It's Complicated (A Tucker Springs Novel)

It's Complicated (A Tucker Springs Novel), by L.A. Witt
Author: 
eBook ISBN: 
978-1-62649-134-2
eBook release: 
Apr 28, 2014
eBook Formats: 
pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 
978-1-62649-135-9
Print release: 
Apr 28, 2014
Word count: 
52,000
Page count: 
205
Type: 
Cover by: 

This title is part of the Tucker Springs universe.

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After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.

Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.

Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:

Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.

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Chapter One

Brad

I thought I was nervous on our first date.

Which I had been. God, I’d been a wreck. But tonight? Sitting outside the restaurant, drumming my thumbs on the steering wheel in between texting with my friend Nathan, nervous wreck didn’t even begin to describe it. Four years, a few breakups, and a year of struggling to work things out had led up to tonight.

Even if things don’t go perfectly, Nathan sagely said via yet another text, so what? You guys have been trying too long to fix it for one night to screw it up.

He was probably right. If one night could blow this thing out of the water, we’d have been history a long, long time ago. Assuming, of course, this didn’t turn out to be the straw that broke the camel’s—

Don’t think like that, I reminded myself again and again.

I wrote back to Nathan: OK. He’ll be here shortly. I’m heading in.

My thumb hovered over the button, as if the text committed me to getting out and going in, but then I bit the bullet and hit Send. As soon as the message was gone, I stepped out of the car, straightened my jacket, and headed inside.

I hadn’t been here before. Neither had Jeff. We’d both agreed it would be fitting to start over in a new place, on unfamiliar ground—a fresh start in every way possible. And besides, it wasn’t like we could go to the restaurant where we’d had our first date. Just last year, it had been demolished to make way for a hipster bistro with a vegan menu and poetry slams.

So we’d agreed on the Whitewater Grill. Nathan said his boss had insisted it was good and that the prime rib was utterly spectacular. Guess we’d find out.

The restaurant was dimly lit, almost completely dark except for flickering candles on every small, intimate table. It wasn’t coat-and-tie formal, but it was upscale enough I was glad I’d opted for a jacket.

A pretty brunette in a crisp, white shirt smiled at me from behind the hostess’s podium. “Can I help you, sir?”

“I— Yes. I have a seven o’clock reservation for two.” When had my mouth gone dry? “Brad Sweeney.”

She found the reservation and took me to a table on the far side of the restaurant by the windows, promising to send Jeff over as soon as he arrived. After she’d gone, I opened one of the leather-bound menus, scanning the entrées in between glancing at the front door.

My phone vibrated. This time, the message hadn’t come from Nathan.

I’m on my way. Will be about 15 min late.

Fifteen minutes? Not bad.

I’m here, I sent back. Should I order wine?

A minute or so later: Get something red. :-) Be there shortly.

I smiled and reached for the wine list. So he really was on his way. Otherwise, he’d have told me to wait. He’d be here soon.

Oh God. He would be here soon, wouldn’t he?

I took a gulp of ice water. When the waitress came by, I ordered a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. And a refill of water. Another after she’d brought and presented the wine.

I closed my eyes and took a few slow, deep breaths. I was overreacting. It wasn’t like this was a first date with a stranger who might be nothing like the description from his online profile or by a well-meaning mutual friend. We knew each other. Hell, we already knew each other’s irritating quirks and habits. There was no need for first-date bravado and being on our best behavior, even if my fluttering stomach begged to differ.

If anything, this was just a formality. Going out to dinner to mark the first night of trying again. So, no pressure or anything.

Nope, no pressure at all.

Fuck.

The air in the room changed with the opening and closing of the front door. I looked, and my God, he was here.

It was a damned good thing my—our—table was on the opposite side of the room. I needed a moment to get used to him, and it wasn’t only because of my nerves. Not this time. We weren’t here for a confrontation, and seeing him like this, as my date and not my adversary, took me back to the night we’d met. As he crossed the crowded room, a black blazer hugging his shoulders and a pair of tight jeans hugging his hips, he was every bit the blond-haired, blue-eyed piece of eye candy who’d nearly caused me drop my drink at that party a few years ago. A little bit nervous, a little bit cocky, and a whole lot of oh fuck, please tell me I’m not imagining him.

When he was a few steps away, I stood, not even sure what the protocol was here. A platonic handshake as if we really were strangers? A hug? Fuck, I really sucked at this.

Jeff smiled and, without any hesitation at all, put his hand on my waist and kissed my cheek. “Sorry I’m late.”

