Title: There We'll Be
Author: Alla Kar
Series: Together #3
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: November 27, 2015
Publisher: Swoon RomanceSummary:
Respect your elders.
Stay off Sawyer property.
And don’t even think about that Sawyer girl…
Boone Cross was raised with three simple rules, and falling for Josie Sawyer broke every one of them. That is, until a year ago, when he did the unthinkable and she moved away.
Josie Sawyer never thought she’d be on a plane, flying back to Arkansas for the summer, only a year after her heart was crushed into a thousand pieces by the boy her parents forbade her to love. But her father is dying, and being stubborn isn’t an option.
In a town this small, it’s only a matter of time before she runs into Boone Cross.
A lot’s changed since she last laid eyes on him, but some things have remained exactly the same. Boone’s got designs on her and he won’t give up until he gets what he wants.
But as they give in to the need to be together once more, secrets come to light revealing a history of a hatred between their families that runs so deep that even the strongest love may not be able to survive.
A humid gust of wind slapped my tear-streaked face, stinging my eyes. I squinted against the beaming sun and stalked forward through the wooded area behind my house.
I kept going, even after the screams of my parents had faded, trying to get away from the madness I called home. Too soon, I reached the end of our property and the beginning of the Crosses’. I knew I wasn’t supposed to cross the property line. My dad had banged it into my head like there was some sort of Big Foot or deadly disease waiting for me the second I stepped onto Cross land.
But I knew nothing would happen because I had crossed over a few times. Only woods, birds, and silence.
When I couldn’t walk anymore, I lay down on the ground, not caring that sticks and dirt clung to my body. I needed an escape and the blue sky staring back at me was it. I’m not sure how long I lay on the forest floor wishing the sky would take me prisoner, but I finally drifted to sleep.
A deep ache in my lower back woke me, and I instantly climbed to my feet. The sun was lower than before, but through the haziness of sleep, I felt something else out there. It wasn’t menacing or bad, just something.
Pressing the palms of my hands to my eyes, I rubbed until the world cleared. That’s when I saw something in the tree several yards away.
I trudged closer, trying to get the sticks out of my hair. Someone’s leg was swinging from what looked like a makeshift treehouse. It was small and looked like a kid built it. Standing awkwardly and looking up for a few moments, I cleared my throat.
A boy popped his head up and leaned forward to gaze down at me. It wasn’t just any guy, it was Boone Cross. Shit. Shit. Shit. He’d left the summer before, after he was suspended for fighting, to move in with his mom. Every female specimen in our school cried for weeks—or was that just me?—when he moved away. His family owned this land. I wondered if he would get mad I was here. I wondered if he’d tell Dad.
He blinked a few times, a sexy-as-hell bedroom look on his face, but when he focused on me, he straightened. A look of fear crossed his face. What was he scared of? Me?
“It’s rude to interrupt someone while they’re sleepin’,” he said, his Southern drawl heavy on his tongue. His blond hair was cut short, giving everyone the extreme pleasure of seeing those too-blue eyes of his. “Hello? You there?”
I narrowed my eyes and clenched my jaw. “Well, maybe you shouldn’t be sleepin’ in the middle of the damn woods.”
His jaw tightened. “This is my treehouse and you’re on Cross property, Sweetheart.” He gestured toward the sign on the tree behind my head. Private Property.
Shit. “Oh. I—I’m sorry. I—”
“You shouldn’t be here,” he said, a confused look on his face as he eyed me up and down. “You really shouldn’t be here.”
I wanted to scream. I’d never said more than two words to Boone. Not that I hadn’t tried. Every time I neared him at school, he ran the other direction. I was beginning to think I repulsed him.
“Why?” I blurted out. “You can’t stand to be around me?” I threw my hands in the air. I shouldn’t have been so mad, but I couldn’t help it. He hadn’t given two cents about me during school; I don’t know why I thought it’d be different this time.
Boone shook his head and closed his eyes. “You’ve never been more wrong, Josie.”
The way he said my name was perfect. I’d never heard my name sound so freaking sexy. “Th—then what is it?”
“You’re just not supposed to be here,” he whispered, his eyes still cast downward. I wanted to ask him why he kept saying it. Only when he shook his head and smiled down at the ground, I knew he wasn’t going to say it again. There was something in his face that told me he didn’t care that I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore.
“Y—you want me to leave?” I finally asked into the silence.
