Freshly single Rosie Holiday is on the hunt for passion and excitement. This leads her to Leo Whittaker—a bad boy who waltzed out of town, and her life, thirteen years ago. Leo isn’t the type to stick around, but Rosie’s not going to let a no-strings opportunity pass her by.
When a business trip sends Leo back to his hometown, the last thing he expects is for his first love to hand him a list of scorching-hot escapades and a deadline. He’s happy to help Rosie discover her bossy side in the bedroom. Or in a fireworks stand. Or at a Fourth of July barbecue.
Their chemistry burns bright and fast, but what tore them apart years ago is still between them. They are polar opposites. A reserved kindergarten teacher and an irreverent artist. A nester and a wanderer. It will take a spark of imagination and a lot of love to keep their second-chance romance from flaming out.
After some time, she asked, “Do you ever feel lonely?”
“No. Not really.”
As soon as he said the words, he knew they were a lie. His heartbeat skyrocketed, and the metallic taste of adrenaline flooded his mouth. He didn’t understand his reaction.
“I think I’m lonely,” she said, while he quietly freaked out. “My marriage sucked, but there are things I miss. Cuddling and having a person to eat meals with. Not special meals, like dates or brunch with my siblings. I mean, eating cereal together because you’re lazy and your favorite show’s about to start, you know? I miss having someone on the other end of a phone line. I would leave work before Landon, and he would call me on his way home every day to see if I needed anything from the store. I miss that.”
“Routines.” His voice was strained.
She nodded against his chest. “Yes.”
“I’ve been running away from routine for thirteen years, but I see the appeal.”
She leaned back so she could see his face, and her lips tipped up. “I don’t think you’re running from routine.”
“No. You’re not running away from anything. You’re running toward it. Toward experiences. Toward love. Toward adventure. Toward inspiration. I’ve always believed that.”
He’d tried, through the years, to fully explain his impulse to move, to not put down roots, to travel, and he’d usually failed. She’d summed it up in ten seconds flat.
“I think …” He chewed on his lip. This was hard. “I think I’ve hurt people in the past. Because I run. My parents. You. Friends who wanted to be more. Mal. I am lonely, but I’m also me. I don’t want to hurt anyone else by being me.”
She cupped his cheek. “You won’t hurt me by leaving this time. I promise.”
It would hurt him, though. That was what he didn’t say. He was selfish. His lifestyle sometimes hurt the people he loved, but it also hurt him. It robbed him of connections he craved. It left him lonely, but he had never been able to find a balance between the freedom of the open road and love that lasted. The one time he’d tried, it had ended poorly.
Rosie was seemingly able to compartmentalize their reconnection. To put it in a box labeled “fuck buddy” or “deadline incoming.” He admired her for that. He’d been great at that type of compartmentalization for years. He had friends all over the country that he happily screwed around with then left with a smile. It was mutually beneficial. He knew they were on the same page.
The longer this went on with Rosie, the more he was sure they were not on the same page. She was keeping up her end of the bargain. It was his heart that was changing the rules.
Erin McLellan is the author of the Farm College, So Over the Holidays, and Storm Chasers series. She enjoys writing happily ever afters that are earthy, emotional, quirky, humorous, and very sexy. Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska and spends her time dreaming up queer contemporary romances. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.
Genre: Contemporary Genre: Erotic Romance Genre: Romance Orientation: Bisexual Pairing: M/F Self Published Tag: Guest Post Tag: Holidays Tag: Opposites Attract Tag: Part of a series Tag: Second Chances Tag: Small Town Trigger Warning: Cheating Trigger Warning: Gaslighting Bottle Rocket Erin McLellan So Over the Holidays series