I stared harder at the picture, uncomfortable with the odd sense of familiarity I felt. Looking at the woman’s graceful yet agonized form, I felt as though I should recognize her.
Bothered by my increasing disquiet, I stood up and walked closer. This was not your typical campus painting of daffodils and laughing students. I had seen this particular kind of art several times before. I leaned in to try to see the details in the poor lighting. And there it was- the tiny patterns on the woman’s dress composed of dozens of Xs.
I didn’t notice any numbers or words in this picture, though, so I didn’t understand what its intent was. It was my understanding that X’s paintings held the clues to the location of the club, Compulsion. But this picture seemed to have nothing to do with that.
This was a painting created for some other purpose.
“So what do you think?”
I looked over my shoulder to find Maxx standing behind me. I turned back to the picture, not bothering to answer him. The truth was, my outburst in the group had left me feeling raw and vulnerable, and seeing him so soon after making a gigantic ass of myself was embarrassing.
As he came up beside me, the sleeves of our jackets brushed against each other. Maxx inclined his head toward the painting and asked me again, “Well, what do you think of it?”
I shrugged, not really in the mood for small talk. My pounding head couldn’t handle a go-around with the group Romeo. I started to walk away from him when he grabbed hold of my arm.
“Wait, Aubrey. Please.” It was that word that did it. Please. It was uttered softly and sincerely. And it held me as fast and surely as if he had put his arms around me.
He has vowed to become the man Aubrey Duncan deserves. Even if he has to tear himself apart to do it. So he enters rehab, trying to fix the parts of him that are shattered as he longs to be healthy and whole.
Aubrey lost everything because she chose to listen to her heart. Now she has sworn to put herself first, to heal in the only way that she can…far away from Maxx and his demons.
But just as Aubrey is starting over, Maxx is released from rehab and thrust back into her world, determined to prove how much they still need each other. And the chaos that had defined them threatens to unleash once again…
But a heart, no matter how broken, is impossible to ignore.
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.
A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.
When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.
A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency.