Two people with trust issues quickly become each other’s addiction.
Can they learn to trust enough to fall?
“I want to kiss you.”
My breath escapes in a whoosh. “Just that?”
God, please do it. Over and over.
“For now,” he says quietly. But I see him retreating into himself. It’s shame. No matter what I say, he still believes he’s damaged goods.
“And if I want you to do more than kiss me?” I ask, pushing.
The light in his eyes dims further. “Button …” His voice cracks and he swallows. “You’ve got to learn not to take me seriously. I say stupid shit all the time. I’m not the guy for you.”
My heart drops to my toes. I should believe him; why would he lie? There’s a thread of truth in his words. I can hear it clearly. I should let it go. The voice in my head—the one that always seems to show up and tell me that I’m a failure—is insisting that I’d never have a chance with a man like John. He is a legend and I’m just plain old me. Thing is, I hate that bitch; she’s ruled too much of my life as it is. I suspect most of us have a similar voice, an invasive naysayer who tries its best to make us hate ourselves. I suspect John has one that turns into a full-on scream some days.
I take a deep breath, press my cold palms to my hips. “It was bullshit, then? You wanting to kiss me?”
The muscles along his torso and arms visibly clench. And for a second, I wonder if he won’t answer me. But then he does, all hard tones and rasping pain. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since the night we met and you stole one from me. I want to learn your flavor, the sounds you make, how you’ll move against me when I taste you.” His eyes go hot, focused on my lips. “I think about your mouth all the time. Those teasing little freckles, the soft curve of your upper lip, the stubborn fullness of your bottom lip.” He husks out a laugh. “Stella Button, it’s downright embarrassing how much I think about kissing you.”
“But you won’t.” I don’t even know how I’m talking right now. Inside, I’m a damn puddle of heat and hazy want.
I feel that “no” like a kick in my chest. I should drop it and save myself further humiliation. But I can’t. “Why?”
His hand shakes as he runs it through his hair. “Sex confuses things. Especially for me. I don’t know what to do once it’s over. It could break us, Stella. And I can’t afford to lose you.”
Jesus, the things he says to me. How can he possibly think he’d lose me?
“Or it can be the beginning of us,” I counter, heart in my throat—in my hands, because I might has well have set it right in his lap.
His expressive mouth quirks, fighting a smile, but he looks tired and resigned. “I won’t fall in love with you, Stells.”
That hurts, but it’s not like I didn’t expect it. I’m not sure I even want love. Love equals loss in my world. I don’t want to hurt anymore. But I do want John. That much I’m finally willing to admit. Because denying it hurts too.
“Who said anything about falling in love?”
His smile is faint. “Well, that’s a relief.”
Oddly, he sounds almost disappointed.
Fall by Kristen Callihan. VIP#3. Releases October 23, 2018