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Title: Let Me In [Blurred Lines #3]
Author: Erin McCarthy
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication Date: September 25th 2014
A girl in danger…
Aubrey Walsh never dreamed that she would find herself in an abusive relationship, but after her boyfriend hits her so hard he breaks her tooth, she flees the University of Maine to hide on a remote island with her best friend. Only to discover that she is pregnant. Terrified of what will happen if Jared finds out, she is walking along the rocks, deciding her future, when she slips.
A guy with a secret past…
After a job gone wrong, Riker has left the assassin business and is incognito as a ferryboat operator off the shores of Maine. It’s a lonely life, and when he sees a young woman almost fall off the rocks, he doesn’t hesitate to save her and take her in, though he’s determined to stay unemotionally uninvolved. But when the truth about her situation is revealed, he will do anything to protect Aubrey and her unborn child.
Even marry her. Even kill for her.
When Jared comes looking for the only girl who has ever rejected him, Riker won’t allow it. And Aubrey is torn between protecting herself and her child, or protecting the mysterious husband she has come to love.
And when chance brings them together but fate tears them apart, can their love survive the storm?
“What’s wrong?” Cat asked me, turning towards me as I came into the living room.
“Nothing,” I lied, putting my hand in my pocket so the stick wouldn’t slide down out of my sleeve, where I had tucked it. “I’m going for a walk.”
So I could cry and rage in private.
But she didn’t believe me. She knew me too well.
“Aub, come on. You can tell me. Did you hear from Jared?”
I heard from Jared all the time. I had changed my number, but then he’d found me on social media. I’d blocked him, then he’d emailed me. No matter what I did, he found a way to track me down. A way to alternate between coaxing and cajoling me with pleas for me to come home, vows of love, and scathing condemnations on my character. How a man could claim he loved me and turn around and call me a dick-sucking whore was something I would never understand. Then again, how could a man who loved me knock out my teeth and leave me bleeding on the floor?
But this anxiety wasn’t about a communication from Jared.
It was about what I’d been suspecting but was determined to ignore.
“I haven’t heard from Jared today. I just want to take a walk. Am I allowed to do that?” I sounded bitchy and I knew it, but I needed to get away, to escape.
Living with Cat and her boyfriend, Heath, for the last month had allowed me time to think, feel, heal. I was grateful to both of them for taking me in when I hadn’t been able to face my family with the shame of what had been done to me, what I had become. I owed Cat everything for hiding me, helping me to feel safe, not pressuring me to make decisions, and listening to me when I needed to talk.
I wasn’t ready to share this yet though. I wasn’t even ready to admit it.
Her look was one of sympathy, which made me feel worse. I was the girl everyone felt sorry for. That was the identity Jared had created for me.
“Of course you can do that. I just don’t want you to keep everything bottled up. You can tell me anything.”
“You just don’t want me to throw myself off a cliff,” I said dryly, leaning over the back of the couch and giving her a hug from behind. “For which I thank you. No worries. I’m not suicidal.”
I wasn’t. The opposite in fact. Staring into Jared’s eyes, seeing his rage, had made me realize just exactly how much I wanted to live.
Even now, even with this, I wanted to survive more than anything. I wanted to reclaim my life, find me again. Or at least a new version of me.
She leaned forward and glanced up at me over her shoulder. “I still can’t get over your hair.” She touched the ends of loose, auburn strands. “It’s so different now that you dyed it.”
I was a natural blonde, but that didn’t feel right anymore. There was nothing carefree and beachy about the way I moved, always glancing over my shoulder, keeping my mouth closed as much as possible, self-conscious of the two missing teeth on the back right side. Dark auburn suited me better. It was moody, mysterious. It made my skin seem pale, and that was how I felt. Pale. Fragile.
“Redheads are feisty,” I said. “I’m trying to find my inner feisty.”
“You’ve always been feisty. And the master of sarcasm.”
Not anymore. Cat had been living on an island off the coast of Maine for the last eighteen months. She’d never seen me with Jared. I was glad. The less witnesses to my humiliation the better, and maybe with her seeing me as I had been, I would become me again.
