Sequel to Amber Allure best-seller Seven Year Ache
Two weeks on a dude ranch in the mountains can only be good for what ails you, right? Unless what ails you is grief and guilt severe enough to make you attempt suicide. Still, Blake Talbot agrees to accompany his Ivy League frat brothers on a trip out west to honor the memory of their beloved friend, Charlie. Blake hopes he can find a little peace of mind under the bright Montana skies. Instead, he finds Kris Killborn, who’s the exact opposite of peaceful in every possible way.
Kris has big plans, but at the moment he’s stuck in Montana’s Flathead Valley, spending the summer working as a hired hand on the Lazy C guest ranch while he dreams of making it big in Nashville. He sure as hell has no interest in getting all tangled up with some damaged college boy from back east.
On the surface, Blake and Kris have nothing in common...unless you count a sexual chemistry that’s downright combustible. Yet underneath all that, they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Will they be able to put aside their little differences long enough to get a good look at the big picture?
...“I’m sorry,” Blake said. “I’m in a foul mood, but there’s no excuse to take it out on you.”
Kris turned then. “Better me than your buddies. They seem kinda…touchy.”
Blake didn’t bother to hide his grin. “Troy and Gaelen, for sure. But Dex is…” He shrugged. “Dex is worried about me, I guess. It makes him less fun to be around.”
“Are you and him together?”
The way Kris asked it, like it was the most natural thing in the world—like it wasn’t lighting a fuse on a load of dynamite—made Blake know he’d been recognized as a man who preferred the touch of other men. There was a certain kind of relief in that, especially since it probably meant he and Kris were one of a kind in that respect.
“Dex doesn’t swing that way. But we’ve been friends a long time.”
Kris nodded. “S’good to have friends.” He cleared his throat. “You want somethin’ to drink? There’s sweet tea in the kitchen. Or beer, if that’s your poison.”
“I don’t much care for it actually.”
Kris smirked. “Truth be told, neither do I.”
Blake looked at him out of the corner of his eye, wondering how far this man’s sense of humor about himself extended. “I thought all guys who drove pick-ups loved beer.”
“Well, I reckon I’m just a big fat enigma, ain’t I?”
“Enigma?” The insulting note of surprise in his own voice made Blake bite his lip and look away. What was wrong with him tonight? He was acting like a bigger snob than Gaelen. Almost.
But Kris laughed, deep and mellow. “I can count to fifty, too. Don’t fall over yourself bein’ impressed.”
“That’s not what I—”
“Aw, save it, college boy.”
Blake’s head snapped up at the challenge in those words, and he found himself looking straight into those big, dark eyes. They stood two feet apart, at most, and Blake could taste the strawberry shortcake Rafe had served for dessert on the air between them.
Kris held his gaze for one endless moment, then looked away with a huff of breath that sounded like a laugh. Blake didn’t make the mistake of believing it genuine.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered and ducked his head, trying to catch Kris’s eye again. “Can I make it up to you?”
Kris laughed again, real this time. When he spoke, his voice was cracked like he’d downed a shot from the flask in between breaths. “What’d you have in mind?”
Blake stared at him. The sunburn that lay across his nose gave him the look of a little kid who’d spent too many hours outdoors in the heat of the day. But the shape of his mouth—the deep curve of his lower lip and the way it quirked when he smiled—was like a dirty suggestion in a dark room.
“I thought maybe I’d let you kiss me.”
Kris tilted his head, considering. “Think that’d make us even?”
“Guess it depends on the kiss.”
Kris laughed a third time—a full-on chuckle that felt like chips of dry ice rushing over Blake’s skin. “It’s always the quiet ones.”
“What’s that supposed to—”
“Shut up, college boy.”
Kris kissed like he was trying to suck Blake’s soul out from behind his tonsils. Like the sun that had gone down just over two hours ago was never coming up again. Like it was the final night of the world, and the two of them were the last men standing. With his whole body, and every bit of his mouth—lips, teeth and tongue engaged in a full, tactical advance.
What little sense remained in Blake’s brain sloshed around, firing off random thoughts like, “Somebody’s going to see us,” and “Damn, if he kisses like this, I bet he fucks like a demon.” But maybe that was what he needed—a hard, merciless, take-no-prisoners fuck to erase the memory of what never happened between him and Charlie because Blake had been too much of a coward, and then it was too late.
Kris gripped the shoulder of his shirt and hauled him closer. “How long are you here for?”
Blake pulled back and tried to catch Kris’s eye. “For what?”
“Depends. What d’you want?”
“I…don’t know.” Blake swallowed, suddenly ashamed at how bad he was at this—how plainly green and inexperienced. “What do you want?”
Kris grinned against the side of his neck and sent a whisper down the collar of his shirt that made Blake’s toes curl inside his boots. “I wanna fuck you so long and hard you can’t let out a breath that don’t taste like my name...”