The first time I saw her, I knew this girl was wilder than any stallion I’d ever trained. She was headstrong, wounded, passionate and free. And I had to have her…”
Brittany Ray doesn’t care about her bad reputation. Growing up in a sleepy beach town with a junkie mom and a runaway dad, Brit’s learned the hard way that the people you love will only let you down. It’s no use hoping for love or happiness. Some dreams aren’t meant for girls like her.
Hunter Covington is one of those dreams.
Gorgeous, charming Hunter is damn near perfect—and it’s killing him. Son of Charleston royalty, he’s been trapped in a gilded cage since the day he was born. Now he’s breaking free. He’s quit law school to restore his grandpa’s old horse ranch, trying to soothe the demons in his soul. But Beachwood Bay is full of old ghosts, like the mysterious girl who spent an unforgettable night with him—and then slipped away before dawn. Brit.
Everything about her screams danger, but Hunter doesn’t care: he’s never felt a connection so deep. And try as she may, Brit can’t resist the desire consuming her —or the safety she finds in Hunter’s arms.
A reckless passion. An undeniable bond. Scarred by their pasts, Brit and Hunter fight to heal old wounds. But will dark secrets tear apart their new beginning? And when love is the biggest risk of all, can they find the courage to face the future unafraid?
“So, you want to try the Tilt-a-Whirl first, or maybe Tunnel of Love?” Hunter reaches over to break off a tuft of my cotton candy. I slap his hand away.
“Why?” I demand.
“You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite ride.” Hunter replies easily. “Mine’s the Ferris wheel.”
“No, I mean, why are you chasing me like this?” I cry. Ever since I laid eyes on him again, Hunter has been relentless. I’ve given him every chance to walk away—hell, I’ve tried to push him—but he keeps coming after me. Nobody’s ever stuck it out for me like this before.
“Maybe I think you’re worth chasing.” Hunter grins.
“I’m not one of your horses you get to break.” I reply flatly, and start walking. To where, I don’t even know, but sure enough, Hunter falls into step beside me, easily matching my steps with his long, effortless strides.
“I’m serious,” I tell him, my frustration fading. Now I just feel sad and resigned. “Whoever you think I am, whatever you want from me, you’re wrong. I’m not that girl.”
“Hold up a second.” Hunter takes my arm and pulls me to a stop. He frowns. “I never said I wanted anything from you—I just want to get to know you, is that so hard to believe?”
“You already know plenty,” I try to stay sarcastic. “Brittany Ray, wild child of Beachwood Bay, remember?”
“That’s bullshit and you know it.” Hunter says softly. My heart skips, despite myself. “Look, I roped Garrett into getting you here tonight because I knew you’d never come willingly on this date. You’ve got these walls built so high, I can’t even see over, but I’m trying here, Brit. I don’t know what else I can say.”
I hesitate, looking up at him. Hunter gazes down at me, then reaches to tuck a lock of my hair behind my ear. “One date,” he says, smiling. “Give us that much, at least. Please?”
The word is my undoing—and the look of boyish hope in his eyes.
One date, pretending like this can be something real. One date, having Hunter all to myself.
The promise is intoxicating.
Hunter lights up. “I promise, this date is going to blow your socks off,” he declares.
I give a rueful smile, still cautious. “It won't have much competition.” I reply, wondering what the hell I've just agreed to. “In fact, make that zero.”
“What do you mean?” Hunter asks, stealing more of my cotton candy.
I shrug, embarrassed. I wish I hadn't said anything now, but there I go again: speak first, think later. “Just, you know... I haven't really done this. Date.” I make a vague gesture to the fairground rides and ticker-tape, a picture of wholesome, all-American fun surrounding us.
“What, ever?” Hunter blinks at me, surprised.
I feel my cheeks flushing. “I’m not really the dinner and a movie type.” I explain, trying to sound flippant.
“That’s a shame.”
“I wasn't complaining.” I reply sharply, watching his expression. If I see even a hint of pity, I'm so out of here. But instead, Hunter shakes his head, exaggerated, like he's intimidated.
“Wow, way to make a guy feel the pressure,” he jokes. “Now I've got to make this the best first date ever. Epic. Unforgettable.”
“I’d settle for just bearable,” I can't help but smile at his joking. But that's the thing about Hunter: even when my stomach is tied up in knots and my heartbeat skips from the nearness of him, he still finds some way to put me at ease at the same time; my insecurity over not dating now just a memory as he slings an arm around my shoulder and steers me through the crowd.
“So, take your pick.” Hunter gestures, like this entire county fair has been staged for me. “Anything you want tonight. Whatever you feel like doing.”
Looking at him, what I want is to drag him behind the nearest stand and kiss him until there's nothing else in the world, but part of me is curious. What's it like, to do this––date, be normal––with a man like him?
“All of it.” I decide. If this is my one glimpse of perfect, then I’m going to make the most of it. “Walking, and rides, and all the junk food. I want to try everything.”
“As you wish.” Hunter winks.
Melody Grace is the USA Today bestselling author of UNBROKEN and UNTOUCHED. A small-town girl turned SoCal beach-lover, she spent years with her nose in a book before deciding it was time to write them for herself. She loves bad boys, good books, and pistachio-flavored ice-cream.