Perfection has always been an expectation set forth by her adoring father and her overbearing, neglectful mother. Knowing she can never live up to their standards, Angel falls into a life of partying, drinking and pills in an effort to dull the pain of her insecurities and perceived failures. Kevin Hawken, a former business partner of Angel’s father, has always loved Angel, although she has no idea who he is.
Angel’s substance induced state of mind forces her to question what is real. And Kevin is too good to be real. Caught in the clutches of Roman Conti, a notorious and dangerous Mob boss from Italy, Angel slips under Roman’s control. A control she can’t escape. And the only man who can rescue her… Is a man she believes existed only in her dreams.
Nostalgia washes over me as I start to walk down the hall.
“Angel?” A surprised, sad whisper floats to me.
That voice. I’ve been dreaming endlessly about the man who belongs to that voice; his timbre is solace to the empty existence I now possess. The ache in my heart deepens, and the pain I felt when I watched him get pushed into the plane intensifies.
I force my legs to move faster down the hall. Every step feels laden as my feet drag me toward the door of my classroom, but fingers grip my arm and haul me to a stop before I can make my escape.
“If you think I’m just going to let you walk away from me…” He growls, his words trailing off.
He pulls me away from the door, and his body envelopes mine, crushing me to him, my back to his front. I’m hyper-aware of how great he feels against me. His arms are around me, a hand right underneath my breasts, the other gripping my chin, turning my head so I can meet his blazing hazel eyes – the green shinning brighter. I take a big inhale, branding his intoxicating scent in me. I don’t ever want to forget him.
“What the fuck is going on, Angel?” The harshness of his words doesn’t match the soft tone spilling out of his beautiful mouth. “Why are you running away from me?”
“I’m staying with him,” I say, choking on my tears. “I’ve realized I love him, and I don’t want you anymore.”
Kevin’s face twists in pain as if I’ve just stabbed a knife through his heart, and his arms tighten around me uncomfortably.
“I’m leaving to go back to him after the day ends.”
“Over my fucking dead body. I’m not letting you go back to that motherfucker.” His words echo loudly.
I break free from his hold not wanting to bring more attention to us, and stand directly in front of him, not meeting his hard, penetrating gaze.
“Look at me,’ he commands gently, lifting my chin up with his finger.
My resolve breaks into a million pieces.
A tear slips down my cheek, falling onto his hand, and Kevin curses, crushing our bodies together again. I claw and cling to him with as much force as he’s giving me, but not feeling close enough, and I cry out in sorrow.
I let his warmth promise me the possibility of a happily ever after as I let go of his jacket and snake my arms around him, pulling him closer. I want to give him back what he’s been giving me – a love deep enough to cure our broken souls. He saved me all those years ago, and he’s saving me now.
I tilt my head back to take in the site of the gorgeous man holding me. His eyes pools with tears, his face awash with deep longing, adoration for me. Just me.
Our lips smash together as his tears start to fall. The sweetness of his mouth and the saltiness of our tears tastes magical.
I don’t want a life without him.
Phalla S. Rios lives in California with her husband, a daughter and two goofy pit bulls. She loves to read and write while drinking her favorite tea, Joy, from Starbucks. During her spare time, she is usually at the movies or looking for the next best place to eat. She often refers to herself as a foodie. Her debut novel is Not at First. She is currently writing the sequel, Always at First.