Author JB Heller has a new book out this week, and I have an excerpt for you from this emotional second chance romance. Previously released as Moments of Beauty, this story has since been rewritten and it now includes brand new content.
Something happened between yesterday morning and afternoon and it’s eating at Hux. I wish he would just talk to me, but he’s so closed off.
I’m hurt and frustrated. What the hell is going on inside that head of his?
I thought I’d broken through some of that mysterious armor he wears yesterday, but it feels like he’s reinforced it.
My hands come to rest on his thighs. “Hux,” I murmur, “talk to me, please.”
He takes a deep breath. “I fucked this up,” he says, still not making eye contact with me.
His eyes find mine and he sighs. “I shouldn’t have kissed you yesterday. I complicated things.”
Well, that admission hurts more than his silence. I swallow past the lump in my throat, and lick my lips. “Why? I don’t understand. I thought …” I can’t finish my sentence. My emotions are trying to push to the surface, and I don’t want him to see.
I break eye contact and lift my hands from his thighs, then stand. I step over the bench and turn my back to him. Lifting my face to the small ray of sunlight breaking through the canopy of trees around us, I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
I block out everything around me, and focus on the warmth of the sun on my face. I should have known it wouldn’t last. Huxley Haynes, opening up to me, being with me—of course it was too good to be true.
At least I got to feel his lips on mine, even if it was just that once.
I take a couple more steadying breaths before I turn back to him. I give him the same smile I give Wayne when I’m humoring him. The one that most people see and think is real, but they haven’t got a clue how I really feel.
“Don’t do that,” Hux says, and I notice his camera in his hands.
“Don’t do what?” I ask.
He puts his camera on the picnic table and stands. “Don’t pretend with me. You never have before. Why start now?”
I should have known he would be able to tell the difference. He’s the most irritatingly observant person I’ve ever met. I shrug. “Why not? You don’t want the real me, so why should I keep giving her to you?”
He clenches his fists by his sides and grits his teeth. “Fuck that, El. You know that’s not what I meant.”
My hands grip my hips and I stare him down. “Really? Because that’s what it sounded like.”
His expression morphs to one of anguish as he closes the distance between us and takes my face in his hands. “I’m leaving, El. Kissing you is a bad idea. For both of us.” His fingertips push into my hair, and his head lowers a fraction. “Don’t pretend with me, please.”
His words cause tears to prick my eyes, but not fall. “I don’t understand what you want, Hux.”
“I don’t want to hurt you. And if we keep this up, it’s going to hurt a hell of a lot when I go.”
Closing my eyes, I drop my head to his chest. “I know,” I breathe. Because it’s true. It’s going to hurt when he leaves. And he’s right. The closer we get, the worse it will be. But I don’t care.
Hux wraps his arms around me and holds me for a few minutes while I come to terms with never having his lips against mine again.