Release Day Launch: Harder8:06 PM
In Robin York’s provocative new novel, two young ex-lovers find themselves together again in the shadow of tragedy—and an intense, undeniable attraction.
Caroline still dreams about West. His warm skin, his taut muscles, his hand sliding down her stomach. Then she wakes up and she’s back to reality: West is gone. And before he left, he broke her heart.
Then, out of the blue, West calls in crisis. A tragedy has hit his family—a family that’s already a fractured mess. Caroline knows what she has to do. Without discussion, without stopping to think, she’s on a plane, flying to his side to support him in any way he needs.
They’re together again, but things are totally different. West looks edgy, angry at the world. Caroline doesn’t fit in. She should be back in Iowa, finalizing her civil suit against the ex-boyfriend who posted their explicit pictures on a revenge porn website. But here she is. Deeply into West, wrapped up in him, in love with him. Still.
They fought the odds once. Losing each other was hard. But finding their way back to each other couldn’t be harder.
When West’s ringtone starts playing in my darkened bedroom, it slips into my subconscious, and I have one of those last-second-before-you-wake-up dreams that’s pure sensation—his skin warm against me everywhere, his weight and smell, the muscles in his thighs against the backs of mine, his hand sliding down my stomach. All of that, slow and melting and West, until the song finally manages to pierce through the haze of my sleep and pinch me awake.
I fight my way from under the sheet, turned on and pissed off because I know how this goes. The rock in my stomach, the day ahead during which I’ll try and fail to shake that flood of sense-memory.
I’m going to have to live through it, and then I’m going to lose it, every good memory I have of West, again, when what I want is to drop back into that dream and live there instead.
It sucks. It sucks, and I’m so distracted by the suckage that I’m picking up the phone and swiping at the screen with my thumb before I completely register what’s going on.
West’s ringtone. West is calling me.
West is calling me at one a.m. when I haven’t heard from him in two and a half months.
If he’s drunk-dialing me, I’m going to fly to Oregon and kick him in the nuts.
That’s what I’m thinking when I put the phone to my ear—but it’s not how I feel. I wish it were. I wish I could say Hello? and hear West say Hey, and not feel . . . I don’t even know. Plugged in. Lit up. Juiced.
I stand in my dark bedroom, aware in every centimeter of my skin that he’s breathing on the other end of the phone, somewhere on the far side of the country.
I have too many memories that start this way. Too many conversations where I told myself I wouldn’t and then I did.
I have this enormous burden of longing and pain, so heavy I can hear it in my voice when I snap, “What do you want?”
“My dad’s dead.”
My head clears in an instant, my attention sharpening to a point.
“He got shot,” West says, “and it’s . . . it’s a fucking mess, Caro. I know this is—I shouldn’t ask you. I can’t ask you, but I just need to tell you because I can’t fucking—” A crackling whooshing noise interrupts him, the kind of interference that fills your whole head with white sound. I just stand there, waiting for his voice to come back.
I’m pushing the phone so hard against my ear, my breath coming shallow and fast, aware with the kind of clarity I’ve only found in moments of crisis that it doesn’t even matter. Whatever he says next. It doesn’t matter.
The thing I never understood before West was that there are some people who, when it comes to them, reason and logic are never going to be in charge.
He left me. He hurt me.
But I stand there in the dark, holding the phone, and I know that in a few hours I’ll be on a plane.