Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, PE Kavanagh, and an excerpt from her Steamy Contemporary Romance, “Collecting Secrets (Friends & Lovers Book 1).”
A grieving heiress.
A celebrity psychologist.
A decade of friendship.
When Camille first met Jackson she was too young.
Friendship was less than what she wanted, but all she could handle.
Ten years later and she’s a different woman. Strong, successful, brave.
At exactly the wrong moment, one bold move threatens everything.
The safe harbor of Jackson’s family.
The unconditional commitment of his friendship.
The collection of secrets she never knew existed.
Claims and confessions come hard and fast as Jackson and Camille navigate all that has never been said.
With each step they take, closer to the truth and each other, another layer of secrets must fall.
First Kiss Excerpt
This was not the first time Camille had looked foolish, but it might have been the first time she didn’t care. Unable to find her room key or hold back the torrent of tears, she plunked down onto the ugly hotel carpet in front of her door and sobbed, loud and hard. With nothing but the back of her hand to wipe away the tears and snot, the scene quickly escalated from tragic to gruesome.
Heartbreak was no stranger. But this break-up was beyond humiliating. How dare he? She had given him everything and he claimed it wasn’t enough. He’d stood in the cold marble lobby and yelled at her. Accused her of cheating. In front of everyone.
Humiliation mingled with anger and desperation, halting any effort to pull herself together. They’d flown across the country to attend this wedding and now she’d be conspicuously dateless in a room full of happy couples. She tried to take a breath and choked on a new wave of tears.
A soft crush of footsteps stopped in front of her, but Camille had no interest in lifting her head off her knees to look.
“Hey, Cam. What’s wrong?”
She knew that voice, as well as the gentle stroke of his hand in her hair.
“Camille. You’re scaring me. What’s going on?”
His worry pierced through her pain and, with great effort, she tilted her head up to see her best friend’s face inches from hers.
His eyes flashed to fear. “Camille! What happened? Are you okay? Talk to me!”
It took so much energy to form words. “Calm down, Jack. I'm okay.”
“You don’t look okay. Did something happen with Charlie? Where is he?”
The questions were coming too fast for Camille’s throbbing, blurry head. “He dumped me.” There, she said it. Out loud.
The line of his lips flattened and his breath growled. Rage filled his expression. “That mother fu-”
Camille shook her head, trying to regain her composure. “We flew all the way here and that bastard couldn’t even wait one more day.”
Jackson’s mouth softened. “I'm so sorry.” He rubbed his thumb across her cheek.
She looked into the warm brown eyes of her closest friend, the man who’d been like a brother for the past ten years. This was how she knew him best – kind, caring, and sweet. She didn’t care how the world saw him. She had gotten to know the real man.
“Let’s get you up and into your room.” He slipped his long arms under hers and stood her up. She fell into his broad chest, melting into the arms that enveloped her.
“Where’s your key, love?” he whispered into the top of her head.
She mumbled into his chest. “I couldn’t find it.”
Keeping a firm grip around her with one arm, Jackson dipped down to pick her purse up off the ground. “Can I take a look?”
“Of course.” She had no secrets from him.
She winced when he had to unlock his arm from her waist to search through her purse. Of course, he knew exactly where she would have put the key: in the smallest zippered pocket.
He waved it in front of the magnetic pad and the loud click confirmed his success.
As expected, the room had been cleared of all Charlie’s belongings. His compulsiveness would have prevented him from forgetting anything. Camille stepped away from Jackson to look around, hoping to find a belt, or a tie, or even a tube of shaving cream. Any excuse to contact him again. But there was nothing, not even a stray hair.
Charlie had almost snuck out without her knowing. If she hadn’t had to leave the restaurant to go to the bathroom, she would never have seen him, bags in hand, striding across the lobby.
Jackson stepped in front of her, halting her examination of the room, and began wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue.
“I'm a mess.” Only the slightest tinge of self-consciousness colored the moment. This was who they were and had always been. He pressed the tissue across her nose and she blew, like a small child.
“No, Cam. You’re just hurting.” He balled up the tissue and flicked it into the small metal bin to his right. “I know you’re upset, love. But, personally, I'm glad he’s gone. He was never good enough for you. And he reinforced his complete lack of class by doing this here. I mean, he couldn’t have ended it before flying to Chicago with you?”
Camille dropped her head, another rush of tears pressing against her eyes.
His broad palms cupped her face, tilting her up to look at him. “Hey, hey, Cam. He has no idea what an amazing woman you are. There are better things in your future. I know it.”
His shoulders lifted as he took a deep breath. Something about the look on his face locked her attention on him. When he touched his lips to hers, a first in their relationship, a tiny spark of surprise jolted her awake. When he pressed in, more deeply, passionately and deliberately, gripping her and parting her lips, there was no question a line had been crossed.
A column of heat filled Camille’s body as his mouth explored hers. She could not have imagined anything as wonderful as that kiss in that moment. Until she remembered to whom that mouth belonged.
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