Come to Me Recklessly (Closer to You)

 
9780349406541: Come to Me Recklessly (Closer to You)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Softly, another irresistible new adult romance in the Closer to You Series.

His heart was turned off...
Until she turned him on....

Christopher Moore gave up on the idea of love years ago. Now, his life is an endless string of parties and an even longer string of girls. Enjoying the physical perks with none of the emotional mess, he’s convinced everyone that he’s satisfied—everyone but himself.
 
Samantha Schultz has moved on with her life. Finishing her student teaching and living with her boyfriend, she’s deluded herself into believing she’s content. But there is one boy she never forgot—her first love—and she keeps the memory of him locked up tight. She will never allow any man to break her the way Christopher did.
 
When Christopher’s sister and her family move into a new neighborhood, Christopher is completely unprepared to find Samantha living at the end of the street. Memories and unspent desires put them on collision course of sex, lies, and lust. But when guilt and fear send Samantha running, Christopher will have to fight for what has always been his.

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About the Author:

A. L. Jackson spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three beautiful children. She is the author of the Closer To You Series, including Come to Me Softly and Come to Me Quietly. She is also the author of Lost to YouWhen We CollideTake This Regret, and Pulled.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS
OF A. L. JACKSON

Also by A. L. Jackson

To love and faith.

PROLOGUE

There are few things that hurt so much as a broken heart.

It’s physical.

Intense.

Real.

It doesn’t matter which way you slice it, analyze it, or add it up, you’ll always come up with the exact same sum. The worst part is there is no antidote for this affliction.

They say time mends all things.

I say they are liars.

Maybe time subdues, burying the pain beneath all the new memories we make, tucking it under the burdens and joys and new experiences that life layers on over the years.

But that broken heart?

It’s always right there, lying in wait. Ready to crush you when you’re slammed with that errant, unexpected thought.

But nothing could have prepared me for this—what it would feel like to look up and find him standing inches from me.

From the moment we met, he always had the power to bring me to my knees. I should have known his control over me would never diminish or dim.

I should have known it would only intensify.

Maybe I should have run.

But somewhere inside, I knew he’d never let me get far.

ONE

Samantha

My phone rang with the special chime, the one reserved just for my brother Stewart. I rummaged around for it in my purse while I was browsing the aisles of Target. The grin taking over my entire face was completely uncontrollable. I just couldn’t help it. Talking with him—seeing him—was always the highlight of my day.

Running my thumb across the screen, I clicked the icon where his message waited. I’d never even heard of the app until he’d convinced me I had to get it, teasing me that I was living in the Stone Age, which to him I was pretty sure would date all the way back to 2011. I couldn’t begin to keep up with all the tech stuff he loved.

I held my finger down on the new unread Snapchat message from gamelover745.

An image popped up on the screen, his face all contorted in the goofiest expression, pencils hanging from both his nostrils as he bared his teeth. I choked over a little laugh. The joy I felt every time I saw his face was almost overwhelming as it merged with the twinge of sorrow that tugged at my chest.

Quickly I shoved the feeling off. He told me he couldn’t stand for me to look at him or think of him with pity. I had to respect that. He was so much braver than me, because seeing him sick made me feel so weak.

I forced myself not to fixate on his bald head and pale skin, and instead focused on the antics of this playful boy. The little timer ran down, alerting me I had only five more seconds of the picture, so I quickly read the messy words he’d scrawled across the image.

I’m sexy and I know it.

On a muted giggle, I shook my head, and I didn’t hesitate for a second to lift my phone above my head to snap my own picture. Going for my silliest expression, I crossed my eyes and stuck my tongue out to the side.

So maybe the people milling around me in the middle of the busy store thought I was crazy, or some kind of delusional narcissist, but nothing inside me cared. I’d do anything to see him smile.

I tapped the button so I could write on the picture.

Love you, goofball.

I pushed SEND.

Seconds later, my phone chimed again. I clicked to receive his message. This time he was just smiling that unending smile, sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed, radiating all his beauty and positivity, and that sorrow hit me again, only harder.

Love you back, he’d written on the image.

Letting the timer wind down, I clutched my phone as I cherished his message for the full ten seconds before our Snap expired. The screen went blank. I bit at the inside of my lip, blinking back tears.

Don’t, I warned myself, knowing how quickly I could spiral into depression, into a worry I couldn’t control, one that would taint the precious time I had with him.

