[CW: Mentions of abuse.]
We are so excited to bring you this excerpt from Used by Kate Dunbar!
Heartbreakingly beautiful and completely engrossing, USED is packed full of twists, turns, and a gripping romance sure to leave readers emotionally spent and asking for more.
At the age of seventeen, after a decade of lies, hurt, and severe abuse by her brother Lucas, Sabra Valentine is able to breathe.
Lucas is behind bars thanks in large part to Sabra’s quick thinking and self-preservation-even if that’s one more secret she has to keep.
Now, seven years later, life is moving forward, and Sabra is starting to heal, live, and love again with her friends and Trevor Collins by her side. He’s tall, dark, and sexy, and he doesn’t fall for Sabra’s games. The future is finally looking bright-until one phone call shatters everything.
Used is a romantic suspense with domestic thriller elements. Please be aware that there are topics that may be triggers for some readers, and this work is meant for mature readers.
It’s peaceful here. The park is busy—especially since it’s a Saturday. So many people are out walking their dogs or rollerblading through the park, and there’s no real privacy here. Trevor found a spot away from the bulk of people. We’re sort of hidden by a tree, but not. No one is paying attention to us, though. I sit and watch them all scurry past, oblivious to anything else around them. Earphones in their ears, dogs on their leashes, and eyes focused on wherever they’re headed. It must be nice not to worry about looking over your shoulder all the time.
Trevor shakes me out of my thoughts when he hands me a piece of crusty bread smeared with goat cheese and points at the beach and the water beyond. “See the waves breaking against the sand?” He wraps an arm around my chest and buries his face in my hair. “Do you see how steady and sure those waves come?”
“Yes.” I turn my cheek to rest on his chest and watch the waves crash again and again with him. “I could sit at the beach, smell the salt in the air, and watch the water for hours.”
“We can.” He shifts and snags a bite of my bread and cheese. I watch his Adam’s apple bob when he swallows. “We can sit for hours doing that because the waves are reliable. They’re steady and strong.”
I try to turn so I can see his face, but he holds me in place against his chest and offers me a sip of my wine.
“Those waves have the power to move things. Reshape the earth. Even break down walls.” His voice trails off, and his hand glides down to rest on my thigh.
I turn, placing both my legs over one of his, and take a long look at him. I’m not straddling him, but it would only take one short movement to have me there. “Something on your mind, Trev?” I take another sip of my wine.
Trevor grabs my glass, pulling it out of my hand. He sets the wine to the side and grips my waist. His fingers bite into my sides as his right thumb moves soothingly. “I have things I want to say to you, Sabra.”
He tugs me closer to him. I’m inches away from our bodies lining up perfectly. My hands go to his shoulders to support me perching on his lap. “Words that have been on the tip of my tongue for longer than I can remember.”
“Are you sure it’s safe to go into those waters, Trevor?” I squeeze his shoulders and lay my head against his chest.
“Babe.” He moves his hands to my cheeks, cupping my face and tilting it back to him. “Is it ever safe to go into the water? There’s always risk involved.”
“Yes, but,” I try to interrupt him, but he continues as if I never uttered a sound.
“The waters are never one hundred percent safe, Sabra.” He shifts me, moving my legs on either side of his so that I’m straddling him now.
My core lines up perfectly with his, feeling every ridge and bulge. I wonder at the fullness of him against me. His hands grip my hips again, sending sparks shooting through me with each movement and word he says.
“You always run the risk of a wave knocking you over.” His nose and lips trail down my jaw and neck. Shivers fly down my arms and back and pleasure pools in all the right places.
“You can get swept away by the undertow and lose yourself to the push and pull of the currents. Or something beneath the waves can touch and grab you, affect you in some way, catch you off guard, or hurt you when you least expect it.”
One hand slides up my back, tunnels into my hair, and gathers it off my shoulders, giving him more access to my neck. Trevor kisses down to the hollow at my throat and inhales deeply.
“The water and the waves, even the things within the water, have the power to change our course. To change us.” He lifts his head and his eyes bore into mine. “You are like the waves, Sabra.”
I still at his words. “What?”
“You are like the waves. What I feel for you, the seductive charm you have…it’s powerful.” He leans in and brushes a kiss against my lips before falling backward onto the blanket, taking me with him. I lie on top of him with my knees on either side of his hips. “And I want to continue to lose myself in it. To be swept away from the push and pull of it all. To be affected by it. By you.”
He seems to peer into my soul, waiting patiently for me to process it all while he brushes my hair back. “Sabra, lose yourself with me. Ride the waves with me.” He pulls my head down to lie on his chest and rests his other hand on my backside, stroking softly. “I know there are scary unknowns out there but trust me to hold your hand through the ups and downs. Through it all.”
I press my hands on his chest to push up, causing other parts to move in the most delectable ways, and I stare back at him, considering his words. Can I let go like he’s asking me to and ride the waves? Do I have it in me to trust someone with my emotions like that? With all of me? What will happen if I allow the waves to crash over me and I end up broken and bruised? What will happen to me if I don’t take the risk?
About the Author:
Kate Dunbar is a wife, mom of three, and obsessive tea drinker who loves a great story. She’s passionate about people and learning what makes them tick. You can find her eavesdropping,
people watching, and living her best life wherever the winds take her.
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