Lucky in Love
Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As the local good girl, she’s expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she’d like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong. And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he’s only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he’s gone . . .
“Mallory.” There was a warning in that low, sexy tone of his, a very serious warning.
She’d wanted a kiss, but hearing him say her name like that was almost as good. And now she wanted more. She wanted things she didn’t even have names for. So she wriggled some more, hoping like hell she was getting her message across because she wasn’t all that practiced in the bad girl department. Amy had been right; she needed lessons. She made a mental note to address this as well at the next chocoholics meeting. For now, she’d wing it.
“Are you coming on to me?”
“Well, technically, you’re on top of me,” she pointed out. “So I think that means that you’re coming on to me.”
With a groan, he pressed his forehead to hers and swore beneath his breath, and not the good kind of swear either. And though she should have seen this coming, she hadn’t.
He didn’t want her.
It was perfect, really. Perfect for the way the rest of the night had gone. Horrified, humiliated, she pushed at him. “Sorry. I got caught up in the moment. I’m not very good at this, obviously.” He didn’t budge so she shoved him again. “Excuse me.”
He merely tightened his grip. “Not good at what, exactly?” he asked.
“Really? You need me to say it?”
When he just waited, she sighed. “Attracting men. I’m not good at attracting men. Now if you could please get off.”
He lifted his head and cupped the back of hers in one big hand, his eyes glinting with heat. “You first,” he said rough and gravelly, leaving no mistake to his meaning.
She gasped, and he took advantage of that to kiss her, his lips moving against hers until she gasped again, in sheer pleasure this time.
Things went a little crazy then. Ty’s mouth was firm and hungry, his tongue sliding against hers, and God, she’d almost forgotten what it was like to be kissed like this, like there was nothing on
earth more important than her. That long-forgotten thrill of feeling soft and feminine rushed over her.
Then Ty lifted his head, and she realized she was touching his face, the stubble on his jaw scraping against the pads of her fingers.
“To be clear,” he said, “I’m very attracted to you.” And she believed him because the proof of that statement was hard against her hip.
“I think it’s your eyes,” he said.
She was a little startled by the unexpected romance of that. And then she was drowning in his eyes, which were smoldering. But then they were kissing again, and she couldn’t think because he happened to be the world’s most amazing kisser. Ever. She lost herself in it for long moments, loving the fact that he didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all, or using the kiss as a means to an end. Kissing her was an act all unto itself, and she was panting for air when he finally broke from it. He shifted to pull away and she reflexively clutched at him. “Wait—We’re stopping?”
Dropping his head, he rubbed his jaw to hers. “Yeah.”
“But . . . why?”
He let out a low, innately male groan. “Because you’re not the fuck-a-stranger-in-a-storage-room-with-her-boss-waiting type of woman.”
Well, when he put it like that . . . Damn. Her inner bad girl retreated a little. More than a little.
You don’t think you deserve to be happy.
Amy’s words floated in her head. No, she’d never been the type to let a stranger into her heart, much less her body.
But this wasn’t about her heart.
And Ty was no longer a complete stranger. He was the man who’d good-naturedly stepped in tonight when she’d needed him. Multiple times. He was the man who’d just given her the most amazing kiss of her life.
She wanted him to also be the man to vanquish her restlessness and loneliness. “I am for tonight,” she said, and wrapped herself around him.
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she’s looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. After a hot night under a starry sky, Amy can’t deny their attraction but she won’t make the mistake of getting involved with the local heartthrob.
“You were married?” She was surprised, though she shouldn’t have been. Matthew Bowers was a catch.
“For about twenty minutes,” he said. “Just after I got out of the military.”
“When you were a cop,” she said.
“Is that why she thought you weren’t family material?” she asked. “Because of your job?”
“Partly. And partly because I failed her. But mostly because she was pissed off at me.”
Amy wanted to ask how he’d failed, but that felt too intimate, especially given that she was lying in his arms with his ice pack on her ass. But his ex’s words didn’t make sense. He wasn’t the sort of guy to fail a stranger, much less someone he cared about. What he’d done for her today proved that. His job might have brought him here to check on her, but it hadn’t been his job or responsibility to stay the night with her and keep her safe.
And yet he’d stuck.
She’d had people in her life who had been responsible for her and hadn’t stuck. “Matt?”
His wordless response vibrated through his chest to hers, and he turned his head so that his face was in her hair, inhaling as he rubbed her back.
“I think you’re pretty good with people,” she said softly.
She could feel him smile against her. “Thanks,” he murmured. “Now tell me about you.”
“Nothing as interesting as you.”
“Try me,” he said.
That was the last thing she intended to do. “Well, I don’t have an ex-husband . . .”
“How about a mom? Dad? Siblings?”
“A mom. We’re not close.” An understatement, of course. Her mom had gotten pregnant as a teen and hadn’t been mom material. “I was raised by my grandma, but she’s gone now. She died when I was twelve.”
“Any other family?”
No one she wanted to talk about. “No.”
He tightened his arms around her, a small, protective, even slightly possessive gesture. It should have made her claustrophobic.
They fell quiet after that, and Amy wouldn’t have imagined it possible since she was snuggled up against a very solid, very sexy man, but she actually fell asleep.
She woke up what must have been hours later, as dawn crept in, poking at the backs of her eyelids. For a moment, she stayed utterly still, struck by several things. One, she was no longer cold. In fact, she was quite warm, and the reason for that was because she’d wrapped herself like a pretzel around her heat source.
