Conner Burke never expected Sofie Callahan to come back.
Where she’s been for the last two and half years is a mystery, and so is the reason she left in the first place. Now, though, she’s back in their hometown of Shelton Bay, South Carolina, at the same time Conner’s band Dirty B is home on a tour break.
Sofie Callahan has spent the months since her father’s death avoiding anything to do with her home town. But with her brother in Afghanistan, she has no choice but to return and sort out her father’s house, even if it means facing the boy she fell in love with and revealing the reason she left.
Conner has questions, and when his broken heart and her guilty one collide, Sofie has to start answering them. Their present is rocky, their future unknown. Only one thing is certain:
Sofie’s daughter will change everything.
Sofie comes back to town after her father dies and she knows that people are going to ask questions. She left 2 1/2 years ago and is coming back with a baby girl that has the same hair and features as her ex-boyfriend who now happens to be the lead singer of one of America's most popular bands. She knew that she had some explaining to do, but she didn't expect it to be her first night back in town.
Connor is back in town on break from his tour and has some questions for his ex. He just didn't expect the answers that he received.
That kid that could be mine.
I get up and let the empty bottle drop to the floor. The woods are eerily quiet, as if it can sense my anger. As if it knows the bitterness that lingers in my veins, as if it knows the burn of not knowing anything.
Like the woods, I’m left in the dark. Completely.
Branches and twigs crunch under my feet as I increase my pace to a gentle jog. And again, to a slow run. Then to a sprint.
The need to know increases with every footstep, as evenly paced as the ticking of the clock. It doesn’t matter that I’ve probably drunk too much beer to be here or that we’ve only been back for a matter of days.
I can’t be in this shithole full of memories without knowing. I can’t move on until I know. I can’t forgive her for a single fucking thing until I know—and even then, maybe I won’t be able to.
Maybe she’s unforgivable.
Instead of knocking on the back door like I did yesterday, I round the side of the house to the front door. The front room light glows softly through the curtains, but the rest of the house is dark.
My chest heaves with the exertion of my run here and I grab the doorframe to balance myself. I’m definitely too fucking drunk for this conversation, but what the hell.
I bang on the door, once, twice, again and again and again. “Sofie! Open the fuckin’ door!”
“Shut up!” she hisses, yanking it open. “The hell’re you doing here?”
I smirk, leaning against the wall. “Shouldn’t I be askin’ you that, princess?”
“Are you drunk?” Her voice rises a little at the end, and her eyes widen.
Those eyes. Fuck, those baby blues that have always undone me.
“Drunk? No. If I was drunk I’d be sitting at home like a miserable bastard and not here facing the cause of my misery.”
“You’re being an asshole. I don’t have to listen to this.”
She pushes on the door, but I wedge my foot in front of it. I let go of the wall and grab the edge of the door.
“Actually, you do.”
She can’t overpower me, and she knows it, because she lets up and the door swings open. “Why are you here, Conner?”
“You have a kid.”
She smacks her lips together. “Yep.”
“When? When did you have her?”
Sofie takes a deep breath in and presses her hands to her stomach. They’re shaking, even as she links her fingers to hide it. I can see that fucking tremble.
She whispers something but I’m too pre-occupied by her hands to hear it.
“August last year,” she repeats, still a whisper.
August. Last year. My stomach clenches as I meet her eyes. “When? When in fuckin’ August, Sofie?”
“August fifteenth.” Her voice hitches halfway through the ‘fifteenth.’
Almost seven months to the day she walked out on me and the rest of Shelton Bay.
Adrenaline hums through my body, and I stare at her. At the tears building in her eyes, the quiver of her lips, the bob of her throat as she swallows harshly.
It’s no different from the burn in my chest, the twisting of my stomach.
“Is she mine?”
She shudders and a tear drips from her eye.
“Sofie. Is. She. Mine?!”
“Any reason you’re faceplanting the wall?”
“Yup. I’m trying not to talk to you, so you should leave before I get mad.”
“Mad at me?” Conner responds incredulously.
I stand up straight and face him. “Yes. So go, because I don’t have the energy to be mad today.”
“What the fuck did I do?”
“Your asshole move at dinner!” The words snap out of me. “Bringing up the pregnancy rumor. What, you think I don’t beat myself up enough in private and I need to do it in public, too? That it?”
“You’re mad at me for something you did? Fuck, Sof!”
“No, I’m mad at you for bringing up somethin’ you didn’t damn well need to!” I yell. “Now I’m not in a position to be talking about feelings but, damn, Conner! How do you think that made me feel? I’m a bitch, I know. I’m every-fucking-thing under the sun that’s bad, but at least save it for private!”
“I was adding to the conversation!”
“In the most asshole way ever!” I push past him.
He grabs my arm and spins me round, his eyes blazing. “I’m entitled to be an asshole, don’t you think, princess?”
“When we’re alone! You’re not entitled to be an ass when your family is around!”
“I think I am! Especially when I want to hate you so badly!”
“Then hate me!”
“I can’t! You make it fucking impossible for me to hate you.”
“I don’t do anything!”
“You’re here! That’s it!” His nostrils flare and he dives his hand into my hair, cupping the side of my head. “You’re here, and it’s like nothing fucking changed. You look at me the same, you talk to me the same, and it pisses me off because I wish you weren’t still the girl I fell in love with.”
“I’m not her,” I protest. My skin is tingling where he’s holding me, and there are goosebumps all over, and oh hell, my lungs are constricting. “I’m older and I’m wiser and I’m more resilient than she was. I’m ten times the girl you fell in love with.”
“And there’s the biggest problem,” he breathes, his eyes pained and angry and heated all at the same time. “You’re her but you’re not, and it’s the same but it’s not, but I still can’t hate you.”
His lips, against mine. They’re hot, soft, smooth. Gliding over my mouth, probing, pressing, pleading. Desperate, angry, sad, needing. They’re everything, every sensation, every feeling, just everything.
Shivers cascade down my spine as he pulls me into him. I slide my fingers up his chest and around into the messy hair at the nape of his neck, winding its softness through my fingers, kissing him back, because I can’t not.
I’m powerless in his arms.
It’s slow and it’s easy, but then it’s hard and it’s rough, but it’s still everything, it’s still everywhere. Until he pulls away, and it’s nothing but a swollen memory lingering on my lips.
“I do hate you,” he growls, releasing me fully. “I hate you because you’re still fucking mine, and I don’t want you to be.”
And I’m cold, so cold, now that he’s not there. The warmth that is his solid body is gone and I shiver, wrapping my arms around my middle, desperate to alleviate it.
Because running back to him isn’t an option.
“Then don’t let me be,” I say, barely making a sound. “You’re not mine, Con, not anymore.”
His chest heaves as he takes in an audible deep breath, and I know I’ve hurt him again. But it’s the truth, he’s not mine because I won’t let him be. I won’t tie him to me that way. I won’t open myself to the hope of something only to end up with nothing.
Just when I think he’s going to step back, he grabs me and tugs me to him. His lips are on me once again, searing into me. His hands are gripping me tightly, his fingertips burning my skin.
I hold the collar of his shirt, leaning up on tiptoes as he kisses me roughly and harshly. His hands are under my shirt, tugging up, and mine are doing the same to him, and we part. We come back together, bare skin against bare skin, and I wind my fingers into his hair.
He pulls me back toward the door and grabs my thighs, lifting me up. I wrap my legs around his waist and he carries me upstairs, his lips travelling down my neck, his fingers digging in harder and harder, no time for tenderness.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy - unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.
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