Behind every stubborn man’s downfall (into love) is a determined woman.
July 17, 2012
WHAT’S BEING SAID:
“Burned is an emotional see-saw with tears of sorrow followed by tears of joy. I laughed and cried, said “awww” and got hot under the collar while following the realistic story of a town full of wonderful characters.” ~ Donna Bryant, You Gotta Read Reviews
Warning: To all the lonely guys out there: beware best (girl)friends and invites for coffee at the crack of dawn. It’s possibly not your double shot mocha latte she’s looking to wrap her hands or her lips around.
Vic Hayes is content with life in Whispering Cove. She owns a successful salon, has great friends and her perfectly manicured nail is on the pulse of the town’s gossip. For real happiness, she’s only missing one thing—a man. Settling for less than the perfect man, though, isn’t in her nature. He just has to see her as more than his best friend.
Widower Hauk Michaelsen always dreamed of escaping Whispering Cove, until single fatherhood, too young, made it impossible. He enjoys his life as owner of the small town pub. Friends, gossip, and his young daughter keep things jumping. He would do anything for his little girl, but he can’t give her the one thing she desires most—a mother.
When Vic and Hauk are teamed up for a Fall Festival project, sparks ignite suppressed flames. Testing boundaries they’ve never crossed, they find themselves eager to risk more—if Vic can convince Hauk that history won’t be repeated if he takes another chance on love.
Vic picked up the lap desk and notepad Sophie had used and set them on the desk on her way to the door. Before turning the light off, she studied the girl for a last moment. The pale coloring she’d gotten from her Norwegian heritage stood in stark contrast to the inky shadows beneath her eyes and the rosy cheeks the fever caused. So like her father, regardless of how bad she felt, her academic drive and generous heart propelled her on.
Rubbing her chest, wondering at the odd feeling, as if she’d been somehow bruised, Vic turned off the light and headed down the small hall to the living room. Hauk entered as she turned the corner. Tiredness tinted his gaze, but there was a power radiating from him she hadn’t noticed before. A sense of determination.
They both froze. Vic trembled from the nape of her neck to the tips of her fingers. Sophie’s paper drifted to the floor.
His piercing blue eyes snapped to hers. Held.
It was a moment they’d had a few times over the years. The kind of moment that made her wonder if they could be more than friends. The kind that tempted her to step forward and see what it would be like to kiss him. To taste him. It was the kind of moment that haunted her dreams and kept her distancing herself from other men.
Despite the scattered moments, she’d never acted on one. At first because he’d been with Krista. Then he’d been with Jean Marie. He’d needed to heal from the first and deal with the second. By the time he’d gotten past those hurts, he’d just given up on possibilities of more.
He started to speak. Stopped. When he finally did speak, he settled on, “How’s Sophie?”
“Is she feeling any better?” Like so many men, he only said what he needed and in few words. Tiredness slowed his tone from its normal steadiness until he sounded brusque.
“Not yet, but with any luck she’ll sleep all night.”
“Unfortunately she’s never been good at staying asleep when she’s sick.”
On top of single-dad duties, he’d been splitting his time between running the bar with a skeleton crew and designing and building a new stage for the festival. She had no doubt he’d pull it all off, but knowing he was in for a long night bugged Vic.
“Would you like me to stay?” Even as she asked, she knew he wouldn’t accept. She stepped forward, feeling suddenly awkward and not liking it. “You don’t have time to join the ranks of the flu-fallen.”
He smiled as she’d hoped, but in spite of his Norwegian ancestry that gifted him with godlike looks, it didn’t brighten his wiped-out gaze. The man was exhausted.
“You should go.” He moved forward but his feet didn’t get a clear signal. He stumbled, whether on the carpet or his own feet she wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter. The momentum carried him toward her in three rushed shuffles.
Fearing he would keep going and knock himself out when he fell, Vic hustled to close the distance between them and stopped his plunge with her arms wrapped around his waist. His weight bearing down on her, his hands against her lower back, fully awakened the awareness she’d sensed when he stepped in moments ago.
Sparks ignited beneath her skin, snapping her body into an instant arousal that paled to that in her dreams. Swallowing, she backed a step away and struggled for something safe to say. Something that wouldn’t send Hauk running.
