Tired of living under the shadow of her mother’s bad choices, Autumn Maddox left home the first chance she got. But when her carefully constructed life crumbles around her, Autumn’s forced to return to the small southern town that never let her forget she came from the wrong side of the tracks.
Jude Southerland, the town doctor, is used to taking care of people and with a pedigree that has the Ladies Auxiliary reaching for their fans, he’s easily the town’s most eligible bachelor – a status he has no intention of changing. That is until he almost runs down the Maddox girl he never noticed in school and suddenly finds her lush curves, dark curls and blue eyes consuming his thoughts, day and night.
Autumn would like nothing more than to live happily ever after with Jude. But with every local matron in the valley trying to marry him off to their own daughters, she knows they won’t let her forget that she’s not good enough and never will be. With the chance to finally find happiness, can she overcome her family history and find the confidence she needs to believe in herself or will she let love pass her by?
gone and Autumn had come home anyway, unemployed and almost broke. She took a
swallow of her cold coffee and grimaced. She’d been sitting in the diner booth
longer than she realized. She tucked a five dollar bill under her mug and rose,
smiling at the row of curious locals watching her from the counter.
walked out into the bright noon sun. She needed to see the lawyer about Gran’s
estate, but first she wanted to thank the doctor who’d taken care of her until
the end. When she called home, Gran had gone on and on about that “nice
Southerland boy,” how smart he was and handsome.
Travis Southerland. She thought she’d heard he was in the service now, but he’d
been a handsome jock from one of the founding families – very respectable, very
upper middle class. Nice enough if completely out of her league. She didn’t
know Jude. He must have graduated before she started high school.
the blare of a car horn. The driver of the Jag glared at her from behind the
windshield. Autumn raised her hands and mouthed “Sorry, sorry.” The driver
glared on, shaking his head in disgust.
without paying attention wasn’t her best move, but she’d been distracted. No
one was hurt. He didn’t need to keep staring at her like he thought she was too
stupid to live. When he didn’t move on,
she held up her hands and arched her eyebrows in the uniform gesture of “What?”
Unfortunately, instead pulling the car forward, he opened the door and climbed
out. He was tall with broad shoulders and narrow hips. His sandy-brown hair was
barber shop short and his chiseled jaw clean shaven. He was an impressive
specimen of male beauty. Under other circumstances she might have found him
attractive, but right now his hazel eyes flashed with anger as he walked
trustworthy smile on her face. “Nice car.”
willing to bet he looked crazier than she did. He practically vibrated as he
stared down at her. She wished for higher heels instead of the pale pink ballet
slippers she’d put on with her flower print dress. She’d like to be closer to
looking him in the eye rather than straining her neck up to meet his angry
gaze. At least she could hide behind the sunglasses.
she was explaining something to a small child instead of a raging Viking. “It
wasn’t very smart of me. I’m sorry, I was a little distracted.”
of my car. I could have killed you.” The look on his face suggested he might
have reconsidered not running her down.
Without thinking, she laid a reassuring hand on his arm and fought the flutter
in her stomach at the feel of his muscles bunching through the thin cotton. It
had been too long since she’d touched a man even casually.
looking down at her hand.
She ramped up the wattage of her smile. “You better move your car. You’re
blocking the road.”
car stopped in the middle of the road and then shook his head before turning to
go. “Be more careful,” he tossed back at her as he got in the car and drove
to shake her head. “Have a nice day!” she called to the receding tail lights.
office, the pretty, slightly harried nurse told her the doctor would be out for
several hours. Autumn thanked the woman both for the information and for
helping with her grandmother and told her she’d come back later to see Dr.
decision to walk to the lawyer’s office when she finally made it to the grand
old house in the center of downtown which housed Coles, Esquire. She climbed
the steps to the porch and paused to catch her breath before opening the front
woman behind the desk. The reception area was in what once must have been the
parlor with its long narrow windows and beautiful molding. Whoever refurbished
the home obviously appreciated older buildings.
Coles.” She glanced at her watch. “I think I’m a little early. Autumn Maddox.”
you.” The older woman’s face softened. “I’m so sorry for your loss, dear. I’ve
known your grandmother for years. I was very fond of her. I’ll miss her.”
stinging her eyes. The woman’s kind words held none of the judgment she’d felt
from some of the other women who had expressed their sympathy. “Thank you, Mrs.?”
appreciate hearing that. I miss her, too.” She willed away the tears, threatening
to spill. She didn’t want to cry – not here.
patted her arm. “I know you do, child. Marion was so proud of you.”
none of the recrimination she’d felt from so many of the others for why she
hadn’t been able to make it home before now. “I wanted to make her proud.”
for a box of tissues on her desk and handed one to Autumn before taking one for
herself. “Now,” she said, dabbing at her eyes. “Go on back before I turn into a
puddle.” She shooed Autumn down the hall to a closed door at the end.
male voices coming from behind the door. Two male voices. She walked back to
the reception area.
someone in with him already.”
not business. Go ahead. Go on in. Otherwise the two of them will forget they
both have work to do.”
tone and the twinkle in her eyes let Autumn know Mrs. Mayhew liked the two men.
door and heard the conversation on the other side stop.
like melted caramel called from the other side.
time to see the attorney, Mr. Coles, rise from behind his desk. He was tall and
broad with none of the softness around the middle she’d seen on so many of the
men around town. He towered over her, but his smile was warm and friendly.
extended his hand, capturing hers with his strong warm fingers. He held her
hand in both of his. “It’s nice to finally meet you in person. Although I wish
it was under more pleasant circumstances.”
face. That was two very attractive men in one morning, but unlike the surly man
in the Jag, Mr. Coles was a civilized attorney. She put a little more energy
into her smile. She wasn’t interested in starting anything with anyone – at
least not until she got the rest of her life sorted – but she’d forgotten how
feminine a Southern man could make a woman feel. The attention was a balm to
her bruised ego. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Mr. Coles. Please, call me
Autumn.” Without conscious effort on her part, the drawl her time in the city
had worn away deepened.
father. Where are my manners? Forgive me.” The charming Andrew Coles directed
her attention to a man standing beside one of the chairs in front of the desk.
