Jasinda Wilder, you complete me. Just when I thought nothing could ever compare to Falling into You, you gave me Becca and Jason and turned my world upside down. I will be honest, I was afraid of this book. I felt that a second book in the series would take away from and could never live up to the perfection of its prequel, since the story of Nell and Colton was not only a truly epic tale of loss, healing and finding love again, but also one of the sexiest books I have ever had the pleasure of reading… and re-reading. Well, I admit I was wrong and I should have trusted Ms Wilder to blow my mind once more. This book was outstanding, unforgettable, so different from the prequel and yet so inspiring in its own right. But we warned, if you are expecting a Nell and Colton sequel, you will be disappointed because while this book follows the same timeline as Falling into You, it has different main characters and theirs is a parallel storyline, but with shared events that deeply affected all the characters and with frequent cross-overs. I will tell you only this, you will not be disappointed. Not for one second.
Our heroine is Becca, Nell’s best friend since childhood. She is a shy, quiet, conscientious young girl who never strayed from her responsibilities, always a brilliant student and model daughter to her overprotective parents. The story starts from that moment in Falling into You when Nell stands Jason up on their first date and tells him he should ask her friend Becca out instead because she’s always had a crush on him. One date is all it takes for these two teenagers to realise they were made for each other. But their relationship is not rushed, it is timed perfectly, showing us two young people falling in love slowly, naturally, irrevocably. We watch them have all their firsts, mesmerised by their innocence, curiosity, fear, and yet nothing is overdone and even the most innocent of acts such as holding hands has the power of leaving us breathless. Each milestone in their relationship is earned and we see them grow together as individuals, drawing strength from their connection and giving each other the courage to be the people they always wanted to become.
“I wasn’t sure where we were or where we were going or what time it was, and I didn’t care. I turned my head and met his eyes, and then, with a deep breath, slid my hand underneath his. His eyes widened and his breath hitched, but he didn’t hesitate to wind his fingers between mine. He smiled, and everything was better than fine.”
Becca’s progression from a shy and softly spoken teenager with a speech impediment to a confident woman unafraid to express what she wants was beautifully written. We get to understand what drives her, what stalls her and where her strength comes from. The contrast between the restrained woman that she was in everyday life and the one that would ‘come out to play’ during moments of intimacy with Jason made this character impossible not to love. The fire that was suppressed under her gentle exterior was truly palpable and it floored me that only Jason’s love made her comfortable enough to show her true self to him.
“You’d never think it, but my quiet, hyper-intelligent, overachieving, rule-following girlfriend was a voracious, insatiable lover.”
But Becca’s true strength lies in her empathy and ability to love unconditionally – nothing less could have made her survive the constant heartaches in her life.
Jason, on the other hand, did not have a home life to set strong foundations for the man he ends up becoming. The only thing he learnt to rely on was himself and that he had two choices in life – follow his father’s example and become the product of his own upbringing, driven by bitterness over a life he would never end up living, or break the cycle and purposely become the very opposite of his father. Becca’s love plays a great role in this, but I believe they are each other’s pillars of strength – the perfect yin and yang – and their bond is the only reason they manage to weather the storms of life.
“What if… what if I turn into him? What if I am like him?”
Be prepared to cry, be prepared to scream, be prepared to build a shrine to Jasinda Wilder because this book is going to own you. I have been struggling to pinpoint the reason why these stories move me so deeply, why every scene manipulates my emotions so effortlessly, and I think I have finally found an explanation – Ms Wilder writes from her heart and you can sense that in every single word. This book might appear as just another book about first loves and the lessons learned along the way, but don’t be fooled – she will break your heart, sometimes more than once, she will make you remember your own past, your own firsts, your own heartaches, your own hangups, and she will make it all better by giving you a story that you will never forget.
“My motivation in life was to be a good enough man for her, worthy of her awesomeness.”
The next day was Saturday, and I left my parents’ house as soon as I’d showered and changed. I was out the door before anyone was awake, and knocking on Ben’s apartment door at seven in the morning. Jason answered in his boxers, hair messy, eyes squinting.
“Jesus, babe, it’s the asscrack of dawn on a Saturday, first day of summer vacation. Can’t you sleep in past six in the fucking morning?” He let me in and shut the front door behind me, then shuffled back to his bedroom, shoving the bedroom door closed behind us.
I laughed as I set my purse down on the floor and crawled into bed with him, snuggling up behind him and pulling the covers over us. “No, I really can’t. I’ve been waking up at six since my freshman year of high school, and now I just wake up at six regardless. I figured if I was up, I might as well come see you.”
“Can I go back to sleep?” he mumbled, already halfway there.
