(Second Skin, #1)
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Not even the king of Los Angeles’s underground can stop me from loving Celeste.
Arturo Flores could make me disappear with a snap of his fingers, and nearly did. Limping away from a beatdown when I was seventeen didn’t change the fact that his daughter was worth the pain. Running into her in my tattoo shop twelve years later, she still makes my blood run hot with a glance.
But I’m not that clueless teenage boy anymore. And Celeste isn’t the only one I want.
Leo is a temptation I crave, but in our world, admitting desires like mine could get me killed. The gangbanger is as ruthless as he is beautiful, yet he can’t see anything beyond Celeste. That hurts like hell to admit, but I would sooner die at her crime lord father’s hands than let either of them get hurt.
I’m prepared to let them have each other when Leo comes to me with an offer. One that could connect the three of us in a way that flies in the face of the world we live in. His proposal ignites a fire in my veins. If it fails, we’ll all get burned, but for a man with nothing to lose, I’m just desperate enough to take that chance.
My pulse speeds up at the mere mention of what we did back then. “I thought we knew each other well enough.”
He tilts his head back and stares at the ceiling. “Maybe conversations aren’t really our thing.” Then he spears me with a sharp look that makes my insides go molten.
“Maybe not.” My heart pounds so hard it’s difficult to breathe. My feet have a mind of their own when I start to walk again. I pass by him, feeling his gaze on me all the way as I head around the corner and through the door to the locker rooms.
The space smells musty and old, a mix of stale sweat and lemon cleaner. There are no showers—just two rows of lockers with benches in front and a restroom with a trio of toilet stalls
and a row of sinks beyond another door. The boys ’side is a mirror to the girls ’side, though less used due to the majority of students being female. The gleaming chrome of brand-new locks on the lockers catches the sparse light from a high window.
I pause in front of the locker at the far end. This was where it happened. My eyebrows twitch at the etched lines engraved into the metal in the center of the locker: M + C. Reaching out, I trace the letters. They weren’t there before. Did he come back? Or did these initials belong to some other lovesick teenage girl?
His intense gray eyes are fixed on my fingertips. He closes the distance, takes my hand, and raises my fingers to his lips.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper, finally able to say to him what I never had the chance to until now. Taking a deep breath, I brace myself for a more detailed apology, but all thought disappears when he hauls me close and slams his mouth onto mine.
Ophelia Bell loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories. Women who aren’t apologetic about enjoying sex and bad boys who don’t mind being with a woman who’s in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom.
Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.
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