“Holy SWOON! This is a sexy, small-town romance at its finest." -- Claire Kingsley, Amazon Top 10 Bestselling Author
Back then, I had it all.
Wicked fastball. Killer instinct. Cocky grin. Full package.
(And believe me, I knew how to score.)
My senior year, I was a first round draft pick with a two-million-dollar signing bonus. Before I could even legally buy myself a beer, I made my Major League debut.
Point is, I was invincible.
Until one day I wasn’t.
After tanking my career—during the World Series, no less—the last thing I want to do is return to my hometown, where every jerk in a ball cap has an opinion about what went wrong with my arm. So when my sister drags me back to town for her wedding, I vow to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.
Then I run into April Sawyer.
In high school we were just friends, but I’d always wanted her, and I’d never forgotten her—the red hair, the incredible smile, the crazy, reckless thing we did in the back of my truck the night we said goodbye. It’s been eighteen years, but one look at her and I feel like my old self again. I can still make her laugh, she can still take me down a notch, and when the chemistry between us explodes, it’s even hotter this time around—and I don’t want it to end.
But just when I think I’m ready to let go of the past and get back in the game, life throws me a curveball I never saw coming.
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“Baseball was the only thing I ever did that made my dad proud. Without it, what’s left?”
I swallowed hard. “How about the rest of your life? All the amazing things you’re going to do and be? Maybe you can’t see them yet, but I can.”
He turned around and looked at me. Took my face in his hands. “No one has ever seen me the way you do.”
I smiled. “Maybe no one ever bothered to look beyond the surface—I mean, you’re Tyler Shaw. The surface is pretty nice to look at.”
He kissed me hard then, and deep, his tongue penetrating my lips, his hands sliding into my hair. The kiss grew hotter as he moved me backward toward the bed, shoving his pants down, and lifting me onto the sheets.
“God, April,” he whispered as his mouth traveled down my throat and his hands roamed over my skin. “I want you so much. I want you so much it scares me.”
“Why?” I arched beneath his lips and tongue and teeth and palms and fingers as they moved over my body. I put my hands in his hair.
“Because I keep imagining this life with you, this life full of things I’ve never wanted before.”
“What kinds of things?” As much as I loved his dirty mouth, his sweet words were just as thrilling, and I wanted to hear them all.
“I want to share a bed with you every night. And wake up to you every morning. I want to make breakfast for you, see you in the stands at Central High baseball games, reach all the stuff in the high cupboards in the kitchen. I want to be the one you come home to.”
I smiled. “Don’t be scared. I want all those things too.”
“But what if I fuck it up?” He kissed his way up the center of my chest and braced himself above me. “What if I’m not good at it? What if I don’t deserve it?”
“Tyler.” I took his face in my hands. “You deserve it. Do you hear me? You deserve to be loved the way I’m going to love you.”
Then his mouth was crushing mine and we were pressed chest to chest, rolling sideways with our arms and legs tangled as we tried to get under each other’s skin. He left my side only for the twenty seconds it took to put a condom on, and then he was back, easing into my body. When he was buried deep, he stopped and looked down at me. “I don’t know what the second act of my life is going to look like, but I know you’re the best part of it.”
My heart, already beating hard, threatened to burst right out of my chest. “Really?”
Tell me again, I wanted to say, even as his mouth possessed mine once more and he began rocking into me with deep, steady strokes. Let me hear those words again, because they meant I didn’t have to be alone anymore. They meant the risk was worth it.
They meant that finally I could say to myself . . . This is what it feels like to fall in love.
USA Today bestselling author Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she's not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like Schitt’s Creek, Homeland, and Fleabag. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.
Melanie is the author of the CLOVERLEIGH FARMS series, the ONE & ONLY series, AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
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