A new romance is out now from author Carrie Aarons—the first book in the all-new Nash Brothers series—and I have a sneak peek for you.
“Oh, Presley, how nice to see you!” My mom’s voice brings me out of my popcorn making concentration.
“Eliza, this smells amazing!”
I turn slowly, trying not to seem too eager. She stands in front of our booth, checking out the operation, and waves slightly when our eyes connect. She’s in Daisy Duke jean shorts, scuffed sneakers and a plain white V-neck tee that has me trying to peer down into her cleavage. Her scarlet hair is down in loose curls, and I wonder what it might be like to lick some of our homemade caramel off of her … lips.
“Hey.” I nod.
My brothers all look at me at once, and I want to punch them all in the bicep. Real subtle, guys.
“These are my sons. I think you’ve met Keaton. This is Bowen, and my twins, Forrest and Fletcher.” My mom motions to us like we’re plates she pulls out for special occasions.
My brothers wave or say hi, but I can see the interest in their eyes. They think she’s hot, and I guess I can’t blame them. But I still make a sound in the back of my throat without even meaning to, and Bowen’s amused eyes hold a question as he looks at me.
“Wow. I didn’t realize the hot vet had more hot brothers.” She laughs.
Did she just call me hot?
“Oh, I’m sure Keaton didn’t tell you how fun the rest of us are. He’s the boring one. How are you doing on this fine day?” Fletcher saunters over to the front table in the tent, giving Presley his Cheshire smile.
But before she can answer, Bowen physically turns him back toward the large boiling pots of caramel and shoves the ladle back into his hand.
Her green eyes twinkle with amusement.
“Are you here with anyone?” My mom asks.
“Just my grandma, but she wandered off to talk to the high school vice principal.” She shrugs as Bowen hands her a bag of caramel corn, and she tastes a piece. “Wow, this is so good!”
“Well, since you have a free minute, maybe you could accompany Keaton on the Ferris wheel. He was just saying how he wanted to go on it.”
Forrest snorts as my stomach drops. My meddling, manipulative mother … the Ferris wheel of all things. Is she purposely trying to embarrass me?
Presley must catch on to my mother’s setup because she smirks at me. “Is that so? Well, I’m not great with heights …”
“Oh, I insist. He’s been working so hard all day, and I’m sure he’d love the company of a beautiful woman such as yourself.”
“Mom, stop, she’s clearly doing other things and I have to help here.”
If I didn’t respect and fear my mother so much, I’d wring her neck right now. I should have told her that the woman shot me down not more than a week ago. Being in any kind of confined space after that rejection was going to be humiliating to say the least.
“Okay. Let’s go.” Presley winks at me as Mom turns her head to beam in my direction.
I blow out a breath. Well, this was going to be awkward.
My brothers wolf whistle as I shed the apron I was wearing and wipe the sweat off my forehead, then leave the booth trailing Presley.
We wait on line for the Ferris wheel without talking, and as the attendant straps the metal bar down over our laps, I’m fully aware of my side pressing right into her side. Sneakers touch sneakers, knees kiss, and her smooth bare arms rub up against mine.
Being this close to her as we ride up, up, up makes me want to do crazy things. The tight control I always have on myself and my life seems to tilt on its axis when this woman is around.
“So, if I ask you out again, are you going to give me a non-answer?”
Presley chuckles. “Look at you, doc, being so direct.”
I shrug as our car crests to the top of the wheel again. “I don’t really play games, Presley. And you should know, I usually don’t date. But I want to date you.”
There. It was out there now, and I was being a grown man about this finally. Sure, I was scared shitless, and it was probably a horrible idea to date someone with my past, but from what I’d seen so far, I liked the woman.
Presley’s eyes are fixed on mine. “I usually don’t date either. I’m not exactly uncomplicated, Keaton.”
“No one said I don’t have my baggage. But I’m not asking for anything other than a nice night out with you.”
Her red mane flutters in the warm night air as she turns away for a second, looking over the town from our aerial position.
“Okay. One date.” She slowly swings her face back to me, a small smile gracing her full lips.
Internally, I high five myself. “It was the caramel corn, wasn’t it?”
She throws her head back in a laugh. “Honestly, it was probably your mother. I never want to disappoint that woman, she’s so wonderful.”
I’d have to thank my mom later for scoring me a date with this beautiful woman. “Would Saturday night work?”
The Ferris wheel brings us down and back up again, stopping while we’re about halfway up.
“Tomorrow is Saturday,” she deadpans.
I nod. “Yep. I don’t want you to change your mind. Plus, I’m not getting any younger. I’ll pick you up at seven? You’re staying with Hattie, right?”
She looks a little bulldozed, which I kind of like. Presley seems like the kind of girl who usually calls the shots when it comes to her love life, and I want to unbalance her a little. I’ve never had the urge to be spontaneous or cavalier, but with her, I’m starting to realize that my usual straitlaced rules don’t apply.
“Yeah, I’m at Hattie’s. How old are you, anyway? And what’s your middle name? I should at least know the basics before I go on a date with you. You could be a serial killer.”
Her expression is sarcastic, and I grin. “Wouldn’t that be a twist? The town veterinarian is actually a real-life Dexter? I’m thirty, and my middle name is William.”
Presley nods as if analyzing the two short tidbits of information I’ve given her. “Hmm, an older man. I don’t know how we’ll find anything in common with this three-year age gap.”
This woman is a ballbuster, and it’s interesting to find that her humor is growing on me. I’ve normally dated quiet, sweet girls.
“Oh, I think we can probably find some common ground.” I lean in a little closer and watch her gaze drop to my lips.
She pulls away a little, catching herself.
“Don’t worry, Presley. I’m not going to kiss you on this Ferris wheel. You’re not a cliché moment kind of girl, that much I can tell. And we haven’t even gone on a date yet. You should know I’m a gentleman. A gentleman who doesn’t play games. When I kiss you, we’ll both be ready for it.”