“Autumn Maddox, this is Dr. Jude Southerland.”
man who her gran had been so enamored with and found herself staring up at the
Viking with the Jag.
not recognizing Autumn Maddox. He knew she looked familiar, but he’d been so
shaken by almost running her over. He hadn’t connected the pretty, flighty
woman with her riot of curls with the polished woman in the stylish black dress
and pulled back hair from the funeral.
Stupid. It’s not like the town was full of dark haired strangers. But
her huge sunglasses hid her piercing blue eyes. He would have known her
instantly if he could have seen her eyes.
looked at him like he was an escaped mental patient. He could almost hear her
thinking to herself “Don’t startle the crazy man.”
Miss Maddox over with my car.” He smiled down at her, trying to project
competence and calm.
leaving.” He turned his attention back to Autumn, ushering her to a chair.
for Autumn to say something about it being her fault for stepping in front of
him or to acknowledge him at all, but all her attention was focused on Andrew.
“I was just leaving,” he repeated. His best friend waved him away.
them, Autumn and Andrew were trying to out-charm each other.
interested in her – not really. Okay, she was beautiful. That was undeniable.
She’d been polished perfection at the funeral, poised and perfectly appropriate.
He assumed she was one of those successful career types, driven and at least a
little selfish. Marion adored her, and the woman couldn’t find time to make a
trip home. Family was everything to him. Definitely not his type.
curls and lush curves in a flower print dress which nipped in at her waist and
showed off the gentle swell of her breasts. The pretty pink shoes emphasized
her height – or lack or it – and made a man want to pick her up and tuck her in
looked like Andrew would like nothing better. Which was fine, because Jude was
his office, stepped down to cross the street and swore as he heard the car
window of her Buick LeSabre and peered out at him. “Oh Dr. Southerland, I’m so
sorry. Are you okay?”
fine.” She’d known him all his life. He and his brothers had broken her window
when they were kids, but she still insisted on calling him doctor and there was
no way he’d use her first name. “I should have been paying better attention.”
on your mind. The weather is starting to aggravate my bursitis again.”
set up an appointment and we’ll take good care of you.”
starting to pile up behind Mrs. Overstreet’s car. It was only a matter of
seconds before the honking started.
Overstreet,” he said and crossed the street before she could ask him anything
on the table and picked up his scotch.
a haze of cigar smoke. “I’ve had crap all night.”
what you got.” Adam and Blake were Jude’s younger twin brothers, but Adam
insisted being born first made Blake the younger brother.
He scooped up the pile of nickels.
the empty bowl and headed into Andrew’s kitchen.
men, how can you still eat like seventeen year olds?” Andrew followed the twins
into the kitchen.
a bag of chips and another beer and Jude rolled his eyes.
mean streets of downtown lately?” asked Jude.
sheet of wings into the bowl and grabbed his own beer.
side of thirty-five. That’s when it all changes,” said Andrew, taking a puff on
his cigar. “High metabolism my ass.”
swallow of scotch. His apartment above the doctor’s office was a couple of
blocks away from Andrew’s house. He usually walked to their weekly poker games
so he didn’t have to worry about driving after. They’d been meeting like this
since the twins got back from college and the police academy and settled into
their places in the community. Early on they decided Andrew had the nicest
house and the best food. And the best scotch, thought Jude, taking another
swallow of the smoky amber liquid.
for dinner,” Andrew declared as he sat back down at the table.
choked. “Easy old man.” Blake pounded on his back.
moving away from his brother’s fist. “I’m okay. Why Autumn?” He knew why. It’d
been two weeks since he almost ran her down and he hadn’t been able to forget
her. He could still see her impossibly blue eyes and remember the way she
smelled – flowers and something warmer, spicier. He did not want to think about
his best friend with the woman he couldn’t get out of his head.
sister?” asked Adam.
granddaughter,” said Andrew. “Her gran left her the house. I’m handling the
brought him in a half dozen times – everything from domestic abuse to minor
drug charges. He’s never done real time, but he should have.”
With as much time as he’d spent thinking about her the past two weeks he
couldn’t believe he hadn’t put it together sooner.
and sister named Smith. But I don’t remember seeing an Emory on the papers,”
said Andrew. “Oh god, the guy from our senior year. The one who killed himself
and his little brother in that crash out on Route forty?”
shocked. He couldn’t imagine losing any of his brothers or sisters like that.
Let alone two at one time. It must have devastated her.
Blake set the bag of chips on the table, picked up the cards and started to
shuffle. “Colin was a prick in school.”
girlfriend in the miniskirt and hooker heels from the funeral didn’t seem to
have much in common with the pretty charming young woman he’d met in Andrew’s
office. She had even less in common with the reckless kid he barely remembered
from senior year.
special.” Andrew took a sip of scotch and leaned back in his chair. “She’s
sweet, funny and gorgeous. She has the bluest eyes and dark, sexy curls perfect
for sinking your fingers into.”
friend reduce Autumn to a list a characteristics, yet he couldn’t help but nod in
agreement. Those blue eyes had shown up in his dreams on more than one occasion
in the past few weeks.
and eminently fuckable.”
appreciation at Andrew’s description and Jude wondered who he should pound
first, his brothers or his best friend. Everything inside him screamed Mine, which made no sense at all. She
probably remembered him because of the car thing, but he didn’t have any reason
to think she liked him let alone liked him like that.
to take her out for dinner and anything else she’s up for.”
word held enough force to have the three other men turning to look at Jude,
stared at him, waiting.
something to say that would take the focus off of his reaction. “I just meant
she’s not planning on staying in town, is she? Her whole life is back in the
didn’t seem in a hurry to get back to whatever she left.” Andrew looked at him,
still puzzled. “And I wasn’t talking about marriage, just having a little fun.
