Get ready for NYT Bestselling Author Lexi Ryan’s new series Here and Now! The first novel in the series, LOST IN ME, is a sexy New Adult contemporary romance released April 7th!
The Here and Now Series
By Lexi Ryan
“Do you know what retrograde amnesia is? Because I just learned about it and I have this story idea…” This was few years ago on call with my critique partner. The conversation was supposed to be about the book I was finishing, but I was distracted by this shiny new story idea.
The kernel of the idea was there, born from my fascination with retrograde amnesia. A woman wakes up in the hospital and is engaged to a man she remembers (though she doesn’t remember getting engaged…doesn’t remember anything from the last year, in fact). She’s in the days approaching her wedding…but there’s this other guy. This guy who seems to know things about her life that no one else does. This guy who’s in love with her and doesn’t want her to marry her fiancé. This guy she doesn’t remember and yet feels connected to somehow.
I carried this kernel of a story idea with me. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it or whose story it was. I never know much about my plot when I start writing. Instead, I start with emotion and character, and I was fascinated with how it would feel to wake up and think you had to perfect life, think you’d finally gotten everything you wanted…but have no memory of how you got there.
Meanwhile, I was also carrying the character of Hanna with me. Hanna who has struggled with her weight her whole life, who’s totally in love with a guy she grew up with but believes herself to be completely unworthy. I met Hanna while I was first writing Maggie’s story (now Unbreak Me), and I knew from the beginning she needed her own story.
Then, one day while I was writing a scene in Wish I May that had Hanna pining for Max, the puzzle pieces floating around in my head clicked together. Since I’d already written about Max and already “met” Asher’s musician friend Nate Crane in my mind (I know, writers are weird), the rest of the premise fell into place. I knew not only that I needed to write this sexy amnesia love triangle for Hanna but that it had so many twists and turns it was going to take me more than one book to tell it. And so the Here and Now series was born—a series where the main character has to choose between the two incredibly sexy guys that want her. How do you make the right choice for your future when you can’t remember your own secrets?
I hope you’ll check out Lost in Me, book one of the Here and Now series.
LOST IN ME is on SALE for just .99 cents the first week of release as a fan appreciation from the author!
LOST IN ME is the first book in the Here and Now series, a spin-off of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Hope series. This sexy amnesia love triangle is intended for mature readers.
The last thing I remember is having drinks at Brady’s and trying to avoid eye-contact with my life-long crush—the gorgeous, unattainable Maximilian Hallowell. They tell me that was a year ago, but I have no memories of anything since then. What I do have is this ring on my finger that Max says he gave me, and this much-thinner body I’ve dreamed of most of my life. Aside from a case of retrograde amnesia, everything seems almost…perfect.
But the deeper I immerse myself into this new world of mine—planning a wedding to a man I don’t remember dating, attempting to run a business I don’t remember starting—the clearer it becomes that nothing is as it seems. Do I have the life I’ve always wanted or is it a facade propped up by secrets I don’t even know I have?
I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself.
LOST IN ME is not a standalone novel, as the story continues in Here and Now book two, FALL TO YOU, releasing in June.
I wake up to someone climbing into bed next to me, hot, hard muscle cozying up behind me.I blink away sleep. Max is in my bed and I want to enjoy it, enjoy him, but sleep has such a tight hold on me I can hardly keep my eyes open. I snuggle as close to him as I can get, but sleep is already tugging me back down.“Couldn’t stay away?” I murmur in the darkness.“You know I can’t,” he whispers against my ear. His voice is different somehow. Deeper? Maybe sleepy? I don’t have time to think about it because I’m wrapped up in his heat, his bare chest against my back, one of his hands right between my breasts, and I can’t fight it when my dreams suck me back in. But somehow, with his heat against me and his arms around me, my fitful dreams fade away and I don’t just sleep. I rest.When I wake again, the room is still dark, but Max’s mouth is doing delicious things to the side of my neck. I arch against him and am greeted by the hard length of his erection against my ass. I have to bite my lip at the thrill that rushes through me. Not only can I do that to him, but he wanted me enough that he had to come back tonight.Under my shirt, his fingertips skim the underside of my breasts, and a soft moan slips from my lips. He cups my breast in his hot hand and grazes his callused palm against my nipple, toys and teases until it’s hard and tight under his hand and I am rocking back into him instinctively.