♡ HAPPY NEW YEAR + THE FIRST CHAPTER TO THE NEW EDITION OF PRETTY IN BLACK ♡

THIS IS FOR YOU, DEAR READER. ♡ ♡ ♡  May 2016 bring forth your wildest dreams and be filled with happiness. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 

I posted this here as I have on Wattpad so you could see that I haven't changed anything,  (I'm actually adding stuff), and get a little sneak peek teaser about what I mean when I say *delicious content.* Ahem—Marcus has somehow gotten hotter, and more bold! 

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: This is an unedited excerpt from the Pretty in Black rewrites so there might be typos/errors. 

☆  ☆  ☆ 

Marcus Marble

Eleanor

I NEVER REALLY WANTED TO DIE. But I followed through anyway. The pain in my heart was excruciating, and death was beautiful.

Second week of September and that afternoon sunset was breathtaking. That sunset was the last image I wanted my eyes to take in. How the light gave a dreamy glow to everything.

My hair billowed in the autumn wind, creating auburn waves. I fell onto my knees, beneath the pine tree, in front of an ocean of graves and dead people. I wanted to be forever asleep.

The blade glimmered in the sunlight. As I drew in my last breath, I wished for the death keepers to unite me with my dark prince; even if this was in the bottomless pits of hellfire, I would burn with him and be happy.

I lay down beneath the cold stone and ran the blade across both wrists. I felt the fire, the ache, the sting. My pulse pounded, my life poured out of me as I waited for the darkness.

Silence.

Death was like sleeping without dreaming, but still being consciously aware. I expected something more to happen. A light to shine. A tunnel to tumble down. A dark angel to appear and take me away. To fall into an ocean of fire. To be condemned by God.

I no longer had a body. I was spirit. But if I would've had a hand, then the kiss I felt on that hand would've been real. If I'd had ears, then the whisper I heard would've been real words.

Wake up, sleeping girl.

A guy's voice. I felt him run his fingers through my hair.

His touch awakened me. My eyes fluttered open and fused with his.

I knew it. He was the death angel sent here to collect me because he was too damn gorgeous to be human. Long black hair draped over his dark green eyes and his ruby lips parted in a sigh—a sound I wanted to hear him make again.

My stomach muscles clenched.

He hovered so far over me his silver raven necklace swung back and forth like a pendulum, the royal red jewel on the blade glinting.

I leaned up on my elbows. “You just scared me half to death.”

He pushed up onto his feet and ran splayed fingers through shoulder length hair; it feathered back with a violet sheen. “You should be thrilled you're halfway there.”

He extended that hand to me. The bones of his sturdy fingers clasped through mine as he helped me to my feet. His hand was hard, but smooth, like marble.

He smelled like dark floral—bleeding pomegranates and crimson stained roses withering in wet soil.

He took a step back, into the elongated shadows of the tombstones. His black dress shirt—untucked and disheveled—dipped in a V, displaying his collarbone. If there was any confusion about whether or not I was alive, that was all cleared up now.

He swiveled the silver ring on his thumb back and forth and I noticed how his black nails tapered into perfectly sharp points, dangerous but beautiful in their slender elegance.

He had this towering strength about him that made me imagine he was the Lord of the Dead, here to reap his Persephone. He could've dragged me away to the Underworld and I would've been more than okay with that.

“You've been here this whole time?” I accused. “Who are you, anyway?”

He studied me from the corners of his eyes, up and down. “Who do you want me to be?”

Why could I suddenly not think straight? Any normal response I might've had broke apart and scattered in a million different directions, making me a groveling idiot. I had half an inclination to bounce up and down on my toes, and it wasn't only because I was an ex-cheerleader.

It took a minute to assimilate what'd happened. If my reaction to him was any indication, then I was definitely not dead. I'm pretty sure dead girls didn't squirm all over in a good way when a hot guy ogled them, regardless of how strange and unusual the situation. But it didn't hurt to double check, right?

My fingers circled my wrist where the slice marks would've been and I dropped my gaze to the ground in search of the blade. Maybe the moonlight would illuminate it.

Talk about awkward.

It wasn't there. There was no blood, no blade, no ache. It'd never happened. I must've fallen asleep in the cemetery and dreamed the whole scenario.

He stroked his throat, right above his Adam's apple, directing my attention to his neck. I gulped, trying to swallow away the urge to attack him with my mouth.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “What are you doing here?”

