Author: Jen McLaughlin
Series: Out of Line #3
Published by Self-Published
Release Date April 29, 2014
Genres: New Adult Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Reaching for sunlight...
Finn survived the ambush and came home to me, but in his head, the battle is still raging. He’s falling apart and I’m trying my best to pick up the pieces of him, to find the us we used to be. I love him as much as I ever did, but love isn’t enough to fix this. I thought telling my father about our relationship would be the hardest thing we’d ever have to face. I was wrong.
Lost in shadows...
All I wanted was to be worthy of Carrie. One mission, just one, and I’d be able to give her the future she deserved. Then everything went wrong, leaving me tainted and broken. Carrie wants me to be who I was, but all that’s left is what they made of me. I’m no good for her. No good for anyone like this. I have to figure out how to move forward. Alone.
Sometimes love isn’t enough…
This scene takes place a few weeks after the end of Out of Time, but a couple of weeks before the beginning of Out of Mind.
I woke up slowly, blinking away the sunlight streaming through the hospital windows. I must have dozed off for a little while. By some miracle of miracles, I hadn’t had a nightmare. I usually did. Sighing, I reached out and pushed the morphine button on the machine next to me. My head and arm hurt like a fucking bitch.
The door opened, and I tensed. My last visitor had been Senator Wallington. He’d reminded me exactly how beneath his daughter I was, then left. Ya know, the usual. But this time? It was a most welcome visitor. Carrie’s red head peeked inside the hospital room.
“I’m awake,” I said, smiling and adjusting myself against the pillows. “Come in.”
She grinned at me and slipped through the crack of the door. “I came by earlier, but you were sleeping, so I went to the gift shop. Here. It’s for you.”
“Thank you.” I took the yellow rose she held out for me, not quite sure what I was supposed to do with a flower. I was a dude. We were supposed to be the one’s giving out the flowers—not the other way around. “I didn’t realize they made yellow roses.”
“They make them in every color imaginable,” she said, sitting down on the side of the bed gently. “You’re probably wondering why I got you a flower, right?”
I chuckled and stared down at the gentle bud. “Uh, yeah, kind of.”
“From what I’ve seen, roses are the toughest flowers out there. One year, my mother’s gardener planted the garden way too early. A frost came through, and it killed all the flowers outside.” She leaned in and touched the soft petal. “All of them except the roses. They were the only flowers that thrived, despite the cold and the frost. They had the biggest batch ever that year. And they were gorgeous.”
I swallowed hard. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah.” She cupped my cheek. Her soft touch was so soothing and perfect that I closed my eyes and savored it. “And those roses remind me of you—of us. You are so strong, and I know it’ll be tough, but you’ll get through this, and you’ll be stronger because of it. I know it.”
My heart clenched. “We’ll get through this.” I squeezed her hand with my one good one. “Together, we can do anything.”
“Together,” she echoed, her eyes filled with tears that didn’t spill out. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Ginger.”
I kissed her, my lips fleeting over hers. My grip tightened on her hand, and she strained to get closer. I drew in a ragged breath, my body responding to her closeness. Her tongue flicked over mine, making my stomach get tight and other things go hard. What I wouldn’t give to be out of this hospital room, and back in California with her in my apartment so I could take care of this need for her that was trying to kill me.
But we wouldn’t have privacy until I got out of this one in D.C., though, so we had a while to go. With that knowledge ringing in my head, I pulled away. “I can’t wait to go home.”
She sighed. “Me too. It’ll be here soon. We just have to get back to my parents house, then get through Christmas. Then things will go back to normal.”
Normal? Nothing about me was normal anymore. I was a fucking mess. But I smiled for her even though I knew it was a crock of shit. “Yeah. Normal.”
Her smile faltered, as if she saw through my façade, but she didn’t say anything. Her phone dinged. She didn’t pick it up. “We’re going to be okay,” she said again.
“Yeah, we will.” I hoped to hell we would, anyway. “Are you going to see who messaged you?”
“It’s just my daily inspirational message of the day.” She lifted a shoulder. “You know how I love those little messages.”
I ran my thumb over her lip. “I love that you love those little messages. It’s a-dork-able.”
She flushed. “Shut up.”
“Gladly.” I leaned in, the morphine making me feel high and kinda out of it. “Or you could shut me up.”
“Gladly,” she echoed, completely oblivious to the fact that I was a fucking wreck.
She kissed me, and I tried to stop thinking. Stop feeling.
To just stop it all.
Desperate to break free…
I’ve spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I’m finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.
Trying to play by the rules…
I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She’s a rule I know I shouldn’t break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…
The truth will cost me everything.
Desperate to keep him…
I’ve finally gotten everything I ever wanted: love, freedom, happiness, and, most importantly, Finn. Our love is everything I expected it to be and more. We’ve finally found each other, but the world seems determined to tear us apart. We thought my father was the only obstacle between us, but now it’s the military. With Finn’s departure looming, we’re squeezing in every moment together before we run out of time.
Trying to make every moment count…
Being Carrie’s bodyguard was one thing. Being her boyfriend is another. Every day she’s mine is a day the sun shines in my life. Yet our time together is running out. Her father will never think a tattooed Marine will be good enough, so I’ll do whatever it takes to be worthy of her love. But the road will take me away from the girl who makes me feel alive–the girl I can’t live without.
Time only gets us so far…