By: Tara Lynn


Thanks to my super awesome family. You guys are my life.

Thanks to my friends, who indulge my random creative disappearances.

Thanks to my fans! I wouldn’t be writing without you!



I shouldn’t be burning with as much anger as I was right now.

I was too young for a lot of awful things that happened to me, but this surely had to rank near the top of the list. And again, it was happening in my own house, in my very own living room.

And again, my mom was bringing it upon me without a care in her little head.

“Please Eliza,” she said. “Sit down.”

“Sit where?” I spun on her, boiling harder at the sight of her calm face. “Sit on this couch? Sit in my room? Sit anywhere in this house? What does it matter? Thanks to you, there's nowhere I can go to get away from him.”

I jabbed my finger at the cause of my eruption.

“I've got a name,” he said, deep and full.

“I'm never going to need to use it.”

“Sticking with 'brother' then?”

Fire could have shot out of my eyes at the sight of that soft smirk on his face.

Everett Tull. Strange how quickly a name could turn to ashes on your tongue. Once I couldn’t say his name without smiling. Now, I counted the good days as ones without him troubling my thoughts.

Fat chance of that happening anymore.

He stood mirroring my position, standing beside his dad who was seated on the couch. Two very different chemical reactions were happening in this room. My mom – a quiet, slender woman - apparently wanted to bond for life with the apologetic, pudgy man sitting across from her. Me? I’d die before getting closer to the oversized prick smirking at me.

Rett had on a plain dark t-shirt, darkened some more at damp spots. Sweat from football practice? For all I knew, it could be blood. The fabric clung to his muscles of his wiry form. His face lay olive under a deep tan, long and rugged, with a wolf jaw, cliff edge cheeks and a steep nose. The hardened features ran neatly into his pitch black hair and cast a shadow over his copper eyes.

Eyes that now lay fixed mischievously on me.

“Want me to sign you a picture?” Rett said. “You can use it however you want.”

I huffed. “I’ll let you know if I ever decide to head to a shooting range.”

“Hey,” his dad spoke up. “You two don't have to be best friends, but you do need to get along.”

“We got along fine before you two decided to put us in this room together,” I said.

“Well, you’ll just have to get used to seeing each other around.”

Rett seemed to really be taking that advice to heart. His gaze slipped up and down my form, as if I were dressed up for a pageant. All I had on was a T-shirt and shorts, standard wear for a blistering west Texas fall, but my shorts felt awfully too short and tight. My messy blonde hair was slung back in a ponytail. I clasped my arms over myself.

I turned on Mom. “Do they have to move in?” I said. “It's already November. Can't you just wait another half-year until we graduate? Ok, until I graduate, at least.”

“I'm going to be right there on that stage behind you, girl,” Rett said from behind me.

His voice had grown a growl. I smiled. Good, let his fuse light. He might just explode and leave.

“It's not even a year, Mom,” I said. “It's only until spring. I can even move to college early. Heck, I should have been planning to do that anyway, if it takes me far away from here.”

“Eliza, that's enough,” my mom said. “Now we are going to be a family. I know this isn't the first time you've heard that, but that doesn't mean you can't give it the same chance you did then.”

I had to bite my tongue so hard I nearly drew blood. Give it the same chance? She knew how that had ended. She knew.

Now, she was asking me to shut my eyes and shake hands with the father of the guy who had shown me that hell had more than just one level.

“I don't need a family,” I said. “And Rett certainly isn't going to be a help. You know he's a criminal, right?”

Rett's eyes sharpened on me. My heart sped an instant. Had I taken it too far? He didn’t hide his leather cut or his chopper, but maybe there was more to it than him being a prospect for the MC that ran this town. Who knew what he’d done for them already? If he literally killed me right before I could flee this town, it’d be the most ironic thing I could imagine.