She looks like she’d be a lot of fun.”
tightened. There was no way Andrew was going to be “having a little fun” with
Autumn. Not if he had anything to say about it.
he be tired of that?” asked Blake while Adam coughed and nodded.
their fair share of women. Hell, he had, too. They were honest about their
intentions, and hurt feelings – if there were any – rarely went beyond minor
disappointments. But the idea of Autumn being someone’s good time was more than
he could stand. He flexed his fists and gritted his teeth.
him, appraising. “I didn’t think you even knew her.”
shaking his head. “You like her. Fine, if you want her, I won‘t ask her out,
but you better hurry. I’m not going to wait forever.”
himself get roped into asking out Autumn Maddox, but if it kept Andrew from
sniffing around her, he’d take it.
day tomorrow.” Jude tossed back the last of his scotch in a hurry to get away
from his friend’s too perceptive gaze. He stood, steadying his chair when it
wobbled. He wasn’t drunk – not exactly – but that last drink went down quick.
Good thing he walked to Andrew’s. Otherwise he’d have to wait until he sobered
up, or even worse, hitch a ride with one of his brothers. “Later,” he said,
making his way to the door before anyone could say anything else about Autumn.
house. He’d had more to drink than usual, and he thought a walk would sober him
up. It was cool, but not cold. Summer was over, and fall hadn’t really begun
yet. After the heat and smoke of Andrew’s place, the cool air helped clear his
replaying his reaction to his friend’s intention to date Autumn. It didn’t make
sense. He didn’t know her, but his gut didn’t seem to care. When he thought
about her with Andrew, his stomach tightened.
own intention to ask her out.
women. One of them gave the other a look and they knew that one was off limits.
It didn’t require them to talk or share their feelings and up until tonight, it
had worked beautifully. But he didn’t have any illusions. If he didn’t hurry up
and ask Autumn out, Andrew would do it just to fuck with him. What were best
had taken him until he looked up from his feet and into the window of Marion
Maddox’s pretty if slightly worn, Victorian. Unlike the stately homes nestled
on the tree-lined streets in the older part of town or the few plantation
houses like the one he’d grown up in that stood while the town spread around
them like live oaks, the Maddox place was a little jewelry box of a house. The
paint was peeling and the gingerbread trim had fallen off in places, but it was
impossible to see the house and not picture what it must have looked like in
attention. Silhouetted in the window, Autumn brushed her hair. The thin cotton
gown she wore offered no obstacle to his hungry gaze. If anything, the shadow
of the fabric, translucent in the light, accentuated her lush curves.
way her waist dipped to meet the roundness of hip and gently curving bottom.
Jude stood on the sidewalk transfixed. He should turn away. He knew he was
seeing something private. She couldn’t know how the single light from the
dresser exposed her.
just a minute he’d turn from the window and wind his way back to the apartment
above his office.
body sideways and raising her arm to brush her hair.
the brush through her hair and the position showed the outline of her breast,
the soft swell and pointed tip clearly visible beneath the cotton gown. His
mouth actually watered.
and turn away and then tomorrow he’d ask her out. Solid plan, turn and walk
away. Just turn.
Autumn turned to face him. Realizing how bad it would look to be caught leering
at her from the sidewalk, Jude backed up fast. Too fast given the last scotch.
He stumbled, catching himself before he fell, but it was enough time for her to
reach the window and throw open the sash.
you’re doing out there?” She leaned out the window to stare at him. “Jude? Jude
Southerland, what are you doing peeking in my window?”
were there – the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I wanted to turn away but
I was spellbound.
Anyone walking past here could see everything.” Smooth, very smooth. She’d definitely have dinner with him now.
Christ, he ought to just call Andrew and tell him to go ahead; Jude was out of
the equation. The thought made his fists clench.
dresser down to her nightgown. He could tell the moment she realized what she’d
been showing off because she wrapped her arms around her breasts, hugging
herself tight. But she didn’t back up or hide in shame.
to stand on my sidewalk like some kind of peeping Tom, Dr. Southerland.” She
punched the word doctor and he knew he was screwed. It was the same tone Mary,
his momma’s housekeeper, used to use on him or his brothers when they’d tracked
mud across her clean floors or eaten the pie that was meant for dinner.
seemed the best choice. Out of options, he bowed his head to her and turned and
walked away without another word or backward glance.
this; seduce Jude into mind blowing sex with no commitment. Piece of cake.
ancient fridge and bent to look inside. If only she had some cake. Looking
harder didn’t put more food in her refrigerator. Pizza, jug of cider and thanks
to a late night snack and breakfast, a quarter of the pot pie from yesterday.
Jude brought the beer and soda, and she had some wine. Her gaze landed on the
plain white bakery box pushed to the back of the fridge by the pizza box. Apple
dumplings. How could she forget those?
fridge,” she called, tugging to try to get box with the apple dumplings past
the pizza. “Do you want pizza or…” She stood, clutching her treasure, and
walked into Jude.
and he reached out to steady her. She looked down at the dented box and then up
into his eyes, more green than brown in the kitchen light.
it on the table and looked down at her, scanning her face for a moment before
his gaze rested on her mouth. He bent his head and brushed her already parted
lips with a kiss that managed to be hungry and tender at the same time.
sliding around his waist and up his back. The muscles of his back bunched under
the worn cotton of his t-shirt as he hauled her up against him and kissed her
senseless. She gave as good as she got, nipping his lip, tasting and teasing
him, and smiled into his mouth when she felt him shudder under her hands.
backwards until they bumped into the table. Nibbling along her jaw, he buried
his face in her curls and kissed the tender skin behind her ear. Her head fell
back so – please God – he’d do it
again. He did, nipping, nibbling, and kissing his way along her neck from her
ear to her collarbone.
trembling start. Head back, eyes closed, defenseless under his mouth, she felt
the world shift and then realized he’d lifted her in his arms. She reached out
to brace herself as he sat her on the table between the bakery box and the bowl
of apples. Sliding the box to the side, he caught her mouth and kissed her hard
before pulling back to look at her.
reached for the hem of her t-shirt, watching her face as he lifted her shirt
revealing her blue lace bra. She held her breath and raised her arms so he
could peel off the shirt. His eyes darkened from green to brown and his lips
parted on a sigh. The expression on his face made the breath catch in her
throat to the tops of her breasts and she clutched the edge of the table. Her
breasts tightened under his teasing touch, nipples pebbling in anticipation. He
kissed his way down her neck to her shoulder, sliding her bra strap down her
arm and licking the mark it made on her skin.
