3,000 miles, TWO secrets, ONE man who can change everything.

Samantha Smiles and Renee Montgomery have been best friends for over a decade. They’ve shared laughs, secrets, and a mutual hatred for one person: Tristan Montgomery, Renee's older brother. He was the guy every girl wanted, and every guy wanted to be, and it wasn't uncommon they'd befriend his little sister just to get closer to him. Which was exactly how Samantha became Renee’s saving grace. She was the only girl Renee could trust not to fall in love with her older brother.

Until the one night, Samantha spent with him alone, leaving her questioning everything she’d ever known about the blond headed heart-throb. 
Years later, Renee asks Samantha to be her maid of honor. After being one-upped by her boyfriend's career, and with no other option, Samantha is forced to drive cross-country with the focus of their teenage ire.

He was her first kiss.

Her only secret.

Can Samantha survive the trip cross-country with the reckless Tristan Montgomery? The guy who did what he wanted, whenever he wanted, without worry for tomorrow? Or will she discover a different side of him? One that’s sweet, funny, and maybe a little bit vulnerable. And fall completely and helplessly in love for the first time in her adult life with the one man who could cause her to lose her best friend forever?

His brows furrowed, and he reached out to brush a strand of hair back behind her ear. The action caused goose bumps to run the length of her body, but he acted like it was something he did all the time like it wasn’t the most intimate thing she’d ever experienced in her entire life. “Do you like him?”

She swallowed because a tight ball of something had lodged itself in her throat. “Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because—” She shook her head, unsure why she was confessing all this. “Because he’s my best friend. He’s been there through everything. I just…”

“You don’t like him like that.”

She bit her lip, wondering how he’d known what she was going to say before she said it. “Yeah… I guess that’s it.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Sammie Smiles. Don’t settle for anything less than what you want.” He ran his thumb across her chin, touching her in such a comfortable way you’d think they’d been friends for years. “Tell him the truth.”

“I can’t. I don’t want to ruin our relationship.”

“So you’d rather give up on what you want to make him happy?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.”

“Then what are you saying?”

“I just don’t know what to say.”

“Tell him…” His eyes trailed down her face, stopping at her lips. “That you met another guy. A guy who’s trying damn hard to be a gentleman right now.”

He met her eyes again, as though trying to read her thoughts. “Have you ever been kissed before, Samantha?”

She turned away, too shocked by the turn in conversation to get her mind to focus. “Why does that matter?”

“Because I need to know.”


“Because.” He touched her cheek gently with his fingertips, easing her face back toward him. “If this is your first time, I want it to be unforgettable.”

Her chest rose and fell with each breath. She was sure it was visible, but there was no point in trying to hide it now.

He smiled. “You have no idea, do you?”

“No idea about what?”

He pushed himself to his elbow. “How goddamned sexy you are.”

She covered her face, wanting to hide away with embarrassment, but he reached out softly and brushed her hands aside. “You’re beautiful, Samantha, but I think what amazes me most is the fact that you don’t know it.”

He leaned over, his forearm baring all his weight. “I normally don’t ask, I normally don’t have to, but I’m trying damned hard to keep my promise. I want to kiss you, Samantha.” His mouth moved slowly toward hers. “Now’s your chance to tell me you don’t want me to.”

She looked up into his eyes, her heart pounding like a wild stallion, but no matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried to make her lips form the words, she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t say no. She wanted Tristan to kiss her, even though an hour earlier she would’ve been horrified by the thought. But in this moment, right now, it seemed like she couldn’t live if he didn’t.

His lips moved closer, her silence inviting him in, telling him it was okay, that he could take the thing she’d built up to fairy tale proportions because this moment felt like one. A fairy tale.

His mouth came slowly, settling upon hers, warm, soft, and full. But he didn’t move at all after that, he just stayed there, right there, perfectly still. Their breaths mingled together, both hard and soft. Breaths that were full of excitement and anticipation, and made every nerve in her body abundantly aware of his every move.

It was erotic. Invigorating. Made her whole stomach tighten with tiny flutters. Just the simple act of breathing the same air as someone else, not touching, or even really kissing. When she exhaled, he sucked it in, taking so much more of her than a breath. He was taking her girlhood, her hope, and her dreams, and leading her down the path she’d never been before. Making her think she’d never really known her body because it was doing things she’d never felt in her life.

When his lips finally moved, her body melted. Like she’d been frozen, too afraid to do anything but breathe for fear she’d wake, but his lips were there, warm like a fire, slowly heating her from the inside out. He kissed her bottom lip, pulling it into his mouth slightly before letting it go. “Are you okay?” he whispered.