A breeze whistled through the graves, unearthing sweet decaying flowers and wet moss. He swooped his thumbs underneath his belt loops and curled them forward as he wove his way around the gravestones, roving closer. “Curious,” he answered.

I took a step back. “Curious about what?”

He glided forward, forcing me to hop onto the cracked stone pathway. “You're here.”

I stumbled. He caught me in his strong arms and steadied me. My breath hitched as his eyes locked with mine again. “You followed me here?”

The way he looked at me made me smolder. It was hard to ignore.

“I wouldn't use the word followed.” His hands were warm against my chilled skin. And I hated how good it felt.

“Okay creep. You can leave now.”

He shook his head, refusing to go anywhere. “No I can't. If you do anything crazy, I might have to stop you.”

I might have to stop myself.

“What I do with my life is none of your business.”

He slanted his head, eyebrows furrowing, but eyes contemplative. “Okay,” he agreed suddenly. He let me go and began taking small steps back, his eyes still affixed on me. “I'll leave then.”

“Good.”

He halted and parted his legs, anchoring himself in place. His eyes glimmered, the green shining with sparkles of gold. “But only under one condition,” he amended.

I was only a few feet away from the wrought iron gate; why wouldn't my feet move? “Oh yeah? And what's that?”

“If you kiss me,” his deep voice proposed.

Oh God. I was already thinking about it. “Excuse me?” I scoffed. “I don't know you.” I reached down, grabbed my backpack, and pivoted, shuffling away from him while trying hard not to smile, or let him see me smile.

“You didn't think it would be that easy to get me to leave, did you?” he called after me.

Keep walking, Eleanor. Keep your feet moving in the opposite direction.

Damn it. I lost my resolve and spun around to face him. “I can't kiss you,” I lied, resting one hand on the gate. “I have a boyfriend.”

His eyebrow arched. “Do you tell him everything? He doesn't have to know about us.”

I squinted my eyes at him, but the corners of his lips twitched in an almost grin.

“I'm officially leaving.” I pulled open the gate, ready to make my escape. “You don't even know me.”

In three long strides, he erased the distance between us. “Yes I do.” His beautiful hand clamped down on mine. “You're Ellie Piper and you fall asleep in graveyards.” He gracefully eased my hand away from the cemetery gate and held it in his.

“That's not enough to go on.”

“It's perfect.” He pulled me away from the gate; I hadn't even realized we were moving until I was several feet away from where I'd been.

“How do you know my name?” I asked.

He lowered my hand and bended his knee, his boot kicking behind him as he reclined against the tree. “You carved it into your notebook with an exacto knife.”

“You enjoy digging in people's belongings, I see.”

“You were here for a while, so . . .”

“What time is it?”

“Half-past midnight,” he said, without looking at any clock.

“Shit,” I muttered to myself. “Nick is going to kill me.”

Curiosity flickered in his eyes and interest rose in his voice. “Who's Nick?”

“My dick headed stepfather.”

I could've sworn I saw his muscles relax. “He can't tell you what to do, you know.”

“Yeah, but he makes my life a living hell. He's only twenty-nine and thinks he's my boss.”

His eyes widened and he swung around the tree, keeping his eyes on mine. “So don't go home,” he suggested, his gaze falling to my lips. “Stay here with me.”

My stomach tingled and the sensation shivered up my arms and down my spine. I pinched myself to make it stop. Crap.

Ellie, don't even consider it.

He took a deep breath and exhaled as he held his hand out for mine. “Dance with me.”

I jutted my hip and narrowed my eyes at him. “You are really bold. Do you know that?”

His eyebrows drew together in the middle as he tilted his head to the side, making it hard for me to focus on what I was trying to say.

“Continue,” he motioned with his hand after a silent moment.

“You don't get a kiss,” I said, attempting to rebound from the distraction standing in front of me. “—so you go for the next best thing.” But the agitated effect I'd been going for fell from my voice.

“Let's just talk then,” he offered.

“Talking is over.”

“Seriously. We'll have five hours to get to know each other.” He smiled and chills shot through me again. My heart flipped. “And then you'll dance with me.” He pressed off the tree and took two steps closer. I found myself unable to move away from him, and more than that, I didn't want to.

With gentle fingers, he brushed my hair back and planted a moonflower behind my ear. I couldn't remember the last time anyone had been so kind to me. Staying here would be better than going home. Way better.

My eyes lifted to his. “You didn't tell me your name.”

