The move to the remote town of Quarry Hill, Pennsylvania was supposed to help Griffin McGuire start over and forget the two people who betrayed him. As a paramedic at the local hospital, he would still have to interact with people, but the rest of the time he could hole himself away in the secluded cabin he was renting. It was perfect. For the first time in over a year, he felt like he could finally breathe.
That was until he met her.
A woman who doesn’t know her own name or why she was covered in blood and standing in the middle of the road when he found her. Griffin knows he should contact the police, but something is preventing him from going to the authorities. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that he was correct in trusting his instincts. Every time she falls asleep, she dreams and another memory is unlocked. Memories that are horrific and make him want to protect and hide her from the world.
After four months, Tia Peterson has been found. The woman who was kidnapped and trafficked has escaped hell only to realize that her nightmare isn’t over. Her story has hit the media and every reporter and news outlet wants to know the gory details; things she doesn’t want to speak of ever again.
But then she meets Trent Reddick.
The former Navy SEAL doesn’t ask too many questions, never pressures her to talk about what happened while she was held captive in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. He just wants to help her get her life back.
But the more time they spend together, the stronger Trent’s feelings for Tia become…and that scares him. If he doesn’t find a way to rein in his emotions, be the friend she needs instead of the man he wants to be for her, he may lose her for good.
I DREAM OF SPIDERS
I can’t keep doing this to him. He has a life and most likely a girlfriend. Tomorrow I will leave. I will ask to borrow some money and get far away from him. He has done enough. I will make it on my own. I get out of bed and creep down the hall to tell him my plan. I expect to find him in the kitchen, maybe needing a late-night snack, not the bathroom. Because why wouldn’t he have just used the master bath? The sound of heavy breathing snaps up my attention and I look toward the hall bathroom. The light isn’t on but I hear a barely audible groan on the other side of the cracked door. I push it open and watch the man I have fantasized about for the past few days working his cock with one hand while he steadies himself by holding onto the sink. I can’t stop staring. He is so big, so aroused…and so am I. I want him. I want to be the one making him groan and pant. Without warning, he turns and our eyes lock.
“Leave, Clare.” I can’t move. “Go back to bed,” he commands, his tone desperate. His hand stills and he releases his cock. “Please,” he utters, his voice gruff, as if he is in pain.
My feet unlock from the imaginary vise they have been in and I step toward him. We don’t break eye contact, even when I grip his cock and stroke him from root to tip. I’m not sure if I have ever done this before or if I am even doing it correctly, but the way his breathing hitches and his eyes flutter tell me that I am doing something right. I pump him harder, swirling the wet tip with the pad of my thumb. His hips sway and his pants become more erratic. I am seconds away from dropping to my knees when he suddenly grabs my wrist.
“We can’t,” he says, his eyes boring into mine.
“Why? Is it because of Corinne?” I ask. He blinks several times and shakes his head. “Your girlfriend?”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“But I thought…”
“Corinne’s my sister.”
He doesn’t have a girlfriend. Which means…
He pries my fingers from his cock and tucks himself back into his pants. He moves past me and steps out of the bathroom. Like a fool, I follow him. “Oh. I get it now. You just don’t want me,” I say.
He stops and faces me. “Is that what you think? That I don’t want you?”
“You stopped me…you said we can’t…”
“We can’t because you belong to someone else. You remembered him today, caught a glimpse of the man you admitted loving, and I’ll be damned if he is who you are thinking of as I sink into you. I won’t share you. I’m not built that way.”
I feel like complete shit. Griffin is doing the noble thing, protecting my virtue and his heart. I am such a bitch.
Dylan is important to me. I care for him. Love him. But in what way? If it is a romantic type of love, then why didn’t I feel guilty when I touched Griffin? Or when I think about him taking me, claiming me? Griffin turns and walks to the living room. I pathetically escape to the bedroom. I am no longer afraid of the nightmares that could plague me if I even manage to fall asleep tonight. No, what I fear are the dreams I may have of the man who has just protected me from myself.
