“I’ll ruin us,” Jackson whispered to me in the dark.
Monsters exist. I’d seen that firsthand. Beautiful faces could hide the most tainted souls, that much I knew for sure.
I’d said goodbye to Jackson Parker, desperate to save myself once and for all, but old habits die hard. Every kiss, every touch, every word he’d given me felt imprinted on my skin.
But when a monster from the past comes back, I’ll have no choice but to reveal the secrets from our shared history.
I need Jackson to be my hero, but he has his own scars, and I don’t know if we can conquer the past.
Heartbreak Prince or lover? There’s a fine line between the two.
I once said I would love him forever, but at what price does forever cost?
Maybe my very soul…
If you haven’t read Heartbreak Prince, STOP, go read it first!
At the end of the last book, we learn that Caiden has awoken from the two-year coma. He appears to have no memory of the havoc and pain he caused. Not only with the accident itself but in the aftermath with Jackson. This book starts with a look back, with Caiden telling Jackson his version of what happened in the car before the accident.
In the previous book we learned what happened to Everly that night, so right now I’m so very angry at Caiden. The fact remains that he ended up in a coma after so maybe a bit of slack.
Jackson is determined to win Everly back, but she has distanced herself from him. She hasn’t seen him in three months and has started dating hockey player Landry Evans. However, the moment she sees Jackson all thoughts of distance disappear.
Her first encounter with Caiden appears to leave him confused and remorseful, but Everly will have none of it, or him. She ends up having dreams about not only the accident itself but of the confrontation with Jackson afterward.
As Landry’s girlfriend, his thought not hers, she had to go to the Championship after party. Unfortunately, while staying away from the football players hanging with Jackson and Caiden, she gets pushed down the stairs.
This is just one of my favorite scenes.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he muttered to himself.
I traced his features with my gaze, memorizing everything just in case this was the last time I ever got this close to him again. His hair looked more silver than gold in the moonlight, casting him more as the dark, mournful prince than the golden king he was by the light of day.
He turned to me all of a sudden. “Why were you so scared tonight?” he demanded.
“What do you mean?”
“Why was Caiden the first person you thought would push you down the stairs? Why were you so scared?”
I gaped at him, my mouth opening and closing, no words coming out. Not once in all these years had he ever come even close to asking me for my version of what happened. Not once had he ever asked me about Caiden.
“Did you feel like he would do something to get back at you because of that summer? Because Caiden’s not like that. He was asking about you as soon as he could. He misses the hell out of you.”
That feeling that had begun to wind its way through my veins, the one that felt suspiciously like hope…it evaporated in an instant, leaving nothing but ash and disappointment.
We looked at each other for a moment, and I registered the confusion in his gaze as he saw what must look like utter devastation in mine.
I fixed my clothes and then turned over so I could get away from that stare of his.
He didn’t say another word.
Despite what had just happened, the pain medicine and how heavy my head felt made it easy to fall back asleep.
The next time I woke up, it was to heat, a veritable inferno that covered every one of my limbs. Jackson surrounded me, his large legs and arms enclosing me tightly. I didn’t know how it was possible for me to feel so sheltered, so secure…even after everything…but I did.
“You didn’t think he would push you to get back at you, did you? You were just scared,” he said hollowly, and somehow, I knew that he hadn’t slept at all. I stiffened, and he pulled me against him so that I was lying against his chest, his steady heartbeat keeping me grounded in the moment.
“Because I’ve been thinking about it, going over the night of the accident and tonight over and over again these last few hours…and I can’t get that look you had out of my head. It was like you’d experienced evil. You were scared down to your soul.” He idly traced down my spine.
He sat us up abruptly, making me look at him as he held my face with both hands. “What haven’t you told me?” His tone was harsh and demanding. And it pissed me off.
How. Dare. He.
How dare he demand answers when he wouldn’t let me have even one answer all those years ago? How dare he demand answers when I had to recover from my injuries all alone? Memories of how excruciating PT was, how I had to relearn how to walk…how painful my surgeries were barreled through my mind. My head hurt so fucking bad right now, and once again, it was the Jackson show. It was all about what he wanted.
This night was giving me whiplash with how soft he was in the beginning. But this…this was the Jackson I knew.
I tried to lash out and slap his face, but the pain of moving was too much. Jackson was holding me in place anyway. He pulled me back against his chest, and it was a testament to how in pain I was that I didn’t even bother struggling.
His body was shaking as he held me tighter, as if he was having an internal debate.
This time, I didn’t fall back asleep.
