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Garrett Andrews has controlled every aspect of his life for as long as he can remember. Whatever he wanted, he took, especially when it came to Laurel Hart. She was the first person to make his heart skip a beat and capture his soul, allowing part of his control to slip, which uncovered his lie and destroyed her trust in him.
Laurel now lays battered and broken thanks to Chase Peterson, a stalker from her college days, who won’t accept no for an answer. Garrett is determined to win her back, obsessing over her care in an attempt to heal both her body and her mind. He will go to any lengths to earn back her trust and teach her to let go of the past, but can he follow his own advice and let down his own walls?
They struggle to overcome their issues and soon Chase is after her again, fixated on staking his “claim” with a startling revelation that links both the past and present. Can they find happiness with each other or is their too much to overcome? Only time will tell if they can learn to let go.
I was just about to succumb to sleep when I heard Laurel scream in terror. I bolted through the door first and saw her upright in bed screaming, “Leave me the hell alone, Chase! Get off me! You’re hurting me! Stop NOW!”
Her arms were in a protective stance around her, swinging fiercely through the air, trying to connect with her imagined target, but her eyes were still closed. Oh, God, she’s having a nightmare of the attack! I’d hoped her mind would avoid this. I knew what it was like to relive an event that tore at your heart and soul night after night, eating up every part of your mind until you felt like you were going to implode. She may not want my help, but she was going to get it! I couldn’t let her suffer through what I did as a child.
I took a tentative step towards her, speaking in soft tones. “Laurel, you need to open your eyes for me,” I whispered. “You’re having a bad dream and need to wake up.”
Her body stilled at the sound of my voice and she started to cry, so I rushed toward her, pulling her tight against me, holding her while her tears flowed.
Several sets of footsteps came rushing through the door all at once. Everyone was asking, “How is she? Did she have a nightmare? Is she going to be okay?”
I felt her flinch against me at the onslaught of questioning. I leaned in toward her ear and whispered, “You want everyone to leave?”
She nodded slightly.
“Do you want me to go, too?”
My heart was ready to burst with joy when she barely uttered, “No.”
I held her tight with one arm as the other shooed everyone out the door.
When the door closed, she finally looked up at me. The amount of fear in her eyes told me we had a long battle ahead of us. “Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.
Her eyes bugged out and she shook her head. She began to open her mouth, stuttering the words, “I-I… I can’t…not yet.”
“Would you like to come to my room? I can prop you up on some pillows and can keep you as close as you’d like. There’s room for both of us in my bed, and I promise I’ll do nothing more than hold you while you sleep.”
I could tell she was thinking about it and sighed deeply as she answered, “Okay.”
If her dreams were anything like the ones I had after my parents died, I knew she would wake often during the night and need someone she could reach out to. I pulled her covers back and carried her to my room. Her eyes went wide, taking in the sight of my king-sized walnut bed, decorated with the same burgundy patterns as her bed in Waters Towers.
“I happen to prefer dark, rich colors, too,” I said as I slid her underneath the covers and gently kissed the top of her head. “Are you comfortable?”
She nodded. “Thank you.” Her voice was soft, but still shaky from her ordeal.
I went around to the other side and pulled on a t-shirt. Just holding her body against my bare chest made me so hard that I could hardly stand it. I needed a barrier between our skin to get through tonight. This was going to be difficult, at best, but I would put all thoughts of pleasure aside and focus entirely on helping Laurel recover.
Her eyes watched every move I made as I pulled the shirt on and climbed into bed. I was there beside her with just our arms touching, silent and still, when her voice broke with a soft whimper.
“Hold me, please.”
I turned to my side and pulled her up against me, cocooning her with my own body. “Shh, baby. You have nothing to fear now. I’ll protect you with my life. Always.” I smoothed a few stray hairs behind her ear. “You need your rest. I won’t let any of those dreams, or him, ever harm you again.”
I watched in fascination as her breathing slowed and she finally drifted back into a gentle slumber. After a couple of hours, I drifted off too, content to have the one person who touched my forbidden heart back in my arms again.
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Laurel Hart was a swimming champion until a frightful event and unknown health issues derailed her career. With a recent degree from MIT in Bio-Medical Engineering and an offer to join one of the leading innovators of medical equipment in the world, she plans on making a new life for herself; letting nightmares from her past stay in the past, or so she thinks.
Neither of them wants to date, but she finds herself drawn to him and Garrett uses every excuse to be near her. Laurel’s afraid to let anyone get close, but finds solace in his arms. Garrett is finally able to be himself around someone. Together, they discover a connection that manages to soothe both their souls and starts opening them up to new possibilities.
Once Garrett finds out about Laurel’s past, all rules in regards to "relationships" are changed, because one false move could drive her away. He attempts to calm her nightmares and gain her trust so he can show her who he really is and the relationship he desires from her.
Will they be able to overcome the damage their hearts have encountered? Can they find happiness? Can they trust their minds or will life throw each of them another curveball? Only time will tell if they can learn to trust.
Cynthia P. O’Neill grew up in Clewiston, Florida and moved to Central Florida to attend college. There, she married her friend, love, and soul mate and still resides with their amazing son, and a feisty, four-legged little boy.
In her books, Cynthia draws on her background in healthcare and business, along with her husband’s engineering knowledge.
Cynthia currently writes on all levels of Romance. The Remembrance Series encompasses Young Adult, with a touch of Paranormal activity and a hint of Historical romance. The Learning Series is for those who like a little more steam with their books, falling into the categories of New Adult, Contemporary and verging on Erotica, with a hint of suspense.
She tries to make her writing very personal and close to her heart. Regular life is the inspiration for her books, but her imagination takes them to new heights, opening up possibilities that would normally not exist.