solid strength of his bare arms under her hands. His head moved in front of her
as he repeated the process with her other shoulder and she breathed in the
scent of him, some kind of spicy citrus and warm man.
of her chest until his warm breath tickled the tops of her breasts. He licked
under the edge of the lace and her nipples tightened to impossible points,
aching for the warmth of his mouth. Reaching for him, she tried to guide his
head with her hands and let out a frustrated noise when the bra straps caught
one she felt the hooks on her bra give way under his fingers. He stepped back
and she shrugged loose from the blue lace, baring her breasts to him.
words like a prayer.
need. She clung to the edge of the table and arched her back, offering herself
to him. One hand cradled her back while the other cupped her breast and then
his mouth was on her and she lost her mind. He molded her breast with his hand
while his hot mouth suckled her, drawing the tight peak deep into his mouth.
feels so good.”
shoulders frantic for his mouth on her tender skin. Sliding her fingers into
his hair, she held him to her and felt his hungry groan rumble through her
table, she scooted closer to the edge, wrapped her legs around him and pulled
him tighter into the v of her body. It had been so long since she’d been
intimate with anyone and she wanted him so much. She felt her own wetness
seeping through the yoga pants as she rocked into the long, thick length of
him. With his mouth suckling her and his hard erection pressing against her
hot, wet core, she could almost go off.
fought a disappointed whimper. Leaning back, he put enough space between them
to slip his hand into her pants and inside her. Her disappointment turned into
heat, flaring from her core and spreading through the rest of her body. She
clenched around him, crying out as he curled two fingers inside her and
stroked. He pressed small circles on her clit with his thumb while the strong
slender fingers of his doctor’s hand found the spot just inside her opening and
set up a rhythm which threatened to have her thrashing off the table.
and tried to reach the button on his jeans. She wanted him inside her, wanted
to feel him lose control with her, but he dodged, keeping just out of her
his hand drove her relentlessly toward her climax.
lip, licking and teasing her with his tongue. When the orgasm crashed over her,
he caught her cries with his mouth, kissing her and holding her tight while
waves of pleasure rolled through her and she came apart in his arms.
eyes he was staring at her, his eyes dark and glassy with desire. She felt him
draw a deep shuddering breath and saw something which looked like uncertainty
pass through his eyes.
still swollen from his kisses and reached for the button on his jeans.
air replace the heat from his body. His hand cupped her face, tipping it up to
look at him.
said, his breath ragged. “Will you let me love you? Will you love me?”
was that? What did he mean? Her lust addled brain stuttered. He could not be
asking for some kind of commitment from her. This was supposed to be just sex.
the best orgasm I’ve had in…well ever. I’d buy you a pony if you asked me right
now.” She reached for him again and this time when he pulled away she felt cold
and vulnerable. Sitting up straighter, she reached for her shirt.
God, you’re so beautiful.”
was so confused. Why would he want to look at her naked breasts, give her an
amazing orgasm and not want to have sex with her? He was a doctor. Maybe it was
a health thing. “I haven’t been with anyone in over a year. I’ve been tested.”
The test had been part of her company’s new insurance plan, not because she had
sex with anyone in …well too long to remember. “I’m clean.” Ugh. She hadn’t
meant it to sound like that. “I mean no diseases and I’ve got condoms.” She
held the shirt in front of her and fought the urge to hide her head along with
lifted her off the table. She thought they’d go upstairs, although the talking
had cooled some of her passion. Instead he held her tucked tight against his
chest and kissed the top of her head. She felt his heart beat, warm and strong,
through the thin cotton of his t-shirt and breathed in the scent of laundry
soap and man. She also felt the hard length of his erection pressing into her
belly. When she reached for him, he caught her hand.
be making love. I want more than just your amazing body, Autumn. I want all of
you.” She felt him swallow against the top of her head. “I don’t know who broke
your heart, but I’m going to earn your trust. And we will make love.”
decided to try sex without commitment and Jude Southerland, the one man she
didn’t believe she could have a future with, wanted a commitment. What the hell?
him, determined to make some kind of sense out of this crazy situation, but he
silenced her with a kiss. Her arms went around his neck and the press of their
bodies kept her shirt from falling to the ground. She parted her lips, inviting
him in and met his tongue with her own. He groaned, holding her head in his
hands and crushing her mouth with his.
shirt hit the floor.
she almost pushed to get him to take her upstairs. But she didn’t think she
could take it if he rejected her again or worse gave her more earth shattering
pleasure without letting her reciprocate. She crossed her arms over her breasts
and watched him wrestle with himself.
of here before …I’ve got to get out of here. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he
stuttered as he backed up to the door. He reached behind him for the handle but
before he let himself out, he looked at her determined. “I will earn your
trust, Autumn. And we will make love.”
it behind him and she stood covering her naked breasts with her hands. Well just hell. She bent to snatch up
her shirt and grabbed the mangled box of dumplings and a spoon.
only answer that made sense. He had lost his ever loving mind. Autumn Maddox
stood in front of him with her unbelievably gorgeous fucking breasts naked – in
front of him – and he’d walked out the door. She wanted to have sex with him
and he turned her down. What the hell was
wrong with him?
his arms. He’d watched her blue eyes turn to sapphire when he peeled off her
t-shirt and bared her magnificent breasts. And the way it felt to have her in
his mouth. Jesus. He’d suckled her
and she arched, offering herself to him.
felt her hot and wet for him through those stretchy black pants, and he almost
lost it, dry humping her like a horny teenager. He had to touch her. He had to
claim her somehow. When he slid his fingers into her and she came apart in his
arms, he almost followed her.
and he turned her down because suddenly he wanted more than just sex.
the short drive to his cold, dark apartment. He didn’t want to go home. Max was
staying with Adam. He could go pick up his dog, but not without talking to his
brother and there was no way he could explain what happened tonight to anyone
in his family.
