Published by Self on 9/27/20
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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I could love the monster or leave the man.
Conspiracies. Corruption. Serial killers.
You name it--I'm fascinated by it. My mom always blamed my overly curious and highly suspicious mind on my dad.
My incredibly overbearing dad.
Mr. No One Is Good Enough For My Daughter has been terrifying my dates since I turned fifteen.
College is my chance to be free from his control and date any guy I want.
I'm absolutely certain he would hate Slade Wylder--almost as certain as I am that I do too.
Since when have I shied away from trouble?
Slade fascinates me. He lives in a house I'm certain is haunted. His dog is trained as well as any guard I've ever seen. Rumor on campus is that he deals drugs. It would explain a lot.
But it doesn't explain why he saves me from my darkest moment.
It doesn't explain why I can't stop thinking about him.
And the explanation I finally discover is far more dangerous than any rumor.
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Out of Love – Excerpt
After their kissy-huggy greeting ended, they walked toward the house with Jericho in tow. I waited for him to glance back at me. He saw me. There was no way he passed me a few seconds earlier on the street and didn’t see me. Yet, he made no attempt to acknowledge me.
My boy Jerry stopped abruptly and turned like he caught whiff of my scent. All the warm fuzzies filled my chest. A dog gave me more feels than any man had given me in a long time. Maybe ever.
Jericho liked me. Hell, maybe he loved me.
He protected me.
He smiled when he saw me—tongue out, tail in a low wag. I continued my way up the sidewalk, feigning surprise when he trotted toward me in spite of Slade barking his own command.
“Hey, Jerry.” I squatted down to give him double the love Miss Sophisticated gave him … and I had a treat in my pocket because part of me anticipated—hoped for—a chance encounter. “Oh, buddy … I love you too.” I closed my eyes and turned my face side to side while he showered me with kisses.
Slade cleared his throat.
I opened my eyes—noticing his friend must have gone inside. “Sorry.” I stood, sliding a treat into Jericho’s mouth along the way. “I know it’s hard for you to know he likes me more.” On a shrug, I bit my lips together to keep my shit-eating grin under control.
“Inside,” he said to Jericho while looking at me.
Jericho turned and headed to the back door.
“If you have a job to do … Jerry can hang with me tonight. I’m alone this evening.”
“Jericho. And he doesn’t need a babysitter.”
“Maybe I do.”
His brow tensed a fraction, contemplation settling into a slight frown for a few seconds, before he whistled and Jericho came running. “Send him home when your friends get back.”
Why was the only word that sat on the tip of my idle tongue? Why protect me?
“What are you going to do?” Okay, apparently “why” wasn’t the only word on the tip of my tongue after all. Six other words were in line first.
“Does it matter?”
Letting my gaze settle over his shoulder to the firehouse and images of Miss Sophisticated waiting for him, I lifted a single shoulder. “No. Just curious. Is she your girlfriend?”
“Does it matter?”
“I hate you.” I rolled my eyes. “Worst communication skills ever.”
“Good. Hate me. I prefer it.”
I recoiled. I didn’t really hate anyone. It wasn’t my personality to be hateful, vengeful, or hold grudges. Why did Slade Wylder want me to hate him? It was a joke. I hated his lack of sharing information.
“If you’re selling her some shit that will ruin her life, may I suggest you rethink that? Not cool, Wylder.”
Tipping my chin up, I gave him several tiny nods. “Okay then. I’ll take Jerry to my house and spoil him. Maybe he comes back to you … maybe he doesn’t.”
Slade let his gaze slide down my body, a slow and easy trip. He didn’t do that when we met. Somewhere along the way, he decided it was okay. I wasn’t sure what reaction he desired from me.
Maybe he did it out of pure selfish desire.
“I’m only allowing this because I love Jerry.”
Curious eyes met mine, slightly squinted.
I smirked. “Stripping me with those eyes of yours.”
I collected moments in my mind, my heart, my soul, like Aubrey collected rare coins—my mom dying, my dad spending a few years thoroughly drunk. Mostly bad moments—permanent scars.
That moment I tucked into my memory forever as one of the first truly great moments.
The corners of his mouth quirked into pure sin. If Satan was hot as fuck, his name would have been Slade Wylder, and I would have been in a whole helluva lot of trouble.