Blog Tour: LET LOVE IN – Melissa Collins
What would happen if you lost everything? If the people who were supposed to love you unconditionally were no longer there for you, how would your world change?
That’s exactly what happened to Madeleine Becker when her parents died when she was ten years old. Ripped from her home and everything that she has ever loved, she is forced to start all over again. The only way for her to move on is to build walls around her heart and keep everyone at a safe distance. Her logic: she can’t get hurt if she doesn’t fall in love.
That theory is blown to pieces when she meets Reid Connely during her freshman year at college. He is gorgeous and darkly mysterious. He understands Maddy’s pain all too well, but sharing his pain would mean breaking down the walls he put up around his own heart. Conflicted between loving Maddy and hiding his dark past, Reid starts to reevaluate his world. Maddy’s inner strength, snarky personality and breath taking beauty help Reid to make peace with his past.
Together they find out what happens when they let love in.
An exclusive excerpt:
He spins me around and pulls me close to him. He places his hands at the nape of my neck and pulls the hair tie out of my hair so that it falls around my face softly. Gently sweeping the hair that has fallen in my eyes out of the way, he brings his face closer to mine and kisses me. This kiss is different from the rest we’ve shared. It’s full of the promise of pleasure.
His tongue brushes up against mine. He’s tentative and slow at first. I can tell he’s trying to control himself, but that’s not what I want. I want to dive into his depths and get lost there, to give myself over completely to this man who I love. I know in this moment that I need to tell him that. Despite my earlier reservations about being scared, he needs to know that I love him. Whatever walls he’s keeping up, whatever secrets he’s got from me, can’t possibly be enough to change my love for him and he needs to know that.
I break the kiss and look up into his piercing blue depths. “Reid, I have to tell you something.” He looks at me questioningly before saying, “Maddy, you can tell me anything.” He brushes his knuckles softly across my cheek and says, “Is it something I did? Talk to me; tell me what’s on your mind.”
I pull him across the room to sit on the bed. My insides are trembling with nervousness over what I’m about to say and over what I know I’m finally going to let happen. He’s sitting on the edge of the bed, his feet touching the floor. I straddle his lap so that my legs are wrapped around him and so that I can look at his cool cerulean pools of love when I speak. I cup my hand around his cheek tenderly and take a deep breath, bracing for the words that are about to come out.
“Reid, I love you.” I pause to register the shock in his eyes, but there is none. He just smiles adoringly at me and traces slow, soft patterns across my back. There’s silence for a moment, and I need to fill it. “I know that you might feel like it’s too soon and I know we each have our own boatload of issues, but I can’t help how I feel. You’re amazing and you’ve broken through every barrier I’ve ever put in place to keep people out. There’s no one I want more than you and I know that we’ll be able to overcome whatever is thrown at us. I feel that strongly about us. It’s scary, terrifying actually, but I just needed you to know that I love you. I love you so, so much.” I say all of that so quickly that I need to inhale deeply just to get some air back into my lungs.
His lips tip up into a devilishly beautiful smile and he says, “Are you done? Can I have my turn?” I nod and say “uh huh” in return. Normal language function has completely left my brain.
“Madeleine, I love you too.” I move to say something but he silences me with a kiss. “No, you got your turn; now it’s mine.” He kisses me again before saying the rest. “I love you more than anything. I would move heaven and earth to make you realize how much I love you. And I don’t want you to think I’m saying this just because you’ve said it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and, yea, I’ve got some fucked up shit in my head, the same shit that made me build those sky-high walls in the first place, but around you, they just vanish. That’s why I did all of this up here tonight. I wanted to create a beautiful memory of the first time I told you that I loved you. When we do decide to take things to the next level, physically, I wanted the bed to be ours and ours alone. I wanted it to just be me and you in there –no other memories except this one right now, of you glowing beautifully by the candlelight, sitting in my arms, listening to me carry on and on about how much I love you.” He kisses me on the tip of my nose and brushes the pads of his thumbs under my eyes where a few stray tears have fallen.
His confession of love ignites a fire low in my belly. If I thought I wanted him before, I was sadly mistaken. I reach for the hem of his shirt and pull it over his head, our eyes only breaking contact when the fabric brushes over his head. I push him back onto the bed so that he’s lying down and I’m still straddled on top of him. His hands are at my waist, but they’re so big that they nearly span it entirely. He moves them down a little to where my hips flow into the upper swell of my ass and he squeezes gently. His thumbs begin tracing sensual circles dangerously close to my core.
