Bosom Buddies Episode One

Sabrina

Everything in life is a tradeoff.

At least, that’s the way I look at things. Take today, for instance. Here I was at the end of a twenty-four-hour shift at the hospital, and by all rights, I should have been heading back to my condo to collapse into bed for a solid eight hours of desperately needed sleep. But instead, I’d turned left out of the hospital parking lot and aimed my car toward the small town of Burton, located about forty-five minutes due west of Savannah.

I wasn’t driving all the way into town today, even though I was tempted to pop into my friend Celeste’s adorable lingerie shop and shoot the breeze with her. No, my destination was about ten miles outside of Burton: I was driving to a picturesque little piece of property that boasted a small lake, two acres of wooded land, and over a hundred years of fascinating history.

Oh, and it also included a rambling old mansion that hadn’t been occupied for several decades. Seeing the beauty it could become hadn’t been easy, but I had a discerning eye for spotting potential, and this house had it in spades. I’d fallen head over heels for the place and made a rare impulsive decision. I’d forsaken the search for a cookie-cutter suburban starter home and committed to another year or two in my soulless Savannah condo in order to fund the rehab of my dream home.

Last month, the work on the bones of the house—the structural support, electricity and plumbing—had all been finished. This week, the company I’d hired to handle the historical rehab was supposed to begin working its magic, and I couldn’t wait another moment to see what they’d done so far.

Hence, the tradeoff. I was giving up sleep in exchange for a quick walk-through of my dream home.

It was late afternoon, so I wasn’t completely surprised to see that there weren’t any trucks in the winding driveway that led to the house. Was I a tiny bit disappointed? Sure. I wanted to think that the people I’d hired were giving my precious project all of their time and energy and attention, but the truth was that they probably had other jobs going on at the same time.

Anyway, being alone would give me a chance to really soak it all in without anyone there to rush me along or ask pesky questions. There you go—yet another tradeoff.

I let myself in through the front door only because I wanted the full effect of stepping into the magnificent foyer. I wasn’t disappointed. The walls were freshly painted in an updated shade of their original color, and the woodwork we’d selected for this space was already up, and even though it hadn’t been finished yet, I could already see how gorgeous it was going to be.

“Oh, baby,” I murmured. “You are going to be so beautiful when they’re done. I’d say we’re restoring you to your former glory, but I think it’s going to be even better than that. Kind of like getting a facelift that makes you look like a sexier version of your twenty-year-old self.” I giggled to myself, thinking of all the women who would line up for that kind of surgery.

Kneeling down, I ran my fingers over the baseboards and craned my neck to examine the molding that ran along the top of the walls, seeing in my mind’s eye the old photos one of my contacts at the county historical society had dug up for me, the ones that we’d used to make style and color decisions. It really was like the original, only better.

I was about to stand up again and make my way toward the kitchen when I heard footsteps upstairs. That was disturbing; if the crew had left for the day, no one should have been here. But there they were again: yeah, someone was definitely upstairs, and whoever it might be wasn’t making any effort to disguise his or her presence.

My mind raced through a number of possibilities, landing on the worst one first. I’d heard that sometimes vagrants or addicts or criminals scoped out empty houses and camped out there when they were fairly sure no one else was around. My place was pretty far off the beaten track, but still . . . if someone happened upon it, they might not like the idea of being chased away, and if they felt cornered or had a weapon, I could be in trouble.

I moved slowly, reaching into my purse and groping blindly. Like most women, I’d learned young the defense method of threading keys through my fingers, and if I could find them now, I might be able to buy myself time to get to my car. I thanked my past self for feeling safe enough out here that I’d left it unlocked. The door was just a few feet away, and if I could get to it silently—

And then the footsteps sounded again—this time louder and coming closer. My heart pounded, and sweat broke out all over my body. I tried to swallow, but my throat was bone dry. I took a deep breath and was about to make a run for the door when I heard a deep voice.

“Sabrina?”

I looked up, lifting my eyes to the banister on the second floor where a man was staring down at me. I blinked, my mind darting this way and that as I tried to make sense of the stranger above me who knew my name.

It wasn’t Linc Turner, the co-owner of Kent and Turner, the historical restoration company I’d hired. I’d have guessed it was one of the men who worked for him, but I hadn’t met any of them. It might have been someone local to Burton—someone I’d met with Celeste or maybe through Young Survival Coalition, the breast cancer support network and organization where we both volunteered. But it wasn’t. Somehow, I knew I hadn’t seen this face in a long time.

But I didn’t know him. The familiarity was frustratingly fleeting and vague. I frowned, rising slowly as the guy who seemed to know me jogged down the steps. My keys were still in my hand, so if he turned out to be psychopath who somehow happened to know my name.

“I didn’t put it together . . . I mean, Hudson is a common name, right? But then I heard your car in the driveway, and when I looked out the window to see who was here, I knew it was you.” He took a step toward me.

I moved backward. “I’m sorry. I don’t . . .” My voice trailed off. “How do you know me?”

