Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: 12/16/14
Word Count: 72,000
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
After discovering she's infertile, Lydia Ryder has all but convinced herself that she doesn't need children or a family to be happy. All she needs is her camera, her passport, and a damn good manicure. And maybe, maybe a sexy male travel companion. But when her job as a magazine photographer lands her in the small town of Maple Grove, NH, a precocious ten year old and her single father barge into Lydia's life, turning what she thinks she wants onto its head. In this town full of happily ever afters, Lydia finds herself wishing for things she had sworn off long ago...
When Cameron Tripp's wife passed away from heart disease, he thought he'd never find love again. He certainly never would have expected a woman like Lydia Ryder to waltz into his life and awaken his dormant heart and libido. But despite his better judgment, Cam finds himself drawn to the vivacious and argumentative outsider. He quickly learns that, like him, she knows all about misplaced trust, heartbreak, and how quickly a family can fall apart if you let it.
As impassioned arguments morph into frenzied kisses, the two wonder if one weekend can ever be enough. Despite lacking a maternal side, can Lydia connect with his ten year old daughter? And when Cameron finally learns the true nature of Lydia's article, the trust he worked so hard to build crumbles once again. With such doubts filling their minds, is there any hope that Lydia and Cameron will be able to start a new life together?
It didn't take long before Cam was lying on the floor, face up, a half-empty bottle of wine clutched in a hand. His ceiling fan was so dirty. He'd have to make a mental note to dust up there next time. If he'd even remember in this inebriated state. Do drunk people use words like inebriated? Apparently this one did.
He looked to his left, swiveling his head without lifting it off the floor. Callie was lying face down on his couch. One leg dangled off the edge and knuckles that grasped her bottle of vino scraped the floor. Her cheek was squished making her loose lips pucker. Sensing his stare, she opened her eyes; they were red and bloodshot. “You're so drunk,” she slurred.
“You're an enabebler,” Cam attempted to speak. Clearly it wasn't going well. He could tell in his own head it was wrong and his sister broke out in a fit of giggles.
“This is fun,” she said, “Why didn't we ever do this before?”
“Because you weren't twenty-one before,” he grunted and bringing the bottle to his lips, took another swig. The sweetness wasn't so much of an issue after your sixth glass. And after almost a whole bottle? You didn't even taste it anymore.
Callie sat up on an arm, propping her body in some sort of yoga-like pose that made Cam's back hurt just looking at it. Shit, he was getting old. “Listen, mister. I've been twenty-one for...” she counted on a few fingers, her eyes rolling into the back of her head as though the extra thinking hurt, “many months now. There's no excuse!” Her elbow gave out and she fell back down onto the couch with an oomph.
“Yeah, well, I've got reponsibilities,” he said. “Responsilibilities,” he tried again. “Re-spons-ib-ilities.” There. He got it, finally.
Callie broke out into another fit of girlie giggles and rolled off the couch onto her back next to Cam. He couldn't help but laugh too. And damn it felt good to laugh. It was creaky; unused. But nice, nonetheless. “So seriously,” Callie's eyes were only half open, “who's the city chick?”
Cam groaned. Lydia. Everything came back to Lydia lately. “I need to be drunker if we're going to talk about this,” he lifted the bottle again, the halogen lamp reflecting off the tinted glass. It was noticeably lighter than before.
“C'mon,” she propped herself up on an elbow. “Tell me about her.”
He sighed. “She's...beautiful. Like a sunset on...uh, a summer's eve.”
Callie burst out laughing again. “Okay, I think you've had enough,” she reached across him and took the bottle from his hands. “You just compared a woman to a feminine cleansing product.”
He closed his eyes, picturing her face. That sleek chestnut hair; grey eyes with little specks of gold like his granite countertops; high cheekbones and large, plump lips. When he opened his eyes, Callie was looming over him smiling. “You're thinking about her, aren't you?”
He groaned. “She has a boyfriend. It's a moot point.”
“Did she say it was a moot point?”
“She doesn't have to. She has a boyfriend and she lied about it.”
Callie arched an eyebrow. “Which only proves that she's into you, too.”
Cam thought of the kiss; of her breasts pressed against his body, that silk shirt tickling his skin. “Doesn't matter,” he mumbled. “Boyfriend. In New York. She's leaving.”
“You should sleep with her anyway,” Callie collapsed back onto the floor beside him and he couldn't help but laugh at the statement.
“Okay,” he said, “Now you're the one with the drunken drunk talk.”
“I'm serious! Sleep with her.”
“She has a boyfriend.”
“All the more reason to do it. Neither of you will get attached.”
Katana Collins splits her time evenly between photographing boudoir portraits and writing steam-your-glasses romances. Between navigating life as a small business owner, a first-time homeowner, and a newlywed, Kat is in a constant state of "OHMYGODINEEDCOFFEENOW."
She is the author of the Soul Stripper trilogy, Wicked Exposure, and the graphic novel, Cafe Racer, co-written with Sean Murphy.
She and her comic book artist husband commute back and forth as they please between Brooklyn, NY and Portland, ME with their ever-growing family of rescue animals (up to two dogs and a cat and still counting!). She can usually be found hunched over her laptop in a cafe, guzzling gallons of coffee, and wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes.
Visit her on the web at www.katanacollins.com , on Twitter @katanacollins, or find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/KatanaCollins
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