Come to Me Softly by AL Jackson
From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Quietly comes a scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series.
A second chance at life…
A second chance at love…
Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the future they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed?
To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter what it costs…even if he destroys himself in the process.
Excerpt Come to Me Softly
A couple seconds later, the door swung open. A halo of light silhouetted Jared’s frame, his presence thick, overwhelming.
He stood there, gazing at me from across the room.
Under his stare, I squirmed, fisted the sheets at my sides.
Slowly he came into view as he stepped forward. He towered over me. As he approached, my eyes caressed the sharp angles of his face. My attention jumped along the deformed, warped story played out on his chest and down the deep lines cut into his rugged stomach. His hips jutted out above his tight underwear, something so tempting in the way he moved. Sinewy muscle bunched and flexed beneath the color of his strong arms, bristled in the corded strength of his powerful legs.
A tremor rolled through me.
He was indescribable. Devastating.
So hard, every inch of him, callused from the wounds that had marred his life, this terrifying beauty that held me captive, tying me somewhere to the darkest places of his soul.
But his eyes… they were soft. Bright. Filled my own darkness with light.
“Hey,” he murmured quietly as he drew near.
“Hey,” I whispered back.
He knelt at the side of my bed and leaned in to brush back the matted hair stuck to my dampened forehead. “Are you okay?” Concern tightened his brow as he searched my face. “Was I too rough?”
Softly, I shook my head, unable to look away from this gorgeous man. “No, not at all.” I trailed my trembling fingers down his face. “You don’t need to worry about me so much.”
“How can I not? I just want to take care of you.”
I jumped when he placed the warm, damp cloth between my thighs, then hummed when he gently massaged it over me, deliberate, soft, because taking care of me was exactly what he was doing.
Complete acceptance nodded my head. “I know that.”
He finished cleaning me and tossed the washcloth into the hamper. Slowly, he crawled into bed. Rolling onto his side, he pulled me to him. “Come here.”
I snuggled into the security of his chest, and he drew the covers over us, wrapping me in the safety of his arms.
Warmth spread over me, contenting every fiber in my being. I buried my face in his chest, brushed my lips across the rose, breathed him in.
Jared exhaled as he pulled me closer. And I could feel the shift. Tension clotted the already heavy air. He gathered my hand and wove our fingers together. He held it tight between us. In the dim light, his blue eyes met mine, wholly tender, yet fierce and severe.
“I need you to understand something, Aly. You don’t ever have to worry about me stepping out on you.” He squeezed my hand tighter. “I can promise you that.”
For a flash, he averted his gaze, before he leveled the force of it back on me. Vestiges of shame swam in the depths. “But I think you already know I left a whole mess of that behind me in Jersey.”
Jealousy bit at my consciousness, and I squeezed my eyes shut as if I could block it out. I didn’t want to be that girl, the one who let things that could not be controlled affect her life. The one who allowed bygones rule. The one who let insecurities invade, fester, and destroy. But I had to be honest and admit it hurt. Thinking of him with other girls the way he’d been with me left something inside me uncovered, abraded and raw.
Tonight had only proven that.
It had revealed a weakness in me.
Because I’d only ever belonged to him.
I knew it was foolish. Wrong. But I couldn’t help the way I felt.
He jerked at my hand, demanding my attention. My eyes flashed open. “Four years were spent that way. There were a lot of them, and I can’t promise you something like happened tonight won’t ever happen again.” He blinked like it caused him physical pain. “Seeing your face tonight, how much it hurt you to see me with her…God, that killed me, Aly. I don’t ever want to see you hurting that way. If I could go back and change it, you know I would, but I can’t. But you need to know none of them ever meant anything.”
He edged back, released my fingers, and pressed my palm to his chest right over my eyes marking his skin. “You did this, Aly. You made me feel…really feel. None of them did that. Not one. I told you once I used girls just as shamelessly as Christopher did. But I’m not using you. You have to know that.”
Discomfort needled through my senses and embarrassment rushed to my face. But I refused to look away from him. I chewed at the inside of my cheek, searching for the courage to speak. “I do know that, but the thought of you with someone else, touching them the way you touch me…” My voice dropped. “I only want you to belong to me.”
Like a testimony, my naked body burned against his, the way I’d given myself to him.
Jared pulled back so he could see my face better. Knowing laughter seeped quietly from his mouth, and he softly ran his fingers through my hair. “I’ve only belonged to one person, Aly, and that’s you.” His mouth was suddenly at my ear. “And believe me, I’ve never touched anyone the way I touch you.”