Read Tempting Rowan (Trace + Olivia #3) Online

Authors: Micalea Smeltzer

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Romance, #Contemporary

Tempting Rowan (Trace + Olivia #3)

I’m drowning in the numbness. It’s pulling me under and I can’t see the surface. It’s easier to pretend I can’t feel. And the longer you pretend, the easier it is to believe. But he wants to save me. Only he can’t. I have to save myself…and I don’t know if I want to.

Rowan Sinclair’s life has been anything but easy. With an alcoholic mother and a sleazy stepfather, it’s been her responsibility
to raise her younger siblings. At twenty-one she’s chained to a life she doesn’t want, but sees no other alternative. After all, what would happen to her brother and sister if she were to leave?

Trenton Wentworth
sees the pain behind Rowan’s eyes. He wants nothing more than to make it disappear. To hold her. To love her. Except Rowan keeps everyone at a safe distance. But if there’s anyone that can break down the walls she’s built around herself, it’s Trent. So she avoids him at all costs. But Trent isn’t one to be easily evaded. He’s stubborn and determined. He’ll save this girl even if it costs him everything.

Love, lies, and deception.

That’s the name of the game when you’re Tempting Rowan.

Dedication

To anyone that’s ever felt worthless or unworthy of love.


For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.”

-Bo Bennett

prologue

I stare at the reflection in the mirror, not recognizing the girl I
see. The fancy dress, the shoes, the hair, none of it’s me. But take that away and I still don't recognize myself.

Who am I?

I don’t know.

I
f I don't know then no one does.

I glare at the girl in the mirror, hating her. The hate consumes me and I
watch helplessly as my fist flies out, connecting with the glass. It shatters around me, crumbling to the ground just like my life.

Pain radiates from my hand up my arm. I look down and all I see is blood and all I feel is pain. F
or a moment I’m reminded that I’m alive and I welcome the pain. But it’s not enough. It won't be long until the numbness consumes me, swallowing me whole.

It’
s all I know.

It’
s all I am.

A shell.

A ghost.

I don't exist.

I used to be okay with that, but I don't know if I am anymore, and that’s what scares me the most.

chapter one

“Hey,” my best friend Tatum poked my side. “Hey,” she hissed a little bit louder. When I still ignored her, she exclaimed, “HEY!”

“Shhhh!”
Hushed a guy with his nose buried in a textbook.

“What?” I glared at her, mad that she was disturbing the peace in the library.
I mean, honestly, I thought she could at least respect the obvious need to stay quiet in the library. Apparently not.

“Over there,” she nodded her head
at something over my shoulder, “is Trenton Wentworth, and his eyes are
all
over you,” she whispered, smiling excitedly. I wasn’t surprised she knew who Trent was, in this town the Wentworth’s were practically famous—with the kind of wealth they had it was surprising that they still lived in this small town.

“What?” This time I gasped the word. “No.”
Her words had poured a bucket of ice-cold water on me. It was like I couldn’t escape the guy. No matter where I hid he always popped up.

I refused to turn and look
, but I felt his eyes boring into my back. Those blue eyes had once twisted my stomach into knots and with one bat of his lashes I would’ve come running. Even girls like me weren’t immune to the charms of a guy like Trent.

“I have to go,” I stood hastily, grabbing my books, and pushing my gl
asses further up my nose. I didn’t care if I had two more hours worth of studying to do and would never be able to finish it at home. My desperation to get away from Trent was more powerful than my need to study…and that was saying something.

I stumbled around the chair and
Tatum watched me with a dumbfounded expression. The chair I bumped into crashed to the floor. “Sorry,” I mumbled, not bothering to stop and pick it up.

I had never told anyone about that night.

The night I gave into my desires.

The night I let Trent take a piece of me.

The night I ran from him.

The night my life was irrevocably changed.

I bumbled towards the exit and in my haste one of my books slid from my arms, landing on the floor. I was tempted to leave it, glaring at the treacherous book, but a tan hand was already snaking out and picking it up. The person placed it back on the stack in my arms and I swallowed thickly, refusing to look up. I felt his stare and I
knew
it was Trent standing before me. Slowly, I looked up and my hazel eyes connected with his. Looking at him was like taking a punch to the gut—leaving me breathless with a pain I couldn’t understand.

“Rowan,” he beamed, and the way he said my name made me squirm…and not in bad way. But oh how I wished I didn’t enjoy hearing my name leave his kissable lips.

