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Authors: Brooke Cumberland

Tags: #new adult, #Romance

Pushing the Limits (35 page)

BOOK: Pushing the Limits
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Breaking the Limits: a student/teacher romance

(Kendall’s story)


Baby, Make it Hurt

An enemies to lovers romance



This book has been in my head for a year now. Aspen and Morgan have struggled to get their story out, and I’ve struggled to get their words out on paper. Anxiety and depression are issues I personally struggle with, and I wanted to develop her character true to the way one would act and feel with anxiety and depression. Her character didn’t come easy, took a lot of deleting, re-writing, and bouncing ideas off other people. I owe a lot of thanks to some very close people in my life for their continuous support while helping me, guiding me, and most of all—pushing me.

Katie Webb—Over a year ago, I first met you and everything in my life changed. I never knew what it felt like to have a genuine best friend. I never had that in my life. I had friends, where I thought we were close like best friends, but I was the only one giving. It wasn’t until you came into my life that I finally knew what it meant to have a soul sister. It’s as if you came into my life at just the perfect time because God knew I needed you. And I hope I never have to go a day without you in it. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for being strong, my shoulder to cry on, a friend to laugh with, a book nerd like me who understands book boyfriends and alpha males, and an all-around amazing, genuine person. The world would be a better place if all people had your southern heart. I love you!

Miranda Johnson—I hope you know how special you are to me, because I’m not sure words can even properly describe it. Thank you for helping me through this. Thank you for talking me down when I just wanted to give up. Thank you for letting me into your head and digging up issues that I know weren’t easy for you. The way you helped me with Aspen’s character that truly made her
. Thanks for answering all my art questions and understanding what “the thingy that you mix paint on” meant. Thanks for being genuine and honest and someone I can vent to. And most of all, thanks for everything and more that you do to assist me. I couldn’t have done this without you!

Staci Brillhart—You, my quirky best friend, are one of a kind. I can’t tell you how much I love you without sounding like a love-stricken stalker, but I think you know that I love you dearly and can’t go a day without talking to you at some point. You’ve made me stronger, you’ve pushed me, you constantly encourage me. And I know you’re someone I can always rely on. You’re so special to me, and I feel so fortunate to call you my friend! I love you!

Angie McKeon—You are one of the most sweetest and genuine people I know. You have that kind of heart that is rare to find in people these days. Your love for books and authors are only a couple of the reasons I knew I wanted to be your friend. The way you encourage and support people speaks true to the kind of person you are, and I want to thank you for being that person. I’ve loved getting to know you and knowing that I can trust and count on you. Your passion for reading is what drew me to you and your blog and I absolutely adore how much you love books. When you love a book, you love it hard! Thank you for being you and helping me last minute! I appreciate everything you’ve done for me!

My beta team—I’ve been very fortunate to find great readers to beta and help me along the way! Thank you for always willing to read last minute and answer my questions. Your support for authors doesn’t go unnoticed. Thanks for all you do and supporting an indie author like me :)

Brie Burgess—BRIE! I can’t say enough about you. I love your passion for books and alpha males. I love everything about you, and I’m so glad I found a reader like you! Thank you for beta reading, helping me tear it apart, and giving my heroes the best hash tags ever!

Christine Stanley—You’re my bitch and always will be. Okay, it’s probably the other way around. But regardless, I love having you in my life. Thanks for all the work you do, the long hours, and networking you do for your PR company. You’re a rock star and I hope you know how proud of you I am. Thanks for always being here for me. You’re pretty cool.

Lauren Perry—Thank you for the gorgeous cover pic! Her ass is like whoa.

Sommer Stein—Thanks for being the best cover designer ever. I always love working with you!

Rogena Mitchell-Jones—#12 and counting! YAY! Thank you for being my editor from the start. We make a pretty good team! :)

Brooke Cumberland Crew & TBR Group—It’s always such a pleasure to chat with you ladies! I love having a personal relationship with readers and getting to know you. This is seriously the best job ever and your support makes everything so worth it. Thank you!

