New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jay Crownover returns with the second title in her romantic suspense series, The Breaking Point, DIGNITY. Check out the excerpt below and grab your copy today!
Looks can be deceiving.
I knew that most people took one look at the ink and the impossibly big and strong body it covered and decided I was a brawler…a bruiser…a beast. However, I was hardwired to be a thinker, not a fighter.
I should have chosen to use my brain and talents to be one of the good guys, a hero, a man with dignity and worth.
I turned my back on dignity and sold my soul to the highest bidder, deciding to dance with the devil, instead.
I couldn’t figure out how to help myself, so there was zero chance I knew how to save someone else.
That someone else was Noe Lee. She was the unkempt, unruly thief who was just as smart as I was and twice as street savvy. She was annoyingly adorable beneath the dirt and grime, and she was in trouble. In way over her head, I told myself it wasn’t my job to keep her from drowning. In the Point, it was sink or swim, and I wasn’t the designated lifeguard on duty.
I shut the door in her face, but now she’s gone…vanished…disappeared without a trace. It took less than a second for me to realize that I wanted her back.
When a woman comes along that melts all the frozen, hard things you’re made of; you’ll do anything you have to, to bring her home.
What you see is not always what you get…and with a man like me, what you get is more than anyone ever bargained for.
I was dragging ass when I took the stairs up to Booker’s unit. Typically, I could run up the three flights and not even get winded, but I was running on fumes and the last traces of adrenaline. My brain was fuzzy, and my normally sharp thoughts felt scattered and unruly. The past and the present were at war in my mind, and the battle for which one made me feel worse was raging.
I made my way through the quiet loft listening for any sound that would indicate Noe was up and moving around. When I got closer to the bedroom, I heard the shower running and swear words chasing the steam out of the open door. It was going to be painful for a while when the water sluiced over her wounds. The thought had me squeezing my eyes closed and clenching my hands into fists. Just because tough things didn’t break didn’t mean they couldn’t be damaged, dented, and scratched. The fact Noe was currently suffering so much wear and tear because of me scraped across my skin and dug into my belly like sharp knives.
I was turning to walk out of the room so she could finish in peace when the running water went silent and her swearing ramped up a notch. I heard her banging around in the bathroom and then she yelled, “Booker, I need a towel! I’m dripping all over your floor.”
I opened my mouth to tell her Booker was gone and that I would go find her one. I didn’t need her poking through his stuff and running across a submachine gun or a rocket launcher. My brain was ping-ponging between annoyance that she’d called for Booker instead of me and the unrelenting image of her, naked, wet, and dripping onto the tile. I wasn’t a guy prone to fantasy, but damn if I didn’t get all kinds of caught up in the thought of her pretty olive skin glistening with moisture from head to toe. I needed to get away from her. I needed space so I could find a way to wrap armor back around all the soft parts of me she exposed.
I was shaking my head to marshal my thoughts back in order when I heard her swear again. Suddenly, like I conjured her out of a dream, Noe was standing in the pocket doorway of the bathroom wearing nothing more than a scowl of irritation and shimmery, shiny water droplets. Her midnight-colored eyebrows shot up to her hairline, and a bright pink flush stained the top of her chest and crawled up her neck into her face. She didn’t lift her hands to cover herself. She stood as still as I was, not moving at all under my furious and hungry gaze.
I wanted to be polite and look away. I told myself it was rude to stare and that the last thing she needed was some guy she barely knew gawking at her like she was a priceless work of art on a museum wall. I berated myself for this invasion of privacy but none of the lecturing or preaching did any good. The only way I could have torn my eyes off that petite frame, with it’s perfectly perky breasts and slightly rounded hips, was if someone slapped them out of my head. I couldn’t blink. I was scared to breathe. I felt like if I moved at all she would bolt like a startled deer, and I needed another second, another minute, another hour, to memorize every single part of her.
