Under a Million Starsby Rita Branches
Published on August 8, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Can a beating heart bleed from the shattered pieces?
Her heart cracked when her best friend walked away; it completely shattered when she lost her family in a tragic accident.
Now orphaned at seventeen, Charlotte Peterson is forced to live with her former best friend, Jacob Parker. Charlie, a talented pianist, desperately wants their loving friendship back, but something is holding Jake back. The more she spirals into the darkness of depression, the more she needs him.
Jacob vowed to stay away from her—no matter how much he still loved her. Armed with secrets that would have destroyed both of their families, he chose to end their friendship and walk away, which nearly killed him. As he watches the girl he once knew begin to fade away, however, he realizes that their relationship is more important than the truth he’s hiding.
Now it’s up to Jacob to put the pieces of Charlie’s broken heart back together—even if it means revealing the secrets he so desperately wants to protect her from.
Will Jacob find a way to bring back the carefree, talented girl he once knew, or is it too late for both of them?
I felt her stir beside me before I opened my eyes. Last night, a huge weight had left my shoulders. Knowing I hurt her so much that she’d felt the need to punch me was painful, though—not physically, but it’d twisted my heart. If the roles were reversed, I would have been very upset. When Kylie told me what Charlie had done months ago, I had felt so helpless. I still felt helpless, when it came to her.
I wanted to keep my distance, but speaking about the past wasn’t going to bring me that much-needed peace. It would just open old wounds, instead. I got up from Charlie’s bed and went to the bathroom to take a shower. I hadn’t gone running since before Christmas, and my body would resent me the next time I ran, but I could feel the energy pumping in my veins.
Charlie was getting dressed when I went back to her room. She was just in her underwear, with her back to me. I should’ve just turned away and left—she hadn’t noticed my presence—and I felt like a prick for being there that long. When I heard my parents’ door opening, though, I made up my mind: I jumped into the room and closed the door behind me, startling Charlie.
She tried to cover her body with the shirt in her hand, but she didn’t have much success.
“Sorry,” I whispered, turning momentarily to the door.
She didn’t answer me, and we froze, looking at each other. My feet moved without command to bring us closer, and her fists clenched her shirt as she still tried to cover her body.
It wasn’t the first time I’d seen her in only her underwear, even after we’d broken the friendship. The time I’d taken her away from Tyler the night they’d broken up popped into my head; her bra had been black and silky. This time, it was plain white, but it didn’t diminish—not even by a fraction—her sensuality. Even so pale and skinny, she was still the most gorgeous girl I’d ever met.
Her eyes darted everywhere but my face, but she didn’t utter a word to send me away. I should have been stronger than this. One minute, the resolution of staying away was cemented in my head, and the next, she took my breath away and my brain turned to mush. She would end any man’s resolve to stay away, though.
My hand darted forward, and I stood, watching it trail a path between her shoulder and the sensitive skin under her ear, as if I were an outsider without any control over my own body. That was the only explanation for me to step even closer and glue her chest to mine. I inhaled the sweet aroma from her hair, and she whimpered under my touch, closing her eyes and exposing her neck to my touch.
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