USA Today Bestselling Author
The night before fifteen-year-old Jaxon Boyd left for chemo treatment, he made a pact with his best friend and next-door neighbor, Isabella Capizzi. That no matter what happened, through thick and thin, they’d stay best friends forever. And they have – through first loves, breakups, and near-death experiences, their friendship has been the one constant in Jaxon’s life. Until they both cross the line one wild night at a neighbor’s wedding reception. But regardless of the feelings Jaxon harbors for Izzie, he’s determined to stay away – because promises are promises, right? And as much as he could see himself growing old with Izzie, there’s one secret he’s never been able to share with his best friend. Because sharing it would break Izzie’s heart completely.
Isabella Capizzi is tired of waiting. Tired of waiting for her parents to let her take over the family’s ranching business, tired of waiting to become head of the English department at the high school, and definitely tired of waiting for her teenage crush Jaxon Boyd to think of her as more than his childhood BFF. But now that she’s staring down thirty, she wants more for her life than a guy who only sees her as his plus-one.
After a night of too much liquid courage when she may or may not have confessed her feelings to Jax – the details are fuzzy – Izzie decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s leaving Prairie for good – come hell or high water. But her friends… and Jaxon, have other ideas.
Isabella has consistently been disappointed at work, at home and even in her personal life. Passed over for a promotion at the high school, then her parents holding on to the hopes her older brother will return to take over the ranch, and then there’s Jaxson.
Jaxson’s feelings for Isabelle are far deeper than just the friendship they vowed would be forever. He is however not willing to take the relationship further than that. That is until Grace’s wedding.
This is a favorite scene.
Isabella’s cheeks flamed. But that was nothing compared to the inferno raging inside of her. This whole time, Jaxon had been operating with the idea that they’d kissed? Ha. If only. Maybe when he’d left for college and the PBR circuit it would have been easier to let him go, knowing that part of their life was over. Maybe she wouldn’t have been so heartbroken when he’d married someone else. And now he was staring at her like she was a raving lunatic.
“What did you just say?” he asked, eyes narrowing.
This was her out. She could pass it off as too much booze and excitement. But she wanted to kiss him and put this crazy chemistry, this awful longing behind her. It was now or never.
She cleared her throat and clutched the wine bottle a little harder. “I said, kiss me. Right now. Then we can put this all behind us.”
Jackson’s eyes roamed over her, coming back to hers, full of heat and questions. “Are you sure?”
Not remotely, but now that she’d opened Pandora’s Box, she wasn’t about to back down.
“Hell, yes, I’m sure.”
Jaxon stepped closer, stroking a thumb down her cheek. “This won’t change anything, will it?”
A tremor ran down her spine. “How am I supposed to know? You’ve spent the last fifteen years thinking we kissed. We might as well make that reality,” she said with far more bravado than she felt.
“What if something changes between us?”
Isabella’s heart pounded so loudly she could hardly think straight. “I’m not going to stop being your friend, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
He ghosted a smile. “Strangely, I’m not worried about that at all.”
“Then, what are you worried about?” Her voice sounded foreign to her – breathy, expectant.
“That I’ll like it… too much.”
Isabella’s breath caught. Her body tensed in expectation, her apex throbbed insistently. What had she done? Without a doubt, this was going to change everything. There was no avoiding it. “Would that be so bad?” She blurted, then thought better of it. She wasn’t in any condition to handle his rejection with grace. “Never mind,” she said with a wave of her hand. “If you don’t want to… then, that’s fine,” she stuttered on a shallow breath. At least it was dark enough he couldn’t see her flaming cheeks.
His hand came around her neck, hot and firm. “No, Iz. I want very much to kiss you.”
Her heart nearly leaped from her body as he pulled her in, his mouth grazing hers with the slightest of touches. A million sparks lit behind her eyelids as his mouth passed slowly back and forth across hers. His lips were soft as satin, smooth and insistent, and Isabella locked her knees to keep from falling into him. His other hand came to her cheek and her stomach gave a slow, delicious roll as Jaxon slowly deepened the kiss, tongue tentatively seeking hers.
Every nerve in her body went on high alert, and then it was like a match to a fire and the bottle slipped through her fingers, spilling onto the ground. An inferno roared through her, and she surrendered with a moan, clutching his shirt, letting the heat tumble through her in waves. It was too much, and not nearly enough. Kissing Jaxon was everything she’d always imagined and more. This was no chaste kiss given to a best friend. This was the kiss of a man who wanted her – body and soul.
“Oh my god,” she gasped when they separated, breaths coming in ragged gulps.
Jaxon’s eyes were dark and hooded. “Stop talking.” He dropped his head and kissed her again, and again, one hand still at her neck, the other roaming up at down her side, exploring her body and leaving a trail of fire wherever he touched.
His kisses were heaven, filling a place in her heart that had been pining for this for far too long. The sounds of their breathing mixed in with the sounds of the night peepers and the crickets and an owl in the distance. If only time could stand still, and they could remain here untouched by the reality that would inevitably crash in on them. Too soon, it was over.
“Iz,” he murmured when they broke apart a second time, his breathing as labored as her own. “I… we…”
“Don’t say it,” she cautioned, even though she could feel in her bones what was coming.
“You’re the most incredible woman,” he said, thumb stroking her cheek again, as if she were cherished.
She let out a half-hysterical laugh. “It sounds like you’re breaking up with me and I’m not even your girlfriend.”
“I wish you were,” he muttered with an intensity that shocked her. While half of her heart soared at the declaration, the other half cringed at the regret she heard underneath it all.
“Why shouldn’t best friends be together?” she uttered, heart in her throat. “You know me better than anyone. Why wouldn’t we be perfect together?”
He kissed her forehead, and although he hadn’t yet said the words, her heart sank. “Because I’m broken, Iz. I can’t be with anyone. If we…” Jaxon inhaled sharply. “I’d break you, and I couldn’t live with myself if I did that.”
Tessa Layne. Ride Fast: A Roughstock Riders Novel (Kindle Locations 528-568). Shady Layne Media.
The big thing about this book is Jaxson’s inability to confide his issues. In spite of the insane attraction between him and Isabelle, he repeatedly denies them both the happiness they deserve.
It takes a lot of ups and downs, laughter and tears, even a bit of family drama for these two to get it together.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Tessa!
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Tessa Layne writes smokin’ hot contemporary cowboy and military romances filled with tenderhearted tough guys and sassy strong women who capture their hearts.She grew up in Colorado in the mountains at the edge of the Great Plains. There, she met her own smokin’ hot Cowboy and they had a whirlwind romance to rival any novel. She believes in Happily Ever Afters, loves fireflies, horses, and breathing clean country air. Her favorite thing to do is to sit on the porch swing with a glass of Rose, listening to her Cowboy pluck his guitar!
Feel free to drop her a line (links below) – She loves to hear from her readers!