I was up till 1am reading this book and I am reeling. It’s an intense read from start to finish. You can’t catch your breath. Your heart is in your throat. Your mind is reeling. I’m wrecked over it. Still trying to process the story, the characters, the MAJOR feels. Tara wrote something unforgettable. We Are Us is a whirlwind, full of angst and heartbreak and feels. Definitely gripping and absolutely powerful! I’m blown away!
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I fell in love with a beautiful, broken boy.
His whispered words of love were the sweetest of lies.
He gave me his heart and destroyed mine.
I am his.
I fell in love with the beautiful man who broke me.
His boldly spoken vow was the cruelest of cages.
He gave me his name and destroyed my soul.
He is mine.
The boy I once loved is now a man.
The man I once loved is now gone.
We are us.
I have been called many things.
Victim. Survivor. Daughter. Sister. Wife.
Now I am called something else.
“Happy birthday,” Gavin says with a beaming smile, meeting me at the clearing where we played our very first game of Gin Rummy. Except that today, instead of a deck of cards, he’s holding a small, wrapped box.
I don’t take it right away. In my world, birthday presents aren’t expected. At least, not the kind bought in a store.
Last year, Gavin surprised me with a bouquet of wildflowers. And this year, what I’ve been hoping for can’t be wrapped with a bow.
“Does this mean you don’t want…” me, is the word that comes to mind. I manage to hold it back, although the hot sting of disappointed tears pricks my eyes.
I am so in love with Gavin that it almost hurts… and I’ve been hoping this would be the day we finally…
I have an unsettling sense that time is running out for us. That this idyll we’ve shared won’t last forever. I’m sure it’s just me, just the ridiculous clock inside my head that no one else hears. Tick, tick, tick.
Usually, I can shake it off. We’ve spent hours planning our future together, sharing our hopes and dreams.
We leave for college at the end of summer. Thankfully, we both got into Worthington University. We’ll still be together, but so much will be different. There will be other people around. Other girls. We’ll be living on the same campus, where we can see each other anytime we want. That’s a good thing, it’s what I want …
But I’m scared of losing what’s made us special.
Sometimes, like now, the urgency vibrating through my bones is impossible to ignore. I want to lose my virginity to Gavin now.
Before we leave for college.
Before the next phase of our lives begins.
Before what we have right now, here in our very own enchanted forest, slips away.
He shakes his head at me. “I promise, tonight you’ll have everything you want.” The grin stretched across Gavin’s face, coupled with his familiar low laugh, breaks up some of the tightness curving around my ribcage. “And so will I.”
But not all of it. I’m still not entirely reassured. “I only want you.”
His eyes crinkle at their corners, his voice lowering like he’s sharing a secret. “Poppy, trust me. Open your present.”
I take the box as if it might explode in my hands, carefully plucking at the tape so the paper comes apart in one piece. But my stare shoots back to him when a jewelry box is revealed. “You shouldn’t have spent—”
“I wanted to,” he reassures me.
I told Gavin not to buy me anything. He’s been working so much these past few months, and I don’t want him spending his hard-earned money on me. Not when I know he’s trying to save every penny for school. And maybe, hopefully, the future we’ll build together.
I’m working every spare second too, just like Gavin. I nanny for two girls who live down the street, getting them off the bus almost every afternoon and taking care of them until their parents get home from work. And I babysit for other families most Friday and Saturday nights.
Gavin and I don’t see each other nearly as much as we’d like. But sometimes, like today, we make the time.
I give him a last stern look, but when I lift the lid, all my reservations evaporate as suddenly as morning mist on a sunny day. In the center of the velvet cushion is a milky stone, carved into the shape of a teardrop and suspended from a delicate silver chain. As the light catches it, shades of blue and green give the pendant an ethereal effect. “Gavin, this is beautiful,” I say in an awed whisper, running my finger over the smooth surface.
“It’s moonstone,” Gavin tells me, “one of the birthstones for June.”
Gavin’s birthday is June twenty-eighth. Tears spring to my eyes. In my seventeen years, I’ve never received such an extraordinary, extravagant gift. “I’ll have a reminder of you with me, always.”
His cheeks are tinged pink, and he shifts nervously from foot to foot. “Yeah… but if you don’t like it—”
“I love it,” I interrupt, overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness and generosity. Gently, I remove the necklace from the box and hand it to Gavin. “Will you help me?”
Lifting my hair up, I spin around and close my eyes. After he fastens the clasp at the back of my neck, he kisses my skin, sending a bolt of electricity racing down my spine. My head lolls forward as I moan, savoring the scrape of his teeth and the swipe of his tongue. Gavin’s kisses are a gift, too. There is nowhere I don’t want to feel his mouth on my body.
Gavin’s touch makes me feel like I’m at the precipice of something magical and dangerous.
But with him, I am safe. I have no doubts about that.
I am the luckiest girl in the world.
Slowly, so slowly, I turn in his arms, my head thrown back, my neck exposed and vulnerable. A supplicant embracing her salvation.
Gavin’s lips track up my neck, drawing my earlobe between his teeth and nibbling on it. “You taste so good, Poppy,” he murmurs, his warm breath sending goose bumps skating over my skin. “You always taste so damn good.”
About the Author
Tara Leigh is a multi-published author of steamy contemporary romance. A former banker on Wall Street, she graduated from Washington University and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, but she much prefers spending her days with fictional boyfriends than analyzing financial spreadsheets. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children, and fur-baby, Pixie.