bEFORE US - CHAPTER 1

WHEN I LEFT his bed, I wondered where I’d gone wrong. Why life was throwing these curveballs at me. At us. Why had it decided to play these evil tricks on my heart?

I was happy. Content.

And then he showed up.

I was in another country and he still found me. Was he looking for me? Did he even know I existed before he sat down across from me at the little café in Paris?

“Piper.”

My name on his tongue was like a kiss to the back of my neck. The deep timbre slid over my body, touching every inch of me. Inside and out.

“You know who I am,” I said, allowing my eyes to rake over his large form. The leather cut he was wearing did nothing to hide the muscles beneath it.

I remembered him from when I was a girl, but now I was looking at him with the eyes of a woman.

“Of course I know who you are.” He sat forward, his smoky-gray eyes dropping to the cleavage poking out from my shirt. “Are you on vacation?”

“Backpacking.” I noticed his full lips, my mouth watering at what it would be like to kiss him.

It had been years since I had seen Jaron Mercer. Probably since before I even hit puberty. But the way he was looking at me now made me realize that I was no longer the little girl he used to tease with the other boys we grew up with.

“Your parents let you come here by yourself?” He raised an eyebrow and licked along his full bottom lip.

Heat rushed through me, my heart picking up speed at the small movement. “Who says I’m alone?”

He smirked, causing dimples to form in his cheeks.

Letting out a slow breath, I reached for my glass of water with a shaky hand. “Are you on vacation?” I asked, taking a sip of the cold liquid.

His smirk grew. “I was here on business, but now I think I’ll add some pleasure to this trip.”

“What kind of pleasure?” I asked, suddenly curious about the man I no longer knew.

As soon as that question left my mouth, the rest of the night ended up in a blur.

Every part of me tingled with the memory of him touching me. Kissing me. Consuming me.

I looked back at the man lying in the bed. The white sheets hung low on his hips, the large tattoo of a skull with horns moving slightly on his back with each breath he took.

My hands tingled, itching to reach out to him and crawl back into his warmth. But I couldn’t. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to get home. I had to get away from the man who would destroy everything I knew and save me just the same.

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