“Sure you can, love. But what if I had something else in mind?” I let my hand roam across his chest and belly, dipping lower suggestively.
He didn’t respond for a long moment, and I thought he’d fallen asleep, but then he rolled in my arms so our faces were millimeters apart, his green eyes hooded with sleep but sparking with desire and amusement. “Ah, now I know the real reason why you’re here so early.”
“You’re not the only one with an addiction, you know.” That was the raw truth; I was totally addicted to Jason’s body, to his love, to the heat of our bodies merging.
There was more to it, though, and I wasn’t about to admit the rest out loud. I needed Jason for the same reason he needed to lift weights and Nell needed to cut. I needed a distraction. I needed something other than the worry for Nell and the weight of the secrets and my parents’ disapproval. You see, when I’d gone home the night before, it had been well before midnight, but my parents had acted like I’d been out past curfew, despite the fact that I was in college. They wanted to know what I was doing and if it would be a habit for me to stay out that late. When I’d told them I wasn’t going to be treated like a child anymore, it had led to a fight. It didn’t matter that I was valedictorian of my high school, or that I’d completed sixty-four credits in three semesters with a 4.0 average at one of the top universities in the country.
I knew, logically, that my overprotective but loving parents were a minor blip on the life-problems scale. But personal problems were a relative thing. I hated feeling their distrust. I hated the disapproval in their eyes when I’d told them I’d been at home with Jason last night.
Jason distracted me from these thoughts by slipping his fingers under the hem of my shirt to touch my bare back. I shivered and leaned in to bite his lower lip.
“Out with it,” he said, deftly removing my shirt.
“Out with what?” I pretended ignorance, hoping to keep the conversation light.
“Whatever’s bugging you.”
I wiggled out of my skirt and threw my leg over Jason’s, sighing in pleasure as he stroked my leg from knee to thigh. “Just my parents. They still want me home by one a.m. and expect me to check in with them and tell them where I am.”
“And they still don’t approve you spending all your time with me.” He had my bra off in seconds and was pushing my underwear down past my knees and hooking them off the rest of the way with his toes.
I shook my head. “No. I’m wondering if they ever will.”
“So should I even bother trying to follow their rules?”
Jason paused, his mouth between my breasts. “That’s gotta be your call, honey. The last thing I want is to be a problem between you and your parents. I can’t tell you what to do with them. I want them to accept that we’re adults, young adults, sure, but still adults. But whether you toe their line is up to you.”
“I don’t expect them to like the fact that we’re together, like…well, like this. And I’m not going to flaunt it in their face, but I’m also not going to let them dictate my life. If I want to stay here with you till four in the morning, I’m going to.”
“What if you just stayed here?”
“Like, didn’t live with my parents over the summer?”
He nodded. “Yeah. Why not? They’re going to have to get used to it sometime, right?”
“They’d cut me off. They’d take my car and my monthly allowance.”
Jason didn’t answer right away, and I knew his answer would be something I might not like by the fact that he slid back up my body and met my eyes, all playful touching stopped. “Don’t—don’t take this the wrong way, but maybe it’s time you let that happen.”
I frowned at him. “What’s that mean?”
He sighed. “I—just that maybe you should get that stuff on your own.”
“Because I don’t know what work is? Because I’ve always had things given to me?”
“Sort of? Look, I know you’re gonna get pissed off at this, but I’m never gonna sugarcoat things for you.” He wrapped his hand around my nape, brushed a ringlet of hair away from my eyes. “You need to get a job. You’ve never had one. If you let them pay for everything, they’ll always have leverage over you. If you earn things yourself, they’ll be forced to see that you’re capable of making your own decisions.”
“How many jobs have you had?”
He frowned at me. “I’m not trying to…belittle you, or say I’m better. But I stopped taking Dad’s money—”
“When it was convenient for you to do so. After you had a car and an expensive camera and money saved up.” I poked him in the chest. “You don’t have a job either. You have a full ride that includes room and board and books as well as tuition and a dispensation for living expenses.”
He grimaced; his full-ride offer from U of M was generous, to say the least. “I’m not—look, baby. I’m just saying maybe it’s time you cut the strings a little, okay? Not that there’s anything wrong with the way things are, but…your parents will still love you, right? If you stay here with me full-time, will they disown you and refuse to speak to you ever again?”
I shook my head, seeing his point. “No. They won’t like it one bit, but they won’t do that. They’ll be pissed off for a long time, but they’ll come around.”
