Authors: Jami Alden
Tags: #Romance, #FIC027110, #Fiction
NEW YORK BOSTON
To the SSRWA
Monica, who, when I pitched her the idea, told me, “This is it!” May you wear your Brainy Smurf shirt with pride. You
always right. Nyree, who brainstormed the idea on that long ago hike at the dish. Without you, there would be no Book 2!
And to Gajus for everything, but especially for keeping two small boys occupied while I hunkered over my AlphaSmart in the cabin loft.
In the crazy world of publishing, an author needs all the help she can get. I am incredibly lucky to have amazing people who support me. This book wouldn’t have been possible without my writer friends who cheer me on and help rescue me from any corners I may have written myself into. So thanks as always to the SF lunch brigade—Barbara Freethy, Carol Culver, Tracy Grant, Anne Mallory, Penelope Williamson, Veronica Wolff, Poppy Reiffin, and of course Monica McCarty and Bella Andre. I also owe an especially huge thanks to Kim Whalen, agent extraordinaire, for her support, encouragement, and especially her fervent, “I LOVE this,” after she read the first hundred pages of this book.
t wasn’t quite over yet, but Megan Flynn was 99 percent sure this was going to go down as one of the best days of her life.
And judging from the molten look Cole Williams was giving her across her tiny kitchen table, her perfect day was about to glide seamlessly into a perfect night.
“That was amazing,” he said, leaning back in his chair, relaxed after a day spent on the water, followed by a home-cked meal of fresh-caught local salmon accompanied by a bottle of Columbia Valley Pinot Noir. His plate was so clean he might have licked it, and Megan felt a ridiculous spurt of feminine pride in having provided a meal he’d so obviously enjoyed.
Megan traced the edge of her wineglass with her finger and gave him a sly smile. “So maybe next time you make salmon you’ll listen to me and not cook it down to a fine dust?”
Cole laughed and leaned across the table to refill her wineglass. “My mom always said you had to cook it enough to kill the bacteria.” He set the bottle down and took her free hand in his, his thumb tracing slow circles in the sensitive hollow of her palm.
Megan took a swallow of wine and smiled. “Since you grew up in a landlocked state, I’ll let you off the hook. But from now on, leave the seafood to us natives. Deal?”
“Deal. I’ll grill the steaks; you do the fish.”
Megan tried not to let herself get too carried away with fantasies of a lifetime of quiet dinners like this and wiped what she knew was a completely moony look off her face.
But it was impossible for her not to get carried away with Cole, all smoldering and intense across the table from her. With his dark eyes, dark skin, and bold, almost craggy features, Cole was a little too rough to be classically handsome. But when his full lips pulled into that sexy smile, Megan felt like she was going to melt into a puddle and spill right off her chair.
He pushed back from the table and kept hold of her hand as he walked the few steps to the couch. He settled against the cushions and she sank down next to him, her legs folded under her short skirt.
The short, flowered halter dress was completely inappropriate for a day out on Puget Sound on Cole’s boat. Even in early June, the temperature out on the water didn’t get much above sixty degrees. But when she’d gotten dressed that morning, she’d chosen the dress as a key part of her mission.
Namely, to finally break through Detective Cole Williams’s ironclad control.
Up until tonight, every date with the broodingly sexy detective had ended the same. With a kiss. Then more kisses that started with soft pecks and worked their way up to deep, wet, tongue-sliding, lip-sucking, blood-boiling kisses. Kisses that got Megan hotter than she’d ever been with any other man.
But no matter how hot she got, he never pushed it past hot kisses and light caresses, leaving her humming and thrumming with unsatisfied desire.
She was done with taking it slow. She wanted Cole, she wanted him now, and judging from the way his dark gaze kept straying down to the curves of her breasts swelling over the neckline of her dress, he was finally done too.
He tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “I missed you these last couple of weeks.”
He looked a little worn around the edges, and for good reason. Cole was a homicide detective for the Seattle PD, and his latest case had him working such long hours that she’d hardly seen him.
“You sound a little surprised by that.”
“I am,” Cole replied, then held up a hand at her look of mock offense. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then how did you mean it, smooth talker?” Megan gave him a playful swat on the leg that left her hand resting on the top of his thigh.
The lines around Cole’s deep-set eyes crinkled with his sheepish grin. “Usually when I’m head down in a case, I’m totally focused. I forget to eat, forget to sleep, everything.” He leaned in closer, close enough she could feel his warm, wine-scented breath tease her lips. “But I couldn’t forget about you.”
