We’ve made it to another Hump Day, which means it’s time for a steamy, exclusive excerpt! Today we take a peek inside M. O’Keefe’s Everything I Left Unsaid, available next month. Innocent Annie is on the run from an abusive ex when when an unexpected savior enters her life. Dylan’s sultry demands are reserved exclusively to phone calls, and Annie finds her inhibitions wane as desire takes hold. The air of mystery surrounding the man behind the calls only makes this story steamier. Are you ready? One sexy excerpt coming right up!
He was breathing heavily into the phone and his voice was hard. Not the way I’d heard him before. If he’d sounded like this the first time we talked, I wouldn’t have called him back. I would have been too scared. Of him. Not myself. “Layla, I know you have no reason to trust me, but please . . . please don’t get messed up with him.”
“Okay,” I said, placating him. I’d promised myself I’d stop with the self-deception; I didn’t say anything about lying to some stranger on the phone.
“Do you trust me?” he asked, sounding doubtful. “Because I need you to trust me.”
“I don’t know you.”
His chuckle felt like a hand across that tender skin at the nape of my neck. The skin that had never been touched before. Not in kindness.
And I didn’t know if Dylan’s voice was kind. Or if he was. All I knew was that my body reacted to him.
“I guess that’s true.”
“Are you an ax murderer?”
“Nope. Well, at least we got that out of the way.” I laughed. “Though maybe it would be funny if both of us were, you know, ax murderers. Like the worst coincidence. Or maybe a dream come true—I imagine that ax murderers don’t get to date—”
“You sound nervous.”
My mouth was hot and dry. Worse than the creek bed back home in August. “I . . . ah . . . a little. I guess. Yes.”
“Are you trying to be brave?” His voice tipped into that familiar place where we’d been last time. Like, he was letting me know there was something more he wanted to talk about. Underneath the laughter and the banalities, there was a darker place we could go.
“I’ve never been brave in my life,” I said, longing so hard for that darker place. If having a dirty book would have gotten me in trouble, wanting this forbidden thing would have gotten me hurt I don’t know how bad.
But not here.
Not with him—this stranger on the phone.
This is why I called, because I don’t know how to find these dark, forbidden places on my own.
“You’re talking to me, aren’t you?”
“Are you telling me I shouldn’t?”
“No, but you said you scared yourself last time we talked.”
The trailer was small and dark, and it was as if there were only the two of us in the wide world.
“I did,” I murmured, feeling almost powerless. But in a good way. Like I was giving up the power instead of having it taken from me. The act of willing surrender made all the difference.
Made it okay.
“Then talking to me is brave.”
“I guess so,” I said, giving myself some points when I was usually so damn stingy.
“What else do you want to be brave about?”
Everything. My life. My body.
“I bought a dirty book today.” I closed my eyes and slapped a hand to my forehead. Honestly, could I be any less cool? I felt like a teenager.
His chuckle was low. Rough. “Did you? Was it good?”
“I’m not done. But yeah . . . it’s hot.”
“Was that brave?” he asked.
“Very. You tell me one,” I said, mortified and on edge.
His sigh was the kind of sigh that came after a long, hard day, when it seemed to be you against the world. I was pretty familiar with that sigh. “Well, I fired a guy today. A friend’s brother. I let it go on for too long because I owe my friend a lot. But in the end, I had to let the guy go.”
“I’m sorry. That’s a hard thing to do.”
“You ever fire anyone?” He sounded surprised.
“Once,” I said, not wanting to remember. “It was awful.”
“Yeah, today sucked. You go.”
“A brave thing?”
I couldn’t tell him about the cereal and the chocolate chips. I already sounded like an idiot with the book.
“Yesterday, it was so hot I wanted to lie down on my bed in the middle of the day naked and let the wind blow over me.”
I bit my lip and he exhaled slowly through his nose and I sensed that I’d shocked him. Or excited him. I sure as hell shocked and excited myself. But it was happening. I’d said those words and my body was coiled, hot and anxious. Full of restlessness and embarrassment and a kind of yearning that hurt.
For sex. Lust. Orgasms. Oral sex. Red rooms with whips. Blindfolds and handcuffs. Kisses in elevators that changed a person’s entire life.
Things other women took for granted that had been denied me, my entire life.
I wanted to feel my body from the inside out, in a way I never had before.
“Did you do it?”
“I chickened out.”
“Self-conscious, I guess. Too much sunlight maybe.”
“No sunlight now.”
I held the phone away from my face for a moment and took a deep breath.
“No,” I said. “There isn’t.”
“Why don’t you do that now? Open your windows, take off your clothes and stretch out on your bed, and then you can tell me what else you want to be brave about.”
This is why I called. Exactly why I called. I can’t chicken out now.
I got up from the settee and walked to my bedroom. My fingers opened the fly of my shorts and when they fell to my ankles, I stepped out of them and kept walking. I took off my tank top. I hadn’t bothered with a bra because of the heat, and I didn’t have much up top anyway.
The underwear stayed on. I was still Annie McKay after all.
