Cassandra Pierce had her whole “perfect” life planned out by her parents. One night of pure weakness and lust has her running away from it all and seeking refuge in Alamosa with her bestfriend. But it seems life has other plans for her when she finds herself lost in the small town of Keaton.
Jason Bradley is a charming country guy. He lives a simple life that’s nothing like what Cassandra is used to. A single moment in life changed everything he thought he once knew, leaving him with a broken heart and an unplanned future.
What happens in Keaton is nothing Cassandra or her heart could have ever prepared for. The instant connection she shares with Jason is no secret, but what they’re keeping hidden from one another is. Will these two be able to find a way to trust each other or will their secrets tear them apart?
“You left. It scared me,” I told him, embarrassed by my fear of being alone in this dark, vacant library.
“I’m right here.” He reached out his hand. At the same time I grabbed his hand, a loud rumble of thunder roared through the old building making everything in my body tense. I screamed like a little girl and all but jumped into Jason’s arms.
“You’re okay. I’ve got you,” he whispered into my ear as I clung onto him. His hands slid down my back to my waist, soothing me from the thunder’s jolt.
The candle in the aisle next to us did little to break the darkness that surrounded us, but I could clearly see his eyes. I would always be able to see those eyes. They pierced mine as my hands leisurely moved up his chest and around his neck. He slowly took a step closer, moving us so that my back was now against the bookshelf. His hands left my waist to rest on the shelf behind me. My chest was rising and falling as quickly as his was, and it was as though our bodies were in sync. I could tell we both were feeling everything. Every butterfly that fluttered in our stomachs, every breath exhaled and inhaled, and every bit of self-control lost the longer our bodies held this position.
I couldn’t help but lick my lips. I wanted his on mine badly, they needed the taste of Jason on them again. It was as if the storm now raged inside of us, ready to be unleashed. Another loud roar of thunder around us, and then, there it was. A growl escaped Jason as I bowed my back to take a tighter hold of him. His eyes watched as my teeth captured my bottom lip, and his lips immediately found mine. For a split second, a crash of lightning appeared, lighting up the row around us. Our tongues immediately intertwined, kissing frantically as though it was our first kiss.
I slid my hands from around his neck, and up his arms, until I reached his hands, placing mine inside his. He gripped them tightly as he pulled his lips from mine and began softly placing kisses down my neck into the curve of my shoulder. I let out a soft moan, loving the feel of his wet lips against my skin. His grip tightened as his body pressed harder against mine, and his teeth bit down softly on my ear. I wanted to melt into a puddle right here on the floor. Turning my head toward him, my lips were ready to taste more of him. I kissed him and then like something fierce had stricken inside me, I bit his bottom lip. His answering growl made every pulse in my body race. I trailed my lips down his neck but enjoyed the feel of his scruff against my soft cheek first. When I got to his neck, he moved back slightly. With my hands still gripped tightly in his, I was stuck, unable to continue kissing his neck.
“This isn’t funny,” I said, my voice husky.
He leaned closer, his hold still firm on my hands. “Cassandra, I don’t know if I’ll have the ability to stop, so I have to keep your hands locked in mine where they’re safe.”
I slowly shook my head. “I don’t want to beg for this. I have never wanted anything more in my life. I’m giving this to you, and I want you to take it and never give it back. I want you, Jason.”
“I gotta go. I promised Kasey a dance,” Moose said before running off like he was up to something.
I shook my head and took another sip of water.
“Hey there. This seat taken?”
I didn’t even have to look at her to know who the voice belonged to. The sweet sound made everything inside of me melt. “For a girl like you? It’s never taken,” I told her as I finally realized what Moose was up to.
She smiled back, but this time, she didn’t take her eyes off of me. I knew the feeling all too well. I didn’t ever want to stop staring at her. She looked away and began fidgeting with her glass. The contents were clear and only confirmed what I thought I knew.
“What are you thinking about over there Cassie?” She swiveled her stool in my direction and I couldn’t help but watch her cheeks flush. It was the perfect shade of red on her. Jase, get a grip man.
“Nothing,” she replied.
The look in her eyes said otherwise. “I can tell you’re lying.”
“Fine, you seem sad, Jase,” she said.
How could she tell? How did she know? Was I not hiding my feelings or past good enough? I gazed down at the floor as I held my glass tight in my hands.
“You can talk to me,” she said, placing her hand on my knee. My skin blazed with heat under her touch. It was all I could do to keep from screaming out to her what was wrong. She had too much going on in her life to have to deal with my problems too. I was stuck. I couldn’t tell her the truth. She wouldn’t accept it and then it would just be heartbreak. At least at this point, we weren’t anything but friends. I wanted more. I couldn’t deny that part of my heart that was internally punching me for not making a move already. It wouldn’t be fair to her though.
A sudden coldness lingered over my knee. Her hand was back up on the bar. I missed her touch. I needed to touch her. We had to dance.
I hopped off the bar stool and stood behind her gorgeously dressed body. It was all I could do not to put my lips on her bare shoulder as I inched my mouth closer to her ear.
“You can talk to me too you know,” I whispered.
I moved her stool around so she was now in between my legs. “Let’s dance pretty girl,” I said.
A smile tugged on her lips. Her hand was still in mine as I started to walk away, except she didn’t budge.
I looked back; her eyes were double their normal size. “There’s a slight problem,” she said, quietly.
I moved in closer, put my hands on her knees, and leaned my ear by her mouth. She smelled so good. Jase, man you have got to stop. Focus.
“I don’t know how to dance country,” she confessed.
What? I moved back and started laughing, uncontrollably. That was what her problem was? It was adorable and innocent and in turn, only made my feelings for her that much stronger. Why couldn’t it have been that she had to go the restroom or something awkward like that?
The flesh of her palm suddenly covered my mouth and instantly stopped my laugh. My stomach knotted. It took all of the control I had in me not to press a kiss to the inside of her hand that so roughly covered my lips.
“Stop laughing, this is serious,” she said. Yes, it is serious; seriously cute.
I reluctantly took her hand off my mouth. “I’ll lead, you just follow. You’ll be okay. Just go with it, Cassie,” I told her. This time I made sure she came with me as I pulled her off the chair similar to a parent helping a child off.
The song that played through the speakers was perfect. I didn’t even plan it, but it worked out to my benefit. I really hoped she recognized it, but I wasn’t positive she would. I didn’t know if she was feeling the same pull I was and if our moment in the street was one that would stay with her, like it did me.
I took her hand in mine and placed her other behind my back. I pressed our bodies together as I wrapped my other hand around her lower back. I made sure there was no space between us, not even room to breathe. The song had me wanting her badly, and getting her as close as possible was all I could think about.
“Don’t be scared, just like we practiced in the street,” I said. Her eyes gazed into mine as if they were seeing them for the first time.
My mission at first was to get her to let loose and have fun tonight, but now, all I wanted to do was recreate the moment in the street. This was far surpassing that though.
I took control and did as I told her I would. I led and swayed us, keeping it smooth and slow, just like the song. Our eyes hadn’t stopped staring into one another since we stepped onto the dance floor, and every ounce of me wanted our skin to touch. The music kept us moving as I slowly rested my check against hers. The heat of her skin immediately radiated onto mine. It traveled down to my torso and only continued further. This girl had me flushed from head to toe. Her body suddenly relaxed into mine as my hand held onto her. It was that moment that I knew I had her; I had all of her, mind and body. And it was then that my voice box let loose and started humming along with the song.
Her body tensed in my arms and a second later her warm soft cheek slid away from me. Her eyes peered into mine as she searched them. I continued to hum as the wheels in her head seemed to turn. I know you know this song, Sweetheart. Come on. I know you do.
