What He Wants
(Baxter Boys #2)
By Jessie Gussman
Publication Date: December 22nd 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
One night changed everything…
Cassidy Kimbell killed a man when she was only nineteen.
Torque Baxter took the blame, serving ten years for her crime.
He told her to flee the scene of the accident. He told her to run. He told her to keep her mouth shut, so that’s what she’d done. She’d let a boy with a crush become an innocent man behind bars.
Today, that man is being released.
Cassidy expects Torque to hate her. She knows nothing she has done to atone all these years can compare to what he’s lost. But she hopes becoming his sponsor on the outside, especially since she’s a lawyer now, might help.
Little does she know, Torque doesn’t want her to owe him.
He wants her to love him.
But to do that Cassidy would have to give up the life she’s built for the last ten years. She’d have to sacrifice it all, just like he did.
“Shh.” She placed a finger over his lips which stopped his words faster than a plug in a drain.
His body did the whole stiffening thing again, but this time, it seemed to be from her touch, which gave her a feeling of power, not unpleasant.
“What are you doing here?” Her finger dropped.
“Your babysitter was smoking pot in the parking lot. She left Jamal up here to watch the twins. Told him if he left the living room she was smacking everyone with a spoon.” He shoved a hand in his pocket. “I didn’t actually hear her say that. It came from Jamal.”
Cassidy ground her teeth together. She would definitely be taking steps to deal with Elizabeth tomorrow, although she guessed the woman would be gone. People might not believe a nine-year-old, but Torque’s testimony would stand. The nanny agency would be hearing from her too.
“Were they okay?” She had just seen them, handled them, but her heart ached. Her babies in the hands of such a miserable person.
“Jamal had it under control. I think it hit him the hardest emotionally. Brought back some bad memories.”
“He went to bed okay?”
“I haven’t heard him.” His jaw ticked. “I didn’t hear you come in either.”
She smiled. “I know.”
He shook his head. “I thought you were on a date.”
“Is that what Elizabeth said?”
“Elizabeth pounded on the door, demanded to be allowed in, and insisted she was going to call the cops on me. We didn’t really have a rational conversation.”
“Yeah. Jamal said you went out. I guess I assumed the date part.”
“I went to the new children’s activity center that Kelly is opening next week to help her paint. Harris Winsted, our friend and the librarian, was there too.”
His eyes flicked down over her outfit. Surely the bright paint she was using was visible. It was on her face and arms. Her t-shirt was splattered with it. And it was probably in her hair too, which was shoved up in a sloppy bun that probably looked like yesterday’s leftovers.
“You never look at me.”
“Too tempting,” he murmured. Then he stirred, breaking eye contact and moving to go. She wasn’t going to stop him. It was late, he was tired, and she wasn’t chasing him. No matter what her friends said about why he did what he did.
He thought she was tempting?
Her mouth opened. “You never said why you were here to begin with.”
He shrugged a big shoulder. “Stopped in after work to check on you.”
“Check on me? Like make sure I’m doing all those things you told me to do?”
“I’m sorry.” He adjusted his ball cap, his muscles bulging, like he was fighting with himself. He turned back to her, closing the gap between them.
“I do see you.” He took her shoulders. “You’re beautiful, smart, compassionate… All those things that you were in high school have matured into a woman who’s done so much good and has so much potential for more.” His eyes dipped down, and his breath became unsteady. “You’re beautiful, Cassidy. But the whole world already knows that. Don’t think for one second that I don’t know it too.” His voice lowered. “I know it.”
He brought his thumb up and traced her lip. She shivered.
“I could spend all day just looking at you, watching you, the way you move, the crease you get between your eyes when you’re thinking. I love your toes and the sharp angles of your ankles. I love the intelligence that sits deep in your eyes when you look at me. I love the way I feel when you stand beside me…” He trailed off, and his eyes unfocused. “I feel like a motor that has the final piece in place and is running in perfect tune. That’s how it is when I’m with you. Like you’re the other piece of me, and I’m running in time.”
His eyes dropped, and his hand came up to cup her cheek. “I see you, Cassie.”
Her heart thrilled at the nickname he’d used in high school. Once. No one else ever called her that. Her hands came up and slid around the hard sides of his stomach. His body trembled. Her whole arms tingled.
“You’re everything I want. I have to remind myself I can’t have you. Not looking makes it easier.”
Her heart beat like a judge’s gavel trying to restore order in an out-of-control courtroom. His face was only millimeters from hers. The same small space separated their bodies. She pressed closer, and they were touching.
He groaned. Low. Anguished. His face dropped, and his lips replaced his thumb, light and soft.
She closed her eyes. Her hands slid up the hard ridges of his back.
He let out another guttural sound, and his arms came around her, crushing her to him. The soft tingle of his lips on hers was replaced by a blazing heat as their mouths fused. The burning emotion that had lay banked in her body for years came roaring back to life, and suddenly she couldn’t get enough. Colors exploded behind her closed eyes. The world spun and heated and tilted crazily, while the only solid thing was Torque under her hands, his mouth on hers, his hands around her, pressing her against him.
The kiss lasted an eternity and yet was too short. He pulled away, his breathing erratic. His hands ran up and down her back, feeling the tilt of her shoulders and the curve of her waist.
“I’ll not wonder what I’m missing anymore. I’ll know. And it will make it a million times worse for me.” He dropped little, loving kisses up her face to her forehead, before tucking her head under his chin. “I’m sorry. Not for kissing you. For making it worse.” His chest jerked under her cheek as he snorted a laugh. “Maybe that didn’t shatter your world like it did mine.”
Her arms tightened, and her eyes closed. It didn’t matter that he’d come from work and was covered in dirt. In his arms, she was home.
She cleared her throat, hoping she didn’t sound like she’d swallowed a whistle when she spoke. “I’ve dreamed about that for a long time. It was definitely better than I’d imagined it to be.”
“It’d get better with practice.” There was a smile in his voice.
Jessie Gussman is the award-winning author of The Baxter Boys series and The Sweet Haven Farm series - soul-stirring, SWEET, small town romance with humor and heart.
Jessie lives in central Pennsylvania with a lot of other people. Some of them claim to be related to her. She has five dogs, nine nice cows plus one that tries to kill her every day, and twenty thousand chickens. Some of the people in her home claim a cat lives there, too, but those reports have not been substantiated.
Jessie cooks for a crowd every day (except when she can get out of it) and does as little cleaning as possible.
Jessie is allergic to social media, but she does send out a newsletter once or twice a week to a thriving community of several thousand readers. Anyone can subscribe, as long as Jessie doesn't have to cook for them. Her newsletter includes snippets from her life and books, along with special deals, offers and sneak peaks of soon-to-be released novels. Sign up here and get a FREE sweet romance novella delivered to your inbox: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qx71qtunbm
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