From New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover comes RECOVERED, a standalone contemporary romance that will keep you turning the pages long into the night! Order your copy today!
It was hate at first sight…
I hated Cable James McCaffrey.
He was entitled, spoiled, a user…and an addict.
He was out of control and didn’t bother trying to hide it.
He had everything anyone could want but still seemed miserable and lost.
Every move he made, every mistake he stumbled his way through, rubbed me the wrong way. However, I couldn’t stop myself from trying to save him from himself when no one else would. In the sweltering heat of the summer, Cable taught me that having it all means nothing if you can’t have the one thing you want more than anything else.
I was obsessed with Affton Reed.
She was rigid, uptight, and no fun. There was something about her innate goodness that called to me.
She acted like she was above all the normal faults and failures that clung to the rest of us like the scent of smoke after a fire.
I was infatuated with her, but that didn’t stop me from acting like she didn’t exist.
In the scorching heat of summer, Affton taught me that there is always a way back from the brink of despair. She showed me that the trick to having it all was realizing that it was already there, in my hands. All I had to do was hold onto it.
The road to recovery is full of twists and turns no matter who is in the driver’s seat.
I took another swallow of cinnamon-flavored booze and made a face as it burned down my throat. Maybe I could breathe fire. I needed to be able to if I was going to make it through the summer with Affton Reed looking over my shoulder. She had some of the strongest shields I’d ever seen. If my fire wasn’t hot enough, it would bounce off her and burn me to a crisp.
The sun was down, and I was pretty much sitting in the water now. I thought about lying down and letting it lift me up and carry me wherever it wanted. I wasn’t drifting anywhere good on my own. I heard splashing and felt the air behind me stir. No longer alone. No longer left to my own devices and bad choices.
I took another swig from the bottle, draining it, and looked over my shoulder at the girl making her way toward me. Her hair looked silver in the darkening light, and there was no mistaking the annoyance on her unmade-up face. She looked at me then shifted her gaze to the empty bottle in my hand. Her lips pulled into a frown, and her eyebrows tugged down into an angry V over the top of her nose.
“You aren’t going to make anything about this summer easy, are you, Cable?”
I had a thing for her voice. It was a little bit husky and a lot sweet with that slow, southern Texas twang in it. The way my name sounded when she said it, all exasperated and frustrated, was fucking sexy. It made me wonder what it would sound like when she whispered it in the dark while I was inside of her. I’d imagined that more times than I could count over the last eighteen months.
“I don’t really do easy, Reed.” I looked at the empty bottle in my hand and contemplated tossing it into the Gulf. Knowing my luck, I’d hit some endangered marine life and give the judge one more reason to add months onto my sentence. Instead, I reached up and handed it to the leggy blonde who was now standing next to me, the water well above her ankles.
“Jesus. Did you drink this whole thing?” She sounded incensed, and when I rolled my eyes up to look at her, it was clear she was contemplating hitting me over the head with the very weapon I’d just handed to her.
I shrugged. “Pretty much.” The bubbly teen girls barely had the chance to put a dent in it before I swooped in and snagged their stash.
She sighed from where she was hovering above me. I jolted in shock when she suddenly lowered herself to the wet sand next to me, the water immediately soaking into her frayed cutoffs and swirling around her ankles and hips as she copied my pose, my empty bottle caught between her feet. She leaned forward, rested her cheek on her knee, and gazed at me steadily out of those mesmerizing eyes. “I tried to tell your mother this was hopeless. I warned her there is no helping someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I don’t want to be here, Cable.” Her voice was hard, and I was surprised that her admission hurt a little bit. I didn’t want to be around me most of the time, but I was used to other people flocking to me, vying for my attention. “I don’t want to be here, but I have to be, so that means you’re stuck with me no matter how difficult you decide to make the next couple of months. I don’t have a choice.”
I wanted a cigarette. I needed something to occupy my hands and my mouth. I’d left the smokes and m y t-shirt on the steps of the deck off dad’s house. The steps led to the beach, just a few feet from the water. It was a beautiful house on a prime piece of property. With Affton here, it was nothing more than an expensive jail cell.
I knew exactly what means my mother had gone to in order to get Affton to agree to this madness. She told me outright she was blackmailing my former classmate, I think in a thinly veiled attempt to make me care about someone else’s future if I wouldn’t care about my own. I knew if I drove Affton away, her father would lose his job. It wasn’t fair, but my mom had been nothing short of ruthless in her pursuit of my sobriety. “My mom can be very convincing when she puts her mind to it.” She could also be tough as nails and immovable when she wanted something.
Affton snorted and shifted so her chin was resting on her knee instead of her cheek. She looked out over the endless landscape of water and sky, and I shivered even though it wasn’t cold. I lifted a hand to run it through my hair. My unease lived inside of me, crawled all around my bones and under my skin. I wasn’t used to it making its way to the surface because of someone else. There was a lot unsaid between me and this girl. The few words we’d exchanged were powerful, important ones that hung heavy between us. It was so much easier when I looked at her, and she refused to look back.
“I don’t think convincing is the word I would use…more like conniving. Either way, she tied my hands, so succeed or fail, you are stuck with me until the end of summer. Let’s get you into the house so you can sleep this bottle off and pray you don’t get popped for a piss test tomorrow.” She grabbed the bottle from where she had plunked the base in the sand and lifted a pale eyebrow at me. “You should have picked something…” she trailed off and gave me a shrug. “Less wussy to enjoy your last binge with. This stuff tastes like toothpaste.”
She offered me her free hand, and for a second all I could picture was grabbing it and pulling her under with me, letting the water cover us both and take us somewhere we would both rather be. I didn’t. I took her hand and struggled to my feet. Months of forced sobriety tumbled away under the wash of cinnamon whiskey. I wobbled and almost went back down, but before I could nose dive into the shallow water, Affton was there, arm around my waist, empty bottle pressed into my side, a chilly reminder that I’d already fucked this up and it was only the first day.
I had no idea how either one of us was going to survive the summer, and if we did, I had no idea how I was supposed to survive beyond that when I was once again left to my own devious and duplicitous devices.
Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.