Shining the spotlight on HEAT by Cassidy Springfield. Their love affair is a secret--and she likes it that way--but when a wildfire threatens her hometown, everything changes. This is a new adult romance...peek inside below!
Back cover blurb...
Kiley Ross and Leo Marshall have a secret. He's her indulgence, her vice. She's his compass, his impossible dream.
Kiley is home for the summer between graduating the University of Colorado and attending graduate school out-of-state in the fall. Everything is changing—friends are scattering across the world, her long lost brother has appeared out of nowhere, a wildfire is threatening the family home, and her secret affair with the local outsider—Leo—is exposed.
As the wildfire ravages the forest around the small town of Ouray, she realizes what really matters and what truly doesn't. Her resistance toward change forces her to come to terms with her own failings—or risk losing the friendships and relationships that mean so much to her. Can she break free of the expectations that have held her back in time to rescue her love affair with Leo? Can he forgive her for wanting to keep him a secret? Confronted with seeing everything she has ever known burn to the ground, can Kiley rise up and step into her own power?
Adult content excerpt...
I step toward him, more scared than I have ever been about anything. I'm scared of being rejected. As long as we were only a fling, we were free to go at any time with no explanation. As long as we were a secret, my friends wouldn't question me and I wouldn't need to defend us. As long as we were sneaking around, I wouldn't be rejected by my family or forced to argue.
I continue walking toward him until I am a few inches away. The hair on my arms is standing on end. My heartbeat is throbbing in my neck.
"I think I am in love with you," I whisper, the words choking from my throat. I have never made myself this vulnerable in my life.
Someone somewhere sometime told me to never be the first to say I love you in a relationship. I believed it and now the idea that he might laugh at my admission has my feet frozen to the ground.
"You're the only one who knows me—the real me, I mean," I say when he remains silent too long.
He stares at me, his gaze skimming over my eyes, my face, my hair, and back again.
"I don't know why I said all those mean things. I don't believe them."
"You know what people are going to say, don't you? I'm a high school drop out and you're on your way to get a PhD. I—"
"I don't care." Emboldened by him speaking, I reach for his hand. "Three years, Leo. Why have you been going along with this arrangement for that long if you don't feel the same way about me as I feel about you?"
"How do I know what you're saying right now is true?" He pulls away from my touch and moves to a chaise lounge set up on a boulder surrounded by rose bushes. He sits down, props his elbows on his knees, and looks off into the distance.
For being such a smart girl, I realize only now how terrified I am of being abandoned. My brother Brandon had died when I was twelve, he was only seventeen. He had died of an accidental overdose of heroin when visiting Devon in Boulder. The details are sketchy, but I know that his death caused a chain reaction where my parents watched my every move and controlled every aspect of my life until I went to college.
I remember the last time I saw Devon, who was twenty-three at the time of Brandon's death. He had been running down the hallway at the hospital, away from me, ignoring me when I called to him. He never said goodbye. In one night, I lost two brothers and no one had ever told me why or explained anything to me.
So, in reality if I look at the situation straight on, I know that was the instant I stopped telling anyone how I truly felt about anything. I never wanted to rock the boat, never wanted to be rejected, never wanted to be left again.
I join him on the chaise, sitting cross-legged behind him. I pull the sleeves of my dress over my hands and exhale. How do I convince him that what I'm saying is true?
"Do you care that you dropped out of high school, Leo? You got your GED, you worked on your music, you have a great band..." I inch closer to his back. He hasn't moved or spoken since we sat down. "No one cares about high school bullshit or small town attitudes in the real world. I don't. Or is it that you are bothered by me wanting to be a neuropsychologist? Are you intimidated by me?"
"I'm not intimidated by you," he whispers.
"No?" I smile because he sounded like a little boy when he said that. "I know I'm falling in love with you because you are the only person on this earth whose opinion of me actually matters." He sighs, his shoulders heaving with the effort. I scoot a little closer. "I know I am in love with you because the thought of never seeing you again, or never kissing you again, or never touching you again scares me more than anything." I drop my hand against his shoulder.
He looks at me then and I'm shocked to see tears in his eyes. He shakes his head. "I want to believe you."
