Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya
Series: Summer Love, Book 1
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Missed Connection: I saw you standing there, and I was struck by your eyes. Gorgeous, but not as gorgeous as your smile.
Thanks to her job at a crazy New Age spa, what should have been a sizzling NYC summer is being hijacked by demanding hippie bosses. To unwind, Sarah spends her nights cruising Missed Connections, dreaming of finding an uber-romantic entry all about her. Of course, the moment she finds that Missed Connection, real life comes crashing down around her in a night of unbridled passion with someone completely different: totally off-limits Jack.
Best. Hookup. Ever.
Gorgeous and wealthy, hot as sin, Jack can give Sarah everything she needs—except an emotional connection. That she gets from her Missed Connection, the romantic stranger who never fails to make her swoon. But there’s only so much of Sarah to go around. Torn between the bad boy she can’t keep and the sensitive stranger who bares his soul online, her heart and body are soon in two very different relationships…or are they?
Moving is the worst. My one consolation is that I’m almost in my own place again. That, and the sight of Jack’s muscular arms exposed in a sleeveless T-shirt.
Thou shalt not look.
“Hey, princess. Grab another box.” Pete jams a box into my front, and my breath leaves me in an oof.
“Thanks, Pete.” I walk the box down the hall to my apartment, number nineteen. The landlord gave us the key, so we loaded the ancient elevator with my stuff, then locked it on my floor to unload. So far, it seems to be going quicker this way than other moves. Then again, my last apartment didn’t have an elevator, so carrying everything up three flights of stairs was brutal.
We’ve made great time, but my shoulders are still burning—more from all the laundry I did at work on Friday than from the actual moving, I think. Pete and Jack have done the heavy lifting, sparing me the worst, but I’ve done as much as I can.
A tinny, poor-quality version of a dance mix stains the air. Pete sets down the two garbage bags he’s carrying and answers his cell, obliviously blocking the narrow hall. “Ahoy-hoy.”
Unfortunately, he’s in front, so Jack and I also have to set our stuff down and wait while Pete gabs.
“No way. No way! Ugh, total nightmare. Uh-huh. Ten minutes. Bye.”
“Who was that?” I wait for Pete to grab his bags.
He turns to me. “Don’t hate me forever, but we’ve got a situation at the salon. It’s a pubic hair emergency, and they’ve specifically asked for me. It’s a high-profile client, and this could totally make my career.”
“Oh. Well, we’ve gotten everything into the elevator. I guess Jack and I could handle the rest of it. Right, Jack?” I glance over my shoulder at him.
“Yup. Shouldn’t take too long. If you’re really going to the salon.”
Pete rolls his eyes. “Of course I am.”
Jack continues. “I know all about those prescheduled scams for getting out of dates. You have a friend schedule a phone call so you can bail out of a crappy date.”
I laugh. “I think there’s an app for that.”
“I’m not skipping out on this. But they’re paying me double, and it’s a very sensitive situation. I can’t even tell you the client’s name, but trust me—you’d squeal if you knew!” He grabs my shoulders. “You’re sure?”
So dramatic. “Yes, go.”
“I owe you a dinner.” He air-kisses my cheeks.
I’ll take it. “Later this week?”
Jack sighs. “I’ll ride the elevator down with you with the key. Let’s get these boxes out of the elevator before we go, so Sarah can keep working.”
I point at him. “No dawdling on the way back!”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He winks.
I grab a tub and carry it inside my apartment so he won’t see my blush.
In the five minutes Jack’s gone, I manage to drag the remaining boxes and bags from the hallway into my apartment. Moving in the summer is particularly awful. A thin sheen of sweat has formed on my body, and I peel off my T-shirt, tossing it away, and pull the bottom of my tank top up and down, fanning my torso.
“No air-conditioning?” Jack’s voice startles me, and I jump, dropping my shirt.
“No. I’ll have to look at getting a unit in.”
“Do you like big units?”
“Well, a tiny one wouldn’t do it…”
“Big ones are better for doing it.”
My apartment’s dinky but will need more than a small air conditioner. “For sure. I mean, mine’s pretty tiny, but it would still need…”
He bites the inside of his cheek and raises his eyebrows.
When he said unit, he was referring to… “Oh my God, so not what I meant!”
“Sure. And this?” He nods at the bag in his hands.
“I want it on the bed.” For crying out loud, am I capable of speaking without everything sounding like a “that’s what she said” joke? “In the bedroom is fine.” A giant, throbbing innuendo…
What is wrong with me? This is Jack, my friend. Only my friend for reasons. Shaking my head, I shift a blue tub with my kitchen stuff into the tiny kitchen and move one from there into the equally tiny bathroom. On the way back, I trip over a bag and slam my leg into the corner of a box.
“Nice one, Grace.”
“Shut up.” I hiss through my teeth while rubbing my shin. “Ouch.”
“Are you bleeding?” He squats in front of me, cradling my calf to pull my leg closer. It’s tight quarters, and I can smell him—something fresh but mixed with his sweat. My mouth waters. Could I taste it on his skin?
His fingertips graze the sensitive skin behind my knee.
Jesus. He’s never touched my bare skin there before. It’s just my calf. How can that make me feel…restless and unfulfilled?
He traces the skin around the injury with a fingertip. “The skin’s broken, but it’s just the first layer. Nothing serious.”
Tell that to my pulse, which is doing a splendid imitation of a jackhammer.
“Yeah.” My voice is raspy. “Nothing serious.”
His gaze crawls up my shin to my thigh, my torso, my eyes.
Oh, he knows what this is doing to me.
Deliberately, he slides his hand up my thigh before letting go. Then he stands and licks his lips, eyes locked on mine.
Now I’m covered with goose bumps, suddenly feverish with wanting his hands on my body again—and not wanting to let him leave my apartment until we’re sweaty for another reason. The intensity of the attraction I feel for him spreads through me from cell to cell like a virus. Liking him is deadly because I can’t feel this for him, can’t want him this much.
His fingers tangle in my hair and lift my face.
I shouldn’t be taking a step toward him, grabbing the front of his shirt, and pulling him closer like this. He crushes his body to me as his lips gently meet mine as if this means something. His tongue teases my lips open and eases inside my mouth, and when it touches my tongue, I shudder and clutch at him, desperate to pull him closer when I should be pushing him away.
But his hands are gentle, his lips are firm, and his tongue strokes mine in ways that dissolve rational thought and all the bones in my body. He tastes like peppermint and the last lover I can imagine ever wanting again because no one has kissed me like this—and I want more. I want it all.
Tamara Mataya is a librarian with a great love for recommending books to patrons. Certified to teach English as a second language, she is also a musician. She writes erotic romance and contemporary romance that appeals to the New Adult audience. She lives in Alberta, Canada.