BREATHE by Kristen Ashley (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $7.00)
In Carnal, Colorado, Faye Goodknight is the town’s quiet, shy librarian. She may also be Carnal’s last remaining virgin. For years, Faye has had a crush on Chace Keaton, but the gorgeous cop has always been unattainable. She’s resigned to live contentedly with only her books for company—until Faye suddenly meets Chace alone in the woods . . .
Chace doesn’t think he’s the good guy everyone believes him to be. He’s made a lot of choices he regrets, including denying his feelings for Faye. Through his choices, he’s come to believe the pretty librarian is too good for him, but after their time in the woods, Chace realizes that she may be his last chance for redemption. Soon, their long simmering desires grow to a burning passion. Yet always casting a shadow over their happiness is Chace’s dark past . . .
She put slight pressure on his chest and snapped, “You’re giving me mixed messages, Detective Keaton.”
It was the wrong thing to say.
Hearing her call him that, denying him something he’d come to love in the span of two weeks, thinking for years he’d never get his shot to hold the town’s pretty librarian in his arms just as he was doing right then. What he’d just endured with Bonar, all that coming back up. Faye being angry, pulling away. Something he’d been keeping a tenuous hold on for a long fucking time snapped inside him and he instantly decided to power through a different way.
He put not slight pressure on her entire body, his arms tightening, his frame pressing her into the door, his face getting close and he growled, “Right then, here’s one that isn’t mixed. Do not call me Detective Keaton. To you, I . . . am . . . Chace.”
“Oh . . .” she breathed then kept breathing when she finished, “kay.”
“Okay what?” he prompted.
“Okay, Chace,” she whispered immediately.
“Good,” he kept growling, “we got that down. Now we’ll get this straight and not mixed. You know my shit’s fucked up. I’m workin’ on that. You popped up with bad timing once and surprised me another time. I didn’t handle either of those well. The shit I’m workin’ through, I cannot promise I’ll do any better. What I can promise is I like the way you dress. I like the sound of your voice. I like the way you smell. I like that your hair feels the way it looks, like silk. I like the way you taste. I like that you got a backbone. I like it when you get scared of me. I like it when you stand up to me. I like it that you care as much as you do for a kid you don’t know jack about. I like it that you have no clue how to kiss but still, the two kisses I’ve shared with you are the best I’ve ever had. By far. I like all of that more than is healthy for me but especially for you. But I like it so much, I’m gonna ignore that and hope like fuck this doesn’t get jacked like everything else in my life has a tendency to do. I like it so much I’m willin’ to take that risk. I like it so much that I’ve decided you’re gonna take that risk with me. And I’ll make that straight too. I’m not asking you to take that risk, I’m tellin’ you you’re doin’ it. That means I’ll be at your place at seven with pizza, beer, a sleeping bag and food for our kid.”
He moved infinitesimally so his mouth was a breath away from hers and he could smell her gum. The look on her face, the feel of her in his arms and the smell of her gum cut clean through him like it always did.
Then he finished but he did it on a whisper.
“Now, baby, are we straight?”
“Yes,” she whispered back, proving, after his caveman speech, the baby thing worked fucking great.
“Good,” he muttered, fighting a grin.
“I don’t like beer,” she announced quietly.
“What do you like?”
“Dry or sweet?”
“You got it, honey.”