“I’m staying. You’re going to bed.” Shit. Nothing safe about that.
“Okay.” Hauk’s agreement was more an effect of their closeness than real agreement.
It had to be, because he never would have agreed to her staying overnight. He would worry too much that someone in town would catch on, or Sophie would get ideas, or worse, Vic would get ideas. Too late.
Her mind and body, especially her body, went into erotic overdrive when he didn’t back away either. Arousal filled her, lapping through her in curling waves that ebbed and flowed with warmth and wanting. “Hauk?”
“Hmm?” He set his hands on her hips, tugging her back to him.
He’d never touched her as anything other than a friend, and even those casual brushes of skin had been shielded behind propriety. Unsure if it was from a drop in his guard or hers, Vic was acutely aware of Hauk’s body.
Tall. Lean. Warm. Hard… Everywhere.
She was equally aware of her body’s response to him.
Trembly. Wet. Hot.
Oh sweet damn.
“Sean is waiting.”
“What?” she whispered as she raised her head to find Hauk staring down with…was that hunger? Sean was nice, but really not her type. Why bring him up? “Who cares?”
They stood at a boundary they’d never acknowledged, discussed or crossed. A boundary she wanted only to obliterate.
Rising up to her toes, with her body rubbing against his deliciously, she eased closer to his lips. Answering her desire, he held her closer, his head lowering slowly toward her lips.
The kiss was nothing more than a light caress.
They both pulled back. Vic traced a finger along the outline of her lips and hummed. “Do you think…? Would you…”
Hauk leaned in and kissed her. Again it was only a gentle touch. Tentative. Barely there. Lingering a moment longer.
They both pulled back. Again Vic touched her lips and hummed.
“Awful?” he asked.
She shook her head once with her eyes mostly closed. “A little weird.”
“Yeah.” Again he brushed his lips across hers. “But worth repeating.”
“Yeah.” She leaned in and pressed her lips to his.
The next brush was tentative, but long enough. A spark ignited a chain reaction that lit a fuse. With an almost unheard “hmm”, Hauk lifted Vic until she was flush against him and her feet dangled in the air. Lips level without the need to bend or stretch, they explored each other.
Slow sweeps of lips rapidly became rough rushes of tongues. The burning fuse fried Vic’s nerves, leaving only raw sensation and growing heat in its wake. Burying her hands in his blond hair, thrilling at the extra length since he’d missed his last two appointments, she wrapped her legs around his waist.
He was her best friend. She’d always loved him but had never imagined he would show any interest in her. Whatever had changed his mind, she wasn’t arguing.
The move settled her pussy directly against his dick. He was thick and hard. She was wet and swollen. Neither of them could hide their reaction to the other. She loved that he didn’t try. Yet.
“Damn, Vic.” He panted when he eased back.
“Ditto, Hauk.” She only gave him a moment to breathe before reclaiming his mouth.
She tensed the muscles in her thighs for concentrated control and slid her body against his. The line they’d never crossed blurred with each pounding pulse of their hearts, and she didn’t give a damn because nothing would make her regret Hauk’s touch.
Her belly jumped with nervous energy. It was a sensation she’d only felt once, the night she’d decided to give up her virginity—an experience she’d never regretted. Spurred by the memory, by the hope for another amazing memory, Vic tightened her hold on Hauk and kissed a little deeper.
Their tongues shifted from sliding caresses to tangling thrusts. Fluid relaxation whispered through Vic’s muscles, taking them from knots of tension to tendrils of flame. Her arousal was as tangible as Hauk’s lean body as she curled into him. Committed the feel of him against her to memory.
Encouraged by her responses and apparently eager to continue, Hauk carried her to the sofa. He sank. She straddled. He gripped her hips. She stripped off his shirt.
Vic took in Hauk’s work-toned torso and, like a clichéd teen with a crush, licked her lips. She’d seen him without shirts, and loved each treat, but somehow with her palms flattened on his pecs, he seemed bigger than she’d thought. Firmer.
“Vic, are we really going to do this?”
Please, yes. “I’m game if you are.”