Dec 26 2016 12:00pm
Chanel Cleeton Excerpt: On Broken Wings
A year after losing her husband, Joker, the squadron commander of the Wild Aces, Dani Peterson gets an offer from his best friend, Alex “Easy” Rogers, to help fix up her house. Dani accepts, and their friendship grows—along with an undeniable attraction.
Racked by guilt for loving his best friend’s widow, Easy’s caught between what he wants and can’t have. Until one night everything changes, and the woman who’s always held his heart ends up in his arms. Yet as Easy leaves for his next deployment, he and Dani are torn between their feelings and their loyalty to Joker’s memory.
But when Dani discovers something that sends them both into a spin, the conflicted lovers must overcome the past to navigate a future together…
Get a sneak peek at Chanel Cleeton's On Broken Wings (available January 3, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.
I couldn’t get my bearings, fear and lust muddling my head. Could he sense how things had changed between us? The nervous, edgy energy that seemed to pulse around us?
I wondered what it would be like to press my lips to his neck, inhaling his scent, to lay my body against his and lose myself for a bit.
“I should probably let you go so you can get some rest.”
Easy nodded, his gaze inscrutable. As well as I thought I knew Easy, there always seemed to be pieces of himself he didn’t share with me, parts that were locked away tight. At face value it seemed like what-you-see-is-what-you-get with him, but the more you looked, the more you realized how much lay beneath the surface.
Like right now.
And suddenly, I wanted inside. He’d seen me at my worst, watched me fall apart and struggle to put myself back together again, had a front-row seat to the most vulnerable parts of me. And all I got were glimpses of him, glimpses that hinted at something deeper, more, before he slammed the door in my face. I wanted to peel back that layer, wanted to know what was going on in his head right now. It didn’t seem fair that he’d seen all of me—well, all except this—and yet he still had secrets, still had things that were off-limits, even to me.
I took a step closer, and then another, a knot growing in my stomach. I didn’t know exactly where I was headed, but I hoped I’d find out when I got there.
I stood up on my toes, wrapping my arms around him. He was so big, so solid against me, and I held on tight, not sure I was ready to let him go.
“Be safe,” I whispered. “Promise me.”
He didn’t answer me, not with words at least, but his body jerked against mine as he nodded, as he lifted his arms and his hands settled on the small of my back.
A tear trickled down my cheek, then another. It was crazy—I’d been through so many deployments over the years, but this one was terrifying. I’d peered under the bed, and saw the monster, and now my worst fears weren’t some abstract possibility that made me sick with worry. They were real, and they’d happened, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing Easy, too.
My body shook as I cried in his arms, as I inhaled the scent of his cologne, as I pressed myself against him, trying to memorize the shape and weight of him, trying to mentally prepare myself for the possibility that I’d never see him again.
He likely thought I was insane, was probably now wondering how the hell to handle the crazy, crying woman in his arms. He didn’t hug me back, had gone still as a statute, his arms fallen down to his sides. His heart pounded against my chest, the ragged sound of his breathing filling the room.
I dropped my hands from his neck, wiping at my face, trying to calm the emotions pushing their way to the surface. I took a step back, but before my heel hit the floor, his hands rested on my waist, the small of my back, catching me, anchoring me.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cry all . . .” My voice trailed off as our gazes locked.
He staggered me.
There was no wall now. Only emotion. So much emotion—raw and naked, staring back at me—more than I knew what to do with. I wanted to touch him, to calm the storm in his gaze.
I swallowed, my heart tattooing a wild beat in my chest, my fingers drifting to his face as if of their own volition, until I held him in my hands, my fingertips skimming his cheekbones, his eyes fluttering closed.
It was more plea than anything else, a search for understanding, an attempt to figure out what I wanted, to master the emotions churning inside me. I moved closer to him, wanting the steady presence of him to surround me, needing comfort and to comfort, and knowing I’d find both in his arms. I rested my forehead against him, the height difference between us enough that I nearly fit under his chin.
“Will you keep in touch while you’re gone?”
He nodded against my forehead. “Yeah.”
His voice had gone husky and hoarse, and I couldn’t help but think whatever I was experiencing, he felt a bit of it, too. Good-byes became a hell of a lot harder when you feared they’d be final.
“I’m going to miss you,” I whispered, tears clogging my throat.
For a moment he didn’t answer me, and then he did, his words muffled by his lips brushing against my hair as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “I’m going to miss you, too.”
I wrapped my arms more tightly around him, silence descending around us as we held each other. His mouth grazed my forehead, pressing softly there, soothing.
Except it didn’t soothe.
Instead, the strangest thing happened. It started in my stomach—a twitch, a flutter, so light I initially dismissed it. But there it was again—a whisper, so gossamer thin I almost ignored it a second time. Until it spread.
Slowly, the flutter grew, a butterfly using its wings for the first time, hesitant at first, and then stronger, surer, taking flight in my body, moving through my limbs until suddenly I was crackling with it, and I didn’t even know what it was. It was the beginning of what I’d felt last night, and yet it wasn’t. It was more. So much more.
It was resurrection.
I opened my mouth to speak at the exact moment Easy tightened his grip on me, gathering me against his tall, muscular frame, and then the feeling simply exploded, the flutters inside me turning to a weakening of my knees and a tremor that racked my body all the way down to my toes as he adjusted me so any question I might have had about whether he felt the same way, too, was answered for me.
He was hard. Rock hard. Easy was hard, throbbing, big, pressing into me.
I began to fear the flutter would send me into cardiac arrest.
I took a step back—in my mind, at least. But my body? My body stayed right where it was. For a beat. And then another, until I wasn’t content to stand there, and I found myself leaning into him, my breasts rubbing against his pecs, my nipples pebbling between us. The throb between my legs intensified and I could feel myself growing wetter, feel that pull, that ache—
His grip on my hips tightened, and for one agonizingly long moment, I wasn’t sure if he was going to hold me close or push me away.
His mouth left my forehead, the skin there heated from his breath, from the fire burning inside me. His lips rubbed against the curve of my cheek, his nose grazing my skin, his touch featherlight in a motion that teased another tremor from my limbs, and a line of goose bumps over my skin.
My heart hammered as his mouth slid down my jaw, his lips inches from mine. He paused there, so close our breath mingled, our bodies fused together, and suddenly, I had the answer to the questions that had been plaguing me, knew exactly what I wanted from him.
I wanted him to kiss me.
Copyright © 2017 by Chanel Cleeton.
Learn more about or order a copy of On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton, available January 3, 2017:
Chanel Cleeton is the author of the Wild Aces romances, Into the Blue and Fly with Me, and the Capital Confessions e-book series, including Flirting with Scandal, Playing with Trouble, and Falling for Danger. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, the American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She’s also a graduate (survivor) of law school—she earned her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. A summer cruise in the Caribbean changed Chanel’s life when she met and fell in love with a fighter pilot.