From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Quietly comes a scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series.
A second chance at life...
A second chance at love...
Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the future they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed?
To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter what it costs...even if he destroys himself in the process.
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A. L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Closer to You series. She lives in Southern Arizona with her husband and three beautiful children.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Also by A. L. Jackson
Chad ~Thank you, thank you, thank you. All of this would be impossible without a man like you at my side, constantly supporting me and picking up the slack. I love you forever.
Thank you to Devyn, whom I love with every piece of me. You are incredibly brilliant and beautiful, and having you a part of this every day is something I treasure.
To my little men, Eli and Braydon, for being such amazing boys. I am so thankful I was blessed so much to get to call you my sons. I love you more than you know.
Katie ~ Thank you for being with me every step of the way, through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad. I love you so much, my BFF.
Thank you to Big Rollin’ Bitches Rebecca Shea, Molly McAdams, and Kristen Proby for challenging me to stay on task, for pushing me harder and faster and farther! I love calling you amazing authors my friends!
To the team at New Adult Library ~ Thank you so much for your support and dedication to my work.
And I have to mention the incredible authors of Authors off the Shelf. I cherish the laughs and insight, the goofiness and the advice. I love you all.
I’d gone without it for a lot of years. It was like this hole had been hollowed out inside me, begging for anything to fill it. Like hunger pangs when you’re starving and your body eats at your insides, searching for satiety when there’s no sustenance to be found. The idea of it’d become a vague memory, there to taunt me with what I could no longer have. Mocking me with loneliness and desolation, reminding me I’d lost the right to be loved.
Leaving me to rot.
Because without love, what’s left?
And that’s exactly what I’d become.
I’d accepted it because that’s what I deserved.
My life as a penance.
In the hazy morning light, I breathed in the coconut and the good and the girl. Swimming in her warmth, I lost myself in the way it felt to have Aly’s perfect little body all tucked up close to mine.
It surrounded me now.
I brushed my fingers through the silken strands of her long, dark hair, so dark it looked black in the silhouettes of the soft morning light that filtered in through her bedroom window.
Did I deserve that comfort now? I had no fucking clue.
Really, I didn’t know anything aside for one fact.
I loved this girl.
I was in love with Aleena Moore.
Now that I’d finally admitted it, it was all I could see.
Part of me wanted to climb out of bed and grab my journal, my fingers itching to pour my confusion out in words across the pages, to release the chaos tumbling through my mind. But at the cost of leaving Aly’s bed? Not a chance.
A soft sigh slipped through her parted lips, and a little moan of contentment flowed from her mouth as she sank further into the security of my hold. That little sound lit every one of my nerves.
I pressed all my hard to her soft, holding her close against me as I flattened myself to the snowy skin of her back.
Mmm . . . yeah.
I was in love with this girl.
And I wasn’t going to let her go.
Not ever. Days without Aly were darkness, and I was done surrendering to it. The seedy shit I always found myself in. The self-destruction. That fucked-up kind of life was over because I had finally come to accept Aly was my life.
I’d been lying there in her bed awake for hours. Just thinking, trying to sort it all out while I watched her sleep. Guilt fluttered along the fringes of my consciousness. Pressing in. All night, I’d been asking myself if I was wrong by coming back here to her.
Would she and our baby be better without me? Was I still taking what I had no right to? Was this gorgeous girl curled up in my arms tainted by me? Had I wrecked her good by putting part of myself inside of her? Would I destroy her?
I’d been certain I would. Now I had no idea what to believe. Because Aly had shattered all my beliefs.
Coming back to Phoenix yesterday had terrified me. I had no idea what to expect or what I would find. All I felt was the intense need spurring me forward. One that told me I had to somehow get her back.
Or maybe I’d come here to win her for the first time.
God knew I’d spent so many nights while I’d been staying with Aly and her brother over the past summer, sneaking into her room, that she and I had never really felt real. I’d given us over to fantasy. Figured if I couldn’t have her, at least I could pretend. Take a little before I lost it all, before she became just another fucked-up memory.
Turned out she’d always been mine.
I’d just been too much of a fool to see us for what we really were.
Aly and I had grown up together, this girl a part of me for all my life. We grew up living across the street from each other, her brother, Christopher, my best friend, our mothers best friends, too, like our families were one and the same. Until the day I turned sixteen—I’d been so careless. Reckless. My chest tightened as visions flashed. Guilt pressed in as all the air seemed to get sucked from the room.
