Holiday Edition Book 3
USA Today Bestselling Author
Ten years ago, he left her with no explanation. Now he’s back, and the sparks burn just as hot as they did in high school.
April might have been young, but she knew what love was. She and Cole were inseparable, voted most likely to marry. And then he vanished on the night she expected him to propose.
Joining the Navy had always been Cole’s plan. He’d intended to carry on a long-distance romance with his high school sweetheart. Nothing could ever come between them…until it did.
In this second chance, small-town romance the past collides with the present as Cole fights to save his family’s business and earn back the trust of the only woman he’s ever loved. Losing her a second time—for good—is out of the question.
Cole isn’t happy to return to his hometown for his father’s funeral. They weren’t close and the relationship between him, his stepmother Amanda and stepbrother Jacob is non existent. He needs to settle his father’s estate, such that it is, he just hopes he can avoid the woman he left behind.
April is having one of those days, the code for the lock box of the house she was to show was wrong and now the client is angry and cancels the rest of the showings. Just when she thought her day couldn’t get worse, she ends up in a literal collision with her past.
This is a favorite scene.
In theory, the cup held sixteen ounces of liquid. In reality, that amount seemed to be more like a gallon now that she was doused with it.
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry,” a deep male voice stated as he held the door wider and took April’s elbow to help her step out of the doorway and fully onto the sidewalk.
When she lifted her gaze, her breath hitched and she stopped breathing. “Cole?”
“April?” He cringed. “Jesus. I’m so, so sorry,” he repeated. His gaze went to her blouse, and she followed it to see that her white lace bra was totally visible to anyone who was looking. And a lot of people were looking.
“Shit,” she murmured.
Cole took the empty cup from her hand, dropped it in the trashcan next to the outside tables, and then immediately removed his lightweight jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. “I’d go inside and replace that for you, but the line looks long and you’re shivering and probably miserable. Can I drive you home? Or…”
She started shaking her head. This could not be happening. No way was Cole Landry standing in front of her suddenly today after ten years. “No thanks. I’ve got it.” She pushed past him and headed quickly toward her car. Obviously, this day could and would get worse. She just wanted to go home now. Fuck the coffee. Fuck the canceled client. And most of all, fuck Cole Landry.
She heard him following her even though the click of her heels on the concrete was loud and precise. “April. Wait up. Can we at least talk?”
When she reached her car, she yanked the door open and turned to face him. “No need.” She took off the jacket he’d draped over her and handed it back to him. “I’m fine. I’m going home.”
As she climbed behind the wheel and shut the door, he continued to talk and she ignored him. But then, the unthinkable happened. Again. The engine wouldn’t turn over. The car didn’t make a single noise when she turned the key. Not the first time and not the fifth time either.
Her shirt was soaked with brown sticky liquid. Her skin was pink and heated from the coffee. Her body still didn’t have caffeine running through its veins. And now her car wouldn’t start. She was close to tears, and the last thing she needed was for Cole Fucking Landry to see her looking weak.
Her heart raced as she stared out the windshield, trying to think of what to do.
Suddenly, her door opened and Cole leaned toward her. “Let me drive you home,” he stated in a soft voice. “It’s the least I can do. I’ll have someone from the shop come check out your car.”
Cole’s family owned Landry’s— the local mechanic’s shop. His dad, Marcus Landry, had opened it before Cole was born, and she was pretty sure Cole’s brother, Jacob, worked there with his father. Cole certainly didn’t. He’d taken off for the Navy the moment they’d graduated from high school, and as far as April knew, he’d never returned. In fact, what was he doing here now?
There was no denying she was in a bind, but the thought of going anywhere with Cole did not sit well. She glanced at him. “I can get an Uber.”
His brow furrowed. “Come on. Let me help. I don’t need to be anywhere right now. I obviously ruined your day. Let me at least drive you home.”
She blinked at him. The man was ten years older than the last time she’d seen him, and Lordy but he was taller, broader, and sexier than ever. Damn him. He’d made her panties melt in high school and he still did now. Asshole.
She took a deep breath. “Fine.” Grabbing her purse, she climbed back out of the car and accepted the jacket that he once again draped around her shoulders.
The day was sunny and warm, but not warm enough for a wet shirt, so she was shivering now that the coffee had cooled against her skin. She grasped the edge of his jacket and held it closed over her see-through blouse as she reluctantly followed him to a black SUV parallel-parked four cars down from hers.
Cole, the gentleman version of him, set a hand on her lower back and guided her toward the passenger side of his car. After shutting the door, he jogged around the hood and climbed into the driver’s side.
She sucked in a breath the moment they were sealed in together. The SUV wasn’t big enough for both of them. The air shifted, and she suddenly wished she’d declined and called an Uber.
He turned to face her after starting the engine.
