When We Kiss
Ribbon Ridge, #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Date of Publication: January 19, 2016
Number of pages: 246
Denver real estate mogul, Liam Archer, has always been a thrill-seeker, and the loss of his identical twin brother has only intensified his reckless behavior. Sky diving, heli-skiing, motorcycle riding…he’s tried everything once. Except falling in love. Liam doesn’t do relationships, but a no-strings fling with Aubrey Tallinger—the smart, gorgeous lawyer handling his brother’s estate—is totally his speed.
At first, hooking up with Liam whenever he’s in Ribbon Ridge is perfect; but Aubrey fears she could fall hard for the sexy daredevil, if he’d only stop refusing to acknowledge the demons he’s trying to outrun. To protect herself from heartbreak, Aubrey ends their affair. But this time, Liam isn’t leaving town and instead of seduction, he wants to be…friends.
The white hot attraction between them still sizzles but Liam knows that winning Aubrey back won’t happen in his bed. He’ll have to convince her that he’s more than the careless, adrenaline junkie she believes him to be. Because when they kiss, Liam feels whole again… and he isn’t ready to give her up without a fight.
“You’re overthinking,” Liam said, drawing her back to the here and now. Aubrey was back in his parents’ sitting room instead of her dim office.
“I’m trying to forget.” As if she ever could. His scent, his taste, his touch—everything about him was seared into every part of her.
“You always overthink,” he whispered, moving closer until he was just in front of her.
“Don’t.” She refused to look at him. If she did, she’d be ruined. She’d succumb to Liam’s magnetism or whatever the hell it was that seemed to be her own personal kryptonite.
Then he touched her face, his fingertips grazing along the edge of her jaw. “I can’t help it. I don’t want to walk away. It’s too bad you brought that other guy.”
She looked at him then. His dark lashes drooped over his slate-blue eyes, and it was like he was a tractor beam on the goddamn Death Star.
She steeled herself against him. “Why, because it interferes with your sexual agenda? Tell me, Liam, would you really have asked me to be your date tonight?”
He pressed his lips together, and she already knew the answer.
“Great. Good talk. I brought Stuart just so I could hopefully avoid these little moments with you. They make me feel so pathetic. Thanks for that.” She gave him a brittle smile, dropped her arms, and tried to step around him.
But his arm snaked around her and brought her hard against his chest. “I don’t want you to feel pathetic. I can’t ask you to be my date at my brother’s wedding.”
She simultaneously wanted to push up against him to feel his heat and knee him in the nuts. “Why, because I’m the woman who helped your brother kill himself? No one thinks that anymore, if they ever did past the first few weeks when grief controlled all of our lives. No, Liam, the hang-up is all you.” She pulled back, but he held her fast.
“Please don’t go. I miss being with you. We have fun together, don’t we?” He splayed his hands across her back and buried his nose in the hair at her temple. “God, you smell so amazing. Like Aubrey. Delicious, fabulous, gorgeous Aubrey.”
Every resolve she had was stretched to the limit. She didn’t know how much more she could take. The desire to put her arms around him, to kiss him, to fold her body into his was nearly painful.
Man, this was sick.
His hand skimmed up her back and cupped the side of her neck, tilting her face toward his. “Tell me you don’t miss me, too.” He kissed the flesh next to her eye, then her cheek, then her jawline. “Tell me.”
“I don’t miss you.” Naturally, because she was weak and probably halfway in love with this jerk, her voice broke at the very end of that lie. “You really suck at lying.” His lips found hers in a searing kiss.
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and closed her eyes, seeing him in her mind and ripping every spectacular piece of clothing from his athletic, rugged body. She knew him so well—the rippled muscles of his chest, the hard curve of his ass, the deep moan he let out when she took him in her mouth...
Damn, she should not be doing this!
But he knew just how to kiss her. His tongue was hot and precise, spearing past her lips and ramping her lust to ridiculous heights. She curled her hands behind his neck and pressed on his flesh, opening her mouth to his exploration and launching her own invasion. This was heaven. This was bliss. This was Liam.
He bent her backward and held her tight, his fingertips digging into her back and ass. Flush against his groin, she felt the hard ridge of his cock. Overcome, she thrust her hands into his thick hair and threaded it through her eager fingers as she’d longed to do since he’d grabbed her from the bathroom.
They could be up against the door or over on the couch in less than a minute. Wild, crazed, mind-blowing sex... and back at the reception in under ten minutes. They’d done it before—last summer at Derek and Chloe’s wedding. They’d ducked into the small office at the back of the Ridgeview cottage and screwed each other hard and fast. She could still smell the scent of lavender and grass wafting through the open window. In fact, she couldn’t smell lavender or grass now and not think of Liam. Maybe she’d never be able to attend another wedding reception without thinking of him either.
No. He was not going to own her. She had a life, and he wasn’t going to be part of it. They wanted very different things. Hell, she knew what she wanted. He only knew what he wanted right now. And that wasn’t enough.
She ripped her mouth from his and shoved at his chest. On trembling legs, she stumbled backward, one hand wiping her wet lips, the other smoothing the skirt of her dress down over her thighs because it had started to hike up. Apparently even her clothing was on board with another Liam Archer hook-up.
“Liam, I’m leaving. I brought a date. Stuart is nice. Respectable. He doesn’t deserve me kissing you.”
Liam’s face was flushed, his gorgeous hair mussed. “He doesn’t deserve to be kissing you.”
She gritted her teeth. “That’s not what I said. We aren’t to that... stage.” How laughable. She and Liam hadn’t paid any attention to such nonsense. They’d gone pedal to the metal since day one. It was time to slam on the brakes. Again. “It’s none of your business.”
She took a deep breath to calm her racing pulse and pressed her hands against her cheeks, hoping she didn’t look as worked up as Liam did. She likely did, but it was warm in the main rooms where the reception was going on, and she could blame it on the heat.
“When you get bored with him, call me,” Liam said as she walked past him.
She was surprised he was letting her go so easily, but she heard the arrogance in his tone and caught the smug set of his mouth. She paused at the door and turned. He’d also pivoted.
Pulling her lips into a saccharine smile she hoped gave him a toothache, she said, “Even if I do get bored, I will not call you. We’re done. And next time you try something like that, I will use every bit of kickboxing I’ve ever learned and beat you into the floor.”
Thank you so much for hosting me today! I love hearing people’s stories of their road to publication—so many great things to learn. I’m not sure anything “funny” happened to me on the way to getting published. There were cool things, distressing things, and ultimately necessary things. Everything that happened propelled me on the path that led me to where I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful! I credit several things with being instrumental. Shall we do a top five countdown?
In this age of self-publishing, the pursuit of an agent isn’t the same as it was ten years ago when I was starting out. That doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary or helpful, depending on your chosen path. And sometimes paths veer off, which is not always a bad thing! At the end of 2009, I was feeling particularly despondent about my writing career. I’d written four books, finaled in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest, and been on submission several times, but I had yet to sell a manuscript. The recession had hit our family particularly hard, and I needed to find a job. I told my critique partner and friend that I might need to hang up my writing hat for at least a little while. I kid you not, hours later my agent, Jim McCarthy, telephoned to offer representation. That was a total game changer for me and not just because I signed with an agent I’d targeted in my “top tier,” but because it gave me the confidence I needed at that time. Jim’s positivity and honesty are two of the things I value most about him, and I can’t imagine this journey without his support. Could I have done it? Maybe, but I’m glad I don’t have to find out.