A sexy new romance in Mari Carr’s Italian Stallions series is out next week—featuring two best friends and their friend’s fun-loving little sister—and I have an awesome excerpt for you.
“Where’s my good-night kiss?” she demanded.
“Did your horoscope predict that too?” Gio asked, hedging. He’d decided Rafe was smart to issue the warning, that he’d be wiser to hold back until he figured out how to proceed with Keeley. It was those first two kisses that now had his emotions in turmoil.
“Keeley,” Rafe said, in the same tone he’d used a thousand times, whenever she flirted with them. It was the perfect blend of patience and exasperation, something only Rafe could pull off.
Keeley was a quick learner, so she hastened to say, “It’s just a kiss. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Gio snorted. “You’re getting spoiled.”
She gave him a haughty look. “The kisses aren’t that great, Gio,” she teased.
He had to give it to her. She had his number. Wild horses couldn’t have dragged him away from a challenge.
He reached for her shoulders, pulled her close, and made sure to give her the kind of kiss that would having her changing her tune—it was slow and hot and long.
Keeley’s hands found their way to his waist, her fingers gripping his shirt tightly. It took everything he had not to pull her body flush against his, to let her feel the impact she was having on him.
He’d kissed countless women in his life, so he couldn’t begin to understand why this kiss felt…different. Felt like so much more.
Maybe it was because he’d known Keeley for most of her life. He’d seen her at so many stages, watched her blossom into this beautiful, intelligent, funny woman.
It would be so easy to let himself get carried away, to push for more. But he wasn’t sure Keeley was ready for what he wanted from her, and he knew Rafe wasn’t.
So he slowly gentled the kiss, then backed away.
He expected this interlude would end as the previous two had. Rafe would hug her, they’d say good night, then he’d spend the rest of the night alone with his hand, as visions of Keeley danced in his head.
Keeley, apparently, had other plans. “Why don’t you ever kiss me?” she asked Rafe.
He frowned. “That wouldn’t be smart, Keeley.”
“Why not?” she pressed.
“Because we’re friends. Because you’re Kayden’s sister. Because you work for me now.”
Keeley grinned, the look on her face pure minx. “You had that list ready to go, didn’t you?”
Rafe opened his arms. “Behave yourself and come give me my hug.”
Gio had become quite fond of Keeley’s hugs as well, not even sure when those had started. They’d never touched much at all before, but somewhere during these past few weeks, in addition to simply saying goodbye after work, Keeley never failed to give both of them hugs.
Keeley crossed her arms. “No. I want a kiss instead.”
Rafe looked at Gio. “See what you started?”
Gio shrugged, unapologetically. “Sometimes it’s fun to act on impulse.”
Rafe shook his head. “One of us in this little trio has to be levelheaded.”
Gio wanted to respond to that, but he literally couldn’t. He got too hung up on the word trio. He liked it. Too much.
So when he could speak again…he poked the bear. “Go on. Kiss her.”
“Yeah.” Keeley added her own taunt to the game. “Unless you’re afraid you’re going to fall into the same category as all those other bad kissers in my past.”
“I’m not Gio,” Rafe said. “You’re not going to taunt me into getting your way.”
“Just one kiss?” she asked, in the most genuine, least-flirty voice he’d ever heard from her.
While Gio responded to teasing, apparently Rafe was a sucker for sincerity.
“Fuck,” he muttered. “You were warned. Both of you were.” That was all he said before he cupped Keeley’s face in his hands and kissed her.
Gio’s brows rose nearly to his hairline as Rafe took possession of Keeley’s lips with a passion he had never witnessed in his friend. It was deep and sexy and hungry, almost desperate. Keeley gripped Rafe’s forearms, but Gio didn’t mistake her touch as part of the embrace. No. She was holding on for dear life.
Gio stood there, stock-still, watching. And that heart-to-heart he’d promised to have with himself transpired right there, right then.
This was happening.
The kiss could have lasted for ten seconds or ten hours, but when Rafe released her, none of them moved. Hell, Gio wasn’t sure any of them were breathing.
“Rafe,” Keeley whispered at last, as she touched her kiss-swollen lips, her cheeks flushed bright red.
“Damn, man,” Gio muttered.
That was when Gio suddenly realized Rafe had never kissed Jill or Jennifer or Vanessa. Not once. He had always left the kissing to Gio, just like he’d left the relationship part to him.
He had never seen his best friend kiss a woman. Not until this moment.
And he couldn’t help but wonder what that meant.
Rafe should have looked victorious. Should have been as smug as hell, but instead…he looked lost. Especially when he said, “Keeley. When I kiss a woman, it means something.”
With that, he turned around, heading back to the driver’s side and climbing into the car, leaving Gio and Keeley standing side by side, speechless.