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Some things in life are undeniable.
From the author: Broken is a standalone second chance romance full of heat, heart, and heartbreak. Come see why readers say “Crystal Kaswell is the master of writing sharp, wounded characters who keep you on your toes.”
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The smell of cinnamon wakes me. Then ginger. Cardamom. Tea.
My morning chai calls my name. It screams come to me, Delilah, enjoy this symbol of your boyfriend’s love one last time.
I will. But not yet.
This has to be right.
Our last morning together needs to stay picture perfect. We both need to take this memory with us.
I move to the bathroom. Brush my teeth. Wash my face. Step out of his t-shirt and boxers and into the chemise he bought me for my birthday.
Ivory satin. Matching trim. Simple, elegant, perfect.
Soft morning light flows through the kitchen windows. It casts the room in a heavenly glow. Warms the air until it’s just right.
Trent is leaning against the counter, hands wrapped around his coffee cup, eyes on fire.
His gaze lingers on my chest.
His tongue slides over his lips. “You look like an angel.”
“A fallen angel.”
“What’s wrong with that?” He motions come here.
He sets his mug behind him. Brushes my hair behind my shoulder. Cups my neck with his palm. “You okay, baby?”
Yes. For the first time in a long time, I am okay. I thought deciding to leave would kill me, but it didn’t. It sent relief through my limbs. Washed away every hint of tension in my body. But—”I’ll miss you.”
“It’s only four weeks.” He alludes to his internship in New York. The one that starts next Monday. The one taking him away from his life for an entire month. The reason why this is the best time for me to leave.
“I’ll miss you too.” He stares down at me. “But we have our entire lives together after this.”
I press my eyelids together. Rise to my tiptoes.
No more talking.
I can’t give this away.
I have to leave him with this.
He reads me exactly how I want him to.
His lips brush mine. A soft slow kiss, a kiss of a thousand I love yous. Of affection, compassion, understanding.
I slip my hand under his t-shirt. Commit every line to memory. The jut of his muscles (how the hell does he make it to the gym six days a week with the schedule he has?), the soft, smooth skin, the raised lines of ink. So many more than when we met and they’re mine.
Well, in this moment, they’re mine.
A sob rises up in my throat.
I swallow hard to keep it down. No sad goodbyes. No tears. No regrets.
I can’t do this anymore.
There are so many reasons why I should try, but I can’t. It’s as simple as that.
I can’t do this anymore. I’m leaving. I’m hurting him as little as possible.
One perfect morning.
That’s all I’m asking.
And what I’m giving him.
Trent pulls back with a heavy sigh. His coffee-brown eyes fix on mine. He stares into me, stares all the way to my soul.
Usually, I love the way he looks at me.
Today, I can’t let him find the cracks in my armor.
He has to take his last final in an hour. He can’t know until he’s done. Until he’s ready to put the year behind him.
He slides his hand up my neck, over my jaw, my cheek. “You sure you’re okay?”
I’m not. But I will be. “I really am going to miss you.”
“Come with me.”
“I’ll pay your way.”
I shake my head. This is a sore subject—he doesn’t get my need to stay self-reliant—but I’m not arguing. That’s not how I want to leave things.
I try to think up the proper response, something that will get across how much I love him, how much I want the world for him, how much my heart will always be his—
But words aren’t enough.
I dig my fingers into his skin, rise to my tiptoes, press my lips to his.
My lips part.
His tongue slips between them. Dances with mine.
One hand curls into my hair.
The other goes to my lower back. A soft pressure to push me closer.
The last molecule between us dissolves. Okay, maybe that isn’t how science works. It’s not my strong suit.
That doesn’t matter. This—his body pressed against mine, his fingers curling into my satin lingerie—is art.
He drags his lips to my ear. “You have time?”
“Thank fuck.” He wraps both arms around me. Lifts me into the air like I’m light as a feather.
I wrap my legs around his waist. Dig my fingers into his shoulders.
He looks up at me like I’m an angel. All appreciation. All expectations. All hope.
I let my eyelids flutter together.
Let my body sink into his.
He carries me into the bedroom.
Lays me down on my back.
No more thinking.
I push my straps off my shoulders.
One inch at a time, I roll my nightgown to my waist.
The appreciation in his gaze fades into lust.
Into raw, deep desire.
“Off.” His voice drops to that bossy tone.
My body responds with gusto.
It’s funny. For weeks, months, my body has been apathetic to everything. The second I decided this was the end, it came roaring back to life, greedy for every drop of Trent, for every ounce of experience.