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Give Me Hell (Give Me #4)
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Mackenzie Valentine is wilful, fiery, and determined to prove she doesn’t need anyone. Desperate to break free from the over-protective parents and three older brothers who dictate her every move, she runs away at the age of seventeen to hunt down the only boy who makes her feel alive.
Jake Romero has no choice but to leave the best thing that ever happened to him, taking him down a path that leads to notorious gang, the King Street Boys. When fate throws Mackenzie back in his life, he turns her away in her time of need, knowing he now lives a life in which she doesn’t belong. Except his decision has shattering consequences, leading to secrets, lies, and the ultimate betrayal.
Years later, their lives continue to entwine, and when his past returns demanding retribution, Mackenzie intervenes and gets caught in the crossfire, leaving behind a devastation that no one sees coming. Can their relationship withstand the hell it’s endured, or is it too late for love?
18+ Recommended. Contains adult language and themes.
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“A best friend is someone who loves you
when you forget to love yourself.”
“Don’t worry when I fight with you.
Worry when I stop,
Because it means there’s nothing left for us to fight for.”
Grace and Casey’s party is in full swing. Their loft is a complete crush, leaving me stuck in the kitchen dispensing drinks. I’m busy making small talk but my mind is locked on the pregnancy test I purchased in a fit of panic on the drive here. It’s buried deep inside my Burberry handbag. I haven’t had time to take the test, but I can’t stop thinking about it. At the pharmacy I grabbed the first one I saw and marched it to the counter, chin up like I was going into war and the test was my hand grenade.
When I was young having a baby was always in my distant future, but my entire life changed at seventeen. The life I imagined for myself got knocked off course. Marriage. Family. The white picket fence. A fairy tale—and one that was never meant for me.
I wrap an arm around my belly, wondering if my life is about to change. Are you in there, baby? I glare at my flat stomach. If so, you’re not in the plan.
The deep, husky tone infiltrates every part of my body. My head lifts and my heart lodges somewhere near the vicinity of my throat. Whiskey-coloured eyes look down at me with concern. I hate that I like seeing it. The way Jake Romero looks at me makes me ache. It always has, and it always will.
“I’m not your princess.”
Not anymore. It’s too late. I wrecked us. There’s only so many times you can glue a broken vase back together. Our pieces don’t fit back together anymore.
Jake ignores my retort. His gaze drops to my arm cradled protectively around my belly. He meets my eyes. “You okay?”
“I’m fine,” I say sharply. My bitchy tone is a defence mechanism; it snaps in place like a rubber band whenever I talk to him. It’s the only way to keep him at an arm’s length, otherwise my hands will reach for him and I won’t be able to let go.
Jake grinds his jaw. He wants to turn and walk away but there’s a pull between us that makes it impossible for him. I know, because I feel it too.
I reach for a fresh beer and twist off the top. Tossing the lid in the nearby bin, I shove it toward him. Jake doesn’t take it and leave the kitchen like I hope he will. Instead, he folds his arms creating bulges of tanned muscle. The coloured ink on his skin intertwines with dark images, forming beautiful works of art that sleeve both his arms. I remember those arms when they were reed thin and bare, when he was a boy on the verge of becoming a man. His hair was longer then. Golden brown strands rested against the back of his neck and fell in his eyes. It was the texture of silk, and I loved running my fingers through it. Gripping it in my fists when he did things to me that I never imagined possible. Jake said he’d always keep it longer just for me, but then I left and the next time I saw him it was buzzed short. It’s been that way ever since.
“Are you sure?” Jake asks before I drown in the memories of who we used to be.
No. And I want to tell him that so very badly that I bite down on my lip to stop the word escaping. His heavy-lidded gaze drops to my mouth and heat flares between my thighs in an instant. Damn him.
“Take the stupid beer,” I growl before I completely lose it.
With a sharp huff, he snatches it from my hand. He sets it on the kitchen counter and his eyes come back to me. Does he even know the heated way he looks at me? It burns me like a brush fire.
“Mac, I …” Jake looks away, swallowing, and rubs a hand over his short buzz of hair. There’s a war inside him. I see it on his face. Indecision. Frustration. Longing. The ache inside me intensifies. His gaze returns and he lets out a deep breath. “We need to start living more separate lives. I can’t …”
The pain of his words are a thousand rusty knives stabbing me straight in the heart.
I ignore the party going on around us and close my eyes for the briefest of seconds. The moment I do, his hand cups my jaw. The barest contact before it slides away. My eyes open, the rough touch of his palm lingering on my skin.
Why can’t I unlove you?
“You’re right,” I force myself to concede.
Jake nods as if pleased with my response, which sends the knives deeper.