No home. No roots. No involvements. No problems. That's how Andie Tyler rolls. Just keep riding and the past can't catch up with you -- until someone runs over your motorcycle, that is! When she realizes that someone is Clay Marlow, studly-do-right himself, Andie's in deep trouble. The sparks between them were hot enough last time she blew through San Amaro Island. This time they're out of control.
Worse yet, she's stuck. Stuck there for a month in the same wedding party as the single-dad firefighter, renting his duplex, and -- like it or not -- stuck falling for him and his disarming little girl. Andie wants him but he can't have her. Figures. No matter how fast she rides, her past always catches up with her.
"Fully Involved has great characterization and wonderfully drawn detail. Clay and Andie have real depth as characters and Clay’s worry over his daughter is realistic, as is Andie’s concern over her abusive ex finding her."
--4.5 stars, Alexandra Kay, RT Book Reviews
"FULLY INVOLVED is an awesome read with depth, passion and a
well deserved happily ever after.
--4.5 stars, Donna Zapf, Cataromance
"The tension in FULLY INVOLVED is terrific and it's nice to see that two people are willing to put their own wants and needs aside for the benefit of someone else."
--Sandi Shilhanek, Fresh Fiction
It was a lame excuse, Clay fully acknowledged.
But Andie needed a copy of her lease eventually. Why not tonight? She was alone one floor below – he’d seen her arrive with Macey out his bedroom window. Not too long after, Macey had left. He wanted to see Andie again.
Payton was in bed now and his sister Bridget and her boyfriend, Reid, had come over to swim. When they came upstairs afterwards, Clay asked them to stay for a few extra minutes and then went down.
After three knocks on Andie’s door, there was still no response. “Andie, it’s Clay.”
An eternity later, the door opened a crack, still chained. Was she afraid of something? Someone? Surely not him.
“I brought your copy of the lease,” he said, holding up the papers.
After hesitation, Andie closed the door, undid the chain and opened it wide enough for him to come in the entrance. However, she still barricaded him from getting any farther with her body.
“Did I wake you up?” he asked, though he didn’t think that was the case. Her hair had been brushed and fell to her shoulders like a silk curtain. It didn’t look as if she’d been rolling around on a pillow.
Andie shook her head. It seemed as if she was two hundred miles away, distracted and...disturbed. Her eyes were glassy.
“Are you okay?” He touched her upper arm.
She swallowed and looked up at him. He could see when she came to and realized she was revealing too much.
“I’m fine. Just tired.”
“That didn’t look like tired.”
“What did it look like?” She backed away with an insincere smile.
Her smile vanished and she met his eyes. “I’m okay, really.”
“You don’t like having anyone concerned about you, do you?”
She tilted her head a degree. “I’m a big girl. I do fine on my own.”
“Coming from you, that sounds almost like a challenge.” He took another step toward her, and she didn’t retreat. He brushed her hair off her cheek. “I like a challenge.”
“Yeah? Is that why you’re here?”
Clay’s mind went blank, sidetracked by her mouth, so close, and he couldn’t remember why he was here. Ah, the lease in his left hand. He held it up. “I’m here to deliver your copy.”
“That’s service,” Andie said, taking the pages from him. “And here I thought you’d come to beg for forgiveness for crushing my Harley.” She placed the copies on the kitchen counter, and Clay sauntered after her.
“I’m new at the whole landlord gig,” Clay said, ignoring the topic of her motorcycle. “Making an impression is important.”
When she turned to face him, he was directly behind her. Startled, she put her hand on his chest and her eyes lowered toward his lips for a heartbeat.
“An impression,” she repeated, her voice low and sexy. “I’d say you’re good at making an impression.”
“At Chez Marlow, we want to welcome you to the neighborhood.” He grinned then closed the final few inches between them and touched his lips to hers. Lightly, waiting for her acquiescence.
“I’m feeling very welcomed.” She ran her hand up his chest and twisted it in his T-shirt.
Their mouths met again, more insistently.
Andie moved into Clay’s hard body, relishing the feel of his hands on her. His kiss was amazing, turning her inside out. He was somehow gentle and demanding at once, tender and yet assertive. Like no one she’d ever been with before.
The kiss shot heat clear down to her to her toes. Their urgency increased, tongues met. He trailed his palms up her sides and then cradled her jaw with one hand. The gesture was surprisingly intimate. Andie opened her eyes and met his gaze. The sincerity in his eyes knocked the breath out of her and she pressed her lips to his again, hoping to lose herself in physical sensations.
It was too good. And though it was extremely difficult, after a few more seconds she ended the kiss because, when you got down to it, it was too scary.
Her reaction to this man was more than just physical. She had no idea what that even meant or if she was imagining more than there was, but...
She bowed her head and put some space between them. “Where’s your daughter?”
“Payton?” He seemed momentarily confused. “Upstairs. In bed.”
“Of course not. My sister and her boyfriend are there.”
She nodded, touching her lips.
“You’re going to be here for a month?” Clay said, even though he knew that from the lease she’d signed. “We could have a lot of fun in a month.”
Something clicked in her like an alarm going off. A month of fun with this man sounded way too tempting. Judging by the way he’d made her feel after just a few minutes of kissing, there was a very real danger that she’d care too much.
She was not up for that. She’d promised herself she wouldn’t ever fall that deeply under a man’s spell again, wouldn’t let herself get so caught up that she lost herself.
Andie met Clay’s playful gaze with a serious one. “That’s not a good idea.”
He straightened, studying her.
“Your daughter,” Andie said, grasping for something that would get through to him. Scare him away. “You said they’ll use anything against you for your custody case.”
He nodded slowly, narrowing his eyes, all hints of amusement erased.
“They’d have a heyday with me as a bad influence, Clay. Not only do I look the part with my tattoos and piercings but...” She swallowed hard and closed her eyes. “I have a police record.”
His look was chillier now, as he worked through what she’d just confessed to.
“What’d you get picked up for?” he asked quietly after several seconds had passed.
“Which time?” She threw it out there as flippantly as she could.
“Pick your favorite,” he said without missing a beat.
“Not my favorite, but the most memorable was assault charges against my ex.”
His eyes widened just enough for her to notice.
“They were dropped. Big of them, really, since I hit him in the midst of having several of my bones broken by him.”
She hated that she watched so closely for his reaction. Hated admitting any of her past to him. His face changed as he absorbed what she’d said. Disbelief became something akin to pity.
“Andie...” He took a step toward her but she put out a hand.
“It’s in the past, Clay, but yeah. That’s the kind of past I have. Not pretty. Easy to dig up. Other incidents that weren’t dropped. Nightmare in a custody case. So while tonight was...fun, it’s probably best that we don’t let it happen again. For Payton’s sake.”
Clay stared at Andie, still reeling.
She was one hundred percent correct.
Andie Tyler was the last person he should associate himself with if he wanted to win custody. Getting permanent custody of Payton was paramount, as necessary as oxygen. His little girl had been through too much trauma already.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, “for being honest. Payton means too much to me to jeopardize-”
“It’s probably best that you go now.”
The tough girl was back, solid as stone. He couldn’t resist closing the gap between them one last time and pressing his lips to hers, gently.
“I’ll see you around,” he said.
“Thanks for the personalized landlord service.”
The truth hung between them, though, and they both knew his remark was empty. He couldn’t afford to flirt with her or get any more personal.
And yet...he was shaking inside.