Today we have a smooch from Friends to Forever by Nikki Logan, but first ...
the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Nas Dean!
Congratulations, Nas! Can you please contact Anna Hackett at
anna (at) annahackettbooks (dot) com
and she'll send you a free download of One Night with the Wolf.
And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Friends to Forever by Nikki Logan! For the first time, we'll be using one of our nifty new 'content' icons...
She was the high-school princess – he was the high-school nobody…
Marc Duncannon and Beth Hughes were the best of friends – until a heated kiss exposed secrets and ruined everything.
Ten years later, Beth seeks out Marc and finds him battling to save a stranded whale. Together on a lonely Australian beach they face exhaustion, the elements and their own personal demons. They discover that their friendship is worth fighting for, because they share something even stronger – a love that
could last a lifetime.
Set-up: Everything changed between inseparable friends Beth Hughes and Marc Duncannon when they hit puberty and life got complicated. Beth has always blamed herself for the horrible way their friendship ended and has tracked grown-up Marc down to set things right as part of her management of her alcohol addiction. But instead of saying her piece and driving back into the sunset, she finds herself alone on a remote beach, thigh-deep in freezing water, with the man who has so much reason to hate her. But once the euphoria of freeing the stranded whale drains from their systems, Beth and Marc are left weak and exhausted, clinging together in the icy, midnight shallows with the turbulent echoes of that day floating around them… As she sags, broken and emotionally battered against him in the surf, Beth asks Marc what he’d do differently about that last day they were together if they could go back in time…
‘It matters to me, Beth.’ Marc said. ‘Whether you hated it. Whether I damaged our friendship, too.’
Too. Misery came surging back in at the reminder that she’d said the words that destroyed their friendship. Even if she hadn’t set out to. She was only going to ask him to back off for a while. But he’d kissed her and she panicked. Those angry lips pressing against hers, forcing hers wider. The hands that had plunged into her hair to hold her captive sent electric sparks through her body and threw her into confusion. The press of his eager body into hers made her want things she shouldn’t want. The desperate, intense pain in his eyes echoing hers. The thick smoke-like energy he’d been pumping out all around them.
Did she like it?
Enough to rip his heart out with her reflexive over-reaction.
She took a breath. Held his eyes. Held her breath. ‘I didn’t hate it.’
This is where he’d kiss her in a movie. The water. The cold. The intimacy. And her admission practically cried out for his mouth on hers.
Instead he nudged her head back down to his shoulder and rested his cheek against her wet hair. A particularly full wave washed over them and buffeted Beth against him with its chilly brush. Her heart squeezed hard. Had she been so starved for affection in her loveless marriage that she was finding it now in impossible places? Marc was just moved by their circumstance and harking back to better times. That was all. Waiting for a kiss was stupidly naïve and impossibly romantic.
Since there was to be no kissing, she needed—really badly—to get off him. But her body had practically seized up in the foetal position and straightening her limbs was a new kind of agony. Just when she thought she’d already met all the cousins in the Pain family.
‘Easy, Beth. You need to walk off the ache. Your muscles will be eating themselves.’
Pretty apt, really. Starting with the giant, thumping one in her chest cavity. Crawling into Marc’s lap had not been part of her plan as she drove up the coastal highway this morning, but now that she had it was hard to imagine ever getting the sensation out of her mind. Her heart.
But she had to.
Her back screamed as she pushed against his chest and twisted up onto her knees, between his. She gave herself a moment to adjust.
‘Just one more thing…’ Marc murmured, before she could rise much further. Those powerful abdominal muscles she’d spied before he zipped them up beneath his wetsuit did their job and pulled his torso up out of the splash and hard into hers. His lips slid warmly, firmly against her mouth and he took advantage of her shocked gasp to work them open, hot and blazing against her numb flesh. Her lips drank heat from him and came tingling back to life, startled and wary. His hands forked up into her wet hair and held her face while he teased and taunted her blissfully with his tongue, letting her breathe his air as though he were giving her the kiss of life.
Which, in a way, he was.
Relief and a decade of desire surged through her. Forgiveness tasted an awful lot like this.
He lifted his face and stared into her glassy eyes. ‘This is how I would do it if I had my time over,’ he said softly and then lowered his mouth again.
Nikki has a signed copy of Friends to Forever to give away to one lucky commenter. Just tell her whether you have a best friend of the opposite sex from your past that you let go due to social expectation or peer pressure. Do you ever wonder what happened to them? Or have you kept track all these years? Or did you end up turning your friendship to forever?
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from our international guest Liz Fielding will be posted!