“This is the song you were humming in the street isn’t it?” she asked, her lips smirking.
God yes. She knew it. It came to her.
My lips grew into a smile that was larger than life. I pressed our bodies back together and finally without having her eyes to distract me, I moved my lips by her ear.
“It’s called Wanted by Hunter Hayes,” I whispered gently.
Feeling her body mold next to me as I held her, I thought to myself how nothing could ever explain how badly I wanted this girl.
Her hands moved and delicately cupped behind my neck. Feeling her latch onto me was enough to make my brain fog over and my knees want to collapse. I did everything I could to contain myself as I locked both of my hands behind her back. We were a chain link; nothing could break us apart now. Our cheeks were no longer side by side, as our eyes were now peering softly into each other. Her eyes. Those damn eyes could kill a man. The soft hazel color could get you lost if you stared into them long enough. They swirled green and brown and became lighter the happier she was. They were like a drug as they caught your attention and didn’t let go. They pulled me in and I’d be lying if I said I tried to stop it. Her whole face was drawing me in like a gravitational pull. Those eyes, those flushed red cheeks, and those pink lips. They took me in and pulled me so close I could feel her warm breath hitting my lips. We weren’t inches apart or even centimeters. We were mere millimeters, a breath and one second apart.
As the song winded down my heartbeat only grew louder. It was the only thing my ears were hearing. Boom. Boom. Boom. It accelerated faster as I moved and passed our millimeter mark. One last breath and one more second my lips would be on hers. The rights, the wrongs, and every reason why I shouldn’t kiss this phenomenal girl in front of me silenced as my breath hitched and now we were only one second from kissing.
Her eyes seared into me, her body was snug against mine and her lips were within reach. They were almost grazing, and then it happened. We stopped moving toward each other and gravity now yanked us apart. The song changed, the mood altered, and the crowd around us went chaotic. Our moment was gone, vanished. Only one second away from our lips connecting and one second was all it took to steal it away.
Was it a sign? I knew I was playing with fire, but maybe it was bigger than a matchstick flame and more like a bonfire. I almost kissed this fantastic girl. What was I thinking? I couldn’t have her. She wasn’t mine to take. She would kill me if she knew the secret I was withholding from her while I stood there, trying to kiss her and make her mine. I was more than sure this was a sign and I was even more positive it was needed.
“My turn next,” Moose shouted as he grabbed her hand. The very one that was just around my neck.
The stinging pain behind my eyes threatened as I watched her face. It had lost its luster as we both stared. Was she thinking the same thing as I was? Were the wheels turning in her mind about the coincidence of the moment we lost? The first moment I reluctantly stopped and then this one that was cut short for us? I tried to smile for her but I’d be lying if I said it was easy.
Kasey grabbed my hand and led me off in another direction, far away from the only person I wanted to be next to. I lost sight of Cassie as we got closer to the edge of the dance floor, away from the crowd. We were dancing, but it was weak and the allure of having fun on a dance floor vanished the minute my hands left Cassie.
The look in Kasey’s eyes snapped me out of my thoughts. “Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked.
“What was all that about?”
I popped a brow and looked at her like I didn’t have a clue what she was asking.
“With Cassandra. Stop playing dumb. I know you better than you think.”
I felt the tension in my shoulders relax as I let out a breath. She knew me well. Too well. Growing up together didn’t help the fact that she already knew the things going on in my life and the blank emotions I wore on my face to hide my feelings.
“I don’t know what to do Kasey.”
A smile surfaced on her face like she knew something. “Make a move you pansy ass. She likes you. A whole helluva lot. I had to get the scoop out of her too.”
“What did she tell you?” I asked her, sounding way too eager for a guy that’s twenty two.
“I’ve already told you enough. She likes you, you like her. Make your move already.”
“I don’t think it’s a go-.” She hovered her hand over my mouth and stopped what she knew was going to come out of it; the reasons why I should not make a move.
