DARE TO LOVE: A little teaser for ya…

Dear wickedly awesome readers,

Gonna guess that many of you awesome possums already noticed I’ve got another work-in-progress besides Hart of Hers, eh? But just in case you’re not creepily stalking me (Why not? Whyyy???) like you totally should be…

This collaboration with the lovely Jane Blythe is a full-length novel to be published sometime in 2017. Don’t ask me exactly when cuz heck if I know haha! 100% of the proceeds shall also be split between RAINN & Wounded Warrior Project. Yay!!!

We’re totally pushing the boundaries with this little gremlin cuz 1) it’s way more fun that way and 2) we be crazy. Legit crazy. So, yeah, we decided on a dual-POV, dual-narrative, dual-author tag team. Oh, you heard me right. Miss Blythe writes 3rd person heroine. I write 1st person hero. We switch back and forth like a couple of lunatics, descending into complete and utter madness. Which is the best kind of madness, right? Riiight??

Anyhoo, we busted through the 15% mark this week and thought it was about time to share a mini snippet with our adoring fans. That was a joke. Laugh. C’mon, laugh.

For reals, though, we hope y’all enjoy and would absolutely love, love, looove to get your thoughts! Thank you so much!!

Hugs,

Annie

P.S. – Annnd our oh-so-sexy hero is of the wounded variety. Obvi.

Brynn

Ghosts.

This place was filled with ghosts.

Not real ones, of course, but she could feel the past hovering around her. Shadowy little wisps pointing and jabbing at her, torturing her.

Why had she come here again?

Right. Because apparently, she liked to torture herself just as much as the past liked to torture her.

Aimlessly, she wandered the alley. She felt lost. Restless. She felt…

She didn’t even know anymore.

It was like she was empty inside. Empty and searching for something to fill her up, to fix her up, but she wasn’t really sure what it was.

Brynn sank to her knees and ran her mittened hands across the dirty asphalt, as if it held the answer she sought beneath the surface. She wanted to find answers so badly but it seemed the harder she tried the less successful she was. The ground beneath her was so black. Just like her life had been. She was trying to work her way out of the darkness but some days it seemed like she was taking one step forward and five steps back.

Slowly she lifted her gaze from the black beneath her to the blackness above. If she couldn’t find what she needed on the ground maybe she could find it in the sky. It was a clear night, a huge mass of merrily twinkling stars forming a beautiful canopy. It was so flawless. So perfect. So big. Looking up at it always left her feeling so small and for some reason, she liked that. As if being small somehow made her problems smaller too.

She wasn’t sure how long she sat there for. She lost all track of time. Minutes could have passed or maybe hours.

Vaguely she became aware that her cheeks felt like they were being pricked with a million tiny needles.

Brynn pressed her woollen-clad fingers to her cheeks, surprised when they came away damp. Was she crying? She must be because the cold was making her cheeks sting even more.

And it was cold.

Pulling off the mittens, she wiped away the tears.

Very cold.

How had she not noticed? Now that she did, she realized she was shivering. Perhaps it was time to go home.

It hadn’t been a good idea to come here.

It was never a good idea to come and yet she came every year anyway.

Brynn wasn’t sure exactly what she hoped to achieve by making her annual pilgrimage. All she wanted, all she needed was closure and maybe she thought this was the one place she could find it.

Or maybe she was just over-analyzing things. She did that sometimes. What was closure? It was moving on, right? And by coming here over and over again she wasn’t moving on, she was clinging to the past like she enjoyed tormenting herself.

She couldn’t do this again.

She was going to destroy herself if she kept this up.

She had to let it go.

It was time to let it go.

Why was it so hard?

Because life was hard. And this was hard. And remembering was hard. And forgetting was even harder.

Stifling a sob, Brynn lurched unsteadily to her feet and fled. She couldn’t stand to be here in this place another second longer.

It was suffocating her.

Crushing her.

Destroying her.

The blast of a horn startled her and she turned toward it in a daze.

Headlights illuminated the dark night.

Bearing down on her.

She should move. But she didn’t. She remained frozen in place as the car got closer and closer.

Then something rammed into her, knocking her over and sending her flying. She hit the ground with a painful thump.

For a moment she did nothing but lie there.

It felt like her brain was ricocheting around inside her skull. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t move. All she could do was attempt to breathe through the pain and try to figure out what had just happened.

The car must have hit her.

But the world was dark again, the headlights long gone.

Something was hovering above her. The silhouette, the looming shadow of a man.

A man.

It wasn’t a car that had hit her, it was a man.

A man who was still touching her.

Panic gripped her heart, wiping out the pain in her head, and filling up every molecule of her body so she could think of nothing else.

A man.

Here in the alley.

On her.

This time she wasn’t going down without a fight. Letting out an ear-piercing scream, Brynn began to fight for her life.

