Hi everyone! I’ve got my coffee in hand—iced caramel latte, really—got some music flowing and I’m thinking about forbidden fruit.
That word. Forbidden. I like it. It’s decadent and it pulls me in, makes me want to know more. Like, say, why is this particular fruit forbidden? And is it forbidden from me, or everybody else?
I know, crazy stuff.
If you’re like me, curious to a fault, you’ll go all out to taste that which you should not have. Because really, who’s in charge of labeling things around here? And the sweetest ones are always those out of reach. Those are the most interesting ones, too.
Yep. Thus creating the drama.
Which we also love.
It’s hard for any one of us to say what we’d do in the same situation, right? To feel something for someone who’s been placed so firmly in the ’DO NOT TOUCH’ column. It makes for a great story on the page, the push and pull, all the emotion and angst, but real life is another thing altogether and sometimes it doesn’t work out the way we want or hope it will. Often times, no matter what happens, whichever path we choose will be littered with broken hearts in the end.
It’s the nature of the beast.
He’s her ex’s brother, yet Arden Windham aches to be in Cam Mercer’s arms. The man is rude and obnoxious, his blue eyes cold and unfeeling, but he makes her body melt. Being with ex-con Cam is nowhere in her plans, not if she wants the affection she’s worked so hard to gain from her overbearing father. Still, Cam’s touch is unlike anything she’s ever felt and Arden finds herself having to choose between her wants and her needs.
Cameron Mercer is his family’s black sheep, a man apart. For six months he watched Arden waste her time with his twin and now she’s free, he’s not waiting another minute. He’s on a campaign to get her off the tight rope she’s been walking. There’s a rebel behind that smooth façade and he’s on a mission to set Arden free. Too bad she insists on putting up a fight.
“All done, Mr. Mercer?”
“Yeah, you’re good to go.” He held her gaze, heating her skin under all that ice as he quoted his price.
“Great.” She broke eye contact and fumbled with her purse. “I assume cash is acceptable?” At his curt nod she counted out the appropriate amount plus a nice tip and handed it over. “Thank you for your prompt service.”
He stared at her then flipped his gaze to the money in her hand and backed away without taking it.
“What the hell?” Arden scrambled out of the car, cursing those damned heels as they sank into the soft ground. Rain pelted her in the face as she yelled after Cam. “What the heck is your problem?”
He ignored her and she kicked off her heels and raced after him. Grabbing his arm, she tugged.
“What the hell is your problem with me, Mr. Mercer?” She brushed wet hair from her eyes and glared up at him. “Did I kill your puppy or something?”
He shrugged and her gaze darted to those shoulders.
“I don’t like you,” he said.
What? Arden gaped up at him. She would never cop to how her chest felt like he’d sliced her open. “Everybody likes me.”
He laughed in her face. “You’re a spoiled, entitled rich kid.”
Where the hell did he get off? “You don’t know me.” She poked him in the chest. “You don’t know shit about me, so you have no right to judge me.”
Water dripped from his hood and down his chin. “My brother knew, right? And it seems he had enough of you.”
“Mother–!” She lifted her hand to punch him in the freaking nose, but Cam grabbed her wrists. She fought him, kicking at his shins.
“Get your hands off me, you son of a bitch.”
He lifted her off her feet and brought her down on the hood of his truck. Arden struggled as he grabbed her nape and brought their heads close.
“Does daddy know how dirty his little girl’s mouth is?” His lips brushed her ear and Arden shivered.
Damn. She struggled harder but his vice grip held her immobile. Rain poured, wetting her tight white dress, molding it to her skin.
“Did my brother get any of those dirty words or are they all for me?” His fingers at her nape tightened. His bulky frame covered her vision and Arden inhaled his scent of clean soap and anger. Her nipples beaded.
She tried sliding out from under his hold, but only succeeded in sprawling backward on the truck’s wet hood. Lifting her hands, she clutched his arms.
“Cam.” She heard the whimper in her voice, but rejected it. She didn’t whimper.
He lifted his head, met her eyes, and her tremors started. His fingers at her nape flexed. The coolness in his eyes bled away, leaving only heat. Leaving only flames.
“No.” She shook her head. It wasn’t right. He didn’t like her, but she tightened her grip on his forearm. “You don’t like me.”
His lips curved, his hold on her slackened and Arden scrambled off, nearly falling to the ground in her attempt to get away.
Cam grabbed her hand, yanked her into his chest.
Arden held her breath to avoid breathing in his musk.
“I don’t have to like you to want you, Princess.”
She was burning up, melting, but Arden gathered her strength and pushed at his chest. “I don’t like you, either, Mr. Mercer. Nor do I want you.” Oh, God. She couldn’t even convince herself.
He chuckled, blue eyes flashing. “Liar. I’ve seen it in your eyes, Princess. You think I don’t know you’ve been avoiding me?”
“Shut up! Shut up!” She squeezed her eyes shut, panting. He knew. God. She should leave, walk away, but there was a strange buzzing in her ear, her heart thudded in her chest.
Wet fingers grazed her cheek, cupped her jaw. His hot breath fanned across her face. Arden forced herself not to inhale, not to move, not to moan. Soft, firm lips brushed against hers, feather light. Barely there. She sucked in a breath, reached for him, but he’d already moved back.
Away from her.
His gaze was hard, inscrutable. “If you want it then I’ve got it, Princess.”
She swallowed, coughed. “No.” Arden shook her head, the lie burning her tongue. “I don’t want it.” She straightened her wet dress and turned her back, walking back to her car.
Cam raced after her. “I’m not alone in this attraction, Princess. You can’t hide from it and me forever.”
She heard the words but chose to ignore them. He had no idea what the hell he was saying. This wasn’t an attraction, merely a lack in judgment. Arden bent over, digging out her heels from under a pile of mud with a grimace. “I have to go.”
He grabbed her arm. “The road is blocked because of an accident. No one is coming down this way, you’ll have to take the long way home.”
She stared down at his hand on her arm. “I should thank you, I guess. Right now, I just need to get dry. And drunk.”
He narrowed his eyes. “What are you trying to forget?”
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