Sucking in a cleansing breath, I tossed my phone back into my purse and wandered over to the cosmetics section, browsing through all the shades and colors of lip gloss. I tossed a shimmery clear one into my cart, then strolled into the shampoo aisle.

Apparently I was in no hurry to get home. It was sad and pathetic, yet here I was, twenty-three years old and passing away my Friday night at Target.

Ben had texted me earlier saying he was going out to grab a beer with the guys and not to wait up for him. All kinds of warning bells went off in my head when I realized that his leaving me alone for the night only filled me with an overwhelming relief. That realization hurt my heart, because he’d always been good to me, there for me when I was broken and needed someone to pick up the pieces, making me smile when I thought I never would again.

But with Ben? There had always been something missing. Something significant.

That flame.

The spark that lights you up inside when the one walks into the room. You know the one, the one you can’t get off your mind, whether you’ve known him your entire life or he just barreled into it.

Was it wrong that I craved someone like that for myself?

Maybe I’d be content with Ben if I had never felt the flame before. If I’d never known what it was like to need and desire.

But I had. It’d been the kind of fire that had raged and consumed, burning through me until there was nothing left but ashes. I’d thought that love had ruined me until Ben came in and swept me into his willing arms.

He’d taken care of me, a fact I didn’t take lightly. I honored and respected it, the way Ben honored and respected me.

So maybe I never looked the same or felt the same after he’d destroyed something inside me. But I’d survived, and I forced myself to find satisfaction in that, willed it to make me stronger instead of feeble and frail.

I tossed a bottle of shampoo I really didn’t need into my cart, but it smelled all kinds of good, like vanilla and the sweetest flower, and today I didn’t feel like questioning my motives. In fact, I tossed in a bottle of body wash for good measure. I rarely treated myself, and I figured I deserved it. The last four years had been spent working my ass off, striving toward my elementary education degree at Arizona State University, and I’d finally landed my first real job a month ago.

Pride shimmered around my consciousness. Not the arrogant kind. I was just . . . happy. Happy because of what I had achieved.

I bit the inside of my lip, doing my best to contain the ridiculous grin I felt pulling at my mouth.

Finally . . . finally . . . I’d attained something that was all on me.

Ben was always the one who took care of me. But he also had a bad habit of taking all the credit. Like my life would fall apart without him in it.

Slowly, I wound my way up toward the registers. I needed to get out of here before I drained what little I had in my checking account with all my celebrating.

I rolled my eyes at myself and squashed the mocking laughter that rolled up my throat.

Yep, livin’ large and partyin’ hard.

My life was about as exciting as Friday-night bingo at the retirement home down the street.

But hey, at least my hair would smell good and my lips would taste even better.

Scanning the registers, I hunted for the shortest line, when my eyes locked on a face that was so familiar, but just out of reach of my recognition. Curiosity consumed me, and I found I couldn’t look away.

She was standing at the front of her cart, her attention cast behind her. Obviously searching for someone.

I stared, unabashed, craning my head to the side as I tried to place the striking green eyes and long black hair. She was gorgeous, enough to make any supermodel feel self-conscious, but she was wearing the kind of smile that spoke a thousand welcomes.

Two feet in front of her, I came to a standstill, which only caused her warm smile to spread when her gaze landed on me. My attention flitted to the empty infant car seat that was latched onto the basket, then darted back to her face. My stomach twisted into the tightest knot as recognition slammed me somewhere in my subconscious, my throat growing dry when her name formed in my head before it swelled on my tongue. “Aly Moore?” I managed, everything about the question timid and unsure. Well, I wasn’t unsure it was her. There was no question, no doubt.

What I wasn’t so sure about was whether I should actually stop to talk to her. My heart was already beating a million miles a minute, like a stampeding warning crashing through my body, screaming at my limbs to go and go now.

Still, I couldn’t move. Short gusts of sorrow were a feeling I was well accustomed to, dealing with Stewart and all the sadness his illness brought into my life.

But this?

Pain constricted my chest, pressing and pulsing in, and I struggled to find my absent breath.

God, she looked just like him. I always did my best to keep him from my thoughts, all the memories of him buried deep, deep enough to pretend they’d forever been forgotten, when in reality, everything I’d ever shared with him was unrelentingly vivid.

Seeing her brought them all flooding back.

His face.

His touch.

