Coming Soon + Excerpt: Reckoning by Jessica Ruben!
Vincent: Forgetting about Eve was the plan. Finding her at a party on my college campus was the last thing I expected.
But letting her go again isn’t an option—not this time. Juggling the life I want with the one I was born into may be near impossible, but for her, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
My world has turned into a house of cards, where one wrong move can send it all crashing down…and us with it.
Eve: Finally at a prestigious university—and on the path to living my dreams—I’ve left the darkness of the Blue Houses behind. Still, a whole new host of problems await me.
Vincent is here.
He’s king of the school, complete with a society princess by his side. I thought I wanted to know what he was hiding, but unlocking his biggest secret leads me into entirely new territory laced with danger
and lust…one I’m not sure I’ll survive.
I finally lift my face and look at my reflection. My hair, which I painstakingly straightened a few hours ago, now has a wave to it and my face is flushed, lips puffy. I look down at my wrist and find a skinny black hair tie. Pulling my hair back in a tight bun, I immediately feel better. Turning on the faucet, I put my wrists under the ice-cold water, trying to cool my body down. I feel completely depleted from seeing Vincent and meeting Daniela. All I want to do is run back to my dorm room and cry myself to sleep.
What I need to do is leave this party. I let out a whimper and stare at myself hard, willing the tears not to leave my eyes. Everything with Vincent was blown up in my childish mind. He has his own life, and I was nothing more than his little sideshow. What a joke I must have been. A pathetic joke. I’m going to walk back into the party and tell Claire that I have a terrible headache. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find her quickly and without incident.
I hear a knock on the bathroom door. “Just a s-second.” I try to stop my voice from stammering. I take a few deep breaths when I hear another hard bang.
“Just a minute!” I yell again, my voice stronger. I stare at myself, trying to muster the strength to go back outside.
“Whoever is fuckin’ in there, better get out.” It’s a man on the other side, his voice deep and angry. I turn around, swinging the door open with annoyance. What a jerk!
A huge body looms in front of me. We lock eyes, both rooted to our respective spots. The plot of my life just doesn’t make sense anymore.
“Eve?” The tone of his voice registers that he’s completely stunned. He puts his hands on either side of the door frame, seemingly to steady himself.
“Uh…” My entire brain goes on mute as I drop my head and stare at dark denim hugging muscular thighs, my eyes track upward to a tight black T-shirt that stretches across a wide chest, and finally, my eyes lock with a dark and penetrating gaze that belongs to only one man.
“Eve?” he repeats. While I didn’t think it would be possible, his stare deepens. All I can process is how vulnerable I feel in this moment. When Vincent looks at me, it’s as if he can see within me. It’s exposure I both yearn for and despise.
In a blink, he steps inside and locks the door behind him. He bends down and lifts me onto the counter, dropping his head in my neck and breathing me in. My legs immediately spread apart to make room for him to get closer. He wraps his huge hands on either side of my head, keeping me in place while he lowers his head to look straight at me again as if to confirm that I’m real.
“You’re here? But, how—” his voice breaks off. I listen to his shallow breaths mixed with mine.
Seeing him face to face like this brings it all back in a rush. He’s so intense. I swallow hard. How much time passes with us locked in the bathroom like this, I have no idea. I’m lost to him. All of my pain and anger seems to have gone up in smoke. I want to stay lost in his eyes and simply savor this moment and the way he’s looking at me.
He keeps his hands on the sides of my face, thumbs gently rubbing my temples. It’s soothing and arousing. I’d clamp my legs together to stop the ache if I could, but his huge body is still between them, not allowing me any movement. I’m melting for this man. And it isn’t the fact that he’s insanely sexy. It’s more. It’s him.
He wraps his arms around me again, pulling me into his chest for another firm squeeze. “Did you know I was here?”
I take a deep breath, confused by his implication. Is he saying that I followed him here? To school?
“What? I didn’t know at first…but I, I saw you…” The truth comes rushing back into the front of my mind. Vincent has a girlfriend. Vincent is Borignone mafia. I physically shrink back from him.
His eyes change as if he notices the change in my demeanor and isn’t happy about it. “When did you see me?” Lines form on his forehead. Clearly, Vincent isn’t a man who is used to surprises.
I shrug, trying my best not to sound as broken as I feel. “I saw you with your g-girlfriend in the dining hall.” I wish I were one of those girls who could look him in the eye and dare him to lie to my face. Instead, my voice comes out sounding insecure and small. I drop my eyes to the floor. Even though he’s the liar, I’m the one who is embarrassed. He saw me as a girl who wasn’t worthy to be his. He made me feel as though we had something special, but clearly, I was mistaken.
He presses his thumb under my chin to lift up my head. “There’s a lot to that, Eve. But, I’m just…” he sighs, tracing my full lips with his finger, stunning me quiet with his gentleness. “I just can’t believe this. I need to explain everything to you, and I promise I will. But, can we just chill tonight?” He lets out a deep breath as I sit, staring at him in confusion. He wants to hang out tonight? What. The. Hell? I stare at him like he’s insane.
“I know you must be hurt by what you’ve heard.” He has the decency to look down for a moment, but when he lifts them back to meet mine, his dark eyes are full of hope. “Can we just pretend that we’re all good, and trust that I’ll explain it all later? Nothing is as it seems. Trust me.”
My rational mind is saying no. Actually, it’s screaming “FUCK NO” at the top of its lungs. But my heart is beating with the word “Yes.” He’s here and I can’t believe how much I missed him. I almost forgot how good it felt to be looked at in this way. How could this Vincent I’m staring at be the man in the photos? It just can’t be! The man I’m staring at is warm, loving, and gentle. He saved me from the hands of a madman. He doesn’t gallivant around town with a socialite and then kill people after hours with the mob! I can’t reconcile his sides.
He seems to sense my hesitancy because before I can make a final decision, he steps forward, hugging me into his chest, essentially making the choice for me. He lifts me back into his arms and gently sets me back on my feet. “I may not deserve this chance. But fuck if I’m not gonna take it.” His voice is rough, and damn my traitorous body, but it melts a little more for him.
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