Summer was in full swing and business was booming. At least I didn’t
have any more weddings to cater. At least not for a few weeks. I could
finally concentrate on what I loved. Cupcakes and coffee. Cinnamon.
That’s it. I needed to make a cinnamon apple cupcake. Where the hell
did that come from? Oh yes. Kip … again. His kisses tasted like
cinnamon and vanilla and … “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I shouted at the
top of my lungs.
Indy came running into the kitchen, looking panicked. “Christ, Char,
what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’m just a fricking idiot,” I said and slumped down
onto the floor with my head in my hands.
“What’s the matter, sweetie? Is it the bills? Man trouble? Do you
want me to hire more help?” she asked with sympathy radiating from her
face. I really wanted to slap her. I was so tired of people looking at
me that way.
I let out a heavy sigh. “I thought it … I thought we …”
I nodded my head as tears pricked my eyes. No. I am not crying again.
“I’m sure he’s just busy, Char. The man does have a lot of irons
in the fire what with his business, races, and promotions. You can’t
beat yourself up like this. It’s just sex,” she murmured, calmly
stroking my hair.
“He was the first. It was perfect. The kind of perfect love stories
are written about. And, why no phone call? Is it so hard to steal a few
minutes and send me a text?” I tried desperately to hold back the
tears. Unfortunately, they were now trailing down my cheeks.
“Men don’t think like that, sweetie. But I’m sure he’s thinking
about you,” she smiled sweetly. “You should think about swinging
both … wait a minute. Did you just say he was the first? As in the
first? Like, pop your cherry first? How is that even…”
Wiping away the tears, I pulled myself up and raised my chin. “Yes.”
“But what about, Ethan? Didn’t you…”
“Oh hell. Of course, we did. Kip was before that. It’s a long story.
But if this is how’s he’s going to play it, that’s not good enough
for me. If he wants more of this,” I said waving my hands over my
body, “he’s going to have to work for it.”
“You go, girl,” Layne chimed in from the doorway, smiling. “Who
the fuck does he think he is anyway? And he better be hung like Gage, or
he’s not worth the ground you walk on.”
We both stared at her from behind the counter, mouths gaping and burst
into a fit of laughter. God, I loved her.
“Really? Like…” Indy asked stretching out her hands.
“Uh … yes. Why do you think I married him?” Layne responded,
“Well, that’s definitely one thing they’ve got in common,” I
muttered. Both of their faces shot to mine.
“That reminds me, I have a date,” Indy said beaming as she wiped the
tears from her eyes. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Okay, what happened in here?” Layne asked as Indy disappeared.
“I just messed up a batch and all because I can’t get him out of my
head. It’s infuriating. I’ll just come in early tomorrow. Every
second is a fresh beginning, right? So, what are you doing here? And …
“He’s with my dad. He loves being the doting grandfather, and since
Gage was tied up in a meeting, it worked out perfectly. I needed a few
minutes with my BFF.”
Layne radiated happiness. And, she should. Her life couldn’t be more
perfect. She had the love of an amazing man, a career in fashion and a
beautiful new baby boy. Honestly, I was a little jealous. But she’d
been through so much. She deserved to be this happy.
“So?” she asked raising an eyebrow.
“It seems my best friend’s been keeping me in the dark. It’s time
for a few cups of coffee and girl talk. Besides, if I don’t have an
adult conversation right now, I’m going to be permanently speaking in
baby talk,” she said grabbing my hand and dragging me out front to a
I locked the front door and flipped the sign to closed. I brewed two
Italian roast coffees and sat down across from her. I didn’t know
where to begin.
“Kip?” she asked. “And I want details. I can’t believe you never
confided in me.”
“You were gone for what … five years? And then when you came back,
you met Gage and had that whole mess with your ex to deal with. I
didn’t want to burden you with my issues.”
“I’m sorry, Char. I just assumed from the way you talked and flirted
“I just knew what I wanted.”
“And … you obviously found it. Explains the feeling I got.”
“And what was that?”
“That Kip was the one that was tattooed on your heart and not
“Really?” I asked feeling my face turn red.
“It was actually pretty obvious. Just the mention of Kip and you would
light up like the sun. So, what happened?” she asked as she reached
across the table and squeezed my hand.
I spent the next few hours telling her everything that had happened in
my life since the day she had disappeared and being the best friend she
was, I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t judge me.
“Wow. You could have told me, Char. But … I get it. It was very
personal to you, and that is nobody’s business. Not even your best
friend. But, I hope you know, I’m always here for you,” she smiled.
“Just because we weren’t born sisters, doesn’t mean we’re not
sisters at heart.”
“I love you so much, Layne. I’m sorry. I should have confided in
you. Is it wrong? This is wrong, isn’t it? He was Ethan’s friend.
