Former Army Captain and venture capitalist Preston Guthrie has always had a thing for Cat Kingston, but he never felt like he could date his best friend’s sister. Plus, he’s a wrong-side-of-the-tracks guy and she’s a white-picket-fence kind of woman. Yet when they met again just before he was deployed, sparks flew. A fire ignited. And the heat was hot. For the first time, he thought a relationship with her might be possible…until an injury in the war changed everything…
Journalist Cat Kingston had a rough couple of years, surviving a broken engagement and the loss of her job. But connecting with Preston last fall seemed right. They shared steamy Skype sessions while he was overseas—until he was wounded, and cut her off without explanation. Now he’s back in town to be the Best Man for her sister’s wedding…and she wants answers.
Preston’s struggling with a leg wound, but the war scarred him on the inside, too. When Cat pays him a surprise visit and her brother catches them in a compromising position, Preston tells him they’re dating. He’s not sure how he can spend the entire wedding week fake-dating her when the chemistry between them feels anything but…
Whoever this woman was, he was certain she was not a prostitute. His friends weren’t that tacky. But no reason he couldn’t play along for a bit. Even with his bum leg, he’d had plenty of offers from sympathetic young things pining to do their patriotic duty for a fallen soldier. He’d never been that desperate. Still wasn’t. But he’d love a distraction. Love to forget everything for just a few moments: the pain, the hell, the woman he’d left in the dust.
The lady in black sashayed across the room to stand directly behind him, where he couldn’t easily turn to see her face. She looped cool hands over his eyes, leaning her elbows on the top of his chair. Raindrops rolled off her jacket and landed on his neck, sending a slight shiver cascading down his back. A clean, delicate fragrance he couldn’t quite place enveloped him in a cloud of scent.
“What would you like tonight, soldier?” Her voice was smooth as silk, but her hands trembled, making him think she must be young, inexperienced. She brushed her lips softly along his neck. He would put a stop to this nonsense in a minute, but God, it felt too damn good to be touched.
The image that played before his eyes, stabbing his heart with the same immutable pain as his worthless leg, was of another woman, not vampy, not sultry. Soft blond hair, a smile as sweet as homemade sugar cookies at Christmas. More slender than curvy, but just right for his tastes. There’d been a time before his injury when he’d almost believed he could make up for his shitty upbringing and be the man she needed. But not anymore. And not ever.
The war had changed all that.
That scent. Lavender, that’s what it was. Sweet and old fashioned, a huge contrast to her provocative behavior. Familiar. And that voice, too, once you peeled off the layers of that phony lilt.
His heart accelerated, his senses sharpening with suspicion. “Why are you here?” he asked as casually as he could manage while he reached up his hands and curved them around her wrists. Slender, just like hers.
“Your friends sent me to show you a good time,” she said. He ran his hands lightly up her arms, stopping just below her elbow.
His heart pumped equal parts dread and anticipation through his body. Too many coincidences had raised his spy sense. Her timidity, the disguise, the sweet smell that had permeated his dreams every bloody night in the hot, arid desert. This was no stripper. Or dancer. Or whatever masquerade she was playing at. He didn’t know how or why, but he’d recognize Catherine Kingston if he was blind and deaf.
His hands stilled at her elbows. For one moment, he stroked the soft skin, enjoying the forbidden feel of her. Then he tightened his hold, pivoted his shoulders, and sent her tumbling into his lap. The hood tipped back, and he found himself staring into a pair of angry eyes the color of a September sky.
She struggled against him, but he didn’t ease up. His leg might be just about useless, but everywhere else, he was lock-grip strong. He’d pinned her as easily as a judo master’s takedown.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
About the Author
Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about courageous but flawed characters who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a former Golden Heart winner who writes series romance for Entangled Publishing and lighthearted contemporary romance for Montlake Publishing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, three kids, and Posey, a rescue cat with attitude.