Here’s a scene from Can’t Let You Go, a standalone new adult romance and book three of The Wheeler Brothers.
“Ready to eat?” I ask as I unload the food from the sacks.
Bryce comes up behind me and opens the cupboard above my head and takes out two plates. He’s over here enough to know where everything is. He grabs some glasses and sets them on the counter beside me. I yank open the drawer in front of me to grab some forks and back right into Bryce. I didn’t know he was still behind me. I freeze because my ass is now right up against him.
“You okay?” he asks, his arm going around my waist, keeping me held against his body.
“Yeah. Sorry,” I say sounding breathless. “I didn’t realize you were still there.”
Instead of moving, he reaches around me and takes two forks from the drawer. “Anything else we need?”
“Um, no. Just the drinks.” I shut the drawer and turn around to face him.
He still hasn’t moved, and now he’s staring at me with those gorgeous blue eyes of his.
“Did you need something?” I ask.
“I just wanted to say thanks. For letting me come over.”
“What are you talking about?” I let out a laugh. “You know you can come over here anytime.”
“But I shouldn’t.” He looks down. “I shouldn’t just drop in like this.”
Why is he acting this way? It’s like he’s pulling even farther away from me. We always drop in to see each other. We call first, but it’s not like we give each other much notice. We don’t have to. We’re friends, and friends drop in to see each other. So why is he acting like we shouldn’t be doing that anymore?
Does he have a girlfriend he didn’t tell me about? Is she banning him from seeing me? Or is it something else? Is he trying to end this? End our friendship? God, I hope not.
Jen’s hurt, and confused. I can see it in her face. She doesn’t understand why I said that just now. But she should. She should know it’s time to move on. I shouldn’t be stopping over like this or calling late at night. We shouldn’t even be friends anymore. Our friendship should’ve ended after high school. If it had, she wouldn’t have gone to college here and been stuck dealing with her mom the past four years. I screwed up her life but I’m not going to keep doing it.
And yet I haven’t stepped away from her. She’s still backed against the counter, my body blocking her in. I want to move closer, press myself against her, and lower my mouth over her slighted parted lips. And then kiss her. Kiss her like I’ve wanted to for four freakin’ years.
“We should eat,” I say, forcing myself to snap out of it. She’s not mine. She never will be.
High School Graduation Night
“We’re finally free,” I say, laying back on the bed of my truck. Jen is next to me, lying on the sleeping bags I laid out for us.
She laughs. “Not me. In a few months I’ll be back to studying. Doing homework. It’ll be like high school but more work. And I’ll be working two jobs, maybe three.”
I turn on my side, facing her. “Let me help you. I don’t have a lot of money saved but I have a little and I’ll make more this summer.”
“Bryce, no.” She turns to face me and my eyes get caught on her beautiful face, her delicate features highlighted by the bright moon just above us. “You’re not giving me money.”
“I don’t want you working so much. College is tough, and then you’re going to work two jobs? It’s too much.”
“I can handle it. I promise.” She runs her hand along the side of my face. “I won’t disappoint you.”
“You’d never disappoint me.” I take her hand from my cheek and kiss her palm. “I’m so damn proud of you.”
“I’m only going to college because of you. Because you helped me. Supported me. Believed in me.”
“I’ll always do those things. You’re my best friend. You always will be.”
She looks down. “Please say we won’t grow apart when I start college.”
I don’t think Chad’s the guy for you.” Bryce says ‘Chad’ like it’s the dumbest name he’s ever heard.
“Oh, really?” I say, crossing my arms. “Then who’s the right guy for me?”
There it is. Another chance for Bryce to say how he feels about me. Another chance for him to ask me out. But does he do it? Of course not.
He shakes his head. “I don’t know who the right guy is, but I know it’s not Chad.”
I sigh in frustration. “I have to go.” I get in my car. “I’ll see you later.” I pull on the door until he moves enough for me to close it.
“Hey.” He taps on the window as I start the engine.
I roll the window down. “What?”
“Are you going to dinner with him or not?”
Now I’m angry. Bryce always makes me like this. Loving him one minute, hating him the next. Well, it’s not hate, but it’s complete and utter annoyance and frustration.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” I say, “but yes, I am going to dinner with him. Goodbye, Bryce.” I roll my window up and pull out of my parking space and drive off. When I glance in the rearview mirror, I see Bryce still standing there, his head hung down, his hands wrapped around the back of his neck. He does that when he’s mad or frustrated. So he feels the same way as me. Good. We can both be miserable.
But why is that good? Why can’t we just be happy? Why can’t we be together like we want to be? And if we’re not going to be together, why aren’t we able to move on and be happy with other people?
Because we’re Jen and Bryce. That’s why. We’re best friends and we love each other and we’re meant to be together. But for some stupid reason we can’t.
And that stupid reason is Bryce.
Can’t Let You Go comes out late Spring 2016.
I never should’ve kissed her. It happened almost four years ago, the night of our high school graduation. I’ve always wanted to be more than friends with Jen, and after we kissed, I wanted her more than anything. But I can’t have her. I won’t let myself. She needs to get out of here. She needs to start a new life, far away from her old one. So I’ll keep pushing her away, even though it kills me to do so. When she finally leaves, it’ll destroy me, but at least she’ll be happy. And that’s all I care about.