God, I’m just so…”
“In more ways than one. It was hard enough with Ethan and his
disappearing acts. At least he finally told me that was because of his
work with the DEA and not because of me. With Kip, I don’t know what
“Would it make you feel better if I told you he’s been locked up in
Gage’s study all week?”
“I don’t know what those two are up to, and I’m sure Gage will
eventually tell me, but yes. They’re working on something together.
So, believe me when I tell you, I don’t think he’s intentionally
blowing you off. I know how Gage is when his mind is focused on a
business venture. Speaking of business, did you purchase a new delivery
“There was a new white van parked in your loading zone when I
“Great. Now some asshole thinks he can freeload and use my parking
space? I don’t think so,” I said as I grabbed my keys and ran
outside. Whoever it was had left. “Guess I’ll need to pay better
attention,” I shouted as I walked back into the kitchen. “Can I get
you a cupcake or anything? I made the vanilla ones you love you so much.
Remember that day at your cabin? God, I was so embarrassed when
“Char, could you come out here for a minute?” Layne called from the
front of the shop.
“I’ve got red velvet, too,” I said as I walked to the front of the
shop with a tray of cupcakes. Oh my God! I froze as I pushed open the
door to see Kip gazing at me from the counter with a smile that was just
beyond words. I was speechless. My mouth hanging open like a fricking
idiot as I took him all in.
He was usually in jeans and a t-shirt. Today, however … my eyes
skimmed his body from his designer leather shoes, up the most
exquisitely tailored slacks, which hung sexily from his trim waist. I
set down the tray of cupcakes as Layne waved at me and disappeared out
the door. My eyes continued the journey up to his abdomen and chest. My
fingers itching to rip open the white dress shirt to get to the tan,
chiseled body underneath. My gaze settled on his face. His ocean blue
eyes sparkled like diamonds at me, and his messy hair was black as coal.
The heat swirled in my gut as our gazes met and we danced around one
another. Assessing each other. My inner slut was practically panting
“I’ll have the red velvet with an espresso,” he grinned.
God, those dimples were going to be the death of me. “Are you sure you
wouldn’t like vanilla? It is our signature,” I replied seductively.
He walked toward me, lifted me onto the counter and pushed in between my
thighs. “Vanilla is fine on occasion,” he whispered in my ear—his
five o’clock shadow grazing along my cheek. “But, on a regular
basis, I prefer it darker … with a little more flavor.”
“Darker is intriguing,” I murmured as I tilted my head to give him
better access. No. Hell no. I was still mad at him. Where did he get
off? He’d blown me off for a week and then sauntered back in here all
sexy as hell with bedroom eyes, and I was just supposed to … what?
“Yes, Charlotte,” he said with a beautifully raised eyebrow.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “I’m a little busy here, so is there
something you needed?”
“I thought we could have dinner.” His eyes narrowed slightly at my
“Did you? Well, you should have called. Then maybe I could have
rearranged my schedule. Made sure I was presentable,” I replied as I
hopped off the counter and quickly made my way around the corner to make
“Are you annoyed because I haven’t called Charlotte?” he asked as
he followed me around the counter and backed me up against the espresso
machine. I watched as his lips drew up slowly into an amused smile.
“Not at all Mr. Reeves. Whatever would give you that idea?” I
His hands were planted on either side of me now preventing my escape.
“I apologize. I’ve been a little … preoccupied.” His lips were
inches from mine. My resolve was melting away as the smell of his spicy
cologne wrapped around me. I could almost taste the cinnamon of his
kiss. “Do you want me to kiss you, Charlotte?” he whispered as if
reading my mind.
“No. You don’t deserve it,” I replied and crossed my arms over my
“Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want me to kiss you.
Here,” he said softly as his lips brushed against mine. “Or maybe
here,” he said as he slid down my body, raised my t-shirt and trailed
kisses along my waistline. “Or … maybe … here,” he whispered. I
could feel his breath at the apex of my thighs. Oh God, Yes!
“Kip,” I said finding my resolve. “You can’t just … God, I’m
so pissed at you,” I seethed.
He crawled back up my body, pinning me firmly against the counter. His
knee pressed between my thighs opening the gap. “Well, I’ll make
sure I call next time … on one condition.”
“And that would be?”
“That you actually give me your number.”
Shit! I just assumed. Oh hell. He was right. I’d never given it to
Both his eyebrows rose as he continued with an amused expression. He
reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. I quickly entered my
name under the contacts, but only entered the prefix of my number and
handed him his phone.
“This isn’t going to help me keep my promise.”
“Well, if you’re very … very … good, I’ll give you the next
“That won’t take long.”
“Really?” I teased. “And what makes you think that?”
“Because, Miss Montgomery. I am very, very good.”
Excerpted from "Leave Me Breathless" by Mckenzi Lake. Copyright © 2015 by Mckenzi Lake. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.