When Zack Benson watched his best friend's sister Lena leave for Afghanistan, he knew he had to tell her he loved her. So he sent her anonymous love letters. Now that she’s home, he realizes he's made a tactical error. Lena has fallen for the man in those letters but still thinks of him as a brother. He has to convince her otherwise because if he succeeds, he’ll get the best Christmas present ever. But if he fails, he could lose her for good.
Not that he didn’t enjoy spending time with the family. As a matter of fact, until the holidays had come around, there’d only been a few dinners since summer ended. School, work, and life had taken precedence.
Lena shrugged and a slight flush rose on her cheeks.
“Lena, you and me, at the pool table for a game.” When it looked like she might refuse, Zack stood and went around the table.
“I play winner.” Juan called out.
“Oh, no. I can’t. I stink at pool, Zack. You know very well how badly I play pool.”
“Come on. Smart girl like you should have no problem setting up a table and sinking a few balls. Practice, that’s all.” Zack tugged on Lena’s chair. He took her hand and was surprised to feel a slight tremble in it. He tightened his grip. “Relax, I’m not going to bite. It’s just a friendly game of billiards.”
She laughed, almost nervously. He let her hand go when they reached the little cove with a table in it. They were just hidden from view, enough to be able to talk privately, or make out. But that was just his imagination running away with him.
They both took a cue, and Zack set the table. Her silence put him on edge. Usually he knew what she was thinking, now he felt out-of-sorts. He’d asked her out on a date—hadn’t he?
She’d come with an entourage.
He looked up and found her waiting for him. He made the opening break and nodded to her. “Your turn.”
She stared at him with a blush rising on her cheeks. “Where do I start?”
He relaxed, smiled at her, then studied the table, looking for her first move. “Over here,” he started and took her arm to guide her around to where the cue ball sat. “Go for the solids. You can hit the four in, no problem. Easy peasy.”
She stood behind her cue and leaned over the table.
“No. Not like that.” Zack moved in behind her.
The idea hadn’t started out as a ploy, but now that he was here, breathing in the delicious scent of her perfume, he enjoyed the heat of her against his skin where his arms met hers. They were hip to hip. He cupped her hand in his and rested the cue stick on top of it. She fit perfectly under his arm and against his body.
He cleared his throat as lust shot straight through his bones. “Ready?”
She turned her head and eyed him suspiciously. Her gaze fell to his lips for a fraction of a second, but she turned back to the table and took her shot. The light bracelets at her wrists chimed, and the purple ball rolled into the corner pocket. “Okay.” She grinned, turning into his space. His hands went to her shoulders where they met skin, supple and smooth.
“That wasn’t too hard at all,” she whispered. Her breath seemed caught in her throat, as if maybe, maybe she felt something too.
Zack stayed where he was, absorbing her warmth, the happiness that seemed to roll off her. This was what he’d wanted for her when he asked her to go out with him. Just a chance to have some fun, remember what it was like when they were younger.
He brushed strands of her hair from her face, the touch making his heart stutter. The urge to kiss her overwhelmed him. “Lena.”
With his thumb, Zack traced a line along her collarbone. He tunneled his hand under the thick weight of her dark hair. Her eyes were wide with wonder. When he dipped his head to taste her, her lips parted, and she sucked in a breath.
Zack’s heart was pounding. Like the staccato of his M16, beating against his chest.
The kiss was soft and slow, and at first she didn’t respond at all. On the verge of letting her go completely, he felt her hands come up and grip his waist. Her lips moved against his.
Nothing in his entire life had felt so right before. He sank into her.
Zack groaned at the intrusion. Lena broke away, sucked in another breath, this one filled with shock and what-did-I-do?
His eyes slid shut. Damn it.
Her stories are full of life, family, and love. You can find her reading just about any genre of romance, but her favorites are fast-paced suspense, where life is on the line and love is the only saving grace. She wants a book that makes her heart pound and her pulse race.
Beth is a member of Romance Writers of America, Pikes Peak Writers, Colorado Romance Writers, and International Thriller Writers. She is signed with Entangled Publishing and Boroughs Publishing Group.