“Jesus, I missed you so much.” His voice sounds funny, but I hardly have time for the thought to register before he’s squeezing my nipples, sending electric jolts of pleasure from my breasts and right up through my center. His touch is harder than it was earlier. Rougher. But I like it. He’s so good at this. He knows exactly how to touch me, exactly how much pressure I like. I wouldn’t want him to ever stop touching my breasts if it weren’t for this nearly painful ache that’s been pulsing between my legs since we were interrupted in my living room—the ache my own touch couldn’t quite ease.I circle my hips and rub my backside against his erection. Thick and wild arousal buzzes through me, electric and sharp with its intensity. He wants me as much as I want him.“Touch me,” I whisper into the darkness. “I need you to touch me.”He groans against my neck and then his fingers are dipping into the waistband of my sleep pants.I turn in his arms just as his hand meets the hot and needy place between my thighs. Our mouths touch in the darkness, and something niggles at the back of my mind. Something’s changed between last night and now. Does he smell different or—The thought disintegrates as he slides a finger inside me. I can’t believe how slick and wet I am. Except that this is Max and I need his touch.I rock against him, letting him touch me the way I touched myself in the bath. Only this is hotter. Sweeter. More intense. Not just because it’s him. It’s almost as if he knows what I like better than I do. His finger moves inside me and his teeth nip at my neck almost painfully. But I like it. I want more of this unbridled lust, more of his expert touch.He withdraws his finger and replaces it with two, stretching me in a way that has my body pulsing around him in response.“Yes,” I whisper. I want this. Need it.His thumb finds my clit and his fingers curl.“Oh God…” Am I a screamer? I bite my lip, but holy shit, I can’t—“Let me hear you scream,” he growls in my ear, his stubble scraping at the tender skin of my neck. “Let me feel you pulse around my fingers as you come.”I curl my nails into his forearm, not to stop him, but because this pleasure inside me is so intense I have to do something, put this energy somewhere.His other hand slides up my side and squeezes right at the bruise on my ribs. Pain vibrates through me, and I cry out.“Hanna?” He pulls away and clicks on the light.I’m still wincing at the pain from my manhandled bruise when I look at him through squinted eyes.And then I scream.I shove the man off me as hard as I can. My mind gropes for the lessons I learned in the personal defense class I took in college. I bring up my knee, aiming for his balls.He lets out an airy oomph, and I flail, backing as far away from him as I can get. I fall off the bed, and the impact of my already-battered body slamming into the floor has me crying out.“Jesus, Hanna!” the man—who is definitely not Max—says from the bed. “What the fuck was that for?”Oh God. He knows my name.I’m trembling.My phone is on the bedside table, and I scramble to get to it before he can take it away.“I’ll call the police!” I warn, holding the phone up like it’s a weapon.The man on the bed is white-faced and stricken and looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.“You can’t just come into a woman’s house and get into her bed.” Shit. Now I’m trying to reason with a sex offender. Jesus. But he’s just sitting there. Is that normal?His expression goes from confused to desolate as he skims his eyes over my bruised face. “Damn. What happened to you, angel?”I fumble with my phone, pressing the button on the side and trying to get it to light up. Nothing. It’s dead. Why didn’t I charge it before I fell asleep last night?He pushes off the bed, and I back into a corner, arms wrapped around myself. “Leave. Please.”He holds up his hands and takes a step toward me. “Hanna, baby. Tell me what happened. Tell me—”I press my body as close to the wall as I can. I should have locked myself in the bathroom or something. I am one of those too-dumb-to-live heroines you see in horror movies. Especially since the thing keeping me here—keeping me from running to safety—is the hurt on his face. I’ve always been the kind of person who tries to make people happy, but this is ridiculous.Think, Hanna. Okay, I’ll need a description for the cops. Tall—taller than Max, maybe—messy dark hair, an Incredible Hulk tattoo on his right shoulder, some numbers tattooed above his left pec. God, is he an ex-con? Don’t convicts get numbers tattooed on themselves?He steps closer, and a shudder runs through me.“Please don’t hurt me.” I sink to the floor and cross my arms in front of my face.His gaze catches on my left hand, and his jaw goes hard. “I see.” He backs off and grabs something off the floor. Then he’s tugging a shirt over his head. It falls into place and covers that amazing body.Amazing body? What the eff is wrong with me?As stupid as it is, I don’t believe this man is here to hurt me. There’s nothing intimidating about his body language, and even though his face has gone hard and angry, there’s no violence in his eyes.He grabs his jeans. “You could have told me.”“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” My voice cracks.Jeans unbuttoned and half up his hips, he’s heading toward the door. Stupidly, I follow him. My hands are shaking, my head spinning.He grabs the doorknob and goes still, but he doesn’t look at me. “When I was touching you just now”—he swallows—“you thought I was…”“I thought you were my fiancé.” The whisper seems to swell in the small space and vibrate off the walls.He punches the wall beside the door. “You and Max have a nice life.” Then he’s leaving, slamming the door behind him and making the whole room rattle. And me right along with it.
