Knox Bauer’s life has unraveled to the point of no return. Fighting to fill the emptiness inside himself, he seeks solace in unfamiliar beds with unfamiliar women. As guardian to his three younger brothers, he can’t seem to do a thing right. But this can’t go on…they look up to him in every way and all he’s done lately is prove how messed up he really is. Needing a change, he attends a local Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting, where he finds himself tempted by the alluring instructor, McKenna.
Twenty-one year old McKenna is trying to make amends. After losing her parents in a horrific accident, she knows if she can just be good enough, maybe she can forgive herself for what happened. With her newly acquired degree in counseling, she begins leading a sex addicts group where she meets the troubled Knox and her life takes on complications she never bargained for. She doesn’t have time for a bad boy who only wants to take her to bed, even if her body disagrees. The fixer in her wants to help, but trusting Knox’s true motivations might take more courage than she has.
When I Break is book 1 in a new series by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Kendall Ryan. When I Surrender, book 2, will be available May 2014.
Warning: Contains a stubborn alpha male with addiction issues and loads of sexual tension between two damaged characters. Read at your own risk.
Due to mature content, it is recommended for 17+.
EXCLUSIVE LOVE N. BOOKS TEASER!
Pain exploded in my hand and I fell back onto the scuffed wooden floor. I stared dully at the blood dripping from my shredded knuckles, and it took me a moment to place the shrill noise coming from behind me.
“Knox!” a girl screamed.
She knew my name, but I couldn’t remember hers.
The girl’s voice wasn’t familiar. Probably because we hadn’t done much talking when I brought her home last night. I wondered if the screams and moans she let out during sex would be more familiar to me. Though, to be honest, I was pretty wasted when we’d gotten here.
Through blurry eyes, I looked at the girl for the first time, trying to remember where I’d picked her up. At the moment she was topless and wearing only a glittery pink thong. Images of her shaking her ass in that thong flooded my brain.
Tears welled in her eyes and she crept closer to me. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
The G-string she wore jogged my memory. Lap dance…dollar bills…shots of Cuervo burning a wicked path down my throat until my mind was just where I needed it. Oblivion.
“Knox, oh my God. What did you do?” She looked down, inspecting my hand.
I closed my eyes for a moment, willing her to quiet down before she woke up my brothers. When I opened them again, I looked down and took stock of myself, naked and sitting sprawled on my bedroom floor. It wasn’t one of my finer moments. I straightened my fingers, then hissed through clenched teeth as I inspected my injured hand in the dim light. Shit. I wasn’t sure if it was broken, but it throbbed like a bitch.
“I’m fine,” I bit out. My heart pounded in my chest and I was breathless, as if I’d just finished running a sprint. Blood smears painted the wall where I’d taken out my aggression, and a ragged hole gaped in the drywall. As I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself, I realized I’d been having a dream about what I would do to my father if I ever saw him again.
“Do you want me to get you something for the pain?” the girl asked.
A distant memory flooded my brain, probably what brought on the nightmare in the first place. Images of my leg, broken and twisted when I’d fallen from a tree as a boy, suddenly came back to me. I remember putting on a brave face when my dad referred to pain pills as “bitch mints.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m fine.” I didn’t need them then and I didn’t need them now.
The girl sucked her lower lip into her mouth, her eyes welling with tears. There was nothing I hated more than seeing a girl cry.
“Come here.” I reached my good hand toward her.
Her expression wary, she crawled over to where I sat on the floor. When I rose to my knees and stroked my lengthening dick, her eyes locked onto my movements, darting back and forth between my face, my bloodied hand, and my cock, trying to understand what I wanted.
“Come suck me off.” Yeah, it was a dick move, but it was the only thing that would calm me down. It was either that or liquor, and I knew my cabinets would be empty. If I’d gone out earlier, it was most likely for alcohol, pussy, or both.
She frowned. “What about your hand?”
“Fuck my hand,” I ground out. “I want your lips around my cock.”
Wordlessly she obeyed, crawling the rest of the way toward me and leaning down to take me in her mouth. I fisted my bloodied hand in her hair, watching the curve of her back as she moved up and down over me.
Within minutes, I tapped her on the shoulder and she moved away as I finished with my hand, spurting into her open mouth.
I rose and headed into the bathroom to clean myself off. “You can go now,” I called out to her where she still sat on the floor, looking confused.
“But it’s three in the morning.”
“I don’t care. Get the fuck out. You got what you came for.” I tossed the bloodied towel to the bathroom floor and inspected my hand. The skin was torn at the knuckles, but nothing felt broken as I spread my fingers apart and rotated my wrist. I’d live.
“You don’t have to be such an asshole. There’s something wrong with you, you know that?”
Her hurt expression should have caused me to feel something. Remorse, regret, sympathy…something. But my battered body and fucked-up mind had stopped responding to normal human emotions years ago. I lived according to my baser instincts now. It was just easier that way.
“I know.” There was more wrong with me than she’d ever know.
The following morning I woke up late, my hand still throbbing. Crawling from bed, I twisted open a bottle of Jack that I’d found conveniently under my pillow and took a healthy swig, then lit a cigarette. I needed to quit. It was one vice too many and made my heart race. I might be a mess, but I didn’t want my younger brothers to pick up my nasty habits.
My cell phone vibrated from the rickety table by the door. The cell phone was new, as was my number, so I couldn’t figure out who might be calling me. I glanced at the screen. Fuck. It was my therapist’s office, reminding me of my appointment that afternoon. The last thing I wanted to do was go in and talk to some dickhead therapist about my feelings. But it was all part of my plea bargain. I had my choice: therapy or jail. Fucking DUI.
