THE TRUTH WILL SET THEM FREE
Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray's wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her. The only person who's ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. Though every fiber of her being wants to stay with Elias forever, Bray can't bear the thought of him discovering her agonizing history. She's done everything she can to keep him at arm's length, including moving away. But their undying bond was too strong a pull to deny, and Bray couldn't survive without him. Now she's back home with Elias, and things have never felt more right-until one night changes everything.
Elias vowed never to be separated from Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate attempt to escape her fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstance, taking up with a reckless group of new friends, Elias soon realizes there's a darkness driving Bray he can't ignore. Now in order to save her, he'll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of their reality-even if it means losing her.
Thunder rumbled in the sky and the thick, dark clouds lit up in the distance, revealing what the tops of the trees looked like painted against the black backdrop that had shrouded them. The crawling branches that reached upward along the infinite dark looked ominous as the flash of light faded.
I felt a drop of rain. And then another.
“So much for a quiet walk together,” Bray said.
And just then, the sky opened up and it began to pour. Bray shrieked and tried to cover herself unsuccessfully with her arms and then the screaming turned into laughter. We were both drenched in under five seconds. The rain pounded down so fast and so hard that we had to shout over the noise to hear each other; each drop like a million nails being thrust into the dirt on the baseball field.
“It’s a long walk back!” I said.
Bray started spinning like a ballerina in the middle of the field. She laughed and raised her arms above her and turned her face upward toward the sky and just let the rain wash over her. She opened her mouth and spun around and around. I watched her for a moment, mesmerized by her innocence. I saw that little girl I met so long ago, running with me through that pasture without a worry in the world. Just seeing her like that, it made me smile, but deep down it also crushed me. I knew that she would never be that innocent again, that our life together would never be as carefree as it was when we were children.
“Dance with me!” she shouted.
“Dance with me!”
I had heard her right the first time. I just didn’t understand why here, why now.
“There’s no music!” I said over the rain.
She grabbed my hand. “You don’t hear that?!” she said, motioning to the patter of rain and thunder around us.
She started spinning around me and I stood in the same spot following her until she grabbed both of my hands and pulled on them. Next thing I knew, we were spinning together, holding each other’s hands tightly and distributing equal weight on our arms. At first, I felt like an idiot and hoped Tate wasn’t spying, or worse, Caleb. But I was quickly lost in Bray’s laughter and her smile and her beautiful blue eyes. The thunder got louder, the lightning more intense. I was beginning to worry about us being out in the open like this, in the center of a baseball field just asking to be struck down by the finger of God. But soon, I didn’t care. We were those two innocent children again, living free and loving life. And not even lightning could ruin this moment. It wouldn’t dare. We stopped spinning, and I twirled her around by her hands as I stood in place, and then I dipped her. Leaning over her body, I pressed my wet lips between her breasts as her white shirt was weighted down by the endless rain.
J.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC's The Walking Dead.