I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block them out, but they only flashed brighter.

God.

“Samantha Schultz.” My name tumbled from her mouth as if it came with some kind of relief. She stretched out her hand, grasping mine. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s you. How are you?”

I hadn’t seen her in years. Seven, to be exact. She was only two years younger than me, and she’d always been a sweet girl. Sweet and smart. Different in a good way, quiet and shy and bold at the same time. I’d always liked her, and some foolish part of me had believed she’d always be a part of my life. I guess I’d taken that for granted, too.

But that’s what happens when you’re young and naive and believe in promises that turn out only to be given in vain.

I swallowed over the lump in my throat and forced myself to speak. “I’ve been good. It’s so great to see you.” It was all a lie wrapped up in the worst kind of truth.

I dropped my gaze, my eyes landing on the diamonds that glinted from her ring finger where she grasped my hand, and I caught just a peek of the intricate tattoo that was woven below the ring, like she’d etched a promise of forever into her skin.

A war of emotions spun through me, and I wanted to fire off a million questions, the most blatant of them jerking my attention between the empty infant carrier and her ring. My mind tumbled through a roller coaster of memories as it did its best to catch up to the years that had passed.

“Oh my God . . . you’re married? And you’re a mom.” I drew the words out as I finally added up the obvious, and a strange sense of satisfaction at seeing her grown up fell over me. It seemed almost silly, thinking of her that way, considering she was only two years younger than me. Now the years separating our ages didn’t seem like such a big deal. Not the way they had then, when I’d thought of her as just a little girl, a hundred years and a thousand miles behind me. It seemed now she’d flown right past me.

With my words, everything about her glowed. She held up her hand to show me the ring I’d just been admiring, her voice soft with a reverent awe. “Can you believe it?” She laughed quietly. “Some days I can’t believe it myself.”

The joy filling her was so clear, and I chewed at my bottom lip, both welcoming the happiness I felt for her and fighting the jealousy that slipped just under the surface of my skin. Never would I wish any sorrow on her, or desire to steal her happiness away because I didn’t have it myself. I wasn’t vicious or cruel. But seeing her this way was a stark reminder of what I was missing.

Happiness.

I bit back the bitter feeling, searching for an excuse to get away, because I was finished feeling sorry for myself, when Aly’s face transformed into the most radiant smile, her attention locked somewhere behind me. There was nothing I could do but follow her gaze. I looked over my shoulder.

All the surprise at finding Aly Moore amplified, spinning my head with shock when I saw who she was staring at.

Jared Holt strode toward us.

My knees went weak.

The grown man was completely covered in tattoos, every edge of him hard and rough. But none of the surprise I felt was caused by the way he looked, because I’d been there to watch his downward spiral. Part of me was surprised to see he was still alive.

He held an adorable, tiny baby girl protectively against his chest, the child facing out as they approached. She kicked her little legs when she caught sight of her mom. A soft smile pulled at his mouth and warmth flared in his eyes when they landed on Aly.

My heart did crazy, erratic things, and the small sound that worked up my throat was tortured. Someone was trying to pull a sick joke on me, dangling all the bits of my past right in front of my face.

It just had to be Jared.

No, he hadn’t been responsible for any of the choices Christopher or I had made. Still, he’d been the catalyst that had driven the confusion.

The overwhelming feeling rushing over me was altogether cruel and welcome at the same time, because God, how many times had I lain awake at night, unable to sleep because I was thinking of Christopher Moore, wondering where he was and who he’d become? And suddenly here was his world, our world, his sister and his best friend, the people who had been with us and were part of what defined that time—standing in front of me at Target with their little baby girl.

Aly must have sensed my panic. Again she reached out to squeeze my hand. “You remember Jared Holt, don’t you?” She obviously knew I did. There was no missing the look that passed between the two of them, a secret conversation transpiring in a glance.

“Of course,” I whispered hoarsely.

“Samantha,” Jared said as a statement. He handed Aly the little tube of diaper rash ointment he must have gone in search of while she waited at the front of the store. He turned his attention right back to me. “God . . . it’s been years. How are you?”

“Good,” I forced out, wondering where in the hell that word even came from, because right then, I was definitely not feeling good. I was feeling . . . I blinked and swallowed. I couldn’t begin to put my finger on it except to say I was fundamentally disturbed, as if the axis balancing my safe little world had been altered. “How are you?”

