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The Edge of Never
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A New York Times,USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling blockbuster!
Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett thought she knew exactly where her life was going. But after a wild night at the hottest club in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, she shocks everyone-including herself-when she decides to leave the only life she’s ever known and set out on her own. Grabbing her purse and her cell phone, Camryn boards a Greyhound bus ready to find herself. Instead, she finds Andrew Parrish.
Sexy and exciting, Andrew lives life like there is no tomorrow. He persuades Camryn to do things she never thought she would and shows her how to give in to her deepest, most forbidden desires. Soon he becomes the center of her daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But there is more to Andrew than Camryn realizes. Will his secret push them inseparably together — or destroy them forever?
Table of Contents
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Natalie has been twirling that same lock of hair for the past ten minutes and it's starting to drive me nuts. I shake my head and pull my iced latte toward me, placing my lips on the straw. Natalie sits across from me with her elbows propped on the little round table, chin in one hand.
"He's gorgeous," she says staring off toward the guy who just got in line. "Seriously, Cam, would you look at him?"
I roll my eyes and take another sip. "Nat," I say, placing my drink back on the table, "you have a boyfriend—do I need to constantly remind you?"
Natalie sneers playfully at me. "What are you, my mother?" But she can't keep her eyes on me for long, not while that walking wall of sexy is standing at the register ordering coffee and scones. "Besides, Damon doesn't care if I look—as long as I'm bending over for him every night, he's good with it."
I let out a spat of air, blushing.
"See! Uh huh," she says, smiling hugely. "I got a laugh out of you." She reaches over and thrusts her hand into her little purple purse. "I have to make note of that," and she pulls out her phone and opens her digital notebook. "Saturday. June 15th." She moves her finger across the screen. "1:54 p.m.–Camryn Bennett laughed at one of my sexual jokes." Then she shoves the phone back inside her purse and looks at me with that thoughtful sort of look she always has when she's about to go into therapy-mode. "Just look once," she says, all joking aside.
Just to appease her, I turn my chin carefully at an angle so that I can get a quick glimpse of the guy. He moves away from the register and toward the end of the counter where he slides his drink off the edge. Tall. Perfectly sculpted cheekbones. Mesmerizing model green eyes and spiked up brown hair.
"Yes," I admit, looking back at Natalie, "he's hot, but so what?"
Natalie has to watch him leave out the double glass doors and glide past the windows before she can look back at me to respond.
"Oh. My. God," she says eyes wide and full of disbelief.
"He's just a guy, Nat." I place my lips on the straw again. "You might as well put a sign that says 'obsessed' on your forehead. You're everything obsessed short of drooling."
"Are you kidding me?" Her expression has twisted into pure shock. "Camryn, you have a serious problem. You know that, right?" She presses her back against her chair. "You need to up your medication. Seriously."
"I stopped taking it in April."
"Because it's ridiculous," I say matter-of-factly. "I'm not suicidal, so there's no reason for me to be taking it."
She shakes her head at me and crosses her arms over her chest. "You think they prescribe that stuff just for suicidal people? No. They don't." She points a finger at me briefly and hides it back in the fold of her arm. "It's a chemical imbalance thing, or some shit like that."
I smirk at her. "Oh, really? Since when did you become so educated in mental health issues and the medications they use to treat the hundreds of diagnoses?" My brow rises a little, just enough to let her see how much I know she has no idea what she's talking about.
When she wrinkles her nose at me instead of answering, I say, "I'll heal on my own time and I don't need a pill to fix it for me." My explanation had started out kind, but unexpectedly turned bitter before I could get the last sentence out. That happens a lot.
Natalie sighs and the smile completely drops from her face.
"I'm sorry," I say, feeling bad for snapping at her. "Look, I know you're right. I can't deny that I have some messed up emotional issues and that I can be a bitch sometimes—"
"Sometimes?" she mumbles under her breath, but is grinning again and has already forgiven me.
That happens a lot, too.
I half-smile back at her. "I just want to find answers on my own, y'know?"
"Find what answers?" She's annoyed with me. "Cam," she says, cocking her head to one side to appear thoughtful. "I hate to say it, but shit really does happen. You just have to get over it. Beat the hell out of it by doing things that make you happy."
