Author: Rebecca Berto
Series: Entwine #1
Release Date: November 25, 2013
Genre: Erotic Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Sarah Langham’s life was the epitome of normal until her dad slept with another woman when she was sixteen. It ripped her family apart.
Twenty-two-year-old Sarah has it together, though.
Waiting at the train station to go home from her first day of her first proper job out of university, she spots a man.
He is an enigma to her. She’s drawn to him, with his square jaw; buzz of hair; and his tall, solid frame, seen under the contours of his business suit. And he’s been looking at her, too. Fate pulls them together that night on a whirlwind date, exceeding anything Sarah’s experienced before. He’s even more into her than she’s into him. Finally, she wants to trust a guy for the first time since she was sixteen.
But then they discover something.
Something that meant they were never two strangers at a train station.
And it threatens to tear their future apart before it, really, ever begins.
Recommended for mature readers due to explicit content. [This book is published in Australian English and includes relative diction.]
When Sarah first came home her ears had a faint ring in them, and now, in the aching silence, they buzzed at her fiercely. Her first thought was Ah! Relative quiet for once. I’ll just sneak in and get my mobile phone. Now she wished her dad had been doing anything else, even playing that stupid rock ‘n’ roll music. She had a solution for that: plug in her Favourites playlist and turn the volume up.
She heard the first moan, whispering through the walls. She was drawn toward the sound in her parents’ bedroom; it was like the undeniable dread of watching someone being bullied from afar. It was being unsure how to make it stop.
But Sarah’s mum was out, and there was definitely two people making those sounds in there. For the first few moments, Sarah wondered if her mum had suddenly materialised here. Why else would her dad be moaning in sync with that female voice, and the bed legs be screeching in that way?
She remembered arriving into the silence that had encased her, replacing the throbbing sounds from the party she’d just been at, thinking it all seemed too quiet in here.
She was right.
Sarah felt the blood drain from her face. A sense of nothingness washed over her as she braced her palm to the wall outside her parents’ bedroom, narrowly preventing her wobbly legs from taking her down.
What should she do?
She willed her ears to block out what she heard, but she knew sticking her fingers in the holes wouldn’t help a bit. And her dad didn’t deserve to be the reason she harmed herself if she poked inside too hard.
Sarah wished she could run, but instead her feet stayed rooted against the wall, and she shivered at the choice she had to make. What would she do, tell her mum that she could hear the bed creaking against the frame, that her dad’s friend wasn’t trying to be quiet at all?
The sounds triggered a memory. She’d caught a weird text message when sitting at the kitchen bench, her playing with her dad’s phone, her mum still at work. Her dad had snapped his mobile phone from her fingers and told her to go to her room. Her shock back then debilitated her choice to tell her mum. Her voice didn’t work when she tried to speak, and her throat was tight even when she swallowed. Now, hearing what was happening behind the wall, she had no idea where to even begin.
Sarah clamped a hand over her mouth in case she sobbed loudly, forced her other hand to push her from the lure of the wall where she had been frozen, and to walk herself out the front door.
Back to that party. Back through the shadows of darkness and odd orbs of light, along the sidewalk, back to the noise and the alcohol, and the people trying to forget their responsibilities.
She combed her fingers through her mocha brown hair, the ends tapering off at her breasts. It was the same colour as her mum’s. Would her dad hate her now, being reminded of the wife he clearly had no care for? Would physical factors, like Sarah’s pale grey eyes, the same shade as her mum’s favourite cardigan, be as horrible to him as her inner qualities?
She realised when she got to the party that she never did get her mobile phone from her room as she had originally intended, so she’d have to wait for someone to open the door.
There were two fanning plants in pots, framing the double door entrance. A porch stretched under the balcony of the first floor and a swinging bench sat at the far end beside the garden bed. The music was so loud the bass vibrated through the concrete underneath her feet and she could only hear a faint sound when she tried knocking anyway.
She blinked against the memory of the sound of the bed frame creaking and that shrieking sound that made her insides churn, until soon enough a drunk girl in a miniskirt stumbled out the door with a guy staring at her ass, laughing at nothing at all.
Sarah slipped inside, found a corner free on a couch next to two people chatting and bit her lip, thinking too much when she shouldn’t have been thinking much at all, as a regular sixteen-year-old at a regular house party.
