~~~~~*Little Conversations Synopsis*~~~~~
Eighteen-year-old Devin McKay is a complete and total emotional wreck. Fresh out of high school and on her own for the first time in her life, she’s reeling from rejection of a relationship gone very, very bad. Emotionally battered and tormented by the pull of her narcissistic first love, she wants to make a clean break in a small mountain town where he is everywhere... with his new girlfriend.
Ronin Andrews is still battling his own cataclysmic ghosts. He recoils from anything heartfelt, choosing instead to work hard and live wild. Outside of his job, parties and causal hooks-ups are his life until Devin walks in. With her short skirt and her sad green eyes, he can’t help but want her… badly. His protective streak wants to provide her with a haven, to shelter and sustain her.
Through a flash of torrid intensity, they struggle to be friends... just friends. She relies on him to nourish her shattered soul and shield her heart from the clawing, gnawing loss that has consumed her. Before long, the attraction proves too tenacious, and the passion between them becomes undeniable. But will the shadows of the past prove too much to overcome?
From Chapter 4
Thank God! His truck was there.
Reenergized, she hopped up his front steps and knocked. Nothing. Feeling a little disgruntled, she knocked again. And nothing. Once more, one last time, she knocked. Okay, she pounded. Beat the ever-loving hell out of the door.
“Just a sec,” she heard Ronin call faintly.
Yay! The door swung open and… Ooooohhhhh!
Standing a step or two down from Ronin, her eyes first hit the small white towel wrapped around his waist. The faint scent of masculine soap enveloped her senses as her eyes traveled down to his bare feet, and back up. Yep, that’s really only just a little white towel. With an embarrassingly audible gulping sound, her vision slowly traveled up to his bare chest. It was mouthwatering… broad with a light dusting of hair over his pectorals. Firm and solid, lightly tanned muscles of a physical, hard-working man. A little higher and she saw the reason for his undressed state. Shaving cream spread across the lower half of his face. Somehow, the shaving cream made his hazel eyes appear to glow, and her fingers tingled with the desire to smooth the white foamy layer along his strong jaw.
“Um, sweetheart? Did you need something?” Ronin asked, a slight grin appearing beneath the soapy layer.
“I… um… car ticking… and… not starting…” she stuttered, unable to form a single coherent thought.
Ronin wasn’t helping, either, just standing there with a half-smile and waiting for her to spit out something… anything. Finally, she just had to forcefully rip her eyes away. Focus on the truck. You need liquor, and he can go get it in his truck.
“Could I, um… Amy, Joanie, and I need some booze. Would, um, would you be willing to run to the liquor store for me?” She could barely look at the guy, and her voice practically squeaked when she talked. What the hell was wrong with her?
Ronin seemed to enjoy her discomfort, his eyes narrowing a bit. He folded his arms across his chest and leaned up against the doorframe totally relaxed with his near nudity. As he crossed one foot in front of the other, the motion pulled slightly at the bottom of the towel to reveal an upside-down V of skin which drew her eyes back to the scant covering. Devin realized her jaw was hanging open, and she snapped it closed, glancing up to see his smile had broadened. Damn.
From Chapter 6
Devin’s eyes fluttered open. She was still snuggled up to Ronin, her arm resting across his abs, her nose pressed against his skin as though she could breathe him in. She felt the brush of his hand as he cradled her cheek, and her eyes rose to meet his sleepy gaze. The pale gray light of predawn filtered in through the open curtains.
“Hi, sweetheart,” he mumbled. A glimmer of sunlight glowed in the east as the sun began to peek over the mountains, casting rays of red and gold and pink across the sky and bathing the room in a faintly warm light.
“Hi. I keep falling asleep on you.”
His thumb brushed her cheek and he half-whispered, “On me, by me, under me. It’s all okay as far as I’m concerned.”
The tender look in his eyes held her still. He rolled them so she was on her back, rising a bit so he was a little above her, and slowly lowered his head, giving her a soft, sweet kiss. Devin’s hand slid up to grasp his upper arm, as her fingers clenched as the kiss grew deeper. His knuckle brushed along the curve of her jaw, his hand resting below her ear as his thumb stroked her cheekbone.
She could have stayed there forever soaking up his strength, his lips gently exploring hers, living in this beautiful moment. But his iPhone rang from the bedside table.
Ronin lifted his head and looked down at her. “That’ll be Joe, wondering where I am. Gotta go to work, sweetheart.” He touched his lips to hers once more, brushed her bangs away from her forehead, and climbed out of bed.
From Chapter 7
“Well, now I need you to kiss me. Make out with me. Otherwise she’ll know I was full of shit and start hittin’ on me again.”
“You want me to slut it up with you so you don’t look like an asshole to some little ho-bag you’re trying notto nail? You know, Ronin, you could just tell her you’re not interested.”
