When I reviewed Rebecca Serle's book Famous in Love back in 2014, I wrote the following about the book's swoon:
Glory be, this book made me perspire with its hotness! Serle excellently balances the slow burn and the quick burn, giving us both tantalizing tension and heart-racing action (and I mean action).
And there was one scene in particular, involving Paige, Jordan and a beach cabana in the rain, that particularly contributed to my heart palpitations. So when Rebecca contacted me and asked if we wanted to publish that scene, rewritten from Jordan's perspective, I was like HELL to the YES GIRL LIKE YOU HAD TO ASK.
I know it's November, but your Friday is about to heat up, y'all! Enjooooooy:
I see her down the beach, her bright blue windbreaker like a neon lighthouse. “Paige!” I call. She doesn’t hear me. Between the crashing of the waves and the wind, I’m not surprised. I start towards her, and then stop. I want to see her. My whole body pulsates with that want. When we’re together, it’s torturous, which is why I try and avoid her when we’re not working. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes, like now, the sheer pull of her is too strong. The want is so big I can’t handle it. To talk to her, make her laugh. And, yeah, touch her. I would give my right arm to be able to just hold her for five fucking minutes.
But I can’t. She’s with him. Rainer. I remind myself of this like it’s my mantra.
But he’s not here now. He’s not even on this island. It’s just the two of us on this big, giant deserted beach. The words leave my lips before I can stop them. “Paige! Hey!”
She turns around and watches me jogging to catch up with her. “Jesus,” I say. “I’ve been calling you for five minutes.”
Her head is covered in a hood but I see her eyes—bright and open. Her lips are ripe, tinged blue from the cold. They look like berries. God, I want to kiss her.
“I didn’t hear,” she says.
Is it my imagination or does she look nervous? Some days I’m convinced there is something going on between us, that she feels it too, how could she not? But other times, when I see her with Rainer, I think maybe my desperation is playing tricks on me.
I see her eyes dart from my face to my chest. I’m getting soaked. It’s pouring out here.
“Come on.” I grab her hand—tiny and chilly in mine. At first just her wrist but then I let my fingers thread through hers. The pleasure of it, our fingers entwined, it’s exquisite. She’s not yours, I remind myself. Rainer.
I take her over to a row of cabanas on the beach. I unclip the rope holding the canvas cover down and motion for her to crawl inside. She doesn’t move.
“It’s hotel property,” she says. Always the rule follower.
I look at her like she’s crazy, and she relents. She dives inside and I follow, closing us in there.
I turn back to her and see that she’s shivering. I want to put my arms around her, hold her close and let my body heat radiate right through her, but instead I toss her a towel. Fuck my life.
I’m soaked, and I take off my sweatshirt and hang it over the back of the chair and then dry off with the other towel in there. I can see Paige watching me. Stop, I want to warn her, even as I play into it. I lift my arms overhead and my t-shirt rides up. I see her stare at my abdomen. I want her to feel even a fraction of what I do when she’s near me.
“Are you okay?” I ask her. Tease her.
She blinks and looks away. “Yeah…” she mumbles.
She’s still shaking, now without her wet windbreaker, and I take a folded -up towel from the foot of our chaise lounge and open it. I reach over and drape it around her shoulders and when I do my arm brushes hers. I feel her skin respond under my touch. Goosebumps prick up on her arm. It’s enough to make my line of vision get foggy. She looks up at me, her eyes brimming. God, I want her. I drop the towel and retreat to my chair, mantra in mind.
She’s fussing with the towel, tucking it all around her so she looks like a caterpillar. I laugh. “Snug as a bug.” This makes her laugh too, and I feel my chest tug at being the one to make her smile. I want to record that laugh and listen to it on a loop. Get a grip, Jordan.
She’s talking now, rambling a little. She tells me how much she likes being in the editing room, and how she likes that I’m showing her that. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said. About art not existing in a vacuum.”
“Oh yeah?” I ask.
