Colton didn’t teach me how to live. He didn’t heal the pain. He didn’t make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go
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And now…for the BEST part. Because Jasinda is BEYOND amazing…we have an EXCLUSIVE, never before read scene from Kyle’s POV. We’re sure everyone out there remembers Chapter 4, specifically around 24% 😥 Well…how would you like to know Kyle’s thoughts during that scene? Feel what he felt? See things through his eyes? Well…here is your chance. *WARNING: this is your ugly cry alert – please do not read unless you are ready to bawl your eyes out*
A TREE FALLS
Copyright © 2013 by Jasinda Wilder
Her face is stunned, shocked wordless. She’s staring at me in disbelief, shaking her head side to side in an almost imperceptible denial. My heart sinks.
I’m sweating, and I hate the sting of rejection that burns my eyes. “Nell, I love you.” I open the black ring box, hand trembling. “I don’t want to spend a moment without you. I don’t care about college or football or anything. All I care about is you. We can figure out the future together.”
I pluck the ring from the black velvet cushion and hold it out to her. Her eyes are wet with tears, and she’s biting her lip so hard I’m worried she might draw blood. There are so many things I want to say to her, professions of love and my reasons for wanting to get married and so much, so much, but she’s crying and shaking her head.
“Nell, will you marry me?” I hate that my voice cracks at the end.
She’s full out shaking her head no. I don’t think she realizes it. My heart is cracking. She doesn’t want to marry me. I love her so much and she’s saying no? Did I do this wrong? I had a whole thing planned at the restaurant, but kept chickening out. And I’d like to have done it at the firepit, but it’s raining, and I wasn’t ready yesterday. And now we’re here and the proposal just popped out and she’s saying no?
“Ohmigod, Kyle.” She’s choking out the words. “I love you, I do. But…now? I don’t—I don’t know. I can’t…we’re barely eighteen. I love you, and I was going to tell you I’d follow you to Stanford. Dad can get me in last minute…”
I can’t help my eyes from sliding shut against the rocket of hurt in my chest. “Wait…are you saying no?” I’m shaking my head, much like she is. We’re both in denial.
“It’s too soon, Kyle,” she says. “It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just—” she shakes her head and wrenches the car door open, gets out, runs into the rain.
Her dress is plastered to her skin in minutes, showing her every sweet curve, and I can’t help the twitch of desire for her, even as she’s breaking my heart. I never thought she’d say no.
I’m in the rain, just behind her. She stops and faces me, her heels slipping in the gravel of the driveway. Her shoulders are shaking and her hair is already in dark strings around her lovely face.
“I don’t understand. I thought—” I struggle with my voice, my emotions. Try again. “I thought this was the next step for us.” The rain is battering down on us, soaking us. Wind howls, pushes the trees sideways like stalks of wheat.
I think I’m crying. I let the rain sluice down my face to obscure my tears.
Nell wipes her face with both hands. “It is, just not yet. I love you. I really do. I love you with all my heart. But I’m not ready to get engaged. We’re not ready for that. We’re just kids still. We just graduated high school a few months ago.”
So not what I want to be hearing right now. “I know we’re young, but… you’re what I want. All I want. We could live in married housing, and… be together. Experience everything together.” Why can’t she understand this? We’re meant to be together forever.
“We can still do that. We could get an apartment together. Maybe not right away, but soon.” She turns away, clearly frustrated. “Kyle… it’s just too soon. Can’t you see that? I don’t want to be apart, either. I’ll go to Stanford with you. I’ll be with you wherever you go. I will marry you, just not yet. Give it a few years. Let’s get through college and get careers going. Grow up a bit.”
I scrape my hand through my sopping hair. “You sound like our parents. You sound like your dad. I asked him first, you know. That’s why they let us come up here. He said he wasn’t sure we were ready and he thought we needed some time to experience a bit more life, but you were legally an adult now, and if you said yes, he had no problem with us getting engaged.”
The rain stops, but the wind drives even harder. I hear tree trunks crackling and groaning. My nerves are shot, but nothing matters except Nell, her crushing no, not yet. She steps into me, eyes pained.
“I love you, Kyle,” she says to me. “Please don’t be mad at me, I just—”
I don’t know how to express to her that I’m not mad, I’m…hurt. Confused. “I thought—I thought this was what you wanted.” I’m fumbling for words, stuttering, halting.
