Infinite Us by Eden Butler
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Love is timeless…
Nash Nation loves zeroes and ones, over-sized monitors and late office hours. He’s too busy taking over the world to make time for relationships—that is, until his new neighbor Willow O’Bryant barges into his life, and now Nash can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t the first time she’s interrupted his world.
Then, the dreams start. And in the dreams—memories.
Memories of a girl named Sookie who couldn’t count on love or friendship, never mind forever. Memories of a library and a boy called Isaac and secrets made in private that destroyed his world.
The memories seem real, but who do they belong to?
When Nash and Willow discover the truth, life as they know it unravels.
The bridge between this life and the next is shored up by blood and bone and memory. Sometimes, that bridge leads to the place we’ve always wanted to be.
Author note: This is a re-release of Eden’s 2017 paranormal romance with major updates and new edits published by City Owl Press. Even if you have read the previous version of this story, it is advised that you check out this new incarnation.
Excerpt Infinite Us by Eden Butler
©EDEN BUTLER 2020
“This thing we got… I told you, it won’t be easy.”
“Nothing good is ever easy, Isaac.”
There was a pause as unasked questions hovered around us. I considered what life would be like with Isaac, that no matter how committed we might be to our relationship, we could not exist in a vacuum. Struggles would follow us wherever we went, and would spill out to our families, our loved ones, our friends.
He waited. Although Isaac was the one who moved with caution, the one who refused to assume that the easy road would be ours to travel, he waited for me to come to a decision. He wanted me to say yes, but wouldn’t ask the question. He would not lead me anywhere, but would be waiting for me when I arrived—if I didn’t turn back.
“Isaac?” He nodded again and brought me closer. His cheeks were wide, his features strong and he closed his eyes, as though he relished the feel of my fingertips over his face. “Will you love me? No matter what happens?”
Isaac pulled me around him, holding me against his large body, his hand around my waist. His voice was quiet, but filled with strength, with conviction. “Always.”
No one had touched me like Isaac. He had a way about him, something real and honest that was assured by his long, perfect fingers down my back and the slip of his tongue inside my mouth. There was no fear, not when those fingers gripped me tighter, when he slowly lowered my zipper and held my hand as I stepped out of my dress.
He watched me then, and even though a different Riley might have been shy, I liked the way his stare felt against my bare skin. It was me he wanted, only me; only I could sate his hunger, redeem that desperate look that had caught him in a silent pause.
Isaac still held my hand, arm extended with that hard, greedy gaze working over me. He made me feel needed, wanted, he made me feel necessary. And when he pulled my hand to rest it against his heart, I held my breath, waiting to hear what he thought, hoping he wanted me as much as I wanted him. “My sweet… my beautiful Riley.”
He stepped back, my fingers trailing away from his chest, and tugged off his shirt, dropping it to the floor, instantly forgotten. Isaac picked me up and carried me to the bed, divesting me of everything that kept me covered, and everything that kept him hidden from me.
I had never seen a naked man before. I’d never been naked with a man before. But there I lay on Isaac’s large bed covered by his long legs and muscular thighs, my small frame underneath him, open to him as he took control and showed me what it meant to be loved.
“You and me, Riley, there’s nothing but this. Nothing else but this, how we are right now.”
Isaac never spoke much of his feelings, the things that rocked his soul, the many worries that kept him up at night. Maybe he didn’t know how to say he loved me, but just then, with Isaac’s warm, solid body right against mine, skin to skin, touching me like no one ever had before, I decided words weren’t all that important.
“Nothing else, my love. Nothing else at all.”
She was winter. The cold, cool stretch of emptiness that you think will consume you. The frigid bite you think won’t ever leave your bones, the one you try to pretend isn’t there, but can’t keep out of your head.
She was fall and the scent of a fire, the crackle of heat, the coming of change you try to pretend won’t come, but does anyway, that you wait for the whole year, that you wish away when it finally comes.
She was summer and the scorching warmth of sun and sin, the slick feel of lotion and the spray of ocean water, the salt of that taste on your tongue and the cool, crisp relief that comes over you when you dip inside the bottomless water.
