Salvage Duet #1
by Tiffany Aleman
Published: August 2nd 2015
tereotypical trailer trash. That’s how people saw me. I’m Karmen Butler, the girl everyone teased, tortured, pranked—bullied.
fter graduating high school, I left my shithole of a town behind with no intentions of ever returning. My dreams were within my grasp. Or so I thought…
uck. That’s what was on his side. Brayden Stephens was on top of the world and the biggest prick of all. At least that’s how I remember him. Then he lost it all. His vices took over and now he’s a washed-up has-been with a cocky smirk and arrogant attitude.
alued. That was how he made me feel. One night changed everything for us. In an instant I was lost to his touch, his voice. Everything about him captivated me.
gainst my better judgment, I let him in. I let him see the real me. Since he’d walked into my office, he’d been trying to redeem himself of his past mistakes.
limpses of a love and life I’d never known before were all he had given me. Now he’s done it, the one thing he said he wouldn’t. He’s broken me. AGAIN.
xcuses are what I was fed. The truth restrained him, bound him to his past, and now, I’m left to deal with the aftermath.
Is there anything left to SALVAGE?
I don’t know…
You tell me.
***This book contains mature content and touches on the basis of child abuse, bullying, and alcoholism. If the themes listed above bother you and you still choose to read, please proceed with caution. This book is intended for readers 18+ and has a cliffhanger. ***
Karmen stands next to the kitchen table looking at something. In just a towel, I walk past her towards the coffee pot. As I pour my steaming cup of Holy goodness, she says, “Well…I’m just going to come out and say it, okay?”
I turn around, one hand clutches the end of my towel to hold it in place. My eyes find hers over the rim of my coffee cup. I nod as I blow on the steaming liquid. I watch as she focuses in on my lips, so I purposely blow a little harder.
She drops her eyes and looks down at her fingers, concentrating on picking at the red nail polish on her nails. “I want us to be friends not just at work but out of work too,” she blurts out.
At this I laugh.
Her head snaps up and she glares daggers at me from across the few feet separating us. “Is it so funny to think of us being friends?” The sharp tone of her voice tells me she really thinks that I wouldn’t want to be friends with her. I do. But I want more, much more.
“Then why laugh at me?”
“Well, I kind of already thought we were friends.” I shrug. “And after that kiss, maybe even a little more.”
I watch as her body sags in relief, and hope begins to build that maybe she might want more, too. “Brayden, I already told you we cannot go there.”
“Well seeing as we already did ‘go there,' I don’t see what the problem is. You kissed me, Karmen. I know you felt what I felt in that kiss.” I place my mug on the counter, my coffee is forgotten as I take a step in her direction. My tone drops to one of seduction. Like yesterday, I pull her back under my spell. “You can’t tell me you didn’t feel the fire.” Another step. “The heat.” I drop my voice another octave as I close the distance between us. My face closes in on hers. Instead of claiming her lips like I want, I skim the tip of my nose along her jaw, up her neck in agonizingly slow strokes, before growling in her ear, “The hunger.” I look down, her chest rises and falls in rapid breaths that fan out against my own neck. Blood rages through my veins like an addict getting the first hit of the rush they so much crave. My hand lands on her back. I pull her flush against my body, the towel separates my skin from touching hers. The contact forces an erotic groan past those luscious lips I’m dying to kiss again. “Things could be so good between us. Even now, I can feel the tremble of your body against mine.” I nip at her earlobe and murmur, “The way your heavy breaths hit my neck, I can feel how hard your nipples are. They’re begging to be sucked, right? Do you want me to touch you? Put you out of your misery?” I groan, and she nods her head like the wanton woman she is. Slowly, I glide my hand up along her side, and with the briefest of touches I let my thumb graze across her tight nipple. She whimpers and I add, “You want me and I want you.” Absentmindedly, she nods her head vigorously, and at that moment I know I’ve got her. I pull back to see her eyes closed, her lips slightly parted. “But since you only want to be friends then that’s what we’ll be.”
I know as soon as my words sink in. Karmen’s eyes pop open and she gasps in shock. I tilt my head to the side and stare back at her.
“You’re an ass,” she snaps, flustered.
“Maybe. But I proved my point. We’ll be friends.” I drop my hands from around her waist and step away from her. “I’m giving you what you want. I’m a very giving man.” I grin at her and wink. “You should remember that.” I grip the towel tighter, to keep from reaching out to her. My feet carry me towards my room to get dressed, but her parting words halt my movements.