The concern that involuntarily laced my tone was probably not needed, because he smiled at Aly as he situated his daughter a little higher up on his chest and kissed her on the top of her head.

“I’m perfect,” he said through a rumbled chuckle.

Aly took a step forward and lightly tickled the tiny girl’s foot.

The little black-haired, blue-eyed baby kicked more. Her mouth twisted up at just one side, as ...

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A. L. Jackson
Published by Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom (2015)
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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A novel of one woman s obsession: a man who s as passionate as he is elusive - and as tempting as he is trouble.from the acclaimed bestselling author of Lost to You and When We CollideLove turned him off . . .Christopher Moore gave up on the idea of the one years ago. Now, his life is an endless string of parties and an even longer string of girls. Enjoying the perks with none of the emotional mess, he s convinced everyone that he s satisfied - everyone but himself.Until she turned him on . . .Samantha Schultz has moved on with her life. Finishing her student teaching and living with her boyfriend, she s deluded herself into believing she s content. But there is one boy she never forgot-her first love - and she keeps the memory of him locked up tight. She will never allow any man to break her the way Christopher did.When Christopher s sister and her family move into a new neighborhood, Christopher is completely unprepared to find Samantha living at the end of the street. Memories and unspent desires send them on a collision course of sex, lies and lust. But when guilt and fear send Samantha running, Christopher will have to fight for what has always been his. Achingly beautiful, heart wrenching . . . few books have EVER reached my heart as deeply as this one did. I highly, highly recommend it! Aesta s Book Blog on Take This Regret. Bookseller Inventory # AA29780349406541

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A. L. Jackson
Published by Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom (2015)
ISBN 10: 0349406545 ISBN 13: 9780349406541
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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A novel of one woman s obsession: a man who s as passionate as he is elusive - and as tempting as he is trouble.from the acclaimed bestselling author of Lost to You and When We CollideLove turned him off . . .Christopher Moore gave up on the idea of the one years ago. Now, his life is an endless string of parties and an even longer string of girls. Enjoying the perks with none of the emotional mess, he s convinced everyone that he s satisfied - everyone but himself.Until she turned him on . . .Samantha Schultz has moved on with her life. Finishing her student teaching and living with her boyfriend, she s deluded herself into believing she s content. But there is one boy she never forgot-her first love - and she keeps the memory of him locked up tight. She will never allow any man to break her the way Christopher did.When Christopher s sister and her family move into a new neighborhood, Christopher is completely unprepared to find Samantha living at the end of the street. Memories and unspent desires send them on a collision course of sex, lies and lust. But when guilt and fear send Samantha running, Christopher will have to fight for what has always been his. Achingly beautiful, heart wrenching . . . few books have EVER reached my heart as deeply as this one did. I highly, highly recommend it! Aesta s Book Blog on Take This Regret. Bookseller Inventory # AA29780349406541

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Book Description Book Condition: New. Publisher/Verlag: Little, Brown Book Group | From the acclaimed bestselling author of Lost to You and When We Collide comes a New Adult novel of one woman's obsession: a man who's as passionate as he is elusive - and as tempting as he is trouble. | A novel of one woman's obsession: a man who's as passionate as he is elusive - and as tempting as he is trouble.from the acclaimed bestselling author of Lost to You and When We Collide Love turned him off . . . Christopher Moore gave up on the idea of 'the one' years ago. Now, his life is an endless string of parties and an even longer string of girls. Enjoying the perks with none of the emotional mess, he's convinced everyone that he's satisfied - everyone but himself. Until she turned him on . . . Samantha Schultz has moved on with her life. Finishing her student teaching and living with her boyfriend, she's deluded herself into believing she's content. But there is one boy she never forgot-her first love - and she keeps the memory of him locked up tight. She will never allow any man to break her the way Christopher did.When Christopher's sister and her family move into a new neighborhood, Christopher is completely unprepared to find Samantha living at the end of the street. Memories and unspent desires send them on a collision course of sex, lies and lust. But when guilt and fear send Samantha running, Christopher will have to fight for what has always been his.'Achingly beautiful, heart wrenching . . . few books have EVER reached my heart as deeply as this one did. I highly, highly recommend it!' Aesta's Book Blog on ' Take This Regret' | Format: Paperback | Language/Sprache: english | 300 gr | 198x127x28 mm | 448 pp. Bookseller Inventory # K9780349406541

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