You don’t know when…
You don’t get to choose if…
When it’s time to join…you’ll know.
You might think you want to be a member—but trust me this is one club you don’t want to join. It’s not a place where people go to live out their deepest, darkest sexual desires—there are no handcuffs or blindfolds.
The 27 Club only admits those who die young and tragically. My brother was recently bestowed membership and joined many of our ancestors before him. I know I’m next. This is my destiny, and I was ready to yield.
But then I met Nate. He awakened a sensuality in me that had never been explored, never satisfied. I knew then I could no longer accept my destiny. Nate’s presence controls me. I’m overwhelmed by his touch, his words; my every thought is consumed by desire. I believe he was brought into my life for a reason.
Nate doesn’t believe in destiny.
But I do.
And if there’s a way to cheat it—I must.
My jaw practically hits the table.
The chocolate crêpe!
I can’t believe it.
Harnessing all of my willpower, I fight the sudden inclination I have to leap around the table and jump onto his lap. I always tell people I prefer dessert before a meal, but never has anyone taken me seriously.
Tension coils deep in my belly. Lust flows through my veins running faster and faster with each passing second. I look over at him and as soon as I see his face, I can feel myself coming unhinged. Urges I can’t deny surface. The need to know the taste of his lips, to feel his hard body,
to be able to lick the chocolate he just ordered off his chest, and to slide my tongue down his stomach so I can taste him.
Looking thoughtful, his return gaze slowly changes to one of concern. “Have you stopped planning for your future because you don’t think you have one?” he asks softly.
Remnants of our conversation must have been lingering in his mind. Slamming my eyes shut, all of the erotic images I had conjured up immediately disappear as I fight to breathe.
Suddenly the air becomes thick in my lungs and I can’t get it out. I take deep calming breaths. As the haze around me dissipates and I fight off the panic attack, I hear a fumbling in front of me. I force myself to lift my lids. Nate is attempting to open my clutch. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to get you your inhaler.” Panic seems to drown out the deep green of his eyes.
I push to my feet and give him a disbelieving look. “I’m not having an asthma attack.”
“You’re not?” He sounds uncertain.
Shaking my head, I set my napkin on the table. “Excuse me, I have to use the ladies room.” I walk inside the restaurant, realizing I have no idea where I’m going. Looking around, I find the bathrooms immediately.
Just as I pull the door open, a hand covers mine. “You’re upset.”
I drop my head. “No, I’m fine.”
Fierceness grips his voice. “You’re lying.”
Summoning all of my willpower, I raise my eyes.
Nate lifts my chin. “You didn’t let me finish. I’m trying to understand you. I want to know why, if you believe in destiny, you’d change your path. Why wouldn’t you do what you had always planned on doing? Why change your course? Personally, I think destiny is bullshit. I also think not pursuing your dream is bullshit too.”
Caged by his body, his scent, his presence, I look up into his burning eyes and I can see compassion there. I believe he wants what’s best for me. If I think I know him through my brother, he thinks he knows me through my brother as well. And Zach wanted me to continue my education. His dream was that someday I’d be Dr. Zoey Flowers. Nate knows this.
“Zoey?” Nate’s voice is questioning. Low. Maybe even slightly fearful.
“Nate”—I press my finger to his lips—“I think I need to tell you something about myself.”
“What?” he asks.
In all our e-mails after my brother’s death, I never mentioned the real reason for my delay in coming to Miami. I keep my eyes open even though I want to close them. “I had a breakdown shortly after Zach died. I took a leave from my job. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t plan one day, let alone the next. And somewhere during that time, I let any plans I had for the future fall to the wayside. I don’t know what I want anymore.”
Shock appears on his face. “Why didn’t you tell me in any of our e-mails?”
The truth is hard to admit. “I actually looked forward to your weekly e-mails. But I did lie to you. It wasn’t work that kept me from coming to get my brother’s things. It was me and my inability to cope.”
Nate stares down at me.
My entire focus is on him. “Don’t think I’m crazy. I’m not. Really, I’m not.”
His gaze continues to pin me in a way that makes me think he understands me.
It holds me in place. Keeps me calm.
“Zoey, God, I don’t think that at all,” he breathes. “I can understand how that would happen.
With everything coming at you at once, and the shock of Z’s death, coupled with the revelations about your family, it was just too much. I get it.”
I just stare at his lips, longing to kiss him. My body is filled with so many wants and needs, and all these new urges I’ve never felt before.
And all I want is just for him to set me free.
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