“Just go with it Jason. I see the way you look at her. Even when you brought her over for dinner at Maggie’s,” she said as her eyes went soft. “What is it you always say? Let the-the-”
Damn her and her smarts. “Chips fall where they may,” I reminded her.
“That’s it. Let them fall where they may. Make a move and let the rest work itself out.”
“We’ll see. I can’t promise anything, but I appreciate the subtle nudge.” I laughed.
“You deserve to be happy too, Jason,” she said. Her eyes went from determined to soft as she gave me a knowing smile.
She was right. I needed to follow my own damn advice. Tonight I’d let the chips fall and not look back.
Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks
Wanted – Hunter Hays
If I Didn’t Have You – Thompson Square
Crash into Me – Dave Mathews Band
Sure Be Cool If You Did – Blake Shelton
Runnin Outta Moonlight – Randy Houser
Don’t You Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean
Collide – Howie Day
Fix You – Coldplay
Wherever you will go – Lifehouse
Over You – Miranda Lambert
about the author
B.A. Wolfe is a girl with a passion for reading and writing, and lives in the good ol’ state of Colorado with her husband (her biggest cheerleader), and her two crazy min pin fur babies. These days, her life is anything but calm, and there isn’t one thing she’d want to change. B.A. spends all her free time either furiously typing stories on her laptop or happily reading through her endless TBR on her Kindle. Her list of favorites would be long enough to fill a book, but most would likely fall under the romance category. She is a sucker for a good love story that makes her cry, and an amazing book boyfriend who will melt her heart. ‘Away’ is B.A. Wolfe’s debut novel.
It was hard to sleep; I was tossing and turning more than ever before. The butterflies in my stomach were in full force as I recollected about each kiss Jason gave me; on my lips and on my bare skin. My thoughts were interrupted as I heard the beeping on my phone. I saw the light illuminating my room as I reached over to grab it; it was a text from Jason. I was suddenly extremely grateful I let him plug his number into my phone after we left the garage earlier today.
Are you asleep yet?
How could I be sleeping? His lips just rocked my world; my heart was racing too much to be sleeping.
Not a chance.
I put my phone down and got out of bed. I didn’t know what else to do so I let my body decide. It would have argued with my brain either way. I let my infectious craving for his lips guide me downstairs to his room as I quietly crept to his door.
I took a deep breath and tapped on his door. He swung it open immediately as if he knew I was on the other side. The room was dimly lit, but I could see just enough. He was standing there in nothing but boxers; I couldn’t help but look him up and down from head to toe. His mouth was open and his breathing was heavy as his chest rose and fell quickly, matching mine. It didn’t take long for the hunger inside to take over. He stepped forward and grabbed a hold of me, pulling me close to him as he took us over to his bed. I didn’t know where we were going to take this tonight, and quite frankly, I just didn’t care; all I knew was I needed to be with him. It could have been Jase, it could have been my hormones, but every part of me was craving his touch. I got a taste and I needed more.
“Cassie,” he whispered.
Chapter 1 – Jase POV
Flipping my phone open I answered the call. I already knew who it would be.
“If you’re calling to tell me you’re not coming, I don’t want to hear it, Dan.” I waited for his response and only got a sigh.
“Why man?” I asked him. I didn’t want to be upset, but I missed him. I hadn’t seen my brother in a few months. Coming home was hard for him. I tried to understand, but they’re still our parents. “You can’t avoid them forever.”
He released another heavy sigh into the phone and finally responded. “Listen, Jase. I want to come down. I had every intention but I can’t find anyone to cover at work this weekend. I promise I’m not avoiding them entirely.”
I moved the phone to my other ear as I set the piece of paper down on the grass. “Alright. It’s okay Dan,” I told him. It was hard to be mad at him. I just missed him. “How have you been?”
“I’m good. I haven’t received a letter in a few days. I’m starting to get impatient here,” he said.
I chuckled. “Uh, two way street brother.”
