Crashing Down – Cathryn Fox
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Crashing Down

Book Cover: Crashing Down

Stone Cliff Series, Book 1
Available July 7, 2014

When reckless meets responsible...

Straight A student Kathryn Lane is all work and no play. She's determined to keep her scholarship, and that means no distractions...until she takes a summer internship at Stone Cliff Resort and meets bad boy Noah Ryan. She knows she should keep her distance—after all he's not the kind of guy she can bring home to daddy—but his disarming smile and dangerous ways are entirely too tempting.

College dropout, Noah Ryan takes one look at Kathryn and instantly knows her type—ambitious, driven and determined, just like he used to be, before the accident that derailed his life and left him an emotional wreck. He vows to avoid her, but when a co-worker backs him into a bet he can't refuse, everything he's been running from is challenged and he's forced to confront his demons.

Soon, Kathryn and Noah are lost to everything except each other. As their lives become entwined, their passion is reckless, their heat all-consuming but when hurtful truths spill out, can Noah prove himself worthy of the one girl who can heal his wounded heart, or will the fire they ignited turn to ash when it all comes crashing down?

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"You reek of sex."

Noah Ryan grinned at his buddy Jared, a guy he'd gotten to know over the last couple of years while living and working at Stone Cliff Resort in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Taking his friend's ribbing in stride, Noah scrubbed his hands through his disheveled hair, and sank down onto the driftwood next to him, setting his motorcycle helmet at his feet. He let his glance surf over the crowd gathered around the nightly, beachside bonfire. He zeroed in on a cute blonde with big tits and gave Jared a wry smirk. "Not yet I don't."

Jared reached into the cooler, pulled out a cold brew and handed it to Noah. "Yeah, well that's a matter of opinion."

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"Fuck you." Noah laughed and twisted off the cap, the taste of weed and smoke scratching his dry throat like coarse sandpaper. "How the hell can I reek of sex when I just crawled out of bed, alone?"

Jared shrugged. "Well your bed smells like sex, then."

Okay, so that was probably true. His bed likely did smell like sex. Sometimes a hard, mindless fuck chased away the chills that had taken up residency inside him since the accident a little over three years ago. Then again, sometimes it didn't. Sometimes the demons managed to tunnel their way past the wall he'd built despite the warm body next to him.

Noah took a long pull from the bottle, and washed the grit from his throat. Too bad the alcohol did little to drown the pain that blackened his soul. Then again, did he really deserve for it too?

He worked to push all dark thoughts aside, and tried to keep things light. He nudged his friend with his elbow. "Ah, come on, Jared. Don't be jealous 'cause I'm getting all the play and you're not."

Jared waved to Ryan and Bobbie, a couple of locals who just rolled in, before he flicked his beer cap at Noah. "Yeah, well fuck you. I get all the play I need, or I would be if you weren't always hovering around." Two well-built dark haired hotties moved in front of them, smiling flirtatiously at Noah. "Christ, Noah, what the hell is it about you?" He clucked his lips and added, "You're like nectar to the honey bee, my man."

Laughing, Noah took another swig from the bottle as the cute blonde he'd been eying glanced his way. He caught the mischief in her gaze and pegged her as a local, a rich townie who'd just returned home from university. He knew her type all too well. She'd spend her days lounging on the water with her friends and her nights here at the beach, otherwise known as the Cave, where many of the resort staff and locals alike gathered for a little action. Not that he was judging her. He wasn't. After all, unlike him she was getting an education and going places.

With exhaustion pulling at him, Noah stretched his arms over his head and stifled a yawn. He hadn't planned on hanging out with Jared tonight, but since he couldn't take staring at his ceiling for one more minute, he decided if he couldn't sleep, he might as well get laid. The little townie gave him a look that said, come get some and his cock twitched, but before he made his move on the blonde, he shifted closer to his friend. He pulled an envelope from his back pocket and slipped it to him, wanting to do this exchange off resort and away from their manager's, Donald Brake's, watchful eye.

"Noah..." Jared looked down at the envelope and shook his head. "Shit." He stole a quick glance around before he shoved the bills into his pocket. "But you were saving...you can't afford-"

"And you can't afford not to." He looked pointedly at the swelling beneath Jared's bruised eye. Even though he claimed the injury had happened when he fell off the raft during yesterday's rough, white-water ride down Canyon Run, Noah knew better. Noah pitched his voice low, his words for Jared's ears only. "You keep fucking with these guys and you'll lose more than just your job. You know that right?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Jared said gravely, dark eyes cast downward in worry as he rubbed his temples with his thumbs. "Christ I had a straight flush. I never thought I could lose." He fisted his short-cropped hair and gave a tug. "I mean come on, what are the fucking odds that the other guy beat me with a royal flush?"

"A trillion to one," Noah said. He didn't to do the mental math that came so easily to him as he finished off his beer and reached for another, handing one to Jared as well. Even though Jared was as big of a fuck up as he was, the guy was a damn hard worker, and in a few short years had climbed his way up from bellboy to concierge. That job was his life, and Noah wasn't about to stand around and see that get taken from him.

