In small towns, dirty little secrets don’t remain secret for long…
Everyone loves Parker Morgan, especially the high society ladies who pay thousands for his time. Becoming a male escort hadn’t been something Parker wanted to do, but when his family needed money to survive, he compromised everything he believed in to make ends meet. But there are two things he refuses to do—one, be paid for sex. Two, let himself fall for his beautiful new neighbor. She’s too pure and sweet for him. And that sadness in her eyes… he doesn’t want know the cause of it. He has too many problems of his own.
A war widow at only twenty-two, Brooklyn Reeves has lived a shadowed existence for two years. Desperate to start over, she moves to Forrestville, never dreaming her new neighbor would be so sexy—not that she wants a relationship of any kind with him. Besides, he’s completely hostile and rude anytime they run into one another. Unfortunately, he’s also her handyman, and she’s forced to repeatedly call on him when one thing after another goes wrong with her rental house.
Only, as spring turns to summer, Brooklyn begins to sees a new side to Parker—one that makes her reconsider her opinion of him. Sparks fly, igniting a hunger that neither of them can resist.
But are either of them prepared for the consequences, once Parker’s dirty little secret comes to light?
The closer I get to Brooklyn’s place, the faster my pulse races. I take a curve a little too sharply and have to slam down on the brakes. Glancing at the dash, I curse. I’d hit a forty-five mile per hour curve at seventy.
“Holy fuck,” I mumble under my breath.
What’s wrong with me? I don’t have a death wish, but with each passing day, I’m becoming more and more like my brother and less and less like myself—If I even know who I am anymore.
Brooklyn’s SUV is parked beside the house, under a small lean-to. The porch lights are on, a consideration I don’t deserve. Cutting the engine, I get out and grab my tools from the truck bed before striding to the front door.
Determined to get this over with as fast as possible, I knock and ring the doorbell at the same time.
“Hey, it’s me, Parker Morgan,” I shout.
The door swings open, and all that stands between us is screen door. My breath nearly whooshes out of me at the sight of her standing there, wearing an oversized T-shirt and a pair of baggy shorts. Her dark hair is pulled into loose pigtails. I don’t think I’ve seen a sexier sight.
Her gaze rakes over me. “I didn’t think you were coming.”
“I said I was.”
She opens the screen door and steps back to let me inside. “Yeah, I heard,” she says dryly. “Come with me.”
I follow her to the back of the kitchen, to a small closet off to one side. The door is propped open, and the single light bulb hanging down is blazing. Once I’d accidentally touched the thing and had gotten a small blister from the heat.
“Why do you think it’s broken?”
“Because I have no hot water to wash dishes or shower.”
“Did you check the breaker?”
Setting my toolbox down, I inspect the heater. It has to be at least twenty years old. “I’m surprised it’s worked this long.”
“Do you think I’ll need to buy a new one?” she asks, clearly distraught.
I shake my head. “If you did, then you’d get reimbursed. You’re renting the place, remember?”
“Oh.” She lets out a shaky laugh. “It’s been a while since I didn’t have to worry about replacing things, and before then, Braden always took care of stuff like this.”
The reminder of her husband makes me frown a little. I’m not upset with her. I’m pissed off at myself. For no good reason besides my own personal issues, I’ve been blowing hot and cold at her, instead of being an even-tempered, standup guy.
I bend down to check the pilot light. It’s out. “Found your problem.”
“You did?” She squats down next to me, our heads nearly touching.
She groans. “I could have sworn I’d checked that before I called you. Sorry.”
I glance at her. “It’s part of my job.”
A wry smile covers her face. “It’s Thursday night. I’m sure you would rather be—” Once again, her gaze rakes over me, taking in my button-down shirt and dark jeans. Her cheeks heat. “You were on a date, weren’t you?” She smacks her hand over her mouth for a minute. “Ugh. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not. You should have told me.”
Irritated at her apology, because it makes me feel like more of an ass, I growl, “If I had wanted you to know my personal life, Brooklyn, I would have told you.”
She jerks her head a couple of times, forcing a smile on her face, but the hurt in her eyes is evident. What’s wrong with you? I ask myself for the second time that night. “Yeah. It really is none of my business. I just… if I had known, then I would have made do until you weren’t so busy.”
Would have made do? Inwardly groaning, I light the pilot and stand. Brooklyn shoots to her feet. “Don’t apologize. Like I said, this is part of the job description.”
“Right. Let me get out of your way,” she says and turns, only to bump into me and stumble backward.
“Careful,” I admonish, my protective instincts coming out in full force as I grab her wrist to prevent her from falling, but her foot slips and she trips over my toolbox.
Without thinking, I jerk her to me, our bodies colliding against one another in the cramped space. Her pretty eyes fly to my face and our gazes collide. There’s a hitch in her breath, just like when I’d helped her with her groceries.
Neither of us moves an inch, and I don’t let go. Instead, I begin to caress her skin with my thumb, right against the pulse point on her wrist. It’s beating out of control, from almost falling or because I’m touching her, I’m not sure.
“Parker,” she says softly.
