Last Sample before release.
Subject to change.
This title will not be available in Kindle Unlimited.
Release day… TBD.
“How do you feel?” he leaned into me to ask in my ear. “You having a good time?”
I peeked up at him with a smile. “I am. I like the music – like the way the bass feels. And I like the smoke, somehow,” I laughed. “And… the energy, of all the people. It’s electric, and I love it. This though…,” I said, nodding at my mostly-untouched cocktail, “I still think I’ll pass on. I don’t want anything altering my brain while I’m out like this.”
Zay nodded. “That’s definitely understandable – I’m glad you were willing to test it out, see how you feel and make your decision from there. On your own.”
“On my own? What does that mean?”
He shrugged a bit. “I just… I’ve seen how your sister is about you, you know? And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but… I just wonder how much of your reticence about life in general is less about how you feel, and more to do with how she feels. She’s worried about you so much, and done so much to assure your safety that you’ve felt you owe it to her.”
“Wow. I… don’t know if I’ve thought about it like that before,” I admitted. “But honestly, maybe I do owe my safety to her. Wouldn’t you feel like it was a slap in the face if I was out here doing risky shit after you gambled your life to rescue me?”
Zay nodded. “Sure. If you decided to pick up a life of crime, or… gator wrestling, or MMA fighting or some shit, I’d definitely feel a bit slighted. But… you had to sneak away to go on a writing retreat, Dee,” he teased, even though his words were true. “She had me trailing you to go for a run. You were afraid to just… go to a club,” he added, bringing home his point. “I get it, with a past like ours, we have different considerations than the everyday person. And it’s smart to mitigate the potential harm. But we can’t be so paranoid that we don’t even enjoy the freedom we waited so long for. That’s a whole other type of bondage, and… we’re off that.”
“That all sounds really good, and of course I agree. I don’t want to be afraid of my own shadow. But Alicia is… that’s a whole other level of brick wall to try to talk to,” I explained, but Zay shook his head.
“I’m not concerned about that. Alicia is your sister, not your master. I’ll talk to her.”
My eyes went big. “You’ll talk to her about what?”
“Loosening the reins,” he said, like it was all so simple. “And I know what you’re probably thinking, Alicia is gonna kick your ass, fool. And… shit, she might, that’s a tough ass chick,” he laughed. “But… the thing is, our interests are aligned – hers and mine. We both want nothing but the best for you.”
I raised an eyebrow. “So… what is this, instead of just having her on my back, you want her to scoot over so you can smother me with safety and protection “for my own best interest” too?”
“Not at all,” he denied. “Dee, I’m not interested in smothering you. I just… over the last few days of us, together… I’ve gotten a glimpse of something I never thought would be in my grasp. I didn’t know if I’d see you again, didn’t know if I’d get to talk to you, touch you… but we’re here. And it’s been like stepping right into those fantasies we had, all those years ago, of what freedom would be. And I still want more. I want to know the girl I fell in love with when the concept itself was foreign to me, without any inhibitions.” He sat back a little, eyes locked with mine, just staring. “Maybe that’s selfish of me. I just don’t want anything holding you back from whoever you’re going to grow into, so I can experience it all.”
My lips parted, but it took me several moments to find any words. And even then, I turned away from him with a whispered “wow,” mortified by what had to be a visible blush on my face.