Stay With Me
by Elyssa Patrick
With one look, I’m his . . .
With one touch, he’s mine . . .
With one kiss, it changes everything between us . . .
I’ve been famous since I can remember. Singing, acting, dancing—I’ve done it all. The tabloids cover my every move, but I don’t want that anymore. I want to be normal, whatever that is.
When I leave Hollywood for college in Vermont, I’m on my own for the first time in my life. This is my chance to figure out who I am and what I want in life.
But it’s a lot harder than I expected. I can’t escape my image. Classes are hard, and I’m struggling. And then there’s Caleb Fox.
Sexy, intriguing Caleb Fox.
Caleb is the one man who doesn’t want to use me. He breaks down my walls. He challenges me. He wants me. And I just don’t know if I can give him the same—or if he’ll stick around when he finds out my shameful secret that the tabloids haven’t managed to uncover.
Dating him is risky enough, but loving him could break me.
I give him a look. “You’re not really expecting me to introduce myself, are you?”
“Because . . . because . . .” I look up at the sky; no answers are there among the few stars that have now broken free of the clouds. “Because it seems silly. We already know each other’s names.”
“Let’s pretend we don’t. Here. I’ll start.” He holds out his right hand to me. “Hi, I’m Caleb Fox.”
I stare at his hand. “This is—”
“I’m sorry. I don’t talk to strangers.”
“Funny.” But then I decide to play along—I tell myself that it’s not to feel Caleb’s hand around mine once again. “Hi, Caleb. I’m Hailey Bloom.”
I like saying his name.
I like it even more when he says mine.
His hand grasps mine in a firm, no-nonsense grip. It should be an ordinary handshake. Something brief and impersonal, and something easily forgotten.
This handshake is anything but ordinary, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
His slightly rough skin is still cool against mine, and his thumb sweeps the inside of my wrist. I gasp out loud and his fingers briefly tighten. The handshake should be over by now.
He doesn’t let go. Neither do I.
“Now we’ve met,” he finally says.
“Yes,” My mouth feels dry, and I lick my lips. “We have.”