Bryce is my best friend, and has been for as long as I can remember. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably be living on the streets, but instead I’m in college and about to graduate. I’ve been applying for jobs and might end up leaving Chicago, but I don’t want to leave Bryce. I love him, and I know he loves me too. I could tell when he kissed me four years ago. But after that night, he refused to be anything more than my friend. Now time is running out. I might be moving away, ending any chance of Bryce and me ever being together. I know he wants to be with me, so why won’t he ask me to stay?
Teaser scene from Give Us a Chance, book two in The Wheeler Brothers, a series of standalone new adult romances.
Before she gets in my SUV, I stop her and kiss those beautiful lips again. Then I slide my hand over her smooth silky hair and say, “It’s kind of a rule.”
“What’s a rule?”
“You kiss me before you get in the car.”
She smiles. “And why is that a rule?”
“It’s for good luck. It ensures we’ll have a safe drive. I’m very superstitious.”
“You didn’t do it last night.”
“Yeah. And thank God we didn’t get in an accident. But tonight, I’m not risking it. You need to kiss me before you get in.”
“Every time? That’s too much.”
“It’s for our safety. People drive like maniacs around here.”
“Fine. I’ll go along with it but only because your kisses are…” She glances to the side. “Not completely horrible.”
I laugh. “What the hell? Not completely horrible? That’s how you describe my kisses?”
“What did you want me to say?”
“That the kiss I gave you was the best kiss you’ve ever had. That I kiss like a fucking pro. An expert. Someone who could give lessons to all the idiots you’ve kissed before who didn’t know what the hell they were doing.”
“You’re awfully full of yourself, you know that?” Her lips tick up.
“I know when I’m good at something and I’m not afraid to admit it.” I step forward, backing her against my SUV, my eyes on hers. “And I fucking know how to kiss.”
“You really think so?” She leans back but there’s nowhere for her to go.
“I know so.” And with that, I grip the back of her head and bring her mouth to mine and kiss her hard. She grabs my coat and yanks me closer and I thrust my tongue in her mouth. It lashes with hers in a heated frenzy, and then we both slow down, parting just enough to breathe each other’s air, our bodies relaxing. And then I kiss her again, softly, gently, my hand still cradling her head, and we continue on as if we’re not standing in a parking lot in the middle of winter. As if we’re the only two people here, despite the cars driving down the street and the people walking by. We’re completely lost in the moment, lost in each other. It’s surreal, and I don’t understand it because I’ve never experienced anything like this before.
Ivy lets go of my coat and I look at her and see that her face is expressing exactly what I’m feeling. Uncertainty. Doubt. Fear. Because we both know there’s something here. There’s something between us. Something we haven’t felt with anyone else, and never in a million years expected to find with each other.
I don’t know what I was expecting with Ivy. Maybe she was just an experiment to see if I could really date a girl without it being about sex. Or maybe I was just determined to convince her to go out with me since she’s the only girl who’s ever said no. But when she finally said yes, I never expected THIS. This overwhelming need to make her mine and never let her go. Where is this coming from? It can’t just be from a kiss, can it?
“Jake. I um…” She can’t find the words and neither can I, so we both remain silent. I’m not ready for this. It’s too much. It’s too serious. It’s freaking me out. So I interrupt the awkward silence and try to lighten the heaviness in the air.
“You ready to go?” I ask. “Or would you like to offer up more commentary about my kissing abilities?”
“We can go.” She smiles but it’s a devious smile.
“What? What are you hiding behind that smile?”
“Just tell me. Are you saying that kiss wasn’t good enough for you?”
She shrugs. “It was fine.” She’s such a liar. She wouldn’t even look at me when she said it. But I’ll play along.
“Fine? That’s it?” I step back. “You don’t know what you just signed up for.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you don’t think my kisses are the best you’ve ever had, then I’m going to keep practicing until they are. And I’ll be practicing on you. And to make sure I’m covering all my bases, I’ll be kissing you different ways, and in different places.” I lean down and run my tongue over the delicate skin just below her ear, then press my lips to the spot and talk softly in her ear. “If you’d like to avoid all that, you might want to reconsider your assessment of my kissing skills.”
I back away and notice her eyes are closed, her chest rising and falling as she breathes.
Her eyes blink open and she clears her throat, seeming embarrassed by her reaction to my words. “What?”
I smile slightly. “Would you like to reconsider your assessment?”
She pauses to think. “My assessment hasn’t changed. I think you could do better.”
My smile widens because she just agreed to be kissed anytime, any place, anywhere.
We stop at a booth and Jake helps me with my coat, then takes off his own. Amy waits for us to get in the booth, then hands us the menus. “Shayla will be taking care of you tonight.” She turns to me. “Unless you want Liza. I could see if Shayla will switch tables.”
“No, Shayla is fine.” I didn’t tell Liza I was coming tonight and bringing Jake. If I had, she would’ve tried to tell me what to wear and how to do my hair and makeup. I’m barely wearing any makeup and my hair is in ponytail like it is when I’m at work.
