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Authors: Kate Dawes

Tags: #Romance

Harder We Fade

BOOK: Harder We Fade
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Harder We Fade
Fade [4]
Kate Dawes
(2013)
Rating:
★★★★☆
Tags:
Romance

In the
New York Times
and
USA Today
bestselling novel FADE, Max and Olivia's scorching hot romance was threatened by outside forces that could have torn them apart, but their bond was strong enough to endure.

Now, the FADE series continues...

Max has launched his own movie production company in Hollywood and keeps his promise to bring Olivia onboard as his partner in the venture. Her new power and influence at work reveals a completely different side of Olivia, igniting a new and unexpected desire in Max--much to Olivia's delight.

Living with Max in Malibu, and getting to know his friends, Olivia gains a new perspective of the man she loves, even though some of it isn't easy to take.

Pushed to her breaking point, Olivia finally decides to deal with her parents' unwillingness to accept her life decisions once and for all. Meanwhile, she is put in a difficult position when Max's mother trusts her with a heart-breaking secret about his shattered family.

Max and Olivia are back and hotter than ever in HARDER WE FADE.

Review

Reviews for FADE

"The sexual connection between Olivia and Max is graphic and titillating, and he is definitely a character that will have women lusting long after they have finished the series." - Dr. Laura Berman, host of 
In The Bedroom with 
Dr. Laura Berman
 and 
The Dr. Laura Berman Show
, both featured on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network)

"I liked the characters very much, the sex was amazing, and I liked that the couple was shown to get to know each other a bit before declaring undying love for each other. There were some really cute and funny lines, and I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the couple. Max was sexy and romantic, and alpha to the core." - Ana's Attic

"I was very quick to fall in love with Olivia and even faster to fall in love with Max. Because I am a hopeless romantic, I couldn't put down the book. I give Fade five fabulous stars!" - Zoey Derrick, author of FINDING LOVE'S WINGS

HARDER WE FADE

Kate Dawes

Copyright © 2013 by Kate Dawes
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written consent of the Author.
Cover image
©
vasabii777 (Fotolia.com)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Also by Kate Dawes

FADE

LAYOVER RULES

This one goes out to Nade Ferrabee and Sam Stettner.

Author’s Note

Some background for readers who are new to the FADE series: when first released, it came out in three parts/novellas. FADE INTO YOU, FADE INTO ME and FADE INTO ALWAYS. Not long after the third part came out, all three were combined into one novel-length ebook and paperback called FADE. That is the only version available now.

The original edition of FADE ended with a short epilogue that is set two years after the book ends, giving a few details of what happens to some of the main characters in the book, as well as telling the reader where Max and Olivia are at that point in their lives.

The epilogue in the new edition is even shorter, giving very little away. If you bought FADE after April 2013, you probably haven’t seen the detailed epilogue, so none of this will matter to you. If, however, you do have the edition with the slightly more detailed epilogue, you only know a few “big picture” facts. You don’t know how those things came about, though, and what Max and Olivia had to go through to get to that point.

Since FADE was published, I’ve received emails, Facebook messages and tweets asking for more about Max and Olivia. I didn’t want to write about them just for the sake of it. If I wrote about them again, it would hinge on whether I thought there was a story worth telling.

After much consideration in the seven months since FADE came out — and even more writing — here it is. I hope you enjoy spending more time with Max and Olivia as I did while writing about them.

One last note on the length of this book. Each of the original three novellas in the FADE series contained roughly 20,000 words. This book is over 33,000 words.

Thank you for reading,

KD
ONE

Slowly rising out of the fog of a deep sleep, I felt Max’s hand on my shoulder.

“Do you need a Lortab?” he whispered into my ear.

I was lying on my right side, with Max spooning me. This is how we had been sleeping for the last couple of weeks. It was Max’s idea to keep me from rolling onto my left side where the broken rib was.

My eyes were slowly opening, focusing on the bedside table and the clock that read 5:42 a.m. “No, I’ll be okay.”

“You were groaning,” he said. “Does it hurt?”

“Not too bad.”

Max nuzzled his face into the crook of my neck, planting a soft kiss just below my ear. I nestled closer to him, as much as I could without irritating my damaged yet slowly healing rib. His warm naked body enveloped mine, contrasting with the cool sheets. Despite the little stab of pain I felt as we shifted on the bed, I couldn’t imagine a more comfortable place to be.

