Book Blitz: Home to You by Taylor Sullivan
Home to You by Taylor Sullivan Suspicious Hearts #1 Publication Date: August 10, 2015 Genres:Contemporary, Romance
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At twenty-six, Katie McGregor has hit rock bottom. She's done reckless things a good girl like her never thought she'd do. Like hiring a private investigator to spy on her sleazy boyfriend, walking out on her job without notice, and driving all night back to the one man who'd never left her thoughts.Jake Johnson. The boy next door. The one whose glance always made her pulse race, whose touch made her knees weak -- and whose words broke her heart. Three years ago, both reeling from the death of her brother and Jake's best friend, they'd moved apart and retreated into their careers. Now, Jake has it all, and Katie has... nothing but memories. Katie is thrilled when Jake welcomes her into his home with open arms and the same sexy smile. But is he the same jock who didn't do relationships and treated her like a little sister? And with so much between them, how can they overcome the hurts from the past to ignite a love that perhaps has smoldered all along?
About Taylor SullivanTaylor is a contemporary romance author who specializes in stories about normal people. Ones with hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, and flaws. She loves to read as much as she loves to write, and is thrilled to share her first novel with you. When Taylor isn’t writing, she can often be found with her nose in a book, her face behind a camera, or spending time with her husband and three young children.
When I returned to the house hours later, Jake was sitting forward on the couch, his head in his hands, and I dropped my bag to the apartment floor.
He looked up, and the torment I saw in his eyes caused a ball of tears to thicken the back of my throat.
He needed me.
I needed him.
We needed each other.
Before I could say anything, he was on his feet, crossing the room in two powerful strides. “I’m so sorry.” He crushed me hard against his chest, and my whole body sagged against him.
He gripped me to him, and I pressed my face to the smooth cotton of his shirt. I could feel his heartbeat, the warmth of his breath, the deep rumble of his voice. I needed all of it. Needed confirmation that the only other man I’d ever loved in my life was still alive.
“I was supposed to be there,” he whispered.
His words came like a confession, laced with guilt and pain. Then his strong hands trailed down my back, and he sunk to his knees in front of me. “It was supposed to be me.”
My hands fell to his hair, and he wrapped his arms around my waist. “I couldn’t get to him, Katie.”
My chest heaved. “No, Jake…don’t.” I was choking, every word painful. “No…”
“He told me, but I didn’t listen.” His voice was raw and hollow.
Hot tears began to fall for the first time. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I couldn’t stand to hear him blame himself. “It’s not your fault, Jake. It was nobody’s fault.”My voice was strange and broken. I tried to lift him to his feet, but he was too heavy, and his shoulders began to shake. I’d known him for seventeen years, since he was little boy, and never once had I seen him like this. It terrified me.
I sank to the floor next to him, pulling him to me with strength I didn’t know I had. My fingers found his damp hair, and I smoothed it back from his face. “It’ll be okay, Jake, it’ll be okay.” Even as I said the words, I wasn’t sure I believed them. How could the world be okay without my brother?
“Shh.” Jake’s deep voice filled my ear, and he pulled me to his solid chest. “I’m here. Shh.”
I opened my eyes, thankful it was only another nightmare, and pressed my hot cheek to his bare skin.
“It was just a dream.” He ran a hand down my back. “Shh…”
His blue eyes locked with mine, and the backs of his fingers caressed the side of my face. “Don’t cry,” he pleaded, his calloused thumb brushing away a single tear.
His voice calmed me. The soft light of dawn allowing me to see how much he cared about me. My dreams affected him more than they did me.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, knowing this wasn’t the first time I’d woken him this way.
“Don’t be sorry.” His voice was deep and groggy and he began to smooth my hair away from my face.
I could smell the familiar scent of his skin and my heart began to pound again.
“I haven’t had one in a while.” I looked up at him. His eyes were closed, and I thought he might want to go back to sleep.
My eyes shifted to the dimple of his chin, then slowly up to his full lips. He hadn’t shaved since the morning before and already had a scruff of beard. I ached to be able to run my hand along his jaw. To touch him the way I’d always wanted to.
When I looked up again, his eyes were open, and he was watching me. My chest tightened with embarrassment, and I tried to pull away, but his hand caught me behind the neck, holding me firm.
My breath grew heavy under his gaze, and his hooded eyes moved to my lips. I was frozen, unsure of what was happening, and then his mouth came down to mine. Softly at first, like I could blow him away with an exhale, but then the kiss became firmer, sweeter, and he sucked softly on my bottom lip until I whimpered.
As I pulled off the freeway, I took a deep breath and tried to process all that had happened. Everything changed after our kiss. It was in that moment, alone in my bedroom, I accepted the fact that nothing would ever come of us. That no matter what I did, he’d always think of me as someone to take care of, like the little sister he had to protect. Every contact became painful, and nothing remained of the playful banter we’d always shared. He never came to my bed again. Didn’t come into my room without knocking—didn’t seek me out at all. I was depressed, alone, and knew it was finally time to move on.
After graduation, I got the first job I applied for. A position as a photojournalist at a small paper in San Diego. Within a week, I’d packed my bags and had my car loaded. I was ready for a new start. Finally ready to put that needed distance between us so I could get over him…
Jake placed the last of my boxes into the back of my car, then shoved his hands deep in the pockets of his jeans. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
The tension was so thick I almost couldn’t breathe. “Yeah. It’s a great opportunity.”
His lips lifted in a smile, but his eyes were hard. Just like the wall that ran a thousand miles between us. He stepped forward and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. The thing he’d done a million different times, but a touch I hadn’t felt in weeks. “There are jobs here too, you know.”
My throat burned, my heart clenched, and fear bubbled inside me. Could I really do this? Move away from the last person who really knew me? The man who owned my heart? “Yeah, well. There’s nothing here for me anymore.”
I wanted him to say it wasn’t true, that he was still there. I wanted him to be angry, or hurt like I was. I wanted him to have any other response than what he did.
His jaw flexed, and he opened the door to my car. “I’m happy for you, Kit Kat. Call me if you need anything.”
I promptly got inside without giving him a second glance. It was easier that way. Easier not knowing if he was sad to see me go. Easier not knowing if he watched me as I drove away.
My nerves were like a Venus flytrap of anticipation. Each breath, each beat of my heart took an eternity, and right when I thought to turn around, he touched me. Just the tips of his fingers along my neck.Soft and lingering. Then he pushed a lock of hair over my shoulder.
My whole body became rigid as his hands settled to the top of my shoulders. The lotion was cold, but the shiver that ran over my skin had nothing to do with its temperature.
“Sorry,” he muttered, as both hands gripped my shoulders, massaging them with his strong hands. “You’re so tense.”
I laughed nervously but said nothing.
“Relax. It’s only me.” His voice was low, and close to my ear.
I blew out a breath. “I know.” But that was the problem. The problem was him. The problem was he had a girlfriend, and even if he didn’t, our one kiss had been what pulled us apart. I would never let that happen again.
I forced my shoulders to relax, and his hands began to move across my upper back, then down my sides, and feather light over the sensitive skin above my shorts. “All done.” He cleared his throat and began pulling on his wetsuit.
His breathing was shallow, his mouth close to my ear, and I leaned back against him. “Say uncle,” he whispered.
The words hit my cheek like a caress. I stilled—my heart pounding a thousand beats per minute—but I couldn’t speak.
His arms tightened and he came closer, his hands at my waist, his body millimeters from mine. If I leaned back farther our bodies would join. His chest against my back, his lips close enough to taste.
My chest began to rise and fall with each sexually charged breath, and for the first time in my life I knew it wasn’t only me that felt it. It couldn’t be just me.
“Say uncle,” he repeated, and my body began to melt.
I was giving up, unable to resist any longer, but my throat was so tight I could barely speak. “Uncle.”
We stayed like that a second—my breathing labored and heartbeat wild. But then his arms fell away, his hands trailed down my sides. When I turned around, he was already at the side of the pool, pulling his drenched form out of the water.
I took in a breath, his rejection all those years ago playing in my head like a movie, and I willed myself to wake up. My heart screamed in protest, but my voice was silent.
No, please no.
He never once turned around. Not even when he spoke. “I’ll go get you a towel.” And then he was gone, leaving me more empty and confused than I’d ever been in my whole life.