I laughed in spite of my nerves. “You’re always late.”

His cheeks colored in the low light. “I really did mean to be here on time, though.”

I shrugged and gestured for him to sit. As we took our seats, I said, “Stuck at the shop?”

“Yeah. But we’re training Tim up to be our new assistant manager, so hopefully that won’t be happening as much anymore.”

One can hope, right?

Our eyes met, and we both smiled. Then we picked up our menus and perused them, even though I’d already been through it seventy-eight times and knew exactly what I wanted. At least it was something to do while I got my head around Jeff being on the opposite side of the table.

Jeff settled on something, and we both closed our menus. When the waitress came back, we ordered, and then she was gone . . . with the menus, which left us with nothing to distract us but a bottle of wine.

Where the hell to start, anyway? We’d hit the ground running on our actual first date, talking from the moment we sat down until the manager kicked us out thirty minutes after closing. Tonight? Crickets.

“So.” Jeff cleared his throat. “I, uh, guess we don’t have to go through the motions of hobbies, favorite movies, and all of that.”

I laughed. “No, I think we’ve got that pretty well covered.”

“Yeah, we do.” His eyebrows flicked upward. The unspoken question didn’t help the nervousness in my gut: So what do we talk about?

As the flickering candlelight played on his features, we locked eyes. It was weird to see him like this. For the last few months, every dinner we’d shared had been in the name of keeping this thing alive, and the tension had been reminiscent of a treaty negotiation. Tonight, though, we were here on different terms. But where the hell did we start?

“So how are things at the shop?” I wasn’t crazy about discussing work over dinner, especially that fucking shop, but it was something.

Jeff ran a finger along the edge of the placemat. “Busy. And it’s been a little crazy since I started adjusting my hours.”

“Oh yeah? How is that going?”

He shrugged. “It’s going. I’m training one of the guys to handle—” He dropped his gaze, laughing a little as his cheeks flushed. “I already said that, didn’t I?” Before I could respond, he cleared his throat. “Anyway, Tim’s picking up more responsibilities, and I’ve even been eating lunch at my desk so I can still get things done.”

“Jeff.” I eyed him. “Cutting your hours doesn’t mean cutting out all your breaks.”

He shook his head. “No, it’s not that bad. I just catch up on emails and invoices. Stuff like that.”

“As long as you’re not killing yourself.”

“I’m not.” He smiled. “I promise. I’m scaling things back. Though cutting my hours has been weird. Not bad, but weird.”

“So Christine didn’t mind it?”

Jeff shook his head. “No, she understood. In fact, she’s doing the same thing. I mean, I could never in a million years convince her to work less than a sixty-hour week, but she’s got an ironclad day off every week now.”

“That’s good to hear. She needs it.”

“She does. And once Tim is ready, she and I can scale back more.” His forehead creased. “It’ll take some time, but I’m trying. I promise.”

“I know.” I smiled. “You can’t completely rearrange your life overnight.”

Jeff’s long workdays had been one of many bones of contention, and God bless the man, he’d been making a hell of an effort to spend less time at work. A huge time commitment came with the territory of owning a business, which I absolutely understood, but even he agreed we stood a better chance at making this work if he wasn’t coming home at midnight and leaving again at six.

He reached for his wineglass. “So what’s going on with— What the hell?” He shoved a hand into his pocket, and as soon as he’d pulled out his phone, I recognized Christine’s distinctive ringtone. Glaring at the screen, he muttered, “Goddamn it, Chris. Seriously?”

I picked up my own glass and slowly swirled my wine. “If you need to take it, go ahead.”

Jeff shook his head and declined the call. “No. I want my job to interfere less with us. That starts tonight.” He fiddled with the phone again, probably putting it on silent, and put it back in his pocket.

“But what if Christine—”

“No.” Jeff put up a hand. “She knows. She understands.”

“Except she just tried to call you.”

“Whatever it is, she’ll handle it.” He cracked one of those sly grins that had always made me weak. “And if nothing else, she’ll yell at me when I go in on Sunday.”

I laughed. “I have no doubt about that.” We both knew she wouldn’t really yell at him—no other ex-spouses on the planet, business partners or not, could calmly hash things out like Jeff and Christine—but she’d certainly let him know if she was unhappy.

“Anyway.” Jeff’s hand made it all the way to his wineglass this time. “As I was about to ask before we were rudely interrupted, how are things at work?”

“Oh, you know. The usual retail shit. Though the other day . . .”

