Okay, so here we go! I hope you love it!
Four years ago, Summer
“Come on, Laney. You gotta live a little. You’ll be eighteen in a few weeks and then you’ll be leaving for college. This is the last fair you’ll ever attend as an adolescent. Don’t you want this summer to be memorable?”
“Yes, but that does not include getting busted for drinking under age.” My best friend, Tori, gives me that look that says I’m hopeless. “What?” I ask defensively. “Daddy would kill me.”
“I thought preacher’s kids were supposed to be wild as hell?”
“I can be wild,” I tell her, avoiding her disbelieving blue eyes. “I just don’t want to be wild right now.”
“Then when? When are you gonna do something? Anything? You won’t make it a single semester away at college if you don’t learn some of this worldly stuff now, Laney.”
I chew the inside of my lip. I do feel ill-prepared for college. But the thing is, I don’t want to do wild things. All I’ve ever really wanted out of life is to find the perfect man to sweep me off my feet, get married, have a family, and live happily ever after. And I don’t have to get wild to achieve any of those things.
Looking at Tori’s expression, however, makes me feel like some kind of freak for not wanting to break the rules. At least a little. But she doesn’t understand my dreams. No one does, really. Except my mother. She was the same way when she was my age, and she found everything she wanted in life when she met my father.
“Come on, Laney. Just this once.”
“Why? What is the big deal about getting it here? Getting it now?”
“Because I want to get it from him.”
“Why?” I ask again. “What’s the big deal?”
“I’ve had a crush on him for years, that’s what the big deal is. He went off to college and I haven’t seen him since. But now he’s here. And I need a wing woman.” When I don’t immediately relent, she presses. “Pleeease. For meee.”
I sigh. I have to give Tori credit for being one seriously gifted manipulator. It’s a wonder I’m not wild as a buck. She talks me into doing things I don’t want to do all the time. It’s just that, so far, they’ve been fairly innocent. Being the preacher’s daughter and living with such strict parents makes it hard for me to get into too much trouble. Tori ought to be happy about that. If it weren’t for the restrictions being my friend has placed indirectly on her, she’d probably be a pregnant, drug-addicted criminal by now.
But she’s not. Partly because of me and my “taming” influence. And it’s those stark differences in our personalities that make us such good friends. We balance each other perfectly. She keeps me on my toes. I keep her out of Juvie.
“Fine,” I growl. “Come on. But so help me, if he tells on us, I’m blaming you.”
Tori squeals and bounces up and down, her ample boobs threatening to overcome the extremely low neckline of her shirt.
“Why don’t you just go over and do that in front of him a couple of times? I’m sure he’d give you anything you want.”
“That’ll come later,” Tori says, ruffling her blond bangs and waggling her eyebrows.
I roll my eyes as we start off across the fairgrounds. As we near the farm truck where the shirtless guy is unloading crates, I ask Tori again, “Now who did you say he is?”
“Theopolis? As in the peach orchard Theopolises?”
“Yep, that’s his family.”
“Why don’t I remember him?”
“Because your hormones slept through your freshman year. He was a senior. Jenna Theopolis’s older brother. Played baseball. Dated pretty much all the hot girls. “
“Except for you,” I add before she can.
She grins and elbows me in the ribs. “Except for me.”
“And you’re sure he won’t try to get us into trouble?”
“I’m positive. He was a bad boy. I’m sure there’s nothing we could think of that he hasn’t done ten times over.” We stop a few feet behind him, and I hear Tori whisper, “Good God, look at him.”
So I do.
I can see why Tori would find him appealing. His tanned skin is glistening in the hot
Carolina sun. The well-defined muscles in his
chest and shoulders ripple as he picks up a crate from the back of the truck,
and his washboard abs contract as he swivels to set it on the ground. His worn
blue jeans hang low on his narrow hips, giving us an almost-indecent look at
the way the thin trail of hair that leads away from his navel disappears into
But then Tori’s words come back to me and I’m immediately turned off. She said he’s a bad boy. And I’m not interested in bad boys. They don’t figure into my plans. At all. In any way. That’s why I don’t have to worry about being attracted to him.
Even though he’s hot as blazes.
Tori clears her throat as we move closer. “Hi, Jake.”
Jake’s dark head turns toward us as he pauses in his work to wipe his brow. He looks first at Tori. “Hi,” he replies around the toothpick stuck in one corner of his mouth. His voice is low and hoarse. His smile is polite and I think to myself that he’s handsome enough, but nothing to warrant Tori’s insistence on talking to him.
But then he looks over at me.
Even with him squinting in the bright sun, his eyes steal my breath. Set in his tan face and framed by his black hair and black lashes, they’re striking. The amber color is like honey, honey I feel all the way down in my stomach—warm and gooey.
“Hi,” he says again, one side of his mouth curling up into a cocky grin.
For some reason, I can’t think of one single thing to say. Not even a casual greeting, one that I would give a perfect stranger. I stare at him for several long seconds until, finally, he chuckles and turns back to Tori.
“What’s wrong with her?”
“Uh, she’s just shy.”
“Shy?” he asks, turning his attention back to me. I almost wish he hadn’t. My belly is still full of hot liquid and I’m starting to feel breathless. “Hmmm, I don’t meet shy girls very often.”
From the corner of my eye, I see Tori wave her hand dismissively. “Eh, she’ll loosen up in a minute. In fact, that’s sort of why we’re here.”
Jake glances back to Tori, releasing me from the prison of his strange eyes. I take a slow, deep breath to settle my swimming head.