To all the authors that read PTL early—Thank you for being excited to read Aspen & Morgan’s story! This community is filled with so many amazing people. I feel so blessed to have found you and be able to connect with you. The friendships I’ve made in the indie community have been the most wonderful thing.

Bloggers—To those that read PTL early, thank you for taking the time to read and review! I love networking with you all and forming lifelong relationships. I love that your passion for books is driven solely for the love of reading. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thank you to those bloggers that always share stuff for me—sales, new releases, cover releases, blitz, etc. THANK YOU for all you do! It doesn’t go unnoticed, I swear!

Erin Spencer—You will forever owe me, but I love you anyway.


I’m very blessed, and I’ll never take that for granted. After my husband lost his leg four years ago, I’ve struggled with depression. Once I started working from home, the anxiety followed. Some days are worse than others, but for the most part, it’s controlled. However, I definitely can’t say I do this alone. My husband is the most supportive person on my side. Although he hasn’t read any of my books, he’s constantly lifting me up and telling me how proud he is. And sometimes, that’s all a girl needs to hear :) Thank you babe for always having my back!

I’ve also very fortunate to have a blended family that works really well together. My mom and dad are my heroes. They’ve been apart for 17 years, but still attend family dinners and spending time together just to be able to see my daughter and me. They’ve been my role models in everything I do and even though they probably won’t read this (unless I show it to them, of course) I owe them so much credit for helping me in my career. My mom is a neat freak and cleans my house when I’m deep in the cave. They both take turns taking my daughter overnight and watching her while I attend signings. They run errands for me when I just can’t leave my desk. But most of all, they support everything I do. So Mom and Dad, thank you for setting the bar. You two amaze me every day, and I know I couldn’t do this without you.

Vienna—You’re almost 5 years old and will never be allowed to read this, but I want you to know how much you’ve changed my life. Everything I do, I do for you. I love you, even though you drive me insane most days.  But thank you for giving me a reason to get out of bed every day (No, literally…you come into my room and wake me up demanding breakfast). I love you baby girl!







The Air He Breathes

Coming September 25, 2015


I was warned about Tristan Cole.
“Stay away from him,” people said.
“He’s cruel.”
“He’s cold.”
“He’s damaged.”
It’s easy to judge a man because of his past. To look at Tristan and see a monster.
But I couldn’t do that. I had to accept the wreckage that lived inside of him because it also lived inside of me.
We were both empty.
We were both looking for something else. Something more.
We both wanted to put together the shattered pieces of our yesterdays.
Then perhaps we could finally remember how to breathe.




Sometimes I stood in the backyard and stared out into the wild bushes and tall grass, trying to remember what it had used to look like. Steven had made the place beautiful. He’d always had an eye for details when it came to landscaping, and I could almost imagine the smell of the flowers he’d planted, which were now all dead.

“Close your eyes,” Steven whispered, walking up to me with his hands behind his back. I did as he said. “Name this flower,” he said. The smell hit my nose and I smiled.


I smiled wider when I felt his lips kiss mine. “Hyacinth,” he echoed. My eyes opened. He placed the flower behind my ear. “I was thinking of planting a few by the pond in the backyard.”

“It’s my favorite flower,” I said.

“You’re my favorite girl,” he replied.

I blinked, and I was back, missing the smells of the past.

My eyes shifted to my neighbor’s house, whose lawn was even worse off than mine. The house was made of reddish-brown bricks and had ropes of ivory wrapping around each side. Their grass was ten times longer than mine, and on the back porch I saw a garden gnome that was shattered into pieces. A plastic yellow kid’s baseball bat was hidden in the ever-growing strands of grass, along with a toy dinosaur.

A small table saw was set up by the shed, its red paint peeling. Stacks of wood were leaning up against the shed, and I wondered if anyone actually lived in the house at all.

