Last week’s kiss was from Book I in the Love, Montana series (currently FREE) and this week is Book II. Do you see a pattern here?😉
When I started brainstorming this series, I thought the heroes would be part of Tule’s Firefighters collection, but then I met Flynn, Tucker and Justin. Completely unique individuals who shared one thing in common: they were burned out and ready for a change. Flynn’s connection to Montana (his younger brother is the hero in Montana Darling) brought them to Marietta and the rest is…well, the stuff romance novels are made of.
Here’s Tucker’s and Amanda’s first kiss. Enjoy. You can be sure Tucker did. 🙂
He let out a sigh of relief when he saw Justin catch up to Amanda. They were arguing but Tucker couldn’t hear a word over the rumble of a second cement truck idling in line. The concrete guys all huddled in readiness to shovel the wet cement into the hole and spread it around the four-foot square base as soon as the wet concoction started down the chute.
At the last possible second, Justin snatched the box from Amanda’s hands and dove for the hole. Luckily, the plan called for six inches of cement to go into the hole as a base for the pole that would then be raised in place using winches and pulleys.
Tucker held his breath as he saw Justin check the box and then reach into the hole as far as he could. A second later, with the help of two concrete guys, he popped back to his feet.
Justin spun around to give Tucker a thumbs-up gesture at the same moment Amanda kicked him in the shins and stormed off.
Tucker was still laughing when Amanda reached him. “Your friend’s a glory hog. That was my job.”
“He didn’t want you to get dirty.”
“You didn’t trust me to do it right.”
It struck him that he and Justin accidentally had hurt her feelings. Did society girls suffer from wounded pride the way normal people did? “I was afraid you were going to break your neck or get run over by the cement truck.”
She crossed her arms and glared at him. “I’m tougher than I look. You have to be to survive in a family like mine. Next time you ask for my help, forget it.”
He moved closer and did something he knew he’d regret later. He grabbed her firmly by the shoulders, letting his crutches fall. Balancing all his weight on his good leg, he pulled to him and kissed her. Hard, but not fast. The opposite of fast. He took his time to experience every damn nuance, like how she resisted him for three and a half seconds. And how, when she gave in, her mouth softened and her lips parted to invite him in.
The thought crossed his mind that this was an I’ll-remember-this-moment-forever sort of thing. Was it? Would he never forget the first time he kissed Amanda Heller?
Of course not. She was just a pretty girl who kissed like a damn siren luring him to the wicked rocks where he’d crash and burn. There was nothing special about her, he told himself. Other than her taste, maybe. Honey sweet but with some intangible something all her own.
But even if Amanda was different from all the others he’d kissed–and enjoyed–over the years, she most definitely wasn’t a long-term prospect. God, no. Not that he was looking for a forever love–something he knew existed because Ona and Twig had been inseparable right up till the day he died.
But even if Tucker bought into that happily-ever-after fantasy, he had way too much on his plate to get involved with Amanda Heller–even for the short term.
Too bad he had a feeling that decision was completely out of his hands. Her kiss told him she might be up for a little tryst he decided to call: “Roommates with benefits.”
If that enticed you enough to read more, here’s the Books2Read Universal buy link to your preferred vendor: ROGUE
Flynn Bensen knows that, but maybe as the new head of Crawford County Search and Rescue, he can make up for the one he lost. Or go down trying.
Never fall for the boss.
Kat Robinson should have gotten Flynn’s job. But the single mom’s priorities lay with Brady, the light of her life. No way is she looking for a relationship. Too bad Flynn’s so darn hot, gorgeous, kind and authentic.
Will Flynn be the hero Kat needs to help her find the courage to fall in love again?
He led the way to the kitchen, flicking on lights that illuminated a workshop that must have been a family room at some time in the house’s life. The sparkle and pop of silver, gold and semi-precious stones brought a smile to her face, despite what she knew was coming.
“Bailey’s really talented, isn’t she? I bought a pair of her earrings at the Big Marietta Fair last summer. They were my favorite until I lost one in the laundry.”
Flynn busied himself by filling a kettle with water. “I heard the ladies who work here talking about a replacement they were working on. Bring the one you have to work and I’ll…” He didn’t finish the thought. Instead, he reached overhead for a box of herbal tea choices.
He carried the box and two mugs to the table.
“Are you quitting because of what happened at the school today?”
She sat opposite him. She didn’t dare sit too close. Giving up her job was only part of her penance. She’d come to the conclusion that this could have been avoided if she’d been a more attentive mother. Brady somehow picked up on her latent, mostly hidden–even from herself–desire to have a “real” family.
Since that was never going to happen, she owed it to herself and her son to hunker down, regroup and refocus all her energy on Brady.
“Brady thought he was helping me.”
He cocked his head in that thoughtful, questioning way that told her he was listening intently to what she had to say. “That’s not surprising. You’re the center of his universe.”
An observation? Or judgment?
“It might be different with two parents, but even when Greg was in the picture, he was hands-off where Brady was concerned.”
“Honestly, I think he was afraid Brady was smarter than him. Which Brady is. His intelligence is off the charts, but he’s never been able to connect well with people.”
“So, you’ve had to be his advocate, his interpreter.”
A strange flush of pleasure swept through her. “Yes. You could say that. Especially when he was younger.”
The kettle started to whistle. Kat couldn’t stop her gaze from following him. He hadn’t changed out of his jeans and long-sleeve red shirt, but she was certain she’d never seen any man look sexier in “uniform.”
He carried the kettle using a potholder on the handle and placed another on the table. Thoughtful. Did she know any men who would do that?
“Pick your poison,” he said offering the box of individual tea bags to her first.
She grabbed one without looking. What did it matter? She ripped open the package and dunked it in the hot water, watching the reddish hue spread.
What did I pick?
She flattened the crumpled envelope to read: cranberry spice.
When she looked up, she found Flynn watching her, a hint of a smile on his lips–as if he knew exactly what she’d done.
He held up his little package. “Mint. Helps settle my stomach after a big meal so I can sleep better.”
“Do you have trouble sleeping?”
His gaze dropped. “I was having nightmares. Post-traumatic stress, probably. The guys wanted me to see a shrink, but then my brother contacted me about this job, and I decided to see if a change of venue would help.”
“Yes. And no. I’m still not sleeping as soundly as I used to, but no more nightmares.”
They sat in silence a few minutes, just the tick-tock of a clock above the stove keeping track of their wasted time. “I’ve never talked to anyone about my possible connection to the Zabrinski family. I went back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should ever bring it up.” She swallowed hard. “What if I was wrong? What if my mother slept with every guy in town and this is just a big misunderstanding? It could ruin a person’s life.”
He took a sip of tea before answering. “You don’t owe me any explanation, Kat. Especially not if you’re leaving Marietta.”
She rubbed her knuckles across her forehead. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Looks to me like you’re resigning.”
“Yes. I’m quitting SAR. You deserve someone better. You have a strong moral compass, Flynn. I thought I did, too, but, lately…” She stared into the pink murkiness of her tea. “I should have done something about Ken’s blatant sexism.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. Maybe I got in the habit of advocating for others, like Mom, Brady, and Molly, and somehow lost track of myself.”
A line from an old movie she and Brady watched a couple of nights ago came back to her. “Not once did I ask what’s in it for me,” she quipped with a lightness she didn’t feel.
Flynn’s sudden grin made her breath catch. She set the mug on the table hard, hoping he didn’t see her hand shake.
“Field of Dreams. I’ve probably seen it a hundred times.”
He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on the table. “Feeling disconnected from your body or your emotions is one of the symptoms of Vicarious Trauma, Katherine. You need to make time for you. Find a few of those missing pieces.” His smile changed. “I say that as your friend, not your boss.”
“I need to kiss you,” she said.
He blinked. “Really? Now?”
“Yes. Would that be okay?”
He tried not to smile; she could tell by the way his lips twitched. Finally, he gave in and grinned. “Oh, all right. Since you’re no longer my employee.”
As excuses go, it worked. She’d used it, too.
She got up and walked to his side of the table. She waited for him to scoot back his chair, leaving ample room for her to sit on his lap. His rock hard thighs supported her weight without question. She indulged in something she’d wanted to do from that first moment they’d stood with a box of doughnuts between them; she ran her hands across his broad, muscular shoulders.
“How much does that pack you’re always carrying around weigh?”
“Eighty pounds, give or take.”
“Are you always On Call?”
“Not officially, but I feel an obligation to my training. If I had the chance to help someone and didn’t go because I wasn’t prepared, I’d feel pretty awful.”
She knew that about him without being told. He took his responsibilities seriously. As did she. It might be the thing she loved best…No. Don’t go there. This isn’t about love or any long-term emotion. It’s about grabbing a tiny bit of goodness for myself before all hell breaks loose.
She kept her eyes open so she could memorize his face as she lowered her head. His eyelashes were thick, like Brady’s, but not as curly. His brows were trim and darker than his lashes. She liked the little bits some might consider flaws. She saw them as his unique perfection.
She bumped her nose lightly against his, drawing a smile that warmed the hue of his eyes, which looked more gray when she was sitting across the table from him, but now looked blue. She wetted her lips with the tip of her tongue before tilting her head to touch her lips to his.
