Today’s first kiss is between Moira Cleary and her lifetime best friend Quentin Stapleton from THERE’S NO PLACE LIFE HOME, the second book in my MacQuire Women series. Q has been in love with Moira since they were kids, but she’s been clueless. When he finally tells her how he feels, and kisses her UNLIKE a best friend, well, their love story really takes off.
Moira felt an intense overwhelming emptiness engulf her when he left. She started to open the front door but stopped when Quentin abruptly turned back and started up the porch steps again.
“I forgot something,” he told her.
When he came up the last step and crossed to her, he said, “this,” and without another word pulled her into his arms.
Her first and last coherent thought was her best friend was going to kiss her goodnight. After a heartbeat, she forgot the best friend part and knew down to her toes friendship had nothing to do with this.
His lips slid across her mouth, soft and gentle, testing, tasting. Moira’s mind went blank as she succumbed to the sensation of them, hot and hard, pressing against hers in a kiss like none he’d ever given her before. Slowly, he traced her bottom lip with the tip of his tongue, silently asking her to open for him. When she did, he entered her mouth and began to explore, each movement becoming more demanding, more insistent. Moira fell against him, fisting his jacket lapels to steady herself. When she felt his heartbeat pounding under her hands, she grew lightheaded with need. Quentin framed her face with his fingertips, softly tugging down on her chin, changing the angle of the kiss.
She’d been kissed before, but never, never with such all consuming need and longing. She heard a deep moan and was shocked to realize the sound had escaped from her. One of Quentin’s hands left her face to slide down her back. When he pushed against her backside and molded her body to his, Moira’s stomach jumped. This time, though, it wasn’t with the painful contractions she’d come to expect, but with a heart- stopping craving.
A craving for him.
She unfurled her hands from his jacket and, without thought, wound them upwards, weaving them over his shirt collar and up through his hair. She grabbed onto the ends, pulled his head down closer, and held on fast.
All aspect of time was lost. Nothing mattered but the delicious feel of his strong hands caressing her back and the taste of him as his tongue mated with hers.
This couldn’t be happening. It had to be a dream.
But no dream had ever made her want like this, feel like this. When he skimmed his lips across her jaw and down her throat, stopping to take her lobe into his mouth, Moira knew this wasn’t a dream. That same feeling she’d had when she looked at him in the movie steeped through her again, tickling her stomach muscles. With a jolt, she realized the sensation was desire. Pure and simple.
Quentin pulled back and stared down into her face. With a heavy sigh, he laid his forehead against hers, a small grin tugging at the corners of his lips.
“I’ve wanted to kiss you for so long. So damn long.”
He traced one finger lazily down her jaw and across the lips he’d just caressed, silencing her. “Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”
Confused, Moira nodded. She licked her lips, running her tongue across his caressing finger. The hiss that blew from him made her thighs shake.
Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you may now kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around, and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”
Moira tried to conjure the scene. “I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”
He nodded. “The exact quote was ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”
Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever going to kiss me like that.”
“He wasn’t known for tact back then,” he said, rubbing a hand down her back as he held her next to him in the soft lamplight from the porch. The soothing, rhythmic smoothing of his hand made every nerve on Moira’s body stand at attention.
“Later on that day, behind the barn, remember what happened then?”
Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire.
When she merely nodded, he traced a kiss across the area he’d just caressed, and said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you—quote—felt safe with me—unquote.”
“What was I? Eleven?” she said, finally finding her voice, and unnerved to hear it whining.
“Thirteen. We both were, and I was more than willing to do it. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”
His lips twitched at the corners when he said it, and Moira felt the warmth of her blush intensify.
“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hand resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”
“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”
Moira stared up into his eyes, warm and moist, shimmering under the subtle porch light. “Where is this coming from? You’ve never said anything like this, never acted like this, before. Ever.”
He took a breath and tucked her head against his shoulder, rubbing her back with both of his hands. His chest was made of granite, hard and solid and Moira felt so secure in his embrace. So comforted and so safe. If he never let go of her, she knew she wouldn’t mind in the least.
He didn’t speak for a few moments. Then, he pulled back, gazed down into her face and Moira didn’t need verbal answers to her questions. The look of blatant need and craving was so strongly etched in his eyes as he peered right through her, and for a moment, all she could do was stare, motionless. It was the same expression she’d seen on his face the night of her welcome home dinner. Then, she hadn’t known what to make of it. She couldn’t put a name to what she was seeing etched in his chiseled features.
Now, she knew.
He brought his lips to hers again in the gentlest of touches.
“I want you, Moira. More than I’ve ever wanted anyone or anything, in my entire life. I’ve always wanted you, from the time I knew what it meant.” He chuckled and added, “probably even before then. I haven’t gone a day in too long to count when I didn’t think of you and want you with me. There have been so many times the past few years when I’ve wanted to take an extended leave from the practice and go fly to wherever you were performing, just to see you. Obligations, though necessary, can be a bitch, and the time never allowed it. When Pat told me you were coming home, I thought, good. Finally. Home court advantage.” His lazy grin spread with the words.
“I never knew,” she said, tears springing up. “You never gave me any indication. All these years, you’ve never hinted at this. In any way. Why not?”
He shook his head. “I know. I didn’t know how you’d feel about it. We’ve been friends forever. I don’t have a childhood memory that doesn’t include you. We’re everything friends should be. But this is a different feeling, Moira, from friendship. So different.”
His voice broke on the last word as he claimed her mouth again, deepening the kiss instantly, and knocking her back emotionally.
“I won’t push you,” he said into her hair, kissing her temple. “You need to get used to the idea, I know. I don’t want anything to change between us.”
“How can it not?” she asked, the tears spilling over. “It changes everything, Quentin. You know it does.”
His thumb swiped softly at the drop of moisture cascading down her cheek.
“It doesn’t have to. We’re still us. We’re still the same. I won’t ever lose you as a friend, Moira. I can’t. You’re as much a part of my life as I am of yours. Our friendship will never change. It hasn’t in all these years you’ve been gone.”
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