Emma Fulton never had to worry about much. Socially driven and happily single, she’s been blessed with charm, good looks, and a close-knit community. But after a medical emergency, a dollop of family drama, and a series of near-tragic events, she finds she must question who she can trust.
Preferring solitude to intimacy, Mason Tucker’s relatives make it difficult to escape social gatherings and small talk. When Emma’s mother marries into his family, he finds himself reluctantly drawn to the beautiful woman who is his complete opposite. But after helping her through a terrible discovery, Emma begins to break down some of Mason’s communication barriers and insecurities.
When Emma asks for his assistance in tracking down a secret, Mason tags along in order to keep her safe. Unfortunately, not everyone has Emma’s safety in mind when danger waits for the perfect opportunity to strike.
Mason stood in her kitchen, his hands in his pockets and a sheepish apology on his face. “It was open.” He nodded toward her back door.
“That doesn’t mean you were invited in,” Emma muttered and went over to the front door. “This one’s open too. You can leave now.”
Mason walked over to the door and closed it, but stayed in the living room. When his arm brushed hers, she pulled away, singed from the heat, and pissed at her own reaction.
“This could be considered breaking and entering. I want you to leave.”
“I will. I n-need to say something first.” His hands returned to his pockets as he studied her knees. Better than her toes, but he still lacked in the eye contact department.
They stood in awkward silence again. Emma cocked her head to one side and crossed her arms. “Waiting.”
“Can we sit?”
“Okay.” Mason went over to the sofa and sat anyway. Emma stayed in her position by the door, ready to flee at a moment’s notice. She wasn’t sure what scared her. He would never physically hurt her, and he actually wanted to talk with her. She was being foolish by pushing him away, but she wasn’t about to admit that to him, or herself.
“I sh-shouldn’t have pushed you away after we…”
“Had wild monkey sex in your hallway?” Gosh it felt good to be bitchy.
Mason cringed. “Yeah. I was … s-surprised.”
“I believe your memory does not serve you correctly. You are the one who ravished me. I went in hoping for a kiss. You went in for the kill.” Not that she minded, but she wasn’t about to admit that either.
“I’m so, so sorry, Emma. I took advantage of you. It was just … you’re so… I couldn’t help it.”
Dang it, her knees almost buckled. She leaned against the wall in an attempt to hide her softening and to appear more defiant.
“After…” Mason ran his hands through his hair. “I was angry at myself because … I thought … I thought you and Cole …” He made eye contact for a second before dropping his gaze, and shrugged. “I thought I broke the code.”
“Brothers before girlfriends.”
“I thought you and Cole were a thing and I s-s-sabotaged it.”
Realization hit her like an airbag to a face. She touched her cheek and nearly collapsed.
“He told me you two aren’t … that you’re friends and not in a, uh, romantic relationship.”
She moved closer to the couch and glared at him. “Let me get this straight. You thought Cole and I were an item, but you had sex with me anyway then pushed me away because you felt like shit for screwing your brother’s girlfriend but just found out your brother and I are not an item and are now coming to apologize?”
Ick, when she said it out loud it sounded tacky and terrible, but her heart interpreted it differently. Kind of sweet. Paige must be wearing off on her, romanticizing a twisted love triangle. Still, she wasn’t about to let him off the hook so easily.
“You’ve apologized, so now what?” Lord bless him, but the man looked completely shocked. She bet he hadn’t thought that far.
“I… I don’t know.”
Never one to complicate matters—Emma inwardly rolled her eyes and snorted at herself—she knew she had to make the next move.
“Do you like me?”
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
Mason raised an eyebrow and stood up. “No.”
“I think you’re beautiful.”
She melted. “Oh.”
“Do you like me?” he asked.
“I did. And then I didn’t. But I think I do now.”
“Oh. Do you think I’m pretty?” he smirked.
“No.” She waited a beat. “I think you’re so damn hot.” They stood toe to toe, waiting for the other person to make the first move. They’d had wild monkey sex against a wall so kissing shouldn’t have been so anticipating. But it was. And it was well worth the wait.
About the Author
Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines her smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always find everlasting love.
When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, relaxing with fancy drinks and a great read. She tries to make time for her husband too, but he often places behind her love affair with books.