By Tarina Deaton
Denise Reynolds is used to putting up a good front to show the world a strong, capable woman, but keeps a lot of things buried deep.
Chris Nolton is everything she learned the hard way to avoid — a sexy alpha-male who could charm her out of her pants and work his way into her heart. If history has taught her anything, it’s a deadly combination, but he manages to dig up emotions and longing she’s tried to bury for years.
He says all the right things and pushes her boundaries in all the right ways. Letting her guard down is difficult, especially since believing all the right things in the past led to unimaginable consequences.
Being content with her life may no longer be an option, but risking her heart may bring her to her knees.
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She angled her chin down and tilted her head forward, breaking the seal of their mouths.
He rested his forehead against hers, his warm, harsh breath fanning across her face and drying the moisture on her lips.
Watching his chest rise and fall, she fought to gather her thoughts. She’d lied to Bree when she told her to do everything she would do because she wasn’t going to do it.
Not here. Not now.
Unclenching her fingers from the grip they had on Chris’s shoulders, she pulled her head back.
“I need to go,” she said.
“You sure?” He still hadn’t released her.
“Yeah. I—Sprocket’s still in the car.” Shit. She’d forgotten about her dog. She’d never forgotten about Sprocket or been in a situation where she failed to notice her absence. Not since she’d gotten her.
“We can bring her in.”
The possibility of where tonight could lead flitted through her mind. In seconds, she assessed the possible courses of action and discarded each one. No matter the outcome, sex led to emotions and emotions led to nothing but trouble. She wasn’t going to take that chance. Not again.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Are you worried about Jase and Bree?”
“No.” She shook her head. “It’s complicated.”
“Isn’t it always?”
She smiled. “I think it’s probably best if I go home tonight.”
His hands ran down her back and slid from her waist before he took a small step back. “This wasn’t the plan when I invited you in.” He grabbed his shirt from the floor and pulled it over his head.
“I kind of figured when you almost fell on your head.”
He smirked. “Probably not my finest moment.”
“It was definitely the most entertaining thing I’ve seen in a while.” She felt him close behind as she walked to the door. Her heart still pounded in her chest.
Reaching around her, he grabbed the door knob, surrounding her once again. “Denise.”
She looked over her shoulder, afraid if she turned the whole way around she’d lose her will power and climb him like a tree.
“Thanks for the ride.” He kissed her cheek, close to her lips, his bottom lip teasing the corner of her mouth.
She ignored the whoosh of sensation that traveled the length of her body. “You’re welcome.”
He opened the door for her and stood in the threshold while she walked to her SUV, doing her best to ignore the heavy weight of his gaze. She let Sprocket out of the cargo area and into the backseat.
Getting in, she finally looked at Chris. Wide-legged stance, shoulders relaxed, hands in his pockets. Even just standing perfectly still, a slight smirk on his face, he had a bad-ass aura.
Fuck, she was an idiot. The problem was, she didn’t know if it was because she should’ve stayed or because she never should have agreed to sit in that damn chair to begin with.
Sprocket pushed her muzzle against her neck. “I know.” She scratched her behind the ear and started the car. “Mommy’s making bad decisions again.”
His other hand smoothed across her hip and around her back. “I missed you.”
Her scoff was immediate. “You haven’t known me long enough to miss me.”
“Yeah. Three weeks ago, I’d have said the same thing. Turns out I’d’ve been wrong, too.”
He kissed her.
No. That wasn’t right.
He consumed her. Branded her. Showed her with his lips and tongue how he had missed her. There was no space between their bodies. As soon as his mouth touched hers, he’d yanked her against him, pulling her off balance and forcing her arms around him.
He fisted her hair and tilted her head back. His mouth moved to the side of her chin and he nipped her jaw. “All I’ve been able to think about was that kiss. One. Perfect. Fucking. Kiss.” His teeth bit and his tongue licked between each word.
She needed him to stop talking. Stop invading her mind with what ifs and might bes. She pulled his mouth back to hers, sucking his bottom lip between her teeth.
He let out a groan and shuffled her back.
“Oomph.” Her back hit the trunk of a tree, the sharp bark digging in through her shirt. Not that she cared. All her senses were focused on Chris’s hand, having found its way under her fleece pull-over, plumping her breast through her bra.
“Touch me, Denise,” he ordered against her lips.
Tarina has spent her entire life in and around the military - first as a dependent and then as an enlisted Air Force member.
A life-long day-dreamer, she never imagined being a published author was a possibility. All that changed when a friend challenged her to complete NaNoWriMo. She dusted off one of the many stories she had started over the years, threw it in the trash, and started all over.
Her debut novel, Stitched Up Heart, released in September 2016. She draws heavily from her own military experience to create authentic characters and personal challenges.
Tarina is still active duty and a single mom of four-year-old twins. Her favorite hobby is sleep. She has delusions of retiring from the military and being a stay-at-home mom.
Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/A2T2ReaderGroup/