Kate Bell isn’t perfect. Not even close. The things she got up to in college would cause her parents to fall off their pedestals in shock. Home for the summer vacation, Kate settles in for a long, boring break in the tiny backwater of Winter with folks who still treat her like she’s twelve.
Then Ben Parker arrives and suddenly Winter gets interesting. He’s hot, mysterious and good with his hands. Kate falls for him instantly, but her cop father warns her to stay away. But how can she stay away from someone as compelling as Ben? Someone who thinks she’s perfect just the way she is?
When Ben’s secrets catch up to him, not only is Kate’s heart in danger of being broken, but Ben’s entire future could be ruined.
Read below for an excerpt from Ruin!
“Give me one good reason we can’t do this,” I said.
He crossed his arms over his chest. “You and me…we’re wrong together. I’m so sorry.”
“I said a good reason.” My brain was beginning to work again, but my body still felt numb from the rejection.
“You, this place, everybody…it’s all too…perfect.”
“What?” It didn’t make sense. He was pushing me away because he thought I was perfect. “For starters, I’m so not perfect.”
“You are to me.”
My breath left me in a whoosh. I blinked at him, tried to work out if he was joking. But he didn’t laugh. His eyes twinkled like stars, and then he looked down at his feet. In the instant our gazes had connected, I could tell that he seemed surprised that he’d said it too.
“You don’t know me well enough,” was all I could manage.
“Yeah,” he said. “What’s with that?” It wasn’t an answer, but I didn’t think I was going to get a better one out of him. “Look, Kate. I may not know everything about you, but I can see that you’re a good person. You offered me this opportunity without judging me first. Most people would have just let me pass on through. You’re funny and kind, not just to me but to Jane and even Mrs. Merriweather.”
“So…you have this stupid, blind belief that I’m more than I am. I’m not, and I’m not right for you. Not even for a night. Especially for a night. Besides, there are people worrying about you and expecting me to treat you like a gentleman would treat a lady.”
“Are you talking about my parents?”
“And Jane. I’m sure the waitress in the diner is worried too, and maybe dozens more townsfolk.”
“You’re rejecting me because of Winter?”
He pushed off from the wall. I could just make out the flash of anger in his eyes, the grim set of his mouth as he came toward me. “I’m trying to be the good guy here. I gave my word that I wouldn’t hurt you, and I’m trying to keep it. Don’t make this any harder than it already is.”
“Having sex with me doesn’t mean you’re going to hurt me, Ben.”
“Maybe not, but I don’t want to destroy the trust everyone has put in me.”
I threw up my hands. “It shouldn’t be about anyone else! It should be about you and me.”
“I can’t, Kate. I’ve come too far to break that kind of promise now, even to virtual strangers.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
He shook his head and looked away.
“Okay, Mystery Man, I get it. You can have secrets. Fine. I have no right to ask what they are. We’re just two adults attracted to each other, nothing more, so I don’t see why we can’t act on it. We have one night, Ben. One night to have a little fun together.” I poked my finger into his chest. “And another thing. I’m not perfect. Not by a long shot. If my parents knew what I got up to at college, they’d be horrified. I’ve slept with more guys in the last three years than I care to talk about. I’ve smoked God knows what, I’ve skipped class, and last month I woke up in the gutter without any underwear. See? I’m not fucking perfect!”
My tirade was followed by complete silence. Even the birds must have gone to sleep. Then Ben laughed. His chuckle started low in his chest and became a full rumble bubbling out of him.
“You woke up without your underwear?” he said. “What the hell happened to it?”
I tried to contain my smile. My little tirade seemed ridiculous all of a sudden. “I don’t know. I never found it. There’s a good chance I wasn’t wearing any in the first place.”
He laughed so loudly I worried he’d wake up Jane and Mrs. M. “Okay, I’ll agree that you’ve got a few personality quirks. But I still think you’re perfect.”
Tears stung my eyes. “Well,” I said, breathing deeply. “I’ve never been rejected so nicely before. It sucks, by the way.”
***To read the extended version of this scene and discover what Ben has tattooed on his shoulder, check out C.J.’s website http://www.cjscottbooks.com