Lightning strikes, and Nell moves to go inside, asking me to go with her. I barely register her words. I don’t know what to do now. Another bolt of lightning, so close I can taste it, so close my bones shake from the thunder. Then a different kind of explosion, and this one penetrates my awareness. I spin in place to see Nell standing frozen on the steps to the cabin, staring up.
My blood freezes, and my body is moving on its own. A tree is falling, a huge pine. It’s going straight for Nell. There’s no decision, no thought, nothing, just wind and rain and death.
I tackle her, feel my shoulder impact against her chest, too hard. Nell goes flying. I hear her land, crumple. Something snaps.
Oh god. Nell.
Then…pain. Sudden, hot as the sun, piercing agony. I’m crushed. The entire world is bearing down on me, heavy as time itself. I can’t breathe. Can’t move. Spikes of agony hit me in a thousand, thousand places. Ribs, chest, back, face, legs…my whole awareness is a wash of pain.
I try to take a breath. My lungs whistle oddly. The breath, when I manage to draw it, is laced with flame. My foot is cold. I can’t even attempt to move. I can wiggle a toe, but that motion costs me my breath, stolen by the excruciating pain.
I try to say her name, but all that emerges is a gasp. I hear screaming, crying. She’s alive, then. I got her out of the way. Thank god.
The tree shifts above me, crushing me deeper in the mud, and then Nell’s fingers and face and hair slip into view. Oh god, her arm. It’s wrecked, broken and bleeding.
God, if I could move…she needs help, she needs to be held, fixed. But I can’t move, and I don’t know what’s happening except pain, such pain. My heart stutters in my chest. I breathe slowly, and the whistling is worse. Why is my chest whistling? I don’t know.
“Kyle? Kyle?” Her voice is so broken. I want to tell her it’s okay. No words make it past my lips. “Kyle?”
I’m here, I say. I’m okay. Only, there’s no sound, and I’m not okay. I realize that, somehow.
Her fingers touch my face, such a sweet touch, so gentle. I wish I could kiss her.
“Nell…I love you.” I’m not sure she heard me, but that was as loud as I could whisper, a bare breath almost lost in the howling wind.
She tries to push the tree away, and I think she might be speaking, but I can’t hear it, sound is fading in and out. The tree shifts above me again, and I think I groan from the pain.
“Stop, Nell. Stop.” I can’t take the pain. The tree is too much for her. She’s only hurting herself.
“No… no. I have to… have to get you out.” She’s sobbing, so broken, and I want to fix her, want to make it okay.
“You can’t, Nell. Just… hold my hand. I love you.” I manage the words, so many words.
She’s bleeding from the face, a gash opened on her forehead. She’s slumped in the mud and gravel next to me. Touching me. Speaking, but I can’t hear again.
I catch snatches: Love you…get married…
Then she’s gone, I don’t know where. I want her back. Her presence makes the pain manageable. No, it doesn’t, but having her close helps.
I hear words again, and see her confusion, her panic, her pain. She needs the address, for the ambulance. She needs an ambulance. What’s the address? I can’t remember.
Then I do, and I hear the numbers scrape past my throat, and the street name.
I’m cold. I feel less pain. It’s not so bad, now. She’s here, kissing me.
I remember our first kiss. I remember…so much, suddenly. Her skin against mine, her lips on mine. Her eyes like liquid love meeting mine, her breath in my ear, whispering my name as we come together in my bed. She’s all I remember. Pigtails bouncing as she runs away from me in kindergarten, on the playground. Swinging for hours in the park together, middle school. Talking, laughing.
She’s kissing me again, and I want to kiss her back. Take her to bed. But…I’m cold, and I can’t get my lips to move.
I love you. I love you. I don’t know if I’m saying it or thinking it. I hope she hears me.
I love you, Nell Hawthorne.
It’s dark, suddenly, and I’m not so cold anymore. So dark. Warm. No pain.
Nell’s face, tear-streaked, her lips pressed against mine, moving as she tells me she loves me. The last thing I see is Nell, brown eyes and high cheekbones and wet hair, so beautiful. Loving me.
Don’t go, Nell.
Jasinda Wilder is a Michigan native with a penchant for titillating tales about sexy men and strong women.
Some of her favorite authors include Nora Roberts, JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Liliana Hart and Bella Andre.
She loves to travel and some of her favorite vacations spots are Las Vegas, New York City and Toledo, Ohio.
You can often find Jasinda drinking sweet red wine with frozen berries and eating a cupcake.
Connect with Jasinda
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