I tucked a piece of light brown hair behind my ear. “Trenton,” I stared at his shoes.
They were black motorcycle boots with heavy silver buckles. I wondered if they were real motorcycle boots or designer ones just for show.

“My face is up here,” h
e said in that deep husky voice with a slight chuckle.

I forced my head up and met his eyes.
His dark hair was longer on top and shorter on the sides. His chin was dotted in a light dusting of stubble like he’d forgotten to shave this morning. Beneath his leather jacket he wore a navy t-shirt and his jeans looked well worn, even though I knew he could afford new ones.

“Wha
t are you doing here?” I stuttered, looking around for a means of escape. I needed to get away from him before I did something stupid…like give into the temptation of Trenton.

Brilliant question, Rowan
. I scolded myself when I realized what I’d asked him. Sometimes, words seemed to fly from my mouth without me thinking through what I was about to say. I really needed to work on that.

He chuckled,
wetting his lips with the tip of his tongue. “It’s a library. There’s usually only one reason to be here.”

“Usually?” I questioned with a raised brow. What other reason would one have for coming to the library?

His smile widened. “Well,” he leaned towards me, his lips grazing the shell of my ear, “if you’re really quiet you can always have sex.” He pulled back, laughing at my wide-eyed expression. “I always did have a naughty librarian fantasy.” He looked me up and down and a blush stained my cheeks in what I was sure was an unflattering shade of red. My hair was pulled back, my tortoise shell glasses perched on the end of my nose since my contacts had been bothering me today, and I was wearing a pencil skirt and button down top. It might not have been
naughty,
but I was dressed like a librarian since I worked here after classes and studied before going home.

“I really need to go,”
I explained, realizing that I was still standing in front of him like an idiot. I tried to push past him, but he ceased my efforts with a hand on my arm. His sweatshirt was rolled up, displaying the tattoos that covered his one arm. Tattoos I had been very intimately acquainted with once upon a time. I wondered if he even remembered.

“How could I forget?” He asked.

Oh, no. Had I said that out loud?

“You didn’t have to,” he answered my unspoken question. “I could see it in your eyes that you were thinking about that night.”

I swallowed, my heart beating a mile a minute.

“You were the one that left,” his voice held a tone of irritation. “You never gave me a chance to prove myself to you.”
His thumb rubbed circles on my arm, still refusing to let me go, and it was like he thought I was an animal he could calm with a soft touch.

“You didn’t have to,” I yanked my arm from his grasp and glared at him.
“I know what guys like you want from a girl like me. You got it, okay? There’s no need to keep up the farce of a good guy.”

He stared at me with a look of shock. His mouth opened and closed, gaping like a fish. He was at a loss for words and Trenton wasn’t the kind of guy to be left speechless.

I took this opportunity for what it was, and all but ran out the doors of the library. I had to get away from him. If I stood there a second longer I wouldn’t be able to resist him. From the moment I first laid eyes on Trent, when I moved to Winchester my freshman year of high school, I’d been under his spell.

“Row
an!” He called after me, but I kept walking like I hadn’t heard him. “You’re the one acting like a player! So, what?! I was good enough to fuck once but I’m not good enough to give a chance?!” Those words hit me like a slap in the face. Not because they were true, but because they were so very wrong. Trent didn’t know the
real
me. No one did. If he found out about me, about what I had done, he wouldn’t want anything to do with me. I knew that, so I was only trying to spare him. It had been five years since we lost our virginity to each other on a school camping trip our sophomore year. I’d have thought by now he would’ve forgotten about me, but Trent wasn’t like most guys. He actually
cared
. He was
real
. And he was
perfect
. I didn’t deserve him, frankly no one did. But for some reason, he thought I was someone worth caring about. But if he knew the kind of person I really was he’d run as far away from me as his feet would take him.

I reached the sidewalk and turned to see him standing on the steps staring at me.

“Answer me,” his voice was raised, but not angry. He sounded hurt and that broke my heart, because I was the one causing him pain. If he’d leave me alone, he wouldn’t have to feel that way. But Trent wasn’t the type of guy to give up. Whenever we ran into each other it was like…he still cared about me, and I couldn’t understand it. I ran away from him after we had sex and ignored him through the rest of high school. On the rare occasions when I was forced to interact with him, I was less than friendly. He needed to stay away. I couldn’t afford to let him get close.