"So believe me." I wrap my body around his from behind—my legs around his hips, my feet on his knees, my arms around his chest, and my chin against his neck. "I will go into the great room right now and scream 'I love Leo Marshall' if that will make you take me seriously."
He holds my hands in both of his and laughs. "Please don't. I'm not sure how having a girlfriend will affect my image as a sexy lead singer. It might be bad for business."
I kiss the side of his neck and tighten my legs around him.
"I'm sorry I made a scene in front of your mom earlier." He caresses my legs from knee to thigh and leans backward against me. We look each other in the eye. "Does this mean you don't want us to end when you move to Los Angeles?"
"I'll keep you around until I find someone sexier, less dramatic..."
His gaze moves over me until locking on my neck. Abruptly, he sits up and shifts positions so that we're facing each other. He grazes his fingers over my neck and frowns. "What happened to you? Are these bruises?"
My hand rushes to my neck. I think of Joshua. I nod.
"It's okay, don't worry about it," I say.
"I'm worried about it, what happened?"
"Joshua got a little out of hand."
"Out of hand how?"
"He didn't like being blown off, he attacked me, wanted to..." Tears shimmer in my eyes and I can't stop them. I've held too much in for too long. Emotion breaks out of me.
"He attacked you?" His hands are on either side of my neck and he's flicking his gaze between the bruises and back to my eyes. "Tell me everything."
"We were fighting about you, he said if I could give it up to you, then I could give it up to him." I hold his wrists when he tries to pull away. I keep him close to me. "Calvin Ritchie actually kicked his ass for you so calm down." I tell him the whole story. He presses his forehead against mine. His thumbs smooth away the tears that slide down my cheeks. Telling him feels right. I tell him everything—it's like a dam has busted open and I can't shut up.
I tell him about how I feel like a fraud, how I'm scared about moving away, about how I worry that I might fail, how disgusted I was being that close to Joshua, how I've felt like I couldn't express myself after Brandon died and Devon disappeared, how much I love him and how I hope he can forgive me for being such a bitch.
At the end of my rush of words, he kisses first one eye and then the other to stop my tears. His fingers trace my cheekbones as if I am the most delicate flower he has ever touched and he's afraid to break me. When his lips caress mine, I sigh.
He presses me back onto the chaise. My fingers tangle in his hair. He tugs off his shirt. He is lean and sculpted and gorgeous and mine. He straddles my body and slides his hands up the side of my thighs that are trapped between his knees. I move my hands over his chest and enjoy him watching me touch him.
He rolls my dress up over my body one inch at a time. The slowness of his actions intensifies the power of seduction. I suck in my breath as the coolness of the mountain air slides across my bare skin. He pulls the dress over my head and tosses it onto one of the rose bushes. His fingers slide over my shoulders and dip between my breasts before he reaches behind me to loosen my lace bra. He drops it to the side.
I watch him looking at me. I twist my hips. I ache for him. The need is painful.
His touch is a barely-there caress as his fingertips skim across my breasts and down my abdomen. He tugs down my panties and works them down the length of my legs until he reaches my cowboy boots. Laughing, he pulls off one boot and then the other before sliding the panties over my feet.
I lie naked in front of him in the hazy moonlight surrounded by pine trees and roses and lavender with the cool breeze kissing my skin. My nipples harden from a combination of cold and desire.
He stands at the end of the chaise and removes his jeans and then his underwear until his erection stands free.
We look at each other in silence. We no longer need words, not right now.
His hands curve over my ankles. He kisses my knees, my thighs, my center, my abdomen, my breasts, my shoulders, my neck, and my mouth.
I part my legs for him.
He nudges them further apart. He slides inside me and gasps against my mouth.
I arch my back against him, needing to be as close as we can be. My breasts flatten against his chest. He pulls my braid. He nips my lips.
I embrace him. I slide my tongue against his. We grind our hips against each other—him going deeper and me egging him to go even further. It's as if our bodies are melting together as one and we'll never be separate beings again.
I am his; he is mine.
"I love you, Kiley," he whispers against my hair. "I love you so much."
I cry again because I had no idea how desperately I have wanted to hear those words. "I love you, Leo. I really do."
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