Love and Learn

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Love and Learn by Ava Blackstone

Navy SEAL Tyler MacKinnon is that guy. The one who pitches a no-hitter in the big game even though he skipped practice. The one who can get any girl into bed with a funny story and a grin. But when Ty is hit by an IED, his charmed life is blown straight to hell.

Though his leg heals, that naive certainty that the universe is on his side is gone forever. And it’s like everyone knows it. Everyone except Annabelle Voretti, the sweet, studious girl Ty left when he made the spur-of-the-moment decision to join the Navy right out of high school. When Ty is with Annabelle, he feels like himself again. But winning her back is going to take a fight, and Ty is used to going with the flow instead of battling the current.

Annabelle has only ever taken one risk in her life—and it sent the most popular boy in school running straight from her arms to the Navy, leaving her with a raging case of sexual insecurity. Now Ty wants a second chance, but Annabelle has learned her lesson. Except what if? What if the only way for Annabelle to heal her sexual scars is to go back to the source? Some one-on-one tutoring from Ty might be just what she needs—if only she can find the courage to take one more crazy risk.

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With several minutes remaining before class started, the lecture hall was only half full. Annabelle chose the middle seat in the completely empty front row.

Professor Diamon looked up from the laptop he was setting up on the podium. “Anna? Christian told me you’d taken a different teaching assignment.”

“I’m afraid that was a miscommunication. I’m really looking forward to TAing for this class.”

“And you’re certain you’re…comfortable with the material?”

“Of course.” She ignored the pulse fluttering way up in her throat. Probably, Diamon asked all his new TAs that same question. There was no way Christian had shared the details of their disastrous sexual encounter with his research advisor.

“And you’ve reviewed those supplementary papers I passed along?”

“Absolutely.” Not only had she read every single one, she’d highlighted the key passages and taken color-coded notes.

“Good.” He pressed a button on his laptop, and the title of his lecture blinked to life on the giant screen at the front of the room. The Evolution of Recreational Sex. “That should get their attention, don’t you think?”

Her cheeks warmed.

She held her breath, trying to reverse her body’s automatic response, but it was no use. Heat spread from her scalp, moving inexorably down her body until even her toes had to be bright pink. Thank God Diamon had the lights set to presentation mode, leaving the seating area in shadows.

She glanced to either side. None of the students were close enough to notice her freak-out; in the time-honored manner of the hung-over, the undergrads were filling in seats starting in the back. Diamon was tapping at his smartphone, oblivious to her blush.
Finally, the fire blazing over her skin died down. She cleared her throat. “You’re right. That will keep everyone awake.”

She sounded almost normal.

So she’d blushed a little. A year ago, when her advisor had first suggested she TA for the class, she’d run out of his office, then sent him an email begging for a reassignment.

Now she was here. She wasn’t dizzy or nauseous. She’d already confronted Christian, which meant the worst was behind her. She was finally making progress. Finally ready to put the past behind her.

She swiveled around, taking the opportunity to survey the students she was soon to be teaching. Hunkered in their seats, mainlining coffee, they looked young and impressionable and much too worried about their own lives to question her qualifications as a teaching assistant. They’d happily absorb her insights about the material without even considering that it came from detailed study of the textbook rather than hands-on experience with the source material.

Though the back two-thirds of the lecture hall was nearly full, the stragglers charged toward the few remaining seats, scrambling over backpacks and messenger bags. All except one student, who ambled down the center aisle toward the front.

He scanned the room. Though Annabelle was too far away to get more than the vaguest impression of broad shoulders and dark eyes, she knew the minute he saw her.

He went totally still, like the sight of her was so overwhelming he couldn’t handle anything else.

Awareness slammed into her. Her skin flushed and her knees went weak.

She forced her gaze away. Dragged in a breath.

Get a grip, Annabelle. Yes, TAing for this class is scary, but better to deal with that fear head on than to manufacture some ridiculous lust-at-first-sight distraction.

That stern mental voice was usually enough to set her back on the right path, but today her rebellious body tuned it out like the rest of the conversations around her. Though her gaze was now safely focused on the screen, she saw the dark-eyed student instead of Diamon’s slides. His close-cropped dark hair. That hint of stubble she must have imagined, because she couldn’t possibly have seen it all the way across the dim lecture hall.

He was watching her. She could feel it.

You’re being ridiculous.

But she must have been even more stressed about the class than she thought, because her brain was in full-on distraction mode, even manufacturing the sound of the dark-eyed student’s footsteps. He was coming toward her. Closer. Closer.

The footsteps stopped.

He was right next to her. There was no other way to explain why she was having so much trouble with instinctive bodily functions, like swallowing and breathing.

Turn around, and you’ll see he’s still half way across the room.

She finally found enough muscle control to turn her head. And there he was, not two feet from her, watching her intently.

Almost like he knew her. Like he was waiting for her to recognize him.

She shivered. He looked almost like—

“Annabelle.” His voice poured over her, warm and rough and devastating.


Her mouth went dry. Her heart raced ahead of her brain, which was still trying to figure out what was going on. It couldn’t be Ty. Not here. Not now.

Asking him to prom seven years ago had been her first big mistake, the bad decision that set her on the road toward that terrible night with Christian. She hadn’t seen Ty since then. No way had he just happened to drop in on the class she was TAing.

Get LOVE AND LEARN at: Amazon-US | Amazon-UK | Amazon-AU | Amazon-CA | B & N | Google Play | Kobo | iBooks | Tolino | Print