“I missed you too,” Megan whispered right before his mouth covered hers. She parted her lips willingly, eager for the heat, the taste of him as his tongue thrust in. Pushing her back against the cushions, he licked, sucked, nipped, until Megan was clutching at him, practically shaking with need.
Please let tonight be the night.
As though he heard her silent plea, his kiss turned fierce and demanding. There was something different in his touch, in the way he kissed her. Like he was starving and she was the most delicious thing on earth.
Megan struggled to catch her breath as he pushed her back onto the couch. She’d known there was passion simmering under that stony cop surface, but nothing had prepared her for this.
Megan slid her hand up Cole’s back, dragging the hem of his T-shirt from the waistband of his jeans. She purred in pleasure at the feel of his hot, smooth skin, the sound swallowed up by a sleek thrust of his tongue against hers. She traced her fingers up the hard slabs of muscle, her mouth moving eagerly under his as she sought to drink in every touch, every taste.
Cole pulled the strap off the other shoulder and tugged the bodice of her dress down to her waist. His groan of satisfaction rumbled through her core, sending a pulse of heat between her legs. He held himself still above her, muscles quivering as his hot, dark eyes locked on her naked breasts. Her nipples were hard, aching and tingling, begging for his touch.
A vivid flush rode his sharp cheekbones. His mouth was kiss swollen, his lips parted as his breath came in hot pants. “Jesus Christ,” he said in a low, strained voice. “I’ve been thinking about this from the second I laid eyes on you, and even then… You’re so goddamn gorgeous I don’t know how I kept my hands off you this long.”
He tugged his T-shirt the rest of the way over his head. Megan was treated to a glimpse of a wide, defined chest and rippling six-pack dusted with fine dark hair before he settled himself back on top of her. She let out an “ooh” at
the first brush of skin on skin, a little surprised not to see sparks flying from where their bodies touched. He settled between her thighs, letting her feel the rock-hard ridge of his erection straining at the fly of his pants, leaving no doubt as to how much he wanted her. He kissed her again, his tongue thrusting in deep, lazy strokes that had her aching and shifting against him in an agony of need.
Megan kissed him back with everything she had, her heart twisting in her chest with the knowledge that sex with Cole was going to be amazing. Momentous.
Sex with Cole would change everything.
But that was okay. Because she was in love with Cole Williams. It had taken some convincing on her part to get him here, but she was pretty sure he was on his way to being in love with her too.
As scary as the idea of love was, Megan knew that with Cole by her side, everything would be okay.
Cole jerked in her embrace, his lips stilling against hers as the harsh ring pierced through the sound of fast breath and wet kisses.
Megan tensed. A cop to his core, Cole never let anything get between him and his sworn duty. Even on his day off. She closed her eyes and started to count to one hundred, trying to cool her body and bring herself back from the edge as she prepared for yet another night on the razor’s edge of sexual frustration.
To her shock, the cell phone kept ringing. Cole curled his fingers more tightly in her hair and resumed kissing her with that almost primitive intensity. Wow.
Cole must really want me if he’s ignoring it.
A thrill rippled through her at the thought.
A second after the ringing stopped, it started again.
“Fuck!” Cole roared.
Exactly what I had in mind,
she thought. “I guess you better get that,” she sighed.
Cole nodded and let out a string of curses as he pushed himself off of her and grabbed his cell from the end table. “Jorgensen, why the hell are you calling me on my afternoon off?”
It was his partner, Nick Jorgensen. Megan sighed and tried to swallow back her disappointment. If she really wanted a relationship with Cole, she would have to get used to the demands of the career he loved.
Megan sat up and pulled her dress back over her breasts and tugged her skirt down to cover her legs. Cole was silent for several seconds, his dark brows pulling into a tight frown over eyes that were losing their sensual haze.
She could make out a little bit of what Jorgensen was saying on the other line, but not enough to figure out exactly what was going on. Something bad, she guessed from the grim look on Cole’s face.
“I’m off today,” Cole said. “Why don’t you handle it—”
Jorgensen answered loud and clear. She heard every word. “This is a slam dunk, asshole. Get over here now.”
Cole’s broad shoulders slumped, and he clawed his fingers through his hair. “Fine, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
he mouthed to her.