The windows were open, the breeze making the little beige curtains wave.
In my threadbare pink bikini underwear, I lay down on my made bed.
The wind danced across my stomach. Over my nipples, turning them into hard beads. I almost touched one. Almost.
It was like when I cut my hair and felt the wind against my neck for the first time. I felt exposed and raw.
“How’s it feel?” he asked, his voice somewhere between a whisper and a murmur.
“It feels good.” I was lost for a moment in the cold and heat of it. The strange vulnerable thrill of it.
“Yeah? Tell me.”
I swallowed. Oh God. I didn’t have the guts for this one.
“It’s been hot for days, hasn’t it?” he asked, as if he knew I’d hit a limit. “And that breeze just cools down all that sweat. Makes you almost cold in places.”
I shouldn’t like those words. I wasn’t his good girl. I wasn’t anyone’s. But my eyes fluttered shut and I lifted my fingers to my nipple. For just a second. It was hot and hard. Burning, nearly. And then I put my hand down on the quilt beside my hip.
But I couldn’t quite stop the hitch in my breath.
He made a sound—that sound—again. Something had turned him on.
“What else do you want to be brave about?” he asked.
“I’d like to eat dessert for breakfast one day.”
His laughter was dark and rich like brownie batter and I wanted to eat a bowl of it. Of him.
“That’s an easy one,” he said.
Not if you’re me. Not if you were raised by my mom.
“I want to give a man a blow job.”
The silence on the other end pounded.
“You haven’t done that?” he asked.
“Jesus, how old are you?”
“Twenty-four. How old are you?” God, I hadn’t thought to ask.
“We could be lying,” I said. “Both of us.”
“I’m not,” he said. “I’ll never lie to you.”
I couldn’t make him the same promises—I had, after all, lied about my name, about staying away from Ben. About being totally naked. I wasn’t ready to tell him the truth.
Or willing to.
“I’m not lying about my age,” I said.
“Are you a virgin?”
“No.” Those memories, cold and uncomfortable, terrifying and sad, were in my brain’s front hall closet too. “Just . . . not experienced.”
“Has a man ever gone down on you?”
I shook my head, my mouth dry, words gone, but then I realized he couldn’t see me.
“No,” I said.
“Did that happen in your dirty book?”
“It turned you on.”
“That’s why you called me?”
Oh my God. “Yes,” I breathed, and he groaned.
Sex with Hoyt had been awful on a bunch of levels and the memories spilled, uncontrolled, out from where I’d tried to hide them. At the beginning, before I knew better, I’d asked him once if he’d like that . . . like me to put his penis in my mouth.
He smacked me right off the bed.
Whores talk like that, he’d said.
I closed my eyes, my arms lifting to cover my breasts, an old awful embarrassment filling me right to the top, pushing away all my excitement. Tears burned behind my eyes.
I can’t do this. This isn’t me. This isn’t for me.
I opened my mouth to tell him I’d made a mistake. I never should have tried this, no matter how bad I wanted it.
“You’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures, Layla,” he said.
My eyes sprang open at the fake name.
My cousin’s name.
I’m not me. This isn’t me, having this conversation.
I’m Layla. And Layla isn’t embarrassed. Layla doesn’t give a shit what some asshole like Hoyt thinks about her. Layla’s probably had phone sex half a million times.
Recommitted, I cleared my throat. “I’ve never been skinny-dipping.”
“Well, now you’re killing me.”
“There’s a swimming pond here. Maybe I’ll try it.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“What about you?” I asked. “What—”
“Hold on now, we’re not done with you.”
“Oh.” I flushed at the attention, the focus this man put on me. It was uncomfortable, but I forced myself to take it. Absorb it. So different from Hoyt’s mercurial, violent focus.
“Can I ask you a question?” he asked.
“It would be weird if I said no after all this, wouldn’t it?”
“Are you touching yourself?”
“What, like . . . masturbating?” I shrieked. Actually shrieked. So impossibly not cool, Annie.
“Then . . . what are you talking about?” I asked.
“Just touching. Just feeling your skin. Your body.”
“No. I’m not doing that.” I’d never done that.
“Put your hand over your belly, spread out your fingers as wide as you can.”
I did what he asked, the tips of my fingers touching the edge of my panties. My thumb and pinky brushed the small indentions next to my hips that were somehow ticklish and directly attached to the ache between my legs. The skin there was so soft. The hair on my stomach white-blond and fine. I’d never noticed that before.
I ran my palm over my skin and then the back of my hand, from hip bone to hip bone.
I couldn’t stop my gasp at the electric sensation.
“You doing it?”
“Now take that hand and slide it up your stomach, your chest, to your throat. Trace your collarbone.”
“I don’t . . .” My collarbone? Really?
“This is why you called me, baby. Let me do my job.”
I was panting—which I’m sure he could hear, but I didn’t care. I did what he asked, tracing the top and bottom edges of the delicate fluted bone.
“Touch your lips. Go real slow with your thumb. How does that feel?”
“Good. All of it . . . feels so good.” My lips were chapped, and somehow even that skin was attached to the ache between my legs because I was dying. Restless and achy and hurting.
