Hope Kildaire gave up her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves the twenty-seven-year-old with no time for fun or relationships. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents sends her several letters, Hope ignores them. She despises the family who disowned her father and wants nothing to do with them.
Lawyer Tyler Coleman’s job is simply to obtain Hope’s signature on a legal document. Getting it is harder than planned, though, when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. If Ty is honest with Hope about why he’s in Willow Springs, he’ll fulfill his assignment but may risk hurting her.
The opportunity to have everything she’s ever desired is at Hope’s fingertips. Will her dream come true at the expense of Tyler’s love?
He cleared his throat, breaking into her thoughts, the sound barreling around them on the empty street.
“Well.” He buried his hands deeper into his jacket pockets. “I can see for myself you’re fine. You’ve had a full day, so I’ll let you get on home. Thanks again for the great lesson this morning. And for keeping me company while you worked.”
“It was nice to have someone to talk with, so in reality, I should be thanking you. And for seeing that I was safe.”
She wasn’t sure why, but when his cheeks darkened and his chin and gaze dropped down again at her words, she was utterly enchanted.
Without thinking why she shouldn’t, Hope stretched up, intending to kiss his cheek. At the moment right before her lips touched his skin, Tyler lifted his head and turned toward her. The kiss meant for his face landed squarely across his lips instead.
They both went stone still at the contact.
She’d put no heat behind the kiss. After all, it wasn’t as if she were kissing a man she was involved with. No, she’d simply planned it as a sweet way to thank him for being so kind and solicitous toward her, as she would to anyone she considered a friend.
Why, then, didn’t this feel like a chaste kiss between friends?
Why, then, did she feel as if she’d been dropped into a spewing volcano?
And why, then, did the thought of breaking the kiss leave her cold and lonely?
Tyler kept his hands in his pockets, never moving closer, and yet she felt enveloped by him as if he’d wound her into his arms and pulled her against his body. He let out a deep, long breath, the warm air drifting over her face and sending little tingles of…something…straight down her spine. Anticipation? Expectation? Desire? She had no clue, but Hope felt more alive and more aware than she had in years.
A tiny gasp pushed from deep within her when Tyler shifted his head, changing the angle of the kiss.
His lips parted, the taste of hops and barley riding on his breath as she breathed him in. He kept the kiss light, never pushing her into more, giving her all the control of where it went.
Hope had no idea how long they stood there under the bright streetlamp on the empty corner. It could have been a minute. It could have been an hour. The notion briefly blew through her mind that they were out in the open in a town where everyone knew her and liked nothing more to do on long winter nights than gossip. As quick as it came, the knowledge that she didn’t care a whit countered it.
Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.