If you have never read a Shannon Stacey book then you are missing out on one of the best contemporary authors writing today. Her Kowalski Family is one of the best series about family’s that is being written. She has made me fall in with New England and want to move there even more. Her latest book in this series All He Ever Needed came out this week and it is fabulous. So sit back and enjoy a taste of Mitch Kowalski as he tries to get the girl.
“Do you have any idea of which store you want to start with?”
It took him a few seconds to figure out what she was talking about, then he laughed. Christmas shopping.
She gave him a suspicious look. “You said we were going to look for Rose’s gift today.”
And he didn’t want to confess it had been the first, admittedly ridiculous, reason to accompany him he thought she’d go for. “I’m too full to shop now.”
“I know what you mean. This may have been a late lunch, but I won’t eat again until breakfast tomorrow.”
“What do you say we blow off shopping and cruise around on the bike?”
When she told him that sounded like a great idea, he turned toward the Harley so she wouldn’t see him grinning like a love-struck teenager. He rarely took women out on the bike—as in almost never. His own opportunities to ride it were few and far between, and he used the time to think things through and clear his head.
He liked having Paige on the back, though. She was comfortable enough that she didn’t have a stranglehold on him, and he could enjoy the feel of her thighs pressing against his and her hand at his hips.
Mitch took a different route out of the city and cruised the back roads, pointing out interesting bits of scenery here and there. The bike was a bit loud and, with their helmets on, talking was difficult, so mostly he just burned up the miles and enjoyed the feel of her behind him.
It took over an hour to reach one of his favorite spots in the area. It wasn’t much more than a wide spot in the shoulder, but he pulled the bike in and parked it near the tree line. Bracing his feet, he waited while she put her hands on his shoulders to steady herself and climbed off, then he leaned the bike onto its stand.
“Where are we?” Paige hung her helmet on the sissy bar and pushed at the wisps of hair escaping from her braid.
“Just wait.” After hanging his helmet from the handlebar, he led her to a narrow path in the trees and reached out his hand. “It’s a little steep.”
With Paige’s hand in his, he walked along the short trail and a mild slope down to the river. A huge slab of rock extended out over a brook and he stepped on it, tugging her along with him.
“A little steep, huh?” Paige asked, amusement in her voice.
“I just wanted to hold your hand.”
She didn’t pull away, which made him ridiculously happy. Instead she looked around, so he did the same, taking in the way the fading sun shone through the trees and hit the water in splotches of gold. There was just enough current in the water that it gurgled through the rocks, and birds chirped from the cover of full summer foliage.
“It’s beautiful.” Paige didn’t whisper, but her voice was soft and low, as if she didn’t want to disturb their surroundings. “I bet you bring all the girls here.”
“Nope.” He’d never brought a woman there before, though he wasn’t sure why. And he wasn’t sure why he’d brought Paige. “I don’t come here very often. Maybe that’s what keeps it special. I came the day after my dad’s funeral, though. Laid on this rock and looked up at the sky for a while.”
She squeezed his hand. “It seems like a nice place to be alone with your thoughts.”
It was an even better place to be alone with her, though he didn’t say that out loud. There was a fine line between flirting and getting mushy, and it was bad enough his mind had even gone there. He wasn’t about to share it.
“It’s peaceful,” was all he said, but he was in trouble.
Standing in a place that he was emotionally grounded to, holding hands with a woman he was painfully attracted to, was liable to blow the foundation out from under the wall he’d built between himself and serious. He liked that wall. It kept romantic entanglements from creeping in and getting a choke hold on him when his guard was down.
What the hell had he been thinking, bringing her here?
Then she looked up at him and smiled and every logical thought in his head blew apart, leaving nothing but a driving need to know what her lips felt like against his.
Her smile dimmed a little as her expression turned to uncertainty. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
Because he seemed to have no self-control where she was concerned. “I was thinking about kissing you.”
“Oh.” She frowned. “You don’t look very happy about the idea.”
“Not sure how you’d take it. Doesn’t seem very fair to just spring it on you when we’re in the middle of nowhere and you have no way to get home but me.”
“And they say chivalry’s dead.”
When Paige turned her attention back to the brook, but didn’t pull her hand away from his, Mitch felt a rush of frustration. Did she want to be kissed or not? Her words certainly gave him no clues. The way she’d turned back to the water implied she wasn’t interested, but then why was she holding his hand?
“Why do you want to kiss me?”
Her voice was so low he almost didn’t hear her. He did, of course, but he wasn’t sure what to tell her. “I don’t know. Beautiful spot, beautiful day, beautiful woman. Seems like the thing to do.”
As soon as she pulled her hand away and turned back toward the banking, he knew it was the wrong thing to say. “Seems like the thing to do is start heading back. I’ve got a lot of paperwork waiting for me at home.”
Mitch caught her before she stepped off the rock, taking her arm and spinning her back to face him. “I want to kiss you because it’s the only damn thing I can think about. Every time I see you, I think about kissing you. Every time somebody says your name, I think about kissing you. Every single night when my head hits the pillow and I close my eyes, I think about kissing you.”
Mitch Kowalski lives out of a suitcase—and he likes it that way. Traveling for work has the added bonus of scaring off women who would otherwise try to tie him down. But when he’s called home to help with the family lodge, he’s intrigued by the new girl in town and her insistence that she doesn’t need a man. If there’s one thing Mitch can’t resist, it’s a challenge.
After a nomadic childhood, Paige Sullivan is finally putting down roots. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she lives by the motto “Men are a luxury, not a necessity.” But when Mr. Tall, Dark and Hot pulls up a stool in her diner and offers her six weeks of naughty fun with a built-in expiration date, she’s tempted to indulge.
They’re the perfect match for a no-strings fling. Until they realize their sexy affair has become anything but casual…