She rolls on her side to face me, and I turn my head. Big mistake. From here, just inches away from her, I can see every beautiful detail of her face. Her tiny nose freckles. Her bright eyes. The soft pucker of her pink lips. I’m going to go crazy not touching her.
“Yeah,” she says.
I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore, just that our voices have dropped to a whisper. Something is happening. We’re getting close. Not just psychically, although this is the closest I’ve been to her as us, not as August and Ed. I think about what it felt like to hold her and kiss her and touch her when we were acting. I want that again. I want that now.
She’s asking me about my family. “What happened?” she says. There have been tons of tabloid rumors. That I divorced my rents for the cash, that I’m this money-hungry bad-boy. Let them talk. I don’t care what they think.
But I care what she thinks. I need her to know the truth. I need her to know I am not who people think I am.
“My dad isn’t a great guy,” I tell her. “He tried to take everything, and then when I wouldn’t give it, he turned on my mom.”
I study her. She’s looking at me with the most pained expression. It makes my heart feel like fresh concrete with a chisel. “What did you do then?” she asks.
I tell her about how I had to get away from him, how I emancipated myself so I could protect my mom and sister. I never tell anyone this. No one really knows. No one except a few close friends. Alexis, and Rainer.
“I did what I had to do,” I tell her.
Her mouth opens but she doesn’t say anything. And then she reaches out and touches my scar, the one my father gave me. Her fingers are light and cool but the effect they have is the opposite. Inside, I’m burning. “Did he do this to you?” she whispers.
I nod, letting my eyes close, letting myself revel in her touch. I want to live or die here, I’m not sure which.
“Don’t you ever want to tell people the truth?” she asks me.
I put a hand on the towel between us. “The people who I really care about know,” I say, hoping she understands the implication of my words. Hoping she gets it, what she means to me. How important she is. How she’s becoming everything. “That’s good enough for me.”
“How come you’re telling me?” she says. “I could tell anyone.”
She’s inching closer to me. I can feel her breath now, warm in this cold little tent. My muscles are shaking from the amount of self control it’s taking to not just grab her and pin her under me.
“You could,” I say. “But I don’t think you will.”
“Why?” she asks.
She parts her lips and looks at me with eyes so wide I have no choice but to fall into them. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t hold it back. Because there is only one answer to her question, and it doesn’t have words. I put both my hands on either side of her cheeks. Her skin is hot there. I feel her suck in her breath. I drop my lips down to hers and linger, for one second. If you want me to stop, Paige, I think, this is it. But she doesn’t. She lifts her face and then I’m bringing her chin up to meet mine and we’re kissing.
Everything I’ve wanted since the moment we met bubbles up to the surface. I can’t be close enough to her, I can’t touch enough of her.
She responds to me so quickly, her hands impatient on my shoulders, her mouth opening wider to mine. I sweep my lips over hers and then find her neck, trailing kisses across her collarbone. I feel her fingers dig into my shoulders and she cries out. “Jordan,” she says, and my name on her lips is enough to make me completely lose control.
I press my mouth hard over hers and roll her on top of me. I fit out bodies together so I can feel all of her. The indent of her hips, the curve of her breasts pressing against my chest. She’s breathless, her fingers kneading my shoulders, down my arms, whatever skin she can find. I want to make her feel this good. I want her to know what her body is doing to mine.
I don’t let my lips leave hers as I run my hands over her back. I slip them under her shirt and trail my fingers against the warm skin there. She exhales sharply against me and I lock my arms around her. I try to hold both she and I in place, to keep myself from ripping her clothes off right here in this tent. It scares me that I don’t think she’d stop me.
I trace my fingers up and down her side with one hand and with the other I brush some hair out of her face. I feel the hot skin of her cheek. I leave my knuckles there.
I take my lips off hers and she whimpers and tries to pull me back down closer. I tuck some hair behind her ear. I cup her face in my hands. Her eyes look into mine—big, wild, free, and I know she’s seeing me there, too. All of what’s between us.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” I tell her. I hate myself for it.