Or a safer one.

Max’s breathing grew slow and regular, and I knew he had gone back to sleep. I, however, probably wasn’t going to be able to.

I had indeed groaned in my sleep, but only somewhat from the rib pain. According to the doctors, I still had a few weeks to go until the pain would subside, and every once in a while I’d feel a quick, sharp, shooting pain in the area. If I were awake, it would make me reflexively inhale quickly. When asleep, it would sometimes wake me, but other times it would trigger a dream.

This night, I had been dreaming about the attack, the fourth such nightmare in the last couple of weeks.

They were just dreams. Nothing more. Chris had been locked up and had denied bail because he lived in Ohio and authorities in Los Angeles argued that he was a flight risk. The case was already over. There was no trial, thanks to Chris accepting a plea deal. I wasn’t all that happy about it, but I didn’t really have a choice. On the good side, though, it saved both Krystal and me from having to testify and face that monster once more.

More than once, Max had expressed guilt over the fact that he hadn’t been there that night to protect me from Chris. He’d been on his way over, but hadn’t arrived in time.

I brushed off his guilt, telling him not to think about it. What was done was done, and Chris would no longer be a threat to me. Each time, Max dropped the subject.

Not wanting to add to his guilt, I kept the dreams from him.

. . . . .

I woke up around 10 a.m., surprised that I’d been able to drift off to sleep again. Facing out the floor-to-ceiling window of the master bedroom, I watched the sun glint off the Pacific Ocean’s water and the tops of tall palm trees swaying in the breeze. Max had opened the sliding glass door to let some fresh air in.

I heard the shower going and briefly thought about joining Max in there, but decided instead to do something about the cottonmouth I woke up with.

I got out of bed, didn’t bother putting on any clothes, and went downstairs to Max’s kitchen.

Actually,
our
kitchen, now that I was living with him in Malibu. It was farther away from L.A. and Hollywood than my apartment had been. Depending on traffic, it could take anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour to get back to the city.

It was modern house, set high on a hill, overlooking the Pacific. At almost 3,000 square feet on eleven acres, with five bedrooms upstairs, it was more space than anyone really needed, but as with all things in his life, Max had spared no expense for luxury and enjoyment.

The floors were dark marble, and most of the back of the house was glass, making the place virtually gleam during the day. The downstairs was one massive open space with a fireplace separating the kitchen and the den.

I would say the view over the ocean from the hilltop home was breathtaking, but that’s too cliché to cover it. Plus, recently my injured rib was doing enough to take my breath away.

I opened the stainless steel refrigerator and grabbed the bottle of orange juice. I didn’t bother getting a glass. I twisted the cap off, tilted my head back and guzzled right from the bottle as though I hadn’t had anything to drink in days.

“It’s the pills.”

I lowered the bottle and turned around to find Max standing there with a towel wrapped around his waist and a huge smile on his face. His medium-length hair was slicked back on his head, a few damp curls around the edges.

Swallowing the sip of juice, I said, “What?”

“The painkillers. They’re making you thirsty. It’s a rare side-effect.”

I closed the refrigerator door, turned around, and leaned against the counter. “Thanks, Doc.”

Max walked over to me, eyeing my naked body. “I had to take those once. I had the worst dry mouth from it. That’s how I know.”

I took another swig.

He stood inches from me, leaning closer, placing one hand on the counter next to me. He smelled of cologne, soap, and shampoo. All perfectly clean, and I wanted to dirty him up.

Max’s face got closer to mine. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his other arm reaching up, and I waited for his fingers to sink into my hair.

But he just looked at me for a moment, then pulled his arm back and held up a drinking glass. “Feel free to use these. They’re yours now, too.” He grinned and kissed me on my forehead.

I took the glass from him as he opened the fridge, took out a bottle of water and made his way over to the sliding doors that lead to the backyard as I filled the glass with juice.

“Coming?” he asked, looking over his shoulder as he unlatched the door.

“Let me get my robe.”

His hand dropped to where the towel was tucked on his hip and he set it free, letting it drop to the floor, teasing me with his seemingly flawless body. “You don’t need to wear anything.”