“Girls like me
don’t end up with guys like you,” I told him and he flinched like I had slapped him.

“Guys like me, huh?” His jaw flexed. “
Funny,” he descended the remaining few steps and stood in front of me. He stared at me for a moment, anger and sadness stormed in his eyes. “Because somehow, in this situation,” he pointed to him and then me, “it seems like
I’m
the one that got used. Not you.”

I glanced down at the gum-covered sidewalk. I
t was much easier to look at it than Trent’s hurt face. I
never
meant to hurt Trent, but that’s what I was doing. I wanted to keep him safe from the cruel world that I called home. He didn’t deserve to have his view of life tainted.

“I wanted one night. That was it.
And I didn’t mean that the way you took it,” I explained with a defeated sigh.

He grabbed my chin and forced my gaze to his.

“Then explain what you meant!” His intense blue eyes held me captive. I swallowed thickly, overwhelmed by his demand.

I swallowed. “Look at you!” My voice rose as my anger increased
and tears threatened to leak from eyes. “You’re—ugh—perfect and I’m—” I pointed to my librarian-esque clothes, mousy hair, and glasses, “nobody.”

His jaw clenched as he glared at me. “You’re nobody? For someone that’s so smart, you’re incredibly stupid,” he spat, shoving his fists into hi
s jean pockets. “Whatever,” he shrugged, turning and walking away. He shook his head back and forth, muttering under his breath. I knew he was pissed and a part of me wanted to run after him and tell him everything so he’d understand why we couldn’t be together.

Instead,
I let him leave, just like I always did. I watched until he turned the corner and let out a deep breath I’d been holding in. He was gone…for now. But I’d known Trent long enough to know that he wasn’t finished with me. He’d pop up again, and based on this conversation, I’d say sooner rather than later.

A moment later the library doors opened and
Tatum came running down the steps with my backpack clenched in her hands. I’d completely forgotten about it.

She stopped, looking quickly left and right for me. When she spotted me, she jogged
my way and handed me my backpack.

“Where’s Trenton?” She looked behind me, like maybe he was hiding there.

“He left,” I stared at the last spot I saw him. A motorcycle roared to life somewhere, the only sound in the otherwise quiet town.

“Did he leave…peacefully? Or did you make him leave?”
She asked, tilting her head to study me.

I rolled my eyes. “You make me sound like a bitch.”

“When you get around Trent, you sure act like one. Why do you hate him so much?”

“I don’t hate him,” I whispered, watching the little clouds my breath made in the cool air.
I
wished
I hated him. It would make things so much easier.

“Really?” She tilted her head, pushing her blonde hair out of her eyes. “Because you sure act like it. I would
kill
to have Trenton look at me like he does you. Heck, I’d like for any guy to look at me like that.”

I shrugged, avoiding her eyes. “He doesn’t look at me in any particular way.”

She snorted. “Are you fucking blind? He looks at you like he wants to lick every crevice of your body.”

My eyes widened. “That’s…” I had no words.

She took a step back. “I love you, Rowan. I really do. But sometimes I feel like I don’t really know you at all. You’re so strange sometimes.”

Her words didn’t hurt my feelings. No one knew the real me…not even myself. If I were an outsider observing myself, I’d think I was strange too.

“My mom’s going to be here in a few minutes to pick me up since my car’s still being fixed, so you don’t need to give me a ride,” she backed away further. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I waved weakly, watching as she disappeared inside the doors of the library.

I adjusted my books so I could sling the backpack onto my shoulders and headed to my car.

Normally, after I finished working at the library I stayed past closing time to study. They knew me and didn’t mind me using it, but Trent had messed
with my plans. This also meant I hadn’t had a chance to change out of my work clothes. I always changed back into my school clothes once my shift was over, so I’d be more comfortable. I knew my mom wouldn’t have done anything for my siblings. Everything always fell on me. I was like Cinderella, only Prince Charming was never going to put a glass slipper on my foot and take me away to his castle.

I unlocked the door to the old silver Honda Civic. It was a piece of crap, but it ran
, so that was good enough for me.

I tossed my bag and books into the back and slid into the driver’s seat. I sat there for a moment, counting my breaths and heartbeats. It calmed me for some reason.

I put my hands on the steering wheel but I didn’t pull away.

I didn’t want to
go home…I never did. But that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway. Maybe I could have left…gone away…had a different life. But I wouldn’t leave. I was chained to that house and a life I didn’t want.

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