She was spring, the fresh sweet smell of jasmine and the honeysuckle temptation of light and love and beautiful rebirth that cannot be ignored. Willow was the phantom spark of all those things I loved and hated. The things that tested me. The things that healed, all wrapped up in that tempting silhouette, in the sweet surrender of her body pressed against mine and the whisper of a tease in every syllable that formed my name from her full, thick lips.
“Nash.” It was a song sweeter than Coltrane. Hurt worse, too, my name, the hidden tone of promises and pleasure I’d stopped telling myself I didn’t want.
Four seasons laid out before me. Willow’s wild hair fanned against my pillow and her waiting body—pale skin and a trail of freckles that crossed her chest and dipped with the curves along her stomach.
“Nash,” she said again, reaching for me when I came to my knees, looking down at her, wanting her with an ache nothing had ever worked up in me.
There were two small lines along her hips, lightning on her skin and the round bends of her breasts, the sweet arches along her thighs when I touched her there. That look, though, went deeper, settled closer than the scent of her skin or rise in my body when I watched her shimmy out of her clothes and crawl on my bed, waiting, ready for me to react.
Now I was and I had to breathe deep, separate the want someone else held in my dream and the urge to take what was mine and mine alone; what I wanted for myself because of the sensation only Willow moved in me.
“Take off your shirt,” she said and I did, working one shoulder at a time out of that cotton, discarding it because it kept me from her. She touched me, nails against the lines and letters over my body, her mouth, her tongue warm and soft on my neck, over my chest, traveling like a wanderer, searching, seeking.
We came together like colors, moving into a gradient of light, of motion that reminded me of the sea, waves and water, sand and shore. We were sweeter than those Coltrane chords, went deeper than each note.
“Will… I could never get my fill of you…” I told her, moving closer, lips and tongue on her flesh, in the dips of her body. The invitation open, ready as she pulled me close. I took another bite, moving her apart with my knee, holding her tight until there were small marks from my fingers against her pale skin and she shuddered, gripping, clawing at me like she couldn’t get close enough. “I’m… I’m so sorry about that day at my building…”
“I don’t… Nash… it doesn’t matter.” She pulled me closer, like she didn’t want the words between us keeping our lips apart. “Nash… please…” And that melody spurred me on, had me forgetting control and patience and all the swagger I thought made me smooth. I was nothing but feeling, touch, and taste, and desperate, desperate want with her under me, with me slipping inside, deep, sweet.
“No!” He didn’t slow until I scrambled to grab him, pulling on his arm. “Dempsey, don’t be a fool. It wasn’t your brother. I swear.” He came around to face me, mouth still set hard and somber when he stared down at me. “It wasn’t Malcolm, cher, I promise.”
He took to looking me over, hard, but that small word, cher, worked like a balm on him, keeping the rise of fury from his head. He liked when I called him that, which is why I never did it much. But the more Dempsey looked, the more frozen and raw I felt. Were there marks or bruises starting up where that old man had grabbed me, scratches? I was too scared to look, too caught up in the hard look on Dempsey’s face. In my stillness, he looked me up and down, over my face, to the top of my head, back down to my face, over my cheekbones, until he stopped to stare at my mouth. I swear there was something peculiar about the look in his eyes then, how he took on the air of someone who hadn’t had anything at all to fill his belly. Dempsey stepped closer, resting his hands on my shoulders and I let him, liked how big his fingers felt on my skin, how one palm covered my collarbone completely. But then it was like the moment between us passed when he realized just how torn my shirt was and went all still.
His skin went pale white just as mine pinked up and heated over my cheeks as his gaze traveled down my neck, to my resting on the beige strap of my frayed undershirt.
“Who…” He cleared his throat, like something thicker than hay had taken root in the back of his mouth. “Who?”
It was the breath I let out that brought his attention back to my face and again his expression straddled somewhere between irate anger and fretting like none I’d ever seen from him before.
There was no sense in lying. Dempsey would believe me even if no one else would. No one who mattered to me anyway. “That Joe Andres was drunk and snuck up on me on the north side of your daddy’s sugarcane field.” He nodded once, and his jaw worked hard again so I hurried to keep him calm. “Likely he’s too drunk to know what he done…”
“What did he do?” The pressure of his fingers on my shoulder tightened.