Because goddammit, he was being a gentleman. Being everything she never thought he could be. Being everything she always wanted but never knew it until now. She nodded, her grip on the rocks loosening.

He smiled against her mouth and took both her hands, relaxing them with his. “Relax,” he whispered, then slowly moved her hands until he laced them up around his neck. “Hold on to me.”

She felt so silly, not knowing at all what to do, but he didn’t seem bothered at all. He kissed her bottom lip again, pulling a little harder until she opened her mouth. His lips were soft, full, and nothing like she thought they would be. His tongue entered her mouth, touching hers gently with the tip, as though he was coaxing her to do the same. He felt so wonderful, tasted like winter-mint gum, and she couldn’t resist kissing him back.

He gripped her head on both sides, and her tongue touched his. A growl came from the back of his throat as his body shifted on top of hers. She may have been inexperienced, but she knew the reaction was a good one. She also knew his reaction was caused by her, and that made her feel more powerful than she’d ever felt in her life. His weight sank into her, anchoring her body to this very spot. His kiss grew deeper, more urgent, as his tongue pushed farther into her mouth, pulling out feelings she never even knew existed.

She couldn’t think anymore; his mouth was all-encompassing, his lips soft and firm at the same time, his teeth occasionally clashing against hers, and his tongue softer than any material she’d ever felt in her life.

Tristan Montgomery was kissing her, really kissing her, and she wasn’t holding anything back. The thought never entered her mind until the sounds of laughter and crunching leaves sounded from behind them.

Pushing at his chest, she scrambled to sit as fast as she could, but it was too late. When she whipped around, the girls from across the lake were making their way through the trees and weren’t hiding the fact that they’d noticed them. Samantha pulled in a breath, squeezing her eyes shut. Thank God it’s Renee. Thank God it’s them and not Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery.

He held her through her darkest moments, caught her tears on capable shoulders, but one thing kept them apart. 

At twenty-six, Katie McGregor is starting over and returning to the man she’s loved her whole life. Jake Johnson. The man whose smile made her pulse race, whose touch made her knees weak, and whose words broke her heart.

With three years of separation, Jake welcomes her into his life with open arms and that same sexy smile. But is he the same man who doesn’t do relationship? The one who thought of her as a little sister?

A thousand memories between them; one hurt to jeopardize it all.

She knew returning home wouldn’t be easy, she just didn’t know it would be this hard.

As I pulled off the freeway, I took a deep breath and tried to process all that had happened. Everything changed after our kiss. It was in that moment, alone in my bedroom, I accepted the fact that nothing would ever come of us. That no matter what I did, he’d always think of me as someone to take care of, like the little sister he had to protect. Every contact became painful, and nothing remained of the playful banter we’d always shared. He never came to my bed again. Didn’t come into my room without knocking—didn’t seek me out at all. I was depressed, alone, and knew it was finally time to move on.  

After graduation, I got the first job I applied for. A position as a photojournalist at a small paper in San Diego. Within a week, I’d packed my bags and had my car loaded. I was ready for a new start. Finally ready to put that needed distance between us so I could get over him…   
Jake placed the last of my boxes into the back of my car, then shoved his hands deep in the pockets of his jeans. “Are you sure this is what you want?”  
The tension was so thick I almost couldn’t breathe. “Yeah. It’s a great opportunity.”  
His lips lifted in a smile, but his eyes were hard. Just like the wall that ran a thousand miles between us. He stepped forward and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. The thing he’d done a million different times, but a touch I hadn’t felt in weeks. “There are jobs here too, you know.”  
My throat burned, my heart clenched, and fear bubbled inside me. Could I really do this? Move away from the last person who really knew me? The man who owned my heart? “Yeah, well. There’s nothing here for me anymore.”  
I wanted him to say it wasn’t true, that he was still there. I wanted him to be angry, or hurt like I was. I wanted him to have any other response than what he did.  
His jaw flexed, and he opened the door to my car. “I’m happy for you, Kit Kat. Call me if you need anything.”  
I promptly got inside without giving him a second glance. It was easier that way.  Easier not knowing if he was sad to see me go. Easier not knowing if he watched me as I drove away.

Taylor is mom of three young (or not so young) children she loves more than life. She runs them around endlessly, hoping she looks presentable enough to be out in public, and daydreams about fictional characters. Maybe she's crazy, or maybe she craves the barbie games she played as a little girl a little too much, but that's where her stories are born. It's where they blossom, and grow, and eventually breath life on the page of her stories. 

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