She was small, but all the parts added up to perfection. Seeing her like this, stripped bare with nothing to hide behind, I couldn’t believe I’d ever been stupid enough think she was a boy. Everything about her was delicate, feminine, and soft. The hollow of her neck, the elegant curve of her shoulders, the flare of her hips and the fullness of her ass. Her legs weren’t long, but they were toned and shapely. She was the very definition of good things coming in small packages and all I wanted to do was wrap her up and put her on a shelf that was too high and too hard to reach for anyone but me.
Choking on possession and a surge of lust unlike anything I’d ever felt, I belatedly turned my back on her and muttered thickly, “I used all the towels in there last night when I cleaned you up. I’ll go find where Booker keeps the extras.”
She moved. I felt it. The current that ran between us pulsed and throbbed with something hot. I heard her bare feet on the carpet and it took every ounce of willpower I possessed to keep my feet planted and my back turned. She was naked in a room with a very big bed and I was a man who never had such a visceral reaction to anyone…ever. If I had a switch, Noe Lee was the only person who had ever come along and flipped it. I was the actual definition of turned on when I had been off for most of my life.
And don’t miss the first standalone title in The Breaking Point series, HONOR! Grab your copy today!
Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.
Conflicted in the depth of her feelings for bad boy Gavin Kingsley, lonely librarian Emma Bell knows he’s all wrong for her—yet the heart wants what it wants.
But if she gives into his dark, erotic desires will she lose herself completely?
Passion, drama and suspense combine in the highly-anticipated conclusion to Emma Bell’s love affair with the alpha and enigmatic Kingsley brothers. Secrets will be exposed, sides will be chosen, and nothing will ever be the same.
This is book two in the series, following Dirty Little Secret.
A sexy romance that kept me smiling from beginning to end.
Dirty Little Promise is the conclusion to Emma Bell’s story. The smart and sexy librarian who tangled herself in a love triangle between two of the three the very appealing Kingsley brothers, Gavin who wanted to dominate her and Cooper who just wanted to love her. Although Emma wanted to want the charming and cheerful Cooper, the pull between her and the guarded and broody Gavin was impossible to ignore.
At the end of Dirty Little Secret though, Emma found details about Gavin’s romantic past that weren’t easy to process and needed further clarification from the man himself. Mainly his deceased ex-girlfriend could be Emma’s twin. Will his explanation be enough to give them a chance or will she go for the safe option and choose Cooper? Either way, the relationship between the Kingsley’s will be sure to suffer along with Forbidden Promises, their very profitable yet taboo business of professional escorts.
“I don’t think he’s trying to hurt me when he gests distant. I think he’s scared. They only women he’s ever loved, he’s lost.”
The past has definitely has come to haunt Gavin and he needs to decide whether to open up, trust Emma with his secrets and layout his feelings or lose her. Not an easy choice for a man who doesn’t like feeling vulnerable and exposed to rejection. Cooper on the other hand wears his heart on his sleeve. Emma is justifiably angry and confused and needs to dig deep and determine what would be best not just for her heart but her future.
“Say you choose me. We both know I’m the better option for your, that I’m the one who can make you happy.”
I don’t think I can say more about this book without spoiling you. We get answers to questions from the previous book, there’s added drama going on in Forbidden Promises that complicates the dynamic between Gavin, Cooper and Emma, and there’s certainly passion and romance.
“The more time I spent with her, the more I felt like she was becoming a part of me. Like she was half of something inside me that was only complete when she was near.”
This is going to sound weird to some of you… ok probably to most, but I do enjoy a good cliffhanger. I like escaping into a good story with interesting characters that intrigues me and leaves me wanting more. Knowing that the “more” will come in the form of revelations and further character development is catnip to this reviewer.
Dirty Little Promise is the second book in the Forbidden Desires series by Kendall Ryan. It should not be read as a standalone, but rather in the series’ order. It is an addicting contemporary romance. Told mostly from both points of view and has a happy ending for the first couple in the series. The next book Promises to be about the rejected Kingsley brother.
The start to a sexy new series from New York Times bestselling author, Kendall Ryan…
She’s much too innocent for me, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting the sweet, young librarian. I’m dominating and possessive, and my control streak runs a mile wide.