“What?” she asked, sounding snarkier than she intended. After all, he was doing her a favor.
He lifted a brow and shot her a half-grin. “You’re going to have to tell me where we’re going, ladybug.”
She flinched. “Don’t call me that.” No one had called her that in ten years. He’d assigned the nickname to her their sophomore year of high school when she’d dressed as a ladybug for Halloween.
She pointed out the windshield. “Take the second left. I live in The Groves apartments.”
“Ah, right. I remember where those are.” He pulled away from the curb and headed in that direction, his hands gripping the steering wheel. He glanced at her every once in a while, but he didn’t say anything until they arrived. “Which building?”
Instead of dropping her off out front like she would have preferred, he parked in a spot and exited the car, rounding it to open her door.
She slid to the ground, still awkwardly gripping his jacket around her. “Thanks for the ride. I’m fine now.” She started to lower the jacket once again, intending to hand it to him, when he stopped her.
“Please, April.” His voice was low. “Let me walk you to your apartment. I mean, let me stay for a while. I’d like to catch up. If you have time. Were you on your way to work? Did I make you late?”
She sighed. She wished she was the sort of person who could lie and tell him she was indeed in a huge hurry to change and get to work. Instead, she blew out a breath. “My appointments were canceled for the day, but I don’t want to hold you up either. You can go.”
He shook his head. “I’m free this morning.” He turned toward the building with a hand on the small of her back and started walking. His touch was possessive. At one time in their lives, she would have killed for him to touch her so intimately, but not anymore. Now, his hand seemed to be burning a hole through his jacket and her blouse.
“Didn’t Bobby Roberts live in these apartments? I think you and I made out once between buildings B and C. It was cold as heck that night, but you let me reach under your shirt anyway.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “And who names their kid Robert Roberts, anyway,” he rambled.
She glanced at him. Was he seriously joking right now? He’d always been a jokester, often to the point of annoying her, but it seemed like his current motive was nerves. Good. Let him be nervous. He deserved it.
She let him follow her into the building and to the second floor because she couldn’t think of another option. She figured it might be easier to get rid of him after she’d changed clothes and could look him in the eye without worrying about him seeing every outline of her bra.
And why on earth did it matter if he saw her bra or not? He’d seen every bra she owned ten years ago, most often on the floor of her childhood bedroom. He’d seen her naked more times than she could count.
But that was then. This was now. She wasn’t interested in sharing an inch of her skin with Cole Landry today.
When they reached her door, she pulled out her key and opened it with shaking hands, the jacket parting so she could do so. Once again, she tried to blow him off, and once again, he ignored her, pushing her door open and guiding her inside.
He seemed bossier than he had been ten years ago. A man who got what he wanted, and apparently he wanted to enter her apartment.
“Go change,” he insisted. “I’ll wait here, and then I’ll take you to lunch.”
She flinched as she looked at him again. “That’s not necessary.”
“I know it’s not, but it’s the least I can do after ruining your coffee.”
“Cole, you don’t have to do this. I’m fine. You drove me home. I don’t need lunch.” She had no interest in sitting across from him at a restaurant making small talk today or any other day. In fact, she cringed inwardly at the memory of the last time she’d seen him, the time he’d told her he would pick her up at seven to take her to dinner. He hadn’t shown up that night, and she’d never forgiven him.
He closed his eyes for a moment as if he needed to rein in his frustration. Good. She didn’t care if she totally pissed him off. “Go change, April.”
She humphed as she spun around and headed for her bedroom. As soon as she closed the door, she leaned against it and took several deep breaths. What a disaster.
Becca Jameson. Hot SEAL, April’s Fool: SEALs in Paradise (Kindle Locations 124-193). Becca Jameson Publishing.
The years almost seem to drop away as Cole and April talk, he impresses her with the details he remembers from their time together. Even though she wants to hate him, she can’t deny he was always the only one for her.
Cole’s family on the other hand are truly a piece of work, his stepbrother doesn’t care about the business and his stepmother only wants him to fix all her financial problems.
Cole faces many problems once he meets with the lawyer, but he also learns more about the father who was so critical of him.
He also needs to win back April, he made the biggest mistake in his live when he left her all those years ago.
Laughter, tears, some action and the perfect amount of sizzle.
5 Contented Purrs for Becca!
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Becca Jameson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 100 books. She is most well-known for her Wolf Masters Series, her Fight Club series, and her Club Zodiac series. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and Goldendoodle. Two grown kids pop in every once in a while too! She is loving this journey and has dabbled in a variety of genres, including paranormal, sports romance, military, and BDSM.
A total night owl, Becca writes late at night, sequestering herself in her office with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate, her fingers flying across the keyboard as her characters weave their own stories.
During the day–which never starts before ten in the morning!–she can be found jogging, running errands, or reading in her favorite hammock chair!
…where Alphas dominate…