from the upcoming MIX & MATCH 3.1.2022
The Friday night social scene in Heaven N.H. wasn’t the eclectic, happening, busy one she’d grown used to while living in Manhattan. She and her ex had routinely made Friday a date night when his work schedule allowed and they’d attended many a packed jazz bar or bistro over the years. Mood lighting, expensive décor and a drink menu that boasted thousand dollar bottles of wine and champagne had been the norm, along with cocktails going for upwards of twenty-five dollars a glass.
The Love Shack, Heaven’s own answer to the bar scene, was a wooden, rustic, brightly lit establishment with butcher block tables covered in gingham tablecloths and where the most expensive bottle of wine topped out at sixteen dollars. The costliest cocktail served was a four dollar cranberry Cosmo that was heavy on the Ocean Spray and light on the vodka and Cointreau.
Jasmine scanned the bar where Olivia told her her date would be waiting. There were three men scattered down along the rail. Two she recognized from high school and one guy whose face she couldn’t see because his back was to her. When he turned she realized immediately this was not the man she was due to have drinks with.First there was no way this guy was 36 years old. Her mother would have called him Gramps.Clue number two was the wedding band on the hand holding his beer. It was so tight, the skin surrounding it swollen, his knuckle hair squeezed around it, indicating it had been there for decades.Nope. This wasn’t her guy. A cursory glance around the place showed most of the tables were taken with couples.Her date had yet to arrive.
“Hey, Jazz,” the bartender and owner, Kick Loomis said from his perch drying beer glasses behind the bar.
“You squattin’ or sittin’, sweetheart?”She’d been in the place enough times in her life to know he meant was she going to sit at the bar or take a table.
Jasmine was self-conscious enough she didn’t want to be seated on a bar stool, sitting alone while waiting for her date, especially when one of the guys she’d gone to school with tossed her an inquiring eye and a raised eyebrow. She didn’t want to get into a how-you-doing-what-you-been-up-to-since-high school chat. If her memory served, and it always did, the guy had been one of the football heroes of Heaven High back in the day. Those glory days were long gone and she had no desire to listen to him dredge them up.
She spotted an empty table in the corner and nodded toward it.
“I’ll send Raylynn over with a menu.”
She nodded and as she was about to head for it felt a tap on her arm.
“Excuse me. Jasmine?”
She turned at the sound of her name, spoken in a deep, soft voice blessed with a charming accent and found herself face to face with the gorgeous guy she’d spotted in her mom’s office. The one Sharmaine had been sucked on to like a tick
.Good Lord, he was even better looking up close and personal than he’d been, seated, and ten feet away from her. Stunning blue eyes, the color of freshly laid Robin’s eggs topped a face with high cut cheeks and a jaw forged from granite. Midnight hair curled around his ears and caressed the nape of his neck. Layered waves fell across his head in a chaos of perfection.
She’d been right about his height. Most men she could stare straight in the eyes due to her own long legs. But she had to tilt her head back a bit to look into this man’s striking ones.“You are Jasmine, aye?” Even his voice was gorgeous, the song of Ireland singing through it.
She nodded, her own voice deciding now would be a good time to leave on vacation. And when his smile took a slow stroll from one corner of his full, thick lips to the other, showing perfect, straight white teeth, the tips of her fingertips began to tingle like she’d fallen asleep on them and spent the night with them cuddled beneath the weight of her body.
He-of-the-handsome-face stuck out his hand and declared, “Good. Olivia said to meet you here. Donovan Boyd, but everyone calls me Van. Lovely to meet you.”
Jasmine knew she should shake his hand. It was the polite thing to do, wasn’t it? For some reason, her brain wasn’t sending any signals down her arm to lift it up to his outstretched one.
Donovan, or Van, kept his hand out, his smile in place, and ticked his head to the left a hair. A clap of booming laughter rang out from somewhere behind her and finally propelled the gears in her brain to start turning again.
After a head shake where she actually heard her brains rattle, she extended her hand and slipped it into his.
From PRIDE OF BROTHERS: AIDEN ( Currently in production!)2021
Brows pinched together and looking at her through inquiring eyes, Aiden took a breath, let it out slowly, then said, “I have to ask. I’m pretty sure of the answer, but I have to hear it from you first, Lexi.”