“Lick the tips of your fingers. Feel your tongue.”
It was surreal, these parts of my body that seemed so pedestrian, so bland and normal every other moment of my life, but right now . . . they were electric. The air I breathed, the skin on my body—my entire self—was electric.
“Do it, baby.”
“Slip your fingers between your legs.”
“I don’t . . .” I closed my eyes and moaned. There was too much happening inside of me—too many things. Desire and embarrassment. A terrible, sharp sense of my own ridiculousness.
“You don’t what?”
“I don’t . . . I just . . . I’ve never—” How could I explain my life to this man? The extreme temperatures I’d endured that left nothing . . . nothing for me. There was not a moment of my day spent on anything but appeasing first my mother and then my husband.
“You’ve never . . . ?” he asked.
Once, I thought, but the memory was a bad one. Sour and awful. Terrible and unfinished; I couldn’t even count it.
“Oh, fuck, baby, I don’t even care if this is some kind of game you’re playing. I’m in. Whatever it is, I’m so fucking in.”
“It’s not a game.”
“Okay,” he said, and I could tell he still didn’t believe me. And God, wasn’t that easier? Wasn’t it easier if he thought I was worldly and experienced enough to think of this dirty little phone sex game to play with a stranger?
“Are you?” I asked.
His low chuckle sizzled from my ear over my body. “No, this one is about you.”
About me. Oh God, why did that even turn me on?
Nothing good had been about me. Ever.
“Tell me what to do,” I whispered.
His breathing was hard and I heard the shift and squeal of a chair, like he was turning, or leaning back.
“God, you’re good, baby.”
I didn’t give a shit what he thought as long as this feeling was filling my body. “Please,” I whispered.
Again, that groan. “Slide your fingers down between your legs.”
My fingers slipped under the plain pink cotton of my underwear and I whimpered when the pressure of my hand made the ache worse. Sharper somehow.
“I like that sound you made,” he said.
“Cup yourself in your hand, your fingers low . . . you feel yourself there?”
“Yes. I’m . . . I’m wet. Hot.”
“Good, baby. Now take those fingers down between your lips, just keep following your wetness until your finger slips . . .”
I gasped. “Inside.”
“Oh God.” I closed my eyes, sliding my finger out slowly and then back in. I lifted my knees up, arched my hips so I could get more of my finger inside, but somehow, as good as that felt, there was something entirely unsatisfying about it. “It’s not—”
“Use two fingers.”
I did and immediately the pressure inside was fuller . . . better. My fingers slipped and slid, buried between my legs. I felt the muscles of my channel against the skin of my hand in a way I never had before.
“You know where your clit is?” he asked.
“Yes.” Entirely in theory.
“Slip your thumb up to the top of your pussy—”
Oh God, that word. That filthy word . . . “Say that again.”
Impossibly, a wild gust of laughter blew through me. My fingers inside my body and I was laughing. He laughed too, and it was a whole new layer of connection.
But then somehow in the same breath, we both sobered.
“Pussy, baby. Slide your thumb to the top of your pussy.”
I did what he asked, so hard and so fast that when my thumb brushed my clit, I cried out.
“There you go,” he breathed, sounding somehow satisfied. “Work it with your thumb.”
“It . . . it hurts, a little.”
“Good hurt or bad hurt?”
“There’s no good hurt,” I told him, my voice harsher than I’d intended. Good hurt. What an oxymoron. My thumb lifted from the kernel between my legs that was so sensitive right now I could barely stand to touch it.
His silence went on for a long time, long enough that I pulled my fingers from my body. The breeze over my body was not cool—it was cold.
I crossed an arm over my chest as if he could see me.
“You’re not playing, are you? This isn’t some hot virgin kink game with you?”
“Sure it is,” I said, trying to sound coy or something, not like my lungs were being crushed by failure and embarrassment. “You don’t like it?”
“Don’t lie.” His voice was harder than it had been and I responded instinctively.
“Not . . . really. No.”
“You’ve really never done this?”
Virgin kink. My entire awful, sad, and lonely sexual experience could be summed up as virgin kink?
I sat up, breathless and embarrassed again. My body’s humming, its ache and throb—the slick heat between my legs, on the top of my thighs—shameful more than pleasurable.
“Never mind,” I stammered. “Forget it. Forget everything.”
“Layla, stop. Don’t hang up.”
I didn’t hang up, but I didn’t say anything, either.
“Are you there?” he asked.
After a long moment, I said, “Yes.”
“Did that feel good, that stuff you were doing?”
“Yes.” It came out as a sob. My body felt combustible. My emotions impossibly wild. Totally out of control. I wanted to hit and scream and cry.
Excerpted from EVERYTHING I LEFT UNSAID by M. O’Keefe Copyright © 2015 by M. O’Keefe. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Everything I Left Unsaid will be available in digital and in print on October 13. Preorder a copy: Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance | IndieBound. If you’d like some more Hump Day excerpts (who wouldn’t?) we’ve got you covered.