The way she looks at me—like I’m one of the heroes in the books she loves, like I’m broken, and she wants to be the one to piece me back together—it only complicates things further. I’m nobody’s hero.
But there’s no denying my tragic past reads like one of her favorite literary classics. It’s raw. Visceral. Captivating. And together, we’re a perfect mess.
How am I expected to resist when the sexual sparks zap between us and set me on fire? The need to control, and claim her force my walls to come tumbling down, but when she learns my dirty little secret, will my world come crashing down with it?
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.
I’m writing this letter because it’s highly doubtful I’ll ever garner the courage to say this to your face.
So, here goes.
We’re totally wrong for each other. You’re the proper single mum with a good head on your shoulders. I’m just the carefree British doctor passing through town and temporarily living in your converted garage until I head back to England.
But here’s the thing… for some bloody reason, I can’t stop thinking about you in very inappropriate ways.
I want you.
The only reason I’m even admitting all of this to you right now is because I don’t believe it’s one-sided. I notice your eyes when you look at me, too. And as crass as I appear when we’re joking around about sex, my attraction to you is not a joke.
So, what’s the purpose of this note? I guess it’s a reminder that we’re adults, that sex is healthy and natural, and that you can find me just through the door past the kitchen. More specifically, it’s to let you know that I’m leaving said door cracked open from now on in case you’d like to visit me in the middle of the night sometime.
No questions asked.
Think about it.
Whatever you choose.
It’s doubtful I’ll even end up sliding this letter under your door anyway.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list seventeen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than a million and a half books sold, her titles have appeared in over eighty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in seventeen languages. She lives in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.
Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.
Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.
Luke started to load up the gear and, realizing he was doing it alone, glanced over his shoulder to see where the hell his partner was.
Unsurprisingly, his friend was chatting up City Girl. Neither Charlie nor Ryan seemed to mind in the least that these two fancy pants had swooped into their town to capitalize on Luke’s past.
What was more surprising was that Jordan Carpenter was chatting right back, her smile seemingly genuine, her laugh real.
Luke ground his teeth.
He couldn’t say he’d put much thought into the woman behind the name as he’d been unceremoniously deleting her emails and voice messages, but if forced to assume, he’d have guessed aggressive shrew.
He suspected he was wrong there. Because while there was no mistaking the ambition in the woman, it wasn’t the cutthroat, ball-busting kind.
Her lean body might be all angles and long lines, but there was a softness to her as well. The way her hair did its own thing. The easiness of her smile, the quick laugh. The small but pert breasts.
Damn. He was staring.
He slammed the door shut. “Bander,” he shouted at Charlie across the lawn. “Let’s clear out.”
Charlie leaned into Jordan, whispering something in her ear that made her laugh, before walking away with a last wink.
Luke rolled his eyes. Really? This was happening?
“Hey, Elliott,” Ryan called. “You want to come over for a barbecue tonight?”
Luke crossed his arms and studied his friend suspiciously, waiting for the catch. “Who’s on the guest list?”
He saw Jordan and her purple-shirt friend exchange a look. Well, that answered that question.
Damn. Ryan never had been able to resist the urge to stir up trouble.
“It’s no problem if you don’t want to join us,” Jordan called out, lifting her hand to shield the afternoon sun from her eyes. “I’m sure your friends here can fill me in on everything there is to know about Luke Elliott.”
All about Luke Elliott’s romantic history was more like it. City Girl wasn’t even pretending to be coy about the reason she was here.
All former positive thoughts about her evaporated. Only the worst sort of human would use another’s failed relationships to advance her own career—for entertainment.
Luke turned away without another word, hauling himself into the driver’s seat of the truck as he waited impatiently for Charlie to get done shouting goodbye to every single person within earshot.
He drummed his thumbs against the steering wheel, refusing to even think about going to the BBQ tonight. If his friends wanted to stir up trouble, they could do so without his cooperation.
As for the two New Yorkers, they’d flame out all on their own. Weren’t East Coasters known for being impatient and fast moving?
Surely they’d be off to find some other glory-seeking asshole if he ignored them. One of the other guys could play the role for all he cared.