***

Just like on our first date, we kept talking until long after the food was gone. Wrapped up in each other, enjoying this easy, relaxed conversation after months on end of fighting and cold silences, neither of us seemed to be in any hurry to stop.

I didn’t want the night to be over. In part because it was so good to be like this with Jeff again, but admittedly, there was a little more to it than that. We were in a weird place between dating and not, between something completely new and something we’d long ago broken in, and neither of us really knew the rules. We’d eventually figured out how to start the evening, but how in the world did we end it?

First dates were usually something to play by ear. A kiss? A handshake? A blowjob in the backseat? Waking up together the morning after? That was half the fun of a first date—anything was possible.

Jeff and I, though, we had to handle things a little more delicately. Aside from a brief, platonic embrace each time we’d said good-bye, and that kiss on the cheek earlier, we hadn’t touched in months. Sex blurred lines and complicated everything. I didn’t want to fall into bed with him and risk the temptation of sticking around just because the sex was good, so we’d kept each other physically at arm’s length while we tried to get closer emotionally. We had both stayed in miserable relationships because we enjoyed the sex, and we’d both regretted it. Not this time. No sex until we’d worked the kinks out of everything else.

But holding each other’s gazes across the table, chuckling over the rims of our wineglasses as we leaned over the places where our plates had been a couple of hours before, I was tempted. Holy fuck, I was tempted. I’d forgotten how his blue eyes could make my head spin faster than the wine in my glass could.

And when he reached across the table and put his hand over mine, the effect was like a magnet to a hard drive. My mind went completely blank. Whatever we’d been talking about just then—gone.

Jeff looked down at our hands and quickly withdrew his. “Sorry,” he muttered and went for his wineglass.

Don’t be.

“It’s okay.” I smiled and hoped to God he couldn’t hear my pounding heart and that he hadn’t suddenly developed X-ray vision that would let him see through the table and to the effect that simple touch had had on me. “Old habits die hard, right?”

“Yeah.” He laughed, though it sounded forced. “Guess they do.” He broke eye contact, cleared his throat, and glanced at something behind me. “I think we’d better go.” He chuckled. “Our waitress has checked her watch about six times in the last five minutes. I think the poor girl wants to go home.”

“Oh. Is it that late already?” According to my cell phone, it was almost eleven. “Wow. Yeah, I guess we should go.”

Jeff flagged down the waitress and asked for the check, and while we waited, he faced me again and smiled. “I guess this is the part where I tell you I had a good time and nervously ask if we can do this again?”

I smirked. “Does that mean it’s the part where I act all coy and tell you to call me later this week so you have to figure out where the line is between too soon and too late?”

Jeff laughed, which didn’t do much to unscramble my thoughts. “To be serious, I think tonight was a good start. We really should, um, do this again.”

“We should.” Relief rushed through me, even though his comment brought to life a whole new set of nerves. Yeah, we’d pulled this off once, passed with flying colors and not fucked things all up again, but could we swing it a second time? Only one way to find out. “My evenings are free when I’m not working a closing shift. Tell me when and where.”

“We’ll make it happen.”

We split the check and each left a generous tip to make up for occupying the table for so long. The manager locked the door behind us after we’d stepped outside, and Jeff and I walked in silence down the wooden stairs to the mostly deserted gravel lot.

We were halfway to our cars—his truck was parked two spaces over from my Camry—when he stopped.

I stopped too and faced him, thinking he might’ve forgotten his keys or his phone inside. Wouldn’t be the first time, and a little playful nostalgia brought a smile to my lips as I remembered that running joke. What’d you forget this time? I almost asked.

But then I realized he wasn’t searching his pockets, and he wasn’t looking anywhere except right at me. As he drew in a deep breath, one of those slow and deliberate ones that meant he was about to say something, my stomach somersaulted.

“Listen, I . . .” His eyes flicked toward the ground between us, then met mine again. “I meant what I said in there. I really do want to see you again.”

I swallowed. “Me too.”

Gravel crunched beneath his feet as he shifted his weight. “There’s another new place down by the university. Indian restaurant. I, um, I’ve heard it’s pretty good. Maybe we could give it a try?”

“I think I’ve heard about the one. Let’s go.”

“When’s good for you?”

The sooner the better. I tried not to fidget, but it was a struggle. “How does your weekend look?”

“I need to work on Sunday, but otherwise . . .”

“This is my weekend off. Maybe we could try that place tomorrow night?”

