by: Jamie Beck
Series: The Cabots
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Author Jamie Beck returns with an engrossing series about family, friendship, and starting over. In this first Cabot novel, a legacy of secrets tests old friends seeking a second chance at life and love.
On the second anniversary of her husband’s suicide, Colby Cabot-Baxter is ready to let go of her grief and the mistakes made during her turbulent marriage. Her fresh start comes in the form of A CertainTea, the restaurant she’s set to open along Lake Sandy, Oregon, with help from her family. But when her executive chef quits just weeks before the grand opening, Colby is pressured to hire old family friend Alec Morgan. His award-winning reputation could generate buzz, but their friendship has withered since her husband’s reckless dare cost Alec’s brother his life.
Distracted by guilty secrets concerning the tragedy that changed his and Colby’s lives, Alec self-destructed and lost his famed restaurant. With his career in tatters, he’s determined to use this opportunity to redeem his reputation and to help the woman he’s loved from afar find happiness again.
But secrets have a way of coming out. When Alec’s do, they might destroy the new life he and Colby have rebuilt together.
Alec slouched deeper in his chair and stroked its arms. “It’s okay.”
“Are you going easy on me because I’m your boss?” She crossed her arms.
“I knew it’d be hard for you to focus when family and friends were vying for your attention. You’ll get better.”
She’d expected him to bellow—had imagined his brow furrowing and his face turning as crimson as the lava that spewed out whenever he thought his reputation was at stake.
Instead, he swigged the last bit of champagne, set down his glass, and stood. When he reached beside her to the photo she’d given him earlier, his nearness made her body temperature spike. She reminded herself this was only Alec, but somewhere along the way, Alec had come to mean much more than she’d ever anticipated.
“Besides, I’d never scream at you, Colby. If anything, I’ve been trying to make you laugh more.” He grinned. “Have the videos helped?”
“Nightly YouTube links to babies sucking on lemons and ‘Bat Dad’ are a step up from your grade-school jokes,” she conceded, trying to suppress a broadening smile.
“My favorite was the little boy running from his shadow.” His expression turned more contemplative as he held up the framed picture she’d given him. “You’ve always wanted to comfort others and see them happy. I just want that same thing for you.”
“Oh?” Part of her wanted to back up so he wouldn’t see the way her heart was pounding in her throat. But even if she wanted to, she couldn’t. The desk was at her butt. He looked at her with such intensity she couldn’t tear her gaze away. The sizzle of his attention traveled through her limbs. She hadn’t experienced this full-body buzz in ages.
She froze, waiting. Waiting for what, she couldn’t say. Every time she thought she had him figured out, he surprised her. Now she almost wished he’d flown into a rage so she’d remember why she shouldn’t look at him this way. Why this desire consuming her was unwelcome and dangerous.
He cocked his head, as if sensing her interest. How could he not when her body throbbed with it?
Alec didn’t move. Like her, he seemed to be waiting—that or toying with her. Had Alec Morgan become a master of seduction when she wasn’t looking? The anticipation of his touch stoked her hunger, even as she believed inviting it could well be a huge mistake.
Slowly he set the picture back on the desk and inched a little closer.
His hip now leaned against the edge of the desk so that their shoulders nearly touched. He didn’t even need to make contact for her insides to quiver, and yet her eyes remained locked on his.
Spellbound. Deliciously, dangerously magnetized.
“The only real question now is whether or not you’re happy.” He nudged even closer. “Was the evening everything you hoped for?”
It had been. The night had passed in a flurry of conversation, twinkling candles, beautiful views, and even prettier plates. The tinkling sounds of china and crystal had sounded as lovely as any quartet she’d ever heard. And most important, everyone but her dad and Jenna had left smiling. It was exactly the environment she’d envisioned, and she owed its success largely to her perplexing chef.
“I’m glad.” He fingered the fresh roses on her desk and frowned, softly muttering, “You prefer tulips.”
“I do.” How did he know?
“From your dad?”
She shook her head. “Todd.”
“Ah. He’s persistent . . . and thoughtful.” Alec dropped his chin, his gaze now on the floor, but really someplace distant.
She took advantage of the opportunity to study his strong profile. The sensual shape of his lips. The sharp line of his jaw. If she had a soft heart, she believed his to be softer, no matter how loudly he might yell. Even now, she knew he restrained himself for her sake. “Alec.”
It came out as a whisper, lying between them, unplanned. Gentle. A question. A sense of wonder at the surprising, powerful curiosity surging beneath her skin.
He snapped his gaze back to her, and, without thought, she craned her head toward his. Her hand landed on his chest, where it felt perfectly at home. “I’m not interested in Todd.”
His breath caught, or was that hers? Their lips were a hair’s breadth apart now, heated breath mingling. His heart beat against her palm, while hers knocked urgently against her ribs. She didn’t have time to analyze more because he cradled her jaw and kissed her.
Warm yet tentative, like he didn’t quite believe she wanted it. She did, so she gathered the open collar of his jacket in her fists. Her simple gesture had been enough of a signal. In an instant, hesitation fled, replaced by a firestorm of heat, of deep kisses, of fingers raking through her hair. Strong, confident sweeps of his tongue scattered any lingering doubts.
He tasted like champagne and something earthy. The aroma of fresh herbs and spice wafted around them. Her body trembled until his arms closed around her with assuredness and strength, tugging her snugly against his chest, where she felt a vibrating hum.
She dug her fingers into his hair, holding tightly for fear of falling over if she let go.
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Jamie Beck is a former attorney with a passion for inventing stories about love and redemption. In addition to writing novels, she also pens articles on behalf of a local nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth and strengthening families. Fortunately, when she isn’t tapping away at the keyboard, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.
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