It just didn’t seem fair. I’d tried to do all the right things since our father left—I worked hard all week, took care of my brothers, and paid the bills. But when I sought a little relief during my free time, I always found myself in a pile of trouble.
But I couldn’t think about that right now. If I did, I’d start drinking and either show up drunk to my first appointment, or not show up at all. Neither of which was a good option.
When I arrived at the office, the soft music and scattered couches in the waiting room already had me on edge. I didn’t want to be here. Knowing I didn’t have much of a choice, I approached the receptionist at the desk, a meek little thing with brown hair pulled into a ponytail. Big green eyes looked straight up at me.
“Knox Bauer. I have an appointment at three o’clock.”
“Hi. Could you sign in right here?” She tapped the clipboard on the counter.
I signed my name and took a seat. A moment later, she scurried around the desk and handed me a clipboard of forms. “Since it’s your first time here, can you fill out these forms?”
I took the papers without a word and watched as she sauntered away, her ass bouncing in the most delectable way in her knee-length skirt. I hadn’t seen a girl dress like that in a while. All prim and proper. She was sending off schoolmarm vibes, which my dick told me I found refreshing. I guess I’d been hanging out with strippers too much, not that I was about to reevaluate the company I kept. No, they served a distinct and necessary purpose in my life.
I shook the thoughts away and focused on the forms. Once I turned them in, I was escorted by the receptionist with the nice ass into the therapist’s office.
“Knox?” An aging woman with gray hair and saggy tits greeted me, rising from behind her desk.
“Yup.” I strode into the office, hearing the soft click as the receptionist closed the door behind me.
“I’m Dr. Claudia Lowe. Have a seat.”
I obeyed, lowering myself to the stiff leather arm chair in front of her desk. No sense in pissing off the good doctor straight away. I’d play nice. For now.
We sat facing each other, her appraising me coolly over the rim of lowered spectacles. “I trust you know why you’re here?”
“I see a lot of anger management cases. Most are men with a history of fighting or domestic abuse. Your case is something altogether different. I trust you know that too.”
I nodded again. Oh yeah, I’d gotten myself in a pile of shit, all right. After a night out drinking last summer, I’d stupidly driven home and gotten a DUI. Because it was my first offense and my court-appointed attorney played the sympathy card, explaining to the judge I was caring for my minor siblings, I was let off easy with fines and community service. Then after I’d brilliantly smarted off to the judge, he’d tacked on an order to see a counselor for anger management.
The first shrink I’d seen had dug into my brain, and concluded pretty quickly that my issues weren’t related to anger. After a battery of questions about my past and how I dealt with the stress in my life, she became convinced I had an issue with sex and referred me to Dr. Lowe. I didn’t think fucking was a crime, but apparently the counselor had felt differently. She’d written up some shit about stress being relived in sexual ways, and that I lacked the ability to form and maintain healthy relationships with the opposite sex. Bullshit. I was just horny.
I glanced up at Dr. Lowe, who was reading from a page in front of her. “When you were fifteen, you got kicked out of school for engaging in indecent acts with a female student.”
“I don’t see how my high school flings have anything to do with this.”
She smiled tightly. “Nothing is off-limits in our sessions together, Mr. Bauer. Just because it’s not officially on your record doesn’t mean we’re not going to discuss it.”
I ground my teeth, and she pushed on. “When you were seventeen, you were sent to a boot-camp-style high school during your senior year. Three months later, you were arrested for public drunkenness and lewd behavior.”
I sighed. “My buddies and I had our first night out in months. I got drunk and I took a girl out in the back alleyway. I wasn’t hurting anyone, just blowing off some steam. And trust me, she was willing.” The woman probably wouldn’t care that it was around that same time that my father had left us, so I didn’t mention it.
She leaned forward, removing her glasses and resting her elbows on the desk. “I know you feel these instances can be explained away, but you have a history of using sex to cope. And after gaining legal custody of your brothers—”
“I’m not discussing that with you.”
She nodded. “Not yet.”
Motherfu— I cursed under my breath. No one needed to know our family business. I took good care of the boys. They weren’t part of this. I intentionally kept this side of myself from them.
“I’m recommending something a bit unconventional for your treatment. I would like you to join a local Sex Addicts Anonymous support group.”
Sex addict? My jaw tightened. I wasn’t a fucking sex addict. I liked pussy. There was a difference. A big fucking difference.
“Your sexual past has been noted, and according to your own admissions, you’ve had more partners than you can recall and you use sex as an escape.”
She glared at me, waiting for me to disagree. I bit my cheek and stayed quiet. It was true I thought about sex a lot. All the time, actually. But I thought most guys did. Though, if I were being honest, I knew I was worse than my buddies. When I was younger they’d nicknamed me Worm, because of how many girl’s panties I’d wormed my way into over the years. I wasn’t an addict, though; I was an opportunist. I’d never turn down a willing female.
“This field of study is just emerging but most researchers agree, the definition of a sex addict is someone whose deviant sexual behavior interferes with daily life—their relationships, job, et cetera.”
Well, shit. I wouldn’t fight her on this. I was radioactive. An asshole. A user of women, but shit, they’d all been willing. Maybe she was right, though. I hated the tears, the drama that came with my less-than-stellar behavior toward the opposite sex. And the last thing I wanted was my behavior to rub off on my brothers. I wanted better for them.
Dr. Lowe scribbled something on a piece of paper. “Here’s the group you’ll be attending. First meeting istomorrow morning and they meet weekly. I’ll receive reports on your progress and what you’re learning about yourself during these group sessions.”
She shoved the paper at me.
“Okay.” I kept my voice neutral as I picked up the paper, but inside? Inside, I was fighting the urge to curse and crumple it into a ball.
This was bullshit.