Hollywood Honkytonk, book two in my Kings of California series, will be released on January 13, 2017 from The Wild Rose Press. It's a second-chance romance about a country songwriter and a Hollywood actor whose star is finally on the rise.
Hollywood Honkytonk is available for pre-order today. Click here for more information.
For now, meet Jack and Riley. Here's a long teaser for your Tuesday. <3
© 2016 by Mia Hopkins
When Jack pulled back into his driveway, Riley opened her purse and pulled out her keys.
He put the Audi in park. “Hold your horses, cowgirl. It’s only five. Hang out a little longer.”
Riley wanted nothing more than to “hang out a little longer” with Jack, especially when he looked at her with that Hollywood-honed smolder. To make things worse, his slate-gray shirt amplified the already-absurd blue of his irises. He smiled and traced the back of his index finger along her jaw. She shivered.
“Stay.” His soft voice heated her blood.
Her willpower was taking a serious beating. Riley rubbed the worn-out brass key of her Datsun between her thumb and forefinger, wishing she could put this particular genie back in his bottle.
“Jack, listen. I have a favor to ask.”
“What do you need?”
What I need has nothing to do with what I want. “I’ve been thinking about what happened on the beach.”
“On the beach? When we…?”
“When we kissed. Made out. Almost…you know. It made me realize something.” She unclipped her seat belt and turned toward him. “I’m not ready.”
“Ready…to take things further with you.” The words made her wither a little inside. Embarrassed, she didn’t know how to talk about sex. “I was married for a long time. And Tommy—he was my first. My only. There’s been no one since.”
Jack frowned. “Do you still have feelings for him?”
“No. Not at all. That’s done.” She licked her lips and looked up at him. “I know that since high school our lives took two very different paths. And I’m happy to be here with you, now. But, if it’s all the same to you, could we maybe”—she cleared her throat—“take things a little slower?”
Jack stared at her and said nothing.
Riley backpedaled, trying to make him understand. “I know, it’s a really old-fashioned thing to ask. If this doesn’t work out for you, I’ll be happy to be on my way. We can be friends. Grab a drink or two when you want to reminisce. No problem. I completely understand.” His hands rested calmly on his knees, but his jaw tightened a little. “I think I get what you’re saying.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to—”
“Don’t want to what?”
“Jesus Christ, Riley. We’re grown-ups. Say what you don’t want to do. I want to hear you say it.” Jack raised his eyebrows. “Go on.”
Riley fidgeted. “It’s not that I don’t want to…sleep with you.”
“So you do.”
He grinned. “Want to sleep with me.”
“Stop putting words in my mouth.”
“Trust me, sweetheart.” His eyes crinkled up with silent laughter. “Words are not what I want to put in your mouth.”
She looked at him, and her jaw dropped open.
He started to laugh. “That doesn’t make things any better.”
Riley snapped her mouth closed and slapped his meaty shoulder with the back of her hand. “I’m baring my soul to you and you’re making fun of me. You big jerk.” She slapped his shoulder again.
“Ow! Okay, okay.” He held up his hands. “I couldn’t resist. I’m an asshole. Sorry. I’m sorry.” As she seethed at him, he reached forward and stroked her cheek with his fingertips. “Don’t be mad.” He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. The gentle kiss calmed her. He did it again. When he did it a third time, the tension drained from her shoulders.
“Listen,” he said, “when you came back into my life, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I would see you again, much less have a chance at spending time with you like this. Today was…for lack of a better word, today was fun. You’re fun to talk to. Smart. Passionate. It’s refreshing.”
In spite of her annoyance, Riley gave him a small smile. “I had fun too.” “Then let’s keep it here for a while. I’m not in any rush.” He glanced up at her. “All right, that’s a bald-faced lie. I’ve been thinking about you all week.”
Her cheeks warmed up. “Really?”
He nodded. “Thinking about you. Fantasizing about you. Yeah. A lot, actually.” He ran his fingertip over her knuckles. “But that’s a conversation for another day, right?”
One more mischievous grin and he let go of her hand. Riley stared at him, wondering if she shouldn’t have shut her trap and jumped into bed with him like the wanton love goddess she wanted to be.
He walked her to her car and held the door open for her as she climbed inside. She cranked the window down and put the key in the ignition. Her crotchety old engine coughed to life.
Before she could drive away, Jack reached forward through the open window and took her face gently in his hands. Without a word, he kissed her—a deep kiss full of longing and sweetness. He slipped her a little tongue and she smiled, eyes closed, sparks falling like rain through her nervous system. Too soon, Jack let go and took a step back, his eyes locked on hers.
“Have a good week,” he said. “Call me.”
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