When his father became a quadriplegic after breaking his neck saving a drowning girl, Ricky gave up his dreams of playing football at a big college to stay home and take care of his family. His new dream? Find the girl who caused his father’s injury and get justice.
Because of her, his family lost everything.
All Aveline Gerard knows of life is a quiet, protective love.
Homeschooled ever since her accident eighteen years ago, Aveline’s parents, both deaf, have kept her safe the only way they know how—sheltered, and alone. Aveline’s deepest desire? To experience life in all its loud and messy glory, and the tattooed guy in her first college class is all of those things.
Because of him, her life is finally beginning.
But fate has a wicked sense of justice and when Ricky realizes the sweet, shy girl in his class is the one who wrecked his family, will he be able to walk away? Or will the bitter rage inside cause him to make the biggest mistake of his life?
Because of them, the pain of two families will finally collide.
My eyes slid to the side, the floor, the ceiling. A slow burn traveled up my neck, settling on my cheeks. “It was… interesting, Freud, you know…” I laughed, a weird, awkward, uncomfortable sound escaping my lips. God, I sounded like a freak. Get it together, girl. Instead of wringing my hands together, I pushed my glasses higher up on my nose.
Ricky looked down at me, his eyes crinkling, and lips curved. “Interesting, huh?”
My hands shot out to the sides, “I’m sure you know all about that stuff… the stages and sex and… yeah.” I blew out a breath, my cheeks puffing, in what I was sure was the sexiest look I’d managed to pull off yet. “I’ve only done some light reading. That was new to me and frankly, a bit uncomfortable to hear around you because of your general hotness and all.”
Did I say light reading?
Oh. My. God.
Ricky threw his head back and chortled. “You are the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen.” His tongue darted out to lick his bottom lip. He took the paper and pen from my hand, tossing them onto the floor. “I won’t touch you here. Although, I’ll admit it’s probably my biggest fantasy, but you aren’t ready for that.”
Bending down, he picked me up, his hands lifting under my ass until I wrapped my legs around his waist. “You’re so tiny.” He smirked, his eyes focused on my lips.
I took off my glasses, placing them on the metal tool shelf next to us. My body shook, and I knew Ricky felt it when his grip on me tightened.
“I won’t hurt you, mariposa. You have my word that I’ll protect you. I’m not a good man, but I’ll be good to you.” He looked into my eyes, his warm brown orbs like melted chocolate.
“You are a good man. I wish you saw yourself like I see you.” My words pled, begging him to hear me.
Closing his eyes and shutting me out, he pressed his forehead to mine. “I need you,” he whispered. “I’ve never needed anyone like I need you. You’re open and vulnerable, kind and innocent. You’re unlike any girl I’ve ever met, and all I want to do is learn more about you. Understand all the parts that make you whole.”
His words sounded stricken and raw, but I absorbed them, drawing them into my heart. I didn’t know if he meant that he needed me physically or emotionally, but either way I was his.
“I need you, too.” I kissed his lips, a light sweet peck. “I’ve already learned and grown from being near you. You’re strong and loyal. The way you take care of your family has captivated me. And the way you make me feel is addictive.” I kissed him again, longer, and he groaned, one hand pressing into my back and one twisting in my hair.
My mouth opened, tongue peeking out to find his. Meeting, touching, and tangling as we moaned in unison. My hands sought his beautiful hair and I wrapped the long strands around my fingers, hoping that I would weave myself into him, his life, and his heart.
This complicated, gorgeous man, that thought he didn’t deserve happiness or dreams or good in his life.
I’d had a glimpse inside, something I believed was a rarity. And Ricky deserved all the beauty the world had to bring. I wasn’t sure I was the person who could give that to him.
But I sure wanted to try.