Since when did he have a problem having sex without a commitment? He didn’t
sleep around. He was careful and respectful, but usually his problem, if there
was one, was avoiding hurting a partner who wanted something more serious than
a good time. Now he was the one who wanted more.
his hard-on throb with each step. He wouldn’t be able to walk this one off. He
tossed his shirt on the floor and reached for the button on his paint spattered
jeans. It wasn’t until he slid his jeans and shorts to the floor that he
realized he’d forgotten his shoes. He driven the car and made it the whole way
into his house without noticing his bare feet.
still hard cock leading the way and turned on the shower. Not bothering to wait
for it to get warm, he stepped under the spray and gasped as the cold water hit
his back. He stood, letting the sting of the water pound against him until the
ancient water heater kicked in.
shower, he reached for the shower gel and squirted some of the spicy citrus
soap into his hand. He made quick work of washing his body. Turning his back to
the spray, he rinsed off and let the hot water run off his scalp and down his
could see was Autumn, sitting on her kitchen table, breasts bare, her nipples
tight and red from his mouth and her lips swollen and parted from his kisses.
Autumn offering herself to him, pulling him into the hot v of her body. Autumn
milking his fingers with her spasms as she came in his arms. Under his hands. Under
palm and cupped his balls. He’d been hard for so long they were tight against
his body, aching for release. Tugging and soaping, he worked the wrinkled skin
and imagined her small hands on him instead of his larger stronger ones.
with the beat of his heart. He grabbed it in his soapy hand and worked it up
and down, stroking himself and wishing it was her hot mouth on him instead of
his hands. In moments he groaned his release, but he was nowhere near
satisfied. The only woman who could do that was alone in her own bed across
dresser lit the jade walls, turning the room into a celadon box. She pulled her
hand from his and went to the window to close the lace curtains. When she
turned to face him the naked desire in his eyes stopped her steps for a moment.
Taking two strides to meet her, he touched her hair and slid a finger almost
reverently across her cheek. “Like something out of time.” He traced her neck
and the edge of her dress with the back of his hand.
skin bloomed to life, tremors of pleasure following the warmth of his fingers.
When he cupped her face and drew her to him for a kiss, she melted against him.
His hands slid from her cheeks to her hair and then down her back, pulling her
even closer. She felt the hard length of him through the thin polished cotton
of her skirt and instinctively fitted herself to him.
him he groaned and the kiss took on a hungry, more desperate edge. Head tipped
back, lips parted she gave herself over the fire building between them. The
fire he stoked with his hands and lips and tongue.
and this time he didn’t stop himself. He tugged and she felt cool air hit her
back as the fabric peeled away. His hand reached her waist and he pulled back
so he could look into her eyes.
watched his hazel eyes dilate to dark brown as the bodice of the dress fell to
her waist exposing her. The cherry red bra had been a good luck charm. Something
only she knew about which made her feel confident and sexy. From the look in
his eyes, it worked for him, too.
hands to finish unzipping her skirt. The position pushed her breasts forward in
their lace demi-cups. Jude reached for her, catching her hands before she could
finish with the zipper.
in his hand. “Stay just like this.”
heat racing across her skin and then his mouth found her exposed throat and the
heat flamed higher. Holding her in place, he worked his way down her neck to
the sensitive skin of her collar bones, pausing to linger in the hollow at the
base of her throat. She let her head fall back to give him better access and
felt the delicious arch in her back and the press of her breasts against him.
hand, he skimmed her side with the other, leaving a trail of pebbled flesh in
the wake of his touch. His kisses moved lower and his hand slid up until he was
cupping her breast while he kissed the creamy skin above her bra, his tongue
tracing a line along the lace.
everywhere but where she needed him most.
She arched harder, pushing herself against his hand and mouth. Willing
him to move closer to the taut peak. His thumb brushed her nipple and she made
a small needy noise. When his tongue
slid beneath the lace and found the puckered flesh, she cried out for him.
her skin as he rested his forehead against her chest for a moment. She felt his
ragged breathing and knew he wanted her as much as she wanted him.
with her other breast, finally sliding the strap off her shoulder and lifting
her breast from the cup. With excruciating tenderness he pulled her aching
flesh into his mouth. She couldn’t catch her breath, taking short gasps as he
harder and she cried out for him, desperate to have him inside her. Her legs
had to give out. She couldn’t feel so much, be at the mercy of his hands and
mouth and stay standing.
cried at the loss of his hot mouth on her swollen nipple. His hands shook as he
unfastened the clasps on her bra and slid the zipper down on her skirt. He
watched, eyes dark with desire, as she shrugged out of her bra and let the
dress pool at her feet.
breathed the words like a prayer.
cherry red lace panties. The hunger in his gaze was more than enough reason to
fight the urge to cover herself. Feeling the cool air on her skin, she basked
in the heat of his gaze, forcing herself to stay still for a moment when all
she wanted in the whole world was to reach for him.
dropped to his knees in front of her like a man struck and any insecurities
she’d ever had burned away in the naked hunger of his voice. His hands clasped
her hips and he paused letting his head rest against the soft mound of her
finally get her hands on him. Threading her fingers through his hair, she
cradled his head against her. She felt him sigh and the sweet tenderness of
simply touching him threatened to overwhelm her.
almost reverent, just his lips tender and chaste tracing a line across her
belly. Before long they grew hotter, wetter, more demanding. He hooked his
thumbs under the lace and tugged off her panties. She knew he’d be able to tell
how aroused she was. She didn’t think she’d ever been this excited or felt this
much. When his fingers found her, sliding through her silky folds to her core,
she thought she’d fly apart.
so wet for me.” His words sent another rush of heat through her.
fingers inside her and her hands gripped his shoulders. He blew across her
mound teasing the tight, wet curls and then he kissed her open mouthed like she
was something delicious to eat. His tongue teased and flicked across her tight
bundle of nerves and pleasure bloomed and swelled inside her.
rhythm with his fingers, he suckled her swollen needy flesh. Her fingers bit
into his shoulders as she struggled to stay standing. Her breaths came in
shallow gasps and wave after wave of pleasure built under the onslaught of his
mouth and hands.
his demands for her pleasure and she felt the tightening that was at the same
time familiar and completely new.
sensitive flesh but the pace of his fingers inside her never slowed. She didn’t want to come again without him.
