After her husband left her for her best friend, Hayden Young moved to Hope Valley looking for a fresh start for her and her daughter. The last thing she expected was to run into the man who had rocked her world in the middle of the wine section of the local grocery store. And no matter how many times she tells herself she hates the egotistical jerk, she can’t stop the tingle she feels every time she looks at him.
Micah Langford was a man who enjoyed variety. He had absolutely no interest in finding one woman and settling down. Then a one-night-stand from his past—and the best sex of his life—came rolling into town, and the self-proclaimed bachelor started wanting more. The only problem is, she can’t stand the sight of him.
When hate gives way to fire, igniting a passion neither of them can deny, Micah finds himself thinking about the future—or more specifically, how he can fit Hayden into his. But when a case he’s working on heats up, and she starts asking questions he can’t answer, Hayden has a decision to make. She can either take a leap and put her trust in him, or she can let the secrets destroy them.
**Hope Valley is a series of interconnected, standalone, small town romances.**
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Sometime into my second beer, Micah had suggested we move away from the bar and grab a table, something I was more than happy to do. Instead of sitting across from me, he’d taken the chair right beside mine, scooting it even closer so our knees brushed together with even a slight movement.
A couple hours later I was working my way through beer number four. My cheeks were hot, and not just from the alcohol. My head felt nice and floaty and there was a really pleasant warmth blooming beneath my skin.
At some point during our chatting, Micah had positioned himself so one of his arms was resting on the table beside mine, and every now and then he’d slowly drag his fingers across the back of my hand as he spoke, the touch barely there, as though he didn’t even realize he was doing it. If he wasn’t doing that, he was reaching out to brush my hair away from my face. Sometimes he’d tuck a lock behind my ear, dragging the pads of his fingers along the column of my neck gently before pulling back. Other times he’d simply reach out to caress the strands.
“Fuckin’ gorgeous hair, sweetheart,” he’d rumbled at one point. “And so damn soft.”
I’d nearly melted into a puddle right there in my seat.
As it was, those small touches had me riled up in a way I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. I’d been in a constant state of arousal for a while now. My nipples were so tight they ached and my panties got wetter every time he laughed or smiled at me. Hell, just the scent of his aftershave, something clean and musky, was making me lightheaded.
“So tell me something about yourself,” he insisted.
“There’s really not much to tell. I’m just a normal, boring chick,” I answered evasively, as I’d been doing every time he asked me about myself. I was in this bar in the first place because I needed an escape from the shitstorm that had become my life. I’d been in search of a reprieve from the dark, and I’d gotten just that in a very big and unexpected way with a sexy stranger. No way in hell was I putting a damper on any of that by talking about my ex-asshole.
“Somehow I doubt that very much, Red. You gotta give me something.”
I played off the fact that nickname sent a pleasurable tingle up my spine and arched a single brow as I sipped my beer. “Red?”
He grabbed another piece of my hair and gave it a playful tug. “Seems fitting. Now answer one question for me. You live around here?”
“No.” The answer fell off my tongue without any thought. It wasn’t technically a lie. Ivy and I would be moving in a matter of days, and it wasn’t like I was ever going to see this guy again. Evasion was the name of the game. “Just here for a few days for . . . work.” I lifted my beer and gulped. “You?”
“Grew up here but moved away after college. Just came back for the weekend ’cause my little sis is having a baby and the devil woman decided the shower was gonna be co-ed.”
“Ah, gotcha. So, family obligation brought you back.”
“Partly. Mostly it was the threat of death from my old man if I made my sister cry by not showing up.”
My head fell back on a long laugh. When my hilarity tapered off, I caught Micah staring at me, his green eyes flashing with heat that made my heart beat faster. I cleared my throat and teased, “So, if you’re supposed to be here for a baby shower, what are you doing in a bar?”
“Met up with some old buddies for a drink. We were just finishing up when I saw you walk in.” He leaned closer, lowering his voice as his fingers took another trip along the back of my hand. “Decided the smartest thing I could do was stick around after that.”
I was suddenly feeling lightheaded in a way that had nothing to do with the beer. The green of his eyes flashed again and his nostrils flared as he watched my lips part and my tongue peek out to swipe across the bottom one.
I’d never in my life been in a situation where I craved a man I didn’t know to the point it made me squirm. I wanted Micah in a way I hadn’t experienced in way too damn long. I’d never pictured myself as the kind of woman who could pull off a one-night stand, but the thought of missing out on this chance left a sour taste in my mouth, and the more time we spent together the more I turned that idea over in my head until it seemed like the most brilliant idea ever.
It wasn’t until my body’s unexpected reaction to him that I realized I hadn’t had sex in nearly a year. Once that little discovery pushed itself to the forefront of my mind, it was like a fire had been lit in my blood. Having sex with Micah was all I could think about.
I felt like I was someone else as I leaned forward and placed my palm on his thick, solid thigh, and I hardly recognized the throaty voice that came from my mouth as I said, “I have a room a few blocks away if you want to come back with me.”
I didn’t get that flash again, but that bright, vibrant green suddenly turned dark as he rasped, “Fuck yeah, Red. Let’s get out of here.”