CATCHING SERENITY EXCERPT Quinn grabs the sketch from the floor, waving it at me like a threat. “This? This proves that I see beyond the surface otherwise you wouldn’t have sat there staring at it for ages, would you?” Some of my anger eases, dips down in the pit of my stomach as I watch him. He’d just revealed more of himself, unintentionally, than he ever had before, and there was no way I’d let that bit of information go without comment. “How do you know how long I looked at it?” He walks away, stepping backward, like he’s only just realized what a slip he made, but I follow, edging him toward the door. “Is that what you’re always going to do, Quinn?” He is almost gone. “Run away because you’re scared?” “I’m not scared of anything.” He takes a step, shoulders back, ready for a fight. “Not a fecking thing.” “Yeah? Then why are you leaving? Because I upset you?” I grab his arm when he turns, making him face me. “Because I made you admit how empty your life is?” Quinn won’t look at me, seems to prefer to keep as much distance between us as possible and I almost let him leave, figuring that he’ll argue with me all night if I allow it. But the emptiness, the need to seek out what is missing in his life from my little cousin, is a warning sign, a flag of caution that tells me he is hurting, far more than he lets on. It’s not unusual, something that everyone else on the planet is going through, but Quinn is the one around Rhea. Quinn is the one that has opened a chasm in our lives just by being here. When I step forward, he retreats further until he is against the door. His swagger is gone. His attitude missing. Standing before me is a scared boy, one who swallows thickly, who blinks as though he isn’t sure what’s about to happen. I’ve never seen Quinn like this. I’ve never seen him as open, as raw as when I reach for him, extending my fingers so that they hoover next to his cheek. “What are you doing?” He grabs my wrist, but his grip, his defense is weak. “Seeing how scared I can make you.” He doesn’t move when I touch him. Quinn holds his breath when I move my fingers across his face. His cheeks are arched, the bones long and supple and he shakes, the tips of his hair moving the closer I get to him. He doesn’t resist me, but his back stiffens when I kiss him, barely putting any pressure at all against his mouth. It’s only when I move his face, when I slip the slightest hint of tongue against his mouth that Quinn makes a sound at all. And then, he responds, like someone has turned a switch in his brain, given him permission to respond. Quinn moves his hands up my back, threading his fingers in my hair, yanking so that my head comes back, but our mouths stay connected. He towers over me, his body moving, grazing against mine. We become motion, heat. I sink further and further into the abyss, forgetting who I am, what I’m supposed to be. There is only Quinn’s mouth against mine and those low, primal sounds that lift from his throat. His breath coats my neck, his fingers dip, they spread against my skin, down the slope of my back, up to tweak and cup my breast. Against my hip, I feel the thick outline of his dick and shudder against him, tightening my fingers into his shirt as Quinn grinds, pushes himself into me harder and harder. He doesn’t stop, isn’t cautious or kind and pushes me up, holding my ass against his squeezing fingers, our bodies coming together, needy, gripping like something desperate, something inevitable. “Feck,” he mutters so low that I barely make out the curse. He is breathless, desperate and I feel it in every swipe of his mouth, his tongue along my skin and the gripping possession of his hands pulling my leg up to his hip, settling me so close that our centers meet over and over, teasing, promising. My thoughts are clearer now. There is only sensation and that drive to complete, to finish, a will older than any of us and it is this Quinn who matches me. Quinn who helps me loosen the tight hold I have on everything weighing me down. There is no logic to this. There is only need and that ancient inclination to fill it. It’s only then, right at that moment, that I realize the past few hours, fighting with him, insulting each other, was the first time in two years Rhea didn’t consume my thoughts and the smallest hint of suggestion flirts in my mind. Quinn had done that, his words, his anger, then his touch, had all numbed me to the sense of loss, to the one thing I prayed every day I could avoid. I break the kiss, pushing on his chest to catch my breath. “You... you let me forget,” I tell him, a little out of my mind with lust, then stoned completely when Quinn moves his tongue across my neck, biting gently against my collarbone. “I can make you forget, Sayo…we can forget together.” But I can’t forget, not completely. Quinn is a bully, a liar unwilling to share who he is with anyone but a dying girl. This thing between us, whatever it is, is a Band Aid, not a fix and no matter how good he feels, no matter how strong that drive is, it will not answer my questions or keep the nightmare that approaches at bay. But maybe, just maybe, it will be enough. “Tell me,” I say, holding him back when he presses forward, needy for my mouth, anxious to taste my skin again. “Why did you draw that?” Quinn stops, staring down at me, watching my face closely for something he doesn’t mention. “Why does it matter?” “I need to know.” Nodding once, Quinn drops my legs, pushes off from the door, and moves away from my body with only a brief touch of his fingertips on my face before he jerks his hand away and moves me aside to open the door. “Get used to disappointment.” And then, he slams the door behind him as he leaves, taking the warmth of his body and the promise of what he could give me. ABOUT EDEN Eden Butler is an editor and writer of Fantasy, Mystery and Contemporary Romance novels and the nine-times great-granddaughter of an honest-to-God English pirate. This could explain her affinity for rule breaking and rum. When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, Eden patiently waits for her Hogwarts letter, edits, reads and spends way too much time watching rugby, Doctor Who and New Orleans Saints football. She is currently living under teenage rule alongside her husband in southeast Louisiana. Please send help.
- (2) $10 gift cards from Amazon or B&N, winner’s choice
- (1) Signed print copy of CATCHING SERENITY