He promised to leave me alone, but that was a lie. I should have known heâd have this pull on meâseeping through my skin and into my bones, burning me from the outside in. Itâs just like when we were kids, and I can no longer avoid him. Iâve accepted it, but what will it take to convince him that I am no longer his? Is that really what I want?
I told her Iâd leave her alone. But who was I kidding? Iâve never been one to back away from a challenge. He stole my girlâmy futureâfrom me. Iâm coming back with a vengeance. Iâm taking back what he took from me. After all the secrets and lies, can we come back from this? Even if it breaks me, Iâll stop at nothing to protect whatâs always been mine.
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âKeep doing that,â Sean breathes, pulling my bottom lip into his mouth before releasing it.
I scratch my nails up and down his back, running my other hand through his golden brown hair. Heâs got it cut really short, and I like it. âThis?â
He switches to my top lip. âYeah, it feels good,â he says, hungrily moving back and forth over my mouth. When he rocks against me, our tongues collide. I softly moan, enjoying the friction it brings. He squeezes my breast then glides down my quivering stomach, meeting the edge of my shorts. The familiar confusion settles in.
âAre you wet for me?â His voice is husky as his fingers slip inside of my panties. Desire pools in his eyes.
Itâs all in your head, Reese. You can do this.
Meeting his gaze, he asks, âDo you want me?â
I feel conflicted, not wanting to hurt him. He senses my hesitation and rolls off me, rubbing the space between his brows.
âIt still feels like weâre rushing things. Iâm sorry.â
âDonât worry,â he replies, clearly frustrated. âGive me a minute to lose this semi, and Iâll be fine.â
âI didnât mean to get your hopes up.â I scoot back against the headboard and fasten my shorts. He lets out an exaggerated breath. Itâs been a few months since weâve called our relationship âofficial.â Heâs never pressured me for sex, but itâs clear my hesitancy is wearing on him.
âItâs your first time. Youâre nervous,â he replies, looking straight ahead. I can tell heâs thinking into it. Ever since Lukeâs return, Iâve sensed his insecurity. We havenât spoken since the night he came back, but it doesnât make Sean feel any better. He knows how much Luke meant to me.
âYouâre leaving?â I ask as he climbs out of bed.
Grabbing his light blue polo, he pulls it over his head, and makes a weak attempt to cover his erection. âItâs late,â he says, tapping twice on the doorframe. âI should go.â He starts down the hall.
âWait.â I jump out of bed, meeting him in the middle. âI love you. You know that, right?â Weâve said it before, but I want him to know that I mean it. âIâm just protecting my heart.â
His eyes soften. I hope that means he believes me.
âWhatâs up guys?â Logan calls from the other room.
We glance toward the couch, where he and Gia are spooning, the volume on the television set low. I purse my lips, unaware we had an audience, then my eyes move to the fresh bouquet of Calla lilies displayed on our table. A shot of fear bolts through me, and I try to speed things along, lightly pushing Sean forward. âWill I see you tomorrow, or will you be working?â
âDepends on what I get done tonight.â
âWell, you better get going then.â
I move him to the door, and he pauses and turns to Logan.
âDude. Youâre going to have to quit that.â He tips his head toward the flowers with a half grin on his face. âYouâre making me look bad.â
I cringe, glancing at Logan. To say he looks confused is an understatement.
âThe flowers,â Sean confirms.
Logan lifts his head. His eyes flick from me to the lilies before he relaxes against the pillow. He focuses back on the television. âWish I could take the credit, man, but those arenât from me.â
Gia silently apologizes with her eyes. Logan doesnât know any better. It isnât her fault. Iâm the one who chose to lie to my boyfriend. Hurrying us out the door, I prepare for an argument.
âYou lied to me,â Sean says sharply, not wasting any time. His hair glistens under the porch light.
âItâs not what you think.â
âItâs not? Because Iâm thinking Luke sent you those flowers.â
âYouâre right. He did,â I pause, sighing. âBut they donât mean anything. I just wasnât sure how to tell you. I knew it would upset you.â
He looks disgusted. âAnd that makes it okay?â
I sit on the porch bench right outside the door. âOf course it doesnât. I should have been honest with you. Lying was stupid.â Feeling defeated, I put my head in my hands.
âIs there anything else I need to know, while weâre being honest with each other? Just get it all out now. I donât want any more surprises.â
Uh yeah, Luke has a wife. I shake my head. âThereâs nothing.â His jaw ticks like he doesnât believe me. âStop reading into this like itâs more than it is. Theyâre just flowers, Sean.â
âJust flowers,â he murmurs lowly, rubbing his hand against his forehead. âIs he the reason you wonât let me fuck you?â
âExcuse me?â My stomach drops.
