A determined gigolo.
A slightly conniving best friend.
A really conniving best friend.
A woman who won’t take no for an answer.
And a couple of white lies with some very persistent consequences.
For most people, all that would add up to a very bad day. For Kira Weston, it might just be the answer she’s been looking for…
Six months ago, she walked out of a three year relationship with the man of her dreams, saying goodbye to the life she thought they’d have. Not because she didn’t love him. Because she loved him too much to settle for only the pieces of his heart he was willing to share. Not a moment has gone by that she hasn’t wondered if she made a horrendous mistake, but there’s no going back now.
Or is there?
Suddenly, Ethan Rourke is back and he needs a small favor. All she’d have to do is pretend to be back in his life. Back in his arms. Back in his bed. He says it will save his career and his reputation. He says it’s an innocent request. But what he says and how he looks at her—how he touches her—are two very different things. Losing him once almost destroyed her. If she tries again with this new Ethan who is promising to finally be the partner she’s always needed, she’s going to have to do a lot more than face a few past mistakes. She’ll have to deal with a few present ones she never saw coming.
But won’t it be worth it if she can get a second chance unlock his heart? Or will she discover that it belonged to her all along?
“Who doesn’t enjoy reading about star-crossed lovers who find their way back to each other? This story is especially delightful because of the author’s humorous writing style. Tenorio also focuses on secondary characters who are as interesting and as complex as the primary ones… “
—Barb Anderson, “RomanticTimes.com”
“Writing with a delightfully dry wit and the unquestionably fine skill of touching upon just the right emotions, Ms. Tenorio writes a story about love, trust, and the very human feeling of inadequacy. I loved Kira and Ethan for their so very realistic qualities.”
“I was further impressed by the plot of the story. Simple, straightforward, it is turned into a masterpiece by a cast of memorable secondary characters…A full five nymphs and a serious recommendation for those who believe in the beauty of hard-earned second chances. “
—Callisto Nymph, “LiteraryNymphs.com”
“I liked this story for its exploring an existing relationship. It is always fun to watch a couple get together but I think it is more interesting to watch that couple later when they hit speed bumps…Very good book, I loved it. I give it a: 4.5 out of 5”
“Fun, fun, fun! And isn’t that what a good old romantic comedy should be all about? This one is like a good sitcom mixed with a great romantic movie. Fun, fun, fun.”
“One thing that really stands out to me is how the characters in this story have such amusing rapport with each other that flow so fluidly… This is the biggest reason why I have such a wonderful time with Kiss Me Again: it makes me laugh.”
“Kiss Me Again is splendid romantic entertainment – I have a fabulous time from start to finish. Do it again, Ms Tenorio. I insist. “
—Mrs. Giggles, Everything Romantic!
“Dee Tenorio has come up with an amazing and very romanctic novel that I really could hardly stop reading once I started it.”
—Phoebe Jordan, Talk About My Favorite Authors
“Sybil has a good track record for introducing me to books and authors I most likely never would have tried without her recommendation, so I loaded this book up to my eReader and started reading. Let’s just say not much housework got done while I was reading this one… After reading this book and liking it so much, I decided I needed to go check out some of Ms. Tenorio’s other books and immediately purchased and read one of her older books Betting Hearts. I absolutely loved and will be reading her other older titles while anxiously awaiting more from her.”
—LauraJ, “The Good, The Bad & The Unread”
When the phone on her desk started ringing, Kira didn’t think much of it. It was probably Betsy, still trying to redeem herself by offering lunch. She’d been redeeming herself all week, no matter how much Kira argued it was unnecessary. Maybe it would be best to let her simply grovel her way out and call it a day.
“You’re going to have to do a lot better than lunch if you want me to forgive you,” Kira answered, not even looking over from her computer screen before she hit the speaker button. “We’re talking expensive chocolates. Sinful desserts. Dinner somewhere we actually have to dress up to go into. Generous as I am, of course, I’m willing to let you choose the restaurant.”
She heard the hiss of someone taking in a surprised breath through their teeth. Not Betsy. The food fantasies obliterated in an instant. Kira closed her eyes, wondering if she could get away with faking an answering machine joke. Please, please don’t let it be anyone on the executive floor. She wasn’t exactly indispensable to the staff of San Diego Style.
“I can do dinner.”
Kira stared at the phone, her eyes unable to blink and her tongue like lead. No sound went out. No air came in. It couldn’t be him. Not after this much time.
“Kira?” the voice asked, uncertain, launching her into explosive action.
“Ethan?” But her shock had her reaching too fast and too hard for the receiver, knocking it and the phone off her desk with a clatter before thumping into her wastebasket loud enough to startle the typesetting and layout slaves on the other side of her gray felt cubicle. “Sorry!” she called out, then pushed out of her chair with a barely voiced “omigod” to find the black console heaped on top of tissues and discarded Post-its in the aluminum tin. She grabbed the receiver. “Are you still there?”
