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With These Words Sample #1

Subject to change. Enjoy!

Release Date: October 17, 2023


She'd been surrounded since the moment she stepped inside. Not only because of her mounting popularity, but that yellow dress that clung to her was a beacon for every eye in the place. It hugged her curves, displaying that body she busted her ass for.


Thick thighs that had squeezed my waist when I was deep inside peeked from underneath, teasing me with memories from across the room.


Someone walked up to her and she beamed a fake smile, turning to greet them. Immediately, my gaze dropped to scan the plump curve of her backside and sculpted calves. I’d never found a woman’s calves attractive before now. But with the thickening behind the zipper of my slacks, on her, it was a new favorite body part.


Standing behind her chair, she nodded at the woman who’d walked up, flicking a nervous glance around the room every now and then. I couldn’t tell if it was because of her sixth sense when it came to me or if her voyage into this new world had her on edge.


Though she tried to hide it, Eden was like me. A predator that preferred to lurk on the outskirts. That preferred the comfort of darkness. But unlike me, she had a skill that deserved the spotlight. One that would catapult her to levels of success she couldn’t even fathom.


All my thoughts came to a screeching halt and my bottom lip disappeared between my teeth when she slipped off her white coat, exposing the toned muscled arms and impressive ink that stretched from shoulder to wrist. Even now that I knew about the chain-link tattoo, it was impossible to notice amongst the other artwork.


Right after she’d completed that interaction, someone else walked up and that fake, polite smile returned. The placating one that wasn’t big, bright, and didn’t stretch her cheeks like the one she’d reserved for Isaiah and Jayce.


The one she’d reserved for me.


Finally, when she had a moment to breathe, her shoulders slouched and she eased backwards from the crowd, slipping away from her agent and everyone else who’d demanded her attention. On the opposite side of the room, I followed, never taking my gaze from her until she slipped out a side door that led towards the gardens. I flicked a glance to TJ, signaling that I was stepping out. He nodded, keeping his gaze alert until Garryn and Verse arrived.


Stepping outside, I sucked in a lungful of the clean air, listening closely until I caught the click of her heels against the gravel. Keeping my steps light, I followed with a frown, wondering why she was going so deep into the gardens. Especially alone.


Then again, the two of us were probably the biggest threats on the property.


Finally, those faint clicks tapered off and I kept going until I spotted her. Her back faced me, cupping her waist in a self-hug that made me want to pull her into my arms. Those eyes that I wanted on me remained focused on the fountain that sent tiny droplets of water spritzing into the air.


She seemed to be lost in her own little world so I continued observing, inching closer before purposely shuffling my feet on the gravel to alert her to my presence.


Immediately she whirled and had a gun pointed my way in one smooth motion.


Damn, she was gorgeous.


I didn’t make any sudden moves, giving her a second to recognize me. Her eyes bucked and she lowered the gun, thought better of it, then jerked it back up. “That’s the Menace side of you, huh?” I muttered.


Her flinch was barely noticeable. “Why did you follow me?” She asked and I sucked in a low breath after hearing her voice for the first time in so long.


“That’s our thing, isn’t it?”


This time, there was no mistaking the sadness that came over her. “Not anymore.”


“Hmm.” I muttered, shoving my hands in my pockets and strolling casually towards her. When I was close enough for the gun to press against my lapels, I merely lifted a brow, biting back a smile at her moment of hesitation as she slowly lowered it. Before she could change her mind, I closed the distance between us.


This time, she was the one sucking in a deep breath, lids fluttering as she inhaled. A burst of pride and possessiveness surged in my chest, knowing I still affected this woman. Just like she did me. Once our fronts were nearly flush against one another, I bent my head, lowering until my lips hovered just above hers. “Then what’s our thing now, Eden?”


This was a moment I’d imagined so many times over the last few months. Being this close to her, having the opportunity to speak to her again. “I don’t know what you mean.” She muttered, fiddling with the waistline of her dress. “We don’t have a thing.”


I crowded her even more. “You believe that?”


Those eyes I couldn’t seem to get enough of turned hard. Everything in me grew tight at the chill in her gaze. “We haven’t spoken to or seen each other in months. You broke into my apartment and threatened me with a gun. Telling me to stay away from anyone you cared about. And I’ve done that. I’ve done exactly what you wanted. So what the fuck do you think?”


“It wasn’t loaded.”


“And that made it okay?” She paused, then took a breath. “Hakeem… I am walking on a tightrope in my life right now. I don’t have the… mental capacity to deal with whatever you want from me.” When I merely stared, she sighed. “If it's sex, I’m sure there are plenty of other women available.”


Finally I reacted, scrunching my face but before I could respond, the moonlight caught the jewelry on her wrist, making my chest grow tight at the sight of the yellow diamond bracelet I’d gifted for her birthday in St. Leesburg. I couldn’t believe she still wore it.


Sensing my distraction, she followed the direction of my gaze then pulled her arm away, holding the wrist protectively as if I might snatch the jewelry right off of her.


Little did she know, seeing it caused pride to surge. She might’ve believed that we were over but that little piece of jewelry gave me something I hadn’t felt in a while.


Hope.


Then not even a second later, she dashed it. “We should just keep our distance and let things stay how they are.” Then she gave a sad little shrug that hit me right in the solar plexus. “What we had was good, despite it all. Let’s not ruin the memory of it by trying again when we always knew it was temporary.”


Several moments passed. Moments of complete warfare in my mind as I battled conflicted emotions. I could respect her wishes and fall back while still continuing my plan of handling her problems without her being the wiser.


But she was right here. In front of me for the first time in a long time. And I wanted it again. I wanted it all the time and I was too selfish to give that up. I hadn’t fought for her the first time. I’d accepted what she’d said and kept my distance despite every one of my instincts telling me to go to her.


But this time, I would listen. Those instincts had never steered me wrong before and I doubt they would start now.


“Please.” She begged in a soft tone. Her hands rose to my shoulders, using them to assist in lifting onto her toes as she placed a soft kiss against my jaw. My hand immediately shot to her waist and she sucked in a low breath, cupping my cheek lovingly. She looked at me like she used to. Before everything had fallen apart. Before we’d both walked away from the best thing to ever happen to us. “Please leave things as they are. I can’t… can’t take on the weight of you hating me, too. That might be the thing that actually breaks me.” A hollow ache spread through my core. She thought I hated her? “Goodbye, Hakeem.”


Though I should’ve immediately contradicted her statement, I was stuck. Too shocked to do anything but watch as she dashed around me in those heels to return inside.


It wasn’t until she disappeared from view that I snapped out of it and moved, following her at a quick pace. She wouldn’t get away from me that easily.


Not this fuckin’ time.

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