“I like my way better,” he grinned. “Besides, you could use a true tongue-mashing make out session. I get the feeling it’s been a while and you’re starting to get crabby,” Ronin teased with a smirk. He dropped to a knee and gave her a pleading look, grabbing her right hand and kissing her fingers. “C’mon, baby, please…” A humorous glint in his eyes reflected the bright moonlight.
“Fuck, Ronin…” Devin rubbed her forehead with an exasperated motion. “Fine. But you owe me!”
“Oh, baby, I’ll make sure you like it.” And he stood with a devious smile, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead. “Now hop on my back. I’ll give you a piggyback ride back to the fire.”
“You’re insane, you know that, right?” she muttered in his ear as she climbed on his back. Making their way back to the fire, Devin slipped into character, letting out a twitterpated giggle as they approached the others.
“Soooo, everything, um, okay now, Devin?” Joe asked with a grin while Devin slid down from Ronin’s back. Ronin quickly pulled her to his side, eliciting another exaggerated giggle. Devin gazed up at him with a besotted expression and then snuggled against his broad chest, nuzzling the softly worn chambray of his shirt.
“Mmmm, never better.”
Ronin cupped her jaw, bringing her lips to his, kissing her softly, then deepening the kiss. She softly moaned into his mouth.
At some point, somewhere in the midst of that kiss, Devin’s mind began to fog. She could taste a bitter hint of beer on his lips, and somehow she began to forget that this was an act. Her hands mapped out his shoulders and back, discovering every ridge of muscle from his triceps to his waist. Ronin reached his hands down, cupping the curves of her backside as he picked her up. Her legs encircled his hips and her arms clutched him closer as he continued to kiss her. Ronin turned on his heel, taking a few steps back out into the darkness of the trees around them.
A voice drifted over from the fire. “What the…?”
Devin didn’t even know who said it. She didn’t care. All her focus was on the burning want Ronin was evoking in her as he pressed her back up against a pine. The rough bark sharply poked its way through her light jacket, digging into her skin, and the odd pain pushed her to increase the force of her kiss as she clawed at his back. His grip on her ass tightened, and Ronin groaned down her throat.
“Ronin,” she whispered as he raised his head, lightly kissing her once, then twice. He looked at her wet, swollen lips for a moment as they caught a glint of moonlight. He kissed her hard again, then voraciously mouthed his way down her throat, tasting and nipping the sensitive skin just behind her ear. From what seemed like a great distance, muffled through her haze of passion, Devin heard voices.
“Whatever, let’s go,” one of the skanks was muttering to the other. “I just lost my fuckin’ ride for the night.” Car doors slammed, and the little hoochie SUV jerked its way down the road.
Ronin raised his head, looking at her with triumph. Devin clasped his cheeks and pulled his lips back to hers. When they were a scant hair away, Devin murmured, “Oh no, buddy, I’m not really done with you yet.”
“Is that so?” he smiled against her lips.
“Nope, I need you to kiss me some more,” she whispered.
“The Barbie twins are leaving, honey. No need for the charade any longer,” Ronin mumbled against her lips, but, belying his words, his lips tasted hers yet again as he kissed her deeply.
Their tongues tangled and thrashed, and she tried to absorb him with her body, pulling him closer and closer. A moan erupted from deep within her throat, and her hands clasped the sides of his head as she nipped at his lip with her teeth. Ronin’s body increased its pressure on her, pressing her harder yet into the tree. His lips left hers gasping as he began to lick and kiss and suck his way to the lobe of her ear.
“You sure you want to do this, honey?” Ronin mumbled.
“We’re not far from my place,” Ronin noted. “Just through those trees over there. I can give you a ride home if you want.”
“Shit, I should have worn different shoes. These are fine for dancing,” Devin said as she held one foot out in front of the other, “but not sure how they’ll be for hiking.”
Ronin turned around and crouched down. “Hop on,” he said.
“Ronin, I can walk. I probably can’t walk very fast, but I can walk.”
Ronin stood and turned around, taking another step over to her so that, even in her four-inch strappy heels, she had to look up at him. “Honey, don’t argue with me. Just get on my fuckin’ back.” He gave her a pointed end-of-conversation look, and Devin nodded with an open mouth. Ronin turned around and crouched on the ground again. Devin slipped off her heels and held them in one hand as she climbed up onto his back. His large arms secured her legs around his waist as she clutched his shoulders with one hand and her shoes in the other, doing her best to hold on. The late-night mountain air was cool, even with Devin’s light jacket, so she melted against his warmth as he began the trek home.
“So,” Ronin asked, “do you know any stories about Taurus? He’s up there someplace. I remember my gramma pointing him out to me when I was really little because that’s my sign. She was into that shit, too. But I don’t remember much more about it than that.”