Boone looked up at me, and his eyes smiled for him. “You’re adorable,” he whispered, taking me in with his eyes.
My face felt like fire. Did he just call my stuttering adorable? “I’m not adorable. Adorable is what you call your baby sister,” I spit out.
Boone lifted a heavy brow and swung both legs down before plummeting to the ground. For someone so tall, he was oddly graceful. Oh, shit. He was walking toward me. He’d grown a few inches. What was he? Six-two? I was panting like a dog. Why was he looking at me like that?
His gray T-shirt was wrinkled but fit tight around his biceps, showing me he hadn’t lost any of that muscle we all swooned over at school football games. “Someone doesn’t want to be my baby sister, huh? Do you have ill intentions toward me, Josie Sawyer?”
“No!” I barked. “I just don’t want to be called adorable. I’m not adorable.”
His blue eyes twinkled when he smiled. “Why don’t you come up to my treehouse with me?” Where had this come from? Hadn’t he just told me I shouldn’t be here? I guess I was right. He didn’t care anymore.
Sighing, I crossed my arms over my chest, hoping he wouldn’t notice the way my arms shook. I’d never actually talked to him for this long, and I suddenly felt very underdressed. The tank top didn’t leave much to the imagination and the cheer shorts weren’t helping.
“Because I don’t want to come up to your treehouse.”
“Liar,” he said.
“Didn’t you just tell me to leave? That I wasn’t welcome on Cross property?”
Those too-blue eyes locked with mine. “I said you shouldn’t be here, not that I didn’t want you to be.”
My breath caught. Everything I was about to say drifted off and evaporated into the air around me. “I—I’m leavin’.”
Boone reached forward, wrapped his arm around my legs, and threw me over his shoulder. I squealed like a little girl and swatted at his back. “Let me go! Right now!”
Boone stopped like he was pondering the idea but then shook his head. “Nah, I don’t think I will.” He clung to my thighs, his large fingers digging into my skin as he hurled both of us up the small makeshift ladder and onto the platform.
I jerked away from him and glanced around. The treehouse was only a large platform with a short wooden guardrail surrounding it. “What the hell?” I yelled. “You don’t just force someone!”
He rolled his eyes, slid out of his shoes, and leaned back to look at me. “You can’t force the willing. You wanted me to. I could see it in your eyes.”
“Really? I think you need to go to the eye doctor.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
We sat in silence for several minutes while I tried to avoid his gaze. I felt it on me—everywhere. But I was too chickenshit to look at him. “So,” I said shakily, “you movin’ back?”
There was a long pause. “Yes.”
My eyes snapped upward to see a smug smile on his face. “You missed me?” he asked.
Heat burned my cheeks. He was all the way on the other side of the treehouse but felt so much closer. “Just asking. What were you doin’ out here?”
“I’m guessing the same thing as you,” he said.
I snorted. “Doubt it. You tryin’ to get away from World War III?”
Boone didn’t answer, but he watched me closely. Why had I even said that? He didn’t care about my personal life. And I didn’t want everyone knowing. Way to go, Josie.
“Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked out of nowhere.
I glanced over at him, bringing my knees up to my chest. His lips lifted in a small smile. We actually had never officially met. I mean, I’d known him since elementary, but we’d never really hung around the same people.
I shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
“It was here.” He pointed toward the treehouse. “I was ten, so you would have been eight. You were playing hide-and-seek by yourself.” He busted out laughing and I felt it between my legs. It was low, raw, and poured over my skin like silk.
“I was not!”
“You were too,” he said, sitting up. “I asked you if you wanted to play in my treehouse with me. And you said that you didn’t need a boy to play with.”
I fought back a smile. “I don’t remember that.”
Boone dragged himself closer to me, resting his hand about three inches away from my own. “That’s not the best part.”
My body hummed. His scent attacked my every rational thought. It was woodsy and male. Something hard to duplicate. So warm. “Oh yeah? What’s the best part?” I asked.
“I tried to kiss you, and you hit me in the nose.”
What? Something tickled the back of my mind and I vaguely remembered something. “Remember?” he whispered, his voice closer this time.
“Sort of.” I laughed. “That’s what you get, perv.”
Boone was sitting up beside me now, and his shoulder shook as he laughed. It was oddly normal in the most awkward way possible. “Do you think you would hit me now?” he asked, voice dropping an octave. Did he really just ask that? Oh, God. Something heavy lit a fire low in my stomach. There had been months where I dreamed about his lips. About him kissing me like there was no tomorrow.
