coming april 2018-ish!
HOW TO STAY
Adelia Winters, the baddest bitch in rock, is running again. This time, it's back to Cherry Lake, the small town she ran from fourteen years ago. All she wants is to bury the last of her unhappy past and to hide out from the press until her latest career fuck-up blows over. What she doesn't want is to face the best friend she abandoned when she left.
Perfection. That’s what Photographer Conor Ross can give a woman. For one night, anyway. And as long as the lights are off. Anything more is just asking for disappointment. Fourteen years—and one-hundred and thirty pounds ago—he’d wanted more, but that was before Adelia snatched his heart out of his chest and took it with her on her way out of town.
When a destructive storm drives them together, Adelia and Conor are forced to confront their past, and her secrets. As Adelia's walls crumble, falling like the notes of a melancholy song, their rediscovered friendship turns into something more passionate, more beautiful than either of them could ever admit to wanting. Or needing.
Suddenly, the man who only does one night wants more than Adelia can give—again. But nothing has changed. Even if she could have it—even if she deserved it—Adelia doesn’t know how to do forever. And, no matter how much her heart longs for it, she definitely doesn’t know how to stay.
Conor tried to focus on what Jo was saying, he really did, but Adelia's muscle shirt left absolutely nothing to the imagination when she turned to the side. And her tiny jean shorts barely skimmed the bottom of her ass, leaving her long legs exposed.
Legs he needed to stop looking at.
He dragged his eyes upward. Bad idea.
Adelia’s face was scrubbed clean and glowing, the dark circles under her eyes nearly gone. Her dark hair swished back and forth in a high ponytail, the ends brushing the nape of her long neck. “Want me to put those away?” She grabbed the grocery bags from his hands. “I know where it all goes now. It’s a miracle. Your fridge is so organized I've been afraid to screw it up.”
Jo leaned over the counter. "Mom says Conor is a neat freak and..." Her eyebrows scrunched together. “Anal-retentive. I dunno know what that means.”
“Means he likes things neat and exactly where he wants them to be. Stuff like that helps some people feel like they’re in control,” Adelia said.
Conor scowled, but she dodged eye contact, busying herself with putting the chicken away.
“Why didn’t she just say that? What do butts have to do with anything?”
Adelia made a choking sound, and swiveled to stare at the kitchen wall.
“Ask your mother,” he said.
Jo held up her cell phone, her expression mulish. “Or I could Google ‘anal-retentive’ and probably end up scarred for life.”
“You know, the great thing about not having kids of my own, is that your psychological damage isn’t my problem,” he said.
She shook her phone at him again.
Sighing, he grabbed it from her and did a quick search. “You can read it while you let Cupcake out.” He handed the phone back with the Wikipedia entry loaded up. “Here. Knowledge with minimal scarring.”
"Thanks." Jo shoved the phone in her pocket, then leashed up the dog, and shut the door behind her.
Adelia dug into the other grocery bag and pulled out a bag of grapes. Her eyes snapped to his.
“They’re yours,” he said.
She dug her hand into the bag, and paused. “Thank you.”
He nodded. “You’re welcome. But you need to wash them fir—”
“Sorrywhat’dyousay?” she said, around a mouthful of grapes.
He snatched the bag and set it back on the counter. “Wash them, Winters.”
“Yeeees, dad.” Adelia cranked the water and grabbed the sprayer, pressing hard on the button. Water surged out at high speed velocity, surely bruising the grapes as it bounced off them, shooting her smack in the face. She jerked backward, her face dripping, dark eyes wide and confused.
He really didn’t want to laugh at her. But his body didn’t care what he wanted and it geysered out, harder than the water had. The more he tried to control it, the worse it got.
She crossed her arms, over her water spattered shirt. “Really?”
“I’m sorry—” he swallowed another laugh. “But you looked…just like Cupcake when I pretend to throw the stick.” This sent him over the edge and his body shook with laughter.
Freezing water slammed him in the face. He put up his hands but she had it on full blast. He fumbled blindly for the sprayer. “Give it.”
She held it out of his reach. “No! You just compared my face to your dog’s face.”
“It’s a compliment. My dog’s cute.”
She sprayed him again. It took some tussling, but he managed to pin her against the counter, one leg between hers, holding her wrists above her head. “Let go," he said.
Adelia loosened her grip, and he pulled the sprayer away, twisting to drop it into the sink. He turned off the water with one hand, and kept her pinned with his body, in case she got any ideas.
“I let you win,” she said.
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, Winters.” Beads of water drizzled down his temples and he shook his head to escape them. She pressed her hands to his face and wiped the water away. His lingering laughter evaporated in the heat of her gaze. Her fingers scraped past his cheeks and down to his mouth. The rough pad of her thumb brushed a droplet from his lower lip. She lingered there, her gaze fixated on his mouth. His heart thumped a warning the rest of him didn’t want to hear, and he pressed himself closer.
Her chest rose and fell hard against his, her breaths coming in tiny puffs. She stood up on her tiptoes, tantalizingly close. Her breath, indefinably sweet, teased his lips. Before he could give in to temptation, she lowered her lashes, and shook her head. “Jo will be back soon.”
He stepped back, breathing heavily. “Yeah, she will.”
Right on time, the clunk of Jo’s heavy tread hit the porch. Adelia rushed out of the kitchen, and he busied himself properly washing, and putting away the grapes. Adelia returned from the living room with a sweater on, hiding those lithe delicious curves. His disappointment was tempered by the oxygen and blood heading back to his brain.
Jo tossed the door open, slamming it against the wall. Cupcake galloped in ahead of her. “That Freud guy was weird."
“You aren’t the first person to say that,” he said.
"Oh, mom texted. She got Dany to cover the rest of her shift, so she's coming home. She says you're in charge of figuring out dinner." Jo looked at her phone. "Also, you guys are invited over to our house for dinner."
Thank god. Maybe if they were surrounded by people, he'd be more likely to keep his hands off of Adelia. Of wrapping his arms around her and... His body hummed with the promise of pleasure. Adelia gave him a small, tight smile, as if she'd been thinking the same thing. "Sounds good," he said, finding his voice. "If I go get take out, will you two promise to keep the music down to a volume that won't get the cops called?"
Jo's eyes spun heavenward. "Fiiiine."
"In exchange for your hardship, I'll bring you back a treat."
"I'll be good," Jo said, opening her eyes wide.
"Yeah, I doubt that." He grabbed his coat, and turned toward Adelia. "You behave yourself too."
"I don't know if I can." Her words were soft. Uneven.
They stared at each other. Want throbbed within him, until he could barely remember all the reasons why he should stop this before it went any further. He gave her a tight smile, and pushed open the screen door. "I don't know if I can, either."