Just the Thing by Marie Harte – Spotlight

9781492631880-300RGBA FLING MIGHT BE JUST THE THING…

Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn’t prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life—along with a gorgeous leggy woman who won’t give him the time of day.

Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She’s been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn’t until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.

Soon they’re sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.

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Excerpt:

“Tell me more about the Donnigans. You were pretty close-mouthed yesterday.”

“Only because you wouldn’t stop talking about dirt.” He ate some pizza, disturbed to find his appetite off. Being so close to Zoe, all he could taste was the memory of her lips. Man, what a crock. Had he told Ava he didn’t want sex with Zoe? Right now he had a difficult time concentrating on anything but her fine, fine body. Her scent, the sound of her strong voice. The mouthwatering breasts pressed against the thin T-shirt she wore.

Zoe put the pizza back down on her plate. “Is that right? As I recall, you wouldn’t stop asking me stupid questions about what to do with that dirt. I mean, who doesn’t know what a trowel is?”

“It’s a mini shovel. Why make things complicated?”

“Because they just come that way.”

“Huh?”

“Complicated.” She shrugged and ate, so he continued talking before she blasted him for being ignorant about zone types.

“What about your family?”

“We’re not done with yours yet.”

“What else do you want to know?”

She crossed her eyes, and even purposefully looking goofy, she was beautiful. “Okay, it’s like this. Example: Well, Gavin, my family is pretty tight. My mom and dad live in Portland, and I see them once a month at least. Mom is an artist. Dad owns a natural foods shop. My mom and aunt are twins, which explains how Aubrey and I are twins. I mean, were twins.”

She swallowed but forced herself to look him straight in the eye. He could see so much pain in hers. “Aubrey was in a car accident back in January, and she didn’t make it.”

Hell. When she’d told him there had been a death in the family, he hadn’t made the connection to her twin. That seriously sucked.

“I’m sorry.”

She nodded, seemed to shake it off, and continued. “I work for a major medical group, where I train users on the software the medical staff uses. It’s fun. I’m good at it, and life is great.”

“Well. That was concise.”

She grinned, showing a lot of teeth. “Yes, it was.” She took a large swallow of beer, which physically hurt Gavin to see—her lips wrapped around a phallic-looking object.

He glanced down at his pizza and forced himself to take another bite.

“Now it’s your turn.”

He swallowed and chased the pizza with half his bottle of root beer. “Nice brew. Tastes great.”

“Thank you.”

“Now that I’ve been properly schooled in how to respond to your question—and see, I can totally tell you’re an educator—my family is filled with driven people. My mom is a real estate agent who hates to lose. She’s damn good at her job too. My dad works at a pharmaceutical company. Did twenty years in the Navy, retired, then went to work in the civilian sector and is a bigwig at his firm. I give it another five years until he retires, then spends all his time cooking or playing golf.”

“Cooking?”

“He’s an amazing cook. Always makes our dinners, or did when we were kids. He still dotes on my mom, which is nice. God knows Linda can be a handful.”

She stared, all that feminine energy focused on him, and it made him warm inside. Like, freakin’ hot. He reconsidered his option about bending her over the couch…

“Go on.”

Head out of the gutter, Gavin! “Landon you know. He works out to stay in shape. Medically retired from the Marine Corps after a bullet hit him in the knee and messed him up. Now he’s a manager at some logistics firm bossing people around.”

“That would suit him.”

He shared a grin with her. The kitchen felt intimate, just the two of them standing at the counter and eating. “Hope works for my cousin at his private finance company. Cam is smart and obnoxious, but he takes care of my baby sister. Plus he’s the easiest of my cousins to tolerate.”

“Your cousins?”

“Yeah, my mom’s sister and her husband live in town. She’s got four boys. I spent my childhood with Landon competing to be better than Aunt Beth’s crew. Well, technically only three are Aunt Beth’s, but they took Brody in when he was little. He’s just as annoying as the others. A real McCauley.”

“Wow. Big family.”

He nodded. “So where was I? Oh right. Theo. My poor baby brother isn’t sure what he wants to do now that he’s out of high school. I think he wants to join the Corps, but with Landon and me coming back kind of screwed up, he’s not sure.”

She studied him. “You’re screwed up?”

She had no idea. And he wanted to keep it that way. “I was shot and medically retired from the Marine Corps too. Saw some shit overseas. Not good. Anyhow, it’s done. So I’m back here, trying to figure out what to do. I work at the gym because it de-stresses me and I’m good at it. Being physical, I mean.”

Before he could fall into the memories, Zoe distracted him. “Oh, I bet you’re good at being physical. Or so I’ve heard from Michelle and Megan. And a few others.”

He flushed. “Yeah, well, I made some dumb choices when I first got back. I drank a little too much, so I don’t like to drink anymore.”

“Are you an alcoholic?”

“Didn’t you just minutes ago yell at me for asking your aunt blunt questions?”

“I didn’t yell.”

“It felt like it.”

“Yeah, but I’m mean and aggressive, remember?”

“There is that.” He took another swig of root beer, grinning. “No, I’m not an alcoholic. But the fact I was starting to drink too much scared the crap out of me. Now I stay away from it. I don’t want my thinking impaired. So yeah, no drugs either. And no cigarettes. I have no vices.”

“Except your poor taste in women.” She paused. “Present company excluded.”

“Oh, that was a nice add-on.”

“I thought so.” She smirked.

He couldn’t help it. He put down his root beer, took her beer from her hand, and caged her against the counter.

“Gavin, what are you doing?” she sounded breathy. Aroused.

Lord knew he was.

“I just need one kiss. Then we can go watch the movie. Okay?”

“O-one. I guess.” She licked her lips.

He leaned down, feathered his breath over her mouth, and kissed her. The taste of warm beer and woman went right to his head, making him drunk on her in a way he’d only ever felt with Zoe. The kiss last night hadn’t done them justice. This one just…

He slanted his mouth over hers, deepening the kiss when she put her hands on his waist and tugged him closer. She had to be feeling him hard and thick against her, but she only gripped his belt loops and refused to let go.

Zoe participated in everything. She followed his lead, stroked his tongue with hers, and shoved those amazing breasts against his chest. Nothing with her was tentative or half done. She gave him a full-body kiss that threatened to undo him the longer it lasted.

Gavin yanked his head back and leaned his forehead against hers, trying to regain his control. Right now, his body screamed at him to satisfy his needs by sinking inside her. She’d be hot, tight, wet.

But his brain warned him to slow down. To not rush or scare her, because they had so much more to share.

And his heart…the damn thing did nothing but race in his chest and ache for a woman he still barely knew. Except he felt like he knew everything about her. Which made no sense.

He pulled back and met her gaze. She seemed as bewildered and turned on as he was.

He had to do something, or he feared listening all too well to his baser instincts.

“So no sex tonight, right?” His thick voice attested to his desire. “Bending you over the couch is a no-no?”

She blinked, blushed, and scowled. Instead of berating him for being crude, she yanked him back for a kiss that about blew his mind—and his balls clean off. “Nope. Not even close.”

She was breathing hard, her eyes straying to his mouth time and again, her hands still clutching his sweater. She stroked his chest, brushing her hands over his tight nipples.

“Not even close,” he agreed. “Not thinking about it at all.”

“Not at all.”

And they both knew they were lying.

 

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