They have nothing in common. So why can’t they stay away from each other?
Construction foreman Tomas Molina has no desire to settle down. He enjoys the single life too much, with all the choices of women available to him. But when ad executive Talia Jackson becomes single again, they start an affair that has him questioning his beliefs about relationships. And the next thing he knows, he’s the one demanding exclusivity.
Talia Jackson has always done what’s right. Gone to the right schools, worn the right clothes, and married the right man. Seeking a boost when her marriage ends in divorce, she finds comfort in the arms of Tomas Molina, a man who makes her feel alive in a way she never has before. Then an unexpected result of their affair forces her to make a tough decision—stay in the world she’s known all her life, or make a future with the man she’s grown to love.
The deep timbre of a man’s laughter in the hall caught her attention, and she knew right away who had arrived. Oddly, her pulse jumped a little at the sound of his voice.
Sure enough, in walked Tomas Molina, six feet two inches of flirtatious male. Wearing a pair of snug fitting jeans on his long legs and a black T-shirt that stretched over his powerful chest, he already had women eyeing him as if they wanted to take a bite out of him instead of the food on their plates. Natural blonde highlights streaked through his brown hair, which always had a slightly disheveled look, giving him the appearance of someone who’d just rolled out of bed. At least today he’d pulled the unruly shoulder length locks into a decent-looking ponytail.
One woman stroked his ripped bicep, and he flexed the muscle for good measure. “Buenos días, Tomas,” she purred.
He flashed an open, friendly smile. “Buenos días. ¿Estas bien?”
Rolling her eyes, Talia picked up a Styrofoam plate and began to spoon potato salad onto it. The way women fawned all over him disgusted her, and he lapped up the attention like a true narcissist. She heard him exchange pleasantries with a few other guests while she lifted the plastic wrap on another container and added coleslaw to her plate.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Tomas stroll over with a lazy gait. “Well, well, Talia Jackson is here.” He peered out the kitchen window at the sky. “No. No pigs are flying.” His Spanish-accented voice, low and husky, reminded her of the actor William Levy.
She and Tomas seldom spoke, but whenever they did, he always had something smart alecky to say. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what she’d done to make him pick on her all the time. Probably because he was an arrogant chauvinist and she had no qualms about calling him on it. Fortunately she knew how to dish the witty retorts as well as he did.
“Oh look, another T-shirt. What a surprise.”
He apparently never met a T-shirt he didn’t want to own, and it seemed his entire wardrobe consisted of them in all colors. He wore them so tight they banded around his large biceps and molded to the contours of his muscular chest.
Unfazed, he responded, “You notice what I wear? I’m flattered.”
“Don’t be,” Talia said.
He folded his arms and leaned a hip against the counter. “I’m surprised you came.”
“Why wouldn’t I be here for my friends’ housewarming party?”
He shrugged. “You’re such a busy woman. You hardly ever hang out, and every year Shawna invites you to my picnic on Memorial Day weekend, but you never come.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re disappointed I don’t.” She lifted the aluminum foil on another container, and when she found the baked chicken, she added a leg to her plate. “Tell you what, I’ll come this year so you won’t feel so neglected.”
“I like it better that you don’t,” he said.
“Riiight.” She smirked at him and added corn on the cob to her plate.
She felt his gaze on her, and a prickling sensation crawled up the back of her neck. He had a way of looking at women as if he was undressing them with his eyes. She didn’t know if he did it on purpose or not, but it made her feel stripped bare in his presence. Every time he came near, she became hyper-aware of him and a little anxious, a little…breathless. Even his voice made her feel odd. She liked the sound of his rich baritone too much, and the physiological responses she experienced at his proximity were clearly inappropriate.
“We should call a truce,” he said.
“Are we at war?”
He chuckled. “You always have an answer, don’t you? No, we’re not at war. At least, I don’t want to be. We should try being friends since our best friends are married to each other.”
“That would be boring, wouldn’t it, if we got along?”
“So you like fighting with me, is that it?” His eyes mirrored the question. They stood out against his swarthy skin, and she wondered how she’d never noticed how attractive they were before. Light brown. No flecks of green or other colors, only a pure, antiqued gold like a strong whiskey.
Did she like arguing with him? Maybe she did. Their sparring matches always left her buzzing with energy afterward, and after the meeting with her grandmother, she welcomed the interaction.
“Even if I do,” she said, “you like it way more than I do. You’re always the one who gets the fights started, like you did a minute ago.”
“Only because you need it.”
“Need it?” Talia cocked an eyebrow. “You have to explain what you mean.”
“You’re one of those women who can get out of hand, so I have to keep you grounded. You have a…cómo se dice? Oh, I remember.” He snapped his fingers. “You have a Napoleon complex.”
She shot him her Are-you-for-real? look. “I don’t think so.”
“Yes, you do. It’s because you’re so short.” He sliced his hand horizontally from his nose over the top of her head. “See?”
Talia stood up straighter, as if she could grow taller by sheer will power. “I do not have a Napoleon complex, and anyway, I’m pretty sure that only applies to men.”
He looked amused. “No, I’m sure the complex applies to women, too. I have a perfect example standing right in front of me. How’s the weather down there?”
She cut her eyes at him and continued searching for food.
“No response? I’m so disappointed,” he said.
“I’m ignoring you for the rest of the day.”
“This is a first. I silenced Talia Jackson all by myself, and I didn’t need to tape her mouth. I should make an announcement.” He picked up a piece of baked chicken with his hand.
“There are tongs.” Talia held up a set. “What are you, a barbarian?”
“We called a truce, remember?” He bit into the chicken and winked.
She stared at him for a moment and then shook her head, laughing. He was so ridiculous. How freeing it must be to do as you please and not worry about what others think.
She noted the expression on Tomas’s face but couldn’t decipher the look.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
He took another bite of chicken and finished chewing before he answered her question. He grinned. “You should smile more.”
Delaney Diamond writes sweet and sensual romance novels and is the site manager of Romance Novels in Color, where diversity in romance is celebrated. When she’s not reading or writing she’s trying out new recipes or traveling to an interesting locale. Find free reads and the first chapter of all her books at www.delaneydiamond.com.