First of all, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for making my release week for Shredded so fabulous! I have the best fans in the world and I love you guys :) Okay, enough mushy stuff. I thought, as a thank you, I'd post a quick little excerpt from Shattered, the second book in the Extreme Risk series, since everyone's been asking about Ash ... So, here it is, with no further ado!
The Extreme Risk series—Tracy Wolff’s edgy, emotional take on the New Adult genre—continues with the story of a lost soul and the fearless beauty who inspires him to take a flying leap back into life.
Ash Lewis has poured every last ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears into reaching the very top of the professional snowboarding world—until the unthinkable happens. After the biggest competition win of his career, Ash’s mother and father are killed in a tragic accident. Unable to handle the idea of going back out on the snow to pursue the dream his parents shared with him, Ash feels that he has no choice but to walk away from snowboarding forever. Then he meets Tansy Hampton.
Wild, fun, and impulsive, Tansy has a different look and a new passion every week. As a cancer survivor who spent the past several years waiting to die, Tansy has a fresh perspective on life—even if she doesn’t have a clue about what she actually wants to do with it. But she’s determined to find out, and that means making the most of her time while she still can.
From the very beginning, their chemistry is intense. But while Ash can’t stop chasing the ghosts of what can never be, Tansy stays firmly focused on the possibilities the world holds for her—and for them. She’s already picked up the pieces of one shattered life. Now she’s determined to help Ash do the same.
It takes about fifteen minutes before the shop is empty again, and then Ash is back, lounging indolently against the counter as he rubs a strand of my hair between his fingers. My hair is short—really short, thanks to the last round of chemo—so his hand is only a few inches from my scalp. The knowledge that he could easily brush his knuckles over my forehead or down my cheek makes the proximity even more enticing.
“You stayed,” he says.
“That surprises me.”
I narrow my eyes at him, confused. “Why?”
“You don’t seem the type to wait around for something like that.”
I’m really confused now, but I’m determined not to let him see it. I’ve already made a big enough idiot of myself in front of him. It’s past time for me to act like a rational person. “I told you I wanted to talk to you.”
“Yeah.” He lifts his arms palm up, gesturing to the empty room as if to say, talk away.
“I—“ I pause, duck my head. “I was actually hoping we could talk somewhere a little more private.” The shop isn’t packed, but it’s definitely busy. Already I can see someone waiting next to the door, as if he’s thinking about coming in.
Ash’s brows hit his hairline this time. “Somewhere private?”
“Is that okay? Like I said, I can come back later if that’s better.”
“It’s fine, but—“ He breaks off when his cell phone buzzes. He doesn’t look at me as he pulls it out of his pocket and reads a tweet. For a second, just a second, his face seems to crumple. Just as quickly, a blank mask settles over him and he’s typing something back, rapid-fire.
I want to ask if everything’s okay— if he’s okay—but it seems inappropriate. So for long seconds I don’t say anything and neither does he. Silence stretches taut between us.
“You still up for talking?” he asks, a strange emphasis on the last word as he ducks out from under the counter and walks toward the door.
“Yes!” God, Tansy, eager much? “I mean, of course.”
He nods, flipping the small sign on the door so that the side that reads “will return in ten minutes” and has a picture of a clock on it, is facing outward. Then he’s grabbing my hand and all but dragging me behind the counter and into a room in the back.
“Wow,” I say after a second, my eyes struggling to adjust to the dimness. “It’s really dark in here.”
Ash doesn’t answer. I start to turn around to see what’s going on—I’m beginning to feel like I’m the only one not in on the punchline—but then he’s there, right behind me. His chest resting against my back, his palm flat against my stomach.
“What—“ I squeak and I know I sound about three years old, but holy shit! Forget jokes, I feel like I’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole. “What are you doing?”
“I thought that was obvious,” Ash answers, his voice low and amused. His hand is rubbing soothing circles against my abdomen and part of me wants nothing more than to melt into him. To let him touch me however—wherever—he wants to.
“It’s …. not,” I gasp after a second, using every last ounce of sanity I have. It’s harder than it should be, but I’m blaming that on his proximity.
On the heat he’s radiating.
On the fact that his lips are—right now-- skimming over the curve where my neck meets my shoulder
I shudder before I can stop myself.
“Huh.” His lips form a smile against my skin, his breath hot against the nape of my neck. “Maybe I should try something else, then.”
And he does. Oh God, he does. One, two, three open-mouthed kisses going in a vertical line up my neck, from my collar to my hairline.
His tongue licks out a little on the third one and my brain fogs over. I mean, literally fogs over. I’ve always wondered what that expression means and now I know. Everything around me is hazy, muddled, and my body is melting into his.
This is crazy, right? I have to be imagining it because this doesn’t happen. Not in real life. Not to girls like me.
I mean, no guy has ever come close to touching me like this before—and I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to do here. It’s embarrassing, really, how inexperienced I am for my age.
I’m nineteen, but I’ve spent most of the last ten years in and out of the hospital as I battled cancer. Rhabdomyosarcoma, to be exact. Which means, except for a couple very awkward kisses that came after very awkward dates—set up by my friends or family because they felt sorry for me—I have zero experience with guys. And I certainly have no experience with guys like Ash.
Part of me wants to go for it. It’s the same part that promised myself after this last round of chemo, after the doctor told me I was finally—finally—in remission, that I was going to live my life to the fullest. To experience everything I’ve missed in the last ten years. And it’s not like I don’t want to know what sex feels like. I do. I really, really do.
But when I decided to make up for lost time, it had never occurred to me that one of the experiences I’d missed was a nice to meet you fuck in what looks like some kind of storage room. With a really hot professional snowboarder who obviously doesn’t suffer from the same confidence problems I do. And who I am supposed to be asking for help.
The thought of my job, of why I came here, is enough to pull me back from the brink. I step away from Ash, clear my throat. Try not to swallow my own tongue as I struggle to find words-- any words—to get this meeting back on the right path.
“What—“ My voice cracks straight down the middle, so I take a deep breath and start again. “What’s going on here?”
Ash steps forward, rests his hands on my waist this time. “You said you wanted to talk.” He lowers his head, like he’s going to kiss me and I know—I know—if his lips come into contact with mine I’m going to forget my own name let alone everything I’m supposed to do.
I slam my hands against his chest, push him firmly away. “Yes, talk. Talk. Not screw.”
“Huh.” His face is close enough that I can make out the confused expression he’s wearing. “Really?”
“Yes, really. I mean did you really think I meant …” I let the ending dangle there, too embarrassed to say it again.
He shrugs. “Well, yeah. I thought it was a euphemism. I mean, it usually is when a girl comes looking for me.”
It usually— Who is this guy? “Seriously? I mean, you really fuck girls you just met in the storage closet behind where you rent out lifejackets to five-year-olds?”
He reaches over, flips on a light. For long seconds, we stare at each other, blinking, as we try to adjust to the sudden change in brightness. Finally, he shrugs. Grins this little, shit-eating, self-deprecating curve of his lip that makes my stomach flutter all over again. “I mean, not always in the storage closet. There are a lot of other places to do it. There’s the coat room, the changing room, the bathroom—““I get it!”