“Good idea.” He smiled. Then faltered a little. “So, for tonight, do we . . .” He broke eye contact and cleared his throat.

“Hmm?”

Jeff pushed his shoulders back and met my eyes again. “Since we’re starting over and this is technically our first date, does that mean we get another first kiss too?”

All the air left my lungs. “I, uh, guess we get to make our own rules. If we want one, then . . .”

He held my gaze. Then he narrowed the space between us by half a step, ratcheting my pulse upward. “Then maybe I’m asking the wrong question.”

I gulped. “So what should you be asking?”

His hand entered my peripheral vision, nearing my face slowly, cautiously, and I couldn’t look anywhere but right at Jeff until his fingertips brushed my cheek and I closed my eyes.

“I guess I should ask . . .” His thumb drew a gentle arc across my cheekbone. “I should . . .”

I opened my eyes and met his. Just ask. I promise I’ll say yes.

He didn’t ask.

He drew me in, pressed his lips to mine, and turned my world on its ass.

 

Chapter Two

Jeff

As Brad relaxed into my kiss, my world eased back onto its axis for the first time in months. Keeping him at arm’s length had never felt right, not even when we could barely stand the sight of each other. This was perfect. His fingers in my hair, his lips parting for my tongue—perfect.

I snaked an arm around his waist and pulled him closer to me. As his hands slid under my jacket and up my back, I exhaled through my nose and deepened the kiss.

Holy fuck. It was exactly the way a first kiss should be—a little tentative but enthusiastic. Slow so we could savor every touch and taste, but with just enough of a tremor in our hands to give away how much further this could go. It had all the excitement of something new and unexplored, and the most profound sense of relief that came with returning to a place we never should have left. Perfect.

When his eyes met mine, they were heavy lidded. My knees had been okay up until that point, but now they weren’t quite so steady. It had been way too long since he’d had this effect on me, and I drank it in, loving every second of being dizzy from Brad’s kiss and his touch.

He smiled, looking as half-drunk as I felt. “So what do we do now?”

“Only one thing we can do.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” I whispered. “Come home with me.”

Brad straightened a little, though he couldn’t have possibly thought I had anything else in mind.

“What’s wrong?”

“I . . .” He swallowed. “We’re supposed to be starting over. Taking it slow.”

I grinned playfully. “We didn’t take it much slower on our first first date.”

Brad laughed. “Okay, true. But are you sure?”

I ran my hand down to the small of his back and pulled him against me, letting him feel just how sure I was. “I’ll make you breakfast.”

He chuckled. “Bribing me with your cooking?”

“Is it working?”

Brad swept the tip of his tongue across his lips. “I’d already made up my mind.” He kissed me. “Your cooking’s just a bonus. Let’s go.”

Nothing but the promise of a night together could’ve pried me off him right then. After one quick kiss, we retreated to our respective cars.

If I kept looking in the rearview every twenty feet, I was going to crash, I was sure of it, but I just couldn’t stop checking to make sure his car was still there. It was, though. The familiar headlights stayed a safe distance behind me, turning whenever I did and following me closer and closer to the house we’d once shared.

Nervousness and arousal were equally responsible for me gripping the wheel like this. Wanting each other had never been an issue. Sex was the one thing we’d gotten right from the start, and it was the last thing we’d finally given up when things had really soured. I’d promised myself when we started dating again that we’d take it slow, get our feet back under us as a couple before we went back to bed together, but damn it, that was easier said than done. Right now, I felt closer to him than I had in months, and I couldn’t see tonight ending any other way than getting as close as humanly possible.

Heart beating faster by the second, I turned into the driveway. My hard-on hadn’t lasted the entire drive, but it was sure as hell coming back now. I took my usual spot in front of the garage, and Brad parked next to it in the place that had been his before he’d moved out. Seeing his car in that space that had been empty for so long was weirdly familiar and alien all at the same time, but that thought vacated my brain when our eyes met over the roof of his car. If my cock hadn’t already been fully hard by then, it would’ve been in very short order.

We were here. We were home.

Without a word, we walked up the concrete path to the front door. We glanced at each other and grinned, and anticipation had me damn near tripping over my own feet, wondering if we’d get anywhere near the bedroom before we gave in and—

Brad shoved me up against the door we’d slammed time and time again. Hands on my shoulders, he pinned me there and kissed me, and Jesus fuck, he was hard too. He was almost never this aggressive. Not unless he really, really wanted it. Oh my God, it was going to be one of those nights. One of those keep the paramedics on speed dial nights.

