I so love a good friends-to-lovers series and this one looks fab-u-lous!
McKades of Texas series
by Kimberly Lewis
This cowboy’s about to be branded …
For years, Karlie Kyle has had it bad for Luke McKade—wishing he’d see her as something more than just a shy girl in braided pigtails. But now that she’s all grown up, she’s ready to stake her claim and brand the heart of the sexy, smooth-talking cowboy who “can’t be tamed.”
Punched with lust from the moment he sees her again, Luke is shocked when he realizes that little Karlie Jo isn’t so little anymore. When she tempts him with a proposition he just can’t refuse, he’s happy to oblige—temporarily. Karlie is willing to play along, but her heart is set on forever. As raw desire sparks something deeper, can Karlie convince Luke that rules are meant to be broken? Or will their passionate summer fling end with broken hearts instead?
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“Karlie, hang on a sec!”
“Just leave me alone, Luke.” She brushed him off with a wave of her hand and kept walking.
“Come on, Karlie,” he pleaded.
She started to take longer strides to put more distance between them.
“Karlie Jo, stop!”
A whistle sounded from a group of people gathered by what could only be described as a pickup truck on steroids. “Damn, what’d you do now, McKade?” one of the guys taunted and was followed by the others’ laughter. “It’s okay, sweetheart. Good ol’ Blake here can fix whatever Luke done to you.”
“Shut the hell up, Evans,” Luke shot off and called after Karlie again.
Man, did Luke sound pissed; the demanding tone of his voice grew angrier by the second. If she wasn’t so pissed off herself, she probably would have found it funny.
“Karlie Jo, I’m asking you nicely,” Luke warned. “Would you stop and talk to me for a minute?”
“Not a chance, jerkwad,” Karlie shouted back to him as she drew near to the end of the building, hoping he’d get the point and leave her alone, but “The Egotistical Texas Cowboy” was still hot on her trail.
A muffled curse came from Luke moments before she heard his footsteps pick up pace. Was he seriously running after her now? Letting her curiosity get the best of her, Karlie kept walking but turned her head to look behind her with the intentions of spouting out another warning. Instead, a sharp squeal erupted from her as Luke snatched her around the waist and, with one smooth motion, spun her around in his arms then tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
“Are you freakin’ kidding me!” Karlie yelled at him as she attempted to squirm free. “You put me down right now, Luke McKade!”
“No way in hell.” Luke tightened his arms around her thighs. “You’re going to tell me what’s got your panties all in a bunch whether you like it or not.”
He maneuvered his way through the vehicles, but all Karlie could see was the gravel that covered the parking lot—that and Luke’s firm ass framed out nicely in his jeans.
Focus, Karlie! Stay mad.
“And you think going all caveman and tossing me over your shoulder is going to make me talk?” Karlie laughed sarcastically. “Gee, I’m surprised you just didn’t bash me over the head with your club and drag me behind you by my hair.”
Luke shot off a short laugh. “That can be arranged if you don’t stop moving.”
“Come on, Luke. Just put me down.” She tried once more to wriggle free, but Luke’s grip was quite impressive. Karlie finally just gave in with an exasperated sigh.
“Good girl,” Luke praised, and she could tell by the tone of his voice that he was smiling.
She made a disgusted sound in the back of her throat, and he laughed.
A few seconds later, Luke came to a stop between two pickup trucks near the back of the parking lot and placed his free hand dangerously high on the back of her thigh. Whether he realized the exact position of his hand or not, Karlie sure as hell noticed. Her body still buzzed from the anger coursing through her veins, but now it blended with the anticipation of his fingers trailing just a bit higher. The thought of them grazing against her through her jeans made her stomach flutter and her breath hitch. Damn her traitorous hormones.
“I’m going to put you down now,” Luke said softly. “But don’t think for a second that I don’t have a backup plan for if you try to run away.”
Karlie snorted. “What are you going to do? Tie me up?”
Silence hovered for a heavy moment before Luke replied, “Well, I do have some bailing twine in my tool-box, and I am pretty good with knots.” He gave a gentle squeeze to her thigh.
Surprised, Karlie let out a cross between a gasp and a moan before her cheeks flamed red.
“What’s it going to be?”
She moistened her lips and took in a calming breath. “I’ll be good.”
“Wise choice.” Loosening his grip, Luke carefully let Karlie down from his shoulder, the action forcing the hem of her shirt up to her ribcage. The moment her boots hit the gravel, she took a tiny step away from him and adjusted the soft cotton fabric so it fully covered her stomach, but not before she caught Luke examine her with lust filled eyes.
“Please don’t look at me like that,” Karlie demanded softly as she crossed an arm over her chest to cover herself.
Luke’s gaze met hers and he lifted a questioning brow. “You don’t like me looking at you?”
She shook her head.