She didn’t think she could take a repeat of Sunday, but her body didn’t care.
Jude curled his fingers to stroke the rough patch of skin inside her tight channel
and nibbled and licked the tight bundle of nerves.
pleasure uncoiled and whipped through her. Her climax stole her breath and made
her legs go weak, the trembling in her limbs threatening to knock her off
balance. Using his hands and mouth he drew out every last bit of her orgasm.
to subside, he stood and kissed her. She tasted herself on his lips and the
heat flared again. Gently, he guided her until the back of her knees hit the
edge of the bed. He pushed her down and she climbed into the center of the bed.
with the lingering aftershocks of her climax, she looked up at him with eyes
heavy-lidded with desire. She wanted him more than she’d ever wanted anyone,
more than she thought was possible.
pulled her bottom lip between her teeth and he moved like a man inspired,
stripping off his shirt. He kicked off his shoes and slid his pants and boxers
to the floor. When his erection sprang free, long and thick and hard, she
licked her lips and reached for him. He groaned as her hand closed around him,
all velvet covered steel.
her fingers away. “I have got to be inside you.”
quilt and opened herself for him. He made a strangled sound and then he was on
the bed with her, rolling protection down his length. He palmed her bottom,
raising her hips and in one smooth movement, he slid into her.
started to move, long smooth strokes which touched every part of her. “I’m not
going to last.” He groaned but it didn’t matter. She was already spiraling up
to another delicious climax. When she felt the tightening start again, she
leaned up and nipped at his throat.
him swell and then pulse deep inside her, and then she was coming too,
fracturing and shattering into a million pieces in the strength of his arms.
Autumn has insecurities because of her family, but is still open, friendly and caring. Her desire to protect and care for her family, her willingness to do whatever it takes, is impressive.
Jude is a sexy, caring doctor who looks beyond what everyone else sees and comes to love Autumn, he wants a real relationship with her despite their differences.
I’m a sucker for a man who is good with children and reading about his affection for little Abby, I fell in love with him right along with Autumn.
I’m looking forward to reading book #2 of the series. ~Reviewed by Jai
that night’s dinner while Jen shaped the yeasty rolls.
smoothing the small ball of dough with her hands and setting on the tray with
the others to rise. “You went for your walk at your normal freakishly early
time and Spencer was waiting for you?”
didn’t even know they rented out the Newport Cottage.”
the second tray of rolls. It was always a guess as to how many to make. Sunday
dinner could be busy and they didn’t want to run out, but they were closed the
next three days. Any rolls they had left over wouldn’t even be good for
croutons by Thursday. “I can’t imagine voluntarily waking up early for, well
anything. And he got up just to see you. Hot damn.”
wouldn’t get up early because the kids never let you sleep.” Bailey peeled the
woody end of the asparagus spear and stood it next to the others in the bowl of
likes you. A lot.”
early morning walk,” she said yet she couldn’t help but smile. It felt good to
have someone’s interest without having to work so hard for it.
you and he’s yummy. Really yummy. You could grab handfuls of that wavy hair and
get beard burn on your inner thighs.” She paused for a moment, holding a ball
of dough and lost in her own thoughts.
you gonna? And what about Trace?”
going to make a move and I’ve done everything but flash my breasts at him like
a biker chick. I couldn’t have been more obvious. Trace is not going to
happen.” She heard the wistfulness in her voice and stomped it down mercilessly.
he’ll get around to it. I know he likes you. He just moves slowly.”
she glanced around anyway before she spoke. She’d confided in Jen years ago,
but that didn’t mean she wanted the rest of the world to know she was the
oldest living virgin outside of a convent.
sex – at least she was sure she would when she got around to actually having
it. She and her vibrator were good friends and she kept a backup supply of
one too many of the girls she knew have their lives derailed by an unplanned
pregnancy. That and the fact gossip spread faster than lice in the small town
she grew up in and her brothers would kill anyone she had sex with was
effective birth control.
culinary school, she’d been so focused on her career, she hadn’t taken much
time for a social life. And the half drunken fumbles with the few guys she’d
gotten close with hadn’t given her much hope for the act itself. Then there was
the restaurant and all the work and worry to make it a success. She decided to
wait for a grown man, but no one had shown up.
Not until Trace.
one. Someone she could explore sex with and someone she could trust. Maybe even
give her heart to.
going to happen, and she was done waiting.
give it?” she asked, looking up from the asparagus to stare at Jen. “I’m twenty-five.
I’m so far past the time when most people do it, it’s started to turn into this
big weird thing. Enough already. I’m done waiting for someone who may never
come around. He might not even like me that way.”
said with an eye roll.
her flour covered hands up in surrender.
farmer for now and do the hot writer. Everyone’s first time is rubbish anyway.
Practice until you get it right with Spencer and then move on. Unless you think
it could be something more.”
think I could really like him and there is definitely a zing there.” She
thought about how just holding hands with Spencer made her body react.
Definitely a zing. “But he’s going back to the city. I live here.”
moved the second tray of rolls to the other counter and covered it with a
as someone who would be happy living on top of a mountain. Why are we talking about
this anyway?” She put the last asparagus spear into the bowl with the others
and went to place it back into the walk-in cooler. The heavy door closed behind
her and she missed Jen’s response. She set the bowl on one of the wire shelves
and picked up a box of grass fed beef she planned to break down for that
night’s special. “Besides,” she said, opening the cooler door with her hip and
hefting the heavy box in her arms. “I’m not looking for a long term
running into Trace as he set the plastic tub of produce, including more
strawberries than she knew what to do with, onto the metal work table. He
turned to face her, his arms full of pale pink peonies.
the words “tell him.” She had obviously lost her mind.
Bailey said. She took a step closer so she could smell the sweet, feminine
scent of the flowers. “Oh, these are so beautiful.” She stroked the soft petals
of a grapefruit sized bloom. “You must have a ton of them if you can bring me
this many and still have enough for market on Tuesday.”
held the galvanized pot out to her and she took it in her arms, losing herself
for a moment in the overwhelming abundance of flowers.
kissing faces. Bailey turned so she couldn’t see her friend. “I love them.
