Title: Kiss Me Again
Series: Star Crossed Love #1
Author: Vivian Wood
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 6, 2019
From WSJ and USA Today bestseller Vivian Wood comes a steamy, angsty second chance romance.
The rich girl who stole my breath away ten years ago.
The one who had a Navy man like me wrapped around her little finger.
The only person to make my heart ache.
When I disappeared from her life five years ago, I never thought I’d see her again.
And yet here she is, at my ranger station, looking as surprised as I am.
When my boss tells me that Rachel is my summer assignment, I groan.
No good can come from opening up the old wounds.
Rachel demands to know where I’ve been.
I don’t have the heart to tell her the unvarnished truth.
But that doesn’t stop the heat between us.
I dream of plowing my hands into her hair, bending her back, and making her mine once more.
My dark secret, her broken engagement, and so much water under the bridge threaten to shake our very foundations.
Will we be able to put love first this time around?
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I dip my paddle into the lake, testing out how it works.
“No, no,” Grayson says. “You are doing it wrong. You want to go with the water. Look…”
He picks up his own paddle and dips it in the lake, moving it smoothly. I try to copy his movement, but he just sighs loudly.
“No.” He demonstrates again. “You are going against the water. If you expect to get anywhere—”
“Alright!” I say through gritted teeth. “It’s my first time. Just let me—”
I stroke my paddle in the water. Grayson explodes.
“You still aren’t doing it right! How hard can it possibly be to follow instructions?” He grabs the end of my paddle, exasperated. “Just—”
“Let go!” He’s pushing me close to the edge. I can feel my temper starting to balloon up. Gripping my paddle, I rip it from his hands.
Anger flares in his eyes. “You are so—”
“What is your problem, Grayson?!”
He’s already got a response loaded. “You are my problem! What in the fuck are you even doing here, Rachel?”
“I could ask you the same thing, but you would probably not have an answer,” I grind out. “Again. I generally don’t like to repeat my mistakes.”
He bristles. “Are you saying that I was a mistake, then?”
I narrow my eyes. “That’s not what I meant, but… yes. My mother’s right about you.”
As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I wish I could take them back. My mother said a lot of hideous things about him while we were together. How is he supposed to know that I’m referencing something she said when he was already gone?
Grayson gets this wounded look in his eyes for the barest second. Watching it is like being slapped in the face.
“I didn’t mean—”
“Enough.” He glares at me. “Just use your fucking paddle like a normal person, okay?”
He stands up and carefully turns around, so that he’s facing away from me. He dips his paddle in the water and starts rowing wordlessly. I mimic him and he switches to the other side of the canoe with a heavy sigh.
We actually move pretty quickly then, especially since we are not communicating. I realize that I probably should have stopped back on the shore for a sample of water, but I guess we can stop on the return journey.
I try to breathe and paddle in time with Grayson’s mighty strokes. As we leave the shore behind us, I look up at the calm blue sky overhead. Except the sky isn’t blue exactly; it’s light gray now, thunderclouds gathering overhead.
Struggling to keep up with Grayson, I watch the sky darken. It’s definitely about to rain. As soon as I can see the shore on the other side, I see raindrops begin to hit the lake’s smooth surface.
“Shit,” I hear Grayson grumble.
Digging my paddle into the water deeper doesn’t help as much as I want it to. The skies open up and dump rain onto us. There is suddenly water everywhere, each raindrop seeming to bounce back up from where it falls on the lake.
When we are almost there, Grayson actually gets out of the canoe, soaking himself up though to the waist. Unsure what to do, I try to stand up. I see Grayson glance back at me and do a double take.
But it’s too late. I tip the canoe over and fall out, flailing awkwardly. The only thing that breaks my fall is the water, which is shockingly cold. Then I am submerged for several breathless seconds, underneath the lake’s muddy waters.
I feel something move in the water beside me. My heart starts to pound.
Grayson materializes right there, grabbing me and pulling me to the surface of the lake. I gasp for breath. My arms automatically go around his neck as he pulls me toward the shore, dripping wet.
Even though I’m half drowned, I’m also intimately aware of how warm the hard muscle of his chest is. He holds me tight, almost uncomfortably so. If everything wasn’t happening all at once, I might make some noise about it.
I try to clear my face of my own water-dampened hair. He runs up onto the shore with me in his arms, not stopping for a second. He keeps going until he trots into a little lean-to.
Only when there is something over both of our heads does he stop and breathe. His eyes dart to and fro, scanning the downpour outside. He leans forward and pulls the door closed just a little.
Something about his behavior is… off, somehow.
“Grayson,” I say, gently putting my hands on his chest. “Gray?”
He looks at me as if he’s seeing me for the first time. When he speaks, his voice is oddly quiet. “Hey.”
I squirm a little but he doesn’t get the picture. “Can you put me down, please?”
There is a moment of hesitation there. I can see in his eyes that he wants to say no. But he lets me down.
And for just the briefest moment, soaking wet and pressed against his warm body, that I don’t want him to let me go. I peer up into his eyes and wonder if he ever thinks about kissing me. And he looks right back at me, his eyes glinting blue.
Then he pushes me away. It’s so silly to feel this way, but it’s like being rejected by him all over again. My eyes mist over and I curse myself for being so weak.
Grayson heads out into the pouring rain and I watch him go, determined not to cry.
Vivian likes to write about troubled, deeply flawed alpha males and the fiery, kick-ass women who bring them to their knees.
Vivian’s lasting motto in romance is a quote from a favorite song: “Soulmates never die.”
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