By the time daylight cracked through the window, I felt even more like shit than I had the night before. And Jackson didn’t look any better. He had held me the rest of the night, not letting me move an inch. The intensity of his thoughts barreled against me. It was like he was trying to see inside my head and uncover my secrets.
Strangely, the urge to blurt everything out wasn’t there. There had been a time for Jackson to believe me.
And it had passed.
In the light of day, it was easy to remember why I’d said goodbye in the library stacks. Because there had been a time for Jackson to be my hero. And he had failed, a million times over.
I didn’t think it was possible for him to make that up to me.
“I need to get back,” I told him hoarsely when he still hadn’t let go, and I could tell by the light that was coming in from the window that it was getting later and later in the day. I didn’t have any intention of going to class, but I at least could get a little bit of sleep while Melanie was in class.
“Fine,” he said stiffly as he got out of bed. I carefully averted my eyes from his too beautiful form as he disappeared into the bathroom.
I grabbed my crutches that Jackson had brought in while I was asleep, and hobbled into the hallway, looking for another bathroom, found one, and then promptly gasped when I saw myself in the mirror. My eyes looked like a raccoon’s, and my hair looked like squirrels had taken up residence in it.
I can’t believe Jackson actually kissed me looking like this…
I felt around the back of my head and neck to see how it was faring, and winced when I happened upon a particularly sensitive area.
I felt pretty pathetic in that moment. The woman staring back at me in the mirror looked haunted, exhausted…hopeless.
Is this how it would be forever?
My thoughts drifted to that feeling of terror as I’d begun to fall down the stairs. In the light of day, it didn’t seem as clear that someone had pushed me on purpose as it had last night. Was I just being paranoid? The house had been crowded after all.
And what did it mean for me if it had been on purpose? Who was targeting me?
“Everly?!” Jackson’s voice sounded down the hallway. It was a little panicked.
I took a deep breath and crutched my way out of the bathroom. “I’m right here,” I called out, and he appeared around the corner, looking relieved to see me.
“You shouldn’t have gotten up without me,” he scolded me. I just rolled my eyes. I’d had to do a lot of hard things without him. This was easy compared to those things.
Jackson helped me back down the hallway, and I actually paid attention to his place this time. Everything was decorated in muted greys and blacks. It was austere…perfectly neat. Everything looked like it had been placed there on purpose.
It looked more like a museum than a home. Although saying that…what did I know about a home?
“Nice place,” I commented as he opened the garage door for us to leave.
“Yeah,” he grunted, evidently back to responding to me in monosyllables, even after what we’d shared last night.
He helped me into his truck, and then we were off, heading back to campus.
We went through a coffee shop drive-through, and before I could give him my order, he told the barista my exact drink.
It was so bad how happy it made me that he still remembered that detail. So bad.
The barista handed him our drinks, and he gave me mine nonchalantly, as if I wasn’t having a freak-out in the passenger seat next to him.
We continued to drive quietly.
“Do you still journal?” he suddenly asked.
It was a really random thing for him to say. “Um yeah, every day, just like always,” I responded quietly, thinking about the spot under my bed where I’d moved them to after keeping them in my car for the first part of the semester.
He nodded, evidently not having anything for follow-up.
We pulled to the front of my dorm, and he shut off the truck and proceeded to open his door.
“What are you doing?” I asked, panicking for some reason.
“Helping you inside of course.”
“I don’t need your help,” I spat at him, irrationally angry, even as I hung on to the coffee he’d just purchased for me so perfectly.
“Why are you fighting me so hard?” he snarled, turning towards me.
I gaped at him. “What part of ‘we’re done’ did you not hear?”
“We’re never going to be done. It doesn’t matter what you say. You’re poison, but even if I have to die to taste you, that’s what I’ll do.”
I laughed bitterly, even as his words did something crazy to my insides.
Jane, C.R.. Heartbreak Lover: A Bully Romance (Broken Hearts Academy Book 2) (Kindle Locations 945-1009). Kindle Edition.
While Jackson does take her journals, he is foiled in his attempt to read them. Caiden was at his home when he returned, and they spent the day playing video games and eating junk food.
The more Jackson thought about it the more things didn’t add up. Throw Landry into this mess and well things do get very interesting. Even more so with Everly’s roommate Melanie upping the stakes with her pranks.
This book is even darker than the first and I found myself wondering how anything could possibly resolve.
An emotional rollercoaster, filled with anxiety, darkness, romance and so much more!
5 Contented Purrs for C.R.!
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I’m a wife, mother, and author! Writing has always been a passion for me and publishing my first series is a dream come true. I drink too much caffeine, never sleep, and my imagination is always churning out ideas. Eva and her men have been in my head for a while, and I’m so glad to finally take you with me on this journey!