âYou heard me.â
âOf course not!â I stand and look directly into his eyes. Iâve always known this was in the back of his mind, but the way he said it hurts. âI canât believe you just said that!â Lukeâs dog barks across the way, and my gaze slides towards his place. âKeep your voice down! Youâre being loud.â
âSo what if he hears me,â he spits.
âI told you. We havenât spoken since the day he moved back.â
âHow do I know that isnât bullshit?â
âBecause it isnât.â He only knows a quarter of what happened that night. I left out the candlelit dinner and the wifeâa wife Iâve rarely seen around here. I assume theyâre having problems already. It wouldnât surprise me in the least.
Two days after weâd met on the rooftop, my heart shattered all over again, when I spotted a woman carrying boxes into his house. I recognized her immediately and ran to the toilet to dry heave, then silently bawled for an hour. I wasnât prepared to have it shoved in my face. A part of me had hoped that, if I let Luke explain like heâd asked, weâd somehow be able to move on from this, but my logical side told me to let him go. I didnât want to make the same mistakes as my motherâconstantly living in denial. I refused to be that girl.
The next night I walked out my front door and came face to face with a large German Shepard. Startled, I took a cautious step back. He sat on his hind legs, lifting a paw like he wanted to shake. Hesitantly, I leaned down to pet him, admiring his brindle fur coat. âHey there, big boy. You scared me for a minute.â I smiled, and he happily panted in return. âGood thing youâre friendly. Are you lost?â
âChance,â called the voice of the woman from the day before, standing in front of Lukeâs place. I froze when she walked over, sizing me up with an eyebrow raised. Iâm not sure if she recognized me from the hospital. âIâm Rachelle,â she said, reaching out her hand. It took me a second to take it. She exuded confidence and was disgustingly fit. I wanted to throw up again.
âReese,â I replied with a clear of my throat, before we shook hands.
Flipping her hair over her shoulder, her eyes fell on Chance. âSorry. Blame it on his father. I told him Chance had mastered opening doors.â She tipped her head toward their house. âBut Luke had other things on his mind, if you know what I mean.â She laughed half-heartedly. âYou know men. Maybe next time heâll put him away first, like Iâd asked.â Reaching for his collar, she said, âCâmon boy. Letâs go,â dragging him back to the house. âIt was nice to meet you,â she said right as she shut the door.
That was the last time I saw her.
âFor two damn months this has gone on! You couldnât tell him to stop?â Sean yells, snapping me out of the memory.
âI didnât want to face him. I â¦ I thought if I ignored it, heâd get the hint and stop sending the flowers.â
âYouâve got âem in the center of your living room!â
âAt first I threw them away, even using his garbage can, so heâd see them.â
âYouâre giving him the wrong idea, Reese!â
âStop yelling! I can hear you!â I shout, as loud as him.
âAre you going to tell him, or am I?â His fists clench at his sides.
âYou okay, Reese?â Luke calls, standing twenty feet away. My breath catches as he strides over. Sean pulls me in for a possessive kiss, making things more awkward than they already are. Forcing my eyes shut, I give in, though Iâm not done being pissed. What heâd said earlier was disrespectful, but I need to show him thereâs no reason for his insecurity. Luke and I are truly over.
âYou gonna let her answer, or are we gonna stand here all night?â
My skin responds to the familiar voice as if it were touching me. Oh God, heâs so close.
Sean releases me, wiping his mouth. âMind your own business. Sheâs not your concern anymore.â
Ignoring Sean completely, Luke asks me again, âYou okay Reese?â His eyes search deep, like heâs invading my soul. Chills shoot up the back of my neck. I donât know how he does it. Heâs shirtless and freshly showeredâwearing low-slung shorts that show off his muscular physique, and the sexy V framing his pelvic area, one Iâve been known to stare at.
I drag my eyes away from his body, breathing in his intoxicating scent. Heâs married, Reese. Heâs a liar! Remember?
âSheâll be fine once you leave her alone. And stop sending the flowers,â Sean growls. âShe doesnât want them.â
âYou gonna buy them for her?â Luke asks without casting him a glance. A conflict of emotions burns inside my chest. How can he be so protective on one hand, yet so hurtful on another?
âI said she doesnât want you here, man. Go back inside.â
The tension continues to thicken. I place a hand over Seanâs chest, giving it a slight shove. âLetâs get you home.â If he doesnât shut up, heâs going to get his butt kicked.
