About the Book
Loving the Wounded Warrior
Author: Adriana Anders
Released: June 14, 2018
Series: Love at Last #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Military
I flicked my eyes up to her face, hoping she hadn’t noticed the direction they’d taken.
“Almost a year.”
She’d been about to take a sip, but straightened up instead. “God, that’s a long time. How much longer you got?”
“This is it.”
I turned away from all that expectation and stared hard into the darkness. It offered up nothing in way of an answer. Behind my eye, the twitch flared up again—funny how it’d disappeared at some point. I hadn’t even noticed.
“I’m not trying to interview you here, I’m just—”
“I know.” The water chose that moment to boil, thank God, and I set about rehydrating dinner. The smell set my stomach to rumbling, and the twitch simmered down again. “Just messing with you, O’Neal.”
I’d be more embarrassed about sharing this type of meal with a beautiful woman if I weren’t so damned hungry. I started to hand her a bowl and stopped. “Shit. You’ve gotta be a vegetarian, right? Living around here, with your hiking boots and your junk Subaru.”
“You think everybody around here’s a neo-hippie?”
“Is that what you guys are called nowadays?”
“Is that nope to the name or eating meat?”
I made a doubtful hmph and handed her the plastic bowl. “Hope you’re a fan of chicken à la king.”
“Smells delicious. Thank you.”
“Cheers.” I set my bowl on the ground and raised my teacup, she did the same, and we touched mugs and gazes. Something warm flipped in my belly before I hid my face in my drink. Jesus, when was the last time a woman had sent that zing through my limbs?
My eyes leapt to hers. Had she felt it, too?
“Strong enough to fell a horse.”
Oh. Disappointment swooped in to replace the excitement.
“Sorry.” I cleared my throat, sure she’d seen the way she lit me up with a glance. “Guess I made it a little strong. Been carrying the booze since I left North Carolina. Haven’t touched it once.”
We ate in silence and I was keenly aware of all these sources of heat. The tea, the food, the woman beside me. I couldn’t remember feeling this warm, even with the summer so recently over. Probably just the pleasure of talking to someone. Maybe. Or specifically her. The way she joked with me. The thrill of her.
“Why’d you ask me to stay?” She broke into my thoughts.
Cause you’re pretty, I wanted to say, although that didn’t feel true. Well, it was true, but it wasn’t the reason I wanted her here. A bunch of excuses went through my mind, all practical, all silly. None of them real.
“Lonely, I guess.” The words popped out, again not by my bidding, and I wondered what it’d be like to get back to life, back to reality. There’d be an adjustment period, I reckoned, where I’d have to learn to control my tongue again. Months spent on my own had blurred the lines between thinking, talking to myself, and interacting with others.
“Glad to be here, then.”
I reached for my mug and found it empty. Huh. No wonder my insides were zinging so hard. Not a drop of booze in a year and I’d sucked it back in minutes.
She shrugged, and even in that chunky coat, there was an elegance to it. Elegant hippie. I remembered her shorter, thicker, her hair chopped, her face rounder. Aside from that sexy-ass voice, it was the lips that gave her away. The top one didn’t have one of those bowtie shapes. It was just one pert curve. I’d thought about biting it at the ripe age of seventeen, and anyone who said men matured past adolescence would be flat-out wrong, because even in the dark, I wondered how that would feel. I thought of her eyes, too, big and round and a strange dark blue. I’d have figured out who she was eventually, with those eyes.
“I don’t know, Kurt.”
I fought to remember what I’d asked her. Another drink. Right.
We were touching now, just her shoulder to the front of my arm, as if we’d accidentally fallen into a near-embrace. I had no idea how we’d gotten that way, but hell if I’d shift back even an inch.
“No way I’m driving down this mountain if I have another.”
I stilled, heart beating like a drum in my chest. It’d be a miracle if she didn’t hear that—or feel it, at the very least. Did it even matter if she did? Were you supposed to show someone your attraction, or hide it? I didn’t know anymore. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be eager or hold back. What the hell did women want, anyway? Assholes ordering them around or a guy who listened?
“I’ve got a sleeping bag in my pack.” Her words floated up to me, the only movement besides the hot twist of excitement in my belly.
She was still, too, which might mean something. Or it might not. I waited to find out, breath tight in my chest in stark contrast to my restless bottom half.
“You got room for two in that tent?” she finally asked.
One tent. One Night. One last chance.
O’Neal Jones was my best friend’s little sister—and the woman who ruined my life.
She was the last person I expected to run into on this mountain in the middle of nowhere.
But I wanted her, even if it was a bad idea. Because this thing between us was dangerous. It tore through flesh and bone to sear my soul.
Then, in the course of one night, she worked her way into my tent and my sleeping bag…
The question was, could I heal my wounds enough to let her into my heart?
Loving the Wounded Warrior is a sexy standalone novella, in the Love at Last series.
Originally published in the Rogue Affair anthology, this edition has been expanded with new material.
About the Author:
Adriana Anders is the award-winning author of the Blank Canvas series. Under Her Skin, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017, has been featured in Bustle, USA Today Happy Ever After, and Book Riot. Today, she resides with her tall French husband and two small children in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.
Author contact links:
Reader group: facebook.com/groups/booksmarttarts/