Justin Timberlake—Drink You Away
Ingrid Michaelson feat. A Great Big World—Over You
A Great Big World—Already Home
Sam Smith—Stay with Me
Pink, Nate Reuss—Just Give Me a Reason
Ani DiFranco—Falling Is Like This
Norah Jones—Come Away With Me
Oh Honey—Be Okay
**SPOILER ALERT!** The following excerpt from ALL FOR THIS by its very nature contains spoilers for the first two books in the Here and Now series, LOST IN ME and FALL TO YOU. If you hate spoilers and haven’t read the first two books, don’t read any further.
“Where’s Hanna?” I know the voice, and an unwelcome thrill dances up my spine as Nate pushes into my kitchen and stalks toward me.
“Customers aren’t allowed back here,” Liz says behind him.
“Don’t do it,” he says, and those dark, broody eyes are all over me like he’s trying to take me in, memorize me.
I take a deep breath and look to my sister. “You should probably go.” Then I turn to Nate. “Don’t do what?”
“Um…” Liz looks Nate up and down. “Are you sure? Because I can stay to protect you. Or…try.” God bless her, she’s standing behind Nate with her hands on her hips, ready to swing on my behalf.
“Why don’t you give us a minute?”
She narrows her eyes at Nate. “Hurt her and I’ll cut off your balls in your sleep.” Then she pushes out of the kitchen, the door swinging wildly behind her.
“Don’t move in with him,” Nate says.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“I thought you said you weren’t moving forward with Max until after the babies were born. Don’t you think moving in is moving forward?”
“I don’t know where you get your information, but I’m not moving in with him.”
I shake my head. “He asked me to, and I said no.”
He must have been expecting a fight, because his shoulders relax and he drags a hand through his hair. “Thank you.”
I toss my washcloth into the sink. “Is that all?”
“No.” He lifts his eyes to mine. “I need to apologize.”
In two long strides, he closes the space between us and presses his mouth to mine. His lips are hot and hungry as his tongue sweeps inside—coaxing and demanding all at once. And it’s so good. So sweet and easy and safe that, for a breath, I forget how wrong it is. I’m back in the hotel in St. Louis, finding myself in the fire between us. For a breath, I forget that I’m wearing Max’s ring.
I shove at his shoulder and push him away. “Don’t do that again.” My stomach squeezes, and my heart is so battered and beaten that it’s unrecognizable.
Her eyes flash with anger, disappointment, and heat. “Do you think you can win me with a kiss? Did you think I’m so fickle that your mouth on mine is enough to convince me to break Max’s heart?”
I step forward, blocking her between me and the counter as I lower my mouth to her ear. “I thought maybe you needed a reminder.”
“What do you want from me? You want me to admit that I want you? You know I do. You want me to tell you I’m still in love with you? It’s true.”
My heart swells and hammers at her words. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel worthy of Hanna’s love, but that doesn’t change that I want it, need it like I need air.
“Isn’t that enough? Is it like this with him? When he’s whispering in your ear, does your body hum with need? We both know I could kiss you again and make you forget him. I could kiss you until you wanted me so badly you climbed onto that counter and let me touch you everywhere, let me do anything I wanted with your body.”
“You won’t,” she says, her voice shaking slightly.
“Are you so sure?”
“You won’t,” she repeats, “because I’m asking you not to. You won’t because you’re too good not to respect that.”
“I don’t want to be good,” I growl. I step back so I can see her face—her parted lips, her smoky eyes. “I want you.”
“What happened?” I ask, scanning her face, trying to read her shielding expression. “Between when I left LA and when I came back to New Hope, what happened to make you take him back?”
She’s silent for a minute, and I wonder if she’s going to tell me the truth. “I found out he bought me the bakery—that all my worries and insecurities about our relationship were totally unfounded.”
“I’ll buy you a hundred bakeries.”
“But I don’t want a hundred bakeries. I only want this one.In New Hope. I close my eyes because I can’t deny that geography still stands between us.
“Please don’t kiss me again.”
“What if you ask me to?”
She swallows. “I won’t ask.”
Once a college English professor, I now write full time. I live in rural Indiana, where, when I’m not writing, I get to hang out with my husband and two kids–a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old hellion, er, girl. Not surprisingly, reading and writing remain my favorite activities, though both come in bits and pieces these days, not the big hunks of time I enjoyed before I had children. When I’m feeling virtuous, I like to go running (I use that word liberally. I’m really, really slow) or do yoga. Don’t worry, I’m always careful to balance out such activities with a hearty serving of ice cream or a chocolate martini.