We're celebrating the release of Last True Hero by Diana Gardin, with excerpt, teasers and a great giveaway! Thanks for joining us!
For seven years he’s fought for his country. Now he’ll fight for her.
Army Ranger Dare Conners has been through hell. He’s left combat behind, yet the memories that refuse to fade are proving just as dangerous. Ordered to take R&R, he joins his buddy for beaches, beers, and babes—if that can’t cure him, nothing will. But when he meets Berkeley, a woman who affects him like no one else, a new kind of battle begins . . .
An Admiral’s daughter, Berkeley knows her life has been planned since birth. The right school, the right boyfriend—and now that she’s graduated—the right marriage. But after years of being right, Berkley is ready to be a little wrong. And Dare Conners has wrong written all over him. The sexy soldier has a body built for sin and secrets he won’t share. What starts as a fling quickly grows into something more. But summer can’t last forever, and when the truth comes out, both Berkeley and Dare could be in for quite a fall.
He offers nothing more. I stare at him for another second, then replace his tags under his shirt. My fingers linger on the skin at the top of his chest. “I’m sorry.”
He nods. “Don’t be.”
We let the silence wash over us once again.
I glance at him out of the corner of my eye after a few minutes. I want to know. I want to know the answers to all of the questions lurking behind those beautiful eyes of his. And so I know it’s time for me to go.
He looks over at me, his hands clasped behind his head. “Berkeley.”
Dammit. Does he somehow know I have trouble continuing to speak when he says my name? Does he know?
“Thanks for the beer,” I say, sitting up.
He doesn’t. “You’re welcome. Are you leaving me so soon?”
His mouth turns down, and I keep my hands firmly in my lap so that I don’t brush a finger across his full bottom lip.
A low rumble of thunder rolls around us, and I glance up at the sky. A storm is obviously on its way. When I look back at Dare, his gaze hasn’t moved from mine.
He begins shaking his head before I’ve even begun my letting-him-down-easy speech. Does he read my mind, too?
“This has been a really great night…”
His hand on my chin stills me. It stills my thoughts and it stalls my words. I’m helpless with his hand on me.
“Don’t do that,” he says softly. “Don’t give me your ‘let-him-down-easy’ speech. Let’s pretend we’ve moved past that, okay? You don’t want to do this again, then tell me the real reason. I don’t do bullshit.”
He releases my skin, but there’s a burning in the spot now that wasn’t there before.
It takes me a moment to find my voice, and Dare waits patiently while another rumble of thunder rolls over our heads.
“I’m…I’m super attracted to you, Dare. But I’m not available to date right now. I’ll probably never be available to date. It’s…complicated.”
“You have a boyfriend.” He says it like a fact, not a question.
“I do not have a boyfriend.” It would have been the easy way out. I could have just let him believe that, but I find myself unable to lie to this sharp, sexy, honest man.
He stares at me, his expression unreadable. He rubs his rib again, and I allow my eyes to travel to that spot. He notices, and stops rubbing. When he speaks again, his voice hasn’t changed. It’s still soft, and still like a rough edge of a stone left out in the wind.
“So…you just aren’t that into me.”
I wish he’d stop searching for reasons. “Some things just aren’t going to work out.”
“I didn’t ask you to marry me, Berkeley. I didn’t even ask you out on a second date yet.”
I raise my eyebrows, and he quickly regroups. “I was going to. Shit, of course I was going to. But, if you don’t want to hang out again, I guess I have to accept that.”
I so don’t want him to accept it. But I nod my head, just as the sky above us opens, and we leap out of our chairs and sprint for the house.
By the time we reach it, we’re soaked. We run around to the driveway, where Dare’s truck is parked, and he helps me in and buckles me up while the rain pelts him.
When he finally makes it to the driver’s seat, he’s laughing. He runs his hands through his sopping wet hair, and I realize mine must look like a wet dog. Groaning, I pull out my hair tie and shake my mess of curls out around my shoulders.
“Shit! I didn’t realize it was supposed to rain tonight.” He scrubs his face with his hands, and then turns to face me. “I’m—”
He freezes when he looks at me, and my suspicions are confirmed. I’m definitely the hottest mess he’s ever seen. My hair is flopping everywhere, and I’m sure the small amount of makeup I had on my face now looks like I’m starring in The Walking Dead.
But that doesn’t matter. I just told him I couldn’t see him again. Who the hell cares what I look like?
The way he’s staring at me is causing my new pets, my butterflies, to take furious flight and my heartbeat to speed up at an alarming pace.
Then he reaches out and brushes that stupid strand of hair out of my eyes. The one my mother can’t stand.
“I love this,” he says. “I might as well tell you, seeing as how I won’t get the chance again.”
His finger follows an invisible trail along my cheek, pausing at the hollow beneath my eye. “And these. I fall into these every single time they’re focused on me. It scares the shit out of me. And nothing scares me, Berkeley.”
My breath is gone. I’ve lost it somewhere between his finger tracing a path on my face and the beautiful words he’s speaking. About me.
His finger changes trajectory, trailing down until he reaches my lips. Which are probably trembling. “Do you know how long I’ve been looking at these? All fucking night. All night tonight, and every other time I’ve been in your vicinity.”
His eyes drop to my lips then, and he uses his thumb to part them. Hot lava flows from my core into my every extremity until I feel like I must be catching fire. He’s setting me aflame. His touch, his words, those eyes on me. I can’t contain the desire that wells up inside me.
“Dare.” I breathe.
His eyes flicker back up from my lips. “Berkeley.”
“I guess if you’re going to kiss me, you’d better do it now. You might not get another chance.”
1 - $50 Sephora gift card
2 - Battle Scar Series swag packs
About Diana Gardin
Diana Gardin was born and raised combing the coasts of Southeastern Virginia. She is now a happy resident of South Carolina as she married into an enormous Carolina-rooted family. She loves the beach, and even more than that she loves to read while sitting on the beach.
While writing was always a passion of Diana’s, she enrolled in college to become an elementary-school teacher. After eight years of teaching in both Virginia and South Carolina, she decided to stay at home with her first child. This decision is what opened her eyes to the fact that she still very much loved to write, and her first novel was written.
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