I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
We’re pretty quiet as we pull into the pier parking lot, not too far from the restaurant. The place is packed. There are a lot of people waiting outside and there’s a line at the take out window. I put the car in park and cut the engine, reaching for the door handle when her voice stops me.
“Can I just…wait here? In your car?”
I let go of the handle. Dread makes my movements slow as I turn toward her, my gaze meeting hers. “You want to go home?”
“No!” She shakes her head, her eyes wide. The skin around them is still pink and puffy. It’s pretty obvious she’s been crying a lot. “That’s the last thing I want to do. It’s just…I look terrible.”
“You don’t look that bad,” I say, wanting to reassure her.
“Please.” She rolls her eyes and I appreciate the show of sass. “My head hurts. And my eyes sting from all the crying, which is so stupid.” She whispers the last word, her frustration clear. “I just…I don’t want people to see me like this. And in this dress.” She tugs at the skirt, her fingers pinching the fabric tight before letting it go.
“What’s wrong with the dress?” The color looks good against her golden skin and blonde hair. Really, good doesn’t even cut it. She looks fucking amazing.
“It’s too short. Too sexy. My mom says—”
“Forget what your mom says,” I say, cutting her off.
Her eyes go even wider. “But…”
“Do you like it?”
She bends her head down, her wavy hair falling across her face and obscuring her from view. I wish I could reach out and tuck all that pretty hair behind her ear but I keep myself in check. She seems too fragile right now and I don’t want to push my luck. “Yes. I bought it when I went shopping for her birthday present. My brother encouraged me but he’s always looking for a way to rebel against our parents.” She lifts her head, panic written all over her face. “Oh no. I never gave my mom her gift.”
“You can give it to her later.” I give in to my urges and reach out, tuck a few strands of silky soft hair behind her ear, my finger tracing the gentle curve before my hand drops away. I don’t dare touch her anywhere else. Once I start I might not be able to stop. “I can go stand in line and order at the pickup window.”
A shuddery breath escapes her. “You’d do that for me?”
“Yeah. Sure. We can eat in the car. Or if you’re feeling more comfortable by the time I’ve got the food, we could eat at one of the tables over there.” I gesture toward the group of picnic tables that are in the back of the tiny restaurant, facing the ocean. A few of them are occupied.
She glances down, presses her lips together, as if she was trying to suppress a smile. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
Her words are like a victory.
And I feel like I just won the grand prize.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite. A wife and mother of three, she writes New Adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She is the author of One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend.