When Jacob was injured in the war, it changed him for life. Now all he wants to do is come home to Cedar Ridge, settle in at his lakeside cabin and get some much-needed peace and quiet. But there's no peace to be had when he finds a spitfire of a woman camping out on his property. Half the time he's not sure whether he wants to spank her or kiss--or maybe both. He's in a dark place and a dark mood, and here's this wildly hot woman who is also funny and light and may be the balm be needs to soothe his aching soul.
Sophie Marren is pretty much penniless after leaving her abusive husband. She doesn't have the money to pay rent or the slip fees for docking the boat where she's been sleeping. She was getting along just perfectly until the good-looking, brooding, I'm-too-sexy-for-myself guy moves into the lake cabin that the slip belongs to. Sure he's hot as the noon sun with those dark lens and even darker 'tude, but god forbid she tie herself to another man who's always telling her what to do. But the more she gets to know Jacob, the more she sees how willing he is to battle for her wounded heart...a battle she might just let him win.
She eyed the bench a long beat but did eventually sit, perching primly as far from him as she could get and yet still be close enough to grab the bottle.
She took the Scotch and drank. Her eyes watered and she coughed as she handed it to him. With a sigh, she leaned back to study the night sky. Her bared throat was slim and creamy smooth. An unexpected temptation. Remembering the flash of pain and vulnerability she’d unwittingly revealed, and that for whatever reason he’d somehow added to it, he spoke. “I’m sorry.”
She glanced at him as if she’d never heard a man apologize before in her life. “For…breathing?” she asked. “Having a penis? What?”
“You were upset because you didn’t know I was a Kincaid.”
She sighed. “That was just me looking for a reason to be mad at you so I wouldn’t…”
She bit her lower lip, clearly not wanting to go on.
But now he had to know. “So you wouldn’t what?”
“Nothing,” she said. “It’s just that I’m trying to make better choices.”
“Of which I wouldn’t be one.”
“It’s not necessarily your fault,” she said. “It’s that you’re a man.”
“Guilty as charged.”
“And I’m off men right now.”
“And on…women?” he asked with admittedly more than a little fascination.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m on no one, but thank you for proving my point on men.”
“I get that,” he said. “But being off men doesn’t seem to be making you very happy, or sound like a whole lot of fun.”
“Maybe I don’t need fun.”
He understood that. He’d felt the same way since Brett died. “What do you need?” he asked, honestly wanting to know more about her.
Instead of answering, she reached for the bottle. He waited until she met his gaze before letting go.
“Nothing,” she said a little too quickly. “Everything’s…perfect.”
“And your glass is half full,” he said. “So you’ve said.”
But he didn’t believe her. “How about a game?”
“I don’t play games.”
Now, that wasn’t exactly true. Whether she knew it or not, she’d been playing with his head since he’d first laid eyes on her. “Three truths and a lie,” he said.
She stared at him. “As in you tell me three truths and a lie, and I pick out the lie?”
She considered this. “What do I get if I win?”
“What do you want?”
For the briefest of beats, her gaze dropped to his mouth.
Oh, hell yeah, he thought. Want me…
“My first boyfriend taught me that game,” she said.
“What did the winner get?”
Definitely still playing with his head… “Is that what you want, Sophie? A kiss?”
Again she stared at his mouth before dropping eye contact and wrapping that eye-stopping pink robe tighter around her body. “Do you?” she asked.
Her gaze flew to his.
“Problem is,” he said conversationally, “if I kissed you, I don’t think I’d be able to stop.”
Her mouth literally fell open. The pulse at the base of her throat jumped. And she seemed to lose her words.
He went on. “But you should know, I don’t lose. That means you’ll have to tell me three truths and a lie.” And he’d hopefully get to know more about her.
She closed her mouth to bite her lower lip in what could’ve been indecision or excitement. Obviously he was hoping for the latter. “But hey, if you’re not sure you can handle losing, we can just forget about it,” he said.
The challenge lifted her chin and put sparks in her eyes. That’s it, babe. Show me what you’ve got.
“Bring it,” she said.
About Jill Shalvis