"We both want this so badly. I can feel it resonating between us like the hot pull of our first attraction, tangible and intense."
After lies and betrayal almost destroyed their intense bond, Liv and Dean fought their way back to each other. But now another battle threatens their fragile reconciliation.
Though Dean's protectiveness of Liv is more powerful than ever, he can't escape his seething jealousy and guilt over their shocking deceptions. And when a family crisis drives them back to his hometown, they are forced to confront the painful truth of his past.
Liv and Dean thought they were safe again in the passionate, intense shelter of their love.
They were wrong.
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“This man, this woman, this book and this author are beyond words.” —Jenny, TotallyBooked Blog
“Dean West brought me to my knees yet again. Moreover, Nina Lane did just that. Her writing is exceptional, brilliant, classy, amazing.” —Gitte, TotallyBooked Blog
“Just beautiful... Dean and Liv are officially one of my all-time favorite book couples. Their passion, love, heartache, and healing hit me right in the heart.” —Aestas Book Blog
“I absolutely loved this novel... It is a story about love and personal growth, dealing with the past and finding a way to move forward.” —Maria, Reviewer with Literati Literature Lovers
“This story has a ton of heart and emotion.” —Bridget, My Secret Romance Book Reviews
“Each page, each word takes you on an emotional journey that will one minute leave you heartbroken and mend it within the next.” —Tammy, Reviews by Tammy and Kim
“This was another incredibly special read from Nina Lane... It’s such a beautiful love story.” —Becs, Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
“This series is brilliant.” —Vilma’s Book Blog
I'm a guy. When I first saw Liv five years ago, I didn’t think: I would really like to understand that woman.
I thought: Damn, she’s pretty. Until
I thought: I want to kiss her.
I thought: What does she look like naked?
I would have stayed on that lusty train of thought if she hadn’t turned her brown eyes on me, and I realized she was on the verge of tears. Then my protective instinct kicked into high gear, and I thought: I need to help her.
I ended up not doing a damn thing for her at the university registrar’s office where she had a problem with transfer credits, even though she thanked me afterward. I knew I wanted to see her again, but not because I was being chivalrous or useful or sensitive.
I wanted to see her again because when we stood there on the sidewalk, a few strands of hair swept across her face and clung to her cheeks. Because I noticed that her mouth had an indentation in the upper lip. Because I tracked my gaze to her breasts moving with her breath under a white T-shirt and ragged gray sweatshirt, and my blood got hot. She had rounded hips. Legs encased in faded jeans with a rip in the denim exposing a pale strip of thigh.
She was curved. Sexy. Alive.
My chest filled with heat when I looked at her. It had been a long time since I’d had that rush. I wanted to feel it again.
It hadn’t happened with the business administrator I’d dated a few times over the summer. Rebecca was my age, an attractive brunette with short hair and a serious face who could talk about finance systems and process analyses as if she were discussing what to make for dinner. She read books about the economy, power-walked every morning, and always looked like she was thinking about something important.
She reminded me too much of me. Never once did my heart pound harder when I saw her. We went our separate ways as soon as the semester started. Shortly before I met Liv.
Olivia. That was how I thought of her those first couple of weeks when we’d see each other at the coffeehouse where she worked. Olivia R. Winter. I wondered what the R stood for.
One day she stopped next to the table where I was sitting at Jitter Beans. I’d been pretending to work on my laptop while actually sneaking glances at her. I liked the way she moved, her long ponytail swinging every time she turned to fill a mug, the bend of her body as she reached to take something from the dessert case.
“Free sample,” she said. Her apron was tight across the front of her body, dusted with cocoa powder and streaks of chocolate. “Our new peanut-butter brownie. Would you like one?”
She held out a tray of tiny paper cups filled with squares of chocolate. A speck of chocolate clung to the corner of her lip.
She tries the free samples. I tucked that bit of information away along with the other things I was learning about her.
She smiles at every customer.
She sits at the corner table during her breaks and reads one of the magazines.
She wears a pendant on a silver chain around her neck.
She’s older than most other undergrads, but no more than twenty-five.
She’s not a flirt.
She doesn’t notice when men look at her. Or she turns away from them.
She doesn’t turn away from me.
“Sure.” I reached out to take one of the paper cups. I wanted to ask her when her shift ended. Wanted to ask her to go somewhere with me.
I couldn’t yet. Though I knew the university’s policy about dating students, knew it was acceptable if the student wasn’t subject to the professor’s authority, I needed to make damn sure Olivia R. Winter and I wouldn’t cross academic paths for the rest of the year.
“Was it good?” I asked.
I gestured to the crumb on her lip. Wished I could wipe it away. “Looks like you tried it.”
“Oh.” She rubbed her fingers across her mouth. “It’s delicious, sure. Peanut butter and chocolate—can’t go wrong. Right?”
She smiled. My heart thumped against my ribs.
It was a strange feeling, foreign, that anticipation making me feel like a teenager with his first crush. I couldn’t even remember my actual first crush. I’d been too busy training for the football team or burning my brain out studying for AP classes.
My girlfriends in high school and college had been the same way. They’d had to be. Ivy League universities, scholarships, the right classes and majors, junior years abroad, grad school, fellowships, published papers, guest lectures, prestigious jobs…
Driven. Focused. Serious. So freaking tedious.
There was nothing tedious about this girl with the long hair and pretty smile who blushed when she met my gaze.
I thought: I want to get you alone.
When I finally did, the night of a lecture I was giving at a local museum, I discovered there was something contradictory about her, a mixture of curiosity and wariness. Like she wanted to be brave but wasn’t sure what would happen if she dared to let herself. A mouse peering out of its hole, whiskers vibrating with the urge to dart out.
I’d never wanted to prove myself to anyone the way I did Liv. I liked her too much. Liked the way I didn’t feel cold inside when I was with her, the way I didn’t think about anything except her. I liked that she was a mystery. I liked the way she looked at me, as if she knew I would protect her. That I could.
Until… I couldn’t.
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