Release 27th September ~ Goodreads
One night changed my life forever.
Beau Bennett has been my best friend since I can remember. He was my first crush before everything came crashing down, and now he wants more, but it's more than I can give him. Things are different now. I wish I could tell him why, but I can't.
I haven’t told anyone.
I never knew how much I really needed him until the day he left for college, and I was completely alone.
Then one day, Asher Hunt rides into town with his dark, captivating eyes and cocky grin. He doesn't care who I used to be, he's simply breathing life into what’s left. People warn me to stay away from him, but he helps me forget the pain that has held me hostage for so long; something I thought was impossible before he walked into my life.
I’ve been hurt.
I’ve been saved.
And I’ve found hope.
I thought my story was written that night, but now I know it was only a new beginning. Until one secret turns my world upside down…
Bit about the author: Lisa De Jong
Lisa De Jong is a wife, mother and full-time number cruncher who lives in the Midwest. Her writing journey involved insane amounts of coffee and many nights of very little sleep but she wouldn't change a thing. She also enjoys reading, football and music.
When you live in a small town, there’s not much to do on a night after a football game. When the season started that year, some of the seniors at my high school decided that we should all have a bonfire after each game. It was really an excuse to drink and hook-up: two things I wasn’t interested in, but I always went to hang out with my friends anyway.
That’s where I was that night.
The night I retreated into darkness, where the night sky had no stars, the day had no sun, and all hope was drained from my body.
The night my life ended.
The night my life ended.
And Beau Bennett wasn’t there. If he had been, he would’ve saved me, just like he always did. He was grounded that night for staying out past curfew the before; in fact, it’s the only weekend I remember Beau ever being grounded.
Life is a series of coincidences and that night, coincidence screwed me over.
I was there with Morgan, my best friend since third grade. She was dating the Senior Class President at the time and it didn’t take long before they disappeared, leaving me huddled near the fire with some of the other kids from my school. I felt completely comfortable being alone because I’ve known most of these people since I had moved here when I was five. That’s one of the nice things about small towns.
Or so I thought.
I was sitting with my arms wrapped around myself, trying to warm what the fire couldn’t, when Drew Heston sat down next to me. My stomach did a somersault; I mean, Drew was a senior. Mr. Football, as everyone called him. He was the local hero, the type of guy who would have a billboard outside of town someday. It didn’t hurt that he looked amazing with his short dark hair, light green eyes and broad shoulders.
I had secretly crushed on him since the day I first walked into the doors of my high school. There was something about the way he walked the halls with his head held high that commanded every girl’s attention, including mine. I’d never talked to him or even made eye contact with him, for that matter, but there he was, sitting next to me that night in front of the fire. I couldn’t believe it. Things like that didn’t happen to Kate Alexander.
“Hey, Kate, how’ve you been?” he asked, his eyes burning into the side of my head. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. Just being near him made me lose all comprehension of the English language.
“Fine,” I mumbled, biting down on my lower lip. A shiver ran through my body like a freight train as I finally glanced in his direction.
“Were you at my game tonight?” he asked, bumping my shoulder with his. I could feel the heat coming off his muscular body and it made me blush.
My thoughts drifted back to the third quarter when Drew threw the ball to his star receiver Jackson Reid, who, at the time, was surrounded by defenders. My heart raced with excitement as I watched Jackson and three members of the other team jump up to catch the ball at the same time. In the end, Jackson came out victorious because Drew threw it right into his hands. It was nothing short of amazing, yet for Drew, it was completely normal.
“You were great,” I replied, nervously reaching up to tighten my ponytail. A breeze blew through and a few raindrops fell from the sky. I ran my hands up and down my arms in an attempt to chase the chill from my body, but it didn’t help.
“Are you cold?” he asked, scooting his body even closer to mine. The way he was looking at me sent butterflies through my stomach. It wasn’t like I was an outcast at school, but I wasn’t one of the elite popular girls that guys like Drew usually spent their time on.
“A little. I forgot my jacket at home,” I replied, feeling a few more raindrops fall on my cheek.
He stood up and reached for my hand. “Come on. I have an extra sweatshirt in the house you can borrow.”
The party was being held at his house since his parents had gone out of town that weekend. I hesitated for a minute before placing my hand in his. I knew of him, but I didn’t really know him. It wasn’t the first time I’d been to his house, but it was the first time I’d been inside. I felt a little uneasy, but I still trusted him. I didn’t have any reason not to.
Drew’s house was old, but it had been well maintained with a fresh coat of paint and a wraparound porch. He opened the front door, never loosening his grip on my hand as he moved us forward. My attention was so focused on the contemporary paint colors and beautiful cherry wood floors, it barely registered that we were heading upstairs.
I watched as he took a key out of his pocket to unlock one of the doors that lined the second story hallway. He must have noticed the way I was looking at him because his lips turned up on the sides. “I don’t like anyone to be in my room but me,” he said, pushing the door open.
I nodded, following him inside. Did I feel a little uncomfortable stepping into Drew Heston’s bedroom? Yes. Did I think for one moment that I shouldn’t be there? No. I’d known him for years. Everyone knew him and thought the world of him.
When he closed the door and locked it, I felt my heart rate pick up. I watched him glance around the room, following his eyes with mine. The walls were a deep navy blue with various football posters covering them. And I’ll never forget how it smelled like cologne had been used to cover up the stench of his used gym clothes.