As Charlie hauled his ass up, Luke started the truck, his eye catching on Jordan Carpenter, who was watching him with a stubborn, determined look on her pretty face.
Damn it. She’d stir up all sorts of trouble unless he ran interference.
Charlie grinned wider, gesturing over his shoulder. “You’ve got a boner for the hot blonde.”
“Are you kidding me with this? She wants me to be the next bachelor.”
How were Ryan and Charlie not getting the absurdity of this?
Charlie shrugged. “So? Maybe it’d be good for you.”
Luke stared at his friend for a moment longer before putting the truck in drive. “The only thing that would be good for me is to push you out of this truck.”
Charlie was waving goodbye to Jordan and Simon. “See you tonight!”
Luke ground his teeth harder. He was already dreading the BBQ, but not going would only make matters worse. Clearly he needed to have a very blunt conversation with Jordan Carpenter.
Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
My rating: 4 of 5 starsA great blend of fun and sexiness to kick off a series you won’t want to miss.Lauren Layne has a wonderful way of writing a story with good balance between delightful fun and hotness that grabs me from start to finish. I haven’t missed a single one of her books and I don’t plan on doing so because I know I’ll be getting an enjoyable escape every single time. With this first book in her I Do, I Don’t series, Ms. Layne sets the stage for an amusing and addictive series about runaway bachelors.
In Ready to Run we meet big city, reality TV producer Jordan Carpenter who is trying to recruit the small town, elusive firefighter Luke Elliot who’s left three brides at the altar. After being ignored via emails and phone calls, Jordan decides to head to the small and picturesque town of Lucky Hollow to talk to him personally, but no matter how much she tries to convince him to participate in the show he just won’t budge.
Much to Luke’s dismay and Jordan’s surprise, she’s having a good ‘ol time reacquainting herself with the small town life thanks to the warm welcome she’s getting from everyone else, from invitations to participate in the kissing booth at the county fair to his exes including her in their book club. Before long Luke and Jordan are incapable of ignoring their growing attraction, but as candidate he’s off-limits to her and her presence is dredging up old wounds.
There’s a lot more to Luke’s runaway groom story than he lets on and Jordan senses this because there’s no way a man who dedicates his life to saving people and even cats and is so liked by everyone would callously leave his brides, or would he? Can he let down his guard long enough to confess the reason behind his shielded heart and admit his growing feelings towards the sexy city slicker before it’s too late?
I really enjoyed Luke and Jordan’s story, especially the charming backdrop with all of the town’s endearing characters where everyone knows everyone else, and of course Jordan’s BFF, the colorful Simon. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!
Ready to Run is the kickoff book in the Ready to Run series by Lauren Layne. It is a standalone, contemporary romance. Told from both points of view, with a happy ending.
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies.
She lives in New York City with her husband.
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she’s written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAY, New York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.
From New York Times Bestseller Kendall Ryan comes a sexy new stand-alone novel in her Roommates series.
The smoking-hot one-night stand I was never supposed to see again?
Yeah, well, I might be pregnant, and he’s my OB-GYN.
Get ready to fall head over heels madly in love with the hottest OBGYN doctor you have ever met! This full-length standalone contains the most hilariously awkward lady-doctor visit, lots of playful banter and some good ol’ fashioned baby-makin’!
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 2 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine. She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.
Jorinda Pearce thought she did everything right – graduated from college, married her long-time sweetheart, established a career. But what does she have to show for it now? A degree she doesn’t use, a job she hates, and an ex-husband that broke her heart.
Looking for a long overdue adventure, Jorie takes a walk on the wild side and attends a masquerade event at The Wicked Horse Vegas. It’s exactly the escape she’s looking for, and even better, she can explore anonymously. Drawn to the man masked in black leather with the body of a god, Jorie finds the greatest pleasures of her life at the hands of a stranger.
Walsh Brooks is the most sought after man in The Wicked Horse. Sex is nothing but a game to him and he’s the type that will always leave at the end of the night without looking back. Unfortunately for Walsh, there’s no way he can walk away from the mysterious green-eyed beauty behind the mask of sapphire feathers, because he knows exactly who she is.
