Release day 10/6
Everything done in darkness, will eventually be brought into the light.
I ran, but all it did was keep me one step ahead of my past. I tried to start over; new name, new identity. But you can't change your soul.
A fresh start at college was just what I needed. For a while, it worked. I was the party girl, the one that seemed confident, but it was a lie.
When guys kissed me--I felt only pain.
When they touched me--Nothing but fear.
Deep inside, every girl wants to be the beauty in the story, to find someone that will see you as their world.
But the truth? I was the beast. And as much as I wanted redemption, I wasn't fool enough to think I'd ever get it.
Until he walked into my life.
I wasn't prepared to fall for someone. My scars were too deep, the wounds too raw. But he offered me peace, he offered me security. I should have known it was just another lie--I should have known that falling in love with my professor was a bad idea.
But I was powerless to stop myself from falling.
And he was powerless to catch me.
Because the darkness finally caught up to me, and as fate would have it, a cruel twist almost bled me dry. But I'm stronger than I knew. I'm stronger than you think.
You think you know my story, but you don't....after all everyone has Shame in their lives-- and I'm no longer afraid to show you mine.
I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against hers. A shaky breath escaped her lips. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
“Are you trying to prepare me or ask permission?” she whispered, her voice beckoning me like a siren’s call.
“Both.” My lips hovered near hers. “I figure it’s only fair.”
“Fair?” She pulled back slightly. “How so?”
“Ten thousand.” I angled my head and watched the pulse jump on her neck. “That’s how many nerve endings, on average, are in your lips. Consequently, when your body anticipates pleasure, the build-up is the best part. Imagine, those ten thousand nerves are swelling, allowing blood to surge through them in anticipation of… what?” I swept my tongue across her lower lip and whispered, “Of being touched. I ask permission, not because I’m being a gentleman. It’s actually the complete opposite. I ask permission so your brain anticipates the pleasure before I’ve ever even touched you.”
I tasted her lower lip again and abruptly dipped my tongue into her mouth. Then just as quickly retreated. “The human body is an instrument. Know how to master it… and well…” I let my voice drop as I moved my hands slowly to her shoulders and tugged her body flush against mine. Our mouths met softly at first. I deepened the kiss, memorizing her taste, knowing I wouldn’t experience a kiss like this again in my lifetime. The way her scent, her soft moans destroyed my body, wrecked me from the deepest part of me, was nothing short of life-altering.
And I’d like to think I’d kissed a lot of women.
I’d studied the psychology of sexuality.
I was an expert in pleasure.
But she was schooling me, absolutely wreaking havoc on every logical thought as her soft whimper cascaded over me. Blood surged through my body as it tightened with awareness at her proximity.
She pulled back, her lips swollen. “That was… not a good enough warning.”
Laughing softly, I cupped the back of her head and gently drew it toward mine and kissed her again, angling my lips differently, searching her, consuming her, drawing pleasure from her lips as if it was my life goal to discover every single secret she owned.
Her arms wrapped around my neck. She was shy; she didn’t push against me, didn’t wrap her legs around me or moan into my mouth like I was having sex with her rather than kissing her.
My hands moved down her corset to her hips, and I lifted her into the air and walked her backward toward the brick wall. The whole time, our masks collided. In frustration, I ripped hers off, then mine. The shadows of moonlight hid our faces as I kissed her harder, losing myself in her.
Her nails dug at the back of my neck as she jerked my head harder. Groaning, I let her fall to the ground as I placed my hands on the brick wall to keep myself from ripping the dress from her body.
Shouting started from the ballroom.
“Eight,” I whispered against her mouth. “Seven.”
“Six.” She sighed, her breathing labored as her tongue found mine again. “Five.”
“Four, three.” I pulled back and trailed kisses down her neck.
We broke apart, both breathing heavy. “One.”
People burst out onto the balcony as the fireworks started, lighting up the sky. And our faces.
And the only thing I could say as she gasped in horror was “Oh, shit.”
It was hard to explain the way he spoke to me; at times he was flirtatious and well… happy. Other times? It seemed like he was fighting another side of himself, one that was more reserved, uptight, controlled. And if you were to ask me which side scared me the most? I’d say both. Because both sides were dangerous to me — both pushed a person like me past the point of no return. His seriousness made me curious; his flirtation made me want more.
“Just dinner?” I asked. “Isn’t that against the rules?”
“Yeah, well…” He glanced down briefly before flashing a sensual smile, his eyes dilating. “…it seems to be an impulse I can’t really control around you.”
“Control’s overrated, you label-making fool.”
At that he laughed, a rich chuckle that had my entire body relaxing and heating at the same time. I took a step toward him and smiled. “So, rule-breaker, where are we going?”
He grabbed his messenger bag and keys. “You’ll see.”
“Cryptic.” My eyebrows arched as I crossed my arms over my chest. “This isn’t going to turn into one of those six o‘clock news things where the crazy professor takes the girl out then buries her in the woods, is it?” I tried to sound like I was joking, but the minute the words left my mouth, it was no longer funny. Suddenly, I realized how stupid it would be to go with him. I knew nothing about him, nothing at all!
He smiled, tilting his head toward me. “Why am I getting the sudden urge to pull out a list of character references?”
“Because I just scared myself,” I admitted out loud.
“You want my social security number?” He winked. “Credit score? First grade class photo? Oh, and by the way, in first grade I was nominated most likely to own a pet store… so, if you aren’t okay with that, we probably shouldn’t continue this.”
“Because you liked pets?”
“I wanted to own a lizard farm.”
I covered my mouth with my hands and nodded solemnly. “All little boys have dreams.”
“A bully crushed mine when he told me lizard farms don’t exist.” He shook his head. “In second grade I was voted least likely to succeed, on account that I didn’t speak for the entire year.”
“Why’s that?” I took another step toward him.
He took another step in my direction and shrugged. “It took me a while to get over the lizards.”
“So you stopped speaking?”
“It was more of me trying to make the public aware of my outrage.”
“Ah, like lizard strike.”
“I made shirts.”
“Tell me, professor, is that when the label-making started?”
“No.” He nodded toward the door and started walking. I followed, genuinely interested in what he was going to say and hating that it was possible he was stringing me along only to go all cold-crazy-psycho on me again. “That was an entirely different situation.” He pulled the door open.
“What? No more stories?” I asked.
“Dinner.” He shrugged, his eyes a stormy gray. “I’ll tell you at dinner.”
“My trump card. Label-maker stories. You know, I do actually know how to romance a woman.”
“Well...” I cleared my throat and broke eye contact. “…since I’m your student, I’ll just take your word for it.”
“Right,” he said quickly then repeated, “Right, shall we?”
“Lead the way.” I forced a smile and tried to remember that this was dinner, nothing romantic, just my very sexy professor once again apologizing for being a jackass during class.
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About Rachel Van Dyken:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com