Sadie Vaughn is a college transfer student looking to get out from under the claws of her overbearing mother. She has closed herself off to prevent another devastating heartbreak, preferring men to be in her bed but not in her heart. Her plan to focus on her studies and ignore the opposite sex is ruined before classes even begin and she struggles to maintain her distance when she finds herself unable to keep the images of dimples and startling blue eyes out of her mind.
Gavin Ellis is devilishly handsome, confident, and seems to get under Sadie’s skin from their first meeting. When they become lab partners, Gavin tries his luck charming Sadie, but she is having none of it. He may be keeping secrets from her, but she hides her past from him, so when Sadie finds herself spending more and more time with him, she worries the walls she’s spent so long building up will come crashing down.
Jamie Ashford is dark and brooding and loves Shakespeare almost as much as Sadie. In their classes together, Sadie is intrigued by his mystery but when she tries to talk to him, he completely shuts her down. She does her best to ignore him, but when circumstances force them together, painful heartbreak from their pasts threaten to suffocate both of them.
Despite actively trying to avoid relationships, Sadie ends up in the middle of some very complicated ones. Is she strong enough to go after what she really wants or will the past paralyze her from making the decision?
He was studying me, still leaning against his door, arms folded across his chest, ankles crossed on the floor. He had on black basketball shorts and an old concert t-shirt from some band I had never heard of. He was barefoot and his hair was a mess of curls. I realized that I probably had woken him up. His body seemed relaxed, but I could tell from the way he was looking at me that he was anything but.
“Sorry for waking you up so early. I could have waited.”
“You sent several texts. It seemed urgent.”
“I…uh…yes…it did…” I stammered.
Thirty minutes ago, it had seemed very urgent but now that I was here, I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to say. I turned away from him because I felt like his eyes were stripping off all of my emotional layers and I didn’t like it. I ran my fingers softly across the edge of his dresser, simply for something to do.
I walked over to the window and watched the morning light peek through the last few leaves clinging to their branches. It was so peaceful outside, so tranquil, which made the storm raging inside me feel even more tempestuous.
Gavin’s voice brought me back to myself and I realized we’d been standing in silence for minutes.
“Why are you here?”
I didn’t know why I was there. I thought I wanted answers. I wanted him to tell me what this thing we were doing was. I didn’t feel like we were just friends. I didn’t feel like we were dating. I needed him to tell me because I felt like my walls were caving in. It had seemed like such a good idea to talk to him about it, but now, I just wanted to get out of there. I needed to get out of there.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come. It was stupid.” I tried to move past him and reached for the doorknob but his hand covered mine and held on.
“Gavin, I’m sorry I woke you up. I really am. But I need to go.” I tried to push by him and turn the knob but he moved in front of it so I couldn’t even reach it anymore.
“Damn it, no. Talk to me.” His voice was low and demanding.
“What do you want me to say?”
“Whatever it was that you thought was so important this morning. Talk to me.”
I didn’t see any of his cocky arrogance that I had grown so accustomed to. Those personality traits I could fight back, I could flirt with but still keep at a distance. The honest sincerity I was now seeing in him was throwing me off my game, as if he were knocking my walls down brick by brick.
We were close, if I took one step forward, my front would be flush against his. I needed space. I needed to breathe. I managed to back up, slipping my hand out from under his, but my eyes didn’t leave his burning ones. He was waiting for me.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” I whispered.
He cocked his head, still studying me. After a moment, he replied more calmly than before, “I think you do.”
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I brought my gaze down to my hands, which were fidgeting with each other. “I…” I began. “What are we doing, Gavin?”
“We are trying to have a conversation.”
I raised my eyes and glared at him. This was not a time for jokes.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I know, Sadie, I know,” he sighed. “What are we doing? What do you think we’re doing?”
“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you,” I huffed.
Gavin left his post by the door and went to sit on the edge of his bed. He leaned his forearms on his knees for a minute and I could tell that he was trying to figure out what to say. He looked up and I had never seen his eyes as brilliant as they were then.
I took that moment to really survey his face. He looked tired and I suddenly regretted even more that I was there. He had some dark circles under his eyes and some day-old stubble across his jaw. I realized that I was staring at him and looked back at the floor.
“Sadie, I like you. A lot. And I know you feel this connection that we have, you have from the moment we met. And all this time later, we still feel it. It means something, Sadie. You are trying to run from it and it won’t work. I can tell there’s a reason you keep holding me at arm’s length. And I’m not asking you why or trying to push you into telling me. One day I hope you will, because I care about you and want to know more about you. But, I’m willing to go at your speed here, because anything is better than nothing.”
I was stunned, my brain shut down. I couldn’t have formed a coherent thought if I’d tried.
“But you can’t keep denying that there is something here,” he continued, signaling between us. “We both feel it. You know how I make you feel.”
He was suddenly on his feet, stalking towards me. “What do I do to you?”
My eyes that had been trained on the floor suddenly flicked up to his. There was nothing wavering in the fathomless blue, they were pure passion now.
“What do I make you feel, Sadie?” I swallowed but couldn’t look away. He came closer.
“I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you exactly what I do to you.” He stopped inches from me. “Your stomach starts clenching in a good way as heat rushes through your body. Your heart…starts beating faster.”
He placed his palm over my heart and there was no way that I could hide the fact that he was right. I closed my eyes gently at his touch and when I opened them, I knew they would betray me to Gavin. Our eyes locked and neither one of us could look away. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I was positive it was about to change everything.
My back was to his dresser and he put his free hand on one side of me. He slid his other hand up to my shoulder and down my arm as he said, “Your skin quivers wherever it touches mine.” Now both hands were on either side of me, effectively eliminating any escape, not that I was looking for one.
He leaned down and whispered in my ear and then his lips skimmed over my skin down to my neck, “Your breathing becomes fast and irregular. Your pulse increases.” He planted a light kiss right over my pulse that was, as he said, racing. He ran the tip of his nose along my jaw to the other ear.
He nipped my earlobe and his lips grazed my ear. “Your body betrays you. I know because it happens to me every time you’re close.” He moved slightly so we were nose-to-nose. “So you tell me, Sadie, what are we doing?”
Samantha Rey graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia with a degree in theatre and a Master’s in elementary education. While her full-time job is currently teaching third grade just outside of Washington, D.C., her love of theatre, entrancing characters, and never-ending drama has not subsided. She has always loved creating stories and her first novel, Every Beat, is the culmination of a lot of hard work and following her dreams. When she is not writing, she is reading way too much, choreographing musicals, grading papers, and spending time with her husband and their dog, Paisley.
You can follow Samantha on Twitter @authorsamrey, on her website, samantharey.com, or on Facebook, facebook.com/authorsamantharey.