Published by Swerve
E-Original published by Swerve
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Brothers Jude and Ryan McAllister are inseparable. When Jude stepped in to raise Ryan after the death of their mother, it became them against the world. But the scars it left were bone-deep. Then Lizzie Price comes along.
Lizzie hopes Ryan’s kindness can help heal her wounds from a toxic relationship. But when she meets Jude, their powerful attraction makes him difficult to resist. The problem is, Lizzie doesn’t realize Jude and Ryan are brothers, and they don’t know they’re falling for the same girl.
By the time the truth comes out, everyone is in too deep. Ryan is in love, Jude is in denial, and Lizzie wants both brothers. All of them agree that no one deserves to get hurt. But love and desire have a way of testing even the strongest bonds.
SMP Romance: http://smpromance.com/contemporary.html#tell-me-how
I run my hand over her hair and down one braid. She leans into it like a cat. Her face starts to relax and her lips part. I want to kiss them, obviously, but I also want to tuck her into a big bed with cool white sheets and a down comforter. I want to undo each of those braids and untwine the strands one by one. I want to run her a bath and help her step into it. My heart starts to beat harder, and the inside of the car feels ten degrees hotter.
I want her. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get her.
“So, is it serious with frat boy, Elizabeth?”
Her eyes open and she sits up. “He’s not in a fraternity. And no, but I’m hopeful. Why? Are you renewing your generous offer from the other night?”
I hate the formal tone in her voice. I use two fingers to turn her chin so we’re face-to-face. “Yeah, that was a dick move. I’m a little sorry about that.”
“I was rude, but I was being honest. If you and I keep running into each other, sex is a foregone conclusion.”
“Wow. Did I somehow lose my ability for higher reasoning when I wasn’t looking?”
Now I laugh, even though I’m not in a humorous mood. I lean in closer and run my thumb over her neck. “I can feel your pulse jumping. The hairs on your arms are standing up. Your pupils are probably dilated. So are mine. There’s only one way for this to go.” I stroke my thumb down lower and register the softness of her skin.
“You are the oddest person,” she says, almost as if she’s talking to herself.
“Why’s that?” I wish I didn’t want to know.
She does that unnerving thing again where she thinks before answering.
“Why do you have to make this into a hunt? Why don’t you admit that you’re lonely?”
I go cold, but my heart races even faster. “You don’t know me. You don’t know what I am.”
Her brow furrows. “You made these rules the first time we met. Total honesty. I’m sorry if you don’t like them anymore.”
I have her by the shoulders now, and I’m locked on her like a snake to its prey. “Elizabeth, if you keep talking, I’m going to kiss the hell out of you, and you know we won’t stop there.”
I’m not bluffing. I will take her right here in this car until she reveals her secrets. How does she see me so clearly? What kind of man would I have to be to impress her?
She has to take a second to breathe before she can answer. “I’m only a game to you.”
“I wish that were true.” And then I kiss her.
My body registers her heat, her skin, her scent. My stomach tightens, along with my dick. But that’s just stimuli and response. Something is new—different. My brain starts to hum, like white noise. My chest starts to tingle, and I think I’m having a panic attack. It hurts, it feels good, it’s terrifying. I kiss her some more.
Finally, I move away, and she puts her hand to her lips.
“God,” she whispers, “I can’t do this. I don’t think I can survive you.”
I nod in agreement, because I know exactly what she means. She thinks I’m dangerous to her orderly life. She has no idea what she could do to mine.
VICTORIA DE LA O is the award-winning author of the Tell Me romance trilogy, including Tell Me How This Ends. A native of California’s Silicon Valley, she spends her time raising two crazy kids with her husband, working at Stanford University, arguing about films, and partaking in chicanery.