Maddy wakes up from being drugged [Reid’s POV]
The movement at my side wakes me up. Reaching my hand the other side of the bed, I feel someone next to me. What the freak? No one ever stays the night. Who the hell? Then, as the fuzziness clears from my head, I remember everything.
Maddy being drugged.
Me saving her.
Tucking her into bed and then sleeping peacefully for the first time in as long as I can remember.
There were no nightmares last night.
I roll over on my side to a wide-eyed and obviously afraid Maddy. Cupping her cheek in my hand, I need to try and calm her down. She looks like a frightened deer caught in the headlights.
“Good morning, beautiful.” I don’t mean for my words to sound as sugary sweet as they just did, but she really is beautiful, all sleep mussed and drowsy – she looks perfect, really.
Shock is still washing over her as she comes to. “Um, did we…you know.” She’s flailing her arms all over the place trying to communicate what her words aren’t. Finally, she spits out what she’s been trying to get at. “Did we…umm… do it?”
Holy fucking shit! She can’t even say the word. She’s so damn adorable that I can’t help but laugh at her. I pull myself up against the headboard and she joins me. She thinks I don’t notice, but I see her peaking under the covers to check out her state of undress. I’m pretty damn proud of myself that I didn’t touch her last night. God, I wanted to, but even I’m not that much of an asshole.
When she’s situated next to me, I stare into her eyes. “No, Maddy. We most definitely did not ‘do it.’ Believe me when we ‘do it’, you’ll remember.” I arch an eyebrow at her and fold my arms behind my head.
“Did you just say when we sleep together?” Her shock just adds to my desire for her. Does she think that I don’t want her? Fuck. I thought I made that pretty clear last night.
“Yes, I did.” I’m not going to hide that I want her any more. Seeing her with that dick last night gutted me. I won’t do that again.
“So Maddy, what do you remember from last night?” I hate thinking about what could have happened to her if I wasn’t there. I never would have pegged myself as the protective type, but her vulnerability and sweetness have done all sorts of messed up shit to my head. To be honest, I can’t say that I hate how I’ve changed since I met her.
She looks so freaking hot chewing on her lip and twirling her hair as she tries to place what happened. “Um, well I remember being at the pool hall with everyone. And then I remember Mike and I hanging out at the bar for a little bit. After that things get a little fuzzy.”
She’s got bits and pieces of the story straight, but the big part, the part about her almost being kidnapped and raped – because I’m certain that’s what that guy would have done to her – that part is eluding her memories.
I see her panic rise as some of the big picture comes into focus. She’s almost shaking with nervousness. The need to calm her is like needing to take my next breath.
“Don’t worry, Maddy. Nothing happened. I was walking back into Shooters when Mike was trying to leave with you. You guys walked past me and I saw that something was off. Your eyes weren’t clear. They were all glassy and you just didn’t seem with it. I had been watching you all night, so I knew you weren’t drunk. That’s when I realized that he must have slipped you something. I knocked him on his ass and then brought you here. I know you probably didn’t want to wake up next to me, but I didn’t want you to be alone and scared when you woke up.”
As she’s trying to take this all in, she freaks out and tries to call Mel. She nearly falls on her face as she stumbles out of the bed. God, how much did he fucking give her? If I ever get my hands on him again – well, it just won’t be pretty. He’ll get a lot more than a knee to the sac.
“Shh. Don’t freak out. It’s okay. I texted her last night and let her know that you were here. Don’t worry. It’s all taken care of.” I lean in close to her, needing to touch her, to inhale her intoxicating smell. When the pad of my thumb traces over her face, across her lips, my groin twitches with the electricity that moves between us. In all of my experience, I have never gotten this excited from a simple touch. I’m lost in her beauty; she’s mesmerizing and I’m completely disarmed by the charge between us.
“You were watching me?” Her question brings me out of my erotic musings about doing much more to her lips than just trace over them with my fingertip.
