Caught Between by Alexis Noor - Breathless Press #excerpt


Caught Between

By Alexis Noor


A virgin torn between two worlds...and two very sexy men.

Marya Helwe is twenty-one, but she's never had a boyfriend. She's never been past second base for that matter. Her over-protective Syrian parents have ensured she's stayed as sheltered as possible, despite the fact Marya is American born and raised. But Marya manages to convince her parents to let her go on an archeological dig in Jordan, and she's determined to make the most of her first taste of independence.

Almost instantly, Marya finds herself drawn to two very different men: Ash, a wealthy and dashing Jordanian, is exactly the kind of guy Marya's parents would have hand-picked for her; and Luke, an American archaeologist with a "bad boy" streak and a mysterious link to the ongoing Arab Spring. Ash pursues her, while Luke tries to avoid her, and as Marya untangles her feelings about both men, as well as herself, she catches the fever for freedom.


The rest of the day passed much like the one before, and in the blink of an eye, dusk was upon them. As Amy left to attend Ducharme's lecture, Marya looked around restlessly, wondering if Luke would invite her to smoke shisha on the patio again. She had enjoyed it, despite Liz's occasional looks. When she didn't see him, she wandered out to the patio to find the same group already there.

Luke smiled and waved her over. "Just so you know, we're always here after seven," he said, winking at her. As Marya pulled up a chair, Liz looked away, clearly not pleased with Marya's presence but determined to appear as though she didn't care.

Around nine, Luke yawned, making the same comment about the hour and having to get up early. Marya went back to the hostel and got in bed, saying goodnight to Amy and the other girls. When an hour had nearly passed and the hostel was quiet, Marya slipped back into her clothes, strapped on her purse, and went outside. She sat against the outside wall of the hostel, around the corner where passers-by wouldn't see her.

I am completely crazy for doing this.

Just as she was about to give up and return to bed, she heard the gravel crunching. Her heart raced as she peered past the bushes and watched Luke make his way down the hill to the gate. She waited until she was sure he wouldn't hear her, then began to follow him. She didn't want him to see her but wouldn't have been upset if he did. In a way, he'd given her an excuse to escape ACMER and an excuse to spend time with him.

Why do you need an excuse to spend time with him? Why do you want to spend time with him? The answers evaded her, troubled her. She wasn't normally attracted to guys like him. She was attracted to the sensitive types, the smart types...the nerds, if she was being completely honest with herself. The guys who oozed with confidence and charm just annoyed her.

And yet, Luke somehow straddled both worlds. The girls chased after him, but he was also smart and getting a Ph.D in archaeology, of all things. He looked like the kind of guy parents feared their daughters would bring home, but his looks were deceiving.

I'm intrigued, that's all.

She reached the street and saw him strolling down the sidewalk, a dark shadow now. There were people about, and so Marya followed, keeping a safe distance. If he got into a cab, she'd lose him. But so far, he was just walking.

Her gaze was focused on Luke, but she didn't miss the fact that Amman was teeming with life. Like the Damascus of her memory, the city came alive at night. Children ran and played on the sidewalks, their parents unfazed by the late hour; kebab stalls perfumed the air with the scent of roasted meat; people sat at small cafes along the street, sipping thick Arabic coffee. Marya struggled to keep sight of Luke as they walked farther into downtown Amman. Many shops were still open, many merchants still hawking their wares. There was so much to see, so much to take in.

She was nearly distracted by a shop of colored glass lamps when she saw Luke turn into a narrow alley. She picked up her pace, afraid to lose him. The street was narrow and smelled of manure. Ahead, everything was dark and quiet, doors and windows shut. It looked to be a dead end. A stray cat scampered across her feet, startling her.

Where did he go?

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