If you’ve never read a Kowalski book by Shannon Stacey then you are missing out on of the best small town romances around. I love this series so much I want to BE in the series. That being said we are super excited to share a snippet from the latest book in this series Love A Little Sideways.
On the rare occasion Drew was hanging out at a pool, he liked to do just that. Hang out. Sit on the edge and dangle his feet in the water with a cold beer in his hand.
But there was chaos around the edge of the pool, with kids everywhere and half the women sitting around the edges watching the little ones splash in the shallow end. And Liz was in the mix, looking hot and curvy in a one-piece bathing suit that made his mouth water. It had a tiny skirt that moved flirtatiously as she walked the length of the pool, emphasizing her long legs. And the top of it had that bunched-up look that kept drawing his eye to her cleavage no matter how hard he tried not to look.
He fumbled with the gate latch securing the fence around the pool which, of course, drew attention. Praying his swim trunks were baggy enough to hide his reaction to Liz in a bathing suit, he waved off their ridicule and made a running dive into the deep end.
The water felt arctic, shocking his overheated body as it closed over his head. After pushing off the bottom of the pool, he surfaced gasping. Better than a straight-up cold shower any day.
“Hey, you’re blocking our water ball of doom game!” a young voice shouted.
An inflatable beach ball smacked him in the side of the head and, just like that, he was sucked into a cutthroat game that seemed to be a mash-up of water polo, soccer and volleyball. And, since they were limited to the deep end of the pool due to the little ones at the other end, it was one hell of a workout. After about fifteen minutes, he worked his way toward the edge and hooked his elbows up on the rim.
“You’re weak, Miller,” Josh taunted, right before one of Mike’s sons climbed up Josh’s back to smack at the ball and shoved him underwater.
It was a rough crowd. Drew watched for a few minutes, until he was breathing like a normal person again, and then dove back into the action. He wasn’t sure how the game would end, since he had yet to figure out the actual rules, but he wasn’t going to be the first guy out of the pool.
“Liz! Liz!” It was hard to miss Steph shouting right next to him, so he gave himself permission to look in the same direction the teenager was. “Come on! I’m the only girl.”
For a few seconds Drew thought Liz was going to refuse and he was relieved. Water ball of doom, as the boys called it, was a very physical game and there was a lot of bumping and grabbing.
Then she grinned and threw herself into the deep end with a splash. There didn’t seem to be any time-outs in water ball of doom, so she surfaced in the middle of a melee. Just when Drew was going to yell at her to be careful, she dove under again and he lost track of her.
He felt her before he saw her—the glide of her naked leg across his thigh—and then her head broke through the water near his shoulder. She slicked her hair back and laughed. “Are there rules to this game?”
“Don’t drown. Other than that, I think it’s just an excuse to spike the beach ball in each other’s faces and water wrestle.”
“Are there points?”
The ball was heading toward them and Drew slapped it hard, bouncing it off the back of Sean’s head. “The score, last I heard it yelled out, was two hundred thirty to two hundred nineteen, but I’m not sure how you score. It’s a very complicated system that’s pretty fluid, from what I’ve gathered.”
“In other words, Mike and Lisa’s kids invented this game.”
“I’ve only been here less than a day and I’ve already figured out if the word doom is involved, so are Joey, Danny, Brian and Bobby. And Steph, too, though she tries to pretend she’s an innocent bystander.”
“Ooh!” She was watching the ball come toward them in a high arc. “Throw me!”
He clasped his fingers together and, before he could think about whether or not it was a good idea, she had her foot in the cradle of his hands and he tossed her high into the air. She slammed the ball back toward the buoy line marking the deep end and Ryan missed the return by a fraction of an inch.
“Point!” Brian yelled, and Liz gave a triumphant yell when she surfaced.
“Dude, she’s not on our team,” Ryan yelled at Drew.
“There are teams?” Drew threw his arms up in the air. “How can you tell?”
“You’re not very good at water ball of doom,” Bobby said in a very serious voice.