I killed my mother in a car accident that day.
I was driving us home from getting my license. I’d slipped quickly after that day, diving into drugs and alcohol, hoping it would cover up the suffocating guilt of what I’d taken from this world. But that lifestyle had never dimmed the shame, that shame growing so much that two months after my mother’s death, I tried to take my life. But Aly, this girl, had been there. Saved me.
That act had sent me away to juvie until the day I turned eighteen. My father had shunned me, and I’d thought I had nothing left in Phoenix, so when I was released, I ran. As far as I could, living for four years in New Jersey. But I’d been drawn back here. Should have always known it was Aly, that we were connected in ways I didn’t understand.
Six months ago I came back to Phoenix and ran into Christopher, who took me home to stay at his place. He was living with Aly. What grew between Aly and me was intense, and I soon found myself trying to keep from falling for her. But I did. I fell hard.
We kept what was going on between us a secret, mostly because I couldn’t accept what we were or what I was feeling. I’d always believed love wasn’t something I deserved. I didn’t get happiness. But we’d also kept it a secret because of her brother. He knew as well as I did I wasn’t good enough for his sister. So when he’d discovered us and everything had come to a head, I did what I did best. I ran. I fled everything I couldn’t face and ended up in Vegas for the last three months, once again trying to drown out the pain of my life.
I thought I’d always be running until I crashed my bike one night three weeks ago. In that flash of a moment before I hit the pavement . . . in that singular moment . . . it was the first time I didn’t want to die since I’d turned sixteen.
And I knew it was Aly. Even if I had to live with this guilt for all my life, I knew then I had to come back to her. And I finally made it to her last night.
Now her back burned into my chest. As I slowly slipped my hand down to her abdomen, my breath got all locked up inside me. I was filled with both fear and a need I didn’t quite understand. My palm came to the flat plane of her stomach, to the place that harbored one of the greatest shocks of my life.
Beneath my touch, Aly’s stomach lifted and fell in a slow rhythm, her breaths calm in the depths of sleep.
Pinching my eyes closed, I did my best to imagine what was happening inside her, this little life I had no idea how to manage.
If I’d expected anything, it sure as hell hadn’t been this—the news Aly had given me last night when I returned to Phoenix, the new weight that had been added to my shoulders.
Yeah, a weight. I’d admit it. I wasn’t cut out to be a father, and the idea of it scared the shit out of me.
But this weight was no burden, and the strongest sense of devotion pumped a new kind of need through my veins. Something overpowering. Something right.
Aly made me want to be better.
I pressed my hand firmer to her belly.
This made me want to be better.
Last night, I warned Aly that I was fucked-up and I was always going to be. I could feel it there, still simmering in my bones, the truth of who I was.
And damn, Aly and I were young. I got that. She was only twenty and I was twenty-two, and I knew that only added to our issues, too.
I buried my nose in her hair and held her as close as I could get her. Because I thought my love for her . . . maybe . . . maybe it was stronger than all of that shit.
God, I hoped so.
I needed to be better, because there was no doubt these two needed me.
What scared me most was how much I needed them.
Aly sighed and mumbled, these cute, muddled sounds that did something crazy right at the center of my chest.
I nipped at her ear, coaxing her from sleep. “Baby,” I whispered low. I just needed to see her face. Talk to her. Make sure it was all as real as it had felt last night. “Come here.”
In my arms, she slowly rolled over to face me and her eyes blinked open. The intense green slipped all over me, memorizing, searching my face in the shadows like maybe she was needing reassurance of the same thing.
Today was a first for us. Waking up next to her instead of sneaking out of her room in the middle of the night like the asshole I’d been, hiding us away and making her ashamed.
A slow smile curved her perfect mouth, and I couldn’t do anything but lean down and brush mine against the fullness, kiss the girl who’d undone me.
My chest tightened. All the months I’d been gone, I hadn’t known what to do with what I felt for Aly. The truth of what she was that I’d been fighting for so long. Now it was prominent, thrumming wildly with every pulse of my heart.
“Hi,” she said quietly.
Shifting, I wedged a knee between her legs as I climbed over her, hovered close. Damn, she was the most gorgeous thing. She stared up at me, her olive skin all smooth and flawless, her cheeks high and striking, defined.
Still, everything about her was soft.
I cupped my hand around that trusting face. “Morning, beautiful.”
God, how perfect was it waking up next to her?
