His name is Rafaele Vestri, Rafe to his friends.
He’s tall, strong, handsome. Distant. He often comes to the café where I work, but we don’t talk much. He looks at me, though. Stares at me, his gaze heated, and I can’t help but stare back. I want him, I won’t deny it. I’ve never seen anyone that beautiful, anyone that powerful, in my life.
But he’s growing more withdrawn by the day. Something’s up, and he won’t tell. I know about his past – the murder of his family when he was fifteen. I can imagine how much it must have cost him. So much violence contained in that strong body, waiting to be unleashed. What is he seeking? What is he training so hard for? Why is looking at me like he’s dying to touch me, but won’t dare?
Even as I try to stop thinking about him, get interested in other boys, I realize I can’t. I’m caught, body and soul, just like that. And I tell myself, Megan, girl… What have you gotten yourself into this time?
This is book 5 in the Inked Brotherhood series which started with Asher. It is a stand-alone work. No cliffhanger.
The expected publication date is end March/beginning April 2015, on all of your favorite e-book websites.
I’m staring at Rafe’s hand. Big, strong, callused. A scar runs from his thumb to the index finger.
He’s looking at me, waiting. What does he want?
I lift my hand, place it in his. It fits on his palm, smaller, darker, thinner. He seems as entranced by the contrast as I am. His fingers slowly curl, closing around mine. His lips part, but no sound comes from his mouth, and his gaze remains fixed on our entwined hands, pale lashes hiding the gold of his eyes.
Now I’m the one caught, transfixed. His mouth looks soft, vulnerable, at odds with his strong, angular features and the broad set of his shoulders. The need to touch his face is overwhelming, and I step closer, so close I can sense his scent. Not a cologne, but the deep scent of his skin, like musk and warm metal. I can see the rise and fall of his chest underneath the black Deathmoth T-shirt he’s wearing under his open jacket, see the outline of his strong pecs.
We’re standing so close our breaths mingle, and our bodies touch in places as we shift, feathery brushes that send fire across my skin, into my belly, making me ache. He places his hands on my waist and I grip his thick, sinewy forearms. My stomach drops as if I’m standing at the edge of a precipice, on the edge of a moment that can change everything.
What’s happening? It’s as if in the hollow darkness, the barrier between us is crumbling, the wall he’s set between himself and the world is falling.
His hands tighten on my hipbones and his lashes lift, his gaze moving to my mouth. His breathing is ragged. He tugs me against him, his fingertips digging painfully into my flesh, his arms flexing with barely controlled strength.
His arousal presses into my stomach, hot and thick, caught sideways in his jeans.
My mind fills up with static. Rafe wants me. There’s the solid proof of his desire. The heated gaze I’ve felt so often on me is translated into a physical reaction, and it makes me feel so hot I might burst into flames. He’s so handsome, I can’t help myself. I want to stroke his square jaw, drag my fingertips over the golden stubble on his cheeks, kiss those damnable dimples.
I whimper, the sound coming from deep inside me, and he freezes, goes so still I’m not even sure he’s breathing.
Then he jerks back, releases me so fast I’m left reeling.
“Fuck,” he hisses. He buries his fingers in his short blond hair, pulls, his mouth now hard like the rest of him, pressed into a flat line. “This is a mistake.”
A knot is gathering in my throat, in my chest, cutting off air.
I want to be mad at him, but his hands are trembling, and his amber eyes so full of pain I forget my anger before it even forms. He’s like mist, here and suddenly gone, lost into thin air. I have to touch him, touch his bare skin, prove he’s real.
“Wait.” I lift my hand to his face, fingertips skimming over the smooth skin of his cheekbone. Warm. Satin soft.
A pang goes through my chest, an ache that feels too much like sorrow, and I’m not sure if it’s mine or his.
He jerks away, his eyes wide on his pale face. He reaches up, his hand hovering over the spot I touched. Then he turns and rushes off into the crowd.
My hand is still hovering in midair. I don’t know for how long I stand there, staring at my splayed fingers, trying to figure out what happened. Or maybe trying to find another explanation for his reaction, desperate for him to be different to any other handsome, arrogant guy. Maybe I imagined the pain in his gaze – or maybe that pain is real but doesn’t make a difference. Traumatic past or not, he’s sorry he touched me, sorry he desired me. Big surprise. Why would he desire me, of all girls? There are so many vying for his attention. Girls who have witty, sexy things to say, and who don’t go stiff like cardboard when he touches them.
The thought of him touching other girls shouldn’t hurt quite as much as it does. And this is a bad sign. Very bad sign, Megan, I tell myself and lower my hand that touched him. I feel as if my fingertips are numb, burnt by the feel of his skin.
Jo Raven writes New Adult erotic contemporary romance. She loves sexy bad boys and strong-willed heroines, and divides her time between writing and reading. When not cooking up plots, she putters in her cluttered kitchen and dreams of traveling to India and Japan.
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