by Rhonda Helms
Published by: Kensington
Publication date: September 30th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance
The most painful scars are the ones you never see.
In her DJ booth at a Cleveland dance club, Casey feels a sense of connection that’s the closest she ever gets to normal. On her college campus, she’s reserved, practical–all too aware of the disaster that can result when you trust the wrong person. But inexplicably, Daniel refuses to pay attention to the walls she’s put up. Like Casey, he’s a senior. In every other way, he’s her opposite.
Sexy, open, effortlessly charming, Daniel is willing to take chances and show his feelings. For some reason Casey can’t fathom, he’s intent on drawing her out of her bubble and back into a world that’s messy and unpredictable. He doesn’t know about the deep scars that pucker her stomach–or the deeper secret behind them. Since the violent night when everything changed, Casey has never let anyone get close enough to hurt her again. Now, she might be tempted to try.
“I can’t possibly eat one more bite of potato salad. Oh my God.” Daniel moaned and lay back on the blanket, cupping his hands over his still-flat belly, despite his grumbles. “I’m so full, my pants are literally going to explode off of me.”
“As my English prof would point out, you mean figuratively,” I said in a prim tone. “If your pants literally exploded, we’d be in a world of legal trouble, since this is a public park. And as punishment for your grammar error, I’m making you eat the rest of this potato salad.” I scooped a heaping spoonful out of our bowl and shoved it toward his face.
He sat up and mock glared at me. Dappled sunlight from the setting sun spilled across the dark mop of his head, hit his deep green irises. Before I could react, he grabbed the spoon and flung it, loaded potato salad and all, across the park. “Oh, crap. Sorry, it slipped.”
“Litterer!” I cried out, looking around like I was seeking a police officer. Not that there was anyone else around us except for a couple of young kids playing on the swing set nearby.
Daniel tackled me to the ground and dug his fingers against my right side, where I was super-ticklish. “Narc!” he said, laughing hysterically.
“You jerk!” I swatted up at him and scrambled to get away. I stood and wiped the bottom of my shorts with a huff. “That was a perfectly good spoon.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I’ll buy you another.”
“It was part of a set.” I tugged my tank top down to make sure my abdomen was covered. Thankfully, Daniel had stayed away from my scarred side.
“I’ll buy you six, then.”
“You have an answer for everything, don’t you.” I chuckled.
He stood, peering down at me. His eyes were light and dancing, and my heart hadn’t felt this light in a couple of days— not since my moodiness back in the library. His hand slid along my unscarred side again, but instead of torture-tickling me, his fingers slipped and danced over my tank top. The warmth of his touch still seared me, despite the barrier.
“Not everything,” he murmured, his attention turning to my mouth. His fingers tightened incrementally on my hip. Something shifted then, sexual tension crackling in the air between us.
I automatically licked my lips, and his eyes flared. I stepped closer. I needed to taste his mouth, right now.
“Oooooooooh!” a high-pitched kid’s voice said from behind me. “They’re gonna kiss!”
I closed my eyes as a light flush stole over my cheeks.
Daniel’s mouth hovered close enough to me that I could feel his breath huffing against my skin. “I need to kiss you,” he said, and the raw edge in his tone had my eyes flying open.
Yes, the need was right there, unmasked, unashamed, completely bared to me. I felt my body respond, my core tightening, heart thudding, hands trembling.
I nodded, leaned my face up. My mouth already hungered for his.
He brushed his mouth against mine, a butterfly touch that didn’t satisfy the growing pulse in me. “Not here,” he said, his words barely a whisper. “I want you alone.”
Alone. The ache I heard in that one word sent shivers of anticipation across my skin. My flesh burst into thousands of vibrant tingles. I gave a mute nod. I wanted it too.
Rhonda Helms started writing several years ago and loves writing teen and New Adult romance. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She also freelance edits manuscripts.
When she isn’t writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat scads of cheese. WAY too much cheese.
Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, two kids, a dog and a really loud cat. Visit her website at http://www.rhondahelmsbooks.com for more information about her and her releases.