“Already on top of that one, Jase. I mailed yours yesterday. You should get it in a couple of days.”
“Should have known. You never forget.” I couldn’t help but grin. Our letters were a thing we started when I was in high school and he was in college. We could have called, texted, or hell, even used email. But there was always something so exciting about receiving a letter the old fashioned way. Technology already had so much of our lives, why give them one more thing?
“No bro I don’t. So tell me, anything new going on?”
“Not really. I’m actually just sitting in our spot outside the library right now. Getting ready to write your letter.”
“Okay, you write, I gotta get back to work. I’m going to shoot for coming down in a couple of weeks, okay? I’ll try to get Carter to cover for me. He owes me anyway.” He chuckled into the phone. It sounded more nervous than it was happy. I knew he wanted to come down and I didn’t blame him for not coming home more often. The way Mom and Dad treated him these days, I’d probably avoid it too. It broke me.
“Talk to you later, Dan.”
I flipped my phone closed and shoved it in my pocket. Releasing a breath I picked up the blank paper, pulled a pen out of my back pocket and started the letter.
As I began to write my thoughts, something that sounded like a car tire blowing out caused me to look up. And just like that the world stopped. The wind suddenly relinquished, the earth stood still, and the term ‘slow motion’ was in full effect as I watched it unfold. The car was headed straight for the tree and there was no time for me to even help. The car hit the tree and screeching metal pierced my ear drums. My heartbeat was pounding so loud, it took over my senses. I could feel it and hear it. Thud, Thud, Thud. I looked down at the letter to my brother. It was now being clutched tightly in between my shaking hands.
“Shit,” I muttered as I watched the steam howling out of the engine. Jase, get it together. I snapped to and left my spot as I ran over to the car and looked into the driver’s side window and tapped on the window. Oh God, it’s a young girl. My eyes wouldn’t leave hers. She had blood coming down her forehead, she looked panicked, scared, and about to freak out. Jase, stop staring, you’re scaring her. Call 9-1-1. We learned this in elementary school. My inner thoughts were right. I knew what to do.
“Hold still. I’m calling for help right now. You were just in an accident. Your airbag didn’t deploy, and you hit your head pretty hard. I need you to stay put,” I told her. If only she knew how awful this scene looked. Who knew what condition she was in? At least she was alert. I reached for my phone in my pocket and dialed 9-1-1. I told the operator what happened and our location and shoved the phone back in my pocket, returning my attention back to her tear covered face. I had to keep myself together. She looked more frightened than anyone I’ve ever seen.
“I know you’re scared, Sweetheart, but help is on the way.” She was far past scared though. I just didn’t know what else to tell her. She looked petrified. As if something beyond the accident had her terrified. I couldn’t be sure, but my gut told me to trust my instincts. A loud pounding on the window drew my attention back to her. She looked as if she was using all her last energy trying to fight her way out of the car. I had to help her.
“I need you to calm down. You’re going to be okay. The cops are going to help get you out.” Where in the hell were they? This town isn’t that big. They should have been here by now, or at least I should be able to hear their sirens.
“NO! I need out of here. I need out now!” she yelled. I had never seen such an alarmed and frightened girl before. Damn it. I was going to have to help her out. I couldn’t take it anymore. Between her sobbing pleas and the blood on her forehead, I was going to start panicking if she didn’t get out soon. I grabbed the door handle, with no luck. It was locked. I ran over to the other side and what would you know. It wouldn’t open either. I motioned for her to unlock it and after she did I bent down and put myself into the car. “Hi there,” I told her. I didn’t even have to try to smile at her. She made it easy. Right away I noticed her shoulder length blonde hair, soft hazel eyes, and anxious nerves. She was most definitely a city girl. I’d remember a face like hers, she wasn’t from around here.
“Hi,” she replied quietly. Her voice was faint as she appeared to be studying me.
“I saw the whole thing happen from across the street. Your tire blew, and you hit the tree. You seriously need to stay calm, okay?”