Jorie is his best friend’s little sister and there’s not another woman in the world that’s more off limits.
“Want another drink?” I ask Micah as he lounges on my couch and takes the final swallow of his scotch. He flew in about an hour ago, and we’re waiting for Jorie to arrive to go out to dinner tonight. My nerves are on edge. I definitely want another drink.
“Nah, man,” Micah says as he pushes up from the couch and moves to take his glass back into the kitchen that opens straight from the living room. “Tonight’s not about getting drunk. It’s about hanging out with my two favorite people in the world.”
I smile at him and nod, my stomach clenched.
“But just so you know,” he says with a laugh. “Jorie’s my first favorite, you’re my second.”
“As it should be,” I reply, and hope that sounds casual enough.
Micah rinses his glass out and sets it on the counter. As he walks back into the living room, he says, “And besides… I figure tomorrow night, you and I are going to hit the town, right?”
“You know it,” I say as I push up from the chair, head straight to the wet bar, and replenish my vodka. There is not enough alcohol in the world to get me through this weekend. I take a healthy slug as soon as I cap the bottle.
“Dying to go to The Wicked Horse,” Micah says with excitement in his voice. “Want to meet Jerico, too. He and I have been emailing about testing out some more of my designs in his club. Plus, you and me, dude… we haven’t had a woman together in a long time. Your stories about the stocks… we’ve got to hit that, man.”
My shoulders tighten and my gut rolls with nausea. How in the fuck I am going to weasel out of this is beyond me, but I’ve got to figure something out. I don’t want another fucking woman other than Jorie.
“Walsh?” Micah says in question, and I turn to look at him. “We good with going there tomorrow night?”
“Damn straight we are,” I say with a smile. “A night of debauchery for the both of us.”
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Just then, the elevator doors give a slight hiss as they open, and Jorie is standing there. She looks fucking amazing, wearing a dress done in large black-and-white zebra stripes that’s loosely belted around her waist and comes down to her knees. She’s got on a pair of sexy-as-shit taupe heels to go with it and my mouth waters as I take in what they do to her legs. Hair in that sleek, angled bob that hangs halfway in between her jaw and shoulders, and that thick crop of bangs straight across her eyebrows make her green eyes brighter than ever.
I swallow hard and try to appear casual.
Her eyes go immediately to Micah, and she gives a squeal of excitement. He rushes to her, picks her up, and swings her around. The skirt of her dresses rises a bit in the back, and I look away guiltily.
“God, I missed you, squirt,” Micah says with a choked voice. My guilt intensifies over the naked display of love and affection he has for his sister.
Jorie’s voice quavers with equal love. “I missed you, too.”
She hugs him hard and looks over his shoulder at me. Her eyes are wary and nervous.
When Micah releases her, I step up and casually say, “Got a hug for me?”
It’s a shameless move to touch her, but not something that would raise Micah’s eyebrows. I’ve hugged Jorie a million times over our lives together growing up.
“It’s good to see you again,” she says to me as she walks into a very brotherly hug. I make the mistake of inhaling her scent, and I’m hit with a jolt of lust for her.
After we quickly release each other, she steps back and surveys my apartment as if it’s her first time. She told Micah we met for breakfast one day, but he sure as shit doesn’t know I’ve fucked her on almost every piece of furniture in this apartment. He’ll never know she went to her knees right where we’re standing in front of the elevator and swallowed every drop of cum I gave her.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I have an overwhelming urge to fake a stomachache, a migraine, a goddamn stroke for all I care at this moment, and beg off from this entire weekend.
Instead, I put a smile on my face and tell them, “Come on. We’ve got prime seats in Moulineaux tonight. I’ve not eaten there yet, but heard it’s amazing.”
Jorie smiles back at me before turning to hook her arm through Micah’s. She leans over and puts her head on his arm as she’s too short to reach his shoulder. They both stroll into the elevator.
This night can’t get over with fast enough for me.
Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.
When you can’t trust yourself, how can you ask anyone else to?