He was quiet for a moment, and then a half-smile curled his lips. My heart sped up again, but this time it wasn’t fear making my pulse race. It seemed that my body had realized who he was, but my head was slow to catch up.

And then he spoke, his voice low and husky.

“Brina girl.”

Just like that, it all came flooding back to me, and I knew without a shadow of doubt who was standing in front of me.

“Wesley?”

***************************

Who is Wesley?

And how does he know Sabrina?

Read next week and find out!

Meanwhile, catch up on all of the steamy romance happening in Burton right here!

The First One is only 99 cents today!

ONLY 99 CENTS TODAY!

A sneak peek of FALL IN LOVE IN A SMALL TOWN

Enjoy a little taste of Fall in Love in a Small Town, coming September 28th!

Liberty

Sexy underwear on a freshly washed and shaved body? Check.

Dress that’s just the right mix of flirty and fun? Check.

Sassy new hairstyle that makes me look sophisticated–at least I hope so? Check.

Taking a deep, cleansing yoga breath, I gave myself one more encouraging grin in the mirror before I turned away. I’d set up the files I’d brought home from the society’s document library on my kitchen table, and there was a bottle of my favorite shiraz breathing on the counter next to two brand-new wine glasses. I’d been going for serious-business-evening alongside the suggestion of let’s-have-some-fun. I hoped that I’d struck the right note.

The knock on the door made me jump, even though I’d been waiting for it. I shook my head to dispel some nerves and yanked open the door.

Jacob stood on the other side, one hand resting on the wall of my small porch. The light jacket he wore was faded and almost threadbare; I recognized it from our high school days. Back then, seeing him wear it had made me sigh and wish. But right now? The way it clung to arms that had gotten a lot more bulked up since we were teenagers? Total droolfest.

He was wearing old jeans, too, and I knew the way they fit him was going to tempt me to stare at his very fine ass all evening. That wasn’t going to be a hardship.

“Hey, Lib.” His eyes swept over me from head to toe, and was I imagining it, or did I see a flare of heat in his expression? If so, it was too fleeting to be sure. And when he bent to kiss my cheek in greeting, it felt like he was keeping things brotherly, not suggestive.

Damn it.

“C’mon in, Jake,” I invited, stepping back as I eyed the backpack he had over one sculpted shoulder. “What do you have there?”

“Notebooks, binders, my laptop, and a portable scanner,” he answered, dropping the bag in a kitchen chair and unzipping it. “Tools of my trade.”

“Of course.” I smiled, nodding at him. “You come well-prepared.”

He stared at me for a moment and then muttered something under his breath. I wasn’t sure what he said, but it sounded like Not really. Whatever that was supposed to mean.

“Can I pour you some wine? I’m going to have a glass.” I moved toward the counter to give myself a little room before I did something crazy. Something like wrapping myself around him and climbing his body like a tree.

“Um . . .” Jacob looked almost mystified by the question. “Uh, sure. Yeah, wine sounds good.” He sat down and pulled out his laptop. “Sometimes I forget that you’re not still an underage kid, Lib. I was about to ask you how you managed to get ahold of wine.”

I rolled my eyes, irritated. “Jesus, Jacob. I’m twenty-five years old. Just two years younger than you. Newsflash . . . I do all kinds of grown-up things now. I buy alcohol, own a car, rent a house, go on dates . . .” Inspiration struck along with a kind of reckless courage I hadn’t known I possessed. Circling the small table, I stood next to him, closer than I had to, and leaned over to place the wine glass on the other side of his computer. I angled my body just enough to give him an eagle-eye view down the scooped neckline of my dress.

Lowering my voice, I completed my sentence, staring him in the eye.

“I even have sex. Believe it or not.”

Jake’s throat worked, and his mouth dropped open a little. Without looking away from me–almost as though he was powerless to do so–he reached for his wine and took a long drink. When he spoke again, his voice was raspy.

“Oh, I believe it, Liberty. I totally believe it.”

Coming September 28th

LEARN MORE HERE!!

Meghan and Sam . . . The Last One (Six Years Later!)

{Sam and Meghan’s story begins in The Last One, where they find their happily-ever-after. It continues through The First One, The Only One, The Always One, The Hard One and The Forever One  . . . and the pair are even mentioned a few times in some Crystal Cove Romances, too! But wait, there’s more! I have two previously shared extra epilogues . . . and now a new update on the pair right here.You might want to read the other two first. Enjoy!}

–Meghan and Sam at the Beach

–Fourth of July . . . Small Town Style

The peaceful quiet of my late-afternoon was pierced by a wail coming through the baby monitor that perched on the kitchen table, next to the bowl of green beans I was in the middle of popping for dinner. I grimaced, waiting for the inevitable, and I wasn’t disappointed: a second voice joined the first complaints.

I groaned and rested my forehead against my hand. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my sweet babies–I did, so much. But this time of day was tough for all of us. My mother had sympathetically called it the witching hour when I’d described how between the end of their last nap and the beginning of dinner,  nothing seemed to make the little ones happy.

