Keep It Together


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Keep It Together

Copyright 2013 Loose Id, LLC

Coffee. The taste on his tongue was coffee and spice and sugar. She didn’t like coffee, but on him? It was the best thing she’d ever tasted.

And his mouth fit hers the way Russ’s never had, the way no other man’s ever had. This was the made-to-kiss-her-and-only-her kind of fit. This was the perfect one, the right one…

Colt.

Chrissie slid her tongue against his, and the two dueled for the upper hand. Colt won; she was glad to give in. He lingered over her lips for a moment longer and she clung hard, unwilling to let him go a second before she had to. She didn’t know when her arms had wrapped around his neck or when his thigh had parted her legs but she was okay with both. She leaned against him and welcomed that too because she wouldn’t have been able to stand on her own, given how weak in the knees she suddenly was.

They stared at one another for several seconds when he lifted his head, then slowly parted. He held up the glasses, and his eyes weren’t quite back to a normal friendly gaze. She liked that.

“I’ll get that ice now.” He sounded as though he’d swallowed a handful of her gravel drive.

“Y-yes,” she said as she backed up. She didn’t sound much better. “You do that. I’ll just be over here holding up the counter.”

“It affected you. I like that,” he commented with a glance over his shoulder while reaching into the freezer for ice. It was piled in a Tupperware bowl, and by the time they were done with tea, she’d have to empty her ice trays again. Oh yes, she was affected. It was wanton the way she’d thrown herself against his body. She wouldn’t apologize for it though. She wanted him. She might shouldn’t oughta, as some of her backwoods relatives would say, but she did.

“You know, they make refrigerators with ice in the door.”

“Yes, I do know, but I rather like my ancient fridge.” Colt handed the glasses over to her, and she was proud that her hands didn’t shake when she reached for them. She poured tea from the jar and offered it up to him.

“Thank you, baby.”

The small word slid over her like the sweet syrup she used in the tea, and she tried not to moan at the effect the endearment had on her. “Why did you kiss me?”

“Why did you kiss me back?”

His grin was powerful, and it was like a big fat thump to her solar plexus. “I wanted to.”

“Sounds like a good answer to me. I think I’ll use it too.”

Chrissie laughed and nervously ran her fingers around the rim of her glass. “Why?” She hadn’t meant to fling the word at him so eagerly but hadn’t been able to stop herself. “Why did you want to?” she asked a little more calmly, with a little less enthusiasm.

His deep blue eyes never strayed from hers. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since the first night we met. I can’t explain it really.”

“The first night we met? But that was…?” Her forehead scrunched low over her brows as she pondered his words. “The engagement party for Russ and me?” She couldn’t keep the shocked confusion out of her voice. He shrugged and only looked uncomfortable for a moment before he was all put together and confident again.

“There you go. You know my secret now. I’m a good man, but I wanted to kiss the ever-lovin’ hell out of my brother’s fiancée. Out of you. I didn’t. I didn’t let on to anyone, especially you and Russ, how you were everything I’d been waiting for to walk into my life.”

Processing this information would take a little while. Shock was at the top of the list. Did he believe in love at first sight? That’s what he was describing, wasn’t it?

He completely overwhelmed her. The words he spoke, him being in her house, fitting in and out of place at the same time. He was big and expensive and citified in her simple country setting. Yet he made himself at home as she’d said he should. “And when you came by the day after the wedding that never took place? Did you want to kiss me then too?”

“I wanted to hold you and let you cry. I was very sorry he left you like that. It was cruel and heartless. Kissing you that day wouldn’t have been right. I didn’t want to put you in that kind of position. You deserved better, and you needed time to heal.”

Should she confess? Should she let him off the hook? “I wanted to jump you out on the porch when I saw you that morning.” She was embarrassed to admit it, but he deserved to know. It didn’t make her sound very upstanding to want to crawl up the body of her ex-fiancé’s brother the day after she’d been jilted. However, it was the truth, and if he was man enough to admit an attraction to her, she was woman enough to do the same.

“Thank God.” He seemed relieved, and Chrissie laughed.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Glad I’m not alone in this.”

Chrissie ducked her head. “Me too. It’s probably not a good idea though to…” Her breath shuddered when she saw the toe of his shoes in her line of sight to the floor. Her breath fairly stopped when he reached out with his fingers and lifted her chin. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it that day but it affected her just the same as if it were.