When Asher leaves the stage, Nate stays behind, strumming chords to a song I don’t recognize. He lifts his gaze. For five painful beats of my heart, our eyes lock. There’s so much in his eyes. Pain, anger, frustration. I see it all there before he refocuses on his fingers and starts to croon the lonely lyrics of his song.I’m nobody’s hero, baby. Try not to fall too deep.I’m nobody’s angel, love, but you were crying in your sleep.I’m useless, empty, nothing, sugar. Wait around and then you’ll see.You thought you’d find your answers, but now you’re lost in me.The words tap into me, loosening something in my chest until I feel like anyone looking at me can see my confusion and the inexplicable aching of my heart.And when he lifts his head and watches me as he sings the last verse of his song, I don’t move. I don’t hide from those eyes that know too much. I don’t run from that face that could destroy my whole world. I stand transfixed, the words rolling through my veins like they’re part of my blood.After he strums the final chords, he puts down his guitar and leaves the stage without explanation or promise to return.My feet are following him before I’ve decided what to do. He heads up the stairs and out back, through the French doors and onto the patio, where he keeps going until he hits the path in front of the river.He’s trying to escape me. I should be happy, right? The past can stay in the past, and whatever mistake I made with this rocker can be left behind with it. But I can’t let him walk away without answers.“Stop!” I rush down to the river, my heels sinking into the rain-softened earth. “Who are you?”He turns slowly, the confusion back on his face. “Is that supposed to be funny? Pretending there was nothing between us wasn’t enough? You need to pretend you don’t even know who I am?”“I—” Oh my God. The hurt in his eyes. “I don’t know who you are,” I say carefully. “But maybe I should? I was injured and I have amnesia, so I honestly don’t know you.” And if that doesn’t sound like a line from a Lifetime movie, I’m not sure what does.“Amnesia? You’re kidding me.”“I’m not.” He starts toward me, and I hold out a hand to stop him. “I’d prefer you to stay over there. Please.”He pulls back, watching me. “Amnesia,” he repeats.“Yeah.”“You don’t know who I am.” It’s not a question—more a realization.“I don’t know who you are or why you would crawl into my bed in the middle of the night. I don’t understand why—” My breath catches and fat, hot tears spill onto my cheeks. Suddenly this is just all too much. “I don’t understand,” I repeat, and leave it at that.“You don’t remember anything? Do you know who you are?”“Yeah. I remember everything up until about a year ago, but the last eleven months are just…gone.”He drags a hand through his hair, and I’m struck again by how gorgeous he is. Dark messy hair, dark intense eyes. His T-shirt clings to his sculpted arms. Tattoos peek out from the sleeves. No matter how hard I look, I can’t remember being with him. So why do I have this feeling in my chest like my heart knows something I don’t?“Do I know you?” I ask.He lets out a huff and stares at the starlit sky. “Yeah. You do.” When he drops his gaze back to meet mine, his eyes are moist with unshed tears. “I’m the idiot who’s in love with you.”In love with me? “But I’m engaged.”“I saw that,” he whispers, his gaze flicking back to my hand. “Can I ask? Did that happen before or after the amnesia?”“Before.”“Fuck.” The word isn’t screamed or thrown like a stone. He breathes it—exhaling the sound like so much disappointment.To me, Nate’s a stranger, but to him, I’m…what?We just stare at each other, him looking heartbroken and angry, me trying to piece it all together in my head and make some sense of this. I’m engaged to Max Hallowell. I’m not the kind of girl who would get engaged to one guy when she’s been sleeping with another.Am I?
