Authors: Karla Doyle
Tags: #self published, #family saga, #erotic romance, #Close to Home series, #tattooed hero, #contemporary romance, #humorous romance, #tragic past, #happily ever after, #cop hero
ICING ON THE CAKE
Close to Home series — Book 2
Nia and Conn’s wedding will be fairytale perfect…if their siblings can get along.
Free-spirited, anti-establishment Sara has always been on the outside of her family’s fairytale mold. Now she’s being forced smack into the middle of it at her sister Nia’s wedding. Alongside the cocky and annoyingly sexy best man—Conn’s cop brother.
Curtis doesn’t buy in to organized romance and fairytales. But for his brother, he’ll throw on a tux and fake it for a few hours. His flak vest would have been a better choice around the maid of honor. He should have brought his handcuffs too, because somebody needs to restrain the dark-haired spitfire—and he’s just the man for the job.
One night to indulge the spark between them, then goodbye—that was the agreement. Curtis isn’t looking for a relationship and he sure doesn’t want a troublemaker for a girlfriend. The last thing Sara needs in her daily life is a cop looking over her shoulder, no matter how hot he is.
But giving in to their chemistry is much more fun than giving it up…
As always, I couldn’t have written this book without the support of my family. I love you all so very much.
Special thanks to my fabulous editors. Your eagle eyes and insights are amazing, and made this book much better than I could ever have done on my own.
And big thanks and hugs to my friends, Amanda, Andie, Claire, Grace, and Mandy. Your encouragement, nagging, rooting, and patience mean the world to me.
♥ ♥ ♥
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With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Karla Doyle.
Icing on the Cake, © Karla Doyle, 2014
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Nia had been staring out the front window for half an hour. Conn couldn’t see her face, but her stiff posture told him everything. She was worried about her parents.
Beyond the glass, wind whipped the late-December snow into a frenzy. At least it was a bright day. The white stuff swirling around out there might affect visibility and road conditions somewhat, but it wouldn’t make the Chambers’ six-hour drive too treacherous. Unlike the first time Conn made the lengthy trek. Blizzard-like conditions had made that one wicked journey. Best road trip of his life though. Look where it’d ultimately led—to a life with the beautiful blonde at the window.
“They should be here by now,” Nia whispered without turning.
At her side, Zeus grumbled, then nudged Nia’s hand with his big, reddish-brown head. Conn’s dog had taken an immediate liking to Nia during their spontaneous trip to Barry’s Bay almost a year ago. Since she’d all but officially moved in this past summer, Zeus rarely left her side. The dog had never been happier. The same went for Conn.
He crossed the room to stand behind her. “Hey.” He kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arms around her. “They’ll be here soon. I checked the highway report a few minutes ago. Everything’s clear and accident-free.”
“For now. Look at it out there. It just keeps coming.”
He slid his hand lower, inside the front of her jeans. “Kind of reminds me of you.”
Her breath hitched as her body responded to his touch. “This isn’t a good time.”
“I disagree, sweetheart. You coming for me is always a good time.” He used his free hand to unzip her pants. More room to give her what she needed.
Oh yeah, that sweet combination of protesting and pleading was one of his favorite sounds. He nuzzled her ear, kissed the spot just below that made her crazy. “Relax and let me do this, baby.” He stroked her clit—no teasing right now, just rolling and rubbing the way he knew worked best.
Heat and electricity zinged between them. As it always did. As it had the first time he touched her, last New Year’s Eve.
A soft, needy murmur rose from Nia’s lips. The sound sent every available drop of blood racing to his cock. Didn’t matter how many times he’d heard them, the noises she made when he got her off made him feel like champion of the world.
Her palms slapped against the glass. Her head bowed forward and her hips rocked with the motion of his hand. “That, that. Conn, hard…”
Hard didn’t begin to describe his current status. He gave her the pressure she needed, holding her steady while she came in his arms. A lifetime of this would never be enough.
“Come here,” he said when her breathing returned to normal. He led her to the couch and knelt before her. The twinkling, white lights from their Christmas tree cast a glow over the room, bouncing off her golden hair like an angelic halo. “I wanted to do this while our families were here with us, but I can’t wait another second.”
Her gaze dropped to the black velvet box he pulled from his front pocket. “Hold on. You mean that wasn’t all
pressed against my ass over by the window?”
“You know it was.” She’d stolen his moment, which made it that much better. “Let me put this away.” He waved the jeweler’s box in the space between them before moving to replace it in his pocket. “And I’ll prove it to you.”
She grabbed his forearm. “Christmas present first.”
Damn, she’d never looked more beautiful. Yeah, he thought that every day. Every single time he looked at her. But right now, with her cheeks flushed pink from coming on his hand, her eyes sparkling with excitement over his gift…
“It’s not a Christmas present.” He lifted the top, exposing the pink diamond solitaire he’d managed to hang on to for three excruciatingly long weeks.
She gasped, her hands flying up to cover her mouth.
That’d never do. He needed to see those pretty lips. And he needed her left hand, one finger in particular.
“I love you. I want the world to know you belong to me. I want you to know without a doubt that I belong to you. Always.” He took her hand in his and slid the ring on her finger. “Marry me, sweetheart.”
Curtis subtly flicked his wrist to check the time. Almost four o’clock. No wonder he could see his brother’s jaw clenching from a dozen feet away. Time to wedding rehearsal—two minutes. Conspicuously absent—the maid of honor.
“Shit.” Conn muttered the curse under his breath as he joined Curtis on one of the small church’s front pews. “Any chance you brought your handcuffs this weekend?”
Curtis raised an eyebrow at his brother. “Maybe. You looking to start the honeymoon early?”
Conn laughed. Just once, a short burst, but it drew inquisitive looks from everybody assembled. Including Nia. Conn smiled at his bride-to-be while answering Curtis’ question. “Every day is like a honeymoon.”
Should have seen that one coming. The guy’s love-struck grin seemed to be in permanent residence on his face. Curtis was happy for his brother, he really was, but Conn and Nia were sweeter than a cup of sugar. And as a rule, Curtis preferred spicy.
The odds of Curtis landing anything spicy this weekend barely registered on the scale. Not in Nia’s hometown with its population of a few thousand—on a busy day. But he wasn’t here to pick up. Even if that was the only good thing to come out of most weddings, in his experience.
“Who do you want restrained?” he asked. “One of Nia’s ex-boyfriends?”
“Ha. Nope. Somebody closer to home. Nia’s sister—if she ever shows up.” Conn spoke low enough to keep the conversation private, his clean-shaven jaw ticking in the process. “I can’t believe she’s doing this.”
“From the bits and pieces you’ve told me, screwing up the festivities sounds right up her alley.”
Conn grunted and clasped his hands behind his head. “Sara’s a handful, no question. But I honestly thought she’d keep her shit in check for the wedding. She and Nia have a pretty solid relationship, hard as that is to believe, given their differences.”
“If you say so, man.”
It’d been a year and a half since fate—or more specifically, car trouble and bad weather—had brought Conