Close to Home Series, Book 3
Can be read as a standalone story
Contemporary romance (erotic)
Self-published, expected release date March 19, 2015
Lindsay could write the book on falling in love—with the wrong guy. From bad boys
to a married man, she’s made one bad choice after another, gravitating toward men
destined to hurt her. Except at her brother’s wedding. This time, she’s drawn to a good
guy—the pastor. Ben is handsome, single, and definitely interested. But with her past
mistakes, maybe Ben is too good...
After two tours in the Middle East, Ben returned home needing peace and purpose.
He found it as pastor of a laid-back, small-town church. There’s just one thing missing
from his life—love. In a community of a couple thousand, his options are limited. Until
Lindsay comes to town for a wedding. Sparks fly between them, but she’s skittish. If Ben
wants her to stay, he’ll have to convince her that he’s more than a man of God—he’s
the right man for her.
“Beautiful evening, isn’t it?” Ben asked, following her sightline as he filled the newly vacated space at her side.
“Very. In the city, even when the weather is great, the view is never like this, so clear and wide open. I can see why Nia wanted the wedding here, and why Conn loves coming up to visit.”
“Sounds like the city girl could be converted to country living.”
Lindsay gave up looking at the cloudless sky to meet Ben’s twinkling eyes. “I admit, the landscaper in me finds that idea tempting, but I don’t see it happening.”
“Why’s that?” His gaze remained on her face as he settled more comfortably into place with his arm resting along the back of the settee. “Is there somebody special in your life anchoring you to all that concrete and noise?”
“Yes, in fact, there is.”
He nodded. “I guess he couldn’t join you this weekend?”
“Oh, he’s here.” Lindsay pointed at her dad, then her youngest brother. “All my anchors are in attendance this weekend.” She shifted to face Ben more directly. The movement brought her shoulder into contact with his fingertips. The sleeve of her top prevented a skin-to-skin connection, yet goose bumps rippled down her arm, and awareness stirred low in her abdomen. “And as soon as Curtis arrives, all the special somebodies in my life will be present and accounted for.”
Laugh lines peeked through Ben’s short beard when he smiled. “I see. In that case, I hope you’ll save a few dances for me tomorrow evening.”
“You’re allowed to dance?”
His smile turned into a laugh. “Not according to the guys in my old platoon, but my current CO doesn’t mind.”
If his goal was to surprise her, it’d worked. For multiple reasons. “You were in the military?”
“For eight years.”
“Did you ever have to fight?”
“I was deployed in Afghanistan. Wish I could say my missions didn’t include conflict. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
Sexy as he’d look in fatigues, the thought of Ben patrolling a war zone sent a chill up her spine. “I’m glad you’re here now,” she said, leaning close enough to kiss him—which she might have been crazy enough to do, had Curtis and Sara not chosen that moment to step onto the deck.
Burst onto the scene was a better description. Curtis looked the cat who’d swallowed the canary, and for the first time in Lindsay’s experience, Sara appeared flustered. And not in a good way.
“Huh,” Lindsay said, biting back a snicker.
Ben followed her gaze to the tête-a-tête between Curtis and Conn. Then a little further off, to Sara, where she stood, glowering at the eldest of the Lawler brothers. “Seems like something’s brewing between your other brother and Nia’s sister.”
“Yes, it does,” she said, unable to hide the irritation that bubbled from within. “Well, if anybody can keep Sara in line this weekend, it’ll be Curtis.”
Ben’s focus returned to Lindsay, this time minus his charming smile. “That doesn’t sound like much fun. For either of them.”
“Curtis is a cop, so tailing suspects is right up his alley. And don’t worry about Sara. She always finds a way to have a good time. Usually at somebody else’s expense.”
He remained silent, but Ben’s eyebrows rose in question.
A sour taste tainted Lindsay’s tongue. Apparently bitchiness had a flavor. “You probably want to go sit elsewhere now. It’s okay, I get it.”
Rather than get up and leave, Ben turned in his half of the loveseat, bringing them closer together. “I’m good here. But maybe you’re uncomfortable sitting next to me. The pastor thing makes some people nervous. Makes them assume all kinds of things, including that I’m judging them from some imaginary perch I sit on. So if you’d rather I move to somewhere else, it’s okay,” he shot her wink, “I get it.”
“So you’re ex-military and currently a pastor. Have you been a carpenter too—because you nailed me.” Heat flared across her cheeks, her temperature rising several more degrees when Ben’s grin spread practically ear to ear. “I meant it as in, you hit the nail on the head, not, um, the other kind of nailed.” Great, she’d just dug herself deeper. At least she had a place to be buried when she died of embarrassment. “Of course I didn’t mean it the other way.”
“Of course not. Because I’m a pastor, and pastors never think about S-E-X,” he said, mock-whispering the last part.
“You’re teasing me. Again.”
“I am, though I was aiming for flirting. Guess I’m rustier than I thought.”
“No, you’re doing just fine.” A wave of warmth carried through her body, all the way to her toes. “But I wouldn’t mind at all if you keep practicing with me.”
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