For Zoey Odell, the definition of family is her two best friends, Maya and Addy. So when Maya makes the decision to leave her abusive husband, Zoey is only too happy to lavish her with support and a temporary home. Unfortunately, taking in her best friend also means seeing more of that no good do-gooder, Kellen Bradley.
For Kellen, the definition of family has just been shattered. After finding out that his brother is an abusive monster, he can’t help but question himself and his parents. The one thing he knows for certain is that he’ll do anything to take care of his sister-in-law and her children. For them, he would walk into gunfire, pass through the flames of hell…even go head-to-head with Zoey Odell.
Zoey has no intention of letting him in, but Kellen is done taking her crap. Life has just gotten real and he’s more than ready to shed his nice-guy image. When he finally stands up to her, Zoey starts seeing him in a new light. As the attraction turns mutual, she finds it more and more difficult to hide behind her carefully formed walls. And Kellen is finding himself more and more driven to tear those walls down.
Carter Ashby is a hardworking housewife and homeschool mother by day, and a romance reader and writer by night. She lives in rural Missouri with her husband, three children, and two dogs.
She shoved the bag of salt into his chest. “Salt my driveway. It’s supposed to snow tonight. And after that, run down to the bakery and get some donuts for us. We’re dying for donuts.”
She turned to go. Holding the salt with one arm, he reached out and grabbed her by the elbow. She spun and glared at him. He shoved the salt back into her arms. “Say please,” he commanded, because damn it, if he was going to be stuck with her, she was going to learn some basic manners.
He couldn’t tell whether she was offended or amused. “I beg your pardon?” she said, accompanied by an incredulous laugh.
“You heard me. Ask me nicely.” He closed the distance between them and towered over her, fully intending to stare her down, if necessary. No more of this being pushed around business. No, he was going to stand his ground.
Except that wisps of her hair brushed against the cream-colored curves of her jaw and neck and his throat suddenly got tight. He reached up, without even thinking, and pushed the hair aside, letting his knuckles graze her skin.
“It’s not a request,” she said, though she sounded a little less forceful. “It’s my terms. If you wanna be here, you gotta help out.”
“I’m here, Zoey, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m happy to help out. But you have to say please.”
Her eyes locked on his, and he nearly buckled. But he knew she wouldn’t respect the weakness. So he held on until, at last, her lips began to turn up in a smile. “Salt the damn driveway.”
He arched a brow and folded his arms over his chest.
Something changed in her eyes. She sat the salt on the floor and then got in his space. Completely in his space. Her breasts brushed against his crossed arms. She grabbed him by the crotch and then licked his neck. She nipped at his earlobe and whispered, “Salt the driveway, Kellen. Now.”
With a squeeze of his balls, she backed away, flashed him a grin, and disappeared inside. Time paused while Kellen stood there, brain-dead, his arms fallen at his sides, gaping at the space in front of him.