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Finding Beautiful

Finding Beautiful

Book excerpt

I was at Jeremy's bedside with my arm in a sling as he fought for every breath. A drunk driver hit his truck cab and he suffered internal bleeding along with broken ribs and massive head injuries. We had no idea whether he'd wake up, and even if he did, would he remember us? Would he be our Jeremy? Or would he be a vegetable for the rest of his life?

In the end, though, his heart wasn't strong enough and he passed exactly one hour and twenty-two minutes after he was brought into the emergency room. It crushed me. Hell, it broke me. My mom took it the hardest and placed all the blame on me amid her grief. The pain got to be too much for her and the only way she could cope was to be angry. At the world. At me. But God, did it hurt.

I didn't realize tears were falling until they stung my cheeks. Kel wiped them away, her amber eyes filled with worry. I missed him so much.

“It's okay,” I whispered, struggling to rein in my emotions.

Kel wrapped her arm around me and led me to her car, knowing that I had to move, to do something other than relive those terrible moments. We walked across the parking lot and I spotted a canary yellow sports car with a black pinstripe detailed on each side. I could tell from the make that it was a newer Jaguar. I didn't know all that much about cars, but this had to be the sexiest car I'd ever laid eyes on. Every inch was sleek, painted in the brightest shade of yellow, the designs up one side in thin lines of navy and black was a stark contrast to the bright yellow. Then I caught sight of the gorgeous man leaning against it staring at his phone.

I lost my breath when a pair of piercing blue-gray eyes locked on mine and I swore my heart stopped beating. It felt as if the air around me was charged with something as I met his gaze. My breath faltered as I took in the man standing no more than twenty feet away. With brown tousled hair that begged me to run my fingers through it and a look in his eyes that made me stop where I stood, I was mesmerized. His eyes captivated mine, two clouds of brilliant blue and gray. His lean cheekbones and nose complimented his face perfectly. His mouth was sculpted and tilted into a half-smile. Somehow, it made my blood heat in anticipation. Gradually, my eyes swept down his body. The man was wearing a white dress shirt, unbuttoned at the top that hugged his chest in the best way and black jeans with black dress shoes to match.

When my eyes returned to his, he cocked his head to one side as if to ask are you checking me out?

I couldn't help the butterflies that took flight in my stomach. He was … beautiful. My brain seemed to catch up with my eyes and I immediately asked myself, what the hell was I doing? It was not as if I'd never seen a good-looking man before. It just felt like my eyes were somehow drawn to him. I watched as he pulled a wrench out from under the hood of his car, straightened up, closing the hood with a loud thud. The way he carried himself was like sex on legs. It dawned on me that he didn't seem cocky or full of himself like most guys with his looks were, but he did have a sense of self-awareness and power in the way he moved.

I drew my eyes back to his and he stepped forward. The smile he gave me made me weak in the knees.

God, what was happening to me?

Aria, calm down. He was just a man.

“Like the view?” he asked, his voice gravelly. The sound seeped through me, through the space between us, through my overheated skin.

I opened my mouth to speak, but I ended up just taking in a breath and attempting to gather my thoughts. He watched me quietly, eyes trained only on my face.

I tried to reason with myself, to get in the car and drive away, but I couldn't truly think of anything that would cause me to run.

Okay, he was just a man, who was sinfully beautiful and had eyes that drew you in like a moth to a flame …

“Oh … um, yes. Is this yours?”

He nodded and took a step forward, startling me a tad when he took my hand gently in his. The simple touch was like a spark between our bodies, sending tingles over my skin.

“She is,” he said, that half-smile lighting up the dips and shallows of his face. I could see at least one day's worth of brown stubble across his jaw, my fingers itched to touch him, feel the roughness I knew I'd find along his jaw. I bit my lip as he admired me with those eyes of his. God, his eyes were so deep, so full of mischief.

“She?” I cocked my head to the side in confusion.

“Yes, that surprises you?” he teased me, eyes narrowing a bit.

My mouth stretched into a shy smile, and I felt my heart flutter as he gazed down at me. “Let me guess, you named her, too?”

“I did. Jasmine, after the girl that broke my heart years ago. I'm hoping history won't repeat itself. I can't imagine she'll run off with a French exchange student. You think?”

It made me laugh, his naming his car, but it also saddened me knowing he had felt heartbreak. I could relate. Heartbreak was something I knew intimately, but didn't everyone get their heart broken at one point?

“I hope not.”

I didn't try to take my hand from his. The skin contact was just too intense for me to want to. Beside me, Kel tugged on my arm and smiled knowingly as she looked at our joined hands. Oh goodness, what did she have in mind?

Leaning closer to me, she whispered in my ear, “Shall I invite him tonight?”

I narrowed my eyes at her and hastily shook my head, though I did want to see him again. My sister insisted on having a party. She said it was to celebrate my performance today, but she just really loved parties and any excuse would do.

Kel stepped in front of me, blocking me from his view while she looked at him. I watched her lean in to whisper in his ear and I vaguely wondered what he must smell like.

“Of course, I'll be there. Thank you.”

I met his eyes intentionally, wondering what he must be thinking of her taking a such quick liking to him. His eyes sparkled with mischief, and they didn't leave mine while he talked with my sister.

My heart was in overdrive for the first time ever and it was due to this man. I had to remind myself to focus on something other than his beauty or the speed of my heartbeat in my chest. He was just a man. I kept telling myself that.

“You don't have to come, my sister is just being nice,” I half-whispered as he moved a step closer to me. I swore the heat in his gaze could burn me in two.

Shaking his head slightly, he gave me a smile that just about melted my heart. I wondered, could he possibly want to see me again? Did I want that?

“I'd really like to see you again. You're beautiful and mysterious, and you intrigue me.” Beautiful and mysterious? God, what was I doing …?

Still, I found myself nodding. I turned to the car before I said something else. My thoughts were rattled and all I could think about was how soft his lips looked and how those eyes captivated mine.

Suddenly, he caught my hand again and immediately my heart sped up as the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. His touch resonated through me and when I saw the sincerity in his eyes, I gasped audibly.

“Can I at least have your name?”

This man's voice knocked my heart into overdrive again. His eyes searched mine for long seconds. I wondered what he was thinking as he trained his eyes intently on my face. A strand of my hair flew in front of my face from the breeze and he deftly lifted it away, tucking it behind my ear. When his fingers dipped to my cheek, a blush spread across my skin, fireworks sparked underneath the touch.

“Aria,” I whispered just loud enough for his ears.

He nodded, his eyes heating with something I wished I had a name for, as his finger grazed my cheek, my eyes never leaving his.

“Gavin,” he murmured, giving me his name.

I bit my lip at the sound of his name off his sinfully attractive mouth. I found myself wanting to lean into his touch as his hand brushed against my cheek, still. The name fit him so well.

Gavin.

“I'll see you tonight, Gavin.” I breathed, feeling lighter as he smiled that crooked smile at me and took my hand in his once more, not letting go as he stepped away until distance pulled our fingers apart.

“Tonight,” he said.

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