“Oh, yeah! Taurus is cool, and a neat story, too. He’s pretty easy to pick out. You can’t see him in the summer, though. He’s a winter kind of guy. He’s a big ‘V’ shape. The tips of the ‘V’ are his horns, and the bottom is the end of his nose. There are a couple different stories about him, but I like the one where he was actually Zeus in disguise. Zeus was kind of a sneaky bastard and was always morphing into other creatures to get it on with the ladies. In the story I like, he was all hot for this pretty little princess named Europa, and so he turned himself into a big white bull to get her attention. When Europa and her maidens, her Seven Sisters, saw him out in a field of flowers, he acted all gentle and shit. So, being a bunch of girls, they picked the flowers and decorated him with garlands. At one point, Europa thought it would be fun to climb up on his back. When she did that, he took off with her, taking her to Crete where he ravished her. The maidens are a little cluster of stars on his shoulder.”
“Damn! That was pretty fuckin’ creative. How did Europa feel about that?” Ronin asked. “Did she hate his guts, or did they live happily ever after?”
“As happily as a woman could live with Zeus, I suppose. He had a lot of women. But she did give him three sons, so he must have had her pretty high on his totem pole. Taurus is actually the sign of virility.”
Ronin stopped dead in his tracks and craned his head to eye her over his shoulder. “Huh,” he muttered, and started walking again.
Shit! Devin thought. I really need to work on my filter.
From Chapter 17
Devin sat curled up in the passenger seat of the boat with her feet up to the side as Ronin guided it through the water with Shane and Joe skipping along behind them on the tubes. She watched his hands as he worked the mechanics of the boat, and her thoughts strayed to remember the tender touch of those hands on her skin. A sudden surge of warmth filtered through her.
Ronin laughed as he looked behind them to see Shane flying off the tube. He began to turn the boat, glancing at Devin as she intently focused on his hands gripping the boat’s wheel. Feeling his eyes on her, she looked up at him and practically combusted by the undeniable heat in his gaze, the magnetic pull that took her breath away. It was as though neither one of them could look away.
“Ronin! What the fuck!?” Shane began to yell as he treaded water while the boat cut into a huge arc around him, nowhere near close enough for him to grab the tube.
Shane’s frustrated shout seemed to jar Ronin from a stupor, and he shook his head and looked away from Devin. “Damn, baby,” he chuckled under his breath and looked over at Shane, guiding the boat closer so his friend could climb back onto the inner tube. “I’m done, guys. Someone else gets a turn to drive,” he called out as he directed the boat back to shore.
Devin chewed her lip as they got closer to the shore, aching to have Ronin’s arms wrapped around her as the swiftly cooling air raised goosebumps on her skin. She hastened another glance at his profile in the slowly fading light. She became aware of every pulse of blood through her body, every little goosebump that rose on her skin. Ronin glanced over at her to see her once again looking up at him in the golden early evening light. He jerked his gaze towards the shore again, softly speaking. “Gotta concentrate, honey,” he smiled, then glanced at her with a wink. “And you looking at me the way you’re looking at me really is nothelping.”
Devin flushed with a smile and turned her face to the shore, into the breeze as the boat sped through the water.
“Come here, though,” Ronin said quietly, holding out one hand as he steered with the other. Devin stood, and he pulled her up against his side. She leaned into his solid strength and inhaled the air around him deeply into her lungs.
“There, that’s much better,” he whispered against her forehead, and she melted against him.
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Sibylla Matilde grew up in the mountain valleys of Southwest Montana, and grew up exploring the alfalfa fields on the back of a horse. She attended a two-room schoolhouse 1st through 6th grade where she had same teacher the whole time. Beginning at about age 12, Sibylla discovered historical romance, feeding off of work of Jude Devereaux, Lisa Kleypas, and Karen Robards. She loves a book that can make the reader run the gamut of emotions, from the sweet glow of new love to gut-wrenching heartache. She always has stories floating around in her head, living in some fantasyland until she writes them down to free them. She is a true romantic, a bit of a Pollyanna, and a deeply emotional soul.
Music is her emotional trigger. Growing up with a Wagnarian-opera-loving mother, Sibylla grew up with music that digs deep into her soul and pulls out emotion. The soundtrack to her life includes different genres and generations. She looooooooves Thirty Seconds to Mars (rather obsessively, actually) with a little Kings of Leon to mix things up, and pimps them out regularly to all her friends through Spotify. She also enjoys watching Met Opera HD broadcasts at her local movie theater, and hopes (listening Met?) to someday see Diana Damrau reprise her role as Mozart’s Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte – The Magic Flute.
Sibylla lives with her husband, Mike, a man who she firmly believes saved her from her self-destructive, hot mess self. He makes her laugh every day, even when things seem to be falling apart around them, and has proved to her that love really can heal a shattered soul. In 18 years, they have never had a fight, but argue regularly with their two teenage kids who have, unfortunately, inherited their father’s quick wit (unfortunate as it is a quick wit that Sibylla, herself, definitely does not possess – there is a reason she is a writer and not a stand-up comedian), and live a quiet life with their two weird little rescued Chiweenies. Wait… teenagers and little yap-dogs? Okay, maybe not so quiet. :)
For more information on Sibylla Matilde, check out her ~