Today we have a smooch from The Army Ranger's Return by Soyara Lane ...
but first ...
the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is --
Congratulations, Marlena! Can you please contact Michelle at michelle @ michelle-douglas (dot)com and she'll send you a copy of The Cattleman, The Baby and Me.
And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Army Ranger's Return by Soyara Lane ...
A soldier's second chance…
As nervous as a teenager about to go on her first date, Jessica Mitchell waits for Special Forces Ranger Ryan McAdams—her best friend for the past year— whom she's never met! They've been pen pals while Ryan was away fighting for their country and Jessica was secretly fighting her own demons back home.
She knows widower Ryan's fears of returning to civilian life and his hopes of reconnecting with his son. Now she can't wait to meet him face–to–face—to hear his voice and see his smile…
[Set up: Ryan and Jess are having dinner at her place, and he’s just thanked her for helping him to reconnect with his son. Their quiet dinner as “friends” is starting to feel like something a whole lot more serious though!]
He squeezed her hand, his eyes never leaving hers. She could gaze into those eyes all night, lose herself in the ocean-blue depths of them, become mesmerised. She wondered if anything had ever looked so beautiful before. The way he was looking at her, the softness she saw there.
All this time, she’d thought it would be impossible to ever truly trust a man again. Told herself it couldn’t happen.
But the way Ryan was watching her, the honesty he conveyed through his gaze, the way the skin around his eyes crinkled ever so lightly in the corners when he watched her, his smile upturned to match his expression: All of those things told her that trust and honesty was possible with a man.
She’d just chosen the wrong one before. And let herself believe that he represented the entire male population.
"I went to him, Jess. I went to him because you told me to, because you told me I had to confront the past and be honest with him.”
She looked down, unable to match his stare any longer. “I told you what anyone else would have.”
Ryan shook his head. “That’s the problem.” He dropped the contact with her hand and raised it to her cheek instead, his fingers resting against her skin.
Jess pushed in, lightly, toward his touch. Fought the urge to close her eyes and sigh into his caress.
“I’ve never told anyone else what I told you in my letters. You’re the first person I’ve been honest with in a long while.”
She glanced up at him again, her breath catching in silent hiccups in her throat.
“It started because I trusted you on paper, and now I know I can trust you in real life too.”
She didn’t know what to say. But when Ryan kept the contact with her face and raised his body, leaning over the table toward her, she knew exactly what to do.
Jessica raised her face to meet his, parted her mouth for his kiss. For the brush of his lips that she knew were coming.
Ryan took her mouth, gently at first and then with a hunger that scared her. She was barely conscious of him standing, of the way he had moved closer, until he pulled away and left her lips bruised and alone.
She stifled the moan that fought deep within her throat.
But Ryan didn’t leave her alone for long. He stalked around the table like a big game animal on the hunt. His large frame towered above her, then he dropped to his knees in front of her. She parted her own knees slightly so he could move closer toward her. He was so tall that even with her sitting on the chair he wasn’t much lower than her.
Jess just watched him. Watched the rise and fall of his chest, and the way his eyes fell to her lips. She tried not to think about the ‘what ifs’. Fought against the voice in her head that told her to take things slow, to stop now before it went too far.
Because Jessica knew they had already crossed that line. They’d already gone too far and she was powerless to do anything about it.
He circled his arms around her waist, making her feel safe. Wanted. She slowly raised her hands and let them flutter to his shoulders, not sure where to touch him, and then they found his hair. Jess ran her fingers through the soft strands then stopped, fingertips on the back of his head as she bravely urged him forward.He waited for her. Hardly let out a breath as he watched her and waited. Like he was leaving it up to her, wanted her to tell him it was okay.
And she didn’t disappoint him. Was powerless to do anything but make the next move. Jessica kissed him like she’d never kissed a man before. Kept her hands on him, drawing him to her, pressing herself closer to him as their lips danced, his arms still wrapped around her.
She only dropped her hold when she knew he wasn’t going to pull away, to run her hands down his arms, drawing in a sharp inhale as she found bare skin.
His lips became more insistent on hers. Teasing her. Showing her how much he wanted her. And oh, did she want him too. More than she’d ever wanted to be close to a man before.
“Ryan,” she said his name again. “Are you sure …”
He just kissed her harder, ignoring her words. She took his lack of reply as a yes.Jessica let her fingers keep exploring, reached the hem of his T-shirt and pushed it up, letting one hand discover the contours of his hard stomach, muscles firm against her touch.
His belly quivered, but he didn’t move. Only moaned against her mouth.
She took it as encouragement.
Jess tugged, breaking their kiss to pull his T-shirt over his head, and Ryan didn’t resist.
He shrugged out of it in a second and had his arms back around her before she could properly drink in the sight of him.
But she pushed him back, lightly.“You have a tattoo,” she whispered.
“Yeah.” He shrugged.
If the sun-kissed golden skin and hard muscles weren’t enough, hadn’t already taken her breath away, the tattoo would have come as more of a shock.She’d never dated a guy with a tattoo before. Had always thought they were for bad-boys, and she’d never gone for that type. But on Ryan? It looked incredible.
“You’re staring.” His voice was low, husky.
Jess gave him a sideways look and smiled. Shyly.
“Does it mean anything special?”
The black ink carved out a beautiful eagle, wings open, covering his entire shoulder and down his upper bicep. She’d never liked the idea of a tattoo, but this was something else. Made him look even stronger, tougher. Exciting.
His response was a shrug. She hoped she hadn’t made him self-conscious.
“It’s a Special Forces thing. I got it after my initiation with all the other snipers.”
She leaned forward, bent to touch her lips to his shoulder, kissing down every inch of the inky black image. She let her fingers trail over the small, dark pink scar that showed where his keyhole surgery had been.
Ryan moaned and tightened his hold on her. It made her smile, pleased that he liked it, that he wanted her touch.
The way he said her name made it sound like a warning. He tugged at her hair, gently, to pull her had back up. She ignored him, slowly running her lips up his neck, making him wait before she returned to his mouth.
She stopped, hovered her lips beside his before kissing him.
Ryan didn’t hold back this time. He took her face in his hands, kissed her again, and then stood, lip still tangled, arms around her body.
He only had to look at her to ask her the question. To tell her what he wanted. The way he watched her, touched her, caressed her, told her everything she needed to know. Left only one question between them.
“Yes,” she whispered, tugging his hand.
He dropped a feather-light kiss to her lips. “Are you sure?”
She tucked in tight against him, nuzzled her mouth to the tender spot between his shoulder and neck, before taking his hand and leading him down the hall to her bedroom.
No, she wasn’t sure. Showing her body to a man again had been something she’d feared since her operation. All she knew was that she wanted to be with this man, right now, more than anything else in the world.
And that meant swallowing her fears and taking a big step forward.
Soraya has a signed copy of the Army Ranger’s Return to giveaway. Leave a comment to be in the draw!
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Millionaire Playboy, Maverick Heiress by Robyn Grady will be posted!