“You said you were over him.”

“I-I am.”

“You said you wanted me.”

“I do,” she said softly.

“It’s a damn good idea then.” They stared at each other. His blue eyes darkened and up close, in the bright kitchen, she could see her reflection staring back. He was so handsome, so sexy… Could she be lucky this time around? ”You’re doubting me.”

“You are Russ’s brother.” That’s it, Christina. Hide behind some good, old Southern sarcasm.

“Brother, yes, but I’m not him.”

“Prove it,” she countered, tossing out the challenge. It hadn’t been planned, but with him right there, offering her something she’d been dreaming about for months…

“Oh, I will.” He leaned down again, pressed his lips to hers a second time, and then stood to his full height and stepped back. “I’m not sure you really want me to, though. You did continue to reject my offer of dinner.”

“Work.”

“Yes. Work. I know all about that. Where do you work? I don’t believe you’ve said.”

“Promise not to laugh?”

He considered her for a moment, and she fidgeted. “You keep asking me that every time you start to reveal something. Why on earth would I laugh?”

Chrissie ran her finger through the condensation on the glass. “You have a high-powered job and I…I manage the hunting department of an outdoor store.”

“Come again?”

She looked up from under her lids. “You said you wouldn’t laugh.”

“No. I asked why would I laugh, not that I wouldn’t. But I’m not laughing.”

“You have a smile on your face,” she said indignantly.

“And that’s not a laugh. Did I hear you right? You work in retail?”

“I do.”

“Why? I know you said you wanted to find your own way and not depend on the family money, but retail?”

Chrissie shrugged. “There isn’t much I am professionally trained to do. A liberal arts degree only goes so far for someone who wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life, but I do know how to hunt and shoot. I’m good at it. I know more than the average guy about guns and they were mighty impressed with me. It’s not my dream career, and it’s definitely not flashy.”

“There’s more to life than flash and exotic.”

“You’re sweet, but you don’t have to patronize me. I’m okay with what I’m doing right now. It pays the bills.”

“I’m doing nothing of the sort, but if it’s not your dream career, what is?”

She wondered how much more she could reveal of herself before he took off running. She hadn’t been frilly and too terribly feminine before or during her engagement, and she’d become even less so since. She had her little girly secrets, but if Colt hightailed it out of her life before they got to that point… “I do some engraving. Custom work on guns and knives and even some swords for re-enactors.”

“Engraving?”

“Yeah. I’m just full of surprises, huh?” She stared straight into his eyes lest she miss the moment he decided enough was enough and she was one arrow short of an outdoor show. “I dated a guy in college whose family owned a trophy shop. While we were together, I worked part-time for them during their busiest seasons. My mother flipped. It was my first job, and I loved working, earning my own way. I loved the work itself too. They taught me how to use the tools, and as it turns out I was kind of a natural at it.”

“Uh-huh. Let me get this straight. You shoot and hunt. You make sun tea and can make blankets out of yarn. You come from money but choose to work. And you’re an artist?”

“I’m not an artist.”

“You can engrave designs and names on things, right?”

“Yes.”

“You’re an artist.”

Chrissie shrugged. “My mother thinks I’m a boy. She blames my father completely.”

“Is he sorry?”

With a sparkle in her eyes, she shook her head. “Not a bit.”

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Jilted bride? Check. Hangover? Check. Shotgun? Double check. Wayward groom’s half-brother Colt on her porch the next morning, hat in hand, with concern in his sexy blue eyes, and apologies on his full kissable lips? Uh… Check?

That was six months ago. Now, with a job she loves, her heart mended and her pride put back together, the last thing Chrissie expects is that same half-brother standing behind her saying he’s got an answer for her. Problem is, she can’t seem to remember what she’d said on that long ago day that would warrant a visit from him.

Colt does. And as the CEO of a cookie company, it’s his job to pay attention to the details.

“Maybe I should have married you instead.” She’d been right. He was the brother she should have married and all he has to do is convince her of it with a blend of persistence and seduction. But their first kiss is hotter than the southern Georgia summer and catches him off guard. She’s primed and ready to burn up the sheets and he’s not inclined to say no. Will she believe that he won’t ever leave her? Maybe. If he brings her cookies…

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Fast Facts

Publisher: Loose-Id

Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance

Length: 142 pages

Format: eBook

ISBN: 978-1-62300-222-2

 

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