It seemed more abandoned than ever, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the mindset of my neighbor.

Behind all the houses on our block was the beginning of Meadows Creek’s forest. The area was surrounded with trees. I knew deep within those trees there was a narrow river hidden in the darkened woods that ran for miles and miles. Most people didn’t know it actually existed, but when I was in college, I’d discovered it with Steven. In the narrow river was a tiny rock. On the tiny rock were the initials ST and EB. Those initials had been carved into the tiny rock resting in the narrow river in the darkened woods when Steven had asked me to marry him. Without much thought, I found myself walking into the woods and before long I sat within the trees, staring down at my reflection in the water.

One breath.

The small fish swam downstream peacefully, until the water began to ripple after a big splash was heard. I turned my head to my left to see what the commotion was, and my cheeks blushed as I saw Tristan standing in the river wearing no shirt and a pair of running shorts. He bent down to the water and began washing his face, scrubbing his fingers against his rough, wild beard. My eyes danced across his tanned chest, and he began tossing water against his body, cleaning himself.  Tattoos covered his left arm and wrapped across his pec. I studied the markings on his body, unable to look away. There were more than I could count, yet my eyes tried to take in each one.
I know those tattoos.
Each a different masterpiece from classic children novels. Aslan from
. A monster from
Where the Wild Things Are
. The boxcar from
The Boxcar Children
. Across his chest were the words ‘We’re all mad here’ from
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

My insides exploded from the brilliance of it all. There was nothing more stunning than a man who not only knew the most classic stories of all time, but also found a way to make his body his own personal bookshelf. 

Water from his wet hair dripped down his forehead and fell to his chest. All of a sudden I was frozen in place. I wondered if he knew how handsome yet frightening he was. My thoughts very much matched those old Tootsie Roll Pop
commercials as I gazed at his body.
‘Mister Owl, how long can I stare at this man before it becomes socially inappropriate?’ ‘I don’t know, Liz. Let’s find out. One…Two…Three…’

He hadn’t taken notice of me, and my heart was pounding against my ribcage as I stepped away from the river, hoping to not be seen.

Zeus was tied up to a tree, and when he saw me, he instantly started barking my way.


Tristan looked up toward me, his eyes as untamed as before. His body froze, water dripping from his chest down to the edge of his shorts. I stared for a moment too long, then realized I was staring straight at his package. My eyes shifted back up to his wild stare. He hadn’t moved an inch. Zeus kept barking and wagging his tail, trying to break away from the tree.

“Following me?” he asked. His words were short, not leaving much room for a conversation, very straight to the point.

“What? No.”

He arched an eyebrow.              

I kept staring at his tattoos.
Oh, Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham
. He noticed my staring.

Crap. Stop, Liz.

“Sorry,” I muttered, my face heating up from nerves. What was he doing out there?

He arched his other brow and didn’t blink once as he looked my way. Even though he could speak, it seemed he found it much more fun to make me uncomfortable and anxious. He was hard to look at, because he was so broken, but every scarred part of his existence seemed to draw me in.

I watched his every move as he untangled Zeus’ leash from the tree and headed in the direction I’d just come from. I started behind him, to get back to my house.

He paused.

A slow turn in my direction.

“Stop following me,” he hissed.

“I’m not.”

“You are.”



“Not not not!”

He cocked his brow again. “You’re like a five-year-old.” He turned back around and kept walking. I started my steps up too. Every now and then he would glance back and grunt, but we didn’t speak another word. When we reached the edge of the woods, he and Zeus walked up to the wild yard beside my house.

“I guess we’re neighbors,” I said with a chuckle.

The way he glared at me made my stomach flip. There was a high level of discomfort in my chest, yet behind it was still that familiar ting in my gut that arrived when he looked me in the eyes.

We both walked into our houses without a goodbye.


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BOOK: Pushing the Limits
11.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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