From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nicole Blanchard comes a second chance, enemies to lovers romantic suspense.
When past and present collide, sparks fly.
Ten years ago I broke Jack Walker’s heart without an explanation and we’ve been bitter enemies ever since. It hasn’t been easy considering he’s my best friend’s brother, but it’s better all around if I keep my distance from the only man I’ve ever loved.
Some secrets are better off buried.
When my mother dies and leaves behind my two teenage brothers, I don’t have a choice but to return home to take care of them. The last person I expect to be waiting for me is Jack. And this time he isn’t going away without answers, even if they may ruin us both.
Survivor takes place in the First to Fight series, but may be read as a standalone.
Being in this room is a clusterfuck all on it’s own. I roll my shoulders and glance at the walls, certain they’re closing in on me. A bunker would be more comfortable than being trapped in this room with the woman who kicked me to the curb.
Forcing myself to face her, I sigh heavily. I shouldn’t have come down here to confront her when I heard the window open, followed by her muttered curse. But I’d lain in bed, in her house, surrounded by ghosts of her and given in to the need to see her face.
Because I’m a fucking tool.
A flush darkens her neck and travels to her cheeks. I scowl at her, causing her chin to jerk up and her eyes to flash. Anger I can deal with. Anything is better than letting my dick get off on her skin-tight jeans and dangerously low-cut shirt.
Crossing my arms over my chest, I lean against the door jam and study her. She’s looking down at her feet and over my shoulder, anything to keep from looking me in the eye. Even though I know I’ll regret it later, I take in how much her hair has grown, nearly down to her ass now. It’s pulled back in a tie at her nape, but the sleek like of it winks around her shoulders.
“There were some things of mine I wanted to get before the house was ransacked by relatives.”
I raise a brow. “So you thought sneaking in through a window in the middle of the night was a good idea?”
“What’s the matter, Jack?” she spits back. “Are you upset I didn’t crawl through the window to get to your room instead?”
“No,” I respond mildly. “I’m upset you didn’t come here to see your brothers. Or your mother. But I shouldn’t be surprised. You left all of us in the dust a long time ago.”
Her face leaches of all color. For a moment her lip trembles faintly, the show of emotion so hastily covered with scorn I can’t be sure it was ever there. “My family is none of your business.”
“You’ve got that wrong.” My voice is low, lethal. “Your family has been my business for the past decade. What they aren’t…is yours. I hope you got what you were looking for because if you’re not off of this property in the next five minutes, I’ll have Logan over here in ten to escort you off.” It’s an empty threat, but she doesn’t have to know that. I learned a long time ago, the best way to goad Sofie into something is to make her think she can’t have it.
“I’ll be out in three,” she says through gritted teeth. Her eyes flash and her movements are stiff and jerky. She keeps looking back at me as she inches her way to the door.
She folds the papers in fourths, then tucks them in the pocket of her too-tight jeans. I’d have to be dead to ignore the way they mold to her firm thighs and ass, but the lust that tests the fit of my own jeans only serves to piss me off even more. Ten years and my reaction to her hasn’t dulled—on either end of the spectrum.
I follow her sleek bobbing ponytail through the house, noting the open window in the living room. “You couldn’t use your key?” I ask, tucking my hands in my pockets to stifle the need to run my hands over her hair and tug it back to force her to look at me.
“I don’t have one,” she says, tugging the front door open. “I gave it to Mom the day I left.”
The casual reminder of that day is like a right hook and the effect is just as potent. My head nearly jerks back before I can check the movement and for a couple seconds, I’m disoriented. My jaw tics, then I bite out, “If you have anything else you need to get, call me first next time instead of breaking in. We’re both adults. The least you can do is act like one.”
She flutters her lashes at me. “Where’s the fun in that?”
“Will you be in town for the funeral?” I ask, more for her brothers’ sake than any curiosity of my own, not that I’d admit to it if I were. “Donnie and Rafe would love to see you.”
Her eyes dim and lower to study the worn rug at our feet before she glances back up, schooling her features. “I don’t think I will, I have to get back to work.”
I blow out a heavy breath and laugh, though it’s hollow. “Really, Sof? How can you be so heartless? Your mom is dead. Your brothers are orphans. They need their sister right now. What the hell happened to you? What happened to the girl I used to know?”
She takes a step closer, bringing us toe to toe. She’s a good foot shorter than me, but she looks me dead in the eye and says, “My brothers are better off without me and you are, too. I’ve got everything I need, so don’t worry about any other nighttime excursions. I’ll be back in Hampton by tomorrow morning.”
“The funeral is the day after tomorrow,” I tell her retreating back. “In case you’d like to pay your respects.”
She pauses on the top step, turns, and surprises us both by saying, “It was good to see you, Jack.” Then she disappears into the night.
I lean against the porch railing, gripping it with both hands, and hang my head. I knew her mother’s death would draw her back to Nassau. I’d spent the past week on tenterhooks waiting for her sleek little coupe to blow through town like she did when my sister’s son was kidnapped a year ago.
But just because I was expecting it, doesn’t mean I was prepared for it.
The coupe revs in the distance and I see her twin red brake lights shining through breaks in the trees as she drives away.
Seems like the only thing I’m good at when it comes to her is watching her leave.
Best Friend’s Brother, Enemies to Lovers, Second Chance, Redemption, Protector Hero, Small Town
Graphic Sex / Violence, Description of Sexual Assault on Page