Two years ago I read a new to me author and I’ve been hooked ever since. Toni Blake’s Destiny series has become one of my favorite series, and I love Duke. He’s one of those secondary characters that snag your interest and make you hope the next book is theirs. Duke is finally getting his story and what a story it is. Toni has shared with a snippet from this great read, AND we are giving away a copy of Half Moon Hill, just leave us a note telling what it is about heroes like Duke we love.
Anna drew in a breath, let it back out. Then she bit her lip, determined – and yet not quite able – to pull her eyes away. She shut them in frustration and blew out a soft sigh.
Maybe you need to cool down with some lemonade. She tended to drink a lot of lemonade in the summer and had just mixed up a fresh pitcher this morning, so now seemed like a wise time to get up, go inside, and pour herself a glass.
As she did so, she consciously pushed down her feelings. She was an adult, after all, not an adolescent girl in the first blush of romance. And if she really wanted a guy, she could find one that would likely be a lot better for her – and safer, in lots of ways – than Duke Dawson. She could start hanging out with her brothers more, and meet their other friends. She could go with Rachel and the other girls to Mike’s softball games, a place she’d learned last summer was absolutely teeming with sexy, sweaty, athletic men – just her type. And who knew – maybe working at Under the Covers really would push her out into “Destiny society” more and maybe she’d meet some eligible guys naturally. And then she wouldn’t have to worry about getting all worked up over a very not-her-type guy just because he happened to be the only one in the vicinity right now.
But as she stepped back out onto the screened porch, she saw that – oh Lord – Duke had set down his saw in order to strip his sweaty t-shirt off over his head. She gasped slightly because it was a beautiful sight. She just hadn’t imagined – couldn’t have accurately envisioned – him looking this way. His skin was slick with sweat as another bead of it rolled down his well-muscled chest. And she couldn’t help thinking that he looked … thirsty. Same as Robert had.
Would it really hurt to give him some lemonade? The man was working hard, after all, and it was hot. She couldn’t have him getting dehydrated, could she? And sure, she’d told him to help himself to whatever he wanted in the fridge, and she’d seen him come in a time or two and leave with a bottle of water, one time a soda – but it couldn’t hurt to save him the steps, right?
This is a very bad idea. He’s way more dangerous than Cathy’s Robert ever could have been – she knew that without doubt. She told herself again that if she wanted a sexy, sweaty man she could find plenty of them somewhere else.
And yet she found herself going into the house, pouring him a glass of the lemonade she’d mixed up this morning. She became aware that her fingertips, arms, actually tingled with the motions she made. Then she was walking back out, and over to the screen door, pushing it open. She heard it slam shut behind her, saw him look up. She wasn’t even completely aware of making the decision – only felt herself moving toward him, almost as if gliding on the hot May air.
When his eyes locked on her, she couldn’t read his serious expression and didn’t even try. Yet her breasts ached beneath his gaze, and God knew she suffered the same heavy yearning below as well.
“Lemonade,” she said. Though when had her voice gotten so husky?
Something in his hesitation, in the look in those blue-gray eyes, told her he was sizing up the move, trying to figure out if it meant something – if it was indeed about more than lemonade. But then he took the glass, their hands brushing – wetly, from the condensation on the outside – same as Cathy’s and Robert’s had. And like Cathy, she stood there and watched as Duke tipped the glass to his mouth and took a long, cool, somehow ultra sexy drink. She could almost feel it running down her throat as well, could almost taste the cold, lemony goodness at the same moment he did.
And then, just like walking out here, what happened next took place without her decision or consent.
Her hand rose, almost of its own volition, and reached out to touch his stomach.
She pressed her palm flat against his hard abs. She felt the sweat there, felt the heat. She knew her hand was cold from holding onto the glass.
Done drinking, that’s when he lowered his gaze, his eyes locking back on hers.
And she realized what she’d done. Oh God.
Sucking in her breath, she pulled her hand away as emphatically as if she’d touched a hot stove. And her heart beat so hard that her chest hurt.
Go. Get out of here. Now. She could deal with the embarrassment of this later, but right now her instincts told her to run away. Just like when she’d first seen him in the woods.
But as she took the first step back, ready to turn and flee, Duke’s free hand closed around her wrist. He drew her hand back toward him. He pressed it flat against his stomach the way it had been before, holding it there.
Anna could barely breathe. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears. And she felt the stark connection – her palm to his slick, warm skin – in her panties. “Um …” she began.
But Duke quieted her, saying, “Shhh …” And then he smoothly slid her hand downward, lower on his belly, over the waistband of his jeans, and then below – stopping it on the shockingly hard bulge behind his zipper.
She gasped just before he let the near empty glass fall to the grass and kissed her. And it was then that Anna understood what it was that had frightened her so much about Duke all along. It was this. It was the invisible thing about him that was as potent as it was powerful. And it was knowing, already, that she couldn’t say no.
Trying to escape her troubled past, Anna Romo has come home to Destiny determined to carve out a place for herself. When she buys the old Victorian house on the hill with the intent of furnishing it into a Bed and Breakfast, she’s thrilled by the possibilities.
Ex-biker-gang member Duke Dawson is as much a fish out of water in Destiny as Anna, but he’s handling it fine until an accident scars not only his body but his mind. When Anna stumbles across him in an old cabin in the woods near her newly acquired house, at first she’s terrified. But they work out a deal – she’s willing to keep his solitary living arrangement a secret if he’s willing to help her with some of the heavy lifting at the house.
Working together on the rennovations, romance brews between Duke and Anna. That is, until war hero Jeremy Sheridan returns home in a blaze of glory and sets his sights on Anna. Suddenly torn between the outgoing and charming Jeremy and the intriguing Duke, Anna’s heart is torn between two paths and left with only one solution.