“Let’s go inside,” I murmured against his lips.

He kissed me harder but then backed off enough to let me turn around and at least try to work the dead bolt. Not a chance with him kissing the back of my neck like that. And holding on to my hips and grinding his dick against my ass.

“Brad . . .” I pressed my forehead against the door, the cool surface a shock compared to the heat of his body. “We need . . .”

“What’s wrong?” he taunted, warm breath tickling my neck. “Having trouble concentrating?” As if for emphasis, he pressed his cock harder against me.

“Just a bit. Fuck . . .”

He laughed softly, then backed off a little. Somehow, I figured out what to do with my key and managed to turn the lock. As soon as we were inside, Brad kicked the door shut behind us, grabbed my shirt, and hauled me into another kiss. We bumped into the couch. The wall. Everything. I dropped my keys somewhere in the vicinity of the door, and we both lost our shoes before we’d made it past the foyer.

Kissing, pulling at each other’s clothes, stumbling over each other’s feet, we made our way across the kitchen where we’d had so many screaming matches. Down the hall where we used to pass each other in cold silence. Onto the bed we’d shared when things were good and when things were hanging by a thread.

Brad landed on his back and pulled me down on top of him. We hadn’t even bothered getting undressed. His jacket had disappeared at some point and our shoes were gone, but otherwise, we were both still fully dressed, and I didn’t give a damn. The clothes would come off eventually. All that mattered was getting completely lost in Brad’s kiss.

For all we’d made a colossal mess of our relationship and nearly destroyed our friendship along the way, this was the one thing we’d always done right. From the very first night, it had been perfect, and tonight, every touch—gentle, frantic, soft, hard—underscored how much was on the line now. How much I needed him, and wanted him, and was scared to death to lose him.

I rolled onto my back and took him with me. He immediately pinned my wrists and bent to kiss my neck, and I was shaking under him. God, I loved this feeling, being under him and almost immobile.

When his lips made it to my collar, I decided we were both entirely too dressed. Apparently he’d come to the same conclusion because he released my wrists and we both started fumbling with the buttons on my shirt.

“Fuck this,” he muttered. “You take care of yours.” He sat up and started pulling off his shirt. “I’ll get mine.”

“Sounds good to me.” And in no time flat, we were down to nothing.

I dropped my briefs off the side of the bed, and our eyes met. He looked me up and down and murmured, “Finally,” as he pinned me down again, naked flesh to naked flesh.

I was in heaven. Plain and simple. Brad knew every inch of my body. Every erogenous zone, every ticklish spot, every place that liked it rough, every place that liked it soft. A kiss here, a bite there—much more of this, and he’d make me come before he ever touched my cock. Wouldn’t have been the first time, either.

I squirmed under him. “Jesus.”

He laughed and flicked his tongue across my nipple, which brought goose bumps to life over my entire torso. “Like that?”

“You know I do.”

“Mm-hmm.” He did it again, that featherlight touch causing my spine to arch off the mattress.

“We should . . . we should get some lube.”

Brad shivered, releasing a whispered “fuck” as he did. When his aggressive side came out to play, he could be a merciless tease, but this time, he just murmured, “Turn over,” and lifted himself off me.

I obeyed, and as I settled onto my stomach, the click of the lube bottle made my breath catch. Brad pushed my legs apart with his knee, and my fingers curled around the edge of the mattress as the anticipation threatened to drive me out of my mind.

He teased me with one lubricated finger, then two, making sure I was good and ready for him. Once again, I was sure he was going to tease me until I lost my mind, but he didn’t. He slipped his fingers out, pressed his cock against me, and slowly, carefully worked himself inside me.

“Fuck, you feel good,” he groaned, leaning down to kiss the back of my neck. His chin was rough against my skin, his warm breath soft along my hairline. His body kept mine firmly against the bed, rubbing my cock on the bottom sheet every time he moved.

“Harder,” I pleaded.

“Hmm?” He nipped the base of my neck just hard enough to sting. “What was that?”

“Harder.”

“Heard you the first time.” He slowed down, thrusts becoming smooth, easy strokes. “But you didn’t ask nicely.”

“Brad, just—”

The son of a bitch moved even slower. “Hmm?”

I screwed my eyes shut. “Please. Fuck me harder.”

I was rewarded with a thrust that knocked the breath right out of me. “Oh my God . . .”

He fucked me good and hard, just the way I’d begged him to, riding that perfect line between too painful and not nearly painful enough. “That what you wanted?”