“I just want out of the car. Can you please help me?” How could you say no to that? You couldn’t.
“Alright.” I nodded my head. “Let’s get you out then. I need you to climb over your console and come out this way. Can you do that for me?”
“Yeah… I… I can do that,” she said with a hitch in her voice. I reached my hands out for her to take. She gripped them tightly and swung each leg over. She let out a sigh and it was then I knew I had to help her out the rest of the way. Something inside me shouted to pick her up, and hold her. And that’s what I did.
A small sigh escaped her as I held her close. “See, you’re out and you’re okay. What’s your name, Sweetheart?”
“It’s Cassandra. My name is Cassandra. At least I can still remember my name.”
“Cassandra, that’s a great thing.” I cocked my head to the side to get a better glimpse of her. “Mine’s Jason. I’m the town’s knight in shining armor,” I told her, trying to be funny.
“Thanks for the rescue, Jason.” She smiled. It was small, but it felt huge. Maybe I was helping to ease her nerves. “I have a splitting headache right now though.”
Oh shit. I forgot about her bleeding. How could I? “No, no, no. Don’t close your eyes. You need to stay awake. You hit your head pretty hard. In fact here,” I told her as I pulled a handkerchief from my pocket and set it on her lap. “Press that firmly against your forehead. It’ll help stop the bleeding.”
She looked at the handkerchief as if it were covered in something disgusting.
“It’s clean, Cassandra. I promise.”
She laughed quietly. “No, it’s not that. I’ve just never met someone so helpful to a complete stranger before.”
“I don’t know where you’re from, but that’s how we do things around here. But, it’s not every day that I get to help out a pretty girl like you.” I wasn’t sure what spell she had over me, but never in my life have I ever said anything like that before. I was shocked at my forwardness.
“Does the town pay you to say that?” she asked.
I loved that she had some sarcasm in her. I wasn’t sure what was going on with her but at least she was alive and okay after an accident like that. “I wouldn’t need to be paid to tell you that,” I whispered to her.
What a stubborn woman. She wasn’t even comprehending what she just went through and then she was refusing to be seen by a medical team. Stubborn and persistent. I shook my head and knew I had to intervene. “Cassandra, they need to check you out,” I told her, trying anything to reason with her.
She didn’t answer, she only ran. I started to follow her and then saw as she unleashed her insides all over the grass. Clear signs of a concussion. She was going to the hospital whether she wanted to or not now. My gut was beginning to tighten as I thought of how scared she must be, especially being all alone. This wasn’t fair for her. No one should have to be alone.
I knelt down and put a hand on her back and handed her back the handkerchief.
“I don’t think you want this back,” she said after she finished wiping her mouth clean.
“Well, you’re right about that. You can keep it,” I told her, letting out a soft laugh, trying to ease her nerves. “But you’re going to the hospital now. You could have a concussion, Cassandra. They need to check you out.”
It was all I had in me not to pick her up in my arms again and carry her to the Goddamn ambulance myself if she didn’t get up herself, but she did.
I stood up next to her and protectively put my arms around her without touching her. She wouldn’t fall on my watch.
“I can walk to the ambulance,” she said. I could tell by her voice she was more than upset. Something about having to go to the hospital was not settling with her at all. The only thing I could think was, this poor girl. She was trying to be independent, but something in me told me she wasn’t used to it.
“I know you can. I just want to be here to catch you in case you fall.”
We walked the short distance and they loaded her up in the back of the ambulance. She laid there with a look I’ll never forget. Her face was getting paler by the second. “Thanks for your help, Jason.”
My stomach was in knots. The kind your shoelace gets into when it’s almost to the point where you can’t untangle it. I knew what I had to do. I raised my hand and waved to her as they shut the doors. But it wasn’t a goodbye.
Don’t worry Cassandra. I’m not letting you go there by yourself. I’ll be there. (6 photos)