All or Nothing at All

By: Jennifer Probst

prologue





SEVEN YEARS AGO . . .


The darkness masked everything that was wrong and allowed her to bare not only her body but her very soul.

Her hands slid over sleek muscles and dampened skin. She arched under the heat of his mouth, at first demanding and rough, then gentling to an aching tenderness that broke her apart piece by piece. His name whispered from her lips in a prayer and a chant, wanting him, needing him . . .

“Tristan.”

He parted her thighs and slid home. She cried out at the burning fullness crowding all the empty spaces inside until there was only him, his beloved face inches from hers, tight with tension and a raw possession that thrilled her.

“Give me everything.”

She couldn’t fight his words or his body. His hands gripped her hips. His amber eyes glinted with masculine demand as he pushed her higher, wringing agonizing pleasure with each step toward climax, and she gave up, gave in, and let him catch her as she shattered with release.

He followed her over, groaning her name, and she clung to him with a vulnerable need she tried desperately to hide in the light of day. He rolled to the side, and for a few precious moments, he held her. She breathed in the delicious scent of sweat, sex, and musk, cuddling into his powerful strength.

Tears stung her eyes. God, how she loved him. When he held her like this, the confusion and fear calmed, and she was able to reach an inner peace. But he was slipping further away with each passing day, and she didn’t know how to stop the slide.

Maybe when he knew about the baby, things would change.

They’d get better. They’d make a commitment and move forward, and it would be like this all the time.

As if he caught her thought, he suddenly released her, turning away to sit up in the bed amid the tangled sheets.

The fragile hope was crushed like new spring grass under a booted heel.

“I have to tell you something, Syd.”

She gathered her courage. “I have to tell you something, too,” she said quietly.

He stood up. The moonlight trickled through the window and drenched him in a silvery glow. He pulled on his jeans with a quick precision that told her he wouldn’t be staying the night. Again.

“I’m leaving.”

Shock hit her like a sharp slap. She propped herself up on her elbow and stared. Panic stirred. “What are you talking about?”

He turned. His face looked like it was set in stone, as if he hadn’t been buried inside her a few minutes ago. “I’m done with this family. Done with this town. My asshole father just informed me he refuses to let me buy the real estate I wanted to flip. He wants me to be like Cal. To take his orders and build his cookie-cutter houses for the rest of my life. My own brother took his side, and we just had a blowout.”

Heart beating wildly, she tried to find a solution. The family construction business, Pierce Brothers, was legendary in Harrington, but Christian Pierce ran his empire with a fierce hand and an even fiercer tongue. As the middle sibling, Tristan had been struggling to find his place for years and to show his father what he could bring to the company. “Your dad has a temper. If you keep showing him how you can help Pierce Brothers, I’m sure he’ll come around.”

He spit out a curse and shook his head. “Would you stop defending my father, Syd? He fucking hates me. God, I could take that if he respected me, but he thinks I’m a joke. Dalton is already leaving for California, my mother is dead, and I refuse to spend the rest of my life being a lackey. I’m going to New York City and doing real estate.”

She winced, her heart twisting with pain. His mother, Diane, had been the heart of the family. The car crash that took her life a few months earlier ripped everyone apart, including Sydney. Diane had been like her own mother, and she was still reeling with grief. She struggled to put her thoughts into words. “Right now? Why don’t you give it a little more time? Go over all your options. It’s been hard for everyone.”

“There are no other options here! Don’t you understand nothing is ever going to change? I’m trapped. Trapped by my damn family and responsibilities and—” He broke off, shoving his fingers through his hair. “I can’t wait any longer. I’m leaving this week.”

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