I grew up wishing on stars.
My father taught me to believe…in destiny, in magic, in happily ever after. Dreams were my scripture and the starry night sky was my temple. Then Mom stopped believing, left him, and took us with her. At the age of sixteen, I cashed in my dreams to pay the rent, pawned my destiny to keep my sisters together.
Now, seven years later, I’m returning home, grieving the death of my mother, and settling my sisters back into the life Mom threw away. I never intended to stay. I don’t want to deal with my father, who is so invested in the spiritual world he forgets the physical. I don’t want to face William Bailey, whose eyes remind me of the girl I was, the things I’ve done, and the future I lost.
This would all be easier if Will hated me. As it is, I have to hold my secrets close so they won’t hurt him more than they’ve already hurt me. But he wants to be in my life. He wants what I can’t bring myself to confess I sold. He wants me.
I find myself looking to my stars again...wondering if I dare one more wish.
“When are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow? Day after tomorrow maybe? Dad’s home. I just want to get the girls settled, but then I need to get back for work.”
There’s nothing I can say to get her to stay. I’m not even sure I should want her to. Tonight wasn’t real after all. Reality wouldn’t have let me touch her in in public like that. Reality dictates that I stay away from her, that I hate her for what she did to me. Or, at the very least, that I want nothing to do with her.
But tonight wasn’t reality. It was like visiting a memory. And it was perfect.
I walk around to get her door. The moment she steps onto the pavement, I have her pressed against the side of the car, my hands in her hair, my knee between her legs, pressing our bodies as close as possible. Because touching her in the restaurant only made this need for her grow, and now I want her more than ever.
She kisses me back, clings to me, hand fisted in my shirt. Her mouth and hands match the desperation of my own, closer and closer, as if she wants to disappear into me.
I want more. I want to put her back in the car and take her to my house, take her to my bed. Because if tonight is the only stolen moment we get, I don’t want it to end.
But despite all that, I’m the one who breaks the kiss. I’m the one who pulls away. Looking at her doesn’t make it any easier. She’s so fucking beautiful it breaks my heart. Flushed cheeks, swollen lips, thick lashes fluttering as she opens her eyes.
If I’d forgotten who and where we are, if I’d forgotten that she’s no longer the girl I once loved, the look in her eyes brings me back. The girl I knew would have had nothing but love and desire in her eyes. But I see pain there now, pain and weariness edging away her desire.
“What happened to you?” I whisper.
“What do you mean?”
Swallowing, I trace the edge of her jaw. “You’ve changed. There’s something…darker about you now.”
Sadness washes over her face. “I regret so much. I should have been with you and I shouldn’t have….” She shakes her head and looks up at me through her thick lashes. “You should hate me.”
Impossible. “I’ve tried.” I force a laugh, but it’s hollow. “I don’t know how.”
Her lips tilt into a ghost of a smile. “You’re too damn good, William Bailey, and I don’t deserve as much of you as you’ve given.” She grabs my hand and kisses the rough skin of my knuckles. “Thank you for tonight. It was amazing.”
I kiss the corner of her mouth and squeeze her fingers in mine.
“I should go in,” she says. “I’ll never forget this. Goodb—”
I press a finger to her lips before she can say our once-forbidden word. Because I can’t bring myself to hear it. “Don’t ruin tonight with that word.”
She closes her eyes.
“Sleep well,” I whisper.
She slips away, heading toward her room and leaving me feeling empty. “Sleep well,” she calls over her shoulder.
I watch her disappear into her room, and then I look up at the moon and stars we once wished on together. They make me feel lonelier than ever. Because she may no longer be the girl I once loved, but she’s the woman I want.
Excerpt © Lexi Ryan, 2013
Have you ever wished that you could go back and have done things differently?
Seven years ago, when Callie’s mom had moved her & her sisters away from New Hope, she was supposed to come back to go to the prom with William. She didn’t and now she’s bringing her sisters, Drew & Gabby, back to New Hope to live with their dad. Since her stay was only for a few days to get her sisters settled, she never expected to see William on her first night in town. Sometimes what we least expect, happens, and what is she and William supposed to do with the feelings that don’t seem to have gone away with time.
Will wants answers to why she never came back as promised. He still wonders why she broke it off with him the night of the prom and the way she did it.
“Oh. My. God. You’re still in love with her.” ~ Maggie
I drag my hand through my hair and avoid her eyes. I don’t know what I am. “I see her for the first time in seven years, and I want her back so damn badly - despite all logic. She’s here and she’s beautiful and she owns a piece of me I’d forgotten I even had.” ~ Will
“I made so many damn mistakes when you were out of my life. When you left, I lost more than my girlfriend, I lost myself.” He traces my lips with his thumb, and the tenderness in his eyes nearly undoes me. “Be with me, Cally, You’re my compass. My North Star.” ~ Will
Will has mad some mistakes in his life. He lost his parents when he was young and was raised by is grandmother, who’s constantly trying to play matchmaker. He’s spent the last few years trying very hard to have the kind of family he lost. But that hasn’t worked out so well with his last two attempts. Now, with Callie back in town, he knows he’s never stopped loving her and he’ll do anything he can to get her back in his life. I think you'll enjoy seeing just what lengths this guy will go to. I know I did.
Callie……where do I begin with this girl. She has been the strong one in her family. Her mom has a drug addiction and a reputation. She’s also passed away, that’s why she’s bringing Drew and Gabby to live with their dad. Her dad is into mantras and finding the good spiritual things in life and Callie and her sisters have paid the price. Callie let Will go because she had no choice. This girl is a survivor and the choices she had to make are ones that have left her feeling very low, unworthy and she keeps that secret hidden. She’s treated very badly by some of the people in New Hope and this has her thinking that she has to get her sisters settled and leave as fast as she can. And I kept hearing “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” by Brantley Gilbert playing in my head sometimes.
There’s definitely no denying that William and Callie still have very strong feelings for each other. And I could feel every tug and pull on my heart while I was absorbed in this story. But when Callie’s past catches up with her, will she still find that William still wants her just as much as before?
This story was full of lost love, angst, painful memories, heart flutters and family and friends coming together. I really enjoyed getting lost in Callie and William’s story. I recommend putting this book, as well as Unbreak Me on your to be reads. Looking forward to future books by this author.
*Review by Jessie L.
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Lexi Ryan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, writes romances with humor, heat, and heart. A former college English professor, Lexi now writes full time from her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and two children. Please visit www.lexiryan.com
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