The first time Sarah saw Him, he was leaning up against a pillar at Flinders Street Station, knee bent against the wall, checking the time on his watch.
At five thirty, after her first day as a junior editor, she still hadn’t stopped trembling with excitement. She’d memorised the names of all the workers in her team, and loved the way she walked into the office and it smelt of warm paper, straight out of the printer. There must have been at least six printers on the one floor alone.
Now, at the train station, she supposed it made sense this man stood out. She was on alert and he was impossible to miss. Eyes peeled, she noticed him, as if he were a photograph, the aperture turned low so the bustle of other passersby blurred out.
She sat on her seat, waiting, pretending to text on her mobile. Now and then she’d look up as if wondering, “When’s the train coming?” Like she’d forgotten. Under her lashes, or from a casual glance sweeping the platform, she’d look at something new on him.
First it was his jaw. Sarah didn’t know why a strange man’s jawline mattered, but it did. She could imagine the sharp turn as she traced from ear down to his chin, and back up to his other ear with her finger. She imagined all her old poster pin-ups. Sarah wasn’t a fussy girl. She had James Dean, Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi, Brad Pitt, Zac Efron, and even the Hemsworth brothers.
By far, this man’s jawline was as good or better—sharp, yet smooth enough to want to touch.
She looked up again but thought he saw her, so she quickly took stock of a mother pushing a pram, another small child holding its side bar and stomping along. She looked further up and saw that she had two minutes left before her train really did arrive.
Sarah had never wanted a train to be late before, although they always were with Melbourne’s crazy rail system. Today, she did.
The guys in her lectures and tutes back in university were always man-whores or geeks or already taken. Now, at her first proper full-time job, she only had one man in her team and she didn’t have hopes for him, since she was sure that lunchtime phone call was to his “love”, and that “love” sounded like a man.
Sarah wasn’t greedy. One man would do, and he didn’t have to be the best looking or the kindest, but he had to be right for her. And she couldn’t pick if there would be something wrong with this man leaning against the pillar, waiting for his train, but she hoped that maybe he’d catch the same line as her and she’d get to wonder about him longer.
The third time she looked up she noticed more of him, more details here and there. He didn’t have a briefcase, but he was in perfectly ironed suit pants, leather dress shoes and a light peach shirt, one button undone lower than most businessmen she saw. The shirt’s waist tapered in to hug him at his hips. She figured that he naturally filled out the chest, shaping a perfect V, and the rolled up sleeves showed off the hint of corded forearms that stirred her imagination more. He had a buzz of hair covering his head, just enough to draw attention to the sexy contours of his face and body.
Just then, the lady over the speaker announced the train was arriving and Sarah stood, just as everyone else. She looped her handbag over her shoulder and found her way just behind the yellow line, choosing to walk diagonal, inwards, so that she stood mere metres from the man.
The doors opened, and the people on the platform waited for the people onboard to get off.
Sarah, though, turned to the man, and watched him pull out his mobile, then put it away just as quickly. He looked up, and Sarah’s initial thought was Quick! Oh my God, pretend you were staring at something odd behind him! but those silly cover-ups only made people look worse, so she decided to embrace this chance and offer a little smile—but she chickened out halfway and had to drop her gaze to the floor, not even able to hide her smile.
The ground in front of her started emptying, so she waded her way through with the other people desperate to find a seat.
If Sarah had her way she’d clamp her bag under her arm, make sure her heels were steady and then make a run to the nearest two seats free, fling her handbag on the spare one in front of her, and let that man sidestep through the knees of others in the seat arrangement and sit in front of her. In front was always better, because men had long legs. She’d learnt the pros and cons of sitting in front of men on trains before. Many times, smelly men or big men had their legs opened wide, and Sarah had to close her smaller ones between them with little gap spacing. Or, she would have to cross her legs and get a cramp trying to keep her crossed leg bent back, so as not to touch them.
But Sarah’s thoughts … that’s all they were. There were a few seats here and there, but neither Sarah nor the man got any. He could have, but he held out his hand and let that mother through, with the pram and her small child.