Darius

I’m Darius Wilder.

And I have a few rules when it comes to the opposite sex.

No dinner.

No cuddling.

No whispering sweet nothings.

No spending the night.

No morning after.

No breakfast.

No serious relationships.

No casual relationships.

No relationships, period.

Got it?

And absolutely no rescuing damsels in distress under any circumstance.

Merely thinking about that type of woman makes me cringe. Wouldn’t even touch one with a ten-foot pole. Or any other pole, for that matter.

It’s just asking for trouble. With a capital C for complicated.

Simplicity is the name of my game and besides, I’m nobody’s hero. Well, maybe once…

However, that was a lifetime ago and it’s not something I’ll ever do again. Not necessarily because I have no desire to – even though I sure as hell don’t – but because I no longer possess the skillset.

Superhuman abilities are a thing of the past for me.

No rescue missions.

No savior complex.

No protecting anybody besides myself.

Those are my rules.

If you want to end up in my bed, you follow them to a tee.

Because I never break my rules.

And I never ever make exceptions.

So, how in the hell did I end up on the ground with a whole shitload of complicated trouble pinned beneath my body?

Maybe it was the lack of sleep.

Maybe it was the overwhelming exhaustion.

Maybe it was the crisp, frigid night.

It was going to be a cold winter. I could feel it in my bones. That’s not a figure of speech. I could physically feel it. The dull ache in my leg had escalated to a biting throb. As it did every single year. Definitely not a welcome sensation. It made me feel too…

Human.

Yeah, maybe that was it.

Coupled with the fact that she was so damn young. No more than a teenager. Just a kid. And no man, not even one like myself, could turn his back on a kid.

My guess would’ve been eighteen. Nineteen, tops.

Based solely on her attire, I’d have guessed even younger. Much, much younger. Because she was dressed like a penguin. Or rather, she was dressed as a penguin. An oversized toque and matching mittens. Black. White. With a bright yellow beak adorning each.

The only indication that she wasn’t a runaway twelve-year-old? The skinny jeans hugging her gentle curves to perfection. And the delectable underside of her ass peeking out from beneath her navy blue pea coat. Even in the mild glow of moonlight, the one thing I know without a doubt is my curves. And this kid had compact, tight curves in spades…

She was also young enough to be my daughter.

Not to mention, high as a kite.

Because she kneeled down and began swiping her hands back and forth along the dirty asphalt.

Yeah, trouble with a capital C.

Complicated.

Crazy.

Take your pick.

Shaking my head, I turned to go back inside. I’m not even sure what made me look back. It might’ve been instinct. It was most likely the bright lights that suddenly illuminated the dim, dark alley.

Some idiot was flying down the narrow passageway at full-speed. Pedal to the metal.

And the kid? The damn kid with mouth-watering curves? She was running directly towards it.

High as a kite and suicidal to boot.

“Hey, stop!” I heard myself yell out, in sync with the blaring horn of the car. “Stop!”

She did. She stopped. Froze dead in her tracks.

“Get out of the way, damn it!”

She didn’t. And before I could even process what I was doing…

I found myself barrelling into her, sending us both careening to the ground.

Shit. 

Grunting, I tightened my hold as we slid into the brick wall. I felt skin scrape against rough asphalt. Tear right off my forearm.

That’s going to leave a mark.

It was several long moments before I pulled away and looked down at her.

Wide brown eyes framed by an abundance of thick lashes stared up at me, unblinking. The color was completely ordinarily and yet somehow entirely unexpected…

Hot chocolate. 

They were like a steaming mug of hot chocolate. With flecks of gold throughout. Like a steaming mug of hot chocolate by a warm, crackling fireplace. In truth, I despised all things chocolate, including the beverage. But they looked so comforting that a man could easily…

Jailbait.

Muttering a curse under my breath, I gave my head a shake.

She was young. So damn young. And I was almost too tired to remember why that even mattered.

Don’t worry, I said almost.

Jailbait, you moron.

Exhaling a long sigh, I slipped a hand beneath her head and lifted it carefully off of the ground. “Are you okay?”

Her lips parted, just begging to be kissed.

“Hey, are you okay?” I repeated quietly, my voice far huskier than I’d intended.

“Blue,” came the whisper-soft reply.

My brow furrowed. I don’t think she even knew what the hell she was saying. “What is…”

I didn’t get a chance to finish my question as I was interrupted by a deafening shriek. Followed by a loud crack.

Then my ears were ringing. There were tears in my eyes. And I was swearing up a storm.

Because the heel of her hand had connected with my nose.

Hard.

Damn it.

Trouble with a capital C might’ve broken my nose.

My eye was the next victim of her miniature fist.

And apparently, she wasn’t done assaulting me either.

Still screaming like a mad banshee.

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