“Um… yeah. I guess you could say that. It’s just that… well… I didn’t trust that guy. I’d never seen him there and he was staring at you while you were leaning over the pool table like a wolf eyeing up a lamb. I wanted to make sure that you were okay, that’s all.” Pulling my hand from her face, I readjust the sheets across my lap to hide my growing erection. I shouldn’t be turned on as we sit here discussing her attempted attack, but I want her. Thinking about protecting her just makes me wish she was mine. That’s what’s turning me on. Her being mine and only mine.
When she thanks me for saving her that desire grows even more. She might just be the sweetest girl I’ve ever known. I’m lost thinking about just how sweet – and hot, for that matter – she must taste that I only hear the tail end of what she’s saying. “…I know you don’t really like me and all, so I just wanted to say thank you for helping me despite that.”
Okay, wait a minute! Did I just hear her correctly? “That’s what you think? You think I hate you?” I don’t mean for my words to be harsh and biting, but they are. Here I am day dreaming about being with her and she thinks I hate her. Oh, she’s got another thing coming to her.
“Well, I know I’m not your favorite person that’s for certain. I’d like to think you don’t hate me, Reid, but I don’t think you like me very much.” I lean in as close as I can to her. I feel her breath on my lips and mine are no more than a millimeter from hers.
Cupping her cheek and grazing my knuckles across her soft skin, I say, “I definitely do not hate you.” I can only hope and pray that she can hear the truth in my words.
“Then what is it Reid? What is going on here?” Cue the flailing hands again. “I’m exhausted from all of this. You antagonize me and all but treat me like shit and then you run in like some kind of knight in shining armor to rescue me from some big bad wolf. I … I … don’t know what to do or how to feel. I can’t keep running away from you. Avoiding you is draining me.”
She’s ranting and raving so quickly that the deep breath she inhales forces her chest out and I can’t help but look down at her perfect her tits are.
“Since the moment I met you, I’ve wanted to be here in your arms, but you’ve done nothing but push me away. So tell me how I was supposed to think that you felt anything other than hatred for me.” She finishes her little tirade and I quickly dart my eyes back to hers. There’d be no use in getting caught checking her out right now.
I need to change the mood here. We’re good together when we’re playful. It’s easier to flirt than fight. “So you think I’m a knight in shining armor huh?” I grin all goof-ball like at her hoping that she’ll slow down a bit and lighten up. When her hand falls playfully to my chest, the electricity returns. Her skin on mine is scorching hot. She looks down at her hand on my bare chest and her eyes widen with what I can only hope is desire.
We carry on the rest of the conversation basically laying out what an asshole I’ve been and how much I’ve hurt her. It’s nothing that I didn’t already know, but I couldn’t help it. I can’t be the first guy on earth who was ever afraid to admit his feelings to a girl before.
Yet, for the very first time in my life, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of keeping everyone away and I refuse to deny myself Maddy any longer. It’s confession time.
“You’ve completely knocked me off my game. I’ve never met anyone like you and it scares the shit out of me. It’s like you don’t see me.” She begins to say something and I softly press my fingers to her luscious lips to silence her. “You don’t see me; you see straight through me. You see beyond the outside and it’s like you see the me that no one else sees. I saw it in your eyes that first night I met you and it knocked me on my ass. I was a goner and since then I guess I’ve just been trying to push you away.”
She doesn’t believe me. Why should she? I know I’ve been a shit, but I have to continue talking to try and convince her. I’ve never needed someone to believe me more than I need Maddy to believe me right now. “You’re a smart-ass, and I love that you keep me on my toes. You are most definitely not like the other girls, and I love that, but it also scares me like nothing else. I haven’t let anyone in for years and, well, with you I feel like I want to give it a chance.”All I can do now is hope that she’ll accept my apology and give me a chance. I know it’s the last thing I deserve, but maybe, by some act of God, I’ll get an opportunity to redeem myself. I think I can be a good guy. I’ve never done it before, but for Maddy, I want to try.
I’ve always been an avid reader. Majoring in English Literature was a no brainer. Becoming a teacher and instilling my love for reading into my students was also a no brainer. I’ve spent the last ten years teaching and I’ve loved (mostly) every minute of it. When I was home on maternity leave for my third son, I discovered a new genre that sparked my creativity. My passion for writing sprang from my love of reading and once I knew I had a story to tell, I couldn’t wait to get it out there. I only hope that my readers enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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