Why does it have to feel so bad to feel this good?
What happens when a girl who's scared of being discarded meets a man scared that he won't be able to discard her?
Holly's family has lost almost everything and now she's left holding what remains together: a rebellious sister, a grieving father who won't admit anything is wrong, bills and debts Holly can barely keep on top of with her assorted part-time jobs... Juggling her responsibilities with college and an ex-boyfriend who wants to be more, life for Holly is anything but easy.
The mysterious new owner of the Hall would appear to have everything, but his dark, brooding presence suggests otherwise and rumors abound. Why would a man so wealthy shut himself away like that? How can a man who has everything already have lost even more?
And can love ever emerge from such damaged beginnings?
A passionate and intensely moving New Adult romance full of the twists and turns familiar to readers of PJ Adams' work, including the bestsellers Winner Takes All and Black Widow.
He saw her approaching when she was only halfway across the park. For a moment he stood there, hands on hips, as if squaring up for confrontation, then he turned and limped away.
This was stupid!
Here she was, striding out across the park, and him trying to out-pace her, like some kind of slow-motion chase sequence.
She should have just stopped, left him to flee.
What kind of man runs away like that? What was he trying to avoid, for goodness sake?
"It's not right," she said, when she was close enough that she wouldn't have to shout for him to hear. "I gave up shifts so I could work for you. I'm out of pocket." Not what she'd meant to say, or at least not how she'd meant to say it, but the words were out now.
He stopped and looked back over his shoulder at her.
"So it's money, is it?" he said. "I've got money if that's what you want."
It wasn't. But then, what did she want?
"That's no way to treat people," she said.
He shrugged. When was the last time he'd given a thought to how he treated people?
"We're all just trying to get by, you know. Even you."
He shook his head now. "I'm not trying to get by," he said. "I don't need to try. I don't need to do anything any more, and still I carry on getting by." There was a bitterness to his words, as if he hated that the world was so kind to him.
Holly took a few more steps so she could stand before him. His expression was hard to read... Angry, defensive, maybe a little vulnerable.
"That kiss," she said. "What was that all about? Did you think I'd just be another of your tarts? A quick shag with a girl from the village. Was that it?"
He looked away, across to where Alfie was chasing imaginary rabbits along the edge of a copse.
"That was never going to happen," she went on. "I'm not like that. It has to mean something to me."
"An old-fashioned kind of girl, eh?"
"No," she said. "Just the kind of girl who doesn't like to be taken for granted. The kind of girl who's scared that if anything like that happened that would be it, and afterwards... well, afterwards, she'd just be discarded like all the others because you're too damned scared to let anyone in past those defenses."
"Is that it?" he said. "You were scared I'd just use you and then toss you away?"
She thought he was going to say something more, but that slight twitch of the mouth didn't go any further. No words, just a clenching of the jaw.
"What is it? What were you going to say?"
"You're scared I'd just toss you away," he said again. "Me? I'm afraid of the opposite. I'm afraid that I wouldn't."
It took a few seconds for his words to sink in, and by then he had turned away, started walking again.
Holly took a step after him, then stopped.
She couldn't work out what was the right thing to do. She had no idea how to respond when a man like Nicholas Blunt said a thing like that.
So she turned, and walked back towards the village, heading for The Bull and reality.
//end of extract//