Excerpt: NEED YOU NOW by Emma Douglas
Welcome to the small island town of Cloud Bay, where it’s never the wrong time to find a love that’s oh-so-right. . .
Caleb White knows what he wants out of life—and being a star tennis player is not it. After speaking to the press about his plans to retire, Caleb decides that a trip to quaint, beautiful Cloud Bay for its legendary music festival is exactly what he needs. There will be time to figure out what to do with his life without a racket in his hand soon enough. Until then, Caleb is content to be stuck on an island with CloudFest’s gorgeous director Faith Harper. . .
The daughter of a famous rock star, Faith knows all about fame, fortune, and hot flings that aren’t meant to last longer than a few good songs. Gorgeous, built Caleb is a temptation she can’t resist, but she’s not prepared for the way he makes her feel. . .and the dreams that they both share. What begins as a carefree distraction deepens into something real. But is Caleb ready to put his celebrity behind him and give life in the slow lane with Faith a chance?
So maybe that was the wrong thing to think about.
She steered the car through the familiar bends of the road from Salt Devil to Danny’s place, not needing to really pay much attention to what she was doing. She could make the drive with a bag over her head. Could probably drive all around Lansing that way and never miss a beat.
Unlike her heart, which was bumping just that little bit too quickly to let her fool herself into thinking she didn’t have a rapidly developing case of, to quote Ivy, “flaming panties,” when it came to Caleb White.
Well, her panties were just going to have to cool it a little longer.
She let her left hand drift out the open window, fingers spread to catch the night air rushing against her skin so one part of her body had a chance to feel cool. “My mom would tell you that’s a terrible habit,” Caleb said. His voice sounded lower in the darkness.
Engine vibrations. That was it. Blame it on the roar of whatever supercharged monster engine Will had put into the Mustang. That was what was making his voice sound so good.
Note to self: Drive the Prius if you ever have to share a car with this man again.
“I know this road. There’s nothing I could possibly catch my hand on.” She turned her head slightly to look at him for a second. He’d lowered his window too, his elbow resting on the window frame, his fingers gripped around the top. “And hello, pot, kettle, black. You do not have all limbs inside the vehicle, Mr. White.”
“My hand isn’t sticking out,” he said.
“And what would your mom say about that response?” “She’d tell me not to be a smart-ass.”
“I think I like your mom. What does she do?” “She’s a doctor. I think she’d like you too.”
Faith shook her head. Nope to him getting any kind of wrong idea. “I’m not really the kind of girl mothers approve of.”
“Rock star dad. Tattoos. Not interested in settling down.”
“You have tattoos?” he said, sounding intrigued. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“That’s because so far you haven’t seen any parts of me where they’re noticeable.”
“I see.” He sounded even more intrigued. “But they’re somewhere a mom might see them?”
“I think it’s more the alcoholic-rock-star–womanizing- dad thing than the tattoos. My family’s reputation precedes me. They think I’m going to have my wicked way with their precious boys and break their hearts.”
“Are you meeting these moms via time travel? That all sounds very nineteen fifties to me,” he said. “And just so you know, I am on board with wicked ways.”
She laughed at that. “In my experience, most men are.” “Maybe the men you meet are smarter than their moms.”
“Oh no.” She pulled her hand back in the window as the approached the turn-off to Danny’s drive. “The moms have my number. I’m not the marrying kind, as they used to say.”
“Really?” He sounded skeptical. “Trust me.”
“I take it this is you telling me that if I ever get to sample your wicked ways, I should beware?”
She tried to ignore the way the rumble underscoring “wicked ways” made her want to invent some very wicked ways on the spot. Dammit. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” She pulled into the drive, rolled the car to a stop outside the gate. “And, not to change the subject or anything, but we’re here.”
Caleb blinked. “So I see. Any point in me asking you in for a nightcap?”
As much as part of her wanted to say “hell yes,” she shook her head. “Not tonight.”
“Rain check on that too?” “We’ll see.”
“All right,” he said. He didn’t sound that put out. She didn’t know if that was good or whether she should be a little insulted. Caleb undid his seatbelt and turned to face her. “Then I’ll say good night. And I’ll tell you one more thing.” He slid a little closer along the seat and leaned toward her. Not too close. Giving her plenty of time to tell him to back off. To say no.
She stayed right where she was. Pinned in place by the weight of that blue gaze and the pounding in her chest and the heat suddenly burning through her again. She tried to sound casual. “What’s that?”
“The same thing I tell my mom when she’s butting into my love life. That I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself.” He leaned in close, until his mouth was hovering only a couple of inches from hers. “Also, that I believe that when you’ve beaten a girl at pool and hitched a lift with her in a Mustang that it’s only polite to kiss her good night.”
“Oh,” was all she had time to say before he closed his mouth over hers.
She couldn’t pretend she hadn’t thought about what it might be like to kiss him over the last few hours. What sort of kiss it might be. Most of her first kisses had been the hot, fiery, let’s-get-naked-fast kind.
Caleb White was undeniably hot but this kiss was . . . different. His mouth coaxed hers, gently, his hand cup- ping the back of her neck. Each tiny change in angle he made seemed to connect with a different nerve. First her lips were tingling, then hot, and then the heat spread out and down from there in a molten rush.
She opened her mouth and tasted him, tasted whiskey and man and heat. He groaned but he held her there, suspended with him in the dark, focused just on him and the places their bodies touched. She wanted more. Wanted closer.
But as she swayed toward him, tried to slide around in the seat so she could get nearer, he pulled back, leaving her startled by his sudden absence.
“Good night, Faith Harper,” he said. And then he was out of the car walking away from her, vanishing into the night when he stepped beyond the reach of the head- lights, leaving her wondering exactly what the hell had just happened.
Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
Emma Douglas would love to live in a world where professional napping was a thing. But until then, she thinks writing books is a pretty awesome alternative. When not writing about imaginary people, she can be found reading, doing something crafty, binge-watching TV, playing her latest song crush on repeat, or singing badly in her car. She lives in Melbourne, Australia in a tiny house stuffed full of books, too many craft supplies and two cats who take up more space than you would expect. Find out more about Emma at www.emmadouglasbooks.com.
Twitter: @Em_Douglas1 // @SMPRomance