by: Ruby Lang
Series: Bachelor Auction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 20, 2017
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Sarah Soon may have recovered from cancer—in body—but her brush with mortality has left the usually confident OB/GYN shaken about her future and herself. When she unexpectedly runs into Jake Li, her brother’s annoying high school BFF who betrayed her trust, he’s the last person she wants to see. She doesn’t need the now-disturbingly hot social worker hanging around while she sorts herself out, yet suddenly he’s inescapable.
Everyone’s telling the newly divorced Jake that he shouldn’t be looking for a serious relationship already, but he’s always been helplessly drawn to Sarah’s vivaciousness. Can he show her that he’s all grown up now and worthy of her trust and a second chance?
Or will they make a clean break once and for all?
Sensuality Level: Sensual
It had not been her imagination. Jake Li really had grown into his features—no, he looked good.
Automatically, Sarah ran her eyes over his button-down, which stretched over boldly sketched shoulders. Ooh, and his sleeves were rolled up, highlighting a masculine stretch of forearm, tendons, and muscles. She couldn’t help herself. She peered under the table. Despite the shadow, she noted his long legs in a pair of worn jeans.
“Are you checking me out?”
“Force of habit,” she said.
The jig was up, so she tilted her head for a better look. “Bodies are fascinating. I love seeing how everything sort of … hangs together.”
She wasn’t sure if he was flattered or horrified. She wasn’t exactly looking at his face right now. Knowing Jake—and knowing men—probably a little of both. Would it be too forward of her to ask him to give a little kick—nothing fancy—so that she could watch his thigh muscles flex? That would be a treat.
“Runner?” she murmured.
He sounded hoarse, which made her glance up. She shook her head to clear it. She wasn’t here to tease him. She didn’t plan on flirting anymore—not for a while. And the truth was, she hadn’t wanted to for the last half year—not until now. She wasn’t even really sure why she was doing this to Jake. Jake Li! A boy she’d grown up with! Her brother’s best friend! He was practically a sibling. Except he wasn’t. And now her scrutiny was making him uncomfortable.
She didn’t mind making him uncomfortable.
But maybe he wasn’t quite ill at ease, because he seemed to regard her with—oh, that could not be a flare of heat, a little tension in his fine jaw. A clenched hand. A spark from Jake Li.
And from her. She hadn’t had felt that thick, warm pulse from down below in a long, long time.
Sure, she was in the clear now. She was alive, and all of her parts were finally functioning smoothly again. When she’d first gotten her diagnosis, she’d been scared and her sexual appetite had fled entirely. And that had been fine. She had other things to worry about. She assumed desire and lust would come back if—after! she corrected herself—she recovered. Sex after a significant illness would be joyous and wonderful and all that jazz, she reasoned with herself. It would be great. It would be like reclaiming her life. She looked forward to the time when she anticipated having sex again. But the desire hadn’t come back—or at least she hadn’t caught any glimpse of the least lick of heat with anyone.
Until she’d seen Jake again. That was truly disturbing to her sixteen-year-old self.
She signaled the waitress, not caring if Jake was ready to order. This wasn’t a date. She wasn’t dating. She was giving herself a recovery break. And this was an old annoying not-friend catching up. Despite the fact that her whole body tingled with awareness, she was not going to flirt with Jake.
“I’ll have the salmon avocado special with the miso soup,” Sarah said.
“I’ll have the same,” Jake said.
The waitress nodded and left, and Sarah regretted ordering so quickly. Now there was nothing between them but a scarred wooden table and an inexplicable tension that seemed to be centered in Sarah’s limbs, in her pelvis, in her core.
“So, social worker. What is that? I always figured you’d go and do something more overtly heroic. You know, helping kids in the Outback who’ve been kidnapped by poachers—”
“Uh, Sarah, isn’t that the plot of The Rescuers Down Under?”
“Or saving spotty puppies from deranged furriers.”
“That’s 101 Dalmatians. I saw both those movies with you and Winston.”
She flashed a smile. Okay, maybe she was going to flirt a little.
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Ruby Lang is the pen name of non-fiction writer Mindy Hung. She has written for The New York Times, The Toast, and Salon. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.
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