Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.
Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?
“How are your mom and dad?”
“About the same, I guess. Dad’s still deep in denial. He’s taken her to Dr. Willson for some initial medical tests, but he’s been putting off making an appointment with the neurologist Dr. Willson wants her to see. And my mom is still…”
She looked away, on the verge of tears. Alex closed the distance between them and pulled her into his arms.
“It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”
Holding her securely with one hand around her waist, he tucked her head under his chin. She held her breath as if to keep from crying, her hands clutching the front of his T-shirt, her body tense. He slid his hand up and down her back, trying to soothe.
“It’s okay if you want to cry, Julia.”
“I’m afraid if I start crying I won’t be able to stop,” she said, sniffing.
“You don’t have to be strong all the time.”
She sighed and relaxed against him. “Sometimes I feel about as strong as a wet noodle. Superwoman I’m not.”
He held her a little closer, burying his smile in her silky hair.
“I don’t know. With a cape and some tights, you could definitely pass for a superhero. You could be Super Principal, defender of defenseless students.”
He heard her chuckle. She looked up into his face, her eyes smiling into his, even though they were wet with tears.
“I couldn’t be Super Principal. I look terrible in a cape.”
He laughed softly. “You couldn’t look terrible if you tried.”
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“For making me laugh when I felt like crying.”
Alex’s heart thudded against his chest as she stared into his eyes. He couldn’t look away. He lifted his hand and gently trailed his fingers across her full lips, her eyes, her cheekbones. Slowly, he lowered his mouth to hers, sighing at the feel of the softness of her lips. Her scent, something floral and sweet, surrounded him, intoxicated him. Need pulsed through his veins, but he held back, keeping his kisses light and tender when he wanted to mould her against him and explore every inch of her body with his hands and his tongue. She made a little sound of pleasure deep in her throat and, straining upward to wrap her arms around his neck, flattened herself against him, breast to chest, sex to sex. Restraint snapped. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. She opened her mouth to him and his tongue swept every corner, mating and dancing with her tongue. Placing his hand on her buttocks, he pulled her against his growing erection, rubbing against her mound. She moaned in response, moving against him.
“Mommy, are you going to tuck me in?”
Julia pushed away from him at Ava’s plaintive call from the top of the stairs. Shock registered in her eyes as she stared at him, her chest heaving with her labored breath. Arousal, exhilaration, and complete and utter surprise pounded through his blood. He hadn’t expected fire to ignite between them, hadn’t expected her response. Hell, he hadn’t even expected his own response. He knew he was attracted to her, but the need he’d felt, the all-consuming desire, had completely blindsided him.
“I…I…should see to Ava,” Julia stammered, her eyes still wide with shock. Her hair was tousled, her lip gloss smudged. The taste of her was still in his mouth. He still wanted her, but instead he took a step away.
“I should go.” But he couldn’t make his feet move any further.
“Yes,” she whispered. She stayed rooted to her spot.
He wanted to touch her again, to kiss her, but he knew if he did he wouldn’t be able to leave. They were both on the edge, and it wouldn’t take more than a touch to set the flames ablaze once more. And this time he didn’t think either of them could stop.
He closed his eyes, his hands clenched at his sides. That might be okay for him, but he knew Julia wasn’t ready. She’d hate herself if she lost control and had sex with him now. Worse, she’d hate him.
“Go see to Ava.” He heard the husky note in his voice, the unmet need.
“Yes.” Still, she didn’t move.
Their eyes met, desire dancing between them. It took every ounce of strength Alex possessed to turn away and walk out of her house. To walk away from her.
On Sale for $1.99 at: