New Adult/RomanceDate Published: 6/6/2013
Darcie Claiborne spent several years of her young life living with a monster, always fearing what he would do next. Clasping onto her last ounce of hope, Darcie releases a scream. It’s her final attempt to live; to survive the villain of her reality. Sweeping her up in his arms, Darcie’s knight in shining armor rescues her from the hell she’s been living; from the stepfather she's feared for all those years.
Reggie Evans has been forced to grow up before he’s ready when his mother dies of an overdose, leaving him responsible to raise his younger brothers. One fateful night, Reggie jogs by an old, run down house and discovers a young girl clinging to life as she screams for help.
Three years later, Darcie is healing and always protected by the man who saved her, but now she's fighting with something she isn't prepared to face. The growing love for the man who saved her life three years ago, the same man who’s nine years older. All the while, Reggie fights to protect Darcie from the demons of her past and new ones of her present.
M.S. Brannon was born and raised in the Midwest. She still resides there today with her wonderful husband and son. When she is not writing or reading, M.S. Brannon spends time with her family, watching movies, and discovering new music. She writes romance because she believes love and heartache is the rawest emotion one can experience.
It’s about one in the morning when we pull into the driveway and park next to Reggie’s Camaro. I am wasted. Unable to walk, shitfaced, wasted. I can’t form a single thought and my lips are numb. All the guys are pissed at me. Apparently, I was running my mouth to Vanessa during the entire race and ended up chucking my empty tequila bottle at her head. I can’t remember if it hit her or who won the race for that matter.
Jeremy runs around to the passenger seat and hoists me out of the car. I climb onto his back and he carries me up the back steps into the kitchen. I’m attempting to sing “Creep” by Radiohead, but butchering the song with every syllable when Jeremy sits me down on the counter. Jake avoids me as he makes his way down to the basement. Screw it! I could care less right now. I achieved my goal; I’m drunk as hell and it’s amazing!
I swing my feet back and forth while singing the lyrics to “Creep.” “I wish I was special. So fuckin’ special...”—a little louder now—“…but I’m a creep!” Jeremy’s hand comes across my mouth, quieting me. I jerk my head back smacking it on the cupboard and shout, “Hey! I’m singing, Jer!”
Jeremy hands me a glass of water and a couple of Advil. I swallow the pills and let out a loud burp. He rolls his eyes, trying to hide the smile across his face.
“Do you want me to help you to bed, Darcie?” he asks.
“Ahh, Jer. That’s so sweet. Where’s Presley? She can help me. It might be weird seeing your sis in her underwear.” I laugh obnoxiously at my strange comment. God, I’m wasted.
Jeremy blushes. “She’s with Drake and I’m not going in there. If you need help, then I’ll help you.”
To Jeremy’s relief, Reggie walks around the corner, glaring at both of us. He looks sexy as hell, wearing only a pair of black basketball shorts that are slung low on his hips. I’m practically drooling as I look at the slight trail of blonde hair below his belly button and the defined V of his abdomen. His hair is loose and tousled from sleep. Oh shit. There go my hormones again. I want to rip his clothes off and suck on his…lips? I let out a small giggle followed by a hiccup from my dirty thoughts.
Jeremy’s angry as he looks over at me. “She’s fucking wasted, Reg. She drank a pint of tequila and started running her mouth to that girl she beat up at school. Everyone else bailed on me. I’m trying to get her to bed.”
Reggie rolls his eyes and shakes his head in disgust. “I’ll put her to bed.”
Relief passes over Jeremy’s face. He smiles then sprints out of the kitchen and flies down the stairs, heading for the basement. Man, I didn’t think I was that much of a pain in the ass.
Reggie walks over to me and puts his hands on either side of my thighs. My breath hitches at our closeness and flashes of last night play in my mind.
I press my forehead to his and whisper, “Always my knight in shining armor.”
“Always.” His lips stay close and I’m hoping he will crash them into mine, but he doesn’t.
“I’ve had a bad day.”
He lets out a small sigh and says, “Yeah… I know.”
Reggie slides his hands behind my butt pushing my core against his waist. Butterflies are swarming in my stomach as I wrap my legs and arms around him. I plant my face in the crook of his neck and that familiar smell of salvation engulfs me. It’s divine, a combination of soap and Reggie. Lifting me off the counter, he walks down the hall toward my bedroom. I look into his eyes where I find fierce, ocean blue pools, drowning me in desire. My body is warming with pleasure as I feel his hard muscles constrict with every movement.
Reggie kneels on the bed hovering over me. I let go of my grip and push myself to the top, lying on my pillow. He lifts one of my legs and pulls off my leather boot. It drops to the floor and he repeats with the other. He’s sitting up on his knees between my legs and my body is rushing with excitement. His hands slowly slide down the zipper of my jacket. I can’t believe this is going to happen. I don’t want anything more than to give him the innocent part of me. Now, I wish I was a little more sober.
“Sit up.,” Reggie demands, never taking his eyes off mine.
I comply. His hands skim over my shoulders, moving my jacket down and the heat from his touch is sending me over the edge. Reggie tosses my jacket to the floor and then he leans down and puts a faint kiss to the cigar burn on my left shoulder. My breath hitches from his gesture and I wish he could take all of it away. Using a gentle touch, his hands guide me to lie down. I’m panting with want. All the familiar feelings of our storage room make-out floods my body. Moving off the bed, Reggie pulls the comforter over my body then leans down and places a gentle kiss on my forehead.
Wait. What? He’s leaving me?
The door clicks shut. Embarrassed and rejected, I roll over onto my side and cry for the second time in twenty-four hours.