Owen Dawson is one of Eastwood’s most eligible bachelors. He could have any woman he wants, but when it comes to settling down, he only has eyes for Charlie Williams, and he blew his chance with her years ago. While Owen is busy trying to convince everyone—and himself—that the playboy life is for him, Charlie is trying to put her life back together.
After discovering her fiancé was cheating on her, Charlie packs her bags, leaves her fancy New York job, and goes back to the one place she never thought she’d return to: home. Determined to start over and stay far, far away from men, the last thing Charlie needs in her life is her first love, Owen…and the old feelings that come rushing back the moment she lays eyes on him.
While Charlie swears to avoid romance of any kind, Owen is willing to do whatever it takes to prove he’s a changed man and win Charlie back…even if it means fighting dirty.
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“Hey,” I say quietly, seeing her sitting up and looking at her phone. “You got the alert too?”
She nods and looks up. Even in the dark, I can see the fear in her eyes.
“Are you still scared of tornadoes?” I ask, stepping into the room. I shut the door so the cat doesn’t get out.
“I think it’s going to miss us.”
She nods again, pulling her lips around her teeth. “Hopefully.”
“Want me to sit with you? We can go into the basement if that’ll make you feel better too.”
“If the sirens go off, I’ll go down. And yeah…I’d, uh, I’d like if you sat with me.”
Crossing the room, I sit on the opposite side of the bed. Charlie puts her phone down and leans back against the pillows.
“Do you think it’s pathetic I’m still scared of tornadoes?”
“No,” I tell her honestly. “They are scary. You can’t do anything to prevent them or stop them. All you can do is hide.”
“Exactly. And the energy gets me all jittery.” She holds up her hand. “I’m shaking.”
I take her hand in mine, lacing my fingers through hers. “It’s okay. Try to go back to sleep if you want. I’ll listen for the sirens.”
“Aren’t you tired?”
“Not really. I closed down the bar a few times last week. My sleep schedule is always fucked up.”
“That would mess with you, I guess.”
She swallows hard, looking over me and out the window. It’s pitch black out there, and the rain comes down in sheets. Thunder and lightning tear through the sky, and the windows rattle. Charlie squeezes my hand a little tighter.
“Bad storms tended to break up before they got into the city,” she says. “We had storms, of course, but no tornadoes.”
“We won’t have one tonight either.” I give her hand a squeeze and settle down next to her. She’s still shaking, and it’s killing me not to comfort her more. Pulling the blankets back up to her shoulders, she wiggles a little closer. I don’t know if it’s on purpose or if she’s trying to get comfortable.
Heart hammering, I pull my hand from hers and rest it on her waist. The blankets are between my hand and her body, yet it sends a jolt through me. She moves closer again, and this time I know it was intentional. She rests her hand on top of mine and slits her eyes open, looking up at me.
“Thank you, Owen.”
“Of course,” I whisper back. Her blonde hair is a mess around her face, and I turn off the light on my phone. The storm rages around us, but Charlie is safe in my arms. Her breathing becomes slow and steady, letting me know she fell asleep.
It’s innocent and platonic, and I’m hit with the memory of holding Charlie while she slept off her first drunk experience. I’m working hard to tell myself that this doesn’t mean anything, yet I know this will be a new favorite memory of mine…even if it doesn’t lead to anything.
Emily Goodwin is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over a dozen of romantic titles. Emily writes the kind of books she likes to read, and is a sucker for a swoon-worthy bad boy and happily ever afters.
She lives in the midwest with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, you can find her riding her horses, hiking, reading, or drinking wine with friends.
Emily is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency.
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