Peonies are my favorite. Thank you.” She set the flowers on the counter to
admire. “They’re perfect in that pot, too. There’s more than enough here to do
all the tables in the restaurant.”
for upstairs, too.”
reaction to the blooms, she reached out to catch his hand. He didn’t pull away
like he usually did. He held her hand for a moment in his much larger one, warm
and rough from working in the earth. Heat flared low in her belly and she
sucked in a breath.
said. “Let you get ready for dinner.” It took another moment before he let go
of her hand a turned to go.
make sure Trace had closed the door behind him. “I told you he liked you like
collect the vases from the dining room, more confused than she’d been when she
bushes, just shadowy mounds in the gray dawn and grimaced. God, after what
she’d seen yesterday, he wouldn’t be surprised if Bailey had thrown away all
the flowers he’d given her. Unless she was too busy with the writer to even
to spin it for himself. This was a disaster. He’d avoided what he wanted the
most, kept Bailey at arm’s length, so he wouldn’t lose her. Now, with one
stupid misunderstanding, he’d pushed her into the other man’s arms.
beds, his arms loaded down with a tub of the tender green spears. Together they
walked to the barn and started wrapping the asparagus into bundles. They didn’t
talk. There wasn’t any need to, and Trace had learned long ago that even though
he liked to get up before the sun and watch the world wake up, most people
and Jake poured some water in the bottom to keep them fresh. This early in the
season, his customers at the market were so grateful for fresh produce, the
asparagus would be gone before lunch. Trace grabbed one of the boxes of greens
the interns picked that morning and carried it out to the truck.
loaded down with a basket of eggs. She froze when she saw him and stood,
chewing on her lip.
dancing from foot to foot in the cool morning air. “I guess I misunderstood
unyielding and even in the dim light he saw her face fall. “It’s okay,” he
said, deliberately softening his tone. “We can pretend it never happened.”
least, he felt like less of an asshole. Although why he should be the one
feeling like a jerk was beyond him. He hadn’t been the one doing the kissing.
practically bounced off to the barn, swinging the basket in front of her.
finish loading the truck, and by the time he and Amanda and another intern
named Jane were on the road to the farmer’s market the sun was almost up. It
was so early in the growing season, the start of the abundance which continued
through the summer and into early fall. It amazed him what he managed to gather
from his farm before spring was even in full swing.
remaining interns and get the restaurant orders ready. He and the young women
had to hustle to get the vegetables out and showcased before the crowd showed
up to shop before work. He’d just finished stacking big bunches of bright red
rhubarb next to the quarts of strawberries in their green paperboard cartons when
he saw her.
of him had been counting on having a chance to see her. To show her there
wasn’t anything going on with Amanda. He hadn’t counted on Bailey showing up
first thing in the morning with the writer guy.
drive down the mountain? Spencer hadn’t struck him as an early riser. Or had
Bailey rolled over in his arms this morning and nudged him awake? The image of
her naked and warm nestled against the writer’s chest, her hair a sexy mess and
her lips swollen from his kisses was so clear Trace clenched his hands,
crushing the carton of berries he held.
her gaze caught his. As he watched, she reached for Spencer’s hand, raising her
Just fucking perfect.
ground at his feet. When he stood, Bailey and the writer were making their way
to his stall.
his fake work shirts and clean hands. Hands which had touched Bailey. Hands
which were touching her now.
behind Bailey and resting his hands possessively on her shoulders. “Bailey
brought me here to help me fill my kitchen. Although she’s probably going to
have to show me how to cook, too.”
and down over the soft skin peeking out from behind her hair. It was like a train wreck and Trace couldn’t
manage to look away.
kitchens or are you heading home?” He couldn’t keep the hopeful note out of his
while.” He smiled down at Bailey and Trace clenched his fist to keep from
punching the guy. “I moved into one of the cottages so I’d have more room.”
are nice,” Bailey said, deliberately ignoring both men to concentrate on the
Spencer. “Be sure to get some of these.” He picked up a carton of strawberries.
“I miss out on them yesterday, and I want them tonight. We can find some place
to get chocolate to go with them.”
woman he loved with his own strawberries.
stall, Bailey looked uncomfortable. She stared at Trace but when he didn’t
speak, she looked over her shoulder and smiled at Spencer.
in his hands for one with better berries. “We’ll need a dozen eggs and some
before he put his fist through Spence’s face.
presumably for him, but there was no sign of anyone when Trace went into the
house. The senior Southerlands must have gone to bed already to get ready for
their early departure. He didn’t expect anyone to wait up for him, but he
wished he’d thought ahead to ask where he was supposed to sleep.
the sofa. The leather was soft and there were throw pillows and some sort of
knit blanket on the back. He’d certainly slept in worse places. He closed his
eyes with Jude’s “absolutely” echoing in his head, but the sound of women’s
laughter filtered down from upstairs.
they were laughing about, but he was glad after the stress of the day, that the
Southerlands had found something to make them laugh. That Bailey replaced her
haunted look with laughter, even if imagining her in an upstairs bedroom
giggling with her sisters was going to make it damn near impossible for him to
the sound of a door opening and shutting and footsteps on the stairs. He
managed to sit up just in time to see Bailey coming down the stairs, wearing a
T-shirt and soft cotton shorts, back lit by the light from the stairwell.
than some women wore to go out in public, but she wasn’t some woman. The thin cotton did nothing to hide the silhouette of
her ample curves and his hands practically itched to stroke the small of her
back, feel the rise of her hip, and cup the swell of her breast. Bailey saw him
watching her in the dark and stumbled.
said, catching herself. “Did you have a good time?”
was coming closer and he was becoming painfully aware of how little there was
between Bailey’s sweet flesh and his hands. “I’m not sure what to do with
that.” He pointed to the bandana filled with nickels sitting on the coffee
anything to see that look on her face every day.
leave them for Abby. She’d love them. Summer’s little girl,” she said when he
engagement party who kept telling me she was going to be a flower girl,” he
said, smiling at the memory of the little girl leading the black dog as tall as
she was around the party.
to him on the sofa.
wasn’t wearing a bra, the outline of the tight peaks of her breasts clearly
visible through the pale pink T-shirt. He had a quick flash of bending to take
her into his mouth, suckling her through the damp cotton and his mouth actually
watered. He was so lost in his day-dream,
it took him a moment to realize, she’d said something to him and was waiting
for his answer.
desperate to clear it and willing his body back under control. “What did you
hand on his leg.
him? His cock strained like it had a mind of its own, trying to get closer to
here I am keeping you awake.” She gave his thigh a squeeze and he sucked in his
breath. “I just said I could see that Abby got them and tell her they were from
you if you want.”
unsteady. “That would be great.”
carriage house is ready for you. Unless you’re hungry.”
mouth and her words had all his remaining blood heading south. He couldn’t
manage even a no so he shook his head so she’d know he didn’t want to eat.
for his hand.
so she wouldn’t see how hard he was, Trace took her hand and followed her to
the door. His mouth finally unfroze when she turned the knob to go outside.