Soft fingertips fluttered along my jaw. Something powerful simmered in her eyes. “You stayed.” The words seemed to come from somewhere deep within her, revealing the fear she still kept harbored inside.
My gut twisted because I wanted to take all that away from her, all the pain she’d been living with during the months I’d been gone. For the longest time, I just looked down at her, a promise held in my stare. “Baby, I already told you, I’m not going anywhere.”
My hold increased on her cheek, my nose an inch from hers. Because inside I already knew the answer to all the questions plaguing me.
Aly needed me.
I let part of my weight settle on her, careful not to hurt her, because I was finished with all that hurting shit. I murmured close to her ear, “I need you to believe that. Yeah, we’ve got some shit to deal with, but we’re going to do it together. Okay?”
Leaning back, I let myself get lost in her hopeful gaze. Instinctively, I twisted a lock of her hair with my finger. A bond. My home.
I’m not going anywhere.
Aly blinked like she was absorbing what I’d said. She wound her arms around my neck and buried her face in it. A breath of words flooded out to kiss the skin just under my ear. “I believe in you, Jared. I always have.”
Affection pounded against my ribs. God, it felt so good because this girl really fucking got me, understood when no one else could.
“Thank you.” I gripped her face and swept my mouth across hers. “Thank you for seeing something in me that I didn’t know was there.”
I kissed her deeper. My tongue dipped in to taste the sweet and the good, and Aly met me, her tongue all soft and welcoming.
And damn if just that little brush didn’t cause every last inch of my body to harden.
For so long I’d thought of her that way, provoking all these feelings inside me I didn’t believe I had the right to feel.
Turned out I didn’t mind this trigger so much after all.
Outside her room, a door slammed, hard enough to shake Aly’s walls.
We both froze, eyes going wide, before our attention flashed to her closed door. For so many months, that door had hidden us away. Like some kind of sick, dirty little secret. Instead I should’ve been screaming out about how much this girl meant to me.
That’s how twisted I was. But I never claimed I was right in the head. Far from it. Thought I was doing her some kind of warped favor, saving face when in turn I’d just brought her shame.
Worry flashed in Aly’s eyes when the heavy footsteps plodded down the hall. A shadow blinked under the door when her brother passed.
I dropped my forehead to hers, and I suppressed the groan that rose in my throat.
Could anyone blame me for being none too excited at the thought of going toe-to-toe with her brother Christopher? Him finding me here? Dude was not gonna be pleased. But that meeting was inevitable.
No time like the present, I thought sarcastically. Seize the day and all that.
Pretty sure it was going to be Christopher seizing my balls.
Last night Aly told me she’d confided in him about the baby and how important it was to her that he’d been there for her in the time I was away.
“Think I have some business to take care of. Why don’t you wait here or maybe grab a shower while I have a little chat with your brother?” I whispered softly, tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear.
Wasn’t exactly a question. More like a plea.
Aly didn’t need to deal with more of the shit storm I conjured, then fled from the moment it hit land. I wanted her to stay here where I could protect her from what needed to be said. Or maybe I just didn’t want her to hear it, whatever Christopher would spew, because in it would be nothing but the truth.
Aly grimaced, like maybe I’d just wounded her.
I shook my head, knowing exactly what she was thinking. “Give me ten minutes, baby, then I’ll come back and we’ll spend the day in bed. Just you and me.”
Knowing eyes peered up at me. The look alone called out my bluff. “You can’t start hiding stuff, Jared. We’re a team now,” she emphasized. “We’re supposed to do this together.”
Old pain twisted my face, and I edged back a fraction. I was so used to handling shit on my own, just dealing, pushing it all aside so I could stay afloat. Really, I’d just been drowning.
And here was this girl, promising she’d stay by me and help me keep my head above water.
I searched for her hand and pressed her palm to my face. I hoped somehow she could feel the sincerity in my words. “This isn’t because I want to hide you away, Aly. But I need to do this alone. I’m the one who fucked it up and I’...
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Descripción NAL. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Paperback. 416 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.3in. x 1.0in.From theNew YorkTimes bestselling author ofCome to Me Quietlycomesa scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series. A second chance at lifeA second chance at loveJared Holt never thought he deserved eitheruntil he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and shes more than ready for the future theyre making together. But Jared cant help remembering his own family. And hell never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyedTo live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And hell fight to protect her no matter what it costseven if he destroys himself in the process. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780451467973
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