“Yeah,” I answer in a voice I barely recognize. I dip my head, needing to taste her. Needing to get the inevitable over with.
“Let go of me.” Her sweet breath fans over my lips, and I freeze.
My intentions had been noble. I hadn’t wanted her to fall, but now I don’t want to let her go. I want to keep her here, where she belongs, with her hot little body pressed to mine. My free hand settles on her hip and squeezes.
“Please.” Tipping her head back, she licks her lips and it’s then I notice how badly her body is shaking in my arms. Her eyes are so wide that there’s hardly any color.
“Don’t be scared,” I whisper. “I won’t hurt you. I promise.” I nip at her jaw and kiss my way up to her ear. Her skin is soft, hot, and tastes like heaven. There’s nothing artificial about her. Nothing demanding. “You like that?”
“Oh, God. Yes.” Her hands slide up my arms, fingers curling around my biceps. She says my name, a little plea that makes me close my eyes.
I suck in her earlobe and bite down gently, rocking my body against hers. Sliding my hand down her hip, I cup her firm ass and then glide my fingers down to her thigh to pull it up high and tight. I rock against her, making her head fall back on a moan. Need builds inside of me.
Pressing my hand against her lower back, I pick up the pace, rolling my hips, and making sure that my dick hits her in just the right spot.
She whimpers a little, a small, helpless sound that makes me so hard I can barely think. I just want her. “That’s such a pretty little sound, baby. Make it for me again.”
I feel her lips on my neck, the tentative lick of her tongue. Pleasure floods my system. My chest fucking heaves, like I’ve just lifted weights for the past hour and finally stopped. I cup her ass with both hands, rubbing against her… watching her cheeks flush and her white teeth come out to bite at her bottom lip.
Suddenly, her hands come between us, pushing at my chest. “Don’t… Please. You can’t… I can’t. My—I’m still… widowed.”
She makes no sense, only the catch in her voice bringing me out of my driving need. Sympathy replaces it as I remember how alone Brooklyn is in the world. Growing up with a sorry excuse of a mom like Crystal, I know how that feels. Only, Cole and I always had each other, and then once Kelly was born, we focused everything on her.
“I’m sorry for making you think I could.” She shakes her head. “I’m sorry.”
Damn it. I have to force myself to let go of her slowly, gently… not like I’m throwing her away because I’m pissed off. I’m anything but. “It’s no big deal,” I say and kiss her nose. “No harm, no foul.”
She continues to stare up at me, confusion, desire, and sadness swirling in those grey depths. “No big deal?”
I touch her cheek. “I meant about saying no.”
Her lashes flutter, fanning out on the tops of her cheeks. “Oh.”
“Give the water an hour to warm up and then try again,” I say, all business now. It was a mistake to touch her, but at least it didn’t go any further. Grabbing my toolbox, I take a step back, out of the confines of that small room and away from the desire roaring for me to take her. “Text me if it doesn’t work.”
She nods, swallowing so hard I can hear her. “Because you’ll be with your date and don’t want to be interrupted?”
No, baby, I’ll be thinking of you and doing God knows what in the shower to take the edge off. Actually, I know exactly what I’ll do. “Something like that.” Or I could call Dani and see if she’s still around. A part of me rebels at the thought. I can fuck who I want now, I remind myself. I can be with whomever I want. My terms. Not anyone else’s. “Is there anything else you need?”
See, I can do this. Calm, professional, and oh, so helpful. Besides, after what happened, I’m pretty damn sure she won’t be asking me to do anything for a while. And I’m pretty damn sure I need the space from her, now more than ever. No matter my newfound freedom, Brooklyn doesn’t strike me as the type of girl I can fool around without consequences.
“Tomorrow, could you come over and repair the back door on the screened-in porch? It’s not closing properly and I can’t lock it. And the window in the guest bedroom won’t lock either. I like to lock things at night—you know, for safety, not because I’m obsessed with locks.” She wrings her hands, her face worried and embarrassed as hell. “If you already have plans, then don’t worry about it. I can wait until you do have time.”
I can’t have her feeling unsafe. She’s all alone in a new town. “Make a list for me, sweetheart.”
She reaches out to touch my arm, her hand hovering before she pulls it back. I frown. “I’ll make it worth your while.”
I blink at her. Hadn’t Dani said those very words to me?
“By fixing you supper,” she quickly adds, turning away to grab a sponge and wipe at the kitchen counters. “I’m a decent cook, or I can order a pizza. Does anyone deliver out this far?”
“No,” I snap
Her embarrassed-driven cleaning stops mid-swipe. “Fine. No dinner.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” Yet, I keep giving it to her like that every time.
She looks up at me expectantly.
I should stop while I’m ahead. Pay someone else to come out here and help her instead of me. It’s obvious that I can’t control myself when I’m around her. I can’t deal with that right now. For one, Brooklyn deserves better than me. And two, I’m leaving in a couple of months. Without anyone else.
“No one delivers out this far.” Obviously, I have brain-to-mouth issues that need work.
Her forehead wrinkles adorably. “So…”
“I’ll be back tomorrow evening.”
A surprised blush stains her cheeks. “Then I’ll have supper waiting.”
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