OK, so maybe she isn't so horrible at the therapy thing after all.
"I know, you're right," I say, "but…"
Natalie raises a brow, waiting. "What? Come on, out with it!"
I gaze toward the wall briefly, thinking about it. So often I sit around and think about life and wonder about every possible aspect of it. I wonder what the hell I'm doing here. Even right now. In this coffee shop with this girl I've known practically all my life. Yesterday I thought about why I felt the need to get up at exactly the same time as the day before and do everything like I did the day before. Why? What compels any of us to do the things we do when deep down a part of us just wants to break free from it all?
I look away from the wall and right at my best friend who I know won't understand what I'm about to say, but because of the need to get it out, I say it anyway.
"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to backpack across the world?"
Natalie's face goes slack. "Uh, not really," she says. "That might… suck."
"Well, think about it for a second," I say, leaning against the table and focusing all of my attention on her. "Just you and a backpack with a few necessities. No bills. No getting up at the same time every morning to go to a job you hate. Just you and the world out ahead of you. You never know what the next day is going to bring, who you'll meet, what you'll have for lunch or where you might sleep." I realize I've become so lost in the imagery that I might've seemed a little obsessed for a second, myself.
"You're starting to freak me out," Natalie says, eyeing me across the small table with a look of uncertainty. Her arched brow settles back even with the other one and then she says, "And there's also all the walking, the risk of getting raped, murdered and tossed on the side of a freeway somewhere. Oh, and then there's all the walking…"
Clearly, she thinks I'm borderline crazy.
"What brought this on, anyway?" she asks, taking a quick sip of her drink. "That sounds like some kind of mid-life-crisis stuff—you're only twenty." She points again as if to underline, "And you've hardly paid a bill in your life."
She takes another sip; an obnoxious slurping noise follows.
"Maybe not," I say thinking quietly to myself, "but I will be once I move in with you."
"So true," she says, tapping her fingertips on her cup. "Everything split down the middle—Wait, you're not backing out on me, are you?" She sort of freezes, looking warily across at me.
"No, I'm still on. Next week I'll be out of my mom's house and living with a slut."
"You bitch!" she laughs.
I half-smile and go back to my brooding, the stuff before that she wasn't relating to, but I expected as much. Even before Ian died, I always kind of thought out-of-the-box. Instead of sitting around dreaming up new sex positions, as Natalie often does about Damon, her boyfriend of five years, I dream about things that really matter. At least in my world, they matter. What the air in other countries feels like on my skin, how the ocean smells, why the sound of rain makes me gasp. "You're one deep chick." That's what Damon said to me on more than one occasion.
"Geez!" Natalie says. "You're a freakin' downer, you know that right?" She shakes her head with the straw between her lips.
"Come on," she says suddenly and stands up from the table. "I can't take this philosophical stuff anymore and quaint little places like this seem to make you worse—we're going to The Underground tonight."
"What?—No, I'm not going to that place."
"Yes. You. Are." She chucks her empty drink into the trash can a few feet away and grabs my wrist. "You're going with me this time because you're supposed to be my best friend and I won't take no again for an answer." Her close-lipped smile is spread across the entirety of her slightly tanned face.
I know she means business. She always means business when she has that look in her eyes: the one brimmed with excitement and determination. It'll probably be easiest just to go this once and get it over with, or else she'll never leave me alone about it. Such is a necessary evil when it comes to having a pushy best friend.
I get up and slip my purse strap over my shoulder.
"It's only two o'clock," I say.
I drink down the last of my latte and toss the empty cup away in the same trash can.
"Yeah, but first we've got to get you a new outfit."
"Uh, no," I say resolutely as she's walking me out the glass doors and into the breezy summer air. "Going to The Underground with you is more than good deed enough. I refuse to go shopping. I've got plenty of clothes."
Natalie slips her arm around mine as we walk down the sidewalk and past a long line of parking meters. She grins and glances over at me. "Fine. Then you'll at least let me dress you from something out of my closet."
"What's wrong with my own wardrobe?"
She purses her lips at me and draws her chin in as if to quietly argue why I even asked a question so ridiculous. "It's The Underground," she says, as if there is no answer more obvious than that.
OK, she has a point. Natalie and me may be best friends, but with us it's an opposites attract sort of thing. She's a rocker chick who's had a crush on Jared Leto since Fight Club. I'm more of a laid back kind of girl who rarely wears dark-colored clothes unless I'm attending a funeral. Not that Natalie wears all black and has some kind of emo hair thing going on, but she would never be caught dead in anything from my closet because she says it's all just too plain. I beg to differ. I know how to dress, and guys—when I used to pay attention to the way they eyed my ass in my favorite jeans—have never had a problem with the clothes I choose to wear.
But The Underground was made for people like Natalie and so I guess I'll have to endure dressing like her for one night just to fit in. I'm not a follower. I never have been. But I'll definitely become someone I'm not for a few hours if it'll make me blend in rather than make me a blatant eyesore and draw attention.
We make it to the Underground just as night falls, but not before driving around in Damon's souped-up truck to various houses. He would pull into the driveway, get out and stay inside no more than three or four minutes and never say a word when he came back out. At least, not about what he went inside for, or who he talked to—the usual stuff that would make these visits normal. But not much about Damon is usual or normal. I love him to death. I've known him almost as long as I've known Natalie, but I've never been able to accept his drug habits. He grows copious amounts of weed in his basement, but he's not a pothead. In fact, no one but me and a few of his close friends would ever suspect that a hot piece of ass like Damon Winters would be a grower, because most growers look like white trash and often have hairdos that are stuck somewhere between the 70's and 90's. Damon is far from looking like white trash—he could be Alex Pettyfer's younger brother. And Damon says weed just isn't his thing. No, Damon's drug of choice is cocaine and he only grows and sells weed to pay for his cocaine habit.
Natalie pretends that what Damon does is perfectly harmless. She knows that he doesn't smoke weed and says that weed really isn't that bad and if other people want to smoke it to chill out and relax, that she sees no harm in Damon helping with that.
She refuses to believe, however, that cocaine has seen more action from his face than any part of her body has.
"OK, you're going to have a good time, right?" Natalie bumps my backseat door shut with her butt after I get out and then she looks hopelessly at me. "Just don't fight it and try to enjoy yourself."
I roll my eyes. "Nat, I wouldn't deliberately try to hate it," I say. "I do want to enjoy myself."
Damon comes around to our side of the truck and slips his arms around both of our waists. "I get to go in with two hot chicks on my arms."
Natalie elbows him with a pretend resentful smirk. "Shut up, baby. You'll make me jealous." Already she's grinning impishly up at him.
Damon lets his hand drop from her waist and he grabs a handful of her butt cheek. She makes a sickening moaning sound and reaches up on her toes to kiss him. I want to tell them to get a room, but I'd be wasting my breath.
The Underground is the hottest spot just outside of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, but you won't find it listed in the phone book. Only people like us know it exists. Some guy named Rob rented out an abandoned warehouse two years ago and spent about one million of his rich daddy's money to convert it into a secret nightclub. Two years and going strong; the place has since become a spot where local rock sex gods can live the rock n' roll dream with screaming fans and groupies. But it's not a trashy joint. From the outside it might look like an abandoned building in a partial ghost town, but the inside is like any upscale hard rock night club equipped with colorful strobe lights that shoot continuously across the space, slutty-looking waitresses and a stage big enough for two bands to play at the same time.
To keep The Underground private, everybody who goes has to park elsewhere in the city and walk to it because a street lined with vehicles outside an 'abandoned' warehouse is a dead giveaway.
We park in the back of a nearby Mickey D's and walk about ten minutes through spooky town.
Natalie moves from Damon's right side and gets in between us, but it's just so she can torture me before we go inside.
"OK," she says as if about to run down a list of do's and don't's for me, "If anybody asks, you're single, all right?" She waves her hand at me. "None of that stuff you pulled like with that guy who was hitting on you at Office Depot."
"What was she doing at Office Depot?" Damon says, laughing.
