Release Date: May 16, 2019
Cover Design: Ampersand Book Covers
Words I never thought I would hear my sister say: “Mason, meet my sister, Willow. Willow, this is my fiancé, Mason Cartwright.”
I size him up. Thick, brown hair tousled from his hand. Bright brown eyes sparkle in my direction. Scruffy salt and pepper jawline that begs to be kissed.
Oh, Holy Hell’s balls.
It’s a damn good thing I don’t believe in love at first sight. ‘Cause if I did, I’d be booty over bean in love with Mason Cartwright.
Morning comes early. P-Tink drags me out of bed as the sun is coming up so we can go on our morning walk/run. I run, she walks. But only because my running pace is still too slow for her. There are trails near the house that we go to, which she loves. I’d let her run free, but I don’t yet trust her with squirrels or other such wildlife that we may encounter along the way.
We reach the path and she immediately begins howling.
“P-Tink, quiet!” I tug on her leash to get her attention. The last thing I need is her waking all the neighbors at o’dark thirty. She stops howling and pauses to sniff at a tree. I use the time to adjust my earbuds and change the music I’m listening to. The leash goes lax. P-Tink takes off running, howling as she goes.
I take off after her, going as fast as I can without killing myself.
I round a corner in the trail and run smack-dab into a wall of sweaty flesh.
“Ooof!” I bounce back. Strong arms prevent me from falling on my butt. P-Tink bounces around me yelping. My hands rest on the chest in front of me. The bare chest of minimal hair and maximum muscle. I look up the chest, to the neck, and finally the face.
“You okay?” he asks, his hands still on my arms. My bare arms. My hands are on his bare chest, his hands are on my bare arms. All I can think about is how good it would feel if everything were bare. All of him with all of me, bare skin against bare skin, my body warms from the middle and up.
“Willow?” he asks again, using one hand to push the loosened hair from my face, his eyes search mine.
I nod, not looking away.
“What are you doing here?” I ask finally.
“I was running until P-Tink came in for a blind tackle,” he laughs.
That shakes me out of my brief fantasy.
“Oh no, are you okay?” I ask, looking him up and then down.
His torso is long, and his shorts are not. He has something close to a six-pack with a light trail of hair leading down into his shorts. Those v-things that only guys in movies have mirror one another on either side of his hips. I can see the outline of his penis in his shorts. And his legs are beautiful. Lean with perfectly shaped calves, big muscular thighs, light smatterings of hair.
My god, is nothing on this man flawed?
Why does AshLynn get the good ones?
Ha – not nearly enough body hair to interest Zach. I smirk to myself.
“Fell on my ass, I’m fine,” he says.
“Oh, let me see?” I spin him around and am brushing dirt and leaves from his bare back and covered bottom before I realize what I’m doing. I gasp, step back, cover my mouth with my hand and close my eyes.
I hear him turn, but I keep my eyes closed. Which he mistakes for something else.
“You sure you’re okay?” he asks.
“Uh huh, yep, just groped my sister’s fiancé, but hey, no biggie right.”
“Half-sister,” he says.
I open my eyes, he’s smiling. So I do too. “Half-sister,” I repeat.
“It will be our little secret,” he says.
“You want some company on your walk?” Mason asks.
“Oh, uh, I should probably get back,” I say.
“Weren’t you just starting your walk?”
“Yeah, but we’ve got brunch, and I don’t want to be late . . .”
He looks at his watch. “Not for another three and half hours. Come on, I’ll walk with you, but you have to let me hold the leash.” He winks.
We walk in silence for a while. It’s a comfortable silence. Just enjoying the sound of the breeze in the leaves and the birds in the trees. P-Tink is back and forth across the path sniffing and pawing different things, her tail wagging constantly. Every so often, his arm brushes against mine. I like the way it feels.
You are playing with fire, Willow.
I can hear both Zach and my inner critic chastising me. So, I silence them both and continue on with my walk. We reach the end of the trail, and take a seat for a minute on the benches.
“You already reached this part once today, huh?” I ask him.
“Yeah, but it’s okay, I need the extra exercise.”
“I don’t see why,” I scoff, gesturing to his body.
“My muscles were all cramped this morning and needed loosening. This is perfect for that.”
“Wear yourself out last night, huh?” I pretend to joke and elbow him. Regretting immediately that I’ve said anything.
“No, I slept in a chair.”
I look at him, brow furrowed. “Why did you sleep in a chair.”
He looks guilty. “Uh,” he starts but doesn’t finish his thought.
“Did you guys get in a fight?” I ask hoping that’s not the case.
Actually, that’s a lie, I totally hope that’s the case.
“Yeah,” he says. “We got into a fight.”
“Sorry,” I say not meaning a word of it. “Is everything better now that it’s morning?”
“She wasn’t awake when I left, so I’m not sure.”
I stand and prepare to head back. “Shall we?”
He nods and stands as well. Then, much to my disappointment, puts his shirt back on. We take our time walking back to the trail beginning, talking about little things like books and movies, ice cream and favorite foods. By the time we part ways, I feel in some ways like I know Mason Cartwright almost as well as I know myself.
Zach is at my house when I get back. He’s made a pot of coffee and is sitting on the back deck sipping a cup. P-Tink runs to say hello to him.
“How’s my beautiful baby?” he coos to her. She yelps in return and rolls on her back so he can rub her belly.
“Did you guys go for a walk,” he asks before looking at me. “Yep.” I take a seat next to me with my own cup of coffee.
He looks over at me. “Ohmigod. What did you do?”
“What do you mean? We went for a walk.”
“No, something else happened.”
I avoid his gaze. “Nothing else happened.”
How is he psychic like this?
He looks at me. I look at him.
“Fine, we ran into Mason.”
“That’s AshLynn’s fiancé.”
“Oh, the one whose bone you covet.”
I roll my eyes. “He didn’t have his shirt on when it happened.”
“Oooh, and . . .”
“Not your type. But beautiful. And when I say we ran into him, well I mean literally.”
“Did he get his sweat on you?” Zach wiggles his eyebrows.
I blush. “Yes.”
“And then what?”
“And then we walked back through the trail and I came home.”
“I don’t know. Books, movies, ice cream, food.”
“He’s trying to get to know everything you like.”
“You say that like there’s a reason.”
“Trust me, there is.”
“He’s engaged to AshLynn.”
Zach waves his hand in the air, dismissing my statement. “They’ve been engaged for a hot minute. It will never last.”
A girl can only hope.
One of Five ARC’s for I Heart Mason Cartwright
About the Author
I can’t live without nail polish, the darker the better.
I drink a glass of wine every day, but if I could get away with it, I’d drink a bottle. My favorite things to eat are chips with salsa. But red vines and popcorn are a close runner-up.
I currently reside with six dogs, one cat, and a husband. Five of my dogs are Siberian Huskies, so my clothes always have fur on them. Always.
Given the opportunity, I would read books all day long. So far my record for a single day is five full-length books.
Hoodies are my favorite item of clothing, bras are my least.
When I’m writing well, I’m barely reading. And vice-versa..
I started an underground literary magazine in graduate school, which I credit for really launching my narcissistic tendencies via writing.
If I couldn’t be a writer, I would be a rockstar. Someone from Journey, preferably the Steve Perry years, when they were awesome.
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