When I return to the party, I immediately spot Nate sitting in a chair beside Asher, his guitar in his big hands, his dark hair falling over one eye as he jots notes on a piece of paper. Something twists in my chest at the sight of him. I want to tell myself it’s regret or fear—anything but the longing I know it to be.Maggie and Lizzy motion me over from the bar, but I shake my head and stay by the stairs. As if he senses me, Nate lifts his head and his eyes immediately lock with mine.I might not understand the tangle of emotions in my chest, but there’s no mistaking the anger that flashes over his face when he sees me, and because I’m a coward, I can’t face it.I run back upstairs.“Where’s she going?” I hear Maggie ask.“She wasn’t feeling great,” Lizzy says. “I’ll check on her.”I’m in the hallway when I feel her behind me, her hand on my shoulder.“What’s wrong?”Everything. “Nothing. The doctor said the headaches and dizziness might give me a problem for a few days. A party probably wasn’t the best idea.”Her expression is more worried than disappointed. “Let me take you home.”“No. It’s a beautiful night, and I’d actually like the fresh air. And I think I’m going to swing by the club and see Max.”“Okay,” she whispers. “Promise you’ll call me if I can help?”I take in a long, slow breath. “Go back down there and have a good time.”“Oh, right.” Her eyes light up. “I have a rocker to seduce.”My stomach lurches, but I force a smile. “Right.”I watch her go back down before I turn back to the basket of cell phones by the stairs. After shuffling through it, I pull out the few phones I don’t recognize as belonging to me or one of my sisters.I hit the buttons to bring them to life and swipe all three screens to unlock them. One screen, no doubt Asher’s, has a picture of Maggie and Zoe as the wallpaper, one has a young woman I don’t recognize, and the other has Storm Troopers.There’s no question in my mind that the Storm Trooper phone belongs to the man with the Hulk tattoo and the Spider-Man shirt. The idea of this hard-ass rocker being a closet geek is so adorable. I soften toward him without wanting to.Before I can think it through, I’m swiping my fingers across the screen and pulling up Nate’s text messages. It doesn’t take long for me to find a thread with my name.The last one I sent was the day of my accident.Hanna: Left you a message. We need to talk when you get into town.What did I want to talk to him about? Was I going to tell him I was marrying Max? I scroll back through some harmless if flirty Good morning and Good to hear your voice tonight texts before I land on a conversation so damning it makes my hands shake.The hallway is empty, but I can’t risk anyone else seeing these. I take the phone out onto the back patio, sink into a chair, and scroll back to the beginning of the incriminating conversation. I don’t take a single breath while I read it.Nate: Did you remember to take your gift home with you?Hanna: I did. God knows what airport security thought of it when they searched my bag.Nate: I’m sure they’ve seen worse. Glad you have it with you.Hanna: It’s a sorry substitute for you.Nate: I’ll make it up to you when I get to Indiana. I’m coming straight to your place and keeping you in bed for days.Hanna: Hmm. That sounds kind of boring.Nate: Get naked, woman. I want to tell you how to use my gift.Hanna: Bossy.Nate: Only because it makes you wet.Hanna: Naked.Nate: In bed?Hanna: I’ve been in bed since you first texted. I have a 6 a.m. running date tomorrow.Nate: You should cancel it. I don’t want you running off those curves.Hanna: You’re the only one who likes my so-called “curves.”Nate: Who else matters?Hanna: Good point. I miss your face.Nate: I miss yours too. You know what else I miss?Hanna: Tell me.Nate: The sound you make when I touch your breasts. The feel of your nipples against my tongue. I miss sliding my hand between your legs and finding you wet. I miss the taste of you. The feel of your heels against my back as I take your clit between my lips. But mostly, I miss holding you in my arms. So fucking perfect. So completely mine.I don’t know what I expected. Maybe it was supposed to be like in the movies, where the amnesia patient sees something from her past and suddenly everything comes flooding back to her. But there’s no memory here, and my half of this conversation might as well have been written by another woman.When I lift my head, Nate is standing in front of me, hands tucked in his pockets, his eyes bored.“See anything good?” he asks.
He’s going to expect me to have sex. I mean, of course—that only makes sense. Engaged couples have sex. I’m nervous. No, I’m terrified. No matter how many times I had sex in the last months, I don’t remember it, so I might as well still be the virgin I was at the time of my last memory.
After talking to Nate tonight, I’m not worried he’ll be bothering me or running to Max. I should be happy. My secret is safe, and I can focus on my upcoming marriage.
So why does the idea of having sex with my fiancé feel like cheating?
Pushing aside the thought, I go back to the lockers to strip out of my clothes. A towel secured under my arms, I return to the steam room and step in this time.
Sinking into a chair, I lean back and close my eyes as the heat relaxes my muscles and quiets my mind.
I drift off to sleep, and just as my dreams tug me under, my mind skates along the edge of a memory—Max and me in the gym before we started dating. I asked him to be my trainer. It’s there, a memory as clear as the ones I never lost, and I wrap myself in the comfort of it. Me. Max. No affairs. No angry rockers with broken hearts.