The silence wasn’t a good sign. Which worked out fine. Her breathlessness gave a little too much away.
“Of course,” he finally said, a deep rumble that made little wibbles stroll down her spine. They faded into irritation when she heard the muffle of a hand over the mouthpiece and some warbling sound, possibly him talking to someone else. Given the hour, that someone else would have to be in his office. At work. Her neck pulsed, pulling her head to the side while she tried not to grit her teeth.
He’s not your problem anymore, she reminded herself. His calling from work does not concern you because he’s not calling you every day to cancel, or be late, or explain why he stood you up…
But still, her neck pulsed. “Hello? Earth to Ethan.”
More pulsing. “If you don’t tell me what you want, right now, Rourke, I’m hanging up.”
“You,” he replied instantly, soft as warm silk, his focus clear now and not a warble to be heard. “I definitely want you.”
Oh, God, the tone she used to wake up to in the middle the night. His whiskey voice, smooth and hot, just the tiniest bit of rough, matching the calloused fingertips that by then were usually caressing her nipples into hard points under her bra…when she’d had the temerity to sleep in one, anyway.
Like clockwork, the traitorous nubs hardened, waiting to be plucked, while her back automatically arched and her knees melted.
No, no, no. No melting. No wanting. No anything. It was Ethan Rourke on the phone, damn it. The man who broke her heart half a year ago. Strong women did not go slinking into puddles because a sexy voice on the phone said something complimentary. At the very least, they only do it for sexy-voiced men offering cheesecake.
Resolved to sanity, it still took her a second to find her voice again and another dry swallow to put some frost in it. “I’d say you have a problem on your hands.”
“A huge one.” She could hear his slow smile, the one brimming with pride that he’d gotten the reaction from her he wanted. Why he’d want her prickly, she didn’t know, but he always got a kick out of it. “Let’s work out dinner later. Right now, I’m thinking lunch.”
Kira pulled away from the seductive voice and stared at the receiver. She was tempted to check the date on her calendar because it was starting to sound like the last six months had never happened. Given the deprived ache in the breasts that were so happy to hear from him, she was sure they had. She carefully put the phone back to her ear and hooked her rolling chair with her foot so she could slip back into it. “Did you fall on your head or something? Car accident scramble the gray matter?”
“No, I was just hoping we could get some of that personal time we discussed. Just you, me, Charley’s and that booth where no one can see what our hands are doing.”
She knew exactly which table that was…and what he used to do under the tablecloth. Her vision went slightly unfocused at the barrage of memories, but thankfully she also remembered how long ago dates like that had happened. And how infrequently.
Ex-fiancé, she reminded herself so she wouldn’t get angry. And not even really that, no matter how much of an understanding they had. Ethan Rourke was an ex if there ever was one. Ex. Ex. Ex. As in no longer her problem. As in not acceptable for afternoon nookie just because he calls.
Forcibly squeezing the lust out of her ears, Kira was all set to say goodbye when she replayed his voice in her mind and finally picked up on a fine tension in his tone. Great, now she felt ten kinds of stupid for not realizing something earlier. “Is someone there with you?”
“Of course Rita will understand if I’m a little bit late getting back. She’s happy for us, getting back together this way.”
“Your boss Rita? The pushy one with the big—”
“Sure you can pick the place tonight.”
She almost laughed. She was going to say mouth, but there was a lot of Rita Reynolds to spare and all of it was pushy, driven and mean. Ethan had to be desperate if he was calling her for help. Still, no matter how much she might empathize with him for trying to escape Rita’s clutches, going to lunch with him was a bad idea. Really, really bad.
“You’re going to owe me huge for this, Rourke.”
So sue me, she thought on a wincing sigh. She’d used all her willpower defying his charm. Besides, Charley’s did have cheesecake.
“Don’t I know it.”
“Hey, stop sounding so suggestive. I’m only going to meet you there because you’ve obviously dragged me into something.” It had nothing to do with her daydreams about his body or her night dreams about what he could do with it. This was strictly about cheesecake. “You’re buying. Whatever I want.”
“Fine, see you at Charley’s. And Ethan,” she felt compelled to add, “this had better be good.”
“Oh, it’ll be good, honey. I promise.” Ethan hung up and Kira just knew she was going to be hearing that echoing in her head for the next month. She blew her bangs up with a frustrated breath and tossed the handset back into the trash.
Ethan Rourke. Lunch.
It was either a recipe for disaster or a gift from the gods. She just wasn’t sure which.
Originally Published Sept 16, 2008 with Samhain Publishing