I turned my gaze to his. “Yes,” I lied.
By the smile on his face, I knew he knew it was a lie. I wanted him to kiss me more than I wanted my parents to stop fighting. More than I had wanted anything in my life. “Liar,” he whispered.
My breath was ragged. He wasn’t making any sudden moves, and my fingers yearned to touch that face—those lips. “I’m n-ot.”
Boone was listening, but by his smile I could tell that he knew I was lying. I liked that about him. He knew what I wanted no matter how hard I tried to hide it. It was like he knew more about me than I’d ever realized. He’d made his way in front of me. There was hesitation and fear in his eyes, but I had no idea why. It was the look a child gets when he’s about to do something he isn’t supposed to. I just didn’t understand why he wasn’t supposed to. “What if this time I let you make the move? Nothing happens if you don’t go for it.”
Now that was a stupid idea. My shyness mixed with the fear of fucking things up was not going to get him a kiss. “I don’t think—”
Sliding backward until his back hit the tree, he grabbed my hands and guided me on top of him. My fingers clenched at the hardness of his tanned chest. His shirt was on, but I could see the smoothness from the low V-neck. “Use me, Raven.”
Raven? The force of my heart jackhammering in my chest was drowning out everything else. I was straddling Boone Cross, in a treehouse, in the middle of the woods, and he was waiting for me to make a move.
“Take your time,” he whispered.
Everything I’d felt for other guys before that moment was history. There wasn’t anyone but him. The taut feeling of his hardness below me. The way his hands kept still on my waist, never dipping too low or lifting too high. Just a heavy presence that warmed and calmed me. So different from what I was used to, yet everything I’d always hoped for.
“I hardly know you,” I whispered.
Boone shut his eyes, but a lazy grin spread across his face. “You feel it, though, right? The connection?”
I did, but I didn’t answer. Instead, I ran my hand up his chest to his cheek where the scruff brushed my fingers. His eyes lifted, the bright blue orbs daring me to look away. I couldn’t because I’d never seen anything so damn beautiful.
Boone turned his cheek to kiss my palm but kept his eyes on mine. Warmth enveloped me and a pathetic moan escaped my lips. His chest vibrated beneath my palms. “You better bend down here and kiss me before I break all of my rules and do it myself.”
All of his rules? Did he have rules about all girls, or just me?
I didn’t get a chance to ask.
His fingers snaked behind my neck and dragged me down to meet his waiting lips. The rush of adrenaline was suffocating me so deeply. There wasn’t anything better than this.
“You taste so good,” he mumbled against me, swiping his tongue along my lower lip for entrance. I opened my mouth wider, welcoming the experienced pace of his tongue.
Everything was warm, hard, addicting. The way his fingers pressed against my neck and sides. The way he pushed upward against my rocking hips in the most foreign but unforgettable rhythm ever created. My soft moans were masked by his deep groans, and I was liquid in his hands. I’d never been kissed like that, and by someone I’d fawned over for years.
When I finally pulled away, he rested his forehead against mine and laced his fingers around the nape of my neck. “You’re my own little slice of Heaven, Raven.”
I was too exhausted from want to ask why he called me Raven and too shaky to move. I lay there in his arms all night long.
Something tickled my nose and I sat straight up. My eyes were blurry from dreaming, but I could make out a guy leaning over the table, his face inches from mine. I jerked back and narrowed my eyes.
“You were starting to snore,” he said, fixing his glasses and sitting back down.
Oh, great. I looked around, but no one else seemed to have noticed. “Thanks,” I mumbled.
I turned my attention back to my laptop.
I’d hardly gotten any sleep the night before. My shift at the diner ran really late, and I ended up having to cover someone because they didn’t show. Which explained the embarrassing snoring session in the library.
But dreaming of Boone Cross was like an addictive toxin—so bad for you, but too irresistible to let go. That had been two years ago, but my brain didn’t seem to care; it reminded me of him at least three times a week. The bastard who left me with no explanation, just vanished, was the last thing I wanted to dream of. Why couldn’t I have a dream about Channing Tatum or Theo James? Why did it have to be the biggest, sexiest, redneck asshole I’d ever met?