I FADE AWAY
Tia and I have settled into a routine. With the exception of Sundays and the occasional Saturday we both go to work, come home after our shifts, eat dinner together and veg out in front of the television. Sometimes I cook, or attempt to, while she does a great job pretending she likes what I make. Tia, on the other hand, is a fucking genius in the kitchen. And the desserts she makes? They are my undoing and why I’m currently on the treadmill running twice as many miles as I did before she moved in.
I can absolutely see Tia owning her own bakery. She has the brains to run a business and the skill to produce one mouthwatering sugary concoction after another. I think she will be ready one day to take on that venture, but not yet.
I don’t want to think that she’s going through the motions, working, eating, sleeping, repeat, but I can’t bury my head in the sand, either. She has yet to go see a therapist and she is still plagued by nightmares, the kind that drive her into my bedroom on a nightly basis. Every night is the same. She quietly enters my room. I hold the covers up and she slips in beside me. We don’t talk; we just let the silence sooth her. I both hate and love those moments. I hate them because I know that her nightmares are what brings her to me. I love them because for those few hours she allows me to hold her, lets me in…trusts me. And that means everything.
Sure, there have been times when she’s been lying there and accidentally brushed up against my cock. My mind drifts to less chivalrous things in those moments, but I am able to squash those thoughts by remembering how much it must take for her to come to me night after night.
I decrease the speed and my pace goes from a sprint, to a jog and then a brisk walk. A few minutes later, I power down and step off the treadmill and wipe my face with a towel. I plant myself on my bench and start to adjust my free weights when I hear footsteps on the basement stairs.
“Oh sorry, I didn’t know you were still here. I thought you left for work.”
Tia has reached the bottom step and I’m tempted to command her to turn right around and go back where she came from. Because I’m about to lose my shit. Tia is wearing workout shorts and a black tank top that hides nothing. I notice her cheeks pinken and I feel my own face heat up.
“I wanted to get a run in before work. Got to get back in the saddle again. All we do is eat.”
I laugh because she’s right. We do eat a lot and I love that she doesn’t shy away from food that most definitely can expand your waistline, though from where I’m standing, she has nothing to worry about.
Stop looking at her.
“The treadmill is all yours. I was just going to lift a little. Are you okay if I stay?’
“Of course. It’s your house. Have at it,” she says.
I’m a couple of reps in when I realize just how much trouble I’m in. I should have left when I had the chance because I can’t stop my eyes from wandering over to Tia, her ass to be exact. She is jogging and sweating and looking amazing. I’m so distracted that I almost drop a free weight on my foot. I turn and face the wall, do some curls and try to come up with an excuse as to why I need to cut my workout short. I can hear her feet pounding on the treadmill, her steady breaths. After a few minutes, I decide to do some pullups on a bar I had bolted into the ceiling. I’m on my fifth pullup, still not facing her, when I hear her even breaths turn into light pants. Christ, now I know what she would sound like when she is…
“I’m so out of shape,” she says.
I do something stupid, release the pullup bar and turn around. Beads of sweat have gathered on her forehead. My gaze drifts lower, and I spot a lone droplet work its way down her neck and disappear between her cleavage. I bite back a groan, grab my towel and wipe my face. I need a shower, a cold one.
Elle Keating is the author of romance novels with sexy heroes and fierce females. Her first book, Thrill of the Chase (Dangerous Love, #1), was published by Forever Romance’s digital imprint, Forever Yours, in 2015. She has since expanded the series and released the Dream Duet and the taboo romance, Keeping His Commandments. Elle is currently working on several projects including the sequel to her paranormal romance, Into Temptation, and a steamy forbidden romance that may raise some eyebrows.
When Elle isn’t torturing her heroes and heroines (don’t worry, there’s always a happily ever after), she is a public school administrator and enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children in New Jersey. For more on Elle and her books, visit ellekeating.com.