Our secrets define us.
I’ve run far to escape my past. Eight years and almost two thousand miles lie between me and the horror that consumes me. My life is a series of superficial relationships and closed doors designed to keep me safe. I will never let myself become the person I was. That girl is dead, and in her place is a woman who guards her inner self fiercely. I’m not going to let anyone breach those hard earned barriers. Not even him.
But when those secrets come home to roost, I have to decide what I’m willing to risk for my happily ever after. When the evil I left behind finds me, I have to choose. Will I succumb to the girl I was and crumble under the pressure? Or can I break the cycle and finally be free to fly?
I scraped up the last of the ice cream and licked my spoon clean as he laughed. I liked his laugh. A lot. It was rich, and warm, and infectious. It made me happy.
I dropped my spoon so it clattered into my bowl and jumped down from my perch. This was absurd. A laugh shouldn’t affect me that much. It was all just… too much. I felt like I was losing control of the situation. He made me feel things I didn’t want to feel. He made me want. What, I wasn’t sure. But I wanted it with a deep ache that was akin to pain. For no discernible reason, tears burned at the back of my throat. I tried to clear it and placed my bowl in the sink before I turned to Logan with what I hoped was a sultry smile.
I needed to take back some control. And I knew just how to do that.
He straightened and eyed me warily as I walked up to him and slid my hands around his waist before stepping in close. I leaned up for a kiss, but he turned his head, and my lips brushed his jaw instead.
“What?” I asked.
“I’m not going to let you use me to chase away your demons, Zoe.”
His words were said quietly, tenderly, but I flinched anyway. I tried to back away, but he held me in place and wrapped me in a hug. Then he kissed my forehead.
“If this is where you want the night to end up, fine. But it will be on my terms, all right?”
He paused and looked into my eyes as if searching for something. I don’t know what he was looking for. I don’t know if he found it. I had a feeling I really didn’t know much at all. I nodded slowly. After a long moment, he leaned down and kissed me.
That kiss. My God. I hadn’t known what the word truly meant until he showed me. It had nothing to do with the press of lips to lips. The slide of warmth as he tilted my head back and deepened the kiss had nothing on the peace that filtered through my mind. I sank into his touch, and the endless, screaming voices that plagued me, all of them my own, fell still. Gone were the thoughts of inadequacy, the mental rakes and prods that urged me to use sex as a weapon, a tool to get what I wanted. They all seemed silly and childish compared to the truth.
This might actually be Heaven. Or as close as my battered soul could come. True, blessed silence. There was nothing but Logan and the subtle build of strummed emotion.
I’d seen a street violinist once. He was standing on a street corner, his case open at his feet and overflowing with dollar bills. But he didn’t even notice. He’d had his eyes screwed shut as he sawed his bow across the strings and soulful, heart-wrenching music poured forth. You could tell his whole being was funneled through those notes. And when the song ended, the strings continued to vibrate, pulsing with the aftermath of the song and lending a haunting encore that stayed with me for days.
This kiss was that song. Months of pent-up emotion burrowing down into my soul and wrapping around the essence of who I was. And my mind, that cursed thing that screamed and wailed and threw up wall after wall to keep the world safely at bay? All that was left was one last echo, an almost silent buzz that allowed me to exist in only this moment.
Morgan Reeves currently lives in the middle of Iowa, surrounded by lots of cornfields and people with a fanatic love for college football. Her heart, however, will always belong to California. She has two Minions to call her own and a husband who may or may not think she’s insane. Morgan loves to read romance in any genre, and she loves to chat books. She also loves Facebook, so feel free to stalk her at https://www.facebook.com/authormorganreeves or add her as a friend on her personal page. She’d love to hear from you! Free to Fly is her first published book, and is the first in a series of interconnected standalones.