“Hey, sleeping beauty,” someone whispers in my ear.
My muscles are so relaxed, I don’t want to move. I stretch my arms and legs, and my towel falls to my waist as I open my eyes.
“Oh, damn, Hanna.” Max stands before me, his chest bare, a towel tied around his hips. I can’t quite make out his face in the steam, but I don’t need to see his expression to know he wants me. Desire radiates off every water molecule in the room—a breath held and waiting for release.
I extend my stretch, arching my back in a move that thrusts my breasts toward him.
“Sorry it took me longer than I expected.” His voice sounds strained as he offers his hand. “I had a new client come in just as I was trying to lock up.”
I take his hand and stand, but when I reach to grab my fallen towel, he holds me fast.
“Please don’t,” he says.
Maybe I’d be self-conscious in another setting, but here in the steam, I turn sexy and wanton under his gaze. I feel nothing but determination under the weight of the unwanted ache in my heart while talking to Nate. Determination to prove to myself that this is the man I love—no one else.
With that first recovered memory in my grasp, I’m hopeful for the first time in days. I drop my gaze to his towel and arch a brow. “I sense a double standard.”
He groans and drops his mouth to mine. His kiss is long and slow and thorough. He tastes like cinnamon gum and strokes his tongue against mine as he cups my breast in his hand.
“I believe it’s my turn to touch you,” he whispers against my lips. His thumb rolls over my nipple in the slow, sensuous motion of a man who plans to take his time. “And touching you in here ranks high on my list of fantasies.”
I curl my nails into his back and nip at his bottom lip. Because I don’t want him to take his time. I want him to touch me and kiss me until I’ve forgotten the sound of Nate’s voice, until I’m so sure of our love and our future that my anxiety fades.
With his free hand, Max cups my other breast and treats it to the same slow torture.
“Max,” I whimper, arching toward him, wanting more.
“How was the party?”
His lips curl into a smile. “God, I love that I can make you lose your mind like that.”
I slide my hands into his hair. “You can. You do.”
Trailing kisses down my neck and over my collarbone, he makes his way to my breast and opens his mouth over my nipple. Slow, steady, achingly meticulous, he circles it with his tongue before pulling it into his mouth. My breasts grow heavier with every stroke of his tongue, the ache between my thighs more insistent. The steam has set my senses on fire, and the brush of his knuckles down my side is as thrilling as the first time a boy went up my shirt.
Just when I think I’m going to have to beg for more, he takes my nipple into his mouth and sucks—long and hard. My knees go weak and he has to hold me tight as I slip in his arms.
“Come over here,” he murmurs. He leads me to the tiered benches and takes a seat on the bottom row. His erection is thick and tall under the towel, but when I reach to uncover it, he stops my hand. “Leave it. You tempt me too much.”
“But I like touching you,” I object.
“You like making me lose my mind.”
A giggle slips from my lips. “It’s a nice feeling.”
“Come here.” He tugs me forward until I’m straddling him, the hard length of his cock needy and glorious between my legs. As he returns his mouth to my breasts, sucking and licking in turn, I rock against him. My thighs squeeze him as the sensation of his mouth on my breasts mixes with the pressure of his erection through the towel.
His hands slide around me and over my ass, kneading the flesh of my cheeks as his mouth works at my breasts.
Whimpering, I arch my back and shift my hips just so, and suddenly pleasure snaps through me like a whip. My hips want to rock, to circle, to grind against his length, but I force them to still.
“Move against me,” he commands. “I want to feel you move.”
The friction of the towel against my swollen clit is almost too much, almost uncomfortable, but it’s a good kind of discomfort, and his cock swells bigger and more insistent between my thighs. I don’t know if I could stop if I wanted to. Unless it was for something different. Something more. How easy would it be for him to move this towel and slide into me right now? My fear is gone, replaced by red-hot aching need.
About the Author
Once a college English professor, I now write full time. I live in rural Indiana, where, when I’m not writing, I get to hang out with my husband and two kids–a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old hellion, er, girl. Not surprisingly, reading and writing remain my favorite activities, though both come in bits and pieces these days, not the big hunks of time I enjoyed before I had children. When I’m feeling virtuous, I like to go running (I use that word liberally. I’m really, really slow) or do yoga. Don’t worry, I’m always careful to balance out such activities with a hearty serving of ice cream or a chocolate martini.