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Someone appears in my peripheral vision. I get half a glance at a lithe body and long hair as a woman appears and then just as quickly retreats.
Wait. Was that…?
I ease my way down the aisle, past the snowboard bags and ski duffels, and then I peer around the corner just in time to spot May Shipley exiting the store.
Several lengthy strides carry me right out the door after her. May has exquisite long legs, so she’s making good time escaping from me across the parking lot. I put two fingers in my mouth and make a cat-call whistle.
May halts midstride. Busted. She turns around and regards me with a sheepish smile.
God, just one smile from her and I feel better already. I raise a finger and beckon. Then I lean against the brick exterior of the shop and wait.
She lifts her chin and walks toward me.
“May Shipley,” I complain as she approaches. “Am I crazy or did you just leave the building to avoid me back there?”
She puts one hand over her pretty eyes and laughs. “Okay, you caught me. Don’t make me feel worse.”
“Do we have a problem, here?” I reach out and tag her hand, then pull her closer to me. We’re toe to toe, though several layers of winter clothing separate us. Still, my whole body hums at the memory of her riding me in my truck. Gawd. So hot. “I get that our lawyer party date got a little crazy.”
“You think?” she squeaks. “I’m so embarrassed.”
“Why? So we had a little spur-of-the-moment sex. You really enjoyed my spur for a moment.”
“Omigod, stop.” May throws her head back and laughs. Her eyes dance, and I’m wearing a giant smile and feeling much more like myself.
“Don’t be embarrassed. I had a lot of fun.” That’s an understatement. I can’t stop thinking about it. Spontaneous truck sex with a long-legged beauty moaning on my dick? That night has made my personal hall of fame.
“Okay. I’ll try.” But the color in her cheeks is unmistakable. It’s cute as fuck.
“Come here.” I pull her into a hug, and she feels terrific against my body. “Let’s not be weird.”
May lifts her face in surprise. “I said that same thing to a good friend once.”
“Did it work?” I whisper because we’re so close together.
“Nope. Still weird.” She grins.
I laugh. And then I kiss her. I don’t even know how it happens. One second I’m just appreciating her smile, and the next second I’m owning it with my mouth.
May lets out a surprised whimper before her mouth softens under mine. I take my time kissing her until her hands spread the two halves of my jacket, finding my chest, gripping my flannel shirt. I need to taste her, so I part her lips with my tongue.
Suddenly my shoulder blades hit the bricks as May presses me up against the wall.
No, ma’am. I’ve just spent five nights imagining a scenario where our next encounter plays out in reverse—with me in charge. So I spin her around and back her up against the wall instead. And for good measure I pin her questing hands in mine, just because I can.
She makes a hungry noise, and I feel it in my balls. And then I dive back into her kisses, one of my thighs between her long legs.
May fights me, if by fighting me you mean she presses her hips against mine and gives me a nice, dirty grind.
I never liked the Shipleys, but now I realize I was hanging out with the wrong ones.
We lose our minds for several amazing minutes until the door of the ski shop opens suddenly. I take a quick step backward to preserve what’s left of our dignity.
Not that it works. We’re both flushed and panting, and I look like I’m trying to conceal a ski pole in the crotch of my jeans.
The young woman exiting the shop gives us a quizzical look as she bleeps the locks on her car.
“Jesus,” May breathes as we blink at each other.
“I know.” Every part of me is horny now. It’s cold outside, but I’m hot everywhere. My clothes feel constricting. I want to drag May back into my truck and have my way with her again.
“What are we doing?”
“Well, babydoll, we’re dry-humping each other in a parking lot.”
“Alec!” She reaches up, clapping a hand over my mouth. “That was a rhetorical question.”
I nod to show her I understand. But then I stick out my tongue and lick her palm where it’s pressed to my lips.
“Omigod, stop.” She removes her hand and wipes it on my flannel.
“You don’t really want me to. Admit it.”
“No, really I do.” Her embarrassed smile comes back. It’s so fucking cute. “I don’t need to be arrested for indecent exposure.”
“Fair enough. But that’s why you’re going to come over tonight. Late. Like eleven.” I’m supposed to be tending bar until ten and then closing up early, because it’s Sunday night.
“Why do you think? So I can strip you down and lick you all over until you’re screaming my—”
May puts that hand over my mouth again. “Anyone could hear you.”
“Nah,” I say from under her hand. She removes it. “I have brick walls at home. It helps with sound control. So even when my headboard starts to bang while I’m fucking you—”
She tries to cover my mouth again, but this time I catch her hand in midair, because I’m a sex ninja. And I hold it in mine. “Just come over. I’ve been thinking about you all week. Once wasn’t enough.” I lift her palm to my mouth and kiss it tenderly.
“Apparently not.” Her cheeks pink up. “But I really can’t get involved with anyone right now.”
“Duh.” I actually roll my eyes. “I’m your rebound lay. Relationships aren’t my style, and I’m allergic to commitment. So we’ll have exactly the same expectations—some very athletic sex.”
Her lips part on a dreamy expression, but then she snaps them closed again.
“Don’t overthink it, counselor. The judge orders you to his chambers at ten.”
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Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Speakeasy is a beautiful, insightful, sweet, sexy, and utterly heart-warming story from the truly exceptional True North series by Sarina Bowen. It is redemptive, hopeful, full of humor and just enough emotional angst to keep it real. It may easily be read and enjoyed as a standalone, but I recommend reading the series in order to fully understand the perspective of important secondary characters and to appreciate how each of their individual stories contributes to the ones that follow.
Speakeasy features two characters referenced but not developed in the previous books: May. the dynamic, passionate middle child in the Shipley clan; and Alec, who owns the local bar in the small town that anchors the series. It’s an unlikely pairing, for multiple reasons: May is a recovering alcoholic who needs to steer clear of all things liquor-related; she’s also bisexual and on the rebound from a failed relationship with her cheating girlfriend; Alec is known to be a player; he’s no fan of the Shipley’s, and the feeling is mutual. But when Alec jumps in to head off a catastrophic confrontation in his bar and ends up helping May leave her ex and move back in with her family, he goes from friend to rebound lover in a heartbeat, and all bets are off.
Their chemistry is off-the-charts hot; their banter is delightful; and they are perfect together — as long as no one finds out the truth about their relationship. And therein lies the conflict.
As their relationship grows and their feelings develop, May is determined to keep Alec at arm’s length. She’s afraid to let go and trust her own judgment for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with him. He understands her reticence, and for a long time, he’s patient, grateful for every stolen moment, determined not to pressure her for more. But he also fears that she is ashamed of him because of his history with her family and because of his own self-esteem issues. He feels that he doesn’t deserve her, that he will never be good enough, again for reasons that have nothing to do with May. The tension between them is exquisitely painful, accurately depicting the insecurity and fear we experience when we feel unworthy to accept love, be it from within ourselves or from that special someone. And when the tension becomes unbearable, it inevitably leads them to a breaking point. But is it a point of no return? Or merely another obstacle on the path to a well-deserved HEA?
You’ll have to read Speakeasy to find that out for yourself (and to understand the title of the book, too — it’s brilliant).
I didn’t find May an easy character to love, so I applaud Sarina for giving me at least a dozen reasons to care enough to keep reading. The passages of the story that are told from her point of view reveal a woman of substance, compassion, honesty, and resilience. Her POV is crucial to understanding what drives her to behave as she does from beginning to end, and the same is true of Alec. Sarina is a master at using dual POV to make her characters stand out and resonate with readers. All of her stories are a joy to read, and Speakeasy is no exception; it’s a perfect addition to a wonderful series.
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