Keely Andersen hasn’t visited her hometown more than a handful of times in the last ten years, but when her doctoral research sends her back to Marietta for the immediate future, she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and the mountains she missed so much. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Keely’s truck breaks down a few miles outside of town. When help arrives, she finds herself face to face with her brother’s best friend – the guy she used to call big, bad and gorgeous – Jonah Clark.
Still settling back into Marietta after a harrowing stint as an army helicopter pilot, Jonah Clark plans to spend a few days hiking the local mountains to prepare for his job as a pilot for Crawford County’s Search and Rescue team. When he stops to help a stranded driver, Jonah is shocked to find his best friend’s younger sister is the one behind the wheel. Only now, instead of the geeky teen he remembered, Keely is all grown up with curves he can’t resist.
Though the sparks of attraction ignite immediately, the pair is hesitant to act because of their shared past. But when a project dear to their hearts is threatened, and a child is lost on Copper Mountain, Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.
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They resumed their walk, holding hands as they made their way slowly down Main Street. She imagined all the women in the past who had strolled this way with their fellas. Some of their progeny were probably in Grey’s, others had left long ago when the locale was too much of a challenge. Keely had no idea what lured her back; part of her wondered if her heart knew something was finally here for her.
Jonah was here.
“I guess you can navigate by stars,” Jonah said. “They brought you home.”
“I guess so.”
They passed the Cut and Curl where Charlotte had informed Jonah he had an appointment to be waxed. For a second, it looked like he cringed when they walked by.
She was so moved that he’d made the commitment, even though she knew how he felt about it. Jonah wasn’t shy, but he was reserved. It was going against everything he believed was appropriate.
It took a strong man, a good man, to fight his better nature to do what needed to be done.
“What made you change your mind?” she asked slipping her arm through his.
“I don’t know. Listening to you today, I guess is what pushed me. You were right.” He moved his body and bumped her shoulder lightly.
“I was, huh?”
“Yeah. We have to finish what we started; it’s too important. Harry would have wanted it that way. He gave his life helping people, the least I can do is go out of my comfort zone.”
“Not a lot of people would do that,” she reminded him.
He shrugged and kept walking, the silence was companionable, comfortable. Finally, they ended up where he parked his truck. Oddly, neither of them knew what to do. She was happy when Jonah cut to the chase.
Deftly, he walked her around and gently pressed Keely’s back into the truck, protecting her from prying eyes and teenagers out for a joy ride. “So, about that kiss…”
“What about it?”
While his hands settled on her waist, hers traveled up his hard chest and wrapped around his neck. He leaned in and seemed to hesitate for a second, taking in her face, and examining her eyes for… something.
Sparks crackled between them, giving Keely a new understanding of chemistry. No doubt they had it in spades, but did they have the nerve to turn the attraction into something more?
“You’re so beautiful, Keely.”
“No, I…” What was he saying? She never saw herself as beautiful. Never. “Jonah, I don’t want to disappoint you.”
“But I’m not…”
He pressed a finger to her lips and silenced her. “You’re beautiful. And you’re mine.”
The prolonged anticipation was unbearable. Everything he did had stops and starts. The way he touched her set her blood on fire. Her skin prickled with every long, languid touch. It was palpable between them, and if she were being logical, she’d say it was because everything was so new.
But that wasn’t it at all. For her, when Jonah held her, touched her, it was like she’d found home.
This time, he started on her neck. His lips touched the skin with barely a breath, and he seared a path up to her jaw, where he teased with his teeth. Keely gasped as he held her tight, nipping and teasing, until finally claiming her mouth.
Light exploded behind her eyes, this wasn’t just chemistry between them, it was magic. As gentle as he had been this afternoon, tonight, Jonah showed no mercy. Taking her mouth fully with his, moving, tasting, allowing his tongue to sweep the inside, the warmth and invasion aroused her, making her want even more.
His fingers gathered the back of her shirt, and she gasped when she felt his skin on hers, his work-roughened hands touch the bare skin of her back. The sensations, the heat, were intense and intoxicating, and had her thinking about how it would feel to be under him, naked. Moving.
Grinding against him, she had no idea the kind of reaction it would trigger, but with a groan he thrust into her, allowing his erection to press into her belly.
“You smell like heaven. Like vanilla and honey.” Jonah nuzzled her temple, leaving a soft kiss and a question.
“I want you,” he whispered into her hair. “I want to make love to you. Let me.”
He wanted her. The cliché about a person’s heart aching in their chest obviously had some basis in truth, because Keely’s heart ached. It was full, and feeling like she’d just experienced a miracle. She burrowed into his chest, getting as close as possible.
“Take me home, Jonah.”
“Home?” Pulling back, he tucked a finger under her chin and tilted her head toward him “Did I scare you? I thought…”
“You didn’t scare me. Why would you think that?’
“You said you want to go home?”
She giggled. He sounded a little desperate, and Keely figured there was nothing better in the world. “Your home. I want to be with you.”
With a long exhale, Jonah laughed nervously. “Okay. Do you have to get your car? Tell anyone?”
Keely hadn’t stopped touching him, running her hands up and down his chest. She enjoyed watching him try to maintain control. Taking a page from his book, she stood on her toes and nipped his chin, his earlobe, his neck. “I didn’t drive, and I’ll text my friends.”
“What will you tell them?” His jaw hardened as she teased him.
She wanted to say that she was going to tell everyone she was going to have sex with him, but knew that probably wouldn’t end well. “I’m going to tell them I’m safe.”
Her words weren’t an accident. She did feel safe with him. Even though her life was going to change, in every way possible, Keely knew she was exactly where she was supposed to be.
Behind her she heard the locks on his truck click, and Jonah reached around her to open the door. Like earlier today, he lifted her up and when her butt hit the seat, she slid over so he could get in.
This was a beginning. Not just for Keely, but for both of them. And she had no idea where it was going to lead.
Copyright © 2017 Jeannie Moon