""...love, loss, lies, grief, finding happiness in the face of adversity, romance, humor, bravery, hot hot hot sex scenes, marriages, births and totally awesome characters."" --Supportive Business Moms, UK
""Like Nora Roberts, Melissa Foster has captivated me with her fantastic, sexy, romantic stories."" Kimberly Winning, avid reader
“ARE YOU SURE you don’t want me to come back after they leave?” Jewel Fisher grabbed her purse from beneath the cash register and checked the posted work schedule one more time, confirming that she wasn’t due back until Monday.
“Yes. Positive. Go have fun. You haven’t had a weekend off for months.” Chelsea Helms, Jewel’s boss and the owner of Chelsea’s Boutique, gently nudged her away from the register. Jewel had worked for Chelsea for two years, although she’d known her much longer. Chelsea had gone to high school with Rick, Jewel’s older brother, who had died two years earlier while serving in Afghanistan.
“I had a weekend off in March.” Jewel walked toward the front of the store, straightening the display tables along the way.
Chelsea rolled her eyes. “That was two months ago, and you know I don’t mean from here. Retail hours are always crazy. I mean from your family and work. Go do something crazy like lose that V-card of yours.”
Jewel had about as much interest in losing her virginity as she did in taking time off from helping her family. It wasn’t that she thought her virginity was something special or worth hanging on to. It wasn’t something she thought about one way or another. Between helping her mother with her younger siblings for the past several years while going to school and now working full-time, she rarely had free time. Even though sex wasn’t something Jewel thought about often, she could feel it all around her. When she was in college, Jewel had lived at home so she could help with the kids, avoiding the nightly peer pressure of living in the dorms, where sex hovered in the eyes of every guy and in the seductive smiles of the girls. Since college, the few dates she had gone on―all set up by Chelsea―had been duds. At least in Jewel’s eyes. Guys her age were too immature, and she didn’t exactly have the time or the desire to go out and meet older guys.
And then there was the kiss…
The kiss that kept her up at night and did make her think about lying beneath a certain man, feeling his hands touch her body in ways that made it hum.
“Earth to Jewel.” Chelsea’s furrowed brow told Jewel she’d been waiting for a response.
“Sorry. I, um…” Have one thing on my mind, and he’s six foot two and a million miles away, fighting the war that stole my brother’s life. “I want to go for a long hike and clear my head. I feel like I’ve been running on full speed forever.”
“You have, Jewel. Go. Take a hike. Read a book. Do whatever will help you relax.” Chelsea raised her brows. “But I still think sex is the greatest stress reliever around.”
Chelsea waved her off to answer the phone, and Jewel headed out the door. She climbed into her Jeep and drove across town to her mother’s house, trying not to think about Nate Braden, because thinking of Nate only confused her. The kiss they’d shared had been at a New Year’s Eve party at his parents’ microbrewery, Mr. B’s. He could have easily turned at the stroke of midnight and grabbed any other woman in the room. She’d just been the one in arm’s reach―and it was a good thing he’d put his strong arms around her and held her tight, because the kiss had turned her entire body to melted butter.
She pushed thoughts of Nate away as she parked in front of her mother’s house and found her younger sister Krissy pouting on the front stoop. Her chin rested in her palm, and her eyes were trained on the ground.