Oliver, Tess: Private North
New Adult Contemporary Romance
An internship cataloguing ancient pottery. A war-hardened soldier who’s impossible to resist. A priceless Egyptian artifact. And a devious scheme that is fraught with danger. Antiquities major, Auggie Stonefield, is about to experience a winter break she will never forget.
Dalton North POV:
This isn’t in the book, Tess has written it just for the blog tour for us.
The throbbing in my head took my mind off the relentless pain in my leg. It had become my sort of twisted way of dealing with the constant agony. Get drunk enough for a skull-pounding hangover and it dulled everything else.
I made a stupid-ass attempt to mask the uneven sounds of my footsteps, but the wooden hallway floor made it pretty damn laughable. I wasn’t even completely sure why it mattered, except that I knew the girl was standing just around the corner in the kitchen. I’d heard her silky laugh twice before I’d even left my bedroom.
She stood in the kitchen helping with breakfast. Long auburn hair cascaded down the back of her sweater and I could see only the side of her face as she smiled sweetly at my dad. I’d been in a desert that was so hot just taking a breath hurt, a place where you learned not to trust even your own shadow, a place that could only be described as hell, and the only way to survive the nightmare of it all was to believe that somewhere else in another place, another time, another dimension angels existed. And now I’d come home and found one standing over the waffle iron in the kitchen.
She looked up as I entered the room and that was all it took. I could not look away. Her thin fingers trembled almost imperceptibly as she tucked her hair behind her ear. I dragged a chair out from the table and sat down hard and watched her. She grew more and more flustered by my scrutiny but I couldn’t stop myself. She was a piece of heaven that had floated in through the darkness and I wanted to watch her. And, even though she nearly bit through her plump, highly kissable bottom lip with agitation . . . it seemed . . . that deep down she wanted me to watch her.
I pulled the cover up to my chin like I’d done as a young girl when I was certain the closet monsters were coming out to get me, but I couldn’t relax enough to sleep. The house was quiet and dark again. I climbed back into my slippers. I peeked out into the hallway and everything was still. I tiptoed to the kitchen hoping a glass of milk would make me sleepy.
I scuttled around the corner, and a gasp stuck in my throat. The refrigerator door was open, and the light pouring out illuminated his broad bare back, showing every line of hard muscle . . . and every small scar. There were many. His pajama pants hung low on his narrow hips, and I stood as quiet as a mouse for a guilty second and stared at his incredible physique.
He still had not heard me, and I wondered if he was still lost in the agony of his bad dream. I tiptoed without a sound, but as I neared he seemed to sense me. He continued to stare into the refrigerator as if he expected something to jump out into his hands.
“I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“Please don’t apologize.” His shoulders tensed as I moved closer to him. Even in front of an open refrigerator, heat rolled off of him in searing waves.
He shut the door but didn’t turn around. He leaned his forehead against the freezer door. I stepped closer. My hand trembled slightly as I reached up and touched him. The muscles of his back tightened and then relaxed. I trailed my fingers over the tiny scars that were splattered across his shoulders. The tiny ridges were hard, and I could feel the pain of each one in my fingertips. I stood on my toes and lowered my mouth to his skin. He sucked in a sharp breath as I pressed my lips to the scars. I kissed him over and over again wanting to absorb the pain that still clung to him physically and mentally. And he let me kiss him. His broad shoulders lifted and fell with each shallow breath as I ran my lips across his marred skin.
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Tess Oliver is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of Freefall (Custom Culture, #1). She is also a full time teacher and lives in California with her husband, two kids, and a pack of pampered pets. She loves horses, chocolate, and Jane Austen books. She has a BS in Nutrition Science and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction.
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