Confession time: I’m an angst whore. A total and complete angst whore and I make no apologies for it. So it should come as no surprise that I’m a huge Elizabeth Finn fan. If you’ve read her books, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t and you like your heroes to be alpha assholes, your heroines with an understated sort of strength, and enough angst to wallop you over the head and keep you glued to the pages from start to finish? Well, allow me to introduce you to your new favorite author.
Kane’s Hell is Elizabeth’s upcoming release (scheduled for May 1, 2015) and is a standalone. I’m so excited to be able to spotlight this incredible book today AND offer you all an exclusive teaser! Read to the end of the post to enter the GIVEAWAY for your chance to win an ebook of Kane’s Hell.
Kane and Helene were the best of friends until a nightmare devastated them… Hopes were destroyed, dreams shattered, a budding teenage love torn to pieces. Eleven years later their lives are nothing like they once were. Time has changed them … and not for the better.Helene is smart, driven, and accomplished—her education and achievements a smoke screen hiding the frigid and fragile child wounded long ago.Kane is equally obsessed with his coping mechanisms—fighting … drinking … screwing … compulsively destroying himself one vice at a time.
When their paths collide again, their past becomes an obstacle no coping mechanism in the world can protect them from. But confronting the past so they can heal in the present is no easy task. Can Kane reach Helene and recapture what used to burn so warmly between them, or will his own self destructive demons pull her into his hell?
A woman determined to look forward. A man always looking back. A love desperate to be restored.
“You’re the brightest, warmest star in my universe. You’ll never be less than everything to me.”
“Do you want to have sex with me?” I asked. It was a loaded question, and given the nervous look on his face, he knew that. If he said he didn’t, he ran the risk of hurting my feelings. If he said he did, he ran the risk of objectifying me as nothing more than a piece of ass—much like the many pieces that had come before me.
He pulled his lower lip into his mouth, and I watched him. When he nodded it was tight, and he was staring at my chin instead of my eyes.
I nodded. “I see,” I said as I looked around for a way to end this and make my escape.
“No you don’t,” he said. “You’re… You’re—”
“Let me guess. Special,” I said with a cruel sarcasm I just couldn’t help.
“Fuck yes you are,” he spat back at me, his face pinched in anger. “Listen,” he continued as he shook his head. “I didn’t ask for a truce so I could fuck you. You asked the question. I answered it honestly. I’m just…” He threw his hands up in the air in frustration. “…attracted to you. I always have been. It doesn’t mean I expect you to have sex with me. But don’t ask me a question unless you want the honest answer, because you’re going to get the truth, however ugly it is, upsetting it is, or shocking it is.”
I stared at his chest, but he lifted my chin again.
“Please look at me.” His fingers squeezed gently against my skin. “I know this has been hard on you. The past few weeks, you’ve been forced to deal with the mess I’ve made of myself. You saw my ugly, and I was defensive, because you’re life looks beautiful to me. And it made me feel pathetic.”
“My life doesn’t feel beautiful,” I said quietly.
He nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. But please take that step over the line. I need you too.”
I nodded, and he sighed as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his body. I slid my right hand up under his T-shirt, knowing exactly where I’d find the scar, and I covered it with my palm. His muscles tensed under my touch, but then he relaxed into it, and he inhaled deeply against my hair.
We stood there for too long, and I listened to his heart beat, and I soaked in the warmth of him. This felt good again, being close to him. I needed it to stay that way.
When he walked toward the kitchen, I followed. There was a large garbage can in the center of the kitchen floor. It was the same one that had been in the middle of the living room floor a few weeks prior, but instead of being filled with just wood scraps and pieces of drywall, it was now littered with broken liquor bottles, and it reeked of alcohol.
I stared into the garbage can as Kane pulled a carton of whipped cream out of the fridge and started eating it with a spoon.
“You could have emptied the bottles first you know, rather than smashing them full in the garbage can.” I smirked.
He smiled. “I know,” he said around the spoon in his mouth. “But they always smash them full in the movies. Sometimes in the sink, which… Why? Right?” he asked jokingly.
He scooped up another spoonful of whipped cream, and he handed it to me. I stared at it for a moment, but I took the spoon, popping it into my mouth.
