Keyboardist Kyle Cross may look like a bad boy with his tattoos and piercings, but he’s really the good guy who’s always stuck fixing his band’s problems and never gets the girl. His band is competing in a college Battle of the Bands, but when their bassist doesn’t show, Kyle must track her down with the help of the person he least expects: his ex-girlfriend Alexis Monroe.
Kyle hasn’t seen Alexis since she dumped him in high school, and she’s dropped her preppy image for fiery red hair and a bold new attitude to match. With only hours before his band goes on stage, Kyle has to be a little bad if he wants to win both the Battle and the girl he’s never gotten over. But when their old problems resurface, the good guy might just get his heart broken all over again.
She rested her hand lightly on mine, like she wasn’t sure if I would pull away. “Kyle, it’s always been you.”
I missed this. The simple things, like holding her hand. The way she flipped her hair over her shoulder. The glint in her green eyes when she laughed at something I said. The freckles on her cute nose peeking out from under her makeup. The softness of her red lips, the delicate curve of her neck, the swell of her breasts…
I looked away, clearing my throat. “Alexis, what do you want from me?”
Her hand tightened around mine. “Three years ago, I made a huge mistake. It killed me to break up with you, and I’ve regretted it ever since. I should have tried to make it work long distance, but I messed up.” Her voice trembled, but she went on. “I know you’ll probably never forgive me for what I did, and I don’t blame you. All I want now is a second chance to try to make it up to you. To do something different this time. To prove I never stopped loving you.”
Her words woke up something within me—a memory of what we used to be and a spark of hope for what we might be again. “I am happy to see you,” I admitted, referring to what she’d said in the car. “But why should I believe anything will be different this time?”
She raised her free hand to my cheek. “Because I’ve changed. I’m not afraid to be who I am anymore. I’m not afraid to fight for what I want. Who I want.”
I wanted, more than anything, to believe her. I leaned into her touch, staring at the girl I had always loved, who said she still loved me. I didn’t take my eyes off her as she trailed her fingers down, along my stubble, tracing my jaw. Her touch was soft but direct, like she was exploring the changes in my face since she’d last seen me. I held completely still. I didn’t blink. I didn’t breathe. If I moved, I’d break the spell over both of us.
Her fingers skimmed down my neck, and she laid her hand against my chest, digging her fingers into my Joy Division T-shirt where it said, Love Will Tear Us Apart. She was already so close, her thigh pressed against mine in the tiny booth, her strawberry-and-spice scent tickling my nose with each breath. Being with her again was so familiar, so comfortable, so right. I couldn’t stop myself from moving closer, resting my hand on the curve of her shoulder, lowering my head to hers. I closed my eyes, savoring that instant before our mouths met, before everything changed between us and there was no going back.
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Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.