Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
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I wasn’t embarrassed by my grades or what other students thought of my high marks. I knew I earned them. And I also knew that they were going to save me some day. What no one understood, besides Sara, was that all I really cared about were the days I counted down until I moved out of my aunt and uncle’s house to go to college. So if I had to put up with the whispers behind my back as I received the highest marks in the class, then so be it. They weren’t going to be there to save me if I did anything but succeed, so I didn’t need to get involved in the gossip and typical teenage tripe. Sara was the closest I was going to get to any semblance of the high- school experience, and she definitely kept it entertaining. She was admired by most, envied by many, and could discreetly seduce a guy with a grin. What mattered most to me was that I trusted her with my life – which was saying a lot, considering the unpredictability that awaited me at home each night.
I noticed his presence so much more than I had before. Every time he brushed past my arm when we walked down the hall or leaned in close to whisper to me in Anatomy, it sent thousands of sparks flying through my body. I found myself smiling more and caught up in his gaze longer. It was like I was noticing him for the first time, all over again. But this time, I knew he noticed me too. Evan sat closer, walked nearer and looked longer. He started storing his books in my locker in between classes, placing his hand on the small of my back when reaching over me to retrieve them. These subtle touches would ignite a warmth in my chest, and release tingles up the back of my neck. He didn’t hold my hand in school, but he always found a way for the backs of our hands to lightly touch when we were near enough. We were engaged in a very intricate dance of touching without touching, knowing without saying, and feeling without expressing. We were friends walking along a ledge, a very thin ledge – and I was too caught up in my heightened awareness of his existence to realize how close the ledge was to crumbling beneath my feet.
In the uneven balance of my life, I experienced love and loss, more loss than I thought I could handle. But the love was unexpected. I almost missed out on it, too afraid and uncertain to give it a chance. Love helped me live life instead of just survive it. It challenged my resolve, proving I was stronger than I ever thought possible. The comfort of it healed my wounds and caressed my scars. It gave me the confidence to stand taller than the inches within my body. In the dark I searched for it, yearning for its reprieve, only finding that I was alone.
Easy by Tammara Webber
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I shook off my reverie and looked across the counter, prepared to give my usual order, and there stood the guy from Saturday night. The guy I’d avoided sitting next to this morning in economics. My mouth hung open but nothing came out. And just like this morning, Saturday night came flooding back. My face heated, remembering the position I’d been in, what he must have witnessed before he’d intervened, how foolish he must consider me. But then, he’d said it wasn’t my fault. And he’d called me by my name. The name I no longer used, as of sixteen days ago. My split-second wish that he wouldn’t recall who I was went ungranted. I returned his penetrating gaze and could see he remembered all of it, clearly. Every mortifying bit.
‘Hey, Jackie.’ Buck’s piercing gaze roamed over me and my skin crawled. ‘Lookin’ good, as always.’ His words gushed flirtation, but all I felt was the threat underneath, intended or not. The bruises had faded from his face, but weren’t entirely gone. One yellowish streak ringed his left eye, and another brushed along the right side of his nose like a pale smear. Lucas had given him those, and only the three of us knew it. I stared back, mute, the coffee clutched in my hand. I’d once thought this boy handsome and charming—the all-American veneer he wore fooling me as thoroughly as it fooled everyone else.
I’d barely let anyone else touch me at all tonight, adamantly refusing all slow dances. Dizzy from weak but plentiful margaritas, I closed my eyes and let him lead, telling myself that the difference was the alcohol in my blood, nothing more. A minute later, he released my fingers and spread his palms across my lower back, and my hands moved to his biceps. Solid, as I knew they would be. Tracking a path, my palms encountered equally hard shoulders. Finally, I hooked my fingers behind his neck and opened my eyes. His gaze was penetrating, not wavering for a moment, and my pulse hammered under the close scrutiny. I stretched up toward his ear, and he leaned down to accommodate my question. ‘S-so what’s your major?’ I breathed. From the corner of my eye, I watched his mouth pull up on one side. ‘Do you really want to talk about that?’ He maintained the closeness, our torsos pressed together chest to thigh, ostensibly waiting for my answer. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so full of pure, unqualified desire.
I hope you enjoyed the teasers! Just click the covers to read the synopsis, add to a wishlist or read reviews on Goodreads! Thank you to the authors and publisher for putting this tour together and be sure to stop by Once Upon a Bookcase for the next tour stop tomorrow!