Published by Soul Mate Publishing on September 12th 2016
The truth is, letting yourself fall in love means daring to risk heartbreak.
Interior designer Marissa O’Brien has sworn off long-term relationships, instead protecting herself from a broken heart by following a specific set of rules when it comes to her many flirtations and first dates. She’s content to just have fun in the world of romance, but all her rules fly out the window when she grabs the attention of a sexy, international stranger during her weekly Girls’ Night Out.
Josh Mattingly has spent the last two years trying to turn over a new leaf, focusing on his role in the family corporation and erasing his womanizing reputation. In Asheville, North Carolina, on business, the last thing he’d planned on was getting involved with a local girl. But one encounter with Marissa has him hooked. He soon falls hard for the designer, and now he’s terrified to reveal his romantic past for fear she’ll bolt.
Marissa recognizes a playboy when she sees one and tries to keep her attraction to Josh under wraps–until they share a passionate kiss that leaves both of them singed. Still, she knows their love affair has an expiration date, and everything is destined to end once Josh finishes his business in Asheville. Now, along with showing his family that he’s left his old habits behind, Josh has a new challenge–proving to Marissa that she can trust him with her heart.
Shaking my head, I reach out to set the bottle back on the table. In the process, I upset the stack of magazines and books. Josh lunges for them as they slide off the edge, but other than one paperback book, he can’t keep ahold of them. A snort of amusement escapes him as he studies the book cover. “What the hell is this?”
Horrified embarrassment leaves me cold. The book in his hand is a romance novel, complete with a bare-chested hero and swooning heroine on the cover, that Ava lent me a couple weeks ago. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with reading romance novels, I’d rather not have Josh find them laying around my house. “That’s not mine.”
He glances at me, then flips to the spot where I left off and plucks out the bookmark. “So you’re not reading it?”
Unsure if I’m reacting to him finding the book at all or potentially losing my page, I launch forward, grasping for the paperback. “Come on, give it back.”
“I thought it wasn’t yours.”
Stretching, Josh holds the book just out of reach, and I kneel on the couch and lean further over him in an attempt to retrieve it. Laughter sputters from him, until I give one desperate flail and lose my balance. He drops the book and hooks his arm around my waist as I tumble toward the floor. Both of us roll off, landing between the couch and the coffee table, with me on my back beneath him. At the last second, Josh manages to put both knees and one hand down to break the fall and keep from squishing me.
But his other arm is still securely around my waist, and I hold his shirt in a death grip.
Every trace of laughter is gone from his face, replaced with tense longing. Flattening my hands on his chest, I feel the hammer of his heart.
I clear my throat, but my voice still comes out as a hoarse whisper. “Truth or dare?”
Half a minute goes by before he answers. The already dark blue of his eyes deepens in the shadows. “Dare.”
“Kiss me.” There. Now he has no reason to put off the first move anymore. If he argues that I’m not one-hundred percent interested in locking lips, I’ll make the move myself.
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