Yes.” I tried to rock back against him, but in this position, I couldn’t move. Couldn’t move at all. There was nothing I could do but lie there and let him fuck me.

As if being fucked wasn’t enough, the friction of my cock against the sheet was driving me insane. I was so close to letting go, but I held my breath, dug my fingers into the mattress—anything I could focus on to keep me in the here and now.

“Don’t you dare come yet.” Brad’s voice almost sent me over the edge. “Don’t . . . don’t you fucking . . .” His movements were frantic now, as violent as they were uneven, and I gritted my teeth as I tried to move my hips just enough to drive him insane, which also happened to be enough to drive me insane, and I struggled not to come. I wanted to. God in heaven, I wanted to. But I fought it as hard as I could, and he fucked me as hard as he could, and just before I hit that point of no return, he forced his dick all the way inside me and shuddered.

“Oh my God,” he groaned, hips grinding against my ass as he tried to get even deeper. “Fuck. Fuck!” With one last thrust, he released his breath and relaxed over me. Swearing softly, he pulled out and tapped my hip with his hand. “On your back.”

My back had barely hit the bed before his lips were around my dick. “Oh Jesus . . .”

His mouth had always been so goddamned talented, and maybe I was just aroused out of my head tonight, or maybe it had just been so fucking long, but it caught me by surprise. I couldn’t even breathe as he bobbed over my cock, taking me deep and teasing me with his tongue.

He shoved my legs farther apart. I grabbed on to the headboard because I knew what was next. He slid two fingers into me, and between that and his mouth working its incredible magic on my cock, I didn’t stand a chance. My knuckles must’ve been white by now, but I needed something to keep me on terra firma while Brad licked and sucked my cock and his fingers moved so slowly and perfectly inside me.

“Oh fuck,” I whispered.

Brad groaned, his voice vibrating against my skin, and though it had been building for a while, my orgasm seemed to come out of nowhere. One second I was almost there, the next I was clear up in the stratosphere, and Brad kept me there for . . . for . . . fuck, a long time.

Moaning softly, I shuddered one last time and relaxed, sinking back down to the bed I’d levitated off of.

Brad slid his fingers free and lifted himself over me. His forehead was hot and slick against mine. “Didn’t anybody ever tell you not to have sex on the first date?”

I laughed and ran my fingers through his sweaty hair. “Have you ever known me to do what I’m told?”

“You?” He chuckled. “No. Definitely not.”

I grinned and kissed him.

“We should grab a shower,” he murmured. “Before we fall asleep.”

“I won’t let you fall asleep.” I trailed my fingertips down his side, grinning as he squirmed away from the ticklish touch.

“Bastard.” He grabbed my wrist and pinned it to the bed again.

I laughed, but he smothered it with a playful kiss. That kiss softened, though, and deepened. I parted his lips with my tongue, and as I put my free arm around him, he released my other wrist, and before long, we were wrapped up in each other again, still sweaty and hot and just enjoying a gentle kiss for its own sake.

Brad touched his damp forehead to mine. “Guess we should get that shower.”

“We should.”

After we’d dried off, we climbed back into bed and faced each other on our sides. His dark hair was still wet and spiky, the occasional drop sliding down to his forehead or along his temple.

He found my hand beneath the covers and laced our fingers together. “You really think we can do this?”

Some of my earlier nerves crept back in, coiling into a ball in the pit of my stomach. “What do you think?”

“I know I want to make it work.” He touched my face, running his thumb along my cheekbone. “I’m just, you know, worried.”

“Me too. But if tonight was any indication, yeah, I think we can do this.”

Brad smiled. Leaning in to kiss me, he whispered, “I love you.”

I smiled against his lips. “I love you too.”

As we settled into our bed, he turned on his side, and I slid up next to him, draping my arm over his waist. God, it felt good to hold him against me. The sex had been amazing—it always was—but this was the perfect end to the night.

We still had a long way to go before our relationship was back on solid ground, but tonight, I was infinitely more optimistic than I’d been in a long, long time.

Lying beside him like this, with sex and sweat still lingering in the air around us, it was impossible to believe we couldn’t make this work.

from Tattered Book Blog

L.A. Witt rocked me with this one.

from Love Bytes Reviews

A great read.

from Jeannie Zelos

[G]reat read.

from Smoocher's Voice

Witt does a great job pulling the reader into the emotional turmoil of the characters and their lives.

from Dirty Girls' Good Books

[T]his is a painful read . . . [I]t's also very good.

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