“You look nice tonight,” Jake says. “I like the sweater.”
“Thanks. You look nice too. But I see you wore the leather.”
He looks down at his jacket. “Shit. Sorry, I forgot about that.”
He really does seem sorry, but the truth is, I don’t care about the jacket. I’m not a vegan. I just told him that.
“It’s fine,” I say. “I’ll let it slide.”
He’s still smiling. I love that smile. It’s sexy. Confident. And he has great lips, and really white teeth. I’m trying really hard to keep control of my body but it’s already betraying me, burning up at the sight of him. I’ve never spent this much time actually looking at him. I’ve always tried to keep my distance. Even when he was my boss, I didn’t talk to him much, and when he’d talk to me about work, I’d keep my eyes on whatever I was working on instead of looking at him. But now that I’m sitting here, seeing him across from me, I can see why women drool over him.
“Hi, Jake.” It’s Lacey, a backstabbing bitch who tried to get my sister fired last year because she thought Liza was flirting with her boyfriend, when in reality, Liza told me he was the one doing the flirting. Liza tried repeatedly to convince Lacey she wasn’t flirting or trying to take her boyfriend, but Lacey didn’t believe her, so to get back at her, she made up a story about Liza stealing from the petty cash drawer. She couldn’t prove it, so Liza kept her job, but she avoids Lacey and won’t wait on her boyfriend anymore when he comes in to eat.
“So where have you been?” Lacey places her palms on the table and leans over toward Jake, showing off her breasts. “I haven’t seen you in months.”
“I’ve been busy with work.” He keeps his eyes on her face instead of her breasts.
“We should get together again,” she says. “It’s been too long.”
“What happened to Mike?” I ask.
She finally notices me. She’d ignored me up until now.
“Mike’s working tonight,” she snaps.
“So you’re still dating him?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yeah.”
“And he doesn’t care that you flirt with other guys?”
I glance at Jake, whose eyes are on me, a slight grin on his face.
“Wait.” She points between Jake and me. “Are you two on a date?”
“We are,” Jake says, reaching across the table and taking my hand. “And I don’t believe you’re our waitress, so if you don’t mind, we’d like to get back to our date.”
She opens her mouth, then snaps it shut.
“Lacey,” I hear the manager yell. “Order up for table five.”
“Call me sometime,” she says to Jake, then walks off.
“Did you go out with her?” I ask Jake. Liza said Jake went out with several girls who worked here but all of them have since left for other jobs. She didn’t say he went out with Lacey.
“I went out with her once. A long time ago.”
That means he had sex with her. He had sex with Lacey. The bitch who lies and cheats and tried to get my sister fired. So he’ll basically sleep with anyone.
I pull my hand back from his, but he holds onto it.
“Hey.” His face is serious now. “I told you it was a long time ago. And you shouldn’t have asked. The rule is you’re never supposed to ask about past relationships on a first date.”
“This isn’t a date.”
His smile returns. “I’m making it one.”
“I didn’t agree to it. This is just two people having dinner.”
“Call it whatever you want, but to me, it’s a date. I’m having dinner with a beautiful woman who I’m extremely attracted to and want to get to know better. I’d call that a date.”
Extremely attracted to? So he just wants me for sex. But he also said he wants to get to know me. But maybe he just said that.
Shayla appears. “Can I get you two a drink?”
“Go ahead,” Jake says to me.
“I’ll take a whiskey sour,” I say.
She turns to Jake. “And what would you like?”
“I’ll take a Coke.”
She writes it down. “Liza didn’t tell me you were going out with Jake,” she says to me.
“It’s a first date,” he says. “Took months of asking her before she’d agree to it.”
Shayla’s eyes widen. “You said no to Jake Wheeler? Are you crazy?”
He chuckles to himself.
“He didn’t actually ask me out until just the other day,” I say to her.
“That’s not true,” he says.
“All the other times you asked if I wanted to hang out. That’s not how you ask a girl on a date. Isn’t that right, Shayla?”
She grins at him. “I’d go out with him no matter how he asked.”
I roll my eyes. “Well, I prefer a more traditional approach.”
She spots the manager walking by. “I better go get your drinks.”
When she’s gone, Jake asks, “Do you come here a lot?”
“And yet you know everyone here.”
“Seems that way,” I say, choosing to be vague.
“Did you used to work here?”
I laugh. “God, no. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of those outfits.”
“You’d look fucking hot in that outfit. Hotter than any of the girls here.” His comment, and the way he said it, his voice low and deep, his eyes locked on mine, has my stomach doing flip flops. “You’d make a shitload of tips.” He glances at the table next to us, where four guys are sitting. “But don’t do it. I don’t want guys staring at you.”
“We’ve been out on one date and you’re already being possessive of me? I don’t put up with that, so that needs to end right now.”
He’s smiling at me.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because you just admitted we’re on a date.”
“Damn,” I mutter, shutting my eyes to avoid seeing him gloat.
He laughs. “Why are you so against going out with me?”
I don’t know how to answer that, but I don’t have to because Liza shows up at our table.
Want to read more? Give Us a Chance releases March 12th.