KALEIDOSCOPE by Kristen Ashley (February 4, 2014; Forever E-Book; $3.99)
Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at “hello.” His relationship with Emme’s best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that’s ever happened to her?
It isn’t easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she’s a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme’s always been the one; she excites Deck’s body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme’s past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she’ll let him . . .
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I looked out my office window, down to the yard, my eyes to the bustling activity, and I did this tapping my phone on my desk.
I should be working but I wasn’t thinking about work.
I was thinking about Jacob.
More precisely, I was thinking about calling Jacob, had an overwhelming urge to do so.
I was also trying not to do so because I had a boyfriend, even though he was a boyfriend I wasn’t all that sure about. He was sweet, he was into me, but he was just… off.
Then again, I didn’t have a lot of experience so what did I know?
Additionally, after my dinner with Jacob last night, within an hour, I’d called him after ten at night and now it was only eleven thirty the next day.
I didn’t want him to think I was psycho, and calling him would imply psycho behavior. Further, when I called him last night, I’d asked him to dinner, which was dinner two nights in a row with a woman he hadn’t seen in nine years, a woman with a boyfriend, and that was semi-psycho.
Okay, maybe it was totally psycho.
I didn’t want Jacob to think I was psycho.
But I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to connect with him on the phone. I’d missed him and I liked having him back. I liked it a great deal.
I also missed him a great deal.
And I needed to ask him something. Further, he was the only one I could ask.
I looked from the yard to my phone. My mind telling my thumb not to do it, my thumb not listening, I found Jacob’s contact and hit go.
I put it to my ear.
“I’m a psycho,” I whispered and luckily finished whispering two seconds before Jacob’s voice sounded.
“You okay?” he answered.
He kept asking that mostly, I figured, because I kept calling when I didn’t need to so he probably thought something was wrong.
Or that I was a psycho.
“I need to know if you don’t eat anything,” I lied.
Actually, it wasn’t a lie. Although I remembered a lot about Jacob (most everything, in all honesty), I couldn’t recall if there was something specific he didn’t like to eat.
I could recall how beautiful he was, how tall he was, how strong he was. I could recall how smart he was and how funny he was. I could recall how cool he was with me. I could also recall how much I missed him. But I couldn’t recall if he didn’t like chicken.
But that wasn’t the only thing I needed to know. I needed to know something else too.
Much like last night, when he didn’t make me feel like a psycho, in fact, the opposite and sounded like he was happy to hear from me and would be willing to talk all night, he again sounded like me psychotically calling him yet again in a precursor to stalker way was no big deal.
“I don’t eat it, I’ll pick it off.”
“You can’t pick it off if I cook with it in it or if the mainstay of dinner on the whole is what you don’t eat,” I informed him.
“You makin’ Indian food?” he asked.
“No. Don’t you like Indian food?” I asked back.
“Love it,” he answered.
“Then why’d you ask if I was making Indian food?”
“ ’Cause I hoped you were.”
I burst out laughing.
No, Jacob definitely didn’t make me feel like I was being a psycho.
When I quit laughing, I told him, “Sorry, honey, I don’t know how to make Indian food.”
“Shame,” he muttered, a smile in his deep, attractive voice, and if I was on an infrared scanner, specific parts of me would have shown up hotter.
You have a boyfriend, Emme! I told myself.
For a while, I answered myself.
Jacob is also your ex–best friend’s ex-boyfriend, Emme! I reminded myself.
So? I asked myself.
I shoved those thought aside, thoughts that, if anyone knew I was talking to myself in my head might prove I was indeed a psycho, and pointed out to Jacob, “You haven’t actually answered the question.”
“I’ll eat what you cook, Emme. Cook what you like.”
He was such a nice guy.
He always was.
Nice. Tall (very tall). Handsome (unbelievably handsome). Smart (so damned smart). Funny. Interesting. Gentlemanly. And a repeat of nice because it was worth a repeat since he was just that nice.
I liked all that about him. I liked that he wore his dark hair way too long. I liked that sometimes a thick hank of it fell over his forehead and into his eye. I liked that he was who he was and didn’t wear designer jeans or put gel in his hair. I liked that, even considering he was extortionately intelligent, in fact, a genius, he never made anyone feel less than him because they weren’t as smart. I liked that he never acted superior or arrogant and with all that was him, looks, body, brains, he was one person who could. And I liked that he liked to do what he liked to do, he did what he liked to do and wouldn’t get pushed into doing something he didn’t want.
Like Elsbeth tried to do.
He’d lost her to that and he’d accepted it. I knew it killed. He’d loved her to distraction. But he refused to be the man she wanted him to be and instead was the man he was.
She should have seen she had it all even if he didn’t make bucketloads of money and thus couldn’t give her the life she was used to getting from her daddy. Country clubs, tennis lessons, vacations in villas in Italy and beaches in Thailand, fabulous homes kept by maids and fabulous meals cooked by cooks.
She didn’t see all she had.
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.
Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.