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I wanted to jump.
He made me fall.
As a celebrity, I lived in the public eye, but somewhere along the way, I’d lost myself in the spotlight.
Until he found me.
Sam Rivers was a gorgeous, tattooed stranger who saved my life with nothing more than a simple conversation.
But we were both standing on that bridge for a reason the night we met. The secrets of our pasts brought us together—and then tore us apart.
Could we find a reason to hold on as life constantly pulled us down?
Or maybe there’s only one direction to go when two people fall in love at rock bottom—up.
“Oh, this isn’t my place. We’re just dropping Devon off. I’m about twenty minutes across town?” I tossed him a sugary smile then boldly shifted my hand into his lap, purposely brushing the bulge under his denim.
Grabbing my wrist, he narrowed his eyes and called out, “Devon, I’m gonna need to borrow a bedroom.”
I burst out laughing as Devon cursed loudly.
“Fine. This is my place. No smoking inside though,” I snipped as I climbed from the SUV.
“You better have some seriously exciting extracurricular activities to keep me distracted, then.”
“I have Ping-Pong!”
“Not exactly what I was thinking.” He mischievously cocked his head. “But I guess paddles and balls are as good a start as any.” Dipping down, he hoisted me over his shoulder. “Point me to the Ping-Pong table, my lady.”
I didn’t. I laughed hysterically as he carried me inside. Then I directed him to my bedroom instead.
I heard Devon locking up the house as Sam deposited me on the bed.
“Jesus. This view.” He pushed the curtains back. “Why the hell would you ever go up to the bridge when you have this here?”
“I don’t know,” I answered, pulling my earrings off and placing them on my nightstand.
Oh, but I knew. It might not have been what had originally sent me up that bridge, but it was why my feet carried me back every night. And that very reason was currently standing in front of me with entirely too much clothing on.
“You want a beer?” I asked, sliding my shoes off.
“Nah, I’m good.” He faced me, and I could tell something was off with his demeanor. He didn’t inch any closer. Instead, his lips were tight and his eyes uncomfortably flashed around the room.
It suddenly didn’t feel like Sam standing in front of me at all.
He felt like a stranger who had just come face-to-face with Levee Williams.
“Why are you looking at me like that? Are you about to freak out?” I whispered, nervously moistening my lips.
He shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m not really sure yet. But I’m gonna need you to stop licking your lips long enough for me to figure it out.” His mouth cracked into a wide grin, and my shoulders relaxed.
Now that was a flash of my Sam.
“Want to tell me what’s going on?” I asked.
“It’s just… I think this is the first time I’ve realized that you’re some big-time celebrity. I might be in over my head here, Designer Shoes.”
“I just make music, Sam.” I returned his smile and very slowly prowled in his direction. “Imagine how I feel though. You’re Samuel Nathan Rivers. A tough, tattooed furniture designer who makes six figures a year but is too afraid to tell his mommy he votes democratic.” I giggled as he frowned humorously. Stopping in front of him, I dragged a fingernail down his chest then teased the waistband of his jeans. “Have you considered that maybe I’m the one who’s in over her head here?” I leaned forward to nip at his lips, but he spun us around.
“Excellent point. I’m going to need you to try really hard to keep it together, Levee. You haven’t even seen my six-pack and huge cock, yet.” He smirked and attempted to return my nip, but I stepped out of his reach.
“You brought beer and chicken?” I feigned excitement.
That one corny joke was all it took to bring my Sam back completely.
With a sexy smile and a coy shrug, he seductively backed me toward the bed. “What can I say? I like to be prepared.”
“Clearly,” I breathed.
He moved in close so his lips were only a centimeter away, but for as much as I wanted him, it was agonizing. “Clearly,” he repeated, his smoky yet sweet breath breezing across my mouth.
His strong arm looped around my waist, tugging me against his chest, while I stared into his hooded eyes, eagerly waiting for him to make a move.
“I know,” I responded.
I didn’t though. I felt like a robot parading around in a lost woman’s body.
Toss in the occasional song.
What little time I did manage to carve out for myself was spent at various children’s hospitals across the country.
Watch a child die.
With every day that passed, the smile became less and less genuine, the pose more and more forced, and the turn took me further and further away from who I really was.
My career was soaring while, personally, I was plummeting. Every single day felt like a terrifying free fall in no particular direction. I was stuck in the middle with no way up—or down.
“You remember that girl, right?” Henry asked, tucking a hair behind my ear.
I did remember her. She was fun and carefree. She loved going out and dancing at nightclubs until the very last song played. She slept until noon if she could. Then, fueled by coffee alone, she’d spend the day with a guitar strapped around her neck and a notepad at her side. She had a huge heart, but she knew her limitations.
Oh, I remembered that girl. I just couldn’t figure out how to get back to her.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.
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