"Damon, this guy was on her," Natalie says, totally ignoring the fact that I'm right here, "I mean like all she had to do was bat her eyes once and he would've bought her a car—you know what she said to him?"
I roll my eyes and pull my arm out of hers. "Nat, you're so stupid. It wasn't like that."
"Yeah, babe," Damon says. "If the guy works at Office Depot he's not going to be buying anybody any cars."
Natalie smacks him across the shoulder playfully. "I didn't say he worked there—anyway, the guy looked like the lovechild of… Adam Levine and…" she twirls her fingers around above her head to let another famous example materialize on her tongue, "… Jensen Ackles, and Miss Prudeness here told him she was a lesbian when he asked for her number."
"Oh shut up, Nat!" I say, irritated at her serious over-exaggeration illness. "He did not look like either one of those guys. He was just a regular guy who didn't happen to be fugly."
She waves me away and turns back to Damon. "Whatever. The point is that she'll lie to keep them away. I don't doubt for a second that she'd go as far as to tell a guy she has Chlamydia and an out of control case of crabs."
I stop on the dark sidewalk and cross my arms over my chest, chewing on the inside of my bottom lip in agitation.
Natalie, realizing I'm not walking beside her anymore, runs back towards me. "OK! OK! Look, I just don't want you to ruin it for yourself, that's all. I'm just asking that if someone—who isn't a total hunchback—hits on you that you not immediately push him away. Nothing wrong with talking and getting to know one another. I'm not asking you to go home with him."
I'm already hating her for this. She swore!
Damon comes up behind her and wraps his hands around her waist, nuzzling his mouth into her squirming neck.
"Maybe you should just let her do what she wants, babe. Stop being so pushy."
"Thank you, Damon," I say with a quick nod.
He winks at me.
Natalie purses her lips and says, "You're right," and then puts up her hands, "I won't say anything else. I swear."
Yeah, I have heard that before…
"Good," I say and we all start walking again. Already these boots are killing my feet.
The ogre at the warehouse entrance inspects us at the door with his huge arms crossed in front.
He holds out his hand.
Natalie's face twists into an offended knot. "What? Is Rob charging now?"
Damon reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his wallet, fingering the bills inside.
"Twenty bucks a pop," the ogre says with a grunt.
"Twenty? Are you fucking kidding me?!" Natalie shrieks.
Damon gently pushes her aside and slaps three twenty dollar bills into the ogre's hand. The ogre shoves the money into his pocket and moves to let us pass. I go first and Damon puts his hand on Natalie's lower back to guide her in front of him.
She sneers at the ogre as she passes by. "Probably going to keep it for himself," she says. "I'm going to ask Rob about this."
"Come on," Damon says and we slip past the door and down one lengthy, dreary hallway with a single flickering fluorescent light until we make it to the industrial elevator at the end.
The metal jolts as the cage door closes and we're rather noisily riding to the basement floor many feet below. It's just one floor down, but the elevator rattles so much I feel like it's going to snap any second and send us plunging to our deaths. Loud, booming drums and the shouting of drunk college students and probably a lot of drop-outs funnels through the basement floor and into the cage elevator, louder every inch we descend into the bowels of The Underground. The elevator rumbles to a halt and another ogre opens the cage door to let us out.
Natalie stumbles into me from behind. "Hurry up!" she says, pushing me playfully in the back. "I think that's Four Collision playing!" Her voice rises over the music as we make our way into the main room.
Natalie takes Damon by the hand and then tries to grab mine, but I know what she has in store and I'm not going into a throng of bouncing, sweaty bodies wearing these stupid boots.
"Oh, come on!" she urges, practically begging. Then an aggravated line deepens around her snarling nose and she thrusts my hand into hers and pulls me towards her. "Stop being a baby! If anybody knocks you over, I'll personally kick their ass, all right?"
Damon is grinning at me from the side.
"Fine!" I say and head out with them, Natalie practically pulling my fingers out of the sockets.
We hit the dance floor and after a while of Natalie doing what any best friend would do by grinding against me to make me feel included, she eases her way into Damon's world only. She might as well be having sex with him right there in front of everybody, but no one notices. I only notice because I'm probably the only girl in the entire place without a date doing the same thing. I take advantage of the opportunity and slip my way off the dance floor and head to the bar.
