Publication date: November 2nd 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
When all hope for moving on from a life filled with pain and abuse was gone, Emily Watson closed herself off to the world, packed her bags, and moved across the country in search of a new life. What she found was a career she adored and friends she loved. It wasn’t a full and complete life, but it was definitely better than what she knew before.
When all hope for being loved and accepted for who he was instead of what he had was gone, Taylor Carter decided that trusting people outside of his family wasn’t really smart and would only lead to disappointment. With his world turned upside down, his life became about his work, and every new relationship was meaningless and superficial. He was safe and definitely content but never truly happy.
When all hope for staying awake during a long day was gone, Emily and Taylor found themselves at the same coffee cart. Little did they know then that the worst coffee they’d ever had would forever change their lives.
When hopeless people are blinded by an endless pain, when contentment and safety feel like the best options, and when love seems impossible, they may just find an exception.
“She didn’t ask the name on the tab to charge the drinks.”
Emily shook her head and shot him an incredulous look. “Of course not, I have connections, remember? I thought that was the cornerstone of this friendship.”
“You took me seriously on that?” His tone and the look in his eyes made his incredulity and embarrassment clear. “I was just kidding. Now you must think that I’m some kind of freeloader.”
Emily giggled remembering Zack calling him that. “So you don’t want to be friends? Man, I feel awkward now,” she teased pretending to get up from her chair.
“No!” he yelped touching her arm.
If someone asked Emily to explain how she felt at that moment, she couldn’t. His touch felt confusing and weird, yet oddly comforting. Even stranger than his touch was her reaction. She should have recoiled. She always recoiled when anyone other than the handful of people whom she was closest to touched her—but she didn’t. Instead, she just stared at the hand that embraced her forearm with the lightest touch. It was as if he knew.
“I do want to be your friend. I wasn’t joking about that, but it has nothing to do with your connections.”
“I know you don’t do dancefloors, but would you make an exception and dance with me?”
His question came as a shock and her reaction to it was an even bigger one. Aside from being close to giddy, her stomach was weirdly fluttering with butterflies. Emily looked him straight in the eye. “You’ll have my back?” she asked.
Taylor grinned at her and nodded. “I’ll have you at every angle.” His words came in such a rush that he only realized the double meaning in them when Emily’s face turned tomato red, and a roar of laughter somewhere between amused and awkward escaped her. His hands instantly found their way to his eyes and, in true Taylor fashion, he began rubbing them compulsively.
“A bit of an overachiever, aren’t you, Tay?” she laughed heartily. Her teasing, almost hysterical tone didn’t go unnoticed; nor did her rising blush, which now flared beyond her cheeks, flaming her ears a deep crimson. Still, he could see the effort she maintained behind her cool facade, and he hoped he was doing a better job at concealing his own mortification.
Laughing humorlessly, he lifted a brow at her. “You know what I meant, smartass. No one will get close to you. Now, are you doing this?”
Emily giggled when another possible double meaning popped into her mind, but she simply dismissed it, for both their sakes. “I’d love to.”
Standing up, he offered her a hand. They walked side-by-side, and hand-in-hand, until they reached the edge of the dance floor where a DJ had taken over from the band and was now playing a remixed version of one of Emily’s favorite songs. From their position, they could see Zack and Toby dancing almost at the center of the crowd and Emily couldn’t have been happier when Taylor didn’t suggest that they join them.
There were people all around them, bodies pressed against unfamiliar ones, arms waving and bumping in the air and strangers talking awfully close to each other. In summary, the place was Emily’s worst nightmare. That was, until Taylor pulled on the hand he was holding, bringing her flush against his strong chest.
Carefully, he placed her hand on his shoulder and reaching for her other one, repeating the motion. As Emily knotted her fingers behind his neck, he snaked his around her waist, holding her tightly, and began to move.
Their dancing started slow, swaying movements from left to right as they gazed into each other’s eyes. The more they moved, the more Emily relaxed, both physically and mentally. There was something about dancing in Taylor’s arms that made her feel free and peaceful, almost as if the mob of people surrounding them had vanished.
Her movements became more urgent, and the few inches that once separated their bodies vanished. With her eyes closed, she was in her own little world, her head thrown back and her hands moving across his shoulders and neck in time with the beat as her nostrils filled with the spicy scent of him.
Taylor danced somewhat stiffly, but he had gotten everything he’d asked for and more. He was, in every possible way, wrapped up in her. His body was tangled with hers, his senses were overpowered by their closeness and his mind was completely overrun with thoughts that would have been scary and dangerous if they weren’t so damn delicious. The only thing allowing him to maintain his sanity was the need to watch their surroundings on her behalf. The task however, was proving itself much less demanding than he’d first imagined, probably an effect of their closeness.
The upbeat notes of one of Emily’s favorite Jason Mraz songs blasted through the sound system, placing a wide grin on her face. Moving against Taylor with her eyes still closed, she touched her cheek to his so her lips were in direct line with his ear. “I love this song,” she said loudly, but with all the noise around them, the words reached him as barely a whisper.
His fingertips dug a little harder against her lower back as her slim body curved and rocked against him and, for some reason, it seemed to make her move even more vigorously. In an attempt to divert his mind from all the places her movements were taking him, Taylor started paying attention to the lyrics both the singer and Emily were singing, but the very graphic words had the opposite effect. Instead of paying less attention to the feel of her body sliding against his, he was paying more.
Through hazy eyes, Taylor watched a layer of sweat form over Emily’s perfect facial features. Every bead of moisture was hypnotic and added a new layer of fog to his brain, and when combined with the way her lips curled around the words that stated every fantasy he should not be having, it made his blood circulate through fewer parts of his body.
Emily was singing the chorus when her lids popped open and her eyes focused on Taylor. His eyes were watching her intently, and through his barely open mouth she could see the tip of his tongue touching the inside of his bottom lip. He looked like something out of a magazine or maybe a movie, and for the life of her she couldn’t peel her eyes from his face and those lips.
He seemed to be just as entranced watching her as she was watching him. Their eyes met, both equally heavy and filled with emotion. Realization of what was happening and the terrifying implications of their actions seemed to hit them both at the same time, equally as hard.
Without removing their arms from around the other, they stopped moving and each took half a step back, successfully putting some distance between their heated bodies.
“I have to go to the restroom,” Emily said in a raspy voice.