Jessica Park wow’d me and stole my heart with her fun, intelligent and quirky characters in “Flat-Out Love“. That is a book I will never forget. With a romantic twist that had my heart fluttering and a clever reveal (ooohhh those family secrets!!) that had me gaping, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down (check out my review). One of my indie “firsts”, and it fueled me on my search for more indie books.
And guess what!? She’s got a new book coming out (Left Drowning) on July 16th 2013 (it’s available for pre-order on Amazon right now), and she’s sent over an exclusive excerpt!! It’s a “steamier” excerpt! *waggles eyebrows*
The author goes on to mention,
“The book gets *much* hotter than this, though, although it’s still primarily literary fiction meets contemporary romance.”
Jessica. I am so on this!!
Here’s the synopsis:
What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?
Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.
Oh yes! This is right up my alley! So… are you ready for that excerpt?
Excerpt from “Left Drowning“:
Save for the hint of sound that comes from the earphones that Chris has in, it is quiet. He swivels lazily back and forth in the chair, and I like that he is so engaged in whatever music he is listening to because it allows me to look at him closely. To take him in. I try not to squirm. He hasn’t shaved in a few days, and it’s a good look for him. For me. Since he keeps brushing soft waves from his face, he could probably stand to get a haircut, but I like his gently scruffy look. And the way his hair falls against the back of his neck. . . . God, I find the tanned skin between his shirt and his hair almost intoxicating. What would it be like to have that skin under my lips, to slowly inch my mouth across his shoulders, to touch him lightly with my tongue….
I’ve gone insane. At least I am not drooling, though. Or moaning.
“The music has to be the background, the mood. Once you’re in that safe place, then you run, push your body. You need songs with meaning, and mood, and heart. Not this pop crap.”
He has brought me back to the real world, and I shake my head. “I don’t know. I don’t like meaning. Or mood or heart.”
Chris kneels in front of me as he takes one earbud out and moves his hand to my ear. I place my hand under his to adjust the fit in my ear, and he brushes back my hair for me. His hand stays on the side of my head as he tilts my face so that I am looking into his eyes. “You need songs that make you feel. Some make you strong, some make you weak. Some build determination, some tear you apart. But you need all of those.” Music begins to play. Slow music. Soft and rhythmic, layered. “Run through the pain.”
I shake my head again and look past him. “No.” I want to concentrate on the tan on the back of his neck instead.
He nods. “Yes. Run through it, feel it, let it happen.”
“No,” I say more adamantly. “I do that too much already.”
“I don’t think you do. I think that you dwell on parts of things and then brush them away. Stop fighting it.”
“How do you know that?” Damn it. I can feel that familiar sting in my eyes again. It’s so easy for my emotions to be played with, flipping erratically from one extreme to the next. Lust, then anger, then pain. . . . It is never ending.
And Chris seems to make the extremes much worse. Why can’t I stay away?
“You scream it in everything you do. You’re holding on to what happened because you think that’s all you have.”
“It is all I have.”
I shake my head. I don’t know how to do this.
“Look.” Chris looks around the room as if trying to find a way to convince me. He thinks for a minute. “Your parents died. Your world fell apart.”
He puts his hand on my cheek. “You were left drowning.”
I nod again.
“And you’re struggling to breathe.”
I am. It’s a constant struggle to stay near the surface. I have just enough air to stop me from totally going under, but not enough to thrive.
“So do it. Breathe. Just breathe.” He turns up the volume and strokes my hair.
I want to tell him that the pain of the last four years has taken a toll and that I’m not sure I can breathe on my own.
“You have the here and now,” Chris says. “You have a future. Deal with the past so you can stop looking back. It’s just pain.”
I sigh heavily and look at him again. “It’s just pain,” I repeat.
“Yes.” He tucks my hair back, and I catch my breath as heat sears through my body. His touch is incomparable to anything that I have felt before, and this mix of my personal anguish with the intensity of his touch is messing with my head. “Yes, Blythe.”
“Just breathe?” I manage with a laugh.
“Is that what you did?”
“Yes. I got myself out of hell. I dealt with it and moved on. You can, too.”
There is no way to stop myself. I grab the front of his shirt and pull him in until my lips are just before the point of touching his. I want his mouth, I want his taste, and I want to breathe him in. I feel his body tense, but he doesn’t pull away.
Neither of us moves.
There is heat here, of that I am sure.
Finally, I lean in a bit closer so that my mouth is barely against his. I soften the hand I have on his chest and move my fingertips up and over his shirt, over the collar, until I’m finally touching the back of his neck. His skin is warm and perfect, just as I knew it would be. Chris starts to move his lips against mine, ever so softly, and so I ease in more. His tongue meets mine, and I shiver. The atmosphere in the room is loaded: loaded with my emotion and my fervent, raw, inescapable lust for this person.
I never knew that slow kissing could be so passionate. His tongue isn’t halfway down my throat, nor is he clawing at me with his hands. I cannot be wrong in imagining that he’s feeling the same way I am. Can I?
I’m not, because Chris moves his hand to mine and starts inching his fingertips across the top of my hand and up my arm. He takes out our earphones, quieting the music and leaving only us. The touch of his hand is intense, and I have to pull my mouth from his to catch my breath. My fingers begin digging into his skin as I watch him touch me, look at me, take me in. I try not to flinch as his fingers travel over the scar on my forearm. I’ve forgotten that I’m only wearing a T-shirt. This is definitely a first, because I never, ever forget. And now he is touching my arm as if he doesn’t even see it, making that visible reminder of my past and my guilt about it temporarily invisible.
When his hand reaches my shoulder, he doesn’t stop. I close my eyes as he moves to the top of my chest. When he first grazes my breast, I audibly inhale. Chris lowers his hand and slides it under my shirt, then under my bra, until his warm hand is on me. Now his breathing becomes ragged.
Oh God, I’m going to scream.
The way he skims the fingers of his other hand over my lower back is making me crazy. So deliberate and steady. He is so controlled. With the hand that’s just under my breast, he pushes against me slightly until I pull back enough for him to look me in the eyes. Every part of my body is burning for him. I love the way that his eyes pierce me as his hand moves against me. His face has just the hint of a smile and . . . surprise? I see a touch of confusion, as though he hadn’t been expecting this. If he didn’t before, I can tell that now he feels the same connection that I felt out by the lake. An all-consuming clarity that there is a magnetic pull between us. At least, I want him to be feeling that.
With both hands, I push his black hair from his face and run my fingers through it and then down his shoulders. I take my time because I want to take in everything that I can about him and absorb all the details of his face. How the curve of his eyebrows is so beautifully arched, how the hint of a sideburn blends into his unshaven cheek, and how he bites his lip as I study him. And more than that, I see both our kinship and our differences: how we both have pasts full of pain and how he emanates survival in the way that I want to. Right now, I embody failure and surrender, but I see in him the possibility of what I could have.
So his touch is more than just physical touch.
Under my bra, Chris covers my breast with his hand and strokes me slowly with his thumb. I’m not prepared for the powerful ache that surges between my legs as he tightens his fingers around my nipple, and I drop my head back slightly. I arch my back some, pushing my breast against him, wanting more. For a second more, he pinches my nipple, but then moves his hand away. I nearly whimper, but then he leans into me and kisses me again. Harder this time. He tastes like eternity, and healing, and completion.
No one else could ever kiss me like this, of that I am positive.
I could breathe him in forever.
I could fall in love forever.