âDo you always let him speak for you?â
Whipping around to face Luke, I spit, âI think you know me better than that, and frankly, itâs none of your business.â
He moves a little too close, dipping down to meet my eyes. âYou being honest with me?â
Then Seanâs up in Lukeâs face. âShe canât stand being near you, asshole! Take the fucking hint!â
Luke smirks, taunting him. âYou keep telling yourself that, buddy. Reese and I have a past. I can read her like a book.â He straightens his shoulders. âWhether sheâs hiding something, her emotions, her truths, her lies â¦ all of it.â
Oh God â¦ where is he going with this?
âThatâs special. Really, Iâm touched. But where were you when her father died, huh? âCause I was drying her tears, picking up the pieces you left behind. You dumb piece of shit!â
I watch Lukeâs expression change to lethal. When he turns to me, his jaw is clenched. âIf you care about him at all, youâll convince him to walk away.â His voice is a low growl.
I take his threat seriously, grabbing onto Seanâs arm. âItâs late. You have work to do. Remember?â I plead, keeping my voice as calm as I can muster, but Iâm not sure that itâs helping. He still hasnât budged.
âTell him what you said about the flowers. Iâll go home once youâre inside. Iâd be crazy to leave him alone with you.â
âLuke would never hurt me.â
He snorts, then Luke rams himself hard into his chest. âSomething funny, prick?â Before I can blink, heâs bumping him again. There isnât a contest on who would win, if things got ugly. Lukeâs an expert, and he towers over Sean.
I work my way between them, placing a hand on both of their chests, giving Sean a look of warning. Then I turn my attention to Luke. âI donât think itâs appropriate that you send me flowers.â A lump forms in my throat. âI need you to stop.â Why do I feel sorry for him?
His hands slip deep into his pockets, and slowly he backs away, showing no flicker of emotion. âDone,â is all he says.
I lift my chin. Glad Iâve made it easy. Now run along to your wife, wherever she is.
When he reaches his front door, I give Sean a glare. Heâs still on my shit list. âTold youâyou have nothing to worry about.â
He wraps his arms around me, kissing the side of my neck, even though I slightly protest. âSomething tells me heâs not done yet.â
âThatâs what Iâm afraid of.â
âSee you in the morning,â Luke calls from his doorway. His arms stretched out wide, he grips the frame.
Sean tenses, and I stare at Luke, confused.
Every ripple of his torso is on display under the porch light. âWork,â he replies, with his gaze fixed on Sean, no matter that Iâm who asked the question. âIâm back at the gym.â
My mouth falls open, the beat of my heart triples its pace, and I stand there, speechless.
He's the stereotypical fighter- 100 percent alpha male. The kind of guy a girl should avoid at all costs. When he's hired to privately train me, avoiding him isn't an option. Most girls would love to drop their panties, even if it is just to catch a glimpse of his dimpled smile. I won't fall victim to his charm. That's what I tell myself at least, though it's torture when my mind's at war with my body. Something about the tattooed bad boy draws me in. It isn't just the broad shoulders, piercing eyes, and muscular frame that has me entranced. Luke Ryann has a secret. And I plan to find out what it is.
Recommended for mature audiences due to language, violence and sexual situations
Where to purchase RAISING RYANN:
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raising-ryann-alyssa-rae-taylor/1116359865?ean=2940148400561
USA Today bestselling author Alyssa Rae Taylor amplifies the angst-filled love story that started in Raising Ryann.
What happens when the person you love becomes threatened by your very existence? How far will you go to keep them safe?
Luke Ryann will do anything to protect the woman he loves, even if it means shattering her heart. When the mystery of his past comes back to haunt him, he leaves Reese behind and enters the life of crime he had worked so hard to escape. When all is said and done, will he be able to get out of this alive, or will he be in over his head?
She's been in love with him since her childhood, but now she questions everything. After Reese Johnson discovers Luke's disappearance has nothing to do with the MMA, she faces a difficult choice. Can she find it in her heart to forgive him? Or will the secrets and lies be too damaging for her to trust again? Will this couple ever have a chance? You know what they say.
Sometimes ... love just isn't enough.
Resisting Ryann is the second book in The Bad Boy Reformed trilogy. This story isn't just a romance. It's filled with action, suspense, mystery, and a touch of humor.New adult romance. Recommended for mature readers due to situations of abuse, violence, language, and sexual content.
Where to purchase RESISTING RYANN
USA Today Bestselling author Alyssa Rae Taylor lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, their three daughters, two English bulldogs and a miniature pig. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and watching Sam & Dean Winchester fight off scary creatures on the WB. She enjoys stories that tug at her emotions and isn't a fan of the insta-love type of romance. Her dream is to travel the world with her husband and children beside her. The first time she started writing, she couldn't stop, which leads to now, and the publication of the Bad Boy Reformed Series,