Clara Pendleton is a prisoner in her home. Always searching for new places to hide from her uncle, whose drunken attention terrifies and confuses her, she finds a tiny clearing in the back of the property near a disintegrating section of the ivy-covered wall that surrounds the estate.
Gaven Bridge has been sent to Clearwater to live with his Uncle Daniel. Never fitting in, he doesn’t believe he’ll ever meet anyone who understands him. But when he goes out for a walk in the woods, he happens upon a young lady sleeping soundly on a patch of moss.
A deep bond is fostered between them, helping Clara find the courage to change her life. When she finally decides to climb over the ivy wall and out into the world, there is no going back. Will Clara escape her horrible past, or will it destroy the love she and Gaven share?
“I have to go back.” Clara’s whisper was hoarse, her words forced out by the terrifying desperation that rose with the bile in her stomach. She and Gaven had been given a few moments of private time to talk in the next room, where she squeezed his hands in hers as if worried he might disappear.
“Clara, listen to me.” When he drew her close, she watched the way his dark hair slipped over his forehead, the way his eyes focused on her, so full of fierce loyalty and knowledge. “You’ll be okay here, I’m sure of it. Chloe and Jordan seem like really great people. I’ll be back before you know it. We just have to wait until this blows over. Please, don’t go back there.”
“What about Tammy?”
“You heard them. We’ll make sure she’s safe, too. You just have to give it time.”
Clara found solace when she was close to him, so she leaned her head against his chest, shut her eyes and listened to his heartbeat.
For a long moment, they were both quiet until Gaven spoke.
“Why do you like me?”
She turned her head, looking up at him. “What do you mean?”
“I mean exactly what I asked. Why are you interested in me? You have to realize I’m not like other people. I can’t…Clara, I don’t feel things like other people. This medication dulls it. It makes me crazy. The only time I feel anything is when I drink. I’m a goddamn child in a man’s body, don’t you see?” He stared into her eyes, leaning his forehead against hers. “You need to be with someone you can really depend on. Not me.”
“No, Gaven. Don’t say things like that.” She turned her head up slightly so she could look straight into his eyes. The sensation coursing through her, heat rushing through her body, made her dizzy with desire. It was so unfamiliar to her, yet she welcomed it, for his company was something she refused to relinquish. “Gaven, I don’t want anyone else.” She made sure he could see into her eyes, see the truth in her gaze as she spoke. “I love you.”
He wrapped his arms around her and held her for a long time. She craved his warmth and closeness; she didn’t want him to leave. But he had to. He gently withdrew from her arms, running his hands down along her shoulders.
“Clara, sometimes I don’t know what’s going on inside me. And I’m not sure you’d like who I am if you really got to know me.”
“Gaven, that’s not—”
“Let me finish. Maybe you won’t like all of me. Sometimes I’m not very pleasant to be around. But…” He held her hands in his, gently squeezing them.
“But what, Gaven?”
“I love you, too, Clara.”
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