His lips upturned. “It's Marcus Marble.”

And I stayed. I kind of adored his smile. And I really loved his eyes.

 

 

I lay beside him on a grave, below an unmarked and unadorned tombstone, next to the iron cemetery gates—black and bedighted by beauty.

His black hair blended with my red hair. Even our legs touched; the length of his thigh rested against mine. I didn't mind the coolness of the wet grass or the roughness of the stone. Not when I was lying here like this with him. I felt . . . strangely calm, even though I shouldn’t’ve. His feet flirted with mine, entwining together like it was the most normal thing; if I were being completely honest, I liked it. I might've encouraged it a little.

His eyes glistened. I'd never seen eyes that bright or that green. His were emblazoned by a dark symphony. When he blinked, his lashes spread below his bottom lid like satin spider legs; a million wishes could be made upon them in exchange for these nightmares.

“Ellie?”

The way he whispered my name in a soothing dark voice like he'd known me his whole life warmed my blood.

He toyed with the black lace of my shirt sleeve. “Why are you hurting inside?”

I wasn't sure I liked how he already knew the darkest part of me. No one was supposed to know about this. It was my secret.

He drew circles on my skin, making me shiver.

“How can you presume to know what I feel?” My nostrils flared.

“Because. I can see it.”

That was it; he'd said enough. I was definitely leaving for good this time. I untangled myself from him and leapt up.

“You can take all your cheap flattery and go use it on someone else, because it's not working on me.” I pirouetted around. “You think you can just follow me around and say lines of bullshit to get me to kiss you?”

He leaned up on his elbow, angling his head in my direction. His lips parted to speak, but I cut him off.

“I don't think so. I don't even know who you are, and right now, I don't want to know you. All I know is that you've got five seconds to get lost before I get extremely angry and kick your ass.”

He laughed a little, a grin moving across his face as he slowly stood and paced a few feet away, putting his body weight against the tree. “Are you mad at the entire world, or just a few people?”

I let out a heated breath. His smile infuriated the hell out of me. Who did he think he was, anyway?

I don't know what happened. One second I was standing there angry at him, and in the next, my feet were lifting off the ground—to leave, I was sure of it—but my legs betrayed me. Instead of turning around and hightailing it out of that cemetery, I found myself running toward him, unthinkingly. And during my sprint, it occurred to me that I wasn't sure if I was going to choke him to death or lock lips with him so I could erase that maddening smile of his.

His shoulder eased off the tree, his face going blank as I dashed for him.

I threw my arms around his damned neck and raised up on the tips of my toes, reaching for his lips. His head dipped, arms wrapped around my waist, and I pressed my mouth to his, giving him a fast, angry kiss.

He smelled warm and sweet—earthy, and I didn't want to let go. And oh God, he was kissing me back. Lips moving eagerly against mine like he'd been waiting on this moment forever. Where had he learned to kiss like that?

It didn't matter, because this, right here, wasn't happening. Couldn't happen.

Dizzy and out of breath, I shoved myself away from him and inched backward, slowly retracing my steps.

He stood straighter—taller—like he'd had an epiphany. He looked lost but riveted at the same time.

“There,” I exhaled. “Will you leave now?”

His neck and face flushed pink, eyes glazed. “No,” he confessed in that deep voice of his as he quickened his step, moving in for me. His tensed arms reached and encircled my waist again, pulling me back in to him. “I'm just getting started.”

He drew me against him; I broke out in goosebumps as the cool metal of his rings slipped over the nape of my neck; his fingers entangled in my hair. He dipped his head again and his lips glissaded velvet smooth over mine and he picked back up where we'd left off, continuing his frenzied assault on my mouth.

I grasped him back, tangling my fingers in his long black hair. No one had ever kissed me like this. We were both breathless, but he didn't let me go. I didn't want him to let me go. He groaned and kissed me deeper.

My heart pounded.

Both his hands cupped my face as he broke our kiss; his thumbs stroked my cheeks as he inched back so he could see me. His eyebrows raised and I mirrored them, arching my own like question marks, interpreting the action as shall we continue?

Oh God, yes.

His eyes crinkled in the corners, and, keeping his hands on my face, he dashed back in, our lips fusing together sweeter than they had before.

This was the kiss of all kisses.

“What am I doing?” I asked between kisses.

His lips smiled against mine. “What are you doing?”

I had no idea. All I knew was that being in his arms felt like a wilting flower being brought back to life—mysteriously and hauntingly romantic. I didn't care that he was a stranger.

