Author: Brighton Walsh
Series: Caged In Winter #2
Publisher by: Berkley, Penguin
Published on: May 5, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Romance
Related Books In Series: Caged In Winter
In this grippingly emotional New Adult novel from the author of Caged in Winter, what you want isn't always what you need…
Jason's been living (and loving) the rich playboy lifestyle for five years, but now his parents are pressuring him to get involved in the family business. The last thing he wants is another obligation, but when his best friend moves out of state and asks Jason to look after his sister, he can't just say no.
Tessa had to grow up way too soon. After dealing with the aftermath of her parents' deaths, then becoming a teenage mom, she knows the meaning of responsibility. Which is why, at twenty-two, she's looking for so much more than a party boy. She's looking for someone who can stand by her and her daughter…forever.
A relationship between them is doomed from the start, but who says they can't have a little fun? But as Jason gets closer to Tessa—and her daughter—fun starts to turn into something else… Something Jason's not sure he's ready for.
Tessa Ever After – Book Excerpt
The windows are dark as I walk up to the front door, and I slip into the house, listening for signs of life. When I hear none, I take my shoes off and hook them on my fingers as I walk down the hall toward Haley’s room. Carefully, I push open the door, and what I see inside stops my heart and makes the butterflies lying dormant in my stomach burst to life.
Jason and Haley are both asleep on her bed, my little girl curled under his arm, her body fitting perfectly into the nook of his side. She’s in full-on princess gear, the tulle of her play-dress bunched up by her knees, her pretend high heels discarded below her small feet. The tiara I’m sure was once perched on her head now sits on Jason’s shoulder. And while seeing that would warm any mother’s heart, that’s not the part that’s making mine skip a beat. No, that achievement is because of the too-tall man whose legs are falling off the sides of Haley’s twin bed. He’s wearing one of Haley’s tea party hats with a bright pink feather boa wrapped around his neck, and I almost can’t breathe.
Seeing something like this isn’t anything new. I used to come home from working a late shift or a date or a night out with Paige to find Haley and Cade curled up the same way. And I remember thinking then what I wouldn’t give to find a guy who would do that with my daughter. Who would forget about being a manly man for an hour and play dress up with a little girl who thinks he hangs the moon.
And all this time while I’ve been searching for him, I’ve been looking in all the wrong places. Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Because while Greg was safe and steady, someone who looked great on paper, I could never see him doing something like this. The realization that this has been in front of me the whole time—that he has been in front of me the entire time—is jarring, and I stumble over some toys lying on the floor as I make my way out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind me.
I press my back against the wall outside Haley’s room, my eyes closing at my epiphany. I don’t have enough time to process it, though, before her bedroom door opens, and Jason comes out, now free of all dress up gear. He shuts the door again, then leans against the wall opposite from me, arms folded across his chest and ankles crossed.
His pose is casual, just like how he was when I left him earlier, but his eyes are appraising, searching for something. They travel the entire length of me from my head all the way to my bare feet, darting up to see the shoes hanging between my fingers. And just like earlier, his eyes, the way they seem to almost caress me as his gaze travels over my body, light something inside me.
“How was your date?” His voice is low and raspy from sleep, and I don’t want to admit what the sound does to me, that it sparks something deep when touches from other men haven’t evoked even a quarter of the response.
I could lie. I could tell him it was wonderful, that Greg took me to a beautiful restaurant and I had a good time, but I don’t feel like pretending. Not tonight. “Not great.”
I shrug. “We just didn’t click.”
He stares at me for a long moment before he says, “Why do you keep going out with guys like him, Tess?”
After a pause, the truth tumbles out of me. “Because he’s what I thought I needed.”
“And what about now?”
I look at him, take him in, from his carelessly mussed hair to his dark butterscotch eyes to the jaw sharp enough to cut glass, only marred with a slight shadow of stubble, and my knees go weak. “Now I’m not sure.”
He pushes off the wall and moves to stand right in front of me, so close I can feel his breath ghosting over my exposed collarbone. “Were you ever sure about him?”
His nearness has stolen my voice, and all I can do is shake my head.
With his voice dropping even lower he asks, “Did he ever make you feel good?”
And he could mean a dozen different things. He could mean intellectually or emotionally or physically, but it doesn’t matter which one he’s talking about because the answer is the same regardless.
“No.” It comes out raspy and breathless, and when did I become that girl? The one who loses all composure at the nearness of a guy. A hot guy, sure, but a guy nonetheless. Apparently allowing the tension to build up so much that it has no choice but to explode wasn’t my brightest idea.
He reaches out, his fingers ghosting along my shoulders, and I shiver, a wave of goose bumps erupting all over my skin. “I could,” he says, his voice so quiet, I barely hear him. But I do. I do, and I want exactly what he’s suggesting. “I could make you feel so good, Tess.”