The penalty for helping the other team score appeared to be drowning since, after that incident, Drew spent more time under the water shoving people off him than he did treading water. His muscles were burning but he knew the Kowalski family well enough to know if he crawled out of the pool in defeat, he’d never live it down.
It was a relief when Mary whistled and called everybody out of the pool. His muscles were getting shaky and it was only the trash talking from Mitch and the other guys that had kept him in so long. He swam to the opposite side of the pool from Liz, just so he wouldn’t be tempted to watch for her swimsuit’s skirt riding up while she climbed the ladder.
Brian scampered up in front of him, then ran down the side of the pool with his fists in the air. “S’mores time!”
Wishing he had a quarter of the kid’s energy, Drew hauled himself up the ladder and winced at the soreness already setting into his leg muscles. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been swimming, but it was obviously too long ago.
“Rematch tomorrow,” Mitch said, slapping Drew’s shoulder so hard he almost fell back into the water.
“Can’t wait.” He’d come up with a good excuse before then. Maybe run himself over with a four-wheeler somehow.
Leo, who’d been smart enough to claim a chair on the sidelines, tossed towels at them. “You think that was bad, you just wait. After everybody’s changed, it’s time for s’mores.”
Drew Miller was no fool. Not being a fan of the overly sweet traditional camping dessert, he took his sweet time showering, shaving and throwing on a pair of flannel sleep pants and T-shirt. Then he threw on a lightweight zip hoodie because, not only did it get a little chilly at night, but the mosquitoes started getting aggressive as the sun dropped.
He didn’t take long enough, though, and when the crowd around the group campfire spotted him, they didn’t accept him waving off their invitation. After stowing his toiletries back in his tent and draping his swim trunks and towel over one of his tent’s ropes, he grabbed a bottle of water from his cooler and went to join the insanity.
“Want a s’more?” Bobby asked him, swinging an almost-liquid marshmallow on a stick in his direction.
Drew flinched away. “No, thanks. You should get that onto a cracker before—”
The melted marshmallow slid off the stick and hit the ground in a white, sticky lump Drew knew would end up on the bottom of somebody’s shoe before the night was over.
“Oops.” Brian wandered away. “Mom, I need another marshmallow.”
From his vantage point just outside the perimeter of the circle of camp chairs, it looked to Drew as if there were at least a half dozen marshmallows being waved over the fire, so he stayed where he was. Liz was sitting across the fire from him, laughing with her aunt and Rose, and he watched her for a while.
She looked relaxed. Happy. Drew enjoyed seeing her surrounded by her family, and the bond she’d managed to keep with them despite being all the way across the country for so many years impressed him. Family was obviously important to her.
“You know they’ll keep offering you s’mores until you eat one,” Mitch said, stepping up beside him. “The sooner you give in, the sooner they stop waving flaming marshmallows at you.”
As if she’d heard him, Steph moved toward them, holding a s’more in her hand. “Drew, do you want a s’more?”
This one was premade, not offered up in the form of molten marshmallow dangling from a stick, so he figured Mitch was right. It was probably easier to give in. “Thanks.”
He had a mouthful of very sticky sweetness when Brian looked over and saw him. “Hey! How come you didn’t want my s’more?”
He shrugged, unable to talk even if he’d wanted to, and Mitch came to his rescue. “Because Steph had put it together already. You know, I don’t think Ryan’s had a s’more yet. He loves s’mores.”
Liz Kowalski is heading home to Whitford, Maine—this time for good. Eager for her family, a fresh start and some fun, she doesn’t count on being rescued by the chief of police her very first night back in town. Drew is everything she’s not looking for…so why is she still so attracted to him?
After a brief, forbidden rendezvous at her brother’s wedding, Drew Miller expects Liz to return to New Mexico and stay there. He’s searching for someone to settle down with, not a casual fling with his best friend’s sister. But when they’re stuck together on the annual Kowalski camping trip, things start going a little sideways. Keeping their hands off each other proves just as impossible as keeping their secret from becoming public knowledge.
Amid family, mud and melted marshmallow, Liz and Drew try to fight what’s growing between them. But a little time alone, a lot of chemistry and too many opinions might be just what it takes to bring together two people so determined not to fall in love.