𝙀𝙣𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙖𝙡𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙨…𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙-𝙤𝙛 𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙚𝙨…𝙩𝙤 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙨. 𝙁𝙤𝙧 𝙖 𝙜𝙪𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙨𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙗𝙪𝙩.
Fiona knew Knox would be mad when she moved in next door.
And not because she brought a collection of wild animals with her.
And she was right.
So she intended to leave him alone. Mostly.
But he’s not ignoring her. He’s actively working to send her and her “ridiculous menagerie” (rude) right back out of town.
Still, as hard as she tries, it’s impossible to stop thinking about the small town grump’s long hair and tattoos and that mouth.
Not the one that’s almost always set in a grim line and says things like, “you got a permit for that?”
Nope, the one that kisses her like she’s everything he’s ever wanted and says very dirty things in her ear. And sweet, protective, supportive things. Sometimes. Accidentally. When she catches him off-guard.
The one that also says he only wants a long-distance fling with her. Nothing serious. And that he never dates women he sees every day. Like his neighbor.
Well, fine. If he doesn’t want her—and her unbelievable past and that-can’t-be-real future—then she doesn’t want him either. He can just kiss her…giraffe. (Yeah, she actually has a couple of those.)
Now she just needs to convince her heart to give him up.
She’s the only woman he can’t resist.And now she lives right next door.
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“Remember that thing we talked about at Christmas?"
Knox felt his gut clench. They'd talked about sleeping together. And him becoming the temporary foster dad to three baby otters.
And they'd kissed for the first time. A kiss that had been causing annoying, unwelcome, frustrating dirty dreams for three fucking months.
"About having a salacious affair where we sneak around behind our friends' backs and sleep together whenever I'm in town?" she pressed when he didn't answer.
"Yes. I remember."
Too well. He was incredibly pissed about how often he'd replayed that conversation and how restless he'd been waiting for her to call or come back to Autre.
He didn't pine for women. Ever. He did the opposite of that.
But now she was here. And Knox wasn't sure what he was feeling. Her showing up unannounced wasn't unusual. Fiona Grady rolled into Autre without warning more often than not in her grape-soda-purple truck that sent his heart hammering and cock hardening.
But it had been three months since he'd seen her. Since they'd talked. Since he'd had any clue what she was doing, where she was, how she was.
Suddenly, she was on his doorstep asking about their plan to bang whenever she was in town for a couple of days?
"Okay, well, there's something I need to tell you that will make you not want to do that anymore," she said. "So I was wondering if maybe you wanted to get naked together once before I told you and ruined everything?"
He opened his mouth to reply. Then shut it without a word. What the hell?
He glanced over his shoulder. Three minutes ago, he'd been sitting at his kitchen table doing paperwork with a cup of coffee and listening to a podcast about new creative urban development ideas.
Now the woman he was low-level obsessed with was on his porch asking if he wanted to have sex before she told him something that would make him not want to have sex with her anymore.
He ran a hand through his hair. This was why Fiona Grady was no good for him. She came into his carefully controlled and organized life and made things chaotic and messy.
"Are you sick?" he asked.
"Is anyone dying?"
"Are you married?" He braced himself. He knew very little about this woman, actually, and if she belonged to someone else, he'd… leave her alone. And hate that man. And never forgive her for stirring him up like this.
Okay, that was all…way too much of a relief. He should not be this happy to hear that.
"Did you kill someone?" he asked.
She tipped her head, her mouth curling. "Is that a definite deal-breaker?"
No, probably not. Knox narrowed his eyes.
"No, I haven't killed anyone."
"Are the Feds looking for you? Or will I be implicated in some kind of crime if I let you in?"
"Not that I'm aware of."
"That's not a no."
"I'm just being honest."
Fair enough. Fiona was a wild animal advocate. The type of person to show up at roadside petting zoos and 'circuses' to monitor how the animals were treated and hand out literature to people attending the events, raising awareness about the poor conditions and treatment of those animals. She showed up to help rescue and care for animals, wild and domestic, after natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. She regularly lobbied local, state, and even the national government for animal protections.
The chance that she could have done something in the "gray area" for one of her causes was pretty good.
The problem with that was he knew that wouldn't keep him from wanting her.
She was precisely the kind of woman he should be avoiding.
He studied her face for another long moment, then gave in to the inevitable. He pushed his door open.
"Yeah?" she asked.
She wasn't dying, wasn't married, and hadn't killed anyone. And he wanted her more than he'd ever wanted another woman in his life. So how was he possibly going to shut the door on her? After three months of missing her? He wasn't that strong. Or stupid.
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About Erin Nicholas:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.
Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).
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