Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!
Today we have a smooch from Helen Lacey's July release from Harlequin Special Edition, The Secret Son's Homecoming.
But first the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Ginette Kinellar.
Please contact Annie West by emailing annie AT annie-west.com to receive your copy of Inherited for the Royal Bed.
And now for today's smooch.
The illegitimate son of the wealthiest man in Cedar River, Jonah Rickard spent his life avoiding his father. Forced back home for a wedding, he's brought face–to–face with the only woman to ever threaten his hardened heart.
Connie Bedford knows what it is to be haunted by the past, betrayed by trust…scared by desire. Years ago, Jonah's father saved her. Now only Connie and her love can save Jonah – and, maybe, his family…
Connie and Jonah have been out on their first ‘real’ date and they are now back at her home.
“Jonah reached out to grasp her chin, gently tilting her face upward. “Did someone break your heart once, Connie?”
“My heart,” she whispered, as though the memory hurt her down to her very core. “My spirit.”
Jonah’s insides crunched. “I understand caution when it comes to getting close to people,” he said, rubbing his thumb across her cheek. “Sometimes I think I invented it. But I’m not out to hurt you or make empty promises. I just want—”
“Sex?” she said, cutting him off.
Heat smacked his cheeks, but he wasn’t about to lie to her. “I’m a guy,” he said and shrugged. “We’re kind of programmed that way.”
She laughed humorlessly. “At least you’re honest about it.”
“I don’t lie, Connie,” he said, more seriously. “I will always tell you the truth about my motives. It’s obvious that I’m attracted to you and I think that’s mutual...right?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“So, we’ll just see where it goes.”
“To bed, you mean?”
He shrugged again. “If that’s what you want.”
“And it’s completely my decision?”
“Of course,” he replied. “Always.”
She took a moment to respond, and then nodded. “Okay.”
She nodded again. “Maybe we will end up in bed. We’ll just have to see.”
He smiled. “Is everything usually so cut-and-dried with you?”
“Usually,” she replied. “We doormats are generally the boring, black-or-white type.”
“I thought you’d forgiven me for that remark.”
“I have,” she said softly and moved closer. “I’m making fun of you.” She looked up at him, meeting his gaze, her mouth slightly parted, her eyes wide. “You can kiss me now...I mean, if you still want to.”
Jonah’s entire body tensed. He wanted to. Very much. She was close, and when her breasts touched his chest it almost sent his libido into overdrive. Jonah took a breath, grasped her chin and hovered his mouth over hers. They’d kissed before, but somehow, being so close, hearing her breathe, inhaling the scent that was uniquely hers, Jonah experienced an acute sense of being in the moment, of feeling and sensing nothing else other than everything that was Connie. It should have set off alarm bells in his head. But instead, he felt the rightness of it through to his blood and then felt it seep deep into his bones. He was hooked. Totally at the mercy of his desire for her. With no foreseeable way out other than to make a run for it.
Which was out of the question.
* * *
Connie slipped her arms around his shoulders, feeling the muscles bunch beneath her fingers, feeling every part of him in a way that was impossibly intimate and breathtakingly scary. His eyes glittered brilliantly, meeting hers without blinking, holding her gaze with such burning intensity she could barely draw breath. They were breast to chest, thigh to thigh, and she waited for the usual panic to rise, for her old fears to make a comeback, for the memories to resurface and warn her off. But oddly, they didn’t. Because she wasn’t afraid of Jonah. She desired him. She liked him. She trusted him. And trust had always been in short supply in her life.
Strange, some faraway voice whispered to her, that she trusted Jonah without really knowing him very well. For Connie, trust was earned, and garnered by time and integrity and actions. She trusted Liam and J.D. because they had witnessed her at her most vulnerable and saved her from the worst moment in her life. She trusted her friends Annie and Nicola because they had never had a morbid curiosity about her past like some others had shown over the years. And that, she realized, was it.
Four people. A small circle of trust in any language.
And now, inexplicably, there was Jonah.
Crazy. Senseless. Potentially foolish, because he had so much emotional baggage that it was certainly going to end in disaster...or at the very least, her broken heart.
But when his mouth touched hers, she was gone. He softly coaxed her lips apart, gently anchoring her head with a steady palm at her nape. There was nothing rushed, nothing overpowering, nothing other than a gentle coax and a request for permission. She gave it instinctively, and when his tongue touched hers, Connie experienced a deep surge of desire spark through her veins. His kiss was something she would never get enough of. And there was no threat, no demand. He was asking for her to kiss him back, seeking her agreement to ensure that they were heading to the same place, a place that had always terrified her, because it meant absolute surrender.
And surrender meant vulnerability...something she’d vowed never to allow again.
Connie moaned, hearing the sound echo low in her chest, feeling the vibration through her blood and across every nerve ending. It’s just a kiss. But it was more. That’s what struck her the most. She’d been kissed before. She’d put herself out there and gone on several first dates...but never had a man’s kiss affected her on a such a deep, sensory level. The fact that it was Jonah who wreaked such havoc with her senses...Jonah, who was in constant conflict with everyone she cared about the most, was confusing and contradictory to everything she thought she believed in.
But when his mouth touched hers again, when he deepened the kiss and his tongue danced with hers, she was utterly and categorically undone. She pressed closer, feeling him aroused against her, but she sensed no threat and no need to run. That’s what shook her...that he wasn’t a threat. That he would never be a threat. That she’d found a man who made her feel safe.
And she wanted him.
She wanted him in ways she’d never wanted anyone before.
Reader question from Helen:
Do you like the bad boy? The guy who’s judged as being bad news but really has a heart of gold? Or do you prefer the straight up, Mr. Nice Guy?
Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a signed copy of The Secret Son’s Homecoming.
And don't forget to come back next Sunday when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a new smooch will be posted!
Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver