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Tempted to Kiss
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From USA Today bestselling author W Winters comes an emotionally-gripping, romantic suspense.
I fell for someone I shouldn’t have.
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Eight years ago
With every day that passes by, I hate myself more and more. Only when she’s not around, though. When she closes the door and the crisp lonely air reminds me what a prick I am, that’s when the resentment creeps in. I have that sound memorized now. The sound of her closing the front door of her house is unmistakable. It’s not like other doors. It’s heavier, I think, and it has to be older because of the ragged groan it gives. Then there’s a pause and a click, followed by the shuffle of the metal chain brushing against the door as she locks it at the top. It’s so high up, she has to get on her tiptoes.
Then there’s nothing but silence and a hollowness in my chest that reminds me why she’s on the other side of it while I’m out here in the cold, waiting for the dark to set in.
The only saving grace I have is that when the light of daybreak peeks over the city’s skyline hours later, I know she’s waking up with every intention of letting me back in, giving me the only chance I have to make my sins right.
She should hate me for what I’ve done. She should loathe my existence.
Instead she unknowingly takes my hand and offers me the only peace I have in this life. If she knew the truth though… none of this would exist. These moments with her would only ever be a dream. Then I’d wake in the dawn, hating myself a little less than I hate myself now.
There are two sides to my life: The first is the side that protects Laura and holds on to the threads of her trust. Power, greed, and killing comprise the other.
That’s what drives me back to her every morning. I like to pretend I can keep the dark side of myself at bay, if only for her.
The look in Laura’s eyes right now as I stand in her kitchen, waiting for her to tell me I should go—I’ve seen it a million times before. The carefully restrained lust echoes in my own gaze. I’m certain she sees it. Just as I see it from her. I know what keeps me from turning my fantasies into reality. I don’t know what keeps her from acting on our mutual desire. Maybe she senses what I’m hiding. Maybe there’s a deep-seated instinct that warns her away from me.
If only it were that easy to avoid the bad things in life. Simply sense them, these situations, and turn them away. How wonderful this world would be if it were so easy.
“Thank you, Seth,” she says and her soft voice is gentle and sweet. There’s a hint of shyness that stays with her when she lets me in. Her skin flushes a little brighter, although this time of year, it can be blamed on the wind from outside. We’re in her home though, and her cheeks are a touch rosier than they were before we came in here. I have no right to let her innocence stir the flames of desire inside of me.
The microwave beeps, alerting Laura that her hot chocolate is done. “You sure you don’t want one?” she offers over her shoulder. She’s looking more at me than she is at the hot mug in her hand, as if she’s asking me something else entirely. She quickly sets it down when I shake my head and leaves it there, running her hands down her thighs and biting just slightly into her bottom lip.
Leaning against the doorframe to her grandmother’s kitchen, I note that no one’s home. No one else is here to make sure she’s all right. Her grandmother works herself to death and her father…
“Do you want to…” her voice trails off and a warm blush creeps up to her high cheekbones. Nearly up to her hairline. Her nervous laugh brings an infectious smile to her tempting lips. They’re the color of sweet, perfectly ripe berries. Maybe whatever berry her lips were made from were truly the forbidden fruit that condemned mankind to hell.
“Do I want to… what?” I question teasingly, crossing my arms and taking her in. It’s taken a long damn time for her to warm up to me. It took months for her to ask me to come inside. It’s been a few more months now and every day is easier, lighter. Until she’s gone and then I remember.
Laura picks at the hem of her large, cream-colored sweater. Her leggings make her look so relaxed and at ease. It’s been forever since I’ve seen her like this. No more red-rimmed eyes, no more tearstained cheeks. Almost a year, and she’s seemingly whole.
She closes the distance easily enough; her strides don’t give anything away. I’m only aware of how quick she is to get to me from the rapid thuds made by the pads of her feet. Shock and surprise consume me as her dainty hand grips my forearm, her nails barely touching my skin, teasing me. Thump, my heart pauses. She rises up on her tiptoes, barefoot and all, and presses those sweet lips to mine. Thump, my heart races with need and hunger.