“Oh, I’ve gotta hear this,” he says, leaning back against the tailgate and crossing his arms over his chest. I can’t help but notice how his biceps bulge with the action.
Tori steps closer to him and whispers, “We were sort of hoping you’d sell us a bottle of that peach wine. You know, on the down low.”
He looks from Tori to me and back again before he bends to pick up one bottle. “One of these? To loosen her up?”
“Yep. It’s sure to do the trick.”
His golden eyes return to me as he slowly straightens to his full height. “I don’t believe you. I don’t think she’ll drink it.” His gaze drops to my mouth and then on down my neck and chest, to my stomach and my bare legs. I wonder what he’s seeing—just the light green strapless sundress that sets off my tan? Or is he imagining what’s underneath? What’s underneath my clothes? Underneath my skin? “I think she looks like a good girl. And good girls don’t drink.”
The fact that he so accurately pegged me stirs up my temper for some reason. Immediately defensive, I pull in my stomach, puff out my chest, and jack up my chin. “What? I’m just some simple, one-dimensional country girl? Is that it?”
He shrugs, his eyes never leaving mine. “Am I wrong?”
“Yes,” I declare defiantly, even though it’s an outright lie. “You couldn’t be more wrong.”
One raven brow shoots up in challenge. “Oh yeah? Prove it.”
Too proud to back down, I reach out and snatch the bottle from his fingers, unscrew the lid and tip it back, taking one long gulp.
It’s just local, homemade wine from his daddy’s peach orchard, but that doesn’t mean the alcohol doesn’t sting the throat of someone who’s not used to drinking.
As I lower the bottle and swallow what’s left in my mouth, my eyes water with the effort not to sputter. Jake watches me until my cheeks are no longer full of the wine.
“Satisfied?” I ask, shoving the bottle into the center of his broad chest.
“I’ll be damned,” he says softly.
Ignoring the way his voice makes my stomach clench, I reach for Tori’s hand. “Come on. We have to get back for our shift in the booth.”
Tossing my hair, I turn and stomp off with as much dignity as I can muster. Tori is reluctant, but when I tug, she follows along.
“What the hell are you doing? You just totally screwed that up for me. Not to mention that you left the wine.”
“We don’t need that jerk’s wine.”
“Uh, yeah, we do. And what’s this about the shift at the booth? We aren’t supposed to be there for another forty minutes.”
“Then we’ll go early. It’s just a kissing booth, for Pete’s sake. It won’t kill you to work another forty minutes. In fact, you’ll probably like it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asks indignantly.
I pause in my mad trudging to look at her. I shake my head to clear it. I don’t know how that Jake guy managed to get under my skin so quickly, but he did.
“Sorry, Tori. I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just aggravated.”
“I can see that. But why? What did he ever do to you?”
“I don’t know. Nothing, I suppose. I just hate it when people assume the worst about me.”
“Assuming you’re a good girl is not a bad thing.”
“He sure made it seem like it was.” I start walking again and look back at Tori until she catches up. “Besides, weren’t you just fussing at me for not living a little?”
“Yes, but this is not really what I had in mind.”
I smile and loop my arm through hers, hoping for a quick reconciliation so we can leave the topic of Jake behind. “Be careful what you ask for then, right?”
She sighs. “I guess.”
“Now then, let’s go.”
Twenty minutes later, I’m regretting my rash decision. I’ve kissed the cheek of every pimple-faced boy in town. Tori has jumped in front of me to take all the cute guys that have come. Not that I have a problem with that. I guess I owe her since I messed up her plans for Jake. Besides, I’m not interested in any of the boys from
Greenfield. The only reason I’m working the
booth at all is to raise funds for the church.
I smile politely as I take two dollars from the next boy in line. He looks like he can’t be a day over twelve. I bend forward to give his cheek a peck. I press my lips to it and then offer mine. He kisses it sweetly then looks shyly away. “Thank you for the kiss,” I say for the hundredth time. I look down as I put the money in my till. When I glance up, prepared to ask for the next person in line, my heart stops and the words die on my tongue.
Standing in front of me, smiling like he knows I can’t breathe, is Jake Theopolis. He’s wearing a T-shirt now, a blue one that fits snugly over his wide shoulders. His pecs shift beneath the material as he digs in the front pocket of his jeans. I see him toss a ten dollar bill onto the counter in front of me. Confused, my eyes flicker back up to his. The bright, liquid orbs are intent on mine.
“I came for the peaches,” he says quietly. He reaches up to take the toothpick from between his lips. I watch, spellbound, as his face gets closer and closer. “I need a taste before I go,” he whispers, his sweet cinnamon breath fanning my lips.
And then his mouth is brushing mine. I don’t even think to resist. In fact, I don’t think at all. I only feel.
His lips are soft against mine and he smells like soap and clean sweat. His touch is featherlight until he tilts his head to the side and deepens the kiss. I feel his tongue trace the crease of my lips until I part them to let him in. In long, leisurely strokes, his tongue licks at mine, like he’s savoring the flavor of it. I savor him right back, drinking in the hint of cinnamon in his mouth. I lean toward him, bracing myself on the counter, afraid my legs won’t hold me up much longer.
Finally, he leans back and looks down into my stunned face. “Mmmm, that’s the sweetest peach I’ve had in a long time,” he purrs. When he winks at me, I feel a gush of heat pour into my stomach like hot lava.
Without another word, he turns and walks away.
Some Like It Wild
How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves?
Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. With the betrayal of two people closest to her, Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him.
Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next “feel good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake.