Lead The Way
One side of his mouth curled for a nanosecond. “You need to leave. Your brothers are gonna catch you.”
She placed the carrots in her hand on the table behind him. “You’re not scared of my brothers.”
“I’m not. But they’ll tan your hide if you get caught over here.”
She shrugged. “I’m not scared of my brothers either.”
His gaze dropped to her lips, and her heart began to patter. Thoughts drifted from her head, taking away her ability to speak. She leaned forward; one palm rested against his wide chest. Suddenly, he shifted, grabbed her waist, and placed her on the table behind them. With one hand on either side of her hips, he leaned forward. He smelled woodsy, like rain, earth, and man. It intoxicated her brain, filling her body with raging feelings. Feelings she’d never had before. Not once had Lucas ever made her feel so alive without touching her.
Her mouth watered as he neared, his lips only a hairbreadth away from her own, the minty smell of his mouth had her head gone. His unruly hair was messy from the rain, and she reached up with her other hand to run her fingers through it.
He caught her wrist; his thumb ran three slow circles around her pulse. Kiss me … please. She had no idea why her body betrayed her so easily. The tip of his tongue ran across his bottom lip. Melody couldn’t look away from it, even when he took his other thumb and ran it across her bottom lip. The tension weighed heavily down on her chest, begging for a release.
Just one kiss would cure her, right?
A deep grunt left his throat, and she just knew he’d kiss her. She knew he would lean down and put her out of her misery. Only one more inch and …
“Go home,” he whispered against her mouth.
Her heart sank with embarrassment. Rejection clogged her throat. She wanted to crawl into the dirt and die. Turning her head, she looked down at the shed floor. She was stupid for going over.
Melody jumped down from the table, stopping at the door. “I know you didn’t do it,” she whispered. Thane leaned over the table again, palms flat against the wood, his eyes fixated on her. “You don’t know anything, Melody.”
“That bitch!” Autumn seethed, taking a sip of her hot chocolate. We were sitting on her couch, the one I would be sleeping on until I got my bed and furniture back. “I always knew you couldn’t trust the little thief.”
“Caleb seems to think he can get my things from her,” I said, leaning forward and taking my peppermint tea from the coffee table. I took a sip of the minty water and savored the sweetness on my tongue. It was the only thing I could keep down, and thankfully, it also calmed my nausea.
“I don’t doubt it, he seems very . . . capable.” She looked at me over her mug and I could see the twinkle in her eyes. “Did you tell him about the baby?”
I glanced away. “No.”
She gaped at me. “Honey!”
“I know. I should’ve told him but—”
“I got distracted!”
She gave me an unimpressed look. “That is the worst excuse ever. You got distracted? By what, his big cock?” When I glanced away again she tsk-tsk’d and shook her head. “You ho.”
I gave her a pointed look. “Speaking of hoes, how was your night?”
She shrugged it off as if it was nothing. “It was . . . you know . . . it was okay.”
She tried to sound nonchalant, but her voice raised an octave, so I knew she was lying.
“Just okay?” I eyed her suspiciously because she wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Oh my God, you like him!”
Again, she tried to downplay it. “Of course I like him, I let him inside my vagina. Three times, to be precise.”
“But you like like him! I can tell.”
She avoided making eye contact with me and busied herself picking at the cushion on her lap.
“Don’t try to deny it. I’ve been your best friend for too long. I know when you like someone.”
She sighed. “Okay, so I like him.”
“I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t expect to like him.”
Autumn had trouble with commitment.
“So are you going to see him again?”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” she said, cocking an eyebrow. “We’re talking about you telling Caleb about the baby you’re growing in your womb.”
I bit my bottom lip.
“You know, maybe I don’t need to tell him,” I said.
Autumn looked at me like I was crazy. “You’re joking, right?”
“Why do I need to tell him? I don’t need some guy to help me with this. I’m quite capable of raising this baby on my own.”
“He’s not just some guy, he’s the baby’s father. And don’t you think he deserves to know?” Seeing the pained look on my face, she gave me an empathetic look. “Look, you of all people know how hard raising a kid by yourself can be.”
She wasn’t wrong. My childhood had been a disaster thanks to my hair-brained, selfish mother. It was the kind of childhood that made you not want to have children. I saw firsthand how easy it was to crush someone’s self-worth and confidence. My childhood was lonely. I grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Vegas with a mom who was always out cruising the casinos and bars for her next meal ticket.
