Lighter by Gia Riley
Publication date: February 16th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
What do you do when you can't save the one you love?
Sophie can’t survive without control. Growing up with an alcoholic father, she craves the discipline of gymnastics. Feeling lost on a brand new college campus, she lets loose for the first time in her life. But with freedom comes consequences. Is one night everything she hopes? Or will she become her own worst nightmare?
Kipton's one year away from graduation. He's never thought beyond a one night stand until meeting his sister’s new roommate. Finally setting his sights on the girl he can't resist, he's more determined than ever when she won't give in to his persuasions. He's always gotten the girl, and he's not about to give up without a fight.
Will Sophie be able to salvage her dreams and wage a war against her own vices? Can she finally let love in? Or will history repeat itself causing her to self-destruct?
Lighter isn't your typical college romance. Darkness suffocates, dreams are dashed, and battles are lost. Love takes on a whole new meaning.
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Two Years Ago
“Sophie, wait! I’m sorry. I’m just worried about you,” Megan yells from the double doors leading from the locker room into the hallway.
She saw the bruises on my body.
I knew better than to change in front of everyone after gym class, yet I did it anyway because I was running late to meet my boyfriend. Blaine doesn’t like it when I keep him waiting. Tossing my book bag over my shoulder, I round the corner and smack right into him – and he doesn’t look happy.
“What did you say to her?” He questions with a deadly stare.
“Nothing. I didn’t say a word.” I didn’t but I still avert my eyes, choosing to stare at the tile on the floor instead of him. Without warning, he grabs my arm and pulls me into the bathroom. It’s empty.
“Please, Blaine.” I’m begging him to stop. He hears me, but he doesn’t listen.
“I told you what I would do, didn’t I?”
I swallow, my hands shaking. “Yes.”
He pins my arms against the wall, hovering over me. “And yet you still couldn’t keep your damn mouth shut.”
I try to yank my arms from his grasp, but his grip is too tight. His fingertips dig painfully into my arms, his nails breaking through the skin. “I swear I didn’t tell her anything.”
He inches closer to my face, the warmth of his breath hits my cheek. “Don’t fucking lie to me, Sophie. What happened the last time you lied to me?”
“I’m not lying. Please, Blaine. I wouldn’t.”
“What happened, Sophie?”
He’s going to make me say it – as if I’d ever need a reminder. It’s impossible to forget. “You had to teach me a lesson.”
“But you never learn. No matter how hard I try to protect you.”
“I’m sorry,” I plead. Regardless of the fact that I’m innocent, he morphs my apology into an admission of guilt.
“Damn right you are,” he spits through gritted teeth. His calmness now completely gone and replaced with anger. “Don’t you ever lie to me again, you hear me?”
“Yes,” I whisper.
He grabs my chin, roughly scraping his calloused thumb over my lips. His dilated pupils pierce straight through me sending chills down my spine. “Tell me you love me.” My words get lodged in my throat and I make the mistake of pausing a second too long. “Say it!” he warns as his fist pounds against the wall next to my head.
“I love you, Blaine.” And maybe there was a time I actually did. He wasn’t always like this, but neither was I. If I could go back in time, I’d tell him no. I’d push him away from me and keep my distance. But I’m just like my mother - unable to get away and desperate enough to stay. “Please let go of me. You’re hurting me.”
Finally he releases me, replacing his harsh words with sweet promises – his rough touches with gentle caresses. With a flip of a switch, he’s back to the Blaine I fell for, masking any signs of the evil he’s become.
“You make me so crazy, Sophie.” He runs his fingers through my long blond hair, leaving a trail of light kisses on my neck. “I only get mad because I love you so much.”
“I know.” Painfully well. My scattered bruises a daily reminder of his temper.
His hand falls from my hair as he latches onto my hip, pulling me flush against his body. “Baby, I need you. You’re everything to me.”
Everything I don’t want to be. Not anymore.
Beneath the surface, I’m scarred and broken; a much darker version of the girl I once was. There was a time I believed I was worthy of true love. But now, living in a hell littered with reminders of broken promises, I know what we have is anything but love.
It’s in this moment that I know I’m not strong enough to fight another day unless I get away from him. But I don’t know how. I need a plan – something to get me away from this town and its memories.
Closing my eyes, I say a silent prayer that my luck will change – that someone will save me from the hell my life has become.
“Sorry, what?” I look between Kipton and Cara. They both glance at me curiously, but don’t ask any questions. Even if they did, I’m not sure I’d have the guts to tell them about the darkness that haunts my past. It’s safer to push it away.
“What if I have you home early?” Kipton asks.
I shrug my shoulders, unsure with my decision at this point. The angel on my right shoulder is telling me to go to bed early and focus on my training. Of course the devil on the left has me picturing every inch of him naked. I have to stop this. My hormones have been in overdrive since he caught me in my towel. “I’ll think about it.” It’s a smart answer. This way, I leave my options open but don’t have to commit yet.
“I’m definitely in,” Cara adds with a clap of her hands and a shake of her ass. “And if I have any say in it, so are you, Sophie.”
Kipton rolls his eyes but waits until Cara turns around to hang more clothes in the closet. When she’s out of view, he mouths the word come and immediately I’m covered in goose bumps. I nod my head, accepting the invitation. My body answers before my brain has a chance to catch up. What did I agree too?
“Have a good night, ladies.” Before he closes the door completely, I let out the breath I’ve been holding. I throw myself onto my bed, realizing the earthy scent of his cologne has seeped into my bedding. If I close my eyes, it’s as if he’s still laying here with me. Inhaling deeply, I cuddle my pillow against my chest. Mid sniff, the door to our room swings open. Kipton grabs his keys off the top of the TV stand and winks at me. “Won’t get too far without these. See-ya tomorrow.”
“Bye, Kippy.” Cara practically sings from her closet. She’s on cloud nine about this party. I, on the other hand, am in serious trouble. Mortified, I roll over to face the window, hearing Kipton chuckle as the door closes.
He caught me sniffing my pillow.
Without another word spoken, her lips tangle with mine in the most innocent way before our tongues eventually meet. She’s challenging my body to either stay in control or break free. When her hands move from my shoulders and glide down my back, I make a split second decision and gently move over top of her, wedging my leg between hers. She keeps her lips locked with mine while exploring with her hands. “Off,” she mumbles against my mouth while tugging on my shirt. Reaching behind my neck, I pull it over my head eager to see what she plans to do next. She claws at the blankets between us, trying to get rid of the barrier.
Helping her, I pull the comforter down so I can touch her body. Sliding my hands under her shirt and over her stomach, she sucks in her toned abs when I move to kiss the soft skin around her belly button. Moaning softly, she gives me the confidence I need to continue.
“Kipton,” she whispers.
I raise my head to look at her, but her eyes are closed. “Is this okay, Sophie?” She nods her head but I need her words. “I need to hear you, beautiful.”
“Yes, don’t stop.”
“Put your arms above your head.” She follows my direction and I easily pull her shirt off. Left in her pink lace bra, I pull the straps off her shoulders. Without removing it entirely, I inch the lace away from her chest. Her back arches as she anticipates my next move. Flicking her pebbled nipples with my tongue, she responds instantly.
“Please, don’t’ make me wait. I need you, Kipton. Make me feel something else – something good.”
“I’m right here, Sophie. You have me.” I don’t understand her request entirely, but I give her what she wants anyway. We can discuss her second request later. I reach my hand inside her yoga pants and slip under the lace of her panties, touching her wetness. “Sophie, shit.”