Title: Out of the Wild
Author: Jessica Walker
Genre: Steamy Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 29, 2020
The rules say we can’t touch each other, but rules were made to be broken.
It’s been seven years since our plane crash landed. What started as 47 passengers has quickly dwindled to 32, and now that Christa is pregnant we risk losing her too.
If she had followed the rules none of this would have happened. Men and women are not to be alone together, prohibited to touch and sex is the ultimate taboo. I followed the rules, why couldn’t she?
I am determined to save her, even if it means leaving camp in pursuit of civilization. Even if it means travelling with Cade, the only man I’ve ever been tempted by.
The climate I can endure, the terrain, survivable, but the rules? They are one forbidden touch from being broken forever.
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It has been years since the crash, and still I wake every morning with the jarring sense of falling. Christa places her palm on my back for reassurance and I roll over to face her. It’s not yet morning and I can barely make out her features in the moonlight. Her face is fuller and so is her abdomen, but we haven’t said anything to the council yet.
“Go back to sleep Lena,” she whispers, and I flip back to my side, used to following her directions.
I am mad at her and worried for her, but mostly I am determined to save her. It’s the not knowing how that keeps me awake.
There is a rustling in the shelter across the way, and I suspect that Cade is unable to sleep tonight too. I think about crawling out from the familiarity and warmth of the space I share with Christa and clicking my tongue against the roof of my mouth three times. It’s the code we use when the four of us want to sneak out of camp. Only Christa is too tired now and Tanner never leaves her unless Cade or I are there to protect her.
Maybe Cade can hear me thinking because I watch as his silhouette moves from the shelter and down toward the water. Christa groans as I pull away from her and follow him. When I reach the water’s edge I have to skip over three smaller rocks to reach the large curved boulder that rises above the rest. I sit close to Cade so the two of us can whisper. We can’t risk waking any of the others. There are strict rules about men and women being alone together.
Rules that seemed silly—until Christa got sick.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he says, keeping his eyes on the smooth flat surface of the water in front of us.
I don’t care that he wants me to leave. I can’t bear the thought of lying still until the sun rises. So instead, I say what we both know.
“She’s getting noticeably bigger.”
I don’t have to look at Cade to know that his brows are pinched together, and his mouth has formed a tense, firm line. He gets quiet when he can’t quite work something out. Usually I wait him out, but this time I can’t because I know that like me, he doesn’t know where to start.
I trace my hands along the rough edges of the boulder. Below, the water has rubbed it smooth, but on top where we sit, it has the texture of gesso, layered heavily with a palette knife. The uninvited memory of things from before is unsettling. I wrap my arms around my knees, so as not to feel it.
“They never should have—”
“But they did,” I say, cutting him off.
Cade inches away from me on the rock, as if being too close to me is dangerous. I don’t take it personally, even though just a few weeks ago his hand brushed mine in this very spot and neither of us pulled away.
Jessica is a librarian by day, writer by night. She loves steamy adventure stories and a good romcom when it’s time to lighten things up.