It’s getting colder in New York, which means one thing: huddling by the heater in your apartment and praying it actually works. We do, however, have a quick cheat we’re willing to share just for today: It’s this totally heartwarming and ever-so-slightly steamy excerpt of Marie Harte’s A Sure Thing!
They ate in silence for a few bites, and he felt it safe to change the subject. “Ah, so all that talk about the self-defense class. Did you like it?”
“Don’t sound so surprised. We know what we’re doing.”
“What surprised me most was that you two never talked down to us. You never tried to act tough and manly, as if you know better. You explained, you broke things down, and you put the power to act in our hands.” She considered him, and her intensity stripped him bare. “You’re doing the class for your sister.”
“I mentioned that.” Not in so many words, but Ava was smart. She’d put the clues together.
“Not in so many words.”
Like she read my mind. He cleared his throat and pushed his po’boy aside. “Hope is my little sister. Lately she’s been dating some real bozos. I don’t want to see her get hurt, so we’re teaching her how to physically stand up for herself. I mean, hell, she’s smaller than you.”
“I’m not small.”
Ava was perfectly proportioned, to his way of thinking. “You’re about average in height, right? Five-six? Five-five?”
She frowned. “Five-six and three quarters. I like to round up to an even five-seven.”
“You’re so cute pretending to be taller.” He laughed at her, pleased at her blush. “Yeah, so, Gavin and I talked Hope into taking the class. And I realized it would help a lot of people, not just her.” He gave her long look. “Like you. I mean, who knows what the next yahoo you date will be like?”
“There is that.” She gave him a disdainful once-over. “Who knows what I’ll be dealing with?”
He chuckled. “That’s what I like about you.” Besides that mouthwatering body. “Your sense of humor.”
“Yeah, brainy babes do it for me.” He deliberately laid on the macho attitude. The thicker the better.
Except she smiled at him again. “I know you’re putting me on. I can tell when you try to get a rise out of me.”
“Are you shrinking me, Doc?”
“Shrinking is not a verb, Landon.”
He liked her saying his name with that combination of vexation and amusement.
“Technically it is.”
She frowned, then sighed. “So it is. My point is I don’t ‘shrink’ people. I talk to them. I observe. I offer therapeutic advice and counsel to my patients.” She drank more wine. Moderate but consistent. Ava remained fully in control of herself. He liked that about her too. “I try not to beleaguer my dates with armchair diagnoses.”
“Tell me about your dates.” Finally a place he felt on even keel. “You told me you’re looking for a baby-maker and future husband.”
“I knew you’d bring that up again.” Her eyes narrowed. Hot topic, apparently. “Why? Are you auditioning for the role?” she snapped.
“For baby-maker? I’m sure game to try.” He smiled. “Though I’m surprised you’re so casual about your future baby-daddy.”
“I am so sorry I mentioned that to you.” She finished what remained of her merlot. “To be honest, I only added the baby part to throw you. I’m dating because I’d like to find someone to share myself with. To be intimate with, yes, but for much more than mere sex.”
Mere? “Sex is an important part of any relationship. Anyone can have friends. But sex is something you only have with someone special.”
He saw her flush the moment the words left her lips. “Jealous?”
“I’m as jealous of her as you are of Charles.” Her smug retort made his erection return full force, and just when he’d relaxed enough to be able to stand up without embarrassing himself.
He took a long drag of his beer. “Well then. I’d say you’re pretty green, Doc.”
She blinked. “What?”
“’Cause I didn’t like the dickhead sitting anywhere near you. He’s not in your league, and we both know it.”
“But you are?”
“Hell yeah. I’m starting quarterback. You’re easily a wide receiver.” He pursed his lips and gave her a deliberate once-over. “Well, not wide so much as built. Sexy. Hmm, what’s a complimentary word for ‘killer rack’?”
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, Marie Harte is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after.