She cracked open an eye and found him watching her from his own heavy-lidded gaze. He was looking pretty amused at the both of them. “Hey,” he said, and to go along with that bedroom gaze he also had a raspy early morning voice. Both were extremely distracting.
He wasn’t looking like a forest ranger right now. He was looking sleepy, rumpled, and sexy as hell.
“Are you taking this anywhere?” he asked.
Not exactly a morning person, it took her brain a moment to process what he meant. And then she realized that by “this,” he was referring to the fact that her hand had drifted disturbingly low on his abs. If she moved her fingers even a fraction of an inch south . . . “Sorry!” Face hot, she pulled back and closed her eyes. “This is all Mallory’s fault.”
“Actually,” he said, looking down at his obvious erection. “It’s not.”
“No, I mean—” She broke off at his low, teasing laugh and felt her face flame again. “She sent you out here because she thinks something’s going on with us.”
“Is there something going on with us?”
She didn’t want to touch that with a ten-foot pole. Or an eight inch one. “It has nothing to do with us. It’s payback for how I set her up with Ty at the auction a few weeks back.”
“What if it’s not?”
She met his warm gaze. “Not what?”
“Payback,” he said.
Their legs were entwined. At some point in the night, the sleeping bag had fallen away so that there was no barrier between them. He was warm and hard.
She felt herself soften as the heat of arousal built within her. Worse, her fingers itched with the need to touch him.
“Amy.” Matt’s voice was pure sin, not a warning so much as a statement, and her hands reacted without permission, migrating to his chest.
“Mm,” rumbled from his chest as he slid a hand into her hair, tilting her head up to his. He searched her gaze. “You’re all the way awake, right?”
“Just making sure,” he said, then rolled her beneath him.
Forever and a Day
Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad . . .
“There’s one last thing,” he said.
She wondered if he looked as good without his clothes. “What?”
“That ship sailed?” he asked, repeating her earlier words to Anna.
Again she tilted her head up. “I just meant we’ve been there, done that. We already kissed, remember?”
His gaze heated. Yeah, he remembered.
“And it was . . . fine.”
He’d probably shaved that morning but he had a shadow coming in. And his eyes. Fathomless dark pools, as always, giving nothing away of himself or his secrets. “The kiss was . . . fine,” he repeated, eyes narrowed.
“Well, yeah.” Fine plus amazing times infinity.
He just looked at her.
“Okay,” she admitted, sagging back against the door. “So it was a little better than fine. But I’m not looking for this. For a guy like you.”
“Like me,” he said slowly, as if the words didn’t quite compute any more easily than “fine” had.
And probably they didn’t. Look at him. He could have chemistry with a brick wall. “It’s just that I’m not going to be in Lucky Harbor much longer, so while I’m here, I’m aiming for . . . fun.”
“Yeah. It’s a new thing I’m trying.”
“And you think I’m not,” he said with a hint of disbelief, “fun.”
“It’s nothing personal.”
“Hmm.” He took a step toward her, and since there was already no place to go, she found herself once again sandwiched between the door and his deliciously hard body. His hands went to her hips, where they squeezed lightly and then slid up her sides, past her ribs, to her arms and her shoulders. By the time he got to her throat and cupped her face, her bones had gone AWOL.
“What are you doing?” she managed.
“Showing you how much fun I can be.”
Oh boy. Just his husky whisper sent a shiver down her spine, the sort of shiver a woman wasn’t supposed to get for a man she didn’t want to be attracted to. And then her body strained a little closer to him.
Josh’s eyes met hers and held. He was purposely building the anticipation, along with the heat working her from the inside out.
“Still think I’m not fun?” he asked softly.
“You’re not.” She swallowed hard. “You’re . . .”
He quirked a brow.
Hot and sexy, and damn. Fun. Which meant that she was in big trouble here, going-down-for-the-count kind of trouble. Time to wave the white flag, she decided. And she would. In just a minute . . .
“Say it, Grace.”
“Okay, so maybe you’re a little fun,” she admitted. “But—”
He nibbled her lower lip, soothing it with his tongue, then stroked and teased her with his mouth until she let out a helpless murmur of arousal and fisted her hands in his shirt.
His eyes were heavy-lidded and sexy when he pulled back. “Bullshit, a little fun.” His mouth curved as he looked down.
Following his gaze, she realized she was still gripping his shirt. She forced herself to smooth her fingers over the wrinkles she’d left. “Fine. You’re a barrel of fun. Happy now?”
“Getting there.” His eyes were dark with lust and focused on hers, his hands on her back, fingers stroking her through the thin material of her dress. When he lowered his head, he did it slowly, giving her plenty of time to turn away.
Their eyes held until his lips touched hers, and then her lashes swept down involuntarily. She couldn’t help it; his lips were warm, firm, and oh how just right . . .
With a deep, masculine groan, he threaded his hands through her hair and tilted her head to better suit him, parting her lips with his, kissing her lightly at first, then not so lightly. And then everything felt insistent and urgent, and all her bones melted.
By the time he broke the kiss, Grace was unsteady on her feet, and her breathing was more in line with a marathon run. “I’m not sure what that proved exactly,” she managed. Except he was the best kisser on the planet . . .
About the author: New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.
Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
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