A smile danced on the corner of his mouth. “Well that’s interesting, and totally not the impression I’ve got from you this week. Tell me something.” He advanced a step in her direction, and she retreated until her shoulders bumped against metal. “What changed your mind?”
Was he for real? Karlie glared at him, bemused, as she spoke. “Um, you did and your so-called ‘help.’”
This time, Luke didn’t hide his smile. He expelled a soft sigh and shook his head. “Karlie, I was just—”
“You were just what?” she interrupted. “Trying to be nice like Norah and help me find a nice boy closer to my own age?” Her temper flared as she scoffed. “No thanks, I’m good.”
Luke released another sigh and pressed his lips firmly together—amusement in his eyes. The fact that he apparently found this funny set her off even more.
“You know, you can turn me down if you want. It’s fine, really. Whatever. I don’t care. But this mess of trying to set me up with other guys is ridiculous.” Her chest rose and fell dramatically as adrenaline flowed through her veins. “It’s not like I’m not some stupid kid willing to settle for the first sweet treat that comes along,” she smarted off. “Don’t try to sell me on plain old vanilla ice cream when I really want a sundae with the works.”
Luke’s lips twitched. “A sundae with the works?”
“You know what I mean.” She released a heavy breath as her irritation grew by the second.
“If you’re all done with your little rant now—”
Little rant? Oh, this man was infuriating! “No, I’m not.” She expelled a sarcastic huff and shook her head. “I don’t get you, Luke.”
“Karlie, please, just shut up for a minute so I can—”
“Don’t tell me to shut up.” Narrowing her eyes, Karlie glared at him in disbelief. “I see the way you look at me, Luke, so I can tell that you want me as much as I want you. But, apparently, you’re too much of a chicken to admit what you really feel.”
Her heart exploded against her ribcage as Luke suddenly stepped into her. She hadn’t been expecting it or the hungry look that now appeared in his eyes. With his hard body pressing against her front, Karlie found herself trapped against the pickup truck. Her breathing accelerated as she locked her eyes on Luke’s face and tried to figure him out.
“Let’s get one thing straight,” Luke murmured, bringing his hand up to rest on the side panel next to her shoulder. The sexy sound of his deep voice inches away from her sent a thrill of anticipation through her limbs. “I am not chicken.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” she managed to say around the tight ball of nerves in her throat.
Luke’s mouth quirked up into a cocky sideways grin. “Such a smart mouth.”
Karlie moistened her lips as her chest rose and fell with every dramatic intake of air.
“What would you have me do to prove it?” Luke leaned his head down to her level so that the tip of his nose brushed against hers.
Was she supposed to answer that? She couldn’t process a single clear thought with Luke being this close to her and the dominance he was exuding.
“Strip you down ‘til you’re wearing nothing but that sassy little smile?”
He brushed his cheek against hers, placing his lips next to her ear. “Put my mouth on every inch of your body and find all of those secret spots that makes you moan?”
A shudder rippled through her as his warm breath hit her highly sensitive skin.
“Tease you relentlessly until you can’t take it anymore and you’re screamin’ my name?” He withdrew slightly to look at her.
Oh, sweet mercy. Karlie squirmed beneath Luke’s penetrating stare and clenched her thighs as lust rolled over her.
“Do I have your attention now?” Luke asked, his voice so low it was almost a whisper.
Tucking her bottom lip between her teeth, Karlie nodded, unable to speak.
“I do want you, Karlie.”
Her heart took off at his words—pumping so fiercely it almost hurt.
With the back of his hand, he leisurely traced the outline of her face and rested his palm against the crook of her neck. “More than I should.”
She narrowed her eyebrows in confusion. “Then what was all of that back in the bar?”
Luke grinned. “You mean you’re actually going to let me explain now?”
“Yes.” Karlie smirked and swatted at his side.
He gave a short laugh. “I needed to get you away from Norah and Andi, and that seemed like the easiest way to do it without giving away my intentions.” Holding her gaze, Luke stroked the pad of his thumb against her skin, back and forth, creating a pattern of heated goose bumps down her neck and arm.
Her smirk faded as she sobered at his words. “Which are?” In the silence she searched his eyes, hoping to find the answer within their deep blue depths.
Luke’s grin lifted the corner of his lips higher, and his eyes sparked with a desire that matched her own. Slowly, he angled his face to hers and murmured, “We’ll start with this,” before capturing her mouth with his.
Kimberly Lewis is the bestselling author of sweet, sexy contemporary romances filled with heart and humor. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.
Having caught the creative bug at an early age, Kimberly fully embraced her active imagination and grew up with a fondness for reading, drawing, and crafting stories. She eventually veered away from the art world to explore other career options, but a rediscovery of her love for the romance genre reignited that creative spark and—just like that—her first novel was published in 2011. Her stories are filled with humor, emotion, and a whole lot of love.