I drew his bottom lip into my mouth, teasing it with my teeth, and it drove him wild. With a grunt, his hands dropped to my waist and he lifted me against him. I wrapped my legs around his hips and he spun me around, pressing me against the tree.

He mumbled something unintelligible, and then his lips possessed mine again. Damn. He was going to give me a heart attack.

Each time he even thought for half second that I was going to break our contact, he kissed me harder, faster, his lips demanding I stay. I noticed this and used it for my benefit. I laughed between kisses and he caught on.

“Not funny,” he said, grinning.

“Yes.” I nodded. “It is.”

The rhythm of our lips slowed as he kissed me tenderly, which made me react to him in a whole other way.

I let out an embarrassing sound.

His lips descended to my neck, kissing me once, twice, before resting at the base of my throat.

“Wow.” I let out a long breath. My legs wobbled as my feet found the earth again. “Who are you?”

“I thought you had a boyfriend,”—he quivered—“and you didn't want to know me.” He inched back, keeping one arm extended, palm pressed against the tree.

“I do. Have a boyfriend.”

His eyes swept up to mine as he peered at me through the curtain of his dark hair. “You certainly didn't push me away.” He half-smiled, half-smirked like he knew something, a secret, which I didn't. And I wanted to know his secret so damn badly.

“I should have.”

I gazed at him as I walked backward, nearly tripping over an uneven stone. He grinned and my face burned. I forced myself to tear my eyes away from him and pivot around.

What the hell just happened?

I was still thinking about that kiss as I moseyed toward the gate.

He chased after me. “Wait a second.”

I glanced back.

“When can I see you again?”

My lips parted, and I was about to speak when I realized I didn't have an answer for him. “What makes you think I wish to meet with you again?”

He whirled me around, backing me against the perishing angel statue in the cemetery. My pulse spiked as his hips slanted against mine.

He raised my hands above my head and pinned them there so I couldn't go anywhere. Not that I wanted to. I could've gazed into those green eyes all day.

And, oh goodness gracious, he had a dimple in his chin. A sexy ass dimple that I wanted to kiss. I stared at it. He shifted my hands into a one arm grip, and brought a thumb to stroke his chin subtly.

“What're you staring at?” he asked, his voice going musical near the end of the question as if he already knew the answer.

I bit my lip and grinned, returning my gaze to the indention in his jaw.

“Stop,” he said, lips curving into a smile as his face reddened. Him? Blushing?

“Make me,” I retorted.

He leaned in and I thought he was going to kiss me again. His voice dropped low and dark. “I bet I could make you do a lot of things.”

Mmm. I bet he could too. He already was. But if I dared him, it'd only be for my benefit because I was loving every sweet torturous moment of this.

“Like what?” I challenged.

“I got my kiss, didn't I?”

My blood burned and I wanted to smack him. What an arrogant, beautiful bastard.

He swept his hair back. “If you deny me,” he said, positioning his feet and angling his waist so our hips were partially touching, “I'll keep you here with me all night.”

If he kept me here, it would definitely not be against my will. I was all too eager to stay.

He rubbed his lips together and stared at mine, his eyes slowly raising to my nose. I hated my nose, dotted in freckles that spread out beneath my eyes. And he was staring at it like it was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen.

“If you can find me,” I wagered as my cheeks flushed, “you can see me again.”

His grin widened and I realized what I'd just suggested. Great going, Eleanor. You are basically giving the guy permission to stalk you.

My heart certainly didn't care, nor did other parts of me. My brain would have to get over it, if I could locate it, that is.

Marcus was more than satisfied with that answer. He gazed at me for the longest moment and I wondered if he was going to wait until my heart faltered before giving me room to breathe or think again.

He glanced down, his eyes tracing over the curve of my lips; and then they raised back to mine and rested there until I couldn't stand it. I squirmed beneath him, but he wasn't letting me go anywhere.

No guy had ever used only his eyes to flirt with me before. He didn't say a word; he didn't need to—his eyes said everything.

He finally loosened his hold and slowly inched away from me.

Whoa.

I took a glorious inhalation of cool air. Breathe, Ellie. Breathe.

With a sweep of his arm, he motioned toward the gate, giving me my exit, as if to say challenge hereby accepted.

I gathered my belongings, once more, and slipped through the cemetery gate, deliriously wondering what in the world had happened.

All I knew was that, whoever he was, he definitely had my attention.