?”
He walked to the stove and opened a can of Chicken Noodle. “There are six other nights of the week I can fight, and plenty of girls to chase around after you leave.”
“If you say so.”
“Just relax. Sleep if you want. I won’t let anything wake you.” Pouring the soup in the pot, he reached over to the counter to snatch my cell phone and turned it off, then fished his own from his pocket and turned it off, too.
The word ‘sleep’ was a hypnotic balm, immediately sending me into a hazy state until I drifted on the recliner and the world went away. I woke on my own at what felt like an hour later, my eyes scanning the room for Jackson and the soup he’d promised.
“I’m right here,” he said softly. My gaze fell on him and I swallowed hard, slowly shifting to sit up in the recliner. He was shirtless and soaked with sweat, lounging at the tiny kitchen table, tinkering with some kind of fishing pole and a tool box. “I went for a run when you passed out. I kept the soup warm on the stove.” Setting the pole down, he wandered over to the stove and poured me some, carrying it over with a spoon and napkin. Every muscle on his smooth, tanned abdomen rippled as he leaned over to hand the bowl to me, his scarred, calloused hands nearly swallowing the small blue dish.
“Thanks.” I set it down.
He sat next to me and eyed the bowl, draping an arm over the back of the sofa. He gulped at his beer. “Not hungry anymore?”
“There’s something else you can do for me that will make me feel better.”
His eyes drifted to mine. I inched forward and leaned into the crook of his arm, bringing my hand to his chest. His sweat chilled my skin and sent a shudder through me.
My lips found his throat and then the curve of his neck. The muscles there jumped against my lips, and his free hand found mine on his chest, where his heart was pounding wildly.
“Emma,” his voice came out hoarse, “I don’t think—oh, fuck,” it turned into a whisper when my fingers travelled down to his lap, rubbing and stroking in a slow, sensual attack. I stopped rubbing and slipped over his knees to straddle him, my fingers finding his thick hair as I bent down to capture his mouth with mine.
“Please,” I whispered against his tongue, rolling my hips against him. “I need you, Jackson.”
Strong, willing hands found my breasts, and then the buttons on my dress. He deftly unhooked each one, intensifying his kiss and plunging his tongue into the back of my throat, stealing every ounce of space until I felt nothing but his warm, wet need. He reached the last button and slid the top of the dress down, pulling back to gaze at me. “You sure you want this?”
“Yes. Don’t you?”
“Hell, yes, I want it.” His hands followed the curves of my hips and rested firmly on my ass. “But once I start, I won’t stop until I’m buried in you. So tell me you’re sure, because—”
“Just make me feel good, Jack.” I shoved my mouth on his again, and he hummed with want, standing to lift and lay me down on the couch. He hovered over me, and my gaze danced across his neck, down to his stomach and chiseled waistline. Every part of him took control—his hands, his arms, and his voice.
“Damn,” his fingers trailed up my inner thigh, slipping beneath the skirt of my dress. He started massaging it, rubbing in small circles. “You’re trembling, Emma.” His knuckles grazed the edge of my thong. “And you’re so wet. Oh, I’m gonna make you feel real good, baby. You’ll see. Just relax.” He dipped his head down and grazed his tongue over the swell of my breasts, hooking a finger along my panty line, slowly running it back and forth, releasing a pleased groan when I shivered under his touch. I squirmed beneath him, lifting and tilting my hips, then reached for his jeans button. He snatched my wrists and pushed my arms above my head, pinning them against the pillow, returning straight to my breasts to work his tongue and teeth over them, teasing and tugging through the bra’s material.
I moaned and stretched out, arching my back off the couch, my fingers finding something beneath the pillow above my head. An underwire. Soft cups. Straps. I pulled it from beneath the pillow and my eyes rolled upward, landing on a red, lacy bra. Pushing up on Jackson’s chest, I struggled to lean up on my elbows and scurried backward on the sofa, pulling myself up and out of the cage his body had created over mine.
“Um, let’s just forget it. I should get home.”
Jackson rolled up on his knees, dazed and hard as a rock. “What? But—” His eyes fell on the bra. “Shit. Emma, wait,” he jumped up, watching me straighten my dress and slip my shoes on. “We don’t have to do this. We can just hang out. You can sleep some more or I can cook something else if you’re hungry. Don’t go.”
“Thanks, but I really should leave. I haven’t seen my mom since the funeral.”
“Shit, this is weird…”
I gave him an awkward smile, letting him know I wasn’t upset. But I still moved toward the front door. I couldn’t be another number in Jackson’s sea of faces…or red bras. And right now, he was my safe haven. A bubble I could enter whenever I felt the need, and could exit without ever being detected by the outside world. A place I could rest my head and exchange thoughts without saying a word. Because Jackson knew. Only he knew what I needed and why I needed it. No use ruining a good thing.
So I left and didn’t look back.
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.
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