THE DARKEST PART by Trisha Wolfe
New Adult Contemporary
Cover by: CoverIt! Designs
Pressing the boundaries of both the psyche and the heart, Sam and Holden embark on a dangerous journey that will test the limits of love.
Sam Wintry’s life used to be almost perfect. She was engaged to her childhood best friend and high school sweetheart, Tyler Marks, planning an amazing cross-country honeymoon during her college break. But after a hit-and-run leaves her in ruin, she begins seeing Tyler’s fractured, ghostly presence, and her family believes she’s losing her mind. Not until she completes their journey, stopping along the way to scatter Tyler's remains, will Tyler be able cross over. Only...is Sam ready for him to leave her?
When the black sheep of the Marks' family, Holden Marks, returns to check on Tyler's case, Sam convinces him to give her his brother's ashes. Despite their shaky history, she needs him...plus, he owes it to Sam and his brother. What she doesn’t count on is Holden’s relentlessness to go on the trip.
On the road, Holden realizes just how unhinged Sam has become. Dealing with her psychosis forces him to confront his dark past, making it harder to keep secrets hidden that should remain buried. Especially from Sam, the only woman he’s ever loved. And as Sam starts to unravel the truth, she begins to question if the brother she's unwillingly falling for again is in an even darker place than her.
Rain is coming down in sheets, battering me as the wind sends it sideways. I yank the back of my shirt over my head by the collar, trying to guard against falling pinecones. Wind tears at my bare stomach. I pull my shirt straight and tuck the front into my jeans to shield my skin.
There’s no way she’s out here in this. She wouldn’t be…not for me. But when I turn the corner of the trail, I catch sight of a white T-shirt. And then Sam, her back flush against the black bark of the tree.
Her head is lowered as she stares at the ground. My breath catches in my throat. The rain continues to beat the crap out of me, obscuring my vision, but I don’t blink as I take in her drenched body. Her white T-shirt. Fuck. I’m so fucked.
As if she can hear my thoughts, she looks up. A hesitant smile slides across her beautiful face, and like the lightning striking above, electrifying the air, my heart kick starts. I’m breathing again.
My feet race across the root-covered path, and when I reach her, I swallow hard. Rain water drips down her face, rolling over her full lips, and her black hair is slicked back. Like she just got out of the shower. I try to keep my gaze from drifting lower, but dammit. Her white shirt clings to her body, teasingly revealing the fact she’s either not wearing a bra, or she’s wearing a really thin one.
I’m instantly sporting a semi. I give myself a mental punch to the gut, clearing my thoughts. I don’t know how to start this. My mouth is dry, and if I had any words in my empty head before, they’re long gone. Maybe I misread her paint—
Her arm snakes around my neck, pulling my shirt off my head, and I realize—like a dumbass—I’m still holding it above me. Her other hand goes to my stomach, and I suck in a sharp breath at the feel of her warm skin through the material. Her body presses against me, and it’s so delicate, fragile. She’s shaking. I want to hold her tight. Feel every bit of her.
“What are we doing?” she asks, releasing a small, timid laugh.
I swallow again. “I don’t know…but whatever it is, I don’t want to stop.”
Heat blazes in her eyes, desire. And I try to remind myself that this is Sam. My next door neighbor, and the girl I’ve known since she was in diapers. But she’s far more mature than her years; she sees things clearer than anyone I’ve ever met—is more sultry than any woman I’ve ever seen.
Shutting down my brain, I brush a wet lock of hair from her cheek. She gasps at my touch and bites down on her lip, and it’s my undoing. Gripping her soaking shirt, I pull her to me and press my lips to hers.
It’s soft and questioning, us trying to figure out our beat. It’s nervous and unsure, but as her mouth parts to welcome me in, I dip my tongue inside the hollow of her mouth, taste the sweetness of her. When she matches me, her tongue sliding over mine, mingling, heat scorches the back of my throat. My pulse quickens as a tremor rocks me.
She shivers in my arms, whether from the cold or the kiss, I’m not sure. But all I want to do is make her shiver more. And then warm her. I bend at the knees and grasp her thighs, lifting her into my arms. Something primal is taking over—driving out any hesitation. She latches her arms around my neck, locking her legs around my waist.
I’m moving us forward or backward…I don’t know. But I feel the tree bark against my knuckles at some point, and I press Sam against it, her body molding to mine. Our kiss becomes crushing and hungry, and I’m suddenly desperate, scared for it to end.
I’ve never opened myself up to anyone like this, especially a girl. I’ve made out with them and other things. Hell, I’m a guy. But with Sam…I know I’m vulnerable now. I can feel her reaching in and taking up residency in my soul.
It’s painful and pleasurable and scary as hell.
Thunder cracks above, the rain beats down, but we’re lost beneath a black dead tree—feeling alive.