Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, Laura Haley-McNeil, and an excerpt from her Contemporary Romance, “Defending Her Heart (Book 6 of the Crystal Creek Series).”
JT Whitloch can’t close his eyes without seeing the body of the woman who drowned in his swimming pool two years ago. He doesn’t remember that night but blames himself for her death. He walks away from his affluent and moves to Crystal Creek, but still he can’t find peace.
Then Gretchen Moore moves to town. She stirs up his desire and his past with a secret so deadly it could destroy her.
Gretchen wants nothing to do with JT. Because of him, someone wants her dead. The terror from his past forces them into an alliance that soon ignites their passion. Fighting these feelings leads them to the secret of the woman floating in JT’s swimming pool, but the knowledge doesn’t ease JT’s inner turmoil. Instead, it reveals an answer that could destroy him and Gretchen. His own destruction he could accept, but he’ll defend Gretchen to his death.
First Kiss Excerpt
He touched a finger to her chin and lifted her face to meet his. Her words fell away. He heard her sharp intake of breath.
All logic vanished from his mind. He should never have touched her. He’d known from the beginning if he touched her all was lost. He had to stop. He had to break the bond.
His hand trailed down her arm to her hand. He pulled her to him. Looking into her eyes, he saw the yearning that matched his own.
“Gretchen.” He breathed. The emotions surging through him echoed her name.
He couldn’t stop. He wasn't just hungry, he was hungry for her. His lips touched hers. The first kiss was gentle, but gave way to passion. Her soft gasp triggered his heart to a painful pounding. He slid his fingers through her hair.
“I don’t think…” She spoke against his lips. She looked into his eyes, her own filled with confusion.
“Neither do I.” He slanted his mouth over hers.
Any doubts she had seemed to slip away. She melted against him, her mouth forming to his. Her fingers wrapped around his shirt sleeves pulling him into her, quenching her need. She met his urgency, tasting him, falling into him. For a moment, his hunger for her was just the beginning. He could start again. If he focused on her, if he could forget the past, he could move on with his life.
Reason pillaged his mind—destroyed the reality that had bashed through there before. What right did he have for such enjoyment when because of him, a woman was dead? The woman in his pool had no future. Desire for Gretchen battled against his shame.
No. No. No. That was the past. He could move forward. The shouts in his mind pushed back against the guilt.
His movements slowed. His arms still wrapped around her, he leaned away.
Her eyes flew open. Confusion darkened them. “What is it? I didn’t mean…”
He didn’t want to release her, but he knew he couldn’t go on. “It’s not you.” He stepped back. He pushed fingers through his hair and turned away. “It’s something else.”
It wasn’t the bewilderment in her voice. It was the pain he heard there that made him wince. He felt her move close, felt her warmth. He closed his eyes and drew it into himself. It would be so easy to take her in his arms.
And love her.
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