“That kiss didn’t mean anything,” she says nonchalantly.
I look back at her over my shoulder, and my grin turns into a full-blown smile. “You keep telling yourself that, babe. Your body doesn’t lie. It didn’t lie yesterday when your hands were fisted in my shirt, and it didn’t lie a second ago when you were putty in my hands.”
I don’t give her a chance to refute what I’ve said. We both know I’m right. I’ll play her friends card. But just like a spark eventually becomes a flame, that flame will sooner or later turn into an inferno. I’m betting whatever this is between us will be ablaze in no time.
✩★✩★✩★ 6 – Because Five Just Isn't Enough – Stars ★✩★✩★✩
~this review may contain minor spoilers~
I should be hoping he catches on fire, but more and more every day I feel myself relenting. I'm not a mean person by any means, but I have very little reason to trust Brayden. And there's my catch twenty-two. I don't want to be this hateful person or think awful thoughts about him, but at the same time I do.
Karmen Butler was the girl everyone called trailer trash. Bullied and humiliated relentlessly all throughout high school, the minute she graduated she left it all behind for good – or so she thought. But life got in the way, and now she finds herself back in the town that tortured her, and few were worse than him...
Brayden Stephens had it all, or so it appeared. Star football player who went on to play for the 49ers, til an injury caused him to lose it all. Now he's back home, living with his parents, when he comes face to face with the girl he put through hell all those years ago...
It doesn't take long for these two to realize that they aren't the same people they were in high school. Karmen has grown into a beautiful and strong woman and while Brayden still seems to be the same arrogant asshole he was back then, there is much more to him than she ever knew. But can she look past all the hurt he caused at a time in her life when she was suffering enough? Is the chemistry they feel, the connection they form, enough to get her to at least try to trust him? And what happens when she lets down her walls, allows him in, only for him to crush her all over again? Glimpses of a love she never thought she'd find was all she got before he destroyed her once again. When the dust settles, will there even be enough left to salvage or is she destined to be the broken shell he has once again left in his wake?
As terrified as I am of him hurting me, because he's capable of it, I don't want to hurt him either. I don't want to be crippled by fear. I don't want to let a good man get away because I'm too afraid to take a chance. In the past, fear swallowed me whole. There's no room in my future for what ifs.
First of all, please take note of the author's warning. This book is not sunshine and roses, it deals with some pretty harsh realities for anyone who has ever dealt with child abuse, bullying, drug abuse or alcoholism (which I have some personal experience with). If you get through this book without crying AT LEAST twice than I will be shocked – I myself spent PAGES in tears. Tiffany Aleman did a superb job of grabbing hold of my heart and squeezing the ever-loving hell out of it. But it wasn't all doom and gloom. There were lots of laughs, especially where best friends Drew and Tammy were involved. There was plenty of smokin hott steam, lemons will never be the same again. There were lots of amazing characters that you couldn't help but fall for. But behind it all was a story of forgiveness, love, strength, and knowing when to ask for help. I was amazed at Karmen. That woman had a heart of gold where Brayden was concerned. Yes-he was a changed man, yes-he suffered through his own hell in high school that no one knew about, but Karmen still gave him a chance and looked past all the bullshit to the man hidden behind the mask he wears for the outside world. And the man he has hidden was pretty incredible, but I can't honestly say weather or not I would have handled myself the way Karmen does – especially after reading the flashbacks and seeing how truly horrible she was treated in high school. I have no shame in admitting she is a much stronger woman than I am and I absolutely loved that about her. Now Brayden? That man hurt my heart, made me bleed, all while desperately hoping he finds his way. Ms. Tiffany does warn that this ends in a cliffhanger and let me tell you – it will leave you shredded. I have no idea where we go from here, but I am sure it will be just as rough as this book was – as they say, it's always darkest before dawn and I have a feeling dawn is still pretty far away. With that said, everything worth having is worth fighting for, I just hope I don't go crazy waiting for the sweet sweet reward I'm hoping is to come. Surprisingly, this is the first book I have read from Tiffany Aleman, but I can guaran-goddamn-tee you it will not be the last. She has slammed her way onto my One-Click-Addiction List with this incredible journey and I cannot wait to see where she takes us next.
Never have I been this happy. It's a feeling I don't want to lose, but is it worth living a lie? I have yet to figure that out. I tried-hard to protect my heart. But despite his many skeletons, he stole it like a thief in the night.