Home > Driven (Driven #1)(2)

Driven (Driven #1)(2)
Author: K. Bromberg

I lean my back against the wall, close my eyes, and try to catch my breath—it’s not coming quickly enough and dizziness surfaces. Becoming nauseous, I start to slide down the wall and accidentally hit the light switch. I’m submerged in pitch-black darkness. I cry out, frantically searching for the switch with my trembling hands. I flick it on, relieved to have pushed the monsters back into hiding.

But when I look down, blood covers my hands. I blink to try and snap out of my reverie, but I can’t shake it. I’m in a different place. A different time.

All around me, I smell the acrid stench of destruction. Of desperation. Of death.

In my ears, his thready breathing is agonizing. He is gasping. Dying.

I feel the intense, blazing pain that twists so deep in your soul, you fear you’ll never escape it. Even in death. It’s my own screams I hear that shake me out of my reverie, and I’m so disoriented that I’m not sure if they’re from the past or the present.

Get a grip, Rylee! I rub the tears off my cheeks with the backs of my hands and resort to my previous year in therapy to try to keep my claustrophobia at bay. I concentrate on a mark on the wall across from me, try to regulate my breathing, and slowly count. I focus on pushing the walls out. Pushing the unbearable memories away.

I count to ten, gaining a scrap of composure, yet desperation still clings. I know Dane will come looking for me shortly. He knows where I went, but the thought does nothing to alleviate my surmounting panic.

Finally I surrender to my primal need to escape and start pounding on the door with the heels of my hands. Shouting loudly. Cursing sporadically. Begging for someone to hear me and open the door. For someone to save me again.

In my ragged state of mind, seconds feel like minutes and minutes feel like hours. The passage of time is unknown to me, but I feel like I’ve been locked in this ever-shrinking closet forever. Endlessly shouting for help. Feeling defeated, I yell again and rest my forearms on the door in front of me. Bracing my weight on my forearms, I lay my head on them and succumb to my tears. Large, ragged sobs shake violently through me.

And suddenly, I have the feeling of falling.

Falling forward as I stumble into the solid length of man in my path. My arms wrap around a firm torso while my legs lie awkwardly bent behind me. The man instinctively brings his arms up and wraps them around me, catching me, holding my weight and absorbing my impact.

I look up, quickly registering the shock of dark hair spiked haphazardly, bronzed skin, the slight shadow of stubble … and then I meet his eyes. A jolt of electricity—an almost palpable energy—crackles when I meet those guarded, translucent green irises. Surprise flashes through them fleetingly, but the intrigue and intensity with which he regards me is unnerving, despite my body’s immediate reaction to him. Needs and desires long forgotten inundate me with this one, simple meeting of eyes.

How can this man I’ve never met make me forget the panic and desperation I felt only moments before?

I make the mistake of breaking eye contact and glancing down at his mouth. Full, sculpted lips purse as he regards me intently, and then very slowly, they spread into a lopsided, roguish grin.

Oh, how I want that mouth on me—anywhere and everywhere all at once. What in the hell am I thinking? This man is way out of my league. Like light years away out of my league.

I draw my gaze back up to see amusement brimming in his eyes as if he knows my thoughts. I can feel a flush slowly spread over my face as embarrassment for both my predicament and my salacious thoughts registers in my brain. I tighten my grip around muscular biceps as I lower my gaze to avoid his obvious assessment and try to regain my composure. Bringing my feet back under me, I accidentally stumble further into him, my balance compromised by my inexperience with such sky-high heels. I jump back from him as my breasts brush against his firm chest, setting my nerve endings ablaze. Tiny detonations of desire tickle deep in my belly.

“Oh … um … I’m so sorry.” I hold my hands up in a flustered apology. From a step back, the man is even more disarming now that I’m able to drink in the whole length of him. Imperfectly perfect and sexy as hell with a smirk suggesting arrogance and an air exuding trouble.

He raises an eyebrow, noticing my slow perusal of him. “No apologies needed,” he responds in a cultured rasp of a voice with just a hint of edge. A voice evoking images of both rebellion and sex in the same breath. “I’m used to women falling at my feet.”

My head snaps up at the conceit in his comment. I can only hope he’s joking, but his enigmatic expression gives nothing away. He watches my response, bemusement in his eyes, and that cocksure smile widening, causing a single dimple to deepen in his defined jaw.

Despite having taken a step back, I am still close to him. Too close for me to gather my wits, but close enough for me to feel his breath feathering over my cheek. To smell the clean scent of soap mixed with his subtle, earthy cologne.

“Thanks. Thank you,” I respond breathlessly. I see the muscle in his clenched jaw pulse as he regards me. Why is this man making me nervous and feeling like I have to justify my situation? “The-the door shut behind me. It jammed. I panicked—”

“Are you okay? Miss—?”

My response falters as his hand cups the back of my neck, pulling me closer and yet holding me still. He runs his free hand up and down my bare arm in what I assume is an attempt to make sure that I’m not physically harmed. My body registers the trail of sparks his fingertips blaze on my naked flesh while my mind becomes acutely aware that his sensuous mouth is only a whisper away from mine. My lips part and my breath hitches as he moves his hand up the line of my neck and then uses the back of it to run his knuckles softly down my cheek.

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