With his pulse on the action, it was Jared's job to get to know the guests and see that their needs were being met. What he wasn't supposed to do was socialize with those guests, or get himself invited to the after hour's poker game that the resort's management turned a blind eye to. The high-rolling businessmen, who came to town for the annual weeklong event, weren't the kind of guys who took kindly to getting stiffed. You owed them money, you paid your debt. One way or another.

Noah's glance shot to the blonde. Then again who was he too lecture about rules, considering he was about to break one himself. Even when off duty the staff wasn't supposed to do anything to bring negative attention to the resort, which meant picking up a local for a quick fuck on the rocks was pretty much all kind of wrong.

"I'll pay you back," Jared said.

The blonde gave Noah a once over and a satisfied grin. "You just keep yourself out of trouble."

Jared followed the direction of Noah's gaze, and when he glimpsed the girl Noah had his sights set on, he shook his head. "You're one to talk. That girl has trouble written all over her."

"Good," Noah said smirking.

"She's got a boyfriend, Noah," Jared warned. "And he's a big bastard."

"I think you're mistaken." Ignoring Jared's warning, Noah stood and shoved one hand into his pocket, pulling his worn and faded jean lower on his hips, a not so subtle invitation that brought the blonde's attention right where he wanted it. "I think she's looking for a little play."

Jared gave him a look that suggested he was either crazy, or had a death wish, or possibly both. Maybe he was right.

"Yeah? What makes you say that?" Jared asked.

"She wouldn't be wearing a shirt that showed off her tits if she didn't want me to look."

While Jared cursed under his breath, Noah moved through the throng of people. Seconds before he reached blondie some douche bag stepped in front of him to block his path. Noah nudged him with his shoulder, shoving him out of the way. With single-minded determination he moved past him, but when the guy said, "Is there a problem here, pal?" it stopped Noah dead in his tracks.

He turned and sized up the steroid induced mouth breather and shrugged. "Listen dude," Noah began. "As far as I can tell the only problem here is that you're standing between me," he paused to poke his finger in the direction of the girl watching him with big curious eyes, "and her."

The guy grabbed Noah's arm, his nostrils flaring as he yanked Noah closer. Even at six feet, Noah had to lift his chin to meet the guy's eyes. The ogre gripped him tighter, his sausage fingers digging into Noah's biceps.

Like a wire stretched tight, Noah snapped. "Get the fuck off me." His skin came alive as he jerked his arm free. Christ, he didn't like to be touched. Touching made him feel...well, it made him feel.

As old blood-soaked memories clawed their way to the surface, visions of his best friend clutching his arm like it was his lifeline swamped him. But Noah hadn't been Jonny's lifeline. Oh no, not at all. Noah was a fuck up, and the sole reason Jonny was dead.

"...Noah,"

He heard Jared saying something, pleading with him, but the words were lost in the foggy haze clouding his mind, riding circles around his brain on the pain that came with remembering.

"Maybe you should listen to your boyfriend," the ogre said.

Noah laughed in his face. "Maybe you should suck my dick."

The mouth breather fisted his hands and drew his arm back. Heart racing, Noah stood there, his body braced as he prepared for the pain. Welcomed it.

Deserved it.

Like a hard fuck, sometimes a good punch in the face sent the demons scurrying. For a little while, anyway.

The hit came sure and swift, and Noah's teeth clashed as he flew backwards toward the water. The damp sandy shore padded his fall, but the cold waves crashing over his body snapped his groggy senses back to life faster than a broken condom. He jumped to his feet and spit a mouth full of blood onto the sand as the primate came at him again, his knuckles practically dragging on the ground.

"Stop it, Alex," a shrill voice cried out and Noah's heart sank as the girl he'd been stalking halted the fight. Jesus, he'd wanted that next blow. Craved it. Noah wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as blondie pounded her fists into Alex's chest.

Fuck if Jared hadn't been right. Blondie did have a boyfriend, and the big bastard's name was Alex.

Alex grabbed the girl's hands, and pinned them to her sides. She squirmed and fought against him, the back of her shirt lifting to show a tramp stamp that Noah was certain her good folks knew nothing about. Damned if she wasn't just the girl he needed tonight.

"Stay out of this, Dara," the ape named Alex warned.

Noah took a threatening step toward Alex. "Take your fucking hands off her."

"Noah," Jared warned again as the crowd gathered around them. The bonfire burned bright, the fiery embers sparking like angry fireflies in the dark night sky, casting a flickering spotlight on the scene playing out before them. "You start this shit again, and Donald won't give you any more chances," he bit out harshly, but Noah was too far gone, too far down the road filled with blood and bad memories to walk away.

"I didn't start it." He swiped his tongue over his swollen lip and jutted his chin toward Alex. "He did. I'm just going to finish it."

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