If I met Alexandra DeLuca for the first time today, I would only need one word to describe her: MINE.
She’s everything she was when we said goodbye. Beautiful, stubborn, sweet…and off-limits.
After two years leading separate lives, our worlds have collided. Now that she’s back home working and taking classes beside me, she’s bound to make me lose my mind.
She’s all I’ve ever wanted, all I’ve ever dreamed of, and the one thing I can never have.
Not because she’s my best friend’s sister.
Not because all four DeLuca brothers would come at me with fists swinging if I hurt her.
Not even because she’s way better than I will ever deserve.
I keep my distance because we didn’t meet for the first time today. We met five years ago when I was a different person. When my demons ruled me. Even though I’ve changed–even though I’ve gotten my life together and become a better man–I can’t change the past. And the secrets that haunt me would destroy her.
But I’m not the only one with secrets, and when the truth comes out, I don’t know where to turn. What do you do when your world washes away beneath your feet and you feel like you’re drowning? What do you do when the woman you promised yourself you’d never touch is the only thing that can keep you from going under?
GOING UNDER is a standalone novel and the third set in the world of The Blackhawk Boys series.
Football. Secrets. Lies. Passion. These boys don’t play fair. Which Blackhawk Boy will steal your heart?
Copyright © 2016 by Lexi Ryan
“I don’t want you to think you need to do this now that I’m back.”
He steps forward, close enough that I can feel his heat. “Do what?”
“Spend time with me. Come to my rescue. Make sure I make it home safely.” I wave a hand. “All of it. You don’t owe me anything.”
“You think I’m here out of a sense of obligation?” He laughs. “Fuck, that’s insane.”
“Is it? Can we just talk about the elephant in the room?” I ask him.
He’s staring at me, and it takes a few beats for him to process that I’ve spoken. I’d laugh if seeing him drunk didn’t also unsettle something deep inside me, some old part of me that still wants Sebastian to be my rock. But I’m not the girl recovering in the hospital anymore. I’m not the girl crying at her sister’s grave. Those experiences are part of who I am now, but I’m more, too. I’m stronger. I don’t need Sebastian’s strength to hold me steady. Or I shouldn’t.
I tuck my hands into my pockets. “Two years ago, the night before I left for Colorado…” He goes still, and I can’t make myself finish the sentence.
“I crossed a line,” he says.
I snort. God, the problem isn’t that he crossed a line—it’s that he didn’t. “Are you serious right now?”
He cuts his eyes to me again, the muscle ticking in his jaw. “It was a mistake, and you’re obviously still angry with me about it.”
I step away from him and wrap my hands around the porch rail. If I let myself look at him, I’ll overanalyze every expression that crosses his face. I realize I’m holding my breath and exhale. “It was a shitty thing for you to do.”
He’s silent for several heavy beats of my heart. When I can’t stand the silence anymore, I release the railing and turn to face him. “Let me make sure I understand,” he says. “Since I almost kissed you two years ago, I can’t walk you home anymore?”
“I don’t want…” I take a breath as I search for the words to explain how this makes me feel. “I don’t want a pity friendship.”
“What the fuck is a pity friendship?”
“It’s when you spend time with someone because you don’t want them to be alone.”
“You’re an expert on what I want now?”
“I think you made it perfectly clear what you do and don’t want from me two years ago.”
He takes half a step forward, and his gaze drops to my mouth. Can you feel someone looking at your lips? Because his gaze is so intense on my mouth right now that I’m sure I could close my eyes and still feel it as distinctly as a touch. “Dammit, Alex, if I’d have known you’d hold such a grudge for thirty seconds of weakness, I would have kissed you that night. Fuck my better judgment. At least then I’d know how you taste.”
I swallow hard and tell my pounding heart not to make more of this than it is. “You’re drunk, Sebastian.”
Stepping back, he drags a hand over his face. “Yeah.” He takes another step back. “Good night, Alex.”
I unlock the door and go inside, shutting it behind me without looking at him again. Slowly, I take the stairs up to my old room, close the door behind me, and lean against it. Only then do I allow myself to squeeze my eyes shut and take a long, deep breath to calm my racing heart.
His words replay in my head, making the muscles in my stomach grow tight. Just once I’d like Sebastian Crowe to make good on one of the fantasies he inspires. Just once I’d like him to follow me into this room and lock the door before pushing me against it and lowering his mouth to mine. I’d like to feel those rough hands slide under my shirt to unbutton my jeans…
I pull out my phone and text Bailey, letting her know I made it home okay. Then, without washing my face or changing my clothes, I fall into bed, close my eyes, and break a promise to myself by fantasizing about Sebastian Crowe.
“At least then I’d know how you taste.”
Football. Secrets. Lies. Passion.
To celebrate the release of GOING UNDER, the first book in The Blackhawk Boys series is on sale for $0.99 (regularly $4.99 USD). All the books in the series can be read as standalones!
#4 Falling Hard – Keegan’s story
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of emotional romance that sizzles, Lexi enjoys reading, sunshine, a good glass of wine, and rare trips to the beach.
Lexi lives in Indiana with her husband, two children, and neurotic dog. You can find her at her website: http://www.lexiryan.com/