I’d only been in one boy’s bedroom before and Beau’s hardly counts…he’s one of my best friends. Drew remains still, staring at me with glossed over eyes and, suddenly, being there didn’t feel right. “Can you find that sweatshirt? I should probably get back outside before Morgan comes looking for me.”
“Oh yeah, give me a sec,” he said, moving to dig through a drawer in his dresser. I walked to the window at the other end of the room and looked down at the diminishing fire. The rain was falling faster against the glass making it harder to see in the distance, but it looked like everyone had left their spots by the fire. I really needed to hurry up and find Morgan before she left without me.
The house was completely quiet, sending a chill down my spine. I closed my eyes and listened to Drew’s footsteps moving closer to me, my heart beating faster every time I heard the rubber soles of his shoes against the floorboards. I just wanted to get out of there. Everything about being inside his room felt wrong and I wanted to escape it. Going up to his bedroom was a bad idea…going to that party without Beau was a huge mistake.
His footsteps continued to get closer as I spun on my heels to head towards the door. I was greeted with dark eyes and a vacant stare. This was not the Drew I thought I knew. I wanted to run out of this house and never look back but he was blocking my path. “I’m going to wait outside. It’s getting warm in here,” I lied, motioning toward his door.
He didn’t say a word as he pressed his body to mine, completely closing any gap that remained between us. My hands were sweaty and my knees felt like they were made for paper dolls. “Drew.” It was like he was in a trance and it was scaring the hell out of me.
“It’s raining outside, Kate,” he said, reaching his hand up to cup my cheek. I stepped back out of his grasp, but he followed me. It wasn’t long before my back was against the wall. Even if I wanted to leave, it was too late. His hands rested on the wall, caging me in with his arms. “Mm, you smell so good,” he growled, pressing his lips to my neck. His touch forced me to tilt my head in the other direction. I felt helpless.
“Drew, please, just let me go. I really need to find Morgan,” I cried. My whole body was shaking from a fear unlike I’d ever felt before. It was paralyzing. I just wanted to run out the door as fast as I could and never look back, but I was stuck.
He ignored me, running his lips down my jaw line. I turned my head to fight, but he followed my movements. “What’s the matter, Kate? I see the way you look at me. You want this as much as I do,” he said with a husky voice that sent more panic through my already tense body. I used the little bit of fight I had left in me to push on his chest but he didn’t move. Not even an inch.
“Let me go,” I pleaded. His right hand came down to grip my hip hard as he roughly pressed his lips to mine. The force of his kiss sent pain to my lips and all I could taste was the mix of my blood and the alcohol on his breath.
When his hand found the bottom of my shirt and started to work the material up my bare stomach, I tried to move my legs forward but he was so much bigger and stronger than me. If anything, my attempts to push him away were only making things worse.
He gripped my wrists tightly and pulled me over to his bed, pushing me onto my stomach. I tried to pull my arms loose, but it caused pain to shoot through my wrists. I’ve never felt more terrified in my whole life. He continued to hold my arms behind my back and pinned my legs down with his knees.
“HELP,” I yelled as loud as I could through my panic and tears.
He clamped his hand over my mouth, yanking my head back until my neck ached. “Everyone’s outside. No one’s going to hear you.”
That was it. I was trapped under him, alone with no one to save me. All the fight I had was drained from my body, and the chances of anyone pulling me out of this hell were getting slimmer by the minute. Tears rolled down my face, soaking his bedspread while I fixated on the raindrops hitting the window. He forced my jeans down so they were left slung around my left ankle. When I heard him working at his belt buckle, I felt like I couldn’t breathe anymore. I’d never been exposed like that and it wasn’t at all what I wanted. I was saving myself for someone special and Drew was taking it from me. I gasped for air but I couldn’t get any into my lungs. I tried to scream again but no sound came out.
I felt him pressed against my backside and it made me want to throw up. “STOP,” I screamed, trying again to free myself from his hold but he was too strong.
He let out a hushed chuckle from behind. “Are you going to give up?”
“Please, don’t,” I begged again. It was my last chance and I knew it. He didn’t respond and when I heard the sound of foil paper ripping, I squeezed my eyes shut and said a silent prayer. I wanted it all to be a nightmare I would soon wake up from. I wanted someone to come through that door and stop it from happening. I wanted to be anywhere but there.
Except no one was listening to me that night. I could hear the soft tap of the rain falling on the window, but the rest of the house was completely silent. I used to like the sound of rain but Drew took that from me too.
He pressed into me so quickly that pain erupted through my whole body, sending a deafening scream into the darkness of the room. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling like I was drowning with no way to get to the surface. I’ve never felt such intense physical and emotional pain all at once. It was the absolute worst moment of my life.
It still is.
He didn’t stop. Not when I screamed. Not when I cried. He kept invading my body with each and every thrust, killing me a little more inside each time. It hurt more to fight it so I remained still, continuing to stare at the droplets that rolled down the window. He grunted as he continued to shred my soul to pieces and I tried my best to block it out. I didn’t need to have his words locked into my memory forever when I already had to live with the feel of him inside of me. I knew I’d never be the same after what he did to me.
I’m not sure how long I was in the room, but it felt like an eternity. My whole life flashed before me as I was overcome with grief. For the rest of my life, I would always regret going up to that room with Drew Heston. I could never get that day back or a lot of the other things he took from me.
The most important thing I lost was my entire sense of self. It took seventeen years to build my foundation and it took mere minutes to tear it down.
I hate him.
The old Kate is gone...and she’s never coming back.
And I’ll always hate when it rains.