Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! And we have an excerpt!
Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.
Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.
The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.
I put my hands to my cheeks and held my face. I could feel heat under the surface and I could hear the rush of blood between my ears.
“Are you going to be okay? Do you need me to get you something? Should I grab Dixie?” He sounded genuinely concerned about me and that only made me shake even harder.
“No, I’m fine.” I wasn’t fine and hadn’t been in a very long time. “Dixie is in Mississippi. She took Dolly down because Church moved into the house he rented for them and she wanted the dog to get used to their new home and so she could see what it was like to have a yard.” I was babbling but I couldn’t stop the words from pouring out. “How do you move me without laying a hand on me?”
He looked up from where he was watching the puppy dig into his chow. Those blue eyes were like lasers as they cut into me from across the room. He put his hands on the counter and leaned forward. “What are you talking about?” His voice held that same even tone but there was something in it, some deeper note, that let me know he knew exactly what I was talking about.
I wrapped my arms around myself in a protective hug and met his look with a pointed one of my own. “I get stuck, frozen with fear. I end up caught between memories and reality. Most people grab my arm or touch me somewhere to get me moving again. Either that or they go around me like I’m in the way. You made me move without doing anything.”
His eyebrows shot up and the corners of his mouth pulled down in a frown. “People shouldn’t touch you unless you tell them it’s okay, even if you are in the way.”
His words had me shivering in a completely different way than I had been before and I was the opposite of cold. “I didn’t use to mind it.” The words cracked and sounded almost as broken as I felt on the inside. “I mean being touched. It was until…after.”
He lowered his gaze and I saw his chest rise and fall as he sucked in a deep breath. “The reason doesn’t matter. If you don’t like it, people should respect that. No one has a right to put their hands on you unless you want them there.”
Right there in that moment I thought I wouldn’t mind it too terribly much if he walked across the room and replaced the frail and thin arms that were currently holding me together with his thick, strong, tattooed ones. It was probably the only touch I would ever crave but I would never be brave enough to ask for it, so I cleared my throat and awkwardly made my way closer to where he was standing. I lifted myself up into one of the barstools that was across the counter from him and put my hands on the cool surface separating us and prayed they would stop shaking.
Signed set of BUILT, CHARGED and RIVETED for 2 winners