Stella Ford’s grasp on reality is already loose, and it’s about to come undone.
When the college junior flees Chicago and leaves her toxic family behind, she heads for coastal Maine to find the one person who brought her peace years ago: Sam Bishop. But the Sam she once knew now has painful secrets.
Stella is determined to heal them both. Healing, however, is a challenge when the walls of her everyday existence collapse. And when Sam’s best friend is his worst enemy.
When the line between life and death blurs.
When an end is just a beginning.
When lust and rage rule.
Yet during extraordinary chaos, there can be extraordinary love, even if that love comes with a twist.
Welcome to death tripping.
A thriller, a paranormal, and a passionate romance, CLEAR crosses genres and breaks boundaries.
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Jessica is the author of LEFT DROWNING, the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (and the companion piece FLAT-OUT MATT), and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.
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Sam walks me step-by-step through the process of cracking open lobster shells and pulling out the meat, leaning over the bowl to my left but staying close. The way he talks and moves is soothing, comforting. I notice how crystal clear everything is tonight—the colors, the sounds, the smells.
There’s sharpness to my world.
“Everyone is always crazy about the tail meat,” he says, “but if you ask me, the best flavor is in these knuckles and the claws.” He twists a red arm from the body and breaks it open. “Not only is the meat better, but there’s all the liquid that you can’t miss.” Sam is inches from me when he brings a claw shell to my lips. “Drink.”
I tip my head back a bit and let him pour hot liquid into my mouth. It’s the richest, purest taste I’ve ever experienced. When he takes the shell away, I rub my lips together and smile. “More,” I whisper.
So, he feeds me juice from the other claw. A rumble of thunder echoes just as I finish. I didn’t even notice that a storm might be brewing, but I can feel the change in the air, the tingle on my skin. Sam’s a bit distracting though. He steps in even closer, his waist moving between my legs. My eyes travel down the length of his muscular arm, to his hand that moves to rest on my thigh.
“More?” he asks softly.
“Yes,” I breathe.
“You sure, more?” His voice is soft and teasing.
Now, I take in his broad shoulders, the way his shirt fits snugly and shows the shape of his chest, and mostly, the way our closeness, our sudden intimacy, radiates around us. Our draw to each other is palpable, yet this is much more than just sexual. I’m momentarily shaken by the inexplicable perfection of us being together. We hardly know each other, so my certainty about this should feel off. But it doesn’t.
His hand gently cups my waist, and he moves his head in a bit. It only takes lifting my mouth a few inches before his lips come to mine. There is no hesitation and no tentative light kiss to feel our way around. Immediately, we have rhythm and instinct as though we’ve done this forever. He moves his mouth and tongue with an exquisite balance of confidence and tenderness, and I respond easily and naturally.
I touch my hands to his chest and admire his strength and solidity. His arm wraps behind me and pulls me in, so I slip my hands up to the back of his neck and let him bring us closer together. Each time his tongue slides against mine, a rush of adrenaline courses through me. I realize that I have been waiting for this since the exact minute when our last kiss ended all those years ago.
Right now, while burning heat and a certain level of aggressiveness come from both of us, it is also clear to me that this is not the precursor to sex. He’s not going to clear off the counter and fuck me without care as if I mean nothing. And there is safety and security in his reserve. This is a kiss with meaning and feeling and not just an obligatory step before getting laid.
I know what that feels like, and this isn’t it.
Even with my eyes closed, I sense the burst of lightning that flashes just before the thunder hits again.
Sam slows our kiss until his lips are barely brushing against me. “Food’s getting cold.”
He rubs his nose against mine, and I feel him smile.
“We can’t let your first real lobster dinner go to waste.”
“No,” I agree.
But this is already the best meal I’ve ever had.