Tag Archives: contemporary romance
Coming to the end of an aisle, she made the turn too quickly and the front of her cart clanked into the cart of another shopper headed her way. She startled as the carts hit. The impact reverberated up her arms. She grit her teeth in automatic response to the discomfort. Embarrassed, her gaze darted to the driver of the other cart as she tugged out her earbuds.
Her world slowed and time stopped. She recognized the man’s face instantly even though it had been a decade since she’d seen him. Where his face had been smooth and unlined in high school, fine wrinkles now etched the area near his eyes as he smiled. And god, his smile turned her knees to jelly. She clutched the push bar of the grocery cart and tried to get her breathing under control.
She wasn’t ready to see him yet. She’d put zero effort into her looks before leaving the house.
Swallowing hard, she began, “Hey, Josh. It’s good to see you.” That was about all she could get out as her eyes took in his form. His six-foot stature had muscled up in his adult years. As a teen, he’d always been tall and lanky, but now he had the body of a man who could handle hard work. His skin was nicely bronzed, a common side-effect of living at the beach. His arms were defined and muscled too. Just resting an arm on the cart had one bicep on display as it propped up his weight. Firm calves and strong thighs made her mouth go dry. She knew he had a job that required physical labor. From the looks of his body, he had to be good at his job.
Damn, the boy had definitely grown into a man.
She wanted to run her hands through his wavy hair to see if it was as soft as it had been in high school. His sun-bleached, golden-brown tresses were just long enough on the sides to show the waves that transitioned to curls around his collar. And those hazel eyes of his were roving over her body, assessing how she’d changed over the past decade.
Her eyelashes fluttered as she organized her thoughts. This was terrible. A nightmare.
She knew their paths would cross eventually. She just hadn’t expected it to be today. Her hair was a mess, and she hadn’t even brushed her teeth.
God, she couldn’t believe that this was how she looked for their first meeting, or more accurately, their first run-in. She wanted to disappear behind the mountain of soda boxes in the middle of the aisle.
Josh couldn’t believe his eyes. He’d heard she was coming back, but he hadn’t known when. And here she was. Her honey-blonde hair was piled into a bun with random strands sticking out in all directions. The curves of her body took him on a slow trip through memory lane. She’d been his first. They’d explored each other’s bodies as seniors in high school. Damn, he’d worshipped her back then, the soft give of her breasts and the immense pleasure as she toyed with his cock had consumed him.
Now they were adults. Her breasts were fuller than they’d been in high school. Her once perky breasts were cradled in her tight tank top and considerable cleavage peeked out. They’d easily fill his hands now. Her waist narrowed, but then her hips flared out, almost screaming that their role was to give him something to hold onto while they made love. And the tight little yoga shorts molded to the curves of her ass. Damn, his dick had a great memory and perked up at the sight of her.
“Hi, Senna,” he began. “I heard you were coming back to the island. It’s good to see you.” Things had ended abruptly between them after graduation. He didn’t know what had happened, but she’d suddenly cut him off. He’d reached out to her, but she didn’t return his calls or texts.
Her avoidance and indifference towards him had messed with his head and gave him a general distrust of women. She’d taught him that things could be wonderful one day and hell the next. It had taken him years to realize that not every woman was a selfish siren who would toss him aside when she was finished with him. After a few months of silence, he acknowledged her total rejection and left her alone. He’d finally decided to save face and pretend she didn’t exist.
It was no surprise that things felt awkward now. At the time, he figured she’d moved on from him and found another guy in California. Her silence had angered him. The powerlessness to get her to acknowledge him through text or phone call had damaged him to the core. He’d debated flying out to California and confronting her, but he’d decided to avoid that humiliation. She didn’t want him, and he wasn’t going to beg.
Adapting to the openness had taken awhile. In prison, he’d been alone, despite the crowd. But here, he was out in the boondocks with the crickets croaking and the coyotes yapping, echoing and prolonging the eerie silence afterward.
He loved it. But after his release, he dreaded every moment. The silence. Feeling incredibly alone. He’d considered a pet, but the upkeep was more than he was willing to handle at the moment.
He jumped when the door slammed and Lauren waltzed out.
“I love jalapeno poppers,” she said. “Can’t remember the last time I’ve grilled some of those.”
“I’ve got the makings if you want to do it.”
She clapped her hands together. “Yes, let’s do that.”
“I picked enough jalapenos this morning, but we can always grab more from the garden if you want.”
“Too dark and I’m afraid of snakes. I’m sure you have plenty.”
She prepped the poppers and he prepped the fire, and they drank another margarita while the food cooked. They sat around the fire under the stars instead of the deck, near a large oak tree that had been the focal point of many parties with friends and family. They chatted about the weather, the river and the current news. Once the poppers were done, they ate a few and chatted more, but nothing too serious.
“You wanna just eat jalapeno poppers and margaritas tonight?” he asked, never wanting this night to end.