I spent most nights home alone, and on one of these nights, after watching a Martha Stewart show about cupcakes, I decided to learn how to bake. Mom wasn’t home to supervise or to tell me how to do things, and one time my eight-year-old self almost burnt down our tiny kitchen. But thanks to some fast thinking I was able to stop a disaster from unfolding. Although, the stench of burnt cake and wax paper was hard to get rid of. Not that Mom noticed when she got home hours later, reeking of booze and too drunk to care.
By the age of nine, I was an enthusiastic cupcake baker who knew her way around the kitchen. Money was tight. So I would use the walks home from school to wander through parking lots of the casinos looking for spare change so I could buy ingredients for my next baking adventure.
I was also really good at English, so at school I started my own essay writing service, selling five-hundred words for five bucks. Some weeks I made up to twenty-five dollars, which meant I could afford to buy some baking books and experiment with different recipes and ideas.
My mom made my childhood lonely and sad, but her abandonment gave me the love of baking, and as a result, a rewarding career.
And probably the best mothering skills in the world.
Because I wasn’t going to be anything like her.
I took another sip of my tea. “I want to tell him. I do. But I just don’t know how to do it.”
“Stop having sex with him would be a start.”
“I’m serious, Autumn. I don’t know how to bring it up.”
“So am I.” She gave me a stern look. “You need to go over there right now and tell him you’re having his baby.”
What Matters More
Anya managed a nervous smile and thrust her arms forward, with the baking pan perched in her hands like an offering—one she suddenly wasn’t sure would be welcome.
“We made enchiladas for dinner,” she blurted out. “And we saved some for you. Tara said you can send her a thank-you note tomorrow. I kept them warm, and I have salad and some beer, too. Are you hungry?”
JT’s gaze zeroed in on the pan in her hands and he simply stared at it, not saying a word, even when Anya cleared her throat to ease the uncomfortable silence. She felt a blush creeping across her cheeks, and a panicked thought hit her. One that if she hadn’t lost her mind earlier, she would have been able to see coming before she found herself with these damn oven mitts on her hands.
Maybe this was a mistake.
She could see how this must look, this show of domesticity on her part that he certainly hadn’t asked for or even insinuated that he wanted. But here she was, making him dinner and keeping it warm until he arrived home, like she was some proper Kennedy-era housewife—which, on so many levels, she definitely wasn’t. Even the outfit she’d changed into, a lavender floral mini dress, made it look like all she was missing was a cute little vintage apron to complete the look.
Of course this was a mistake.
Anya considered setting the pan on the ground and walking away without saying another word. But then JT locked his eyes with hers. A hungry, heated look was on his face, and because she was regretting this whole thing now, she wasn’t sure whether that look was for her or the enchiladas. Either way, she needed him to say something soon because she was about to drop this hot pan and swoon, although not necessarily in that order.
“I’m starving,” JT rumbled. Then he made his way toward the door into the house, opened it, and invited Anya in with just the tip of his chin. She scooted past him in the doorway and swore that when she did, he actually grunted quietly as she passed.
Even then, she still wasn’t sure what he wanted to eat first.
Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
When independent student, Beri Baines, is selected to study abroad, she has no idea her independent nature will be challenged by the very charming and conservative Brit, Colin Chapman. Their strong attraction for one another continues to create conflict in their lives as the story leads them along and unforeseen events intervene and transform their future.
Their lives come full circle not realizing the implications of the choices they make.
The unique format of how this story is told, in two separate voices, is captivating. Each page is a stand-alone chapter alternating between characters.
The novel is loved by book clubs for the discussion it creates for readers.
About the Author
Chris Fedorka Tomalin is a published author. She spent thirty-five years as an educator. She holds a master's degree from the College of New Jersey and a mediators certificate from Rutgers. Chris is a mediator for the Kent and Sussex County Courts with people's Place in Delaware where she resides with her husband Tim and Roxie, her Cairn terrier.
Book one in the series, TIMBER is FREE
My hand moves against her opening, she is slick and wet, my fingers at her center, her whimpers louder as I circle her clit. I need to taste her, and I ease down Faith, between her legs, my tongue running over her entrance. Her fingers run through my hair, her thighs trembling. I look up. “You okay, golden girl?”
“Yes,” she says, her eyes meeting mine. “It’s just… I’ve never felt so many things at once.”
My hand stills against her. “Neither have I, Faith.” She understands what this means. Not just for her; for her virginity. But for me. “This isn’t how it normally goes.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just met you, just tasted you, and fuck, I love you.”
Her eyes stay locked on mine. “Me too.”
It’s simple and true and crazy and ours. And when my mouth returns to her cunt, I lavish her with love. It’s fucking fast, this rush of emotions, but I don’t give a shit. I’ve spent a long ass time looking, waiting, wanting. Now I found Faith and I won’t let go. When you know, you fucking know.
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