When trust is
challenged and desire takes control, is love enough to conquer fear?
geeky book nerd Autumn Blakewood falls for the cocky, confident fighter Hunter
Bane she knows she’s in for life. Their undeniable connection, fueled by the
desire to protect, grows stronger every passing second. However, the need to
feel cherished threatens her college graduation, family bonds, and future,
tearing her apart, but she won’t give up on Hunter so easily …
he was abandoned by his family, Hunter Bane struggles to cope with daily life.
Having a learning disability turns every task into a challenge. With his
brother now free, Hunter feels the pressure to succeed and take care of the
people he loves, forcing him to choose between college and a job. Hunter’s
devotion to Autumn keeps him on the right path. His infatuation with her turns
lust into passion, drawing out his alpha tendencies. But with affection comes
admission, putting a strain on their relationship as secrets are exposed and
unforeseen circumstances spiral out of control.
complete opposites, their love is flaming hot, but it burns away all
inhibitions, unveiling the fears that were locked deep inside. As past and
present collide, difficult choices must be made. Can Autumn and Hunter’s love
survive this ultimate test?


(This excerpt is unedited)
6 years ago
I’m walking home from
school, wandering across the streets as I stare at the beautiful houses.
Peeking into their living rooms, I can clearly see the candle flames dancing,
flickering through the window like a warm, inviting light. People walking in
the rooms are oblivious of me, which gives me all the more reason to keep
looking. Their happy faces make me smile, if only for a second. Catching a
glimpse of a normal life lets me escape from reality.
Envy unfurls in my stomach,
and a bad taste enters my mouth as I spit on the ground and walk further. Up to
the next house. Up to the next short moment of carelessness.
Reaching my house is
the last thing I want, but I know it’ll happen eventually. I’ll have to go
home. I always have to. There’s nowhere else I can go, and my brother needs me.
Not as much as I need him, though. I probably wouldn’t even be alive without
No one at my age
should be going through this. No one should be picking up their mom from the
grass every morning. No kid should have to drag his mom to bed. No kid should
have to raise himself.
My home is a broken
one. When I spot it, a heavy feeling overcomes me. Each step I take leads to
another day in hell.
The garden is littered
with used needles, empty bottles of liquor, and old condoms. Me and my brother
never have time to clean it all up. We’re too busy trying to keep the house
clean enough to live in.
As I enter the house a
familiar, but disgusting stench causes me to cough. All the windows are closed,
smoke wafts through the air, bottles are scattered on the table, and an empty
bag of white powder is in my mother’s hand as she hangs like a wet rag in her
seat. Ash grey hair sticks to her face, masking her eyes. Her head is on the
table, and she’s snoring loudly. The only thing keeping her in place is her
bony ass stuck to that chair she only leaves to get some more. More of whatever
she needs to satisfy her addictions.
“Hey, bro,” Jessie
says. He’s unwinding the vacuum plug, turning it on at the same time.
“Hey …” I say.
“Sorry, thought I’d
have it cleaned up by now, but it was too much of a mess.”
“Don’t apologize,” I
say. “It’s not your fault.”
He smiles briefly. “I
know. I just don’t want you to see it.”
A moment of silence
passes between us, the air thick with unspoken words. I owe my brother so much.
He’s the only one taking care of both of us right now. I wonder how long we’ll
last if she keeps this up.
I start unpacking my
things, shoving my mother aside from the table so I have enough room to check
what I need to do. My notebook is filled to the brim with short texts of things
I need to remember. My memory always fails me, especially when it comes to
short term things like homework or names. It’s been like this for as long as I
can remember. My brother thinks it’s because of my mother. We don’t know her
any other way than she is now. Drunk. Addicted. Full on drugs.
Just thinking about it
makes my skin crawl. Sometimes I really hate her, but she’s my mother too. I
owe her for keeping us alive, for trying to do her best to give us a home. 
Somewhere along the way she failed. I can’t not
resent her for that. At times I wonder if she ever intended on having us or if
we were accidents she regrets.
It doesn’t change
anything about our situation. It doesn’t change anything about the fact that
it’s her fault I have a learning disability and my brother has ADD.
One of the notes slips
from my book, and it lands on her arm. The paper immediately stains with blood.
Sighing, I pick up the piece of paper and notice the puncture marks on her
skin. She looks more like an orange than a human sometimes, that’s how many
holes she shot into herself. So many it doesn’t stop bleeding. Still, it
doesn’t make her quit.
Suddenly, she grabs my
hand, and I’m startled by her movement. I jolt up and pull my hand back as her
head shoots up from the table. Her eyes are bloodshot, staring back at me with
a crazy look like she doesn’t know who I am. It takes her a few seconds to
register that it’s me, and then a smile slowly creeps onto her face, exposing
her black, broken teeth and smelly breath.
“Hunter …” she
Her hand drops off the
table, the bag of powder tumbling to the floor. The sound immediately catches
her attention, as if it’s food for a starving woman. Bending to pick it up, her
fingers tremble as she reaches for the bag.
“Shit. It’s empty
“You used too much
again,” I add.
“No, no, no, this
can’t happen,” she mumbles, clearly still under the influence.
“Mom. Calm down. You
can go without it for a few hours. You won’t die.”
“No, I can’t!” she
gets up from her seat, barely able to stand as her legs are two thin sticks
ready to snap.
“I’m going to get
more,” she stammers, grabbing me by the coat.
“Let go of me,” I say.
“You can’t stay here
alone with your brother.”
“Why not?”
“Because …” she
sniffs. “I need you. I can’t do this without you.” She wipes away the tears
filling her eyes. She, most of us all, is unable to face the monster she’s
“No, mom. I’m not
coming with you. I’m not going to be your busboy again. Not anymore.”
“What? You don’t mean
that. You know I need you. Please don’t let me go through this alone.” She
tightens her grip on my arm, dragging me to the door. Resisting is what I
should be doing, but I don’t want to hurt her. She’s been hurt enough in her
“Stop,” Jessie shouts.
He stops vacuuming, turning it off. His fists are balled, his nostrils flaring,
and his stance is aggressive, as if he’s about to attack my mother. I know he
would if it was necessary.
“Let. Him. Go.” His teeth
barely separate as he speaks the words. His furrowed brows even scare me.
Her fingers untangle
themselves from my arm, and I shake myself loose from her grip. I turn away
from her, slanting to the side because I’m scared she might grab me again and
make a run for it. My brother is and always will be the only thing keeping her
from ruining not only herself but me, too.
“Fine, but I’m going,”
she says, and after making a horrible face she walks out the door. The slam
that follows force the tears to spring from my eyes.



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Clarissa Wild is the Amazon Bestselling Romance author of
FIERCE, a top 200 and top 15 New Adult Romance novel. She is also a writer of
erotic romance such as the Blissful Series, The Billionaire’s Bet series, the
Doing It Series and the Enflamed Series. She is an avid reader and writer of
sexy stories about hot men and feisty women. Her other loves include her furry
cat friend and learning about different cultures. In her free time she enjoys
watching all sorts of movies, reading tons of books and cooking her favorite
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