“I think the feisty got knocked out of me. Literally.”
“Don’t joke about it.” Her dark eyes searched mine. “I don’t think that’s healthy.”
Nothing about it was healthy. But I was trying my best to cope. And when she looked at me like that…that’s when I needed to escape.
“I’ll be back in an hour tops. Don’t send Heath out looking for me again. I promise I’ll be fine.”
That was why I’d come to Cat in Vinalhaven—it was remote, isolated. Everyone knew everyone, and the only way on the island was by ferry. If, for some insane reason, Jared tried to track me down, I would know immediately that he was there. It made me feel safe, protected. Walking helped clear my head.
The porch door slammed behind me, and I put the hood of my sweatshirt up. It was only September, but I was always cold. I used to think I would go to grad school down South. Now, the future was a great gaping hole filled with fear.
And a baby.
I fingered the stick stuck up my sleeve and tried to process the truth. I was pregnant. With Jared’s baby. Tears filled my eyes as I walked down the gravel drive towards the shoreline, my feet moving faster, my head hunched down. Heading in the direction of the least possibility of seeing any other humans, I cursed when I realized almost immediately that the guy who lived in a crumbling farmhouse was out in his yard. Chopping wood with his shirt off. He was in his mid-twenties and I’d seen him twice before. He never smiled, he never waved, he never spoke to me, and he was muscular, ominous. There was no joy on his face, only a kind of silent disdain as he watched me walk by. He was the kind of man who could corner me, beat me, rape me, kill me.
Five years ago, I would have seen his sweaty shoulders, watched the ripple of muscles in his back, and I would have flirted with him, smiled, flipped my hair. He might have flirted back and we might have gone into his farmhouse and fucked just because it felt good. Now, the thought of him touching me made me flinch in fear, and I rushed past him, glancing up only to track his movements, make sure he wasn’t following me.
Cat had said that his name was Riker and he was harmless. That he’d come back from being in the military and he had PTSD, so he kept to himself. Riker was sweet, she’d insisted. He had always been a good guy.
Whatever. What he was then didn’t make him that now, and I was afraid of the intensity of his stare.
He was doing it now. His ax paused as he eyed me. Then his gaze shifted back to the log and the sun hit the blade as it came down with a violent whack. I winced. The wood split in two directions and tumbled to the ground.
Suddenly, it was too much—the realization that a guy forty feet away could frighten me, that I was pregnant, that I had let myself get in this situation by wanting so desperately to be important to Jared in the beginning that I had ignored all the warning signs. I started to run, wondering how I was going to support myself and a child, afraid that if Jared ever found out, he would take my baby away from me. Knowing that, at some point, I had to face my family.
I ran, pumping my arms hard, the hood falling back off my head, my lungs straining. When I reached the edge of the island by the rocks, I came to a crashing halt, sobbing in frustration. Yanking the pregnancy test out of my sleeve, I stared at the pink line showing my new reality.
“It’s not fair,” I whispered.
I’d always wanted to be a mom. But not like this. Not with that man.
“No,” I said, louder this time. “No. This isn’t fair!” Then I pulled my arm back and hurled the test stick as hard as I possibly could.
I was panting, my vision blurry from tears as I watched it sail through the air and drop down onto the rocks. Leaning forward to see where it landed, I slipped on the wet turf.
Suddenly, I was falling and screaming and trying to grab on to anything. Pain shot through my hip, but clipping the rock helped slow my fall and I landed on my chest, my legs dangling, my grip tenuous, but no longer free falling. The air whooshed out of my lungs and I clawed at the slippery rock with my feet, trying to find a ledge to haul myself up. But my shoes slid around uselessly and I paused, panting, arms straining. I was wasting too much energy and I needed to think.
Looking up, I opened my mouth to scream for help.
What I saw almost made me lose my hold entirely.
A man’s face stared down at me with dark, intense eyes.
USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has since written almost fifty novels and novellas in teen fiction, new adult, and adult romance. Erin has a special weakness for New Orleans, tattoos, high-heeled boots, beaches and martinis. She lives in Ohio with her family, two grumpy cats and a socially awkward dog.
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