The third book in Marquita Valentine’s Kings of Castle Beach series is out now and I have a sneak peek for you. This book can be read as a standalone.
“You’re a good dad,” True says, her eyes on the room and not me. I know what she’s seeing—tons of pictures of River and me, along with framed artwork and classwork. “Your daughter is lucky to have you.”
Quickly, I rummage through the drawer and get a fork and knife, swiping a paper towel from the roll, then placing it by her plate. “I think I’m lucky to have her.”
“What was she like as a baby?”
Not exactly the conversation I want to have with True, but her interest in River is welcome. I want to share my daughter with her. I want True to fall in love with her, just like I have. “I’m pretty sure it’s the most idiotic I’ve ever felt in my life. The only thing I had going in my favor was not being exhausted from giving birth or having to breast feed.”
“I think all parents feel that way—ill-prepared, that is.”
“That’s a real pretty way of saying it, but I felt like a dumbass. Plain and simple.” I laugh, thinking of the times I diapered River wrong, or when I accidentally pinched her skin while buttoning up her pajamas. Or when I fed her yogurt before she could have cow’s milk. Poop for days. “I like to think I graduated from dumbass to moderately capable—on most days.”
True polishes off the last of the omelet. “I’m sorry you had to do it on your own.”
“I had help. Of course, I hated asking for it, but I still had it. Too many siblings with their noses where they didn’t belong.”
“Of siblings or being a single-parent?” I lean against the counter, simply taking in her wholesome beauty.
“Siblings, for sure. As for the other, I don’t envy the job a single parent has, but I did think I’d have kids by now—other than the ones I get every year.” With a sad smile, she washes down her brunch with the rest of the mimosa. “I thought I’d be in a very different place by now.”
You’re with me and that’s where you belong. I grab the pitcher from the fridge. “More?”
She nods. “Yes, please.”
Filling up her glass, I keep talking. “I think it’s only fair that I tell you about my dating life while we were apart.”
Her lashes lift. “I don’t want to know about the other women you loved.”
I pour myself another drink. “There weren’t any other women, True. I was celibate for years, Sunshine…”
Her brows crash together. “Was celibate… as in you stopped being that way?”
“Couple years back. Met a woman. Dated her for a few months, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t give her what she needed.”
True laughs, pushing the half-filled glass away. “I find that hard to believe.”
I move to stand beside her, unable to stop myself from touching her soft skin, the curve of her cheek… the elegant lines of her neck. “She couldn’t have my heart. It’s been with you the entire time.”
“Duke… why do you say those kinds of things to me?” She closes her eyes and I dip my head, intent on claiming the sweetest lips I’ve ever tasted. “I wish you would be mean to me. Make me hate you.”
“Never,” I promise, teasing her lips with the tip of my tongue. “Couldn’t hurt you on purpose, Sunshine.”
She gets to her feet. “I’m not drunk. I want you, but I want to leave, too.”
My heart pounds so hard that I can hear the blood pulsing in my ears. “I want you too, but not just for today. I want you for the rest of my life.”
Our mouths crash together so hard that our teeth hit. There’s no finesse, only want and need and heat. True pulls at my hair and we break apart, chests heaving like synchronized swimmers. Her lips are bruised, swollen, and there’s a glint in her pretty hazel brown eyes that make me start for her again.
She meets me halfway, a little growl in her throat as her nails sink into my shoulder. The stinging pain catches me off guard for a second, but then I’m crushing her to me, welcoming everything she has to give me.
She’s in my arms.
I rip at her shorts, at her top and the flimsy bra she’s wearing underneath until she’s nude and trembling with desire, little pants leaving her mouth. I want to devour every inch of her, take her breath as my own, and leave my handprint on her heart… possibly her soul.
God knows she’s already done as much to me.