After two weeks of mental foreplay, she’d fully expected a zing, but the charge that swept through her entire body took her breath away. Better than good. When she started to pull back, Flynn deepened the kiss.
“Not enough. Not nearly enough,” he murmured with a low growl that released the surge of yearning Kat had kept carefully banked.
His tongue teased her lips until she opened them for him with a tiny moan that covered her cry for more. His taste held a smoky flavor of beer and garlic. And the hint of mint from his tea. She explored without hesitation…until he pulled back.
Was he ending things or…
“Are we doing this?”
Of course, he would ask. Flynn wasn’t the type to assume anything.
“Yes. Please. Just one night. That’s all I’m asking for.”
He lowered his forehead to touch hers.
“I can’t promise that, but I’m willing to try.”
Then he stood up, as if she were as light as his pack, and he carried her to his room. What girl doesn’t dream of this from her Cinderella days, Kat thought, resting her head against his shoulder?
She’d take the dream for as long as it lasted.
OK, then. Are you just a little bit in love with Flynn Bensen? I know I am. Sigh. You can grab this book for FREE through Valentine’s Day here: DOWNLOAD.
I’m happy to say it includes a bit of mistletoe mischief:
With the entire table pressed into taste-testing service, Jonah stood and motioned for Krista to follow him across the room to an open space near a gorgeous holiday display. “Mom assured me this Santa thing won’t take every hour of every day. She said it’s gotten a lot easier since your partner set up an online presence.”
Krista tried not to inhale too deeply because his scent–a combination of winter fresh air, chocolate, and hint of pine–was too distracting. “We might consider creating a private Facebook group and doing the initial critique process for wishes there.”
He held up a hand for a high-five. “Great idea. Then, a few of us can meet here each morning to brainstorm ways to fill the agreed upon wishes and set a budget.”
The touch of his palm connected in a weird way that made her close her fingers in a fist as she dropped her hand to her side. “I may not be able to make every…” She pictured the check. “I’ll be here.”
“Me, too. It’ll be the incentive I need to walk the dogs early. Tonight, I’ll set up an overall plan and flowchart so we can track when and how our requests come in. We’ll need to do the same for the income side of things. I’m curious as to why the donation well suddenly went dry. The sooner we get our account set up online, the sooner we can track things in real time.”
Krista found his analytical approach reassuring. His grand gesture with the check might have had a bit of the theater behind it, but his approach to business was a lot like her own.
“Simple and transparent works for me. As I said earlier, my family is in show business. Nothing is ever straightforward when you’re surrounded by thespians.”
He moved a smidgen closer. “Simplicity of design is key to both my inventions and my business strategy. When I start overthinking something, I step back for a new perspective. I usually hop on my bike. Exercise is a great distraction for an overactive mind.”
“Well, this is Montana. Your bike riding is going to be limited to cycling in the gym for the next few months.”
She chewed on her bottom lip debating about how frank to be. He’d given her ten thousand reasons to say yes to this partnership, but what exactly would that involve? Her inner bullshit reader said he had to have another agenda. And she sure as heck never considered herself a spokesperson for Christmas.
“Blue Sky is my baby. Christmas is a one-off. Four weeks. Blow and go. It’s over and done and I’m looking at a new month, a new intern and no jobs lined up.”
“What about your partner? Is she out of the picture completely?”
Krista didn’t know and the not knowing kept her awake at night. She hated ambiguity. Black and white. Bottom line. Profit and loss. Those were her touchstones.
“Amanda should be able to provide backup by phone. But I want you to know that Blue Sky will always be my first priority.”
He held out his hand. “Understood.”
She shook it twice, intending to let go and return to their table, but as Sage passed by on her way to the counter, she said, “Mistletoe.”
Sage pointed up. “House rules. A kiss is mandatory.”
Krista groaned. She’d witnessed this bit of holiday mischief several times when she’d been in the shop. “But–“
Before she could express her protest, Jonah wrapped his arms around her–not unlike the way he had when he broke her fall. Only this time, he was in front of her. And his lips hovered an inch from hers, waiting for permission.
She closed her eyes and leaned in to get the silly kiss over.
The instant his lips touched hers, the magnitude of her mistake hit. Not only had Jonah Andrews been drinking her favorite cocoa, but the sweetness mixed with his natural chemistry created a potent combination that made her knees turn rubbery and her heart begin to pound. She kissed him back because she was powerless to do otherwise.
Luckily, a smattering of applause brought her back to her senses.
Cheeks burning, she turned and bowed. Being the daughter of an actor had to be good for something, right?
If you’re intrigued and want to read more, the first chapter is free at Tule Publishing, click here to: READ MORE.
Or if you missed it last year, you can purchase from the retailer of your choice here: BOOKS2READ