Sarah found herself liking him even more. Her last boyfriend had loved the clubs in the city and it was at one of them, not far from here, that he’d kissed his other girlfriend who Sarah never knew about. Or, not until she’d decided to surprise him that night and found her legs around his, his hands cupping under her ass in a section away from the dance floor.
Although this man didn’t sit next to her, he did find a spare pole to grab onto in the train carriage, and Sarah found one opposite him. He once again noticed her, but Sarah hadn’t been looking this time. He must have been doing some staring of his own.
Sarah wondered if this man had been doing the same thing the whole time Sarah had her own game going.
She wondered this as the train took off and they stood almost in reaching distance, both with a hand holding the pole next to them. Sarah wondered which stop he’d get off at.
The smell of the man next to her, panting and sweating from obviously running to catch the train, didn’t matter. Nor did the fact she was standing for a one-hour train trip in heels. There was little that could matter to her right now—except for when the train suddenly stopped, and the driver announced a delay.
“We have stopped to attend to an ill passenger on board,” he said. “I don’t know how long the wait will be, but it could be up to forty-five minutes due to peak hour traffic and the patient’s condition. Thank you for your understanding.”
At that time, Sarah heard a deep, yet smooth voice say, “Lucky I don’t plan on being anywhere.”
She knew it was Him before she looked up to meet his eyes. Apart from the fact she was sure it came from somewhere in front of her, or thereabouts, a voice in her head associated it with the man she’d almost profiled to full detail.
Looking up, she saw his face and, for some reason, knowing what his voice sounded like was like tying up a little bow on top of her perfect package.
“It’s not like I have to be anywhere,” Sarah agreed.
For a moment, she matched his gaze, trying to stop from doing anything suggestive. She wanted to lick her lips as they were dry, and she was sure even a little grin would crack them. Only an hour ago she’d had gloss on them from her special first day at work, but now they felt dry and baron.
Oh, how with every moment she stood here, it got worse. Now her head was itchy. If only she could sneak up a fingernail to scratch. Just above and behind her ear. Just a bit. But Sarah couldn’t. Why was a stranger doing this to her?
Sarah held her place, gazing with as much power as he had. She wouldn’t lick her lips. Or scratch her head. And now she was a dry, twitching freak.
She turned a little, trying to hide her hand, and covered it by fussing with her hair near her ear, and licked away the cracked feeling from her lips. When she looked up, the man was shamelessly staring. She knew that look. There was no mistaking that, for some reason, he was as intrigued by her as she was him.
“Here,” the man said. He bent and dropped against the railing behind his back, his knees sticking out at the sides, and his huge legs separated in a way that made Sarah want to look away but couldn’t. “Sit here. Your feet must be sore.”
That made Sarah self-conscious, made her unable to move. Had he seen her shoes? Or looked up and down the length of her? The idea thrilled her.
What inspired you to write Entwine?
I was in a bit of a rut and my friend suggested to free write to help. So I downloaded a program that blocked out my screen and had a serene and freeing vibe to it. And I wrote.
I wrote one scene and then during my second free writing exercise, I ended up continuing that same character and story. Fearing I’d get in a rut again if I turned it into a novel, I continued to write random scenes until about 10,000 words along.
Then I knew I had something special and I had to create a novel. The two main characters excited and ignited a passion in me I hadn’t felt for a while.
I have to thank my friend for the reason Entwine exists. It turned out beautifully, thanks to the way I approached it differently than I have to my writing in the past.
Tell us about your main character.
Sarah is an every-girl. She isn’t a virgin but she hasn’t slept with the whole town, she isn’t stuck up, or overly reserved, and she isn’t whiny.
Sarah is fresh out of college, starting her dream job but in her personal life, she’s stuck from moving forwards by hurt in her past. When she meets an amazing guy one night, she fears he’s too good since Sarah’s nothing special. It’s the simple, yet realistic quality about her I really connected to.
Sarah is understatedly unforgettable.
Who does your book appeal to?
Entwine is a unique one to classify.
It evokes a dream-like style at times; in other scenes it’s emotionally devastating with the hurt Sarah feels; and sometimes it’s so damn hot your screen will be in danger of igniting into flames.
If you love your sexy reads and your emotional stories, Entwine is a great balance between that.