“You’ll freeze. You don’t even have shoes on.”
grinned. “Neither do you.”
forgotten to slip into his boots.
are feet. Don’t be a baby. It’s not far.”
door before he could say anything else. Frustration warring with desire, he
grabbed a sweatshirt from the hook beside the door and followed her outside.
outside and he could tell by the way Bailey wrapped her arms around herself
that she felt it, too. Damn infuriating woman. He stepped gingerly across the
gravel and before she could protest, he wrapped the sweatshirt around her and
scooped her up in his arms. She laughed and swatted at him as he carried her
the remaining few yards to the carriage house door.
turn the knob and back through the door with her in his arms.
hip, he set her down. Her body slid the length of his and he knew there was no
way she’d miss feeling how turned on he was. Maybe that was a good thing
because he sure as hell wasn’t taking her home tomorrow to go back to the
writer’s bed. Her feet touched the floor but he kept his arms around her, one
hand holding the base of her skull, the other at the small of her back,
pressing her closer.
whole world reflected there in the dim light streaming in through the windows.
Bailey Southerland was everything he wanted – everything he needed – and he was
done trying to pretend he could live without her. He slid his hand up her back,
tangling his fingers in her soft curls and then he took her mouth in a kiss
which held years of pent up desire.
lips soft and warm under his and when he tugged at her full bottom lip with his
teeth, she opened for him with a sigh. He was lost, overwhelmed by desire and
practically shaking because he couldn’t get his hands on her fast enough.
dance that aroused his hunger for her, but did nothing to sate it. He held her head in his hands, cupping it in
a way that showed how very precious she was to him, and his world narrowed to
the single focus of kissing Bailey. Tasting Bailey. Loving Bailey.
along her jaw to the tender skin behind her ear. When he nipped at her earlobe,
she trembled in his arms. Desperate for her, he slid his hands under the soft
cotton hem of her T-shirt and over the warm skin of her sides to – dear God –
her naked breasts, full and heavy in his hands.
her nipples tighten under his thumbs. Pushing her T-shirt up, he wrapped an arm
around her waist holding her in place for him while the other hand cupped her
breast. Bending, he took her in his mouth and suckled her, her nipple
impossibly tight and impossibly sweet on his tongue. Her cries had his cock
straining at the denim of his jeans and he had a flash of worry that he would
come just from the simple joy of having his mouth on her flesh.
her with his lips and tongue, pausing only to move from one breast to the
other. She arched in his arms, offering herself to him, threading her fingers
in his hair and holding him to her breast. When he slipped his hand under the
elastic waist of her shorts and found out she wasn’t wearing panties, he
groaned with sweet torment, his mouth still around her nipple. Sliding a finger
through her damp curls, he parted her lips and found her wet, slick and hot.
around the tight bud of her clit. Continuing to stroke her swollen flesh, he
ran a trail of kisses up her throat and along her jaw. Claiming her lips as he
drove her on, he caught her cries of pleasure with his mouth and drank them in
with the intoxicating taste and feel of her.
I enjoyed getting to know Bailey in Feels Like Home (book #1). She’s a fun, lovable character.
Trace and Spencer are both amazing men, caring and sexy. I truly hope this isn’t the last we hear of Spencer.
Trace is fantastically written, very real -right down to being “emotionally constipated”.
The attraction that both Bailey and Trace feel and believe to be one sided makes for a fun read, though I was sympathetic to both of them, it seemed like every time one was ready to make a move, the other was caught in a compromising situation.
An ending that left me anticipating another wonderful story from Ms. Adams. ~Review by Jai
and erotic romance. My first full length collection, the Southern Heart Series,
was released this spring. It is about the Southerlands, a large southern
family, living and loving in my adopted home of Virginia.
the Yankees I stayed. I fell in love with the place and a man, got married and
had three beautiful children – my own boys of the South. I’ve lived south of
the Mason Dixon for over half of my life and almost all of my adult life, so
when I was looking for a place to set my novels, the shadow of the Blue Ridge
Mountains was a perfect fit.
the road, homemade sweet tea, biscuits and gravy, cheesy grits and the charm of
a soft southern drawl. And for a girl who grew up in Amish country surrounded
by farmland, the mountains I can see from my home take my breath away. My
husband and I regularly take our boys up the Blue Ridge Parkway to climb the
Peaks of Otter. The view is spectacular. It’s one of the reasons I set Jude and
Autumn’s first kiss there in Feels Like Home.
drive south from where I live and the place where they filmed Dirty Dancing.
You can see the gazebo where Baby and her father had the “You disappointed me
too, Daddy” conversation and have lunch in the inn where the famous dance scene
was filmed. My sister and I visited when she was in college at Virginia Tech
and later when I was researching for the book, I took my youngest for the day
to walk around the lake bed and explore the ancient hemlocks.
the lake is gone. Without geeking out too badly – which I can easily do, find
me, we’ll have wine and talk about it – a seismic shift causes the lake drain
and refill periodically. It’s very cool and it was the perfect place for Bailey
and Trace to fall in love.
– I can finally make more than passable biscuits – and garden. But one of my
favorite things to do, when I get a break from chasing the minions, is to read.
I love to lose myself in a great story and fall in love all over again with a
new set of characters. I would be honored to be able to do that for you.
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