Seared on My Soul
by Cole Gibsen
Publication Date: June 27, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Entangled Embrace, Contemporary Romance
She’s so young, so full of life…
Even if she made the world’s worst coffee.
Emily Garret never asked to be rescued, let alone by a walking JCrew ad whose idea of fun is probably managing his stock portfolio and watching the nightly news. Then again, she never thought she would wind upside-down in a ditch after a night having a little too much fun.
Reece Montgomery never planned on being anyone’s hero, especially the foul-mouthed, bleach-blonde barista from the local coffee shop. He thinks there’s more to Emily than her tattoos, and lip ring, but getting close means letting her into his past and meeting his ghosts.
And he’s not sure she’s ready for that battlefield.
My world becomes nothing but pain. Every breath is a mixture of blood, smoke, and gasoline.
From far away, I hear sirens and muffled voices that can’t quite penetrate the darkness I’ve fallen into. Blood, tasting of copper, trickles down my throat. A searing ache, like barbed wire, rips into every inch of my body.
Am I dying?
Terror coils around my gut and I ail in the darkness inside my mind, desperate for anything to hold onto, an object to keep me grounded so I won’t fall away. My fingers brush against something soft and I grab hold, twisting the fabric into my fist.
It doesn’t take me long to realize the fabric is attached to something—or rather someone—because seconds later a pair of muscular arms snake around my shoulders and press me against an equally firm chest.
It doesn’t make sense. I haven’t been held this way since Daddy died nearly a decade ago. “Can you hear me?” The unfamiliar voice sounds distant, echoing inside my head like a cavern.
I try to answer, but my throat is tight and blood coats my tongue. Instead, I hold tighter, pressing my knotted fingers against his chest. His warmth bleeds into my skin, loosening the fear twisted around my ribs just enough for me to breathe— only it comes as a gasp. “I don’t want to die.” The words are a surprise, but I realize they’re the truest words I’ve ever spoken.
Unconsciousness tugs at me with velvety fingers, pulling me deeper inside myself. I clutch the fabric in my hands, suddenly terrified that if I’m pulled away, I might not be able to find my way back.
The darkness presses against me, smashing me beneath a wall of endless satin. My fingers lose their grip on the man’s shirt, and I can feel myself slipping. Fear rises inside my throat, a jagged lump I can barely breathe around. “Don’t,” I manage to choke. My voice sounds far away—almost as if it were coming from outside my body. Or maybe I’m the one outside my body.
The thought sends an icy wave of terror crashing over me.
“Don’t what?” the man asks, sounding farther away than before. Even so, the panic in his voice is unmistakable.
The darkness grows heavier, and I am too weak to fight. Even my fear ebbs under the crushing weight of exhaustion. It takes all my remaining strength, but I manage to breathe life into the words tangled on my tongue before unconsciousness consumes me.
“Don’t let me go.”
ABOUT COLE GIBSEN
At seventeen Cole found herself homeless with only a beat-up Volkswagen Jetta and a bag of Goodwill clothing to her name. The only things that got her through the nights she spent parked in truck stops and cornfields were the stacks of books she checked out from the library along with her trusty flashlight. Because of the reprieve these books gave her from her troubles, Cole vowed to become a writer so she could provide the same escape to readers who needed a break the reality of their own lives.