“Nothing, Dempsey, he didn’t get to do nothing.” When his expression didn’t change, I grabbed his hand, twisting my fingers with his and pulled them both from my shoulder. “He tried to grab me and got hold of my shirt but… I… well, I socked him good in the eye.”
Dempsey’s laugh came quick, like a streak of lightning that makes the darkest night light up. It was a nice sound, something I didn’t hear near enough for my liking. “You punched that fat jackass?”
“Dempsey Simoneaux!” He shrugged, ignoring how I fussed at him for the cursing. Couldn’t be helped. Dempsey had probably never used such crude words out loud before now.
“Well, I’m speaking the truth. I doubt the good Lord would mind so much me calling a spade a spade.”
The laugh that pulled from me felt nice, but not as much as how I lit up with things I didn’t know how to name when he pulled me close and let me rest my cheek against his chest.
I could have counted the seconds of my breath just then; I could have set them inside me like moments that would be precious if ever there came a time when the world had gone all black and dark and I needed something to remind me of the lightness I’d known. That moment, with Dempsey’s strong arms around me, would have been the brightest light in my memories. It would have split away the darkness and made me happy for the blindness it caused.
It wasn’t smart to hope for things that would never be. It wasn’t my life that was charmed. When you live here, when you are as I was, as all my people would ever be, hope was a funny thing, especially when there was trouble stirring around the edges of our days. Like the rim of the levee just before it breaks, worries were coming. I knew that because they always did and no amount of wishing me and Dempsey could disappear from the world right then would keep the waters from spilling over.
“Dempsey… what if he comes after me?” I spoke that low, against the fabric of his cotton shirt. It smelled fresh, like he’d pulled it right off the line.
“Don’t you worry over that, Sookie.” He pulled back, lifting my face with his knuckle. “You don’t ever have to worry about anyone hurting you, so long as I’m around.”
He was so sweet. Maybe a little stupid about how things worked, but Dempsey sure was a sweet boy. The frown came back on his face when I shook my head. “You can’t say that.”
“Can so.” I liked the way he tilted his head, how there were so many things he thought just then, each one showing themselves in the shift of his mouth; how it moved from frown to smile and back to something in between the two. He moved his hands around to touch my face, holding my head still like there was something he wanted to make sure I heard and knew to the marrow of my bones. I couldn’t breathe when he looked at me the way he did then, all serious and fierce. One look and he stole the air from my lungs.
“No matter where I am. No matter where I go, I won’t let anybody hurt you. Not ever.”
I wanted to believe him. There was a truth he spoke just then, something he uttered without a sound that lit up his eyes and made those high, sharp cheekbones look pink and bright. He had a nice face, good enough for the pictures, I’d wager. He was handsome and sweet, but not so smart about how our lives would always be.
“I wish I could believe that.” He went on holding my face and I stared at the shine in his eyes, how the dim light through the cracks and spaces between the walls around us shone bright in his gray eyes. “It would be nice, I think, to have someone always watching over me.”
“I mean it, Sook. With everything I am.” His touch got firmer when I shook my head again and Dempsey pulled me closer, my head resting on his chest. “As long as there is breath inside me, I’ll protect you.”
“I don’t need you protecting me.”
“Maybe not, but I need to do the protecting.”
He circled me in his arms, holding me to him, and I could feel his heart beating in his chest, strong and regular, safe.
It took him a long few seconds before he answered. Around us, the night went on as it always had, as it always would. The owls and crickets made on with their noisy business, as the wind swept cool relief through the leaves around us. I stopped worrying about Andres and whether he’d be coming after me. Just then, everything went away: my thoughts, my worry, even the breath in my lungs until I heard Dempsey’s answer.
“Because, sweet Sookie. I love you something fierce.” And right then, the world stopped spinning. The axis of life became uneven and slow as Dempsey Simoneaux, a boy who’d been my friend, bent close to me, breath hot and sweet against my face and kissed me so slow, so soft just enough that my body felt electrified. Just enough that I knew that at that moment, my world slowly began to unravel.