By Nina West
Forced to leave Alaska to run the family farm while her father recovers from a tragic accident, Abbi heads home knowing she has the one thing she wants most again –Henry’s affections. She’s determined to not let anyone get in the way of that again.
But love for Abbi has never been easy.
With an overbearing mother who believes she has the right to approve who her daughter loves, a childhood ex-boyfriend who will do anything to win her back, and a wealthy, handsome boyfriend who always gets what he wants, Abbi soon realizes she may have to make some impossible choices.
My heart skips two beats and then starts pounding against my breastbone.
“Henry!” I shriek, unable to keep any level of composure thanks to my excitement. I take off, running as fast as I can in flip-flops, ignoring the pain in my chest that comes with running in a bikini with crappy support.
He leans back against the side of the truck with his legs crossed at the ankles and his hands tucked into his pockets, and watches me approach with that sexy smirk curling his lip. A smirk he has perfected and should outright trademark.
I may look like a childish idiot, but I don’t care, the gravel crunching under my feet as I tear across the driveway and throw myself at his hard body, my arms snaking around his neck to lock in a tight squeeze.
He slips his hands from his pockets to scoop me up with ease, his deep chuckle vibrating throughout my body. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a welcome quite like that,” he murmurs, setting me on the ground after a long moment.
I take a moment to catch my breath as I admire his marvelous face, committing his crystal-blue eyes and long dark lashes to a fresh memory. And those lips… I miss the feel of them on me so much. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Prague?” I ask through pants.
His gaze drops to my mouth, and my thighs clench instantly in anticipation. “I was, but I had to be in New York tonight for a meeting. I figured I’d stop here first. I can’t stay too long, though.” He leans forward and I close my eyes, waiting eagerly for his kiss. But he pauses. “Why are you all wet?”
“Oh.” I giggle. “I was just in the pond.”
“Hard at work, I see.” He gives me a mock frown but I know he’s teasing.
“We’ve been busting our butts all morning actually. Just took a break to cool off, it’s so hot.”
“Yeah, I’m missing the Alaska temperatures right now.” There’s a pause. “Who’s we?”
“Just my two summer workers. And Jed, of course.”
If my arms hadn’t been around Henry’s neck, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the sudden tension that stiffens him. “Fuckface?”
“Yeah. He’s been helping around here, a lot. I told you that.”
“Right.” He frowns. “How often is that, again?”
“He’s here every day.”
“You know I can’t do this on my own, Henry.”
“Which is why I offered to arrange for help.”
“And you know exactly why I couldn’t take you up on that.” Mama outright refused to accept his offer. It’s not for pride, because she’s had no trouble accepting help from every last member of our church.
“I’ve been told that she hasn’t stayed at the hotel, either.”
“The Enderbeys have a cousin in Pittsburgh she’s staying with.” In a spare bedroom with no air conditioning that requires Mama—all 370 pounds of her—to climb three flights of stairs every day. Even Jed’s dad tried to persuade her to take Henry’s offer of a luxury suite at the Wolf, but she won’t willingly accept a dime from “the wolf who’s preying on her daughter’s innocence.”
He shakes his head. “Stubborn woman.”
“I know. There’s nothing I can do. I’ve tried to reason with her.” I can’t tell anymore if her pigheadedness is borne of her being hung up on having her daughter married to the Reverend’s son, or that she simply wants me within arm’s reach until the day she dies, and she won’t have that if I’m with a man like Henry.
“They’re releasing Daddy today, though. Isn’t that great?” I lean against his body, letting my fingers slide over all the hard ridges and contours of his beautiful back and then his shoulders, and his arms. I stretch onto my tiptoes, wanting to go back to the part where he kisses me.
Henry’s attention is not easily swayed though. “Does he know you’re not his anymore?”
I sigh. “Yes. He’s trying to convince me otherwise, but I’ve told him many times.”
I skate my lips over his. He finally takes the hint, his hands gripping the sides of my waist, sealing his lips over mine and kissing me with a level of skill that I might consider being concerned with, if I wasn’t so head-over-heels infatuated with him.
A tiny moan escapes me and he instantly deepens the kiss, forcing my mouth open wide to make room for his tongue. My hands wander over his chest, molding over his curves. “I’ve been thinking about this moment for weeks,” I whisper against his mouth. My daydreams always end with my hands moving south, into his jeans. If we weren’t out in the open, it’s exactly what I’d be doing already.
“Phone calls aren’t enough, then?”
“Not even close.”
About Nina West:
Nina West lives in the city but spends her summers in the wilderness with her husband. She loves having a steaming cup of cocoa in one hand and a steamy story full of angst in the other. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter!
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