My eyes burned, but I opened my inbox and started going through my messages. I hadn’t taken a look in a few weeks because of work and studying for my anthropology test. I was lucky most of my professors weren’t into saving trees.
The e-mail was buried beneath all my social media notifications and junk mail. I knew it was my mother not by the e-mail address, but because it had my whole name in the subject line. Josephine Renee Sawyer.
The library was super quiet, but the e-mail set off an imaginary drumbeat in my ears. I couldn’t imagine why my mother would e-mail me considering I hadn’t talked to her since I left for college the year before. I’d never been close to my mother, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. She’d always been distant. So the no phone call, no e-mail thing didn’t surprise me.
I’d left Arkansas in such a rush to get away from the drowning pain. There were too many memories there.
Everyone around me seemed too clueless to the fact my anxiety was suffocating me, but for that I was grateful. News of someone breaking out into a wheezing fit in a library would spread like wildfire. No one wants to be the crazy girl.
My mouse hovered over the e-mail for ten minutes before I gathered the guts to click.
Your father is in the hospital and he doesn’t have too much longer.
It would be wise to come see him while you can.
A sob lodged itself in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. Daddy was in the hospital? How long had he been sick? What was wrong with him? God. I slid my palms against my face and inhaled deeply, trying not to lose it in the middle of the library, but the cry in my throat was overwhelming.
I shut down my computer, grabbed my bag, and ran out of the building. It was May in California and the sun beamed down hotly on me as I dashed across the parking lot. My silver Honda shimmered in the sunlight and scorched my hand when I swung open the door and collapsed against the warm leather.
The sob I’d been holding in broke from my lips and I covered my face. I shouldn’t have let the chance of seeing Boone keep me from going home. My dad was dying? How had this happened?
With shaking fingers, I started my car and drove the short six-minute ride to my apartment. Samantha was at work; silence enveloped me when I walked through the door. The smell of burnt popcorn from the night before pushed everything that was already in position up my throat. Barely making it to the toilet, I threw myself over the rim and vomited.
I stayed curled around the porcelain throne like a snake for almost an hour. It would have been longer, but a throbbing headache eventually forced me up. I got some medicine and made my way to my room.
My phone sat like an elephant beside me on the bed while the TV cast a dim glow over my bedroom. There was no doubt that I needed to call my mother, but I didn’t want to. I’d ignored her for a year. I didn’t want to hear her ask me to come home. I was afraid of what I might find when I did.
Sighing, I dialed her number before I lost the urge. She answered on the third ring.
“Mom,” I said softly. I hated that my voice sounded so soft because she hated it. Speak louder, Josephine, she always said.
But not this time. “Josephine. I’m glad you finally called. I e-mailed you two weeks ago,” she snapped. Her southern accent is deeper when she’s angry. Hell, I would know.
I pulled at a piece of unruly blond hair and grimaced. And I thought things were starting off so well. She never ceased to prove me wrong. “I’ve been busy and it was buried in a ton of e-mails. If you would have called—”
She snorted. “Like you would have answered.”
Silence. We both knew I wouldn’t have. Hearing her voice tell me that dad was dying would have made it worse. She didn’t care that he was dying. She’d shown us that my senior year when she was caught underneath some guy. Loving Dad was a thing of the past for her. This was just something she had to do because no one else would.
“What’s wrong with him?” I finally asked.
Mom’s breath hitched and I swear I heard a sob, but she swallowed it back down. I must have misheard. “He has Ischemic Heart Disease. The doctor gave him a month and a half. But now it’s down to a month.”
A month? The breath I was about to take lodged in my throat, sending me into a whirlwind of coughs. I had one month to make up for an entire year of silence. To make up for a lifetime we wouldn’t have together. A month to tell him how sorry I was for blaming everything that happened on anyone other than myself. I did this to me. I should never have trusted him.
“Josephine,” Mom said. “You need to come home. I know you don’t want to, but—”
“I’m coming home,” I sputtered out. “I’ll be on a flight tomorrow.”
Mom hesitated like she wasn’t sure if I was serious. “Be safe,” she said before hanging up.
My phone slipped from my fingers and landed softly beside me. More tears pulled at my eyes and I felt myself slip backward onto the bed as my body became numb.
There was nothing left in me to break.
My name is Alla Kar. I live in the deep south with my fiancé and Chihuahua. I love to write about alpha males, southern gentlemen and swoon-worthy men! :)