by Tara Mills
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cocky Charley Jensen doesn't mince words. She knows how to handle herself, doesn't shy away from hard work, loves tinkering with her pickup, and is far more comfortable with a tool belt hanging off her hips than an apron. However, Charley's a failure at personal relationships, with more experience throwing punches and insults than her arms around someone. She's way out of her comfort zone when she strays across a clean cut babe, emphasis on babe, stranded in the woods. Her immediate cool and dismissive assessment of Drake Carver is entirely wrong - though correcting someone this opinionated isn't easy.
But don't let this biologist's Oxford shirt fool you. Drake's tough, used to roughing it, and not afraid to be tested. He's just never encountered a woman quite like Charley which, in his opinion, makes her ideal for his purposes. Unfortunately, she's not easy to win over. It will take an act of heroism to prove his mettle. However, time is running out and theirs aren't the only sparks flying in the woods.
Their eyes met and held. She couldn’t look away, even though she was worried she was silently spilling her secrets to him.
Drake’s hand slipped behind her neck and drew them together. There was a sizzle, as sharp as a lightning strike when their lips finally touched.
Charley sank into the kiss, drowning in a chaos of emotion and sensation, of longing and lingering fears, bone deep weariness and intense exhilaration. She felt like a fever patient in an ice bath.
Drake’s fingers drove into her hair and gripped the back of her scalp as his mouth moved over hers. Impossibly hungry for more, Charley opened her lips and invited him in. A deep rumbling growl came at her as their tongues parried and danced.
Clinging to his collar, Charley held on for dear life, using him as an anchor to keep from getting completely swept away by passion. The lights were slowly dimming in her brain when all of a sudden her sanity slapped her upside the head. Charley jerked back from the blow and shoved Drake away with wide-eyed alarm.
“What are we doing? What are you doing?”
“Is this a trick question?” He moved in on her again, his eyes dark with lust.
She drew back, holding him off. “Stop that or I’m going to deck you. What about Heidi?”
“What about her?” He leaned on the palm against his chest, stretching forward to kiss her again until Charley’s elbow began to quiver.
“Ugh.” She looked at him in distaste. “I can’t believe you.”
He eased back and smiled. “Charley, there is no me and Heidi. She’s just a friend. Besides, I’m not suicidal.”
“Suicidal? What the hell does that mean?”
He laughed. “I don’t want Tucker coming after me.”
“Tucker? Tucker? What does Tucker have to do with anything?”
“Plenty. They’re seeing each other. You didn’t know?”
“How would I know? I never listen to the stupid gossips because they’re always wrong.”
Drake smiled. “Heidi and Tucker are a couple.”
She blinked at him, slowly processing this revelation. Then the fog cleared and she was able to focus on the more pressing matter.
“You kissed me.”
He shrugged. “You kissed me back.”
“Are you going to hold that against me?”
He laughed. “Honey, I’ve wanted to hold a lot more against you than that.”
Charley’s mouth opened and closed, but she was at a loss for words.
Smiling with amusement, Drake pinched her lips together and held them closed. “Just shut up for a minute, okay?”
Her eyes narrowed, but she remained silent.
“Charley, I like you. Don’t ask me why, but I do. I like your sassy take-no-guff attitude. I like that enormous chip on your shoulder. I love how independent you are and how you don’t need anything from anyone.”
He removed his fingers.
“Not yet,” he warned her to keep quiet. “But needing is completely different from wanting. Believe me, I don’t need the grief, the insults, the misplaced condescension, and still I’ve wanted to kiss that smart mouth of yours since we met. I can’t explain it, but there it is.” Then he smiled. “You’re going to catch flies looking at me like that.”
Charley covered her mouth and stared at him. “You wanted to kiss me?”
“For some unknown reason, yeah, I’ve been dying to kiss you.” He gave her a long look. “Why’d you kiss me back?”
“I don’t know.” Uncomfortable with the question, she looked away.
Her eyes shot up and she scowled at him. For several beats, they quietly contemplated each other, unsure about their next move.
Charley finally broke the silence. “Now what?”
Drake grinned. “Pick up where we left off? I kinda liked it.”
She cracked a smile. “It wasn’t bad, was it?”
“I suppose,” she said, trying not to sound too eager.
Drake’s smile turned wicked and his eyes darkened as he moved in like a stalking wolf. She watched, fascinated by the change in him. The intriguing intensity left her trembling as he slid his arm behind her and lowered her to the cool stone. Where did she ever get the idea Drake was too tame for her tastes?
~About the Author~
I write stories I like to read--contemporary romances with identifiable characters and themes. Life is hard. Love makes it bearable. If you enjoy stories with heat and humor, I have a title for you.
I'm a pampered wife, lucky mom to three amazing sons and one wonderful daughter-in-law, and I recently became a very young grandma. I should probably underline the word very. Oh heck, why not the word young too? Nah, you get the picture. I'm also the daily monitor of one naughty dog with attitude.
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