Blaire Hayes enjoys a quiet life, spending her days as a CNA at the local nursing home and nights studying for exams. She prefers things to be as uncomplicated as possible -- but when her friends drag her to a party and she bumps into her high school crush, the path of Blaire’s life veers in an entirely different direction than what she had planned for herself.
Jason Bryant created a nice life away from his hometown, putting distance between himself and the suffocating sadness of his father’s death. But when he finds out his grandfather’s health is deteriorating, he decides he must return home. Partying was not on his agenda while in town, but it’s how he bumps into Blaire Hayes—the girl he’d always thought of in high school as an unobtainable pass.
Together the two learn there are moments in life that hold within them all the power to break you...
The water was cool. I’d kicked off my sandals long before we made it to the river’s edge and now stood with my toes planted firmly in place as the river’s constant movement slipped over my skin. The moon was low in the sky, nearly full and shedding just the right amount of light down on us. I took a step back, onto a smooth rocky ledge behind me, as the chill of the water soon became too much. The rock beneath my bare feet was still warm from the sun and I let out a little sigh into the night. I tipped my head back to look up at the star-filled sky, taking in all of nature’s uncorrupted beauty that surrounded me.
Jason came up behind me, his sandals shuffling against the smooth surface of the rock. “It’s nice, isn’t it?” he asked, his voice nothing but a whisper.
Glancing over my shoulder at him, I was surprised by how close he was to me. Inhaling, I could smell his guy-scent—a mixture of soap and deodorant of some sort. Whatever it was, it was spicy and male and I liked it. My eyes traveled the length of him and I knew he could feel them on him, but I was too tipsy to care, so I continued checking him out unabashedly while his gaze locked on the sky.
“Look,” he said as he pointed. “Bats.”
My head snapped to where he’d pointed so quickly, the movement jerked my body with it and I stumbled. Losing my footing, I nearly toppled into the river. Jason reached out and steadied me, his large hands gripping my forearms.
“Whoa there,” he chuckled.
His face was inches from mine. His warm hands still gripped my arms. I straightened my stance to a firmer one, but he still didn’t let go. Our stare became fused together as electricity zapped beneath my skin from the contact I’d been craving all night.
“Thanks for catching me.” A giggle built in my chest, but the second I saw his tongue slip out and lick at his bottom lip, it disappeared.
His hands slid free from my arms only to grip my hips firmly. My heart pounded from their sudden shift in placement. Jason’s jaw moved as he bit at the inside of his cheek. I wondered for a moment if this was a nervous habit of his or if he was simply wondering whether now was the time to take me home.
I didn’t want him to take me home. I wasn’t finished with this night—with him—just yet.
With the courage that came from drinking three Long Island Iced Teas and the yearning that pulsated through my body from his nearness, I did what I wanted—I arched my body into his and kissed him. His lips were warm and soft; his breath tasted of spicy liquor, and I knew I was right where I’d wanted to be a million times in my head—locked in Jason Bryant’s arms with my lips pressed to his.
The bartender came over with another Long Island for me. Jason handed him a crisp bill from in his wallet. I took a sip and watched as he lifted his ass up and tucked the wallet back into his back pocket.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said, forcing my eyes away from the muscles I could see shifting and flexing in his forearm while he played with the cap from his beer. “I was a little embarrassed, but only because what you said is true. I’m fine now.”
I wanted to smack myself. Why the hell did I just flat-out admit that to him? What I’d said before had been enough; there was no reason for me to add to it. Heat crept along my neck. I’d look like I was having an allergic reaction in a matter of seconds. Great.
“Maybe this will lift your embarrassment some: it’s been a while for me, too,” he said.
This new knowledge he’d openly offered floored me. His eyes locked with mine as he brought his beer to his perfect lips for a swig. I watched as his Adam’s apple bobbed from the action.
“Why?” The question formed in my head, but I had no intentions of actually saying it aloud, and most definitely not in such a dumbfounded tone. Rich laughter rumbled through his chest and his head tipped back in the process. A grin twisted at my lips, one I couldn’t suppress no matter how hard I tried. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. It’s not my place.” I forced my eyes to look anywhere except at him as I shook my head.
“No, it’s okay,” he said, containing himself. “I just can’t get over how shocked you seem by my confession.”
I took a sip of my drink. “You just don’t seem like the type to have any dry spells. If I remember correctly, you didn’t have that problem in high school either, and I can’t imagine it forming in college of all places.”
Hadn’t meant to say that one aloud either. What the hell was in this drink, a loose lips amplifier?
“People change,” he said. “You did.”
“You’ve gotten more beautiful, for starters.”
His words made my stomach flutter and my heart pound. That was most definitely a line…but I liked it. Jason straightened his back and downed the rest of his beer. Banging the empty bottle against the bar as he set it back down, he stood and held out a hand to me.