A darker, edgier Nicole Williams novel is coming about a girl who spends ten years in captivity and the man who never stops searching for her…until he brings her home. But that is when the real battle starts. Feast your eyes on the cover of Collared…
He holds my eyes, not letting them wander away from him. “Why have you been avoiding me?”
I wander my room, not sure where to go now that he’s here. I’m not sure where I fit now. I’m not sure where I belong in his life.
“You know why,” I say quietly.
“I want to hear you tell me.”
“So I can change your mind.” His hands slide into his front pockets, and the sunlight catches on his dad’s watch and casts golden beams through the room. It lights up like someone just lit a million candles at once. “I can’t do that unless I know exactly why you don’t want to see me.”
He wants a reason? I’ll give him a whole list of them.
“Because I don’t want to drag you into my mess of a world any more than I already have. Because I don’t want to smear you through the mud on the media’s march to burying me. Because I don’t want to hurt you—again—and because I want to protect you.”
“I can protect myself from them.”
I shake my head and cover my chest with my hand. “To protect you from me.”
Torrin’s jaw hardens. He works it loose the moment after. “I don’t need protection from you.”
“Everyone needs protection from me. There’s something dark in me now, Torrin, and I can’t get it out. It’s growing, spreading, and I don’t want it to infect the people I love.”
He pushes off the closet doors and crosses the room before I know he’s coming. “There is nothing dark in you, Jade. Nothing.” He backs me into the wall and stares at me, unblinking. “There is light and good in you. There always has been. There always will be.”
“That’s gone. He took it from me.”
“No, he didn’t.” Torrin’s hand slams into the wall beside my head. “It’s still there. You had to bury it to keep it safe, but it’s still there. You’ll find it. I know it.”
I want to believe him, but that doesn’t make it true. “You can’t find what isn’t there, Torrin.”
“Dammit, stop talking like that,” he says, his jaw tensing. “It’s there. I know it.”
“I’ve tried. I can’t find it.” Even as I say it, I start to feel different. It’s because of him being so close, saying what he is in the way he is. He’s the tether that keeps me from floating away.
His eyes lower to mine. “I’ll help you find it.”
I feel my heart again. My lungs. Everything else. I feel it waking up. “What makes you so sure you can find it?”
“Because when I look in your eyes, I still see it.” His other hand fits against the wall beside my head. “Because when I’m close to you like this, I can still feel it.” He leans a little closer, and I feel something too. “It’s there, Jade. It’s not gone. He took ten years of your life—ten years.” The corners of his eyes crease as an emotion fires in his eyes. “Don’t hand him the rest of it by believing that kind of shit.”