Rex Gunner. As bitter as he is beautiful.
The owner of the largest construction company in Gingham Lakes has been burned one too many
times. His wife leaving him to raise their daughter was the last blow this single dad could take. The only
woman he’ll let into his heart is his little girl.
Rynna Dayne. As vulnerable as she is tempting.
She ran from Gingham Lakes when she was seventeen. She swore to herself she would never
return. Then her grandmother passed away and left her the deed to the diner that she once
When Rex meets his new neighbor, he knows he’s in trouble.
She’s gorgeous and sweet and everything he can’t trust.
Until she becomes the one thing he can’t resist.
One kiss sends them tumbling toward ecstasy.
But in a town this size, pasts are bound to collide. Caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and disloyalty,
Rex must make a choice.
Will he hide behind his walls or will he take the chance . . .
© 2017 A.L. Jackson Books
Tension roiled between us. That tether pulled taut. Drawing us closer. I swallowed around it and
reached for the latch. He was quick to open his door, jumping out and rounding to my side before I had
time to step out of his massive truck. He helped me down, and his hand scorched where he aided me by
holding on to my elbow.
“Let me walk you to the door. Last thing I need to be worried about is you here by yourself
and some asshole taking advantage of you.”
He quirked this belly-flopping grin that pierced me like an arrow. “Unless of course that
asshole is me.”
He barely angled his head to the side. There was something so endearing and self-deprecating
about it. Everything about him right then was at odds with the surly, bear of a man I’d met weeks
ago, the man exposing himself, layer by layer.
I lifted my chin, both in strength and vulnerability, tossing all the uncertainties and questions out
into the open. “Should I be afraid?”
“Yeah, you should be.” His response was hard, but there was no missing the fact his
irritation was aimed at himself. He set his palm on the small of my back, helping me through the gravel
drive in my heels, an inch behind as we ascended the porch steps.
We crossed the planks. That tension wound higher with each step until we were nothing but needy
pants at my door. Slowly, I turned around to face him.
His presence sent a ripple of energy vibrating across the floorboards, the overwhelming sight of
him the owner of my breath.
He stood beneath the faint glow of the hurricane lamp that hung outside the door. A sculpture of
sinewy muscle and raw strength, forged through years of obvious physical labor. Every inch of him was
rugged, from those roughened, callused hands to the crinkles set deep at the edges of his eyes.
The man was a carving of pure, daunting beauty.
“What exactly am I supposed to be afraid of, Rex?” My brow twisted, and my voice
quieted with the admission. “Because when I’m around you, the last thing I feel is
“I fuck everything up, Rynna, and the only thing I’ve got to offer you is my mess. I
can’t do this.”
Restraint rumbled in his chest, the sound so deep I felt it shake the ground beneath my feet.
I gently cupped one side of his rugged face. “I’m not afraid.”
It was a promise.
“You should be,” he grated. “Warned you, my shit doesn’t ever end
“Maybe that’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
He groaned and he planted his hands high above my head. The man panted above me, torn,
desperate, his nose just brushing mine. “God damn it, Rynna. God damn it.”
I felt the moment he broke. When the thread pulled too tight and this mesmerizing man snapped.
His mouth descended on mine.
Lips and tongue and nips of teeth.
And those hands. They were on my face. My neck. My waist. Somehow, I managed to hold on to
him and spin away as I fumbled with the lock. He pressed against my backside, his cock against my
bottom, and his mouth leaving a trail of fire at the side of my neck. We stumbled into the darkness of
my house, breaking apart as I turned to face him.
The only light trickled down from the lamp I’d left on upstairs.
Slowly, he clicked the door shut behind him. We stood there, two feet away from each other,
Before we collided.
A tangle of tongues and bodies.
The man frantic, trying to touch me everywhere.
“What am I doing? Fuck, what am I doing?” he muttered incoherently, kissing me
deeper. Madder. Wilder.
I pushed up on my toes and tore my mouth from his so I could kiss down the strong column of his
throat. His head thudded back against the door, his entire body pressing against it as if he needed it to
keep him standing.
He grated my name, and I kept kissing at his throat while I worked free the button on his jeans,
Every reservation spun out of control.
Out of reach.
It was only spurred further when the defined muscles of his abdomen jumped and twitched
beneath my touch, when he mumbled, “You’re killing me, Rynna. Fucking killing
Desire rippled from him in heady waves.
And I felt so brave and bold, my kisses brazen as I nipped at the hollow of his throat.
Before I could consider it—the ramifications and the repercussions and the distinct threat to
my heart—I dropped to my knees.
I refused to think of anything but setting him free.
Hoping he’d find a little of that freedom in me.