JUMPED by Colette Auclair
A young woman in the equestrian fashion business finds herself head over heels for none other than her ex-husband in Colette Auclair’s steamy sequel to her 2012 Golden Heart finalist and “page-turning debut” (Library Journal), Thrown.
Thoroughly enjoying herself at a friend Amanda’s wedding, Beth finds herself in an unexpected state of shock when she realizes she’s been seated next to her ex-husband, Finn, at the reception. Determined to not let this fluster her, Beth strikes up a conversation only to learn Finn isn’t the same man she walked away from.
Relieved the reception is over, Beth is looking forward to a relaxing weekend against the beautiful backdrop of sunny Aspen at her best friend Amanda’s estate. Little does she know Finn will be partaking in the weekend activities too. But just as Beth decides to keep as much distance between her and Finn as possible, Finn has a terrible accident and Beth is stuck being his bedside nurse.
Over the course of the weekend, Beth and Finn discover that the wounds of their failed marriage are not all that’s left. There are sparks…and hope. But just as they decide to give their relationship another try, Finn confesses a huge secret that could destroy everything he’s fought to get back—Beth, their relationship, and another chance at love.
Will Beth turn away, or will she take a leap of faith and say “I do” once (again) and for all?
Around midnight, Bethany came into the cabin with Mingo padding after her and closed the door as gently as she could.
“Mmm,” Finn said from his bed. Mingo went straight for him, a brown cylindrical rocket.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“That’s fine.” He slept with his broken leg propped on a few pillows. He pet Mingo, who was beside himself with happiness, wagging his stubby breakfast-sausage tail as though the earth’s rotation relied on it.
“Do you need anything?” she asked as she turned on a lamp next to the sofa and came to his bedside. He was rumpled. Finn could pull off rumpled like Kardashians pulled off wedding rings. Beth’s mouth went a tad dry.
He shook his head. “No thanks.”
“Have you seen my phone?” She went into the bathroom.
“Uh . . . let me look,” he said.
She emerged and was surprised to find him in the kitchen, scanning the counter.
“You didn’t have to get up!” she said. “I wondered if you happened to see it. I’m not sure where I left it and thought it might be here.” She crossed to the coffee table in front of the couch and looked under an architecture magazine Grady had gotten for Finn.
Finn hobbled over. His expression was . . . unwelcoming. “You have a fruitful discussion with Jack?”
To anyone else, Finn’s question would have seemed benign. But Beth heard the edge. She lifted a cushion on the sofa and peered under it as she spoke.
“For the love of God, Finn. Yes. He was great. Thanks for asking.” She made sure to sound happy. Wow, but he could be annoying.
“Business? That’s all you two talked about?”
She rolled her eyes. “My business? Yes, for the most part. I also talked to Harris, Amanda, and Grady. What are you getting at?” She looked under another cushion, then at Finn.
He gave her a look. You know what I mean. “He must be a cheerful guy.”
“You two sure laughed a lot.”
“Do you know your leg will heal faster if you stop being an ass? Go back to bed.”
“Do you trust him? You think he knows what he’s talking about?”
“Jack? Yes.” She picked up each of the five magazines on the coffee table. No phone. “Grady wouldn’t have put me in touch with him if he wasn’t good at what he does. Did you question Grady about the orthopedist he sent you to?”
She needed to stand her ground, so she made a point to stand tall, facing him. Her pulse wasn’t exactly racing, but it wasn’t slow, either. She was letting Finn get to her. She had to Teflon up.
Finn asked, “He’s a good-looking guy, don’t you think?”
Oh, he wouldn’t dare. “Yeah,” she said. “Very good looking.”
She crossed to an armchair, speaking as she looked under its cushion. “Smokin’ hot. Broad shoulders.” She looked under the other chair’s cushion. “Beautiful eyes. Great ass. You bet he was good-looking. A complete and total hottie.” Take that.
“Did he hit on you?”
She faced him. “I think a better use of your time and energy would be to help me find my phone.”
His eyes were dark-denim blue. “Did he hit on you?”
“Oh my God, would you stop! What if he did? What business is it of yours? We’re not married anymore, remember?” Beth wiggled her left ring finger at him. Then she got on all fours and looked under the chair next to him.
Finn’s mouth was a hard seam that turned down at the ends. He looked like a rank stallion. He filled the space above her with his wide shoulders and anger.
She huffed out a breath. “No. It was business.” Before she spoke her next words, she rose and stood directly in front of him. “But if he had, I would’ve said yes and I would’ve liked it.”
If Finn wanted to be this way, fine. She would give it right back to him. She glared. Come on, Finn. You wanna dance? Let’s dance.
She was trying to guess what his next caveman accusation would be. Would he go overtly sexual? A classic character assassination? The dumb jock route, because Jack didn’t work for his business, but got lucky in sports?
Finn wedged the crutches beneath his arms and grabbed Beth’s biceps. She gasped. She hadn’t expected this. A brigade of tingles zoomed up her body from somewhere near her ovaries. Her pulse sprinted. Finn’s stare was unnerving, full of hunger and fury as he searched her face. She wasn’t sure what the hell he was going to say.
He was shaking. After a second he pulled her to him, slanted his lips to hers, and kissed her. More liked possessed her. He cupped the back of her neck with one hand and pressed her mouth to his. In a half heartbeat, she remembered exactly what his lips felt and tasted like. It was surreal, vivid, and hot. They were soft, but his kiss wasn’t gentle. His jealousy was so intense, it was almost a thing, like a flavor on his tongue.
Link continuing the excerpt to XOXOAfterDark:
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