She’s spent her whole life acting. But can she make him believe she doesn’t love him?
Three years ago, a terrified girl named Emma fled a world of crime and abuse in Chicago and bought a one-way ticket to New York. She reinvented herself as an actress, enrolled at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy and buried her pain beneath a vivacious new persona. Her new name was Jasmine.
Now she has to pull off the performance of her career.
Landing her dream part in a police show, she finds herself falling for her co-star, Ryan, a real-life cop. If she lets him get too close, he’ll awaken memories she doesn’t want to face and uncover secrets that could endanger them both. But how can she keep a guy at arm’s length when she has to kiss him on camera?
The last place Ryan imagined himself was on a TV show. Blaming himself for the death of his partner, he’s on a downward spiral of rage and guilt. The show is his last chance…but how can he keep it professional when his co-star is a woman he’s crazy about?
As their on-screen and off-screen relationships merge, things go from hot to blistering. But when Jasmine’s old life catches up with her, will a cop be the one person she can’t be around…or the only person who can save her?
I’d stopped in at my apartment to grab something to wear and I was suddenly very glad I’d changed at home and thrown a sweatshirt over the top for the journey. I mean, logically, the gym must have had a women’s changing room somewhere, but I couldn’t see a single woman in the place. Everyone looked like a boxer or a marine and the equipment didn’t get any more advanced than big lumps of heavy metal to lift and punchbags. When I walked in, every head seemed to swivel to look at me, and my layer of Jasmine was worn too thin for me to completely ignore it, or relish it as I normally would.
Then I saw him, standing barefoot on a gym mat in gray sweatpants and a black tank top. It was the first time I’d seen his arms and I could see a tattoo on his bicep. He looked like a colossus, standing there with his feet braced apart and his arms folded. I swear a rhino could have charged at him and it would have bounced off.
I walked over to him, trying not to show my nerves. “Okay,” I said. “What are we doing here?”
He beamed at me. “Unarmed combat.”
My insides turned to ice. Why hadn’t he told me?! But why would he? He thought I was the happy, bubbly person I always sold to the world, without a single nightmare in her head. It wasn’t his fault; it was mine.
I could walk away. I could tell him I’d changed my mind and just walk out. But then he’d know something was wrong and he’d start to suspect. I had to push through it and hope I could hold it together.
He must have seen my hesitation because he gave me a doubtful smile and said, “Relax! It’ll be fun. I won’t hurt you!”
I won’t hurt you. A thread of memory pulled tight, glittering and sharp in my mind.
I made my feet take a step toward the gym mat.
“I’ll teach you how to throw me,” Ryan said. “You’ll get to toss me around. It’ll be fun.”
It’ll be fun. The memory screamed and broke, like a guitar string snapping.
Do Jasmine, I thought desperately, and formed my mouth into a goofy smile, but it felt like trying to mold someone else’s face with my hands.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Sure.” I was trying to slow my breathing down. “What do I do?” I walked onto the mat until I was within touching distance.
He was smiling again. The innocent smile of a friend showing another friend something cool. “Okay. Let’s say someone grabs you from the front.”
His huge hand reached out and gathered the front of my tank top. Gently, taking care not to damage it and making sure he didn’t brush a boob by accident. He was being the perfect instructor.
Except, in my mind, we weren’t in a brightly-lit gym. We were in the back room of a bar.
“Now what you want to do, as I pull you towards me, is resist the instinct to pull away. That’s going to put you off balance. Step forward, instead, quickly. Before he knows what’s going on.”
I can’t step forward I’m too frightened it smells like cigarettes in here–
My feet felt like they were encased in ice, but I made them shuffle forward.
Ryan put his hand on my wrist. Warm and gentle, but in my mind–
Hurts it hurts he’s wearing rings and they’re digging in–
“Okay, now bring your arm up like this,”–Ryan lifted my arm. It was loose and floppy, no strength in the muscles–”and grab my wrist here and twist outward.”
He waited, but my hand made no move to grab him. Fear was surging up inside me like freezing white water, as unstoppable as being sick.
“Jas–” he started to say, and touched my face.
It erupted from the dark, from the swirling waters that were Emma. It punched up through Jasmine, tearing a hole clean through her, and blasted out around the gym, all the pain and fear given voice. If screams can have a color, this one was black.
A Kindle Fire HD7 (US & CAN)
A Fenbrook Academy T-shirt (choice of size) (US & CAN)
3 x $10 Amazon gift cards (INTL)
I’m a New Adult Romance author who loves writing about what happens when love and dreams collide with the real world. I wrote my first novel, Dance for Me, in daily chunks in a very busy, very noisy coffee shop, which meant I had to order a black Americano every hour, on the hour, to keep my seat and wound up wired on caffeine most days. I hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists in summer 2013. Unlike my characters, I can’t dance.