"What can I get'cha?" the tall blond guy behind the bar says as I push myself up on my toes and take an empty barstool.
"Rum & Coke."
He goes to make my drink. "Hard stuff, huh?" he says, filling the glass with ice. "Going to show me your I.D.?" He grins.
I purse my lips at him. "Yeah, I'll show you my I.D. when you show me your liquor license." I grin right back at him and he smiles.
He finishes mixing the drink and slides it over to me.
"I don't really drink much anyway," I say, taking a little sip from the straw.
"Yeah, well, tonight I think I'll need a buzz." I set the glass down and finger the lime on the rim.
"Why's that?" he asks, wiping the bar top down with a paper towel.
"Wait a second," I hold up one finger, "before you get the wrong idea, I'm not here to spill my guts to you—bartender-customer therapy." Natalie is all the therapy I can handle.
He laughs and tosses the paper towel somewhere behind the bar.
"Well that's good to know because I'm not the advice type."
I take another small sip, leaning over this time instead of lifting the glass from the bar; my loose hair falls all around my face. I rise back up and tuck one side behind my ear. I really hate wearing my hair down; it's more trouble than it's worth.
"Well, if you must know," I say looking right at him, "I was dragged here by my relentless best friend who would probably do something embarrassing to me in my sleep and take a blackmail pic if I didn't come."
"Ah, one of those," he says, laying his arms across the bar top and folding his hands together. "I had a friend like that once. Six months after my fiancée skipped out on me, he dragged me to a nightclub just outside of Baltimore—I just wanted to sit at home and sulk in my misery, but turns out that night out was exactly what I needed."
Oh great, this guy thinks he knows me already, or, at least my 'situation'. But he doesn't know anything about my situation. Maybe he has the bad ex thing down—because we all have that eventually—but the rest of it, my parents' divorce, my older brother, Cole, going to jail, the death of the love of my life… I'm not about to tell this guy anything. The moment you tell someone else is the moment you become a whiner and the world's smallest violin starts to play. The truth is, we all have problems; we all go through hardships and pain, and my pain is paradise compared to a lot of people's and I really have no right to whine at all.
"I thought you weren't the advice type?" I smile sweetly.
He leans away from the bar and says, "I'm not, but if you're getting something out of my story then be grateful."
I smirk and take a fake sip this time. I don't really want a buzz and I definitely don't want to get drunk, especially since I have a feeling I'm going to be the one driving us home again.
Trying to take the spotlight off me, I prop one elbow on the bar and rest my chin on my knuckles and say, "So then what happened that night?"
The left side of his mouth lifts into a grin and he says, shaking his blond head, "I got laid for the first time since she left me and I remembered how good it felt to be unchained from one person."
I didn't expect that kind of answer. Most guys I know would've lied about their relationship phobia, especially if they were hitting on me. I kind of like this guy. Just as a guy, of course; I'm not about to, as Natalie might say, bend over for him.
"I see," I say, trying to hold in the true measure of my smile. "Well, at least you're honest."
"No other way to be," he says as he reaches for an empty glass and starts to make a Rum & Coke for himself. "I've found that most girls are as much afraid of commitment as guys are these days and if you're up front in the beginning, you're more likely to come out of the one-nighter unscathed."
I nod, fitting my fingertips around my straw. There's no way I'd openly admit it to him, but I completely agree with him and even find it refreshing. I've never really given it that much thought before, but as much as I don't want a relationship within one hundred feet of me, I am still human and I wouldn't mind a one-night stand.
Just not with him. Or anyone in this place. OK, so maybe I'm too chicken for a one-night stand and this drink has already started going straight to my head. Truth is, I've never done anything like that before and even though the thought is kind of exciting, it still scares the shit out of me. I've only ever been with two guys: Ian Walsh, my first love who took my virginity and died in a car accident three months later, and then Christian Deering, my Ian rebound guy and the jerk who cheated on me with some red-haired slut.