It’s been months since Aden Colt left the Army, and still the memories haunt him. When he moved into a tiny boat off the California coast, he thought he’d found the perfect place to escape life. Then Sawyer shows up and turns his simple life upside down. Beautiful and sophisticated, she seems out of place in this laid-back beach town. Something is pushing her to experience everything she can—including Aden. But as much as he wants her, starting a relationship with Sawyer puts them both at risk. For Aden, the past doesn’t stay there; it shows up unexpectedly, uncontrollably, and doesn’t care whose life it wrecks.
Oh no, fuck no!
I thought he was kidding. I should’ve known better. Aden’s intentions with me since I stupidly boarded this boat have been my torment for his enjoyment. He loved watching me squirm over the bait tank and when I proved I wouldn’t shy away from a challenge, he pulled out the big guns. From his flirty smiles to his teasing touches, he’s discovered my weaknesses and is exploiting them for his own entertainment.
Now this? Raw fish probably still warm from fighting for its life.
And now I’m God knows how many feet above water sitting on a two-seater bench held up by rusty ladders and staring down a piece of glistening pink meat.
“You have to eat it, it’s a rite of passage.” He offers the meat to my lips and I quickly turn my face away.
“I’m really not hungry.” As if the idea isn’t enough to turn my stomach, watching him clean the fish before sectioning off enough for lunch wasn’t much of an appetite builder.
“Of course you are.” He brings the piece to his own mouth and takes a bite, closing his eyes with a moan as he chews.
I feel a rush of bile hit my throat, or maybe it’s beer, either way it’s warm and it burns. “That’s disgusting.”
“You’re telling me you don’t like sushi?”
My eyes widen. Sawyer would say she’s never had sushi. But Celia’s a different story. She ate a live cricket in the eighth grade on a dare. She didn’t even flinch. “I like sushi, just not directly from the…um…source.”
“Doesn’t get fresher than this.” He takes another bite and I can’t deny that his response to eating it does give it some appeal.
“I think I need soy sauce or that green stuff.” What’s it called?
“Just try it.”
“I really don’t want to.”
“Oh come on.” He smiles in that cute crooked way that makes my heart dip and dive. “Live a little.”
I chew the inside of my mouth debating the cost/benefit of taking a bite of this fresh-out-of-the-ocean fish. On one hand, I’ll impress Aden. That in and of itself is worth the ick factor. But what if I throw up all over his boat? Is the chance of impressing him worth totally humiliating myself? I groan when I realize what I’m doing, exactly what I swore I wouldn’t do. I’m making an internal pros and cons list. I close my eyes and steel my resolve and my spine. Don’t think, just decide. I pop open my eyes followed by my mouth.
“Yeah?” He stares at my parted lips.
I nod, hoping he’ll hurry before I change my mind.
Lifting the rose-colored flesh forward, he places it between my teeth. It’s a small bite so I close my lips around his fingers expecting him to pull away…but he doesn’t. For a moment I’m suspended in his gaze, totally stuck while his hot fingers rest between my lips. This should be grossing me out; after all, I watched him gut this fish with his bare hands and to wash off all the blood he merely dipped them into the ocean. But all the thoughts of raw fish and a stranger’s finger do nothing to stave off the warmth blooming in my belly. My tongue pulls the meat deeper into my mouth, brushing against the rough pad of his forefinger. He bites his lip but finally drops his hand.
He watches intently while I chew and swallow.
“How was it?” His voice is low and gruff.
Lost in the heated moment, I barely tasted it. “Good.”
His hand cups the back of my head and he pulls me toward him, stopping just short of our lips touching. “I can’t fucking take this anymore.” His breath is sawing in and out, bursting against my mouth with impatience. “Let me.” It’s a demand, not a question.
A kiss. I don’t need to channel Celia or flip a coin…I know what I want.
I lick my lips and close the slight distance between us.
New York Times bestselling author JB Salsbury spends her days lost in a world of budding romance and impossible obstacles. Her love of good storytelling led her to earn a degree in Media Communications. Since 2013 she has published six bestselling novels in The Fighting Series and won a RONE Award. JB Salsbury lives with her husband and two kids in Phoenix, Arizona