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**Mature Content Warning** Recommended for ages 17+ due to language and sexual content.
Nina Archer battles memories of a trauma that occurred twelve years ago… With plans to move to North Carolina, she hopes to separate herself from her mother, whose excessive drinking is becoming unbearable. Then suddenly, fate steps in to help her heal in a way she would never think possible.
While running a race in Juno Beach, Nina finds herself next to a man whom she’s immediately attracted to. Wes Ladner, the same man she dreamt about one year ago… Wes is focused on his writing, and has no time for a woman. But the night before they met, he dreamt of Nina. Although they come from two very different worlds neither of them can deny the sparks that fly between them.
As her time runs out to make a decision, Nina wonders if she’s been given the chance to come to terms with her past, and accept a gift that some never receive—true love.
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My mother was drunk in the next room when it happened twelve years ago.
Now I’m sitting in a hotel that could be anywhere. I can hear the ocean lapping against the shore, and the lights of the city look like stars that hang too close to the horizon.
I know I shouldn’t be here. Sitting on the firm mattress, my legs bent toward me, I lean against the headboard. I take another drink of whiskey, let the burn sink deep. I feel it in my core, tingling. My breath quickens. I want to be here.
He lifts the comforter and draws me down with him, and I feel as if it’s something we’ve already done. Somewhere, sometime before, he held me this way. And I had to let go. I can hear his heart beating, my cheek pressed to his chest. I wonder how I ended up here, in the arms of a man I dreamt of before we met. His grip tightens and I feel soft kisses against my bare shoulder, his stubble scratching my skin. The warmth of his breath is welcome, somehow rejuvenating. Our lips meet and each kiss is exploratory, tender, slow—as if to make sure it’s right. I think about the hot tub six floors down. Is the water too searing? Should we get in?
We stop, cuddle, then continue, and I’m too afraid to move. My heart pounds. I start to hear things in my head, familiar voices. Each taunting, jeering. You stupid slut, what makes you think you’re good enough for him?
I shove them away. He kisses me again, and I invite it. Deep, passionate, frenzied—I’ve never felt anything like this before. Because I make a point to avoid it.
His hands roam my body, and I respond, wanting more.
Please go away, no . . . stay!
He presses against me, and I want to welcome him, thrust my hips up to meet his. But suddenly I feel trapped, unable to resist. And his tongue is probing my mouth, and I’m hot, wet between my legs—
Panic. Twelve years ago I was laying on a bed with a broken spring, pinned beneath a man who was laughing at me, shoving himself inside me despite my begging him to stop. He thought it was so funny, my resistance, like the way an adult cackles at a crying child after playing a cruel joke.
Why did you let him do that to me, Mama? Why didn’t you stop him?
Stumbling, wasted, she slammed her calloused feet against the faux wood floor and growled, “I trusted you!” Brandishing a gnarled finger, she looked at me in disgust, as if—
It was all my fault.
Panic. I’m back in the hotel, and I’m pressing against his chest, trying to pull away from his kisses. The surf licks the sand, warm and wet, and I can hear the syllables as they jump from the sea.
You are worthless. You deserve this. To be humiliated. Scorned. Treated like dirt.
“Please, please no, this is too much for me.” I manage to speak, and he stops. Am I talking to him, or the voices? I pull away, my chest aching, my heart sinking. I clutch my stomach. “It hurts.”
Something tells me it’s not the whiskey; it’s the pain I bury, the grief roiling inside me.
I tell him about the rape. How my mother was there. She didn’t stop it. Is that love? What is love? I suddenly wish I were six floors down, sinking in the hot tub, nothing but a shell without a soul.
A while later, he asks me if I’m all right, his head on my stomach, his arm around my hip.
I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m all right.
A year ago I had a vision I was in a hotel room with a man, and we made passionate love for hours. Then he went to war and died, shot in the chest, fallen on a dirt road.
I drag myself off the bed, capping the whiskey, listening to the voices taunt me.
Don’t listen. They’re wrong.
“I should go,” I tell him, but I don’t really want to.
He walks me to my car and I ask him to kiss me again, make it the best I’ve ever had. And he does. Driving down the empty roads, I want to turn around and know I shouldn’t.
In a hotel room, I realized my fears. Now instead of him leaving, it is I who is departing.
A balmy sea breeze tousles the palm trees.
And I drive on, gaze piercing the darkness, thinking of the man I dreamt about before I met him.
Other books by Rosa Sophia include: Taking 1960 and Check Out Time.
website address: www.authorrosasophia.com