"Lisa Desrochers is a unique and sultry voice in the New Adult genre." --JAY CROWNOVER, New York Times bestselling author of RULE
In the follow-up to Lisa Desrochers’ explosive New Adult novel A Little too Far, Alessandro Moretti must face the life he escaped and the girl he loved and left behind.
Twenty-two year old Hilary McIntyre would like nothing more than to forget her past. As a teenager abandoned to the system, she faced some pretty dark times. But now that’s all behind her. Hilary has her life on track, and there’s no way she’ll head back down that road again.
Until Alessandro Moretti—the one person who can make her remember—shows up on her doorstep. He’s even more devastatingly gorgeous than before, and he’s much too close for comfort. Worse, he sees right through the walls she’s built over these last eight years, right into her heart and the secrets she’s guarding.
As Hilary finds herself falling back into love with the man who, as a boy both saved and destroyed her, she must decide. Past or future? Truth or lies?
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I hold my breath and wait for him to let me go. Finally, he takes a shuddering breath and steps back, clearing his throat. I watch as he reaches over the back of the couch and comes out with a throw pillow. He stands in front of me with it bunched in his hands. “Again.”
I get myself balanced and snap a punch into the center of the pillow.
“Now with the left. Same thing.”
I try with my left and it feels slower and clumsier. “Guess I’ll have to hope he doesn’t grab me by the right arm, huh?”
“You’re right-handed, so using the left will take some practice, but it’s the same thing. Solid base, tight core, and snap.”
I try again with my left and it feels a little less awkward.
“Now stagger your stance,” he says, stepping closer and drawing my left foot forward with a scorching hand on my thigh, just below the hip. I fight to keep my breathing even. “As you snap, stay over your base of support, but step quickly from your back foot to your front foot.” His fingertips stroke up my leg as he releases me, causing my breath to catch. He holds the pillow again. “That will put some momentum behind the punch.”
I snap my right arm out, shifting onto my left leg as I do it, and my fist makes a solid-sounding thud into the pillow and pushes Alessandro back a half step.
He tips his head at me and his eyes flare. “You’re a natural. I want you in my ring.”
At the image of Alessandro, sweaty in a boxing ring, my heart skips. “Better be careful what you wish for.”
There’s something sexily cynical in his smile as he holds the pillow up. “Again.”
After half an hour, I finally feel like I have it to where I might actually do some damage to something other than my fist if it was to connect with someone.
“You’re a quick learner,” he tells me, handing me the throw pillow. He gestures to the couch. “Relax. I’ll start dinner.”
I toss the pillow on the couch and follow him to the kitchen, where he ducks into the fridge and comes out with two boneless chicken breasts. He pulls down a cutting board from where two are stacked on end against the fridge and proceeds to pound the crap out of the chicken with a mallet.
“There has to be something I can do to help.”
He opens the fridge again and comes out with a bundle of asparagus, which he sets on the counter. “If you insist, you can wash and trim these.”
I wash the asparagus and snap off the ends, then stack it and the two cockroaches on a plate next to the stove as Alessandro drops a cube of butter in a cast-iron skillet, where it sizzles. He rubs salt and pepper into the chicken, then flours it.
“Anything else I can do?” I ask as he drops the chicken breasts into the skillet and browns them.
“Sit and drink your wine,” he says with a wave of his arm at the couch.
I go into the main room, taking my wine with me, and sink into the sofa. I take a long sip. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”
He turns and flashes me that smile again. “Are you questioning my motives?”
“Maybe.” My heart is pounding. Why am I flirting?
I’m sipping my wine a few minutes later when he picks up the plate of asparagus and starts dumping the spears into the skillet. He stops and smiles over his shoulder at me as he picks out the cockroaches. “Touché.”
I smile sweetly back at him.
He turns to the stove and I sip my wine again, but whatever he just poured in the pot smells good, drawing me off the couch and back into the kitchen. “What are you making? I ask, looking into the skillet.
“It’s a traditional Italian chicken dish.”
“What’s in there?”
“So far, just chicken, artichoke hearts, asparagus, cream, chicken broth, and wine.” He picks a jar off the rack over the stove and when he shakes it into the pot, I smell oregano.
He moves around the kitchen like a pro as he prepares the pasta and spoons the sauce over it.
“Is wine okay for dinner, or would you like something else?” he asks as he takes our plates to the small table near the window on the kitchen side of the room.
“Wine is good, but I need a refill,” I say, holding up my empty glass.
He grabs my glass as he sweeps past on his way back to the kitchen. “Have a seat. I’ll be right there.”
I slide into one of the chairs at the table and pick up my fork. I know enough about manners not to start before Alessandro’s back, but that doesn’t keep me from dipping the tines of my fork in the sauce and tasting it.
“Holy Christ, that’s good.”
Alessandro picks up our glasses and moves back to the table. “I’m glad you approve.” He lowers himself into the seat across from me and nods at my plate, indicating I should go ahead. He doesn’t have to tell me twice.
I cut off a hunk of chicken and cram it in my mouth. “Oh, God,” I moan. “Who taught you to do this?”
“Well, the woman deserves a medal.”
I dig back into my food, but just as I cut through a stalk of asparagus, an antenna flips out of my sauce. “Shit!” I scream, dropping my fork with a clank.
But then I hear Alessandro chuckling. He’s staring at me out from under his long, dark lashes, and in that look, I see the boy he was so long ago.
“You son of a bitch!” I say, but I’m laughing. How did I not see this coming? “I warned you.”
I grab the bug out of my sauce and charge at him, but he leaps out of his chair, laughing. “You warned me about cockroaches in your tea. I didn’t put the cockroach in your tea.”
He moves around to the front of the couch, but what he doesn’t expect is the direct, take-no-prisoners attack. I leap over the back of the couch and take him down, tackling him onto the throw pillows at the end and cramming the bug in his face.
And then I realize where I am: lying on top of Alessandro on a couch.
We’re leaving, Hilary.
Everything stops. Me. Him. Time.
I’m plunged backward in time to the rec room. Creed sang “My Sacrifice” from the radio and it was just us, which meant I could do this. I could touch him. He was on the couch in his T-shirt and jeans, and I was on top of him. He was kissing me, but he stopped.
“We’re leaving, Hilary.”
I shake the memory away, my heart beating in my throat.
I climb off him and just stand here for a second, not sure if I should go.
Alessandro pulls himself up and looks at me a moment with wide eyes. His whole body is tense, his shoulders stiff and his hands bunched into fists at his sides.
I smooth my hair back. “I—sorry. I should go.”
He rubs his forehead, then looks at me. “You haven’t eaten yet. Come back to the table.”
We stand here staring at each other for another tense minute, then settle back into our seats.
“I’m sorry,” he says as he fishes the other cockroach out of his food. “It was stupid of me.”
But seeing him sitting there, sucking sauce off a rubber cockroach, is more than I can take. I crack up.
He smiles, unsure, but so soft and so beautiful. “We’re okay?”
“We’re okay.” As I say it, I realize I want it to be true. I want to spend time with him—get to know him again. I want to know what happened to him after he left New York. I need to know how he felt back then—and even now.
I need these things for my sanity. It’s just closure.
I’m not totally playing with fire.
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