“Who the hell wants to pick glass out of a sink?” he continued. “This is my ode to Hollywood cinematic ridiculousness. I suppose it’s visually powerful though.”
I chuckled quietly, pulling the spoon out of my mouth. “Are you an alcoholic?” I asked him bluntly.
“No.” His answer was simple and came without pause. “No. I do, however, tend to deflect pain by masking it with other things. I just decided I don’t want a bottle of the-easy-way-out sitting nearby when things get messed up in my head again.”
I nodded. He yawned, and the sight of his yawn made me yawn too.
“I should get going,” I said.
“You don’t have to.”
I smiled. “I have an early call with my dissertation director tomorrow morning.”
“I’ll wake you up early.” He bit his lower lip as he waited for me to say something.
I wasn’t sure what to say. I wasn’t sure what he was even asking. But as I stood there trying to figure it out, he yawned again and took my hand, pulling me toward the hallway. I followed him, my nerves prickling with something that fell between excitement and absolute terror.
He stripped out of his T-shirt when he walked into the same bedroom he’d always had, and I looked around. It wasn’t a mess, it was just a sad, old rundown room. I reached out to a broken knob on the dresser that I remembered, even now, from childhood. He stepped behind me, pushing his hands up under the back of my T-shirt. He undid my bra, and then he helped me pull the straps down from under the short sleeves of my shirt.
When his hands reached around and fumbled with the waist of my pants, I held my breath. He pushed them down to pool at the ground, leaving my underwear in place, and then I felt him undoing his own pants as he kept his body close to mine. His breath touched the back of my ear, and he leaned down kissing the top of my shoulder.
He took my hand, leading me to the side of the bed, and I crawled in as he followed me. The mattress sat on the floor, and there was nothing plush about it. But the sheets, blanket and quilt smelled clean like his skin.
The bedside lamp was on behind him, and as I rolled toward him, he watched me. He wasn’t smiling. He wasn’t frowning. He just watched me, pulling me up close to him, his legs intertwined with mine. He brushed the hair off my forehead, and he trailed his finger down along my jaw.
“I’ve missed you so fucking much,” he said quietly. “Nothing has made sense in my life without you.” His thumb stroked over my chin.
“I missed you too.”
He studied me for a while, not closing his eyes, not saying a word, and it was odd and comfortable at the same time. It gave me a chance to study him too, and I did. He was aging well, and he still looked young and handsome—even if he carried a heavy past.
I reached for his chin, stroking the whiskers.
“What are you thinking?” I asked him.
He looked at my mouth. “That I’ve never kissed you. And that I want to. Very much.”
I bit my lower lip, and he smiled. When I leaned to his mouth, his eyes opened wider for a moment, but then they fluttered. After that, I was too close to see or care what his eyes were doing. I was also entirely too stunned by my own actions to think straight.
My lips met his, and I could feel his whiskers tickling my chin. He moaned this deep low sound from the pit of his chest, and I could feel the vibration of it. He sucked on my lower lip, tugging it gently and then releasing it so he could capture my top one between his. His hand met my cheek, his fingers curling behind my jawline and pulling my mouth harder to his, and the kisses came fast then—one after another.
My top leg was between his thighs, and the smacking sound of our lips left warmth in my groin as I rocked against his thigh.
“Oh, fuck,” he murmured between kisses. “You’re torture. Do you know that?” But he never stopped kissing.
He finally groaned through gritted teeth, forcing his kisses to move off my mouth to my cheek and then down the side of my throat to the crook of my neck that met my shoulder. He stopped kissing, breathing heavily against my skin. I could feel the hardness and the size of his erection against my top thigh that was sandwiched between his legs.
“There is nothing frigid going on between your legs right now, Hell. The heat coming off your pussy is intense,” he said with his lips to my skin.
Yes it was. I sighed as my hips stopped trying to screw his leg like a dog in heat. What the hell was going on inside me right now?
“Go to sleep, baby,” he whispered even as he still breathed heavily. “I don’t think either one of us are ready for this yet.”
I pulled back, trying to figure out if I was offended or not.