I walked over to the door, juice in hand, and we went outside naked together.

Just outside was a patio that ran the width of the house. A dozen reclining lounge chairs took up most of the floor, along with several tables, and two kerosene heaters for the cooler nights spent outside.

The backyard was boxed in by ten-foot stone privacy walls to the left and right. Only the ocean side was open. The entire space — from the walls to the ground — was covered in stone, with several cutouts from which palm trees sprouted and reached for the sky.

There was a rectangular pool at the edge of the yard, backing up to what Max said was a 30-foot cliff overhanging the shoreline, with wood stairs that lead down to the beach.

The pool’s water level was flush with the ground, and if you were sitting in one of the chairs on the patio near the door to the house, you would see an optical illusion: the pool seemed to be an extension of the ocean, the only difference being the Pacific’s rough surf and the pool’s glassy surface.

I had only rarely gotten a good look in the backyard. Before moving in with Max, our time at his house had been spent mostly inside, and even being here full-time, I hadn’t felt like going outside much. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway, thanks to the painkillers I had been taking.

“No one can see us, right?” I asked.

Max took my hand and we walked to the edge of the pool. “The houses aren’t close enough.”

“What about from down there?” I indicated the beach by holding out my hand with the glass in it.

“Relax, Olivia.” He turned to face me, bent his neck and kissed me on the lips. “Let’s enjoy the morning.”

“It seems like you already are,” I said, looking down and seeing his growing erection between us.

He shook his head slowly. “You drive me fucking wild. Now, get in here with me.”

I followed him down the four steps into the pool. The water was brisk, almost too much so. “Guess this is as good as a cold shower.” I placed the glass on the edge of the pool.

Max held me in his arms as I wrapped my legs around his waist. He was kissing me lovingly, not lustfully, something he sometimes did but usually when we were just lying around together. Never when he was revved up, totally hard, ready to go, just like he was at that moment.

I didn’t say anything. I let myself enjoy his soft, perfect kisses.

After moving his lips to my neck, he kissed me on my shoulder, then rested his head there.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

He took a deep breath and released it, creating a few bubbles where the waterline met my shoulder.

I had my hand on the back of his head and I gently closed my fingers around a handful of hair and pulled his head back, looking into his sad eyes.

“What is it? Talk to me, Max.”

“I should have been there.”

“Where?”

He rolled his head to the side and looked past me out at the Pacific. “You know where. I can’t let it go.”

While I had been recovering physically and mentally from the attack, apparently Max was having an even more difficult time getting over his emotional scars from that night.

For my part, the physical recuperation was more difficult than the psychological one. Chris had been tormenting my mind for a long time before the night he showed up at my apartment to do…whatever it was he was going to do to me, after kidnapping my roommate Krystal.

I suppose the fact that I fought him off myself — pretty damn harshly, I might add — went a long way toward healing the mental scars he had left on me for quite a while. I had found a side of myself that I had no idea was there. An aspect of me that I had no reason to tap into until that terrible night.

I had protected myself. All on my own. My story not only surprised me, it impressed the detectives who were working the case. All of this combined to give me a sense of closure when it came to Chris.

Well, that and the fact that he had taken a plea deal and would be spending a great portion of the rest of his life in prison. Some of his time was the result of his breaking-and-entering into our apartment. Some of it was from his assault on me. But most of it was due to the aggravated charges he faced because of the way he injured Krystal and placed her in the trunk of his car. The fact that she sustained serious bodily harm that potentially threatened her life depending on how long she was left in there was the basis for the felony charge.

Anyway, the dreams were still there, but I knew I had already come a long way from that awful night to reclaiming my real self, and someday, probably sooner rather than later, the nightmares would be as much a part of the past as Chris himself was.

“Like I said in the hospital that night, you’re not Batman.” I smiled, trying to elicit one in return, but got nothing.

“It could have been so much worse.”

I kissed him on his forehead. “You have to let this go. I’m fine. I really am. He’s gone for a long, long time and I’m doing so much better. I handled it myself. And look where it got me. I’m here in this amazing place, with an amazing man. What more could I ask for?”

I leaned into him and kissed him, hard, to keep him from saying anything more.

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