She stopped him before he could give a voice to his question by rising up on her toes and fusing her lips to his.
For the second time in the span of a few minutes, her never-resting mind went completely still. No data spewed forth about how humans are the only species who kiss, or the crazy laws about kissing still on the books and punishable by fines or imprisonment in some states, or even that, on average, each person spends about 330 hours of their life engaged in the art of kissing.
No, just as she’d thought she would if ever put in this situation, Lexi kissed him without any thought why she shouldn’t.
It took him less than a millisecond to realize he didn’t need to ask permission at all. His hands dropped from her arms and with subtle speed, wove around her waist, his palms flattening above the dip in her spine, while her hands bolted up his chest to link behind his neck. Torso to torso, hipbone against hipbone, there wasn’t enough room for a sigh to slip between them.
She wasn’t surprised he was a superb kisser. Not that she had a wealth of practical data behind her to compare to, but by virtue of the way her bones liquefied and her heart galloped like a Kentucky Derby frontrunner charging the last quarter mile stretch, it was enough to convince her he knew what he doing.
Boy, did he ever.
She’d pondered on the notion no other man had ever looked at her the way Aiden had. Now she knew no other man had ever kissed her the way Aiden was kissing her: with an all-consuming passion and devotion that brought her to her knees.
His tongue slid along the seam of her lips, parted them and then…plundered. There really wasn’t another word she could call up from her cephalic dictionary to describe it. Although, admittedly, she was a more than willing participant. Warmth engulfed her and she didn’t need a mirror to know her face—and the rest of her body—was flushed scarlet.
Aiden lifted one hand to cradle her jaw, tilted it back and then deepened the kiss even more.
Good golly was the only coherent phrase tripping through her mind. Flattened up against his solid tank of a body was more intoxicating than she’d imagined it would be. The earlier view of the sculpted definition of his naked chest and arms, his trim and tight hips and waist, and the carved washboard corrugations in his abdomen had been food for her eyes. Aiden took care of his body, and thank goodness for that. But to be pressed up against all his strength and hard-bodied sinew, and held there with the most gentle and tender of caresses, made every fantasy she’d ever had pale to this reality.
If he pulled her into one of the nearby restrooms, flipped the lock on the door, and then took her against it, fully clothed, she wouldn’t have protested one whit.
Straight-laced librarian? Yeah, that description was fleeing fast from her professional resume`.
The whoosh of a door swinging open and the sound of giggling teenagers drifted over them. Embarrassment at being caught in such a public display should have overwhelmed her, made her pull out of Aiden’s arms and run to the nearest exit.
But she didn’t, because for the first time in her adult life, Alexis Elizabeth Buckley didn’t care what others thought of her, how they saw her, or what they believed about her.
Lexi didn’t care if they stood in the hallway all afternoon – hell, all night—if it meant Aiden would continue kissing her as if both their lives depended on it.
It seemed he didn’t share her thoughts on the matter because when the chortling teens moved past them he ended the kiss.
Terror kept her eyes closed. The idea he would look repulsed – or worse – exploded through her like a cannonball roaring out of a cannon.
“Open your eyes.”
His soft command had her clamping them shut tighter.
“Sweetheart, open your eyes and look at me.”
Knowing it for a cowardly move, Lexi winked one open, keeping the other closed.
Okay. He didn’t look repulsed—or worse. He looked…confused? Worried, maybe?
Aiden took a deep breath, all his attention focused on her as he smoothed his hands down her arms and gathered her hands in his. “Are you okay?”
All she could do was nod since her voice had decided to take a vacation.
“We’re gonna need to talk about what just happened.” He squeezed her hands. “But it has wait. Right now we need to concentrate on why we came here.”
Lexi swallowed. “Deveroux,” she managed to say in a voice that barely registered.
Aiden flicked his gaze from her face to the end of the corridor. “The line is almost at the end. We should get back on it, be the last ones so we can spend some time with him without his wife hustling us along. Okay with you?”
She must look like a bobble head with the amount of nodding she found herself doing. To hide how truly discombobulated she felt from that mind-blowing kiss, she swallowed, stamped down on the surge of emotions drilling through her, then lifted her chin. Praying her voice had returned to some semblance of normal, she gave him one final, brisk nod, let out the breath she’d been holding and said, “Let’s go.”