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“What’s going on with you, Brayden?” The venom in my tone peeled slowly away. “Why were you sitting in your car in a public parking lot, getting wasted all by yourself?”
He stepped closer to me, backing me up against my door. He smelled like a dark combination of aftershave and booze. He reached a hand up and traced the outside of my cheek with his fingertips, startling me.
He’d touched me a thousand times over the years, but this felt . . . different. His rough skin kept glancing across the softness of mine, branding nerve endings that left my suit of imaginary armor slipped slightly askew. My brain stuttered right past angry, unsure of what emotion to grab hold of next.
“Shoe’s on the other foot now, isn’t it?” The animosity laced between his words didn’t match his gentle touch. His fingers danced against the sensitivespot just below my ear. “You’re usually the one reminding me. I’m not your brother.”
I nodded timidly in response. The thing with his finger had disconnected the hardwire between my brain and mouth. I licked my lips. He pressed down harshly on the side of my neck, forcing my eyes to question his. A look of pain washed over his face. His shoulders rose and fell, weighted down by whatever trouble he’d placed there.
He swallowed hard. “I didn’t want him to kiss you.”
“What?” My shock forced my voice to rise above a whisper. He was staring at my lips now in a way that made me feel flush all over. “Why?”
“I don’t know.”
The pad of his thumb slid over to brush across my bottom lip.
Back. Forth. Back again.
“Thinking about him touching you was eating me alive all night. I couldn’t let him kiss you.”
He didn’t let me process his words. Without warning, he replaced the pressure of his thumb with his lips. He pressed them against mine in a firm kiss that ended too fast. It felt so intense Joey’s rules never came to mind.
“Brayden?” His name came out as a plea of confusion. I needed to speak it out loud to ensure I was really awake. I bit down on my top lip, scraping it across the ridge of my bottom teeth.
He groaned deep in his chest. “I can’t . . . I need to . . .” He didn’t finish the thought.
He took another step forward and smashed his lips back down on mine. I wasn’t even sure it could be called a kiss as much as a total possession of my mouth. His lips fit perfectly. They sandwiched between my own, completing a puzzle that had alwayslonged for its missing piece.
He didn’t play by any of Joey’s rules. He kept his mouth pressed to me while pulling and tugging my bottom lip between both of his. His hands tangled through my hair, holding me in place. He tipped my head back more, giving himself better access.
As his mouth kept moving, so did his body. He shifted forward and pulled me toward him at the same time. My chest molded against his. I moaned into his mouth and tugged the hair at the back of his neck.
He answered by sucking harder against my bottom lip as his hands slid down and palmed both sides of my ass. His lips dragged over to the corner of my mouth as he started murmuring strings of craziness I couldn’t totally understand.
“I knew it . . . God, so sweet.” His hands squeezed me harder as his tongue traced across the very top of my lip.
My breath came out in short little pants. I pulled harder on the back of his neck until he pressed his mouth back fully onto mine.
Rule Six lay in tatters at my feet.
I didn’t want him to stop. Didn’t give a shit about pressure or angles. I just wanted everything. Every single thing he could give me.
Puffy hearts and unicorns.
The whole damn rainbow.
I’m a goddamn prodigy. It’s true. Ask anyone.
I threw my first curveball the day I was born.
The whole damn town is waiting on me.
To live up to my father’s famous name. To reach for the stars.
All I want to reach for is her.
But Ashley is the sweet addiction I can’t afford. She’s my best friend’s sister. Hell, she’s practically my little sister. For years, I’ve protected her from guys that want one thing. What happens now that I’ve turned into one of them? Who’s gonna shield her from the way I was made, from my little white lies and from what I’m about to become?
My game plan sounds simple: Pitch my way into the Major League draft and stay out of Ashley Foster’s pants. That first part may be statistically difficult.
The second feels damn near impossible.
From the moment we met, I knew he was trouble.
The kind my mother sent me to find.
The type that ruins you for any other brand.
When we were young kids, Didn’t know what to call the frogs and butterflies that danced in my belly whenever Brayden came near. Now I know they have a name.
Those three little words that could heal or destroy him.
Before Brayden, my life was normal. And then it wasn’t. It couldn’t be. Ever again.
How was I to know that stealing his seat would change all our lives?
Anger and forgiveness share two halves of the same coin.
Our story might make you choose sides.
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About Harlow Cole
Harlow Cole is a former journalism student, turned techie, turned mother, who finally decided at age forty-plus what she wants to be if she ever she grows up. Her writing journey first began in sixth grade, when she and her best friend penned boy band fanfiction in an old spiral notebook. Harlow is a connoisseur of peanut M&Ms, brand-new school supplies and angst-filled love stories that always end happy. At fifteen, she met her first love. They’ve now been married for twenty years. They reside in suburban Washington, DC, where Harlow moonlights as a taxi driver for their farting beagle and teenage twins. Interference and Stealing Home are her debut novels.