“You don’t need their money or their car, not if it comes with conditions. You can take my truck whenever you want, and you know it. Your scholarships cover tuition and room and board too, so all you need money for is books and other shit, right? So we’ll find jobs. Both of us. You can cut back to five classes next semester and work part time. I’ll get a job too and we’ll pool our resources. If you come to a point where you need your own car, we’ll get you one.” He kissed me on the cheek, then just beneath my eye, then the corner of my mouth. “Don’t be mad, please. I just don’t want you to have this issue with your parents every time we come back.”
I sighed, covering my eyes with one hand, thinking. “No, you’re right. I’m not mad. I just hate conflict. I hate confrontations. We argued last night, and they just…they had the gall to look disappointed in me, like I’d let them down by coming home at eleven thirty without checking in. What do they think is going on at school? They think I’m in my dorm by nine every night? That I’m some innocent virgin?”
“I think they want you to be their little girl forever. Just be glad they care as much as they do.” The wistful tone in his voice brought everything back into perspective.
I pushed him onto his back and moved to sit astride him. “You’re right. Of course you’re right. I’m just being silly and selfish.”
He caressed my hips and shook his head lovingly. “No, baby. You’re the least selfish person I know.”
“But I’m worried about my stupid little problems when you and Nell are—”
He touched my lips with a finger, silencing me. “It’s not a competition.” He massaged the hollow of my hips with his thumbs, and I unconsciously shifted my weight to allow him access where I most wanted his touch. “I’ll support whatever you decide. I’ll help you any way I can. What’s mine is yours, okay? If you need something, I’ll make sure you have it, however I have to get it.”
I melted at his words. “You’re not responsible for me. We’re in this together.”
He laughed. “You’re my woman. Of course I’m responsible for you. It’s my highest duty in life to take care of you, protect you.”
“Old-fashioned much? I can take care of myself.”
He sighed dramatically. “I know that. That’s not the point. I’m not saying sit back and be Susie homemaker here. I’m just saying, you’re not in this alone.”
I giggled and leaned over him, shutting him up with a kiss. “I know that, Jason. Shut up and distract me already. I need my fix.”
He grinned then, and palmed my breasts, and I felt the heat in my belly turn to dampness between my thighs. He slid one hand between our bodies and slipped a finger into me. I shifted forward to deepen the kiss, my weight on my knees and shins. He tugged me forward and slipped my nipple into his mouth, and I gasped, arching my back into his mouth, feeling the first wave crash over me.
He circled my clit as I came, drawing the orgasm out until I was writhing above him. I felt his erection at my core, but he still had his underwear on. I lifted up and tugged at them frantically, fumbling with them until he managed to help me get them off. I threw them across the room, my thighs trembling as I hovered over him, hair falling in a curtain around his face. I wiggled my hips downward, nudging the tip of him into my folds, guiding him into my opening with a shift of my hips. I hesitated, sitting upright on my knees, hovering with trembling muscles, relishing this moment, the pause before I sank down with him deep inside me. He held onto my hips, eyes locked on mine, his breath bated. I took his hands in mine, tangled our fingers, and then fell forward, pinning his hands above his head. He let me pin him, a grin on his face. I knew he loved it when I took control.
I drew the moment out, lifting my hips slightly so he nearly slipped out, neither of us breathing, letting the contents of our hearts exchange silently between our eyes. I sank down with a whimper, resting my forehead against his, mouth wide in a breathless scream. I curled my fingers into fists around his, squeezing as hard as I could, setting an immediately frantic rhythm above him. He met me stroke for stroke, never taking his eyes off mine, breathing with me, sighing with me, giving me exactly what I needed.
When the second wave came, I fell onto him, clinging to his neck with both arms, my lips at his ear, our hips crushing together as we climaxed in unison.
“God, Jason…I love you. S-so, so much.” I was nearly weeping with the intensity of the love rippling between us.
I felt, in that moment, that our souls had crashed together and merged, like every aspect of our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls were bleeding together. I knew I’d never love anyone the way I loved Jason, and I knew I’d never try.
“I love you too, Beck.”
I lifted up and took his face in my hands. “Promise me you’ll love me forever. No matter what.”
He caught the desperation in my eyes, my voice, and he didn’t question it, didn’t hesitate for a split second. “I can’t promise you forever, Beck.” Tears started in my eyes at what sounded like a rejection, but he kissed them away, silencing me by speaking over my protest. “I can’t promise you forever, because that’s not long enough.”
I laughed into his mouth, giggling and sniffling against him, clinging to his neck with all my weight resting on his strong, hard body. “Good. Longer than forever I can work with.”
He laughed and held me tight, his arms around my back and across my backside. With a tug, he tossed the blankets over us and I turned my face to the side, his chest my pillow. I fell asleep like that, and knew, then, that I’d never want to fall asleep any other way.