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While I was off pitching in the big leagues, my family was back in the small town of Sweetwater, Texas, running the family ranch. Then tragedy hit and I discovered there were secrets that my family kept, problems they hid. I went home, left behind the money, women, and fame. I took over the ranch and took care of my grandmother. I took over hiding the secrets. Then she came to town. A smart-mouthed, clumsy, too-smart-and-too-pretty-for-my-own-good city girl hiding out to write a book. She’s right here, on my property, in the cottage my grandmother rented her without my permission, and she sees too much. She knows too much.

Now suddenly my world is spinning, and she’s shoving a baseball back in my hand while baking cookies with my grandmother. She’s the devil and an angel all in one fiery little package. I decide I’ll wait her out. She’ll go back to the city. Only suddenly I don’t want her to leave, and everything I’ve settled for in my life isn’t enough. I want to play ball and I want her, but there’s that secret that won’t let go, but neither will she.

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Lisa Renee Jones


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By the time I’m at her door, it’s open and the stubborn woman is about to exit the truck, right into a river. “Wait, woman,” I shout, but she doesn’t wait. I’m already in motion, there just as her feet would sink, my arm wrapping her waist, lifting her, her body flush with mine, my cock instantly standing at attention. There’s no way she doesn’t notice. Fuck. I whirl her around to solid ground and then we’re just there, in the middle of the damn rain, pressed against each other. Droplets of water cling to her face and lips, transfixing me for what might be only seconds, but every one of them feels like a year as I will myself not to kiss her.

Don’t do it.

Don’t fucking do it.

“Jason,” she whispers, the way she had in the truck, and in a word, she has my zipper all but breaking and my mind exploding with about ten ways I could make that smart mouth of hers moan my name. And about five ways I want the mouth doing the moaning on my body.

The sky seems to moan with those thoughts, thunder erupting, lightning shooting through the darkness, while Jessica twists her fingers in my shirt and looks around in urgent inspection. “What about a tornado? Is there going to be a tornado?”

“It’s calm before they hit,” I assure her, while me with her is another story. There is nothing calm about what she makes me feel.

Another crash overhead is followed by wicked lightning that has her jumping and me scooping her up and carrying her toward the house before we both end up a target. She curls into me, holding on tight, covering her face against the rain with my chest. It’s like something out of a damn romance novel, but the only hero I plan to be for any woman is naked and then gone the next day. I can’t be what she deserves.

I manage to arrive at the porch without trouble and stomp my way up the stairs, resisting that moment when I set her down, but I do it. I set her the hell down and tell myself to step away, walk away. Go home and take a cold damn shower. Instead, she settles on her feet and lightning blasts a blazing line across the sky again. “You need to get inside,” I say, opening her door and reaching to flip on a light, one that doesn’t come on.

“It’s burned out,” she offers. “I just need to go to the living room and turn on a lamp.”

Go to the living room of the dark cottage alone. We might be in Sweetwater, where it’s generally safe, but she’s the new fresh meat in a town filled with ranchers. I’m not letting that happen. “I’ll get the light, but I want you inside away from the lightning.” I enter and take her with me, and that is where the trouble becomes real trouble. I pause and mess with the light switch several times and the burnt out light isn’t burned out. Obviously, there’s a short because now it comes on and we’re inside the cottage, standing at the door, facing each other.

She pulls down her hood. I pull down my hood. I have a flash of her holding onto that towel when it fell, her creamy white skin and puckered nipples displayed for my view.

“What are you thinking?” she asks softly. Her teeth scrape her bottom lip and I’m done.

“Oh hell,” I murmur, and just that easily, my fingers are tangled in her hair as I say, “About kissing you. That’s what I’m thinking.” My mouth crashes down on hers, tongue licking into her mouth, and sweet baby Jesus, she is sweet on the tongue, honey on a bitter man’s lips. She moans softly, her fingers grappling at my T-shirt, hanging there, twisting there.

I back her up, press her against the door, tearing my mouth from hers. “I’m not the guy you date. I’m the guy you fuck. This is a mistake. I can’t kiss you again.”

“I don’t want a date. It’s been too long since I’ve been properly fucked. So if you can’t do that, then you’re right. This is a mistake and you should most definitely not kiss me again.”

I curse and kiss her again.

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(standalone stories with interconnected characters)


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