He smiled instantly. “Tell that analytical brain of yours to shut up. I didn’t mean it in a bad way.”
“How did you mean it?” I asked.
He yawned again, but his expression became intense and focused. “This is a complicated thing for us.” He glanced over my shoulder for a moment, but then he looked back at me. “I always kind of assumed it would be me,” he said simply. “Your first. And in some twisted way … I’m still glad I was.” The side of his lip pulled up, but it fell just as quickly.
I understood what he was saying, and I nodded.
“But God it was supposed to be so fucking different,” he said almost angrily, and he shook his head. He finally smiled again. “Go to sleep.” He leaned forward, kissing me in the middle of the forehead. He reached back and turned the lamp off, and I closed my eyes.
I woke up when his arms tightened around me, and he hummed warmly against the back of my ear. “Do you want coffee?” he asked quietly, his voice hoarse with sleep.
I sat up, looking over Kane’s shoulder at the clock on the nightstand. It was six-thirty. “I better not,” I said as I stretched.
His hand slipped under the back of my shirt, and his palm ran over my skin, gently rubbing as it traveled up to the middle of my back. I sighed as I stretched my neck.
“When Dr. Briggs says she’s calling first thing in the morning, she means first thing in the morning. The woman once called me at seven-fifteen to review my grades. Talk about a rude awakening.” I chuckled as his hand continued to move and graze across my back. I glanced over my shoulder at him. I studied his face, and my cheeks flushed as goosebumps popped over my entire body. His eyebrows shot up as he felt it under his palm.
“What on earth are you thinking about?” he asked with a sly smile.
I didn’t say anything for a moment. “What would it be like if we decided to have a sexual relationship?”
His hand moved some more. “Emotionally or physically?”
My cheeks flushed again. “Physically.”
“I suppose…” he spoke slowly. “My mouth would likely be where my hand is right now. And if you wanted to ride my fucking thigh like you did last night, you wouldn’t feel the need to stop until you’d come all over my leg.” He sat up, still running his hand over my back. He rested his chin on my shoulder and I turned to face forward. “And I guess that kiss would have turned into full on fucking.”
The flush turned into warmth that radiated out through my limbs and then pulled back into my core to settle in my groin. “Emotionally?”
He kissed my shoulder again. “That’s more difficult,” he said.
I turned to look at him. His face was close to mine.
“In what way?” I asked.
He inhaled deeply. “It’s easy to make the physical things happen the way you want them to.”
“Sex, fighting, alcohol,” I said.
He nodded. “Good insight. Yeah. Those things have a very tangible feel to them. There’s a cause and effect. If you do this, you get that. It’s simple. It’s uncomplicated.”
“You’re saying the emotional side of all this is more complicated?”
“Do you see it any other way?” he asked.
I turned my body toward him then, and his hand slipped from underneath my shirt. “No, I don’t,” I said as I shook my head. My eyes drifted away as I contemplated that.
“Hey.” He pulled my face to look at him. When he opened his mouth to speak, he quickly closed it and sighed. But then he opened it again. “Complicated is okay.”
His eyes shifted down to my mouth. He looked vulnerable as though he were afraid of what I was thinking. Odd thing was I felt the same of him. He finally looked back at my eyes.
“If you want to know what it looks like… it’s open, it’s honest, we talk, we listen, we spend time together. The thing is, I told you I want to be close to you. That’s an emotional thing for us whether there’s sex involved or not.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
He reached for my mouth, cupping my chin and running his thumb over my lower lip. “Don’t kiss me again…” he said quietly.
I gasped, and my eyes dropped to his chest.
“…unless that’s the direction we’re going.”
My pulse spiked, and I had to force myself to make eye contact. I was holding my breath when I did.
“Because I liked it too much. I need to know you’re not going to take that away from me if it happens again.”
My breath left me in a rush, but I nodded. He smiled gently, even seductively, but it was reassuring nonetheless.
I glanced at the clock again. “I really have to go. I’m sorry.”
He stood and pulled me up to my feet, and then he snatched my jeans from the floor. Once I’d put them on quickly, he stuffed my bra into the pocket, smirking down at me. He walked me to the door, and I ran out to my car as he watched from the porch.