I'm just glad I never said that poisonous three-word phrase that begins with 'I' and ends with 'you', back to him because I had a feeling, deep down, that when he said it to me, he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
Then again, maybe he did and that's why after five months of dating, he hooked up with someone else: because I never said it back.
I look up at the bartender to notice he's smiling back at me, waiting patiently for me to say something. This guy's good; either that, or he really is just trying to be friendly. I admit, he's cute; can't be older than twenty-five and has soft brown eyes that smile before his lips do. I notice how toned his biceps and chest are underneath that tight-fitting t-shirt. And he's tanned; definitely a guy who has lived most of his life near an ocean somewhere.
I stop looking when I notice my mind wandering, thinking about how he looks in swim shorts and no shirt.
"I'm Blake," he says. "I'm Rob's brother."
Rob? Oh yeah, the guy who owns The Underground.
I reach out my hand and Blake gently shakes it.
I hear Natalie's voice over the music before I even see her. She makes her way through a cluster of people standing around near the dance floor and pushes her way past to get to me. Immediately, she takes note of Blake and her eyes start glistening, lighting up with her huge, blatant smile. Damon, following behind her with her hand still clasped in his, notices, too, but he just locks emotionless eyes with me. I get the strangest feeling from it, but I brush it off as Natalie presses her shoulder into mine.
"What are you doing over here?" she asks with obvious accusation in her voice. She's grinning from ear to ear and glances between Blake and me several times before giving me all of her attention.
"Having a drink," I say. "Did you come over here to get one for yourself, or to check up on me?"
"Both!" she says, letting Damon's hand fall away from hers and she reaches up and taps hers fingers on the bar, smiling at Blake. "Anything with Vodka."
Blake nods and looks at Damon.
"I'll have Rum & Coke," Damon says.
Natalie presses her lips against the side of my head and I feel the heat of her breath on my ear when she whispers, "Holy shit, Cam! Do you know who that is?"
I notice Blake's mouth spread subtly into a smile, having heard her.
Feeling my face get hot with embarrassment, I whisper back, "Yeah, his name is Blake."
"That's Rob's brother!" she hisses; her gaze falls back on him.
I look up at Damon, hoping he'll get the hint and drag her off somewhere, but this time he pretends not to 'get it'. Where is the Damon I know, the one who used to have my back when it came to Natalie?
Uh oh, he must be pissed at her again. He only ever acts like this when Natalie has opened her big mouth, or done something that Damon just can't get past. We've only been here for about thirty minutes. What could she have done in such a short time? And then I realize: this is Natalie and if anyone can piss a boyfriend off in under an hour and without knowing it, it's her.
- "Addictive and fast paced. Readers will be drawn to Camryn, a smart girl who has become emotionally numb. Her partner in crime, the systerious, spontaneous and sweet Andrew is the real highlight. Readers will quickly get wrapped up in the adventure."—RT Book Reviews
- "5 stars! WOW! What an unexpected journey and an amazing read! This book tells a beautiful story about friendship and love, of living in the moment, living life to the fullest, being true to yourself and not being afraid to reach for your dreams...I totally loved this and would highly recommend adding it to your TBRs!"—Aestas Book Blog
- "5 STARS PLUS! This is one of the BEST BOOKS THAT I HAVE EVER READ...THE EDGE OF NEVER will forever live in my heart and I just know, years from now I'll still be reminiscing, or better yet, re-reading this book."—Maryse's Book Blog (Maryse.net)
- "This was a beautiful, beautiful story. Amazingly detailed, poignant, eloquently written, and the characters' voices were so . . . honest. Emotion, thoughts, and fear down to their purest form."—Maryse's Book Blog
- "I found their blooming romance to be slow-burning and sensual, making for a real connection that gets lost in other books . . . All-consuming and riveting . . . Redmerski pours passion into this book .and I know it will not fail in touching readers' hearts."—FreshFiction.com
- "Knocked me down and left me gasping for breath . . . Every morsel of pain the characters felt, every intimate moment and deep love that the characters experienced, I experienced right along with them."—GliteraryGirl.com
- On Sale
- Jul 2, 2013
- Page Count
- 496 pages