The misery was compounded this time of year, too, because Sam was so busy, he didn’t get in from the fields until much later. During the winter, I loved that he was at the house so much. I’d gotten positively spoiled by having a second parent around to help me corral the kidlets. But right now, he was up to his neck in onions, tomatoes, and peaches.

The noise level from upstairs rose another decibel, and I pushed back my chair to comfort the twins before things got worse.

***

Twenty minutes later, we were all back in the kitchen. Daniella, my chestnut-haired daughter, was busy on the floor with a metal pot and a wooden spoon, while her red-haired brother Justin was in the high chair finishing his second banana. I’d learned from hard experience that not letting their hunger get ahead of me was key to survival.

I’d just settled back at the table with my beans when I heard a knock on the kitchen door, which was followed in short order by the knob turning as my sister-in-law’s face appeared.

“Yoohoo! Anyone home?”

Both of the twins stopped what they were doing, their attention arrested, and then in unison, they broke into squeals of delight. Aunt Ali was a favorite among my little brood. Happily for all of us, she and her husband, Flynn, along with their two children, had just moved back to Burton to live here full-time after years of dividing their time between New York City and the little house they’d built here on the farm. Ali had told me privately that she was sick of big-city living, but their official reason for making the move was that they were expecting their third baby and wanted to be closer to family.

I watched with a smile as Ali scooped up Daniella and loved on her before turning to Justin to blow raspberries in his neck. When she’d pulled out a chair and plunked down with Dani in her lap, I cocked an eyebrow.

“Were you in the neighborhood, or are you just here to check on my sanity?”

Ali laughed. “Both. I just left the stand in the capable hands of Matt Westin. He’s doing a terrific job over there, which is awesome because I don’t feel like waddling around this fall when I’m huge.” She patted the tiny bump behind my daughter. “But I’m here for a reason. I’m kidnapping your babies.”

I frowned. “What? Why?”

“Because I know what it’s like to have a toddler, and I can only imagine that two is double the . . . fun.” She winked.

“Did your brother put you up to this?” I narrowed my eyes.

“He told me that you’ve been worn out, and he was worried because he feels like he can’t be in two places at once. So . . . I offered to come take these little cherubs home with me for the night.”

“Are you sure?” I was dubious. “It’s not like you don’t have your own hands full.”

“Ah, but the difference is that I have Bridget. Never underestimate the value of a fourteeen-year-old girl who loves babies.”

That was true. My niece was wonderful with the twins.

“So go get the kids’ stuff . . . and then take a nap before my brother gets home.”

I suddenly had a burst of energy at the prospect of an evening alone with my sexy husband. “Just give me five minutes!”

I heard Ali giggling, but I was too busy taking the steps two at a time to care.

***

An hour and a half later, I was a new woman. I’d taken a long and leisurely bath, taking the time to shave all the interesting parts of my body that had been recently neglected. Over my smooth and sleek skin, I’d pulled on a floaty sundress . . . and nothing else.

Back down in the kitchen, I cleaned up Dani’s pots and spoons and Justin’s messy high chair. I was just rinsing my hands when I glanced out the window at a very arresting sight.

My husband stood in his usual position at the outside sink in the shed. He’d shucked off his T-shirt and was letting the water run over his hands, splashing it onto his sculpted chest.

With a wide grin, I dashed out the kitchen door and danced across the grass, slipping behind him to wrap my arms around his middle and press my cheek into his muscled back.

I was fairly certain that he hadn’t heard me, but he wasn’t surprised by my touch. His hands, still wet, covered mine.

“Who could this be?” His voice, teasing and low, rumbled against my ear. “Careful, my wife might be around somewhere.”

“Ah, don’t worry about your wife. She’s a mess. I’m much more fun. I’m the hot college student who’s just here for the summer. The one who’s been teasing you and flirting with you for weeks. The one who keeps you up at night, making you wonder what she’s wearing under her dresses.”

“Oh, really?” Sam turned in my arms, drawing me against him. His eyes, hot and wanting, bore into mine. “And have you been watching me out here?”

“Every. Single. Day.” I punctuated the words with open-mouthed kisses to his chest.

“Hmmmm.” He threaded his fingers into my hair. “You smell damn good, too. Good enough for me to scoop up and carry upstairs to my bedroom . . . where I fully intend to do dirty things to you all night long.”

I shivered in delight and hooked my arms around his neck. “I hope that’s a promise.”

“It is.” Angling his head, Sam lowered his mouth to mine, his lips and tongues giving me a tantalizing preview of exactly what to expect.

When he came up for air, he pressed his forehead to mine. “By the way . . . even though it was that sexy, teasing college girl I fell in love with, it’s my much sexier and even hotter wife who keeps me in love.” His hand framed my face.

I sighed, kissing his jaw. “Sometimes I forget that.”

Sam’s lips curved into a smile that was brimming with love and promise. “Then let me spend tonight reminding you, darlin’.”

And let me tell you . . . he did.