He grabbed a stick and thrust a wiener on it. “How about we at least roast wieners?”
Laughing, she seized the stick and jabbed it in the fire. “I thought I had already roasted yours.”
His loins jumped. “That you did.”
She removed the burning wiener from the fire and blew on it. As she took it from the stick she muttered. “Hot, hot, hot.”
He grabbed a paper plate and placed it under the wiener, where she let it fall. “Of course, it’s hot silly. It just came from the fire.”
She set the plate on the table and blurted, “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you.”
“You didn’t trust that the hot dog was hot?” He took his from the fire and blew, but laid it across the plate before sliding it from the stick.
“No.” She swept her hand through the air. “About everything else. For years I thought you had slaughtered my sister. How can I step away from that and remember what things were like before?”
Shadows skimmed Lauren’s body. The dim light from the fire and from the deck’s lighting flickered around her, enough to discern most of her features. He leaned closer and brushed a finger across her cheek. “Knowing me the way you did, how could you even think I would do something like that?”
Lauren shrugged. “Maybe I had a few doubts, but I called it wishful thinking. Then I went through such pain and heartache I didn’t have room for doubts. Everyone convinced me. Your cap. Your knife. Your motive. Clint…” Her voice bubbled, a tenuous thread of something he couldn’t name. Regret? Remorse? Confusion?
Luke jerked away. His muscles tensed, gut twitched.
“We became friends. Not like you and I were, but he was there for me—”
“Of course he was.” His voice was harsh, hot like the fire steaming from his pit.
“As Laramie grew up, he became her godfather. But she didn’t like him and never wanted to be alone with him. She never accused him of anything, but she steered clear of him. Even her instincts were right and I couldn’t see through my pain.”
He stood. Yes, they should have this conversation. They needed to have this conversation at one point. And now was as good a time as any. But it was too hard to sit. Too hard to face the demons that Lauren’s mistrust in him had stirred.
“If I had doubts, I…I—”
“You had too many people lying to you.”
She stood and planted her palms on his chest. “But you never lied, did you? You were the only person who didn’t.”
“Are you published?” Chris asked.
“Yes.” She nodded and added, “Self-published.”
Pink heated her cheeks. She wasn’t about to tell him that she wrote romance and was considering erotica. She hadn’t decided yet. She read both, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to be an erotica writer. She wasn’t sure she had enough sexual experience or creativity to write a book that needed eight to ten sex scenes. She thought she could handle two or three at the most per book, which was what most of the romances she’d read had.
“I’m debating between writing contemporary romance or romantic suspense. You know, chick lit.” She did her best to make that sound boring and uninteresting.
“Chick lit,” he repeated. The corners of his mouth turned up. Was that code for mommy porn? His cock perked up at the news. What kind of naughty thoughts went through her mind? Damn, she was already hot, but that information made her down right volcanic. He’d have to get his hands on one of her books to check it out.
“You know, books you read at the beach, while waiting in line at the grocery store. Something with a Happily Ever After. Feel good books,” she added with a casual shrug. Then she cursed adding that last part.
His green eyes darkened with lust. Feel good books. He knew what that meant. Women all over America read books at night to ‘feel good’. Was she into that? Damn, his pants were getting tight in the crotch just thinking about the ways she could make him feel good.
She wanted to roll her eyes. Men were so predictable. They couldn’t help but think with their cocks. She should have known the man sitting across from her would be no different. He’d been a gentleman last night and had been polite so far, but the heat in his gaze betrayed the truth that his cock had taken over his brain once the conversation shifted to something that hinted at the notion of sexuality.
When would her bacon and eggs get here? She needed to finish this impromptu breakfast. She leaned closer to him and shook her head. “I don’t write about sex,” she stated matter-of-factly and a little annoyed.
It didn’t matter that she was going to write about sex. He didn’t need to know that was what she was considering. The way he looked at her suddenly made her feel dirty. Like she was some porn queen who’d fucked an entire town or a sports team. She wasn’t into group sex or even banging strangers. She liked to be wined and dined. She had high standards for men she’d be with romantically. But if the look he was giving her was typical for how men would approach her once they knew that she wrote romance, she’d have to come up with a pen name. It was becoming clear that keeping her writing persona separate from her true identity would be the best plan.
Chris leaned back in the booth and waved his hand as if wiping away dirty thoughts. “Of course not. I didn’t think you did.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Look, you don’t owe me an explanation. I love books. The only bad book is an unread book, right?” Hopefully that appeased her.
Thankfully the waitress set their plates on the table in front of them at that moment. Clearing his throat, he thanked the waitress and grabbed a piece of bacon and shoved it into his mouth before he said something stupid.
Cassie picked up her fork and jabbed the liquid center of her egg. The yolk spilled out and flowed over the egg white. Would everyone look at her like she was a weirdo if they knew what she wrote? Could she live with that?