“You go first.” I push him toward the edge.
He looks unsure. “Really?”
I quickly nod my head.
He runs his thumb along the inside of my palm before letting go of my hand.
With two arms firmly on the rope, he steps back and then runs straight forward, kicking off the cliff and flying into the air. When he’s far out over the water, he lets go and does a flip in the sky before diving into the lagoon. The rope swings back toward me, so I catch it and look down to make sure he’s okay. When his head pops through the surface, his hand pushes his hair back, and I let out a large sigh of relief.
He wades, waiting for me to jump. “Come on, baby. Grab on, and let it pull you.”
I have two hands firmly holding the rope. It’s rough and corded and doing absolutely nothing for my feet that feel like they’re cemented to the ground.
“I’ve changed my mind. I can’t do it,” I cry out.
“It’s not as far as you’re imagining. All you have to do is trust me. I promise, I’ll be here to catch you.”
My palms are sweaty. I grip it harder, but my feet still won’t move. I can’t jump when I’m shivering with fear.
I can’t believe I let him convince me to climb up here. He knows I’m petrified of heights. It’s like how he brought me on the catamaran even though he didn’t know how to sail. It’s classic Jackson. Like the time in school, he told me we should see how far his car could get with the gas light on. We wound up stranded near a wheat field in the outskirts of Virginia and had to hike to the nearest gas station. And let’s not forget about the day he booked himself into a ridiculously overpriced hotel room just to see me and test how far he could push me into forgiving him. The thought makes me so damn angry; I want to jump off the cliff and hit him in the jaw.
“I’m not going anywhere. You can take all day if you want, but I’ll be here, waiting to catch you.”
His words make me laugh because I believe him. If this week has proven anything, it’s that Jackson Davis is one hundred percent committed to his promises.
Seven days. He’s still here.
Almost a decade later. He’s still here.
Since I was fourteen years old, I’ve been hopeless for this guy. It’s as if I’ve abandoned all rational thought, and I’ve been living a life where he’s the beginning and the end. Not because he’s tainted me, but because he’s a part of me.
“I don’t want you to be afraid anymore.” His words echo through the rocky enclave and shoot straight into my heart.
With a burst of adrenaline, I launch my feet off the rock and swing my body away from the cliff.
A whoosh runs through my tummy as the ground gives way, and suddenly, I’m dangling twenty feet in the air. I can see Jax below, but my hands won’t unclench.
The rope is as far out as it can possibly go and starts to swing back toward the tree.
“Let go!” he shouts.
On command, I do.
I let go.
Of the fear.
Of the pain.
Of the memories.
Of the mistakes.
I let go.
My body flails as I fall from the sky. The drop causes me to smack my back against the water, and a stinging sensation creeps up where my body hit the surface.
I plummet under.
It’s dark and murky, and I can’t see a thing.
For a moment, I’m lifeless, becoming one with the abyss, until a current of pressure builds around me, the water pushing me up, acting as an opposing force to my body. I kick my arms and legs and rise to the surface.
When my head breaks through the surface to clean air, I look up at the gorgeous blue sky and am quickly in Jax’s arms as he exclaims, “You did it!”
I smile. A huge, bright, beaming smile. Despite the pain on my back, I relish in the fact that, “I jumped off a cliff!”
“You did.” He’s laughing as he pulls us toward the shallow area.
When my toes touch the ground, I look up and catch my breath. The cliff now seems dwarfed, a mere rock that’s not nearly as high as it did before I leaped.
“You wanna jump again?” he asks. His skin glistens under the sun, and a bead of water trickles down his sculpted chest.
“No.” My breath is ragged.
His eyes are bursting with pride. They’re looking at me the way a man looks at a woman who is his everything. As if I’m strong and exceptional, beautiful and humorous. As if I can do no wrong.
I can’t see my own face, but I know the way I’m looking at him is wildly different. Instead of pride, I only show lust, pure and unadulterated, longing to claim what’s mine.
As much as I deny it, Jackson Davis is powerful and intelligent, gorgeous and funny as all hell.
I know it’s wrong, but I’m done with being afraid.
I’m ready to fucking soar.
“Why?” He smirks from his chiseled jaw. “Too much of a rush for you?”
“No,” I breathe out. “Not enough.”
About the Author:
Jeannine Colette is a former television producer turned writer, mother, and philanthropist. She is the author of Pure Abandon, Reckless Abandon, Wild Abandon and the upcoming novella, Wrecked.
A graduate of Wagner College and the New York Film Academy, Jeannine went on to become a Segment Producer for television shows on CBS and NBC. After years of dreaming, she finally put pen to paper (read: finger to laptop) fulfilling her dream of becoming a full-time author and published her first novel in July 2015. She lives in New York with her husband, the two tiny people she adores more than life itself, and a rescue pup named Wrigley.