A heart-wrenching new story about family, betrayal, and ultimately how far we’re willing to go on behalf of those who need us most is out now from author Rebecca Yarros, and I have an excerpt for you.
He stepped forward, and I moved to get out of his way, only to realize I was his way. My back hit the cool granite counter, and I tilted my head to look up—and up—at him. He wasn’t touching me or even in my personal space, but it felt like he was everywhere, like he eclipsed the rest of the world behind him.
“So I started calling you Pika. The older I got, the more I learned about them, the more it fit.”
“Not because I had really big front teeth.”
He shook his head, then slowly took a strand of my braid that had come loose during the night and rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger. “No. Because pikas are elusive. They’re only seen when they want to be. They don’t hibernate through winter. Instead, they survive under ten or twenty feet of snow, facing each day as it comes.”
He moved closer until our bodies brushed but didn’t collide. My pulse galloped, racing toward some destination I’d never let myself even contemplate.
“But they can only survive at altitude,” he said softly. “They can’t endure the heat of the lower elevations. They’re made for the mountains. They take the rugged terrain and the cold and the impossible, and they make it home. They survive everything nature says they shouldn’t and still stay so soft.” He ran his knuckles down the side of my cheek with the last word.
My eyes fluttered shut at the contact. When he reached my jaw, I put my hand over his to hold it there.
A second passed. Two. He didn’t move. Neither did I.
I drew in a shaky breath and found the courage to open my eyes, knowing he could be wearing that half smirk, ready with a witty, biting little comment.
Instead, his dark-brown eyes looked just as conflicted as I felt.
“Willow,” he whispered, lowering his head inch by slow inch.
“Cam,” I replied, refusing to look at those lips descending toward mine for fear I’d break whatever spell we were held in.
“Say no,” he pleaded, his words hitting my lips in little huffs of peppermint.
“Yes.” It slipped out, that word I’d let dance on the tip of my tongue since I turned sixteen. Maybe even younger, if I was being honest with myself. Maybe even since I understood what that kind of yes meant.
He cursed as my free hand rested on his chest, feeling his heart meet the racing pace of mine.
“Yes, Cam. Yes,” I repeated, in case he didn’t hear me the first time, knowing full well he did. I’d get him a freaking sign if he needed one.
“Wrong answer,” he warned.
A breath later, he kissed me with soft lips that caressed mine gently, almost reverently.
It felt more like a first kiss than my actual first had been. It was the kiss we would have had as much younger, way less experienced teenagers.
Then it happened again and again—light, sipping kisses that had me rising on my toes to get closer to him. He was so tense under my hand, I wondered if he’d snap or shatter.
He pulled back just long enough to look at me, his brow knit together like he was in pain, searching my face for something he didn’t name.
I saw the moment he decided. The strain disappeared from his face, and determination took its place.
Then his mouth was on mine, hard and demanding. I parted my lips, and he sank inside to stroke my tongue with his as his hands gripped my hips and lifted.
My fingers threaded into the silk strands of his hair as I kissed him back with everything I had. I wrapped my legs around his waist, locking my ankles like I could hold him prisoner, savoring his groan at the contact.
His kiss held an edge of desperation, and it fueled me, seeking more, faster, deeper. If this was the only time I’d kiss Camden Daniels, then I was going to make damn sure he remembered it, because I would.