Full Cover Wrap
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The craving to feel her against me is dark and consuming. Yes, I’m aware of everything around us, but I don’t care. I want to feel again. I want to be with someone who doesn’t look at me and see blood and pain.
I want her.
Her hand settles on my side, fingers slipping under the hem of my shirt. Gently, she brushes a fingertip over my scar, and my skin bristles. Heat goes through me, driving me to act and not think. I lean forward, lips parting.
I’m going to kiss her.
I don’t care who sees.
I don’t care if it’s wrong.
Nora tips her head up, and her nails dig into my skin.
And then a car in the parking lot backfires, the loud pop echoing off the mountains. Suddenly, I’m there.
The smell always gets me first. I can be perfectly calm, not thinking about it at all, and it hits me as hard as the bullet did when it ripped through my flesh on my side. It’s not real. I’m not there, yet I can smell it like I’m standing in the thick of it all over again.
I hear it next. The rapid firing of a gun. Screams. More shots. My own voice, ringing out over the harrowing hail of gunfire.
Then I see it, and when I get to that point, I’m gone. The blood. The bodies. The look in Jason’s eyes. The way his body fell after the final bullet tore through him.
“Jack?” Nora’s voice is distant. She’s sitting right next to me, yet it sounds like we’re separated by a thick door. “Hey, Jack. Can you hear me?” Her hands go to mine. I blink, forcing my eyes to focus on her face.
There are no guns firing. There is no blood around me. I’m not pulling the trigger and watching the bullet hit my best friend.
“Jack?” Nora moves her hand to my face, turning my head in. “Are you okay?”
I blink away the living nightmare and focus on the deep green of her eyes. I twist my hand, and lace my fingers through hers, and the panic starts to fade, just like it did last night.
“No,” I whisper, and for the first time in over a year, tell the truth.
Her jaw tenses and she closes the distance between us, sliding her hand down my back as she leans in. I wrap her in a tight embrace, burying my face in her hair.
“It’s okay,” she whispers, and she doesn’t have to continue for me to know what she means. She’s not telling me that I’ll be okay, that life will somehow click together and be okay. She’s telling me it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to admit it. And it’s okay to have someone to lean on.
“Yeah,” I whisper back, feeling it for the first time since that god-awful day. “I think it will be.”
About Emily Goodwin
Emily Goodwin is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over a dozen of romantic titles. Emily writes the kind of books she likes to read, and is a sucker for a swoon-worthy bad boy and happily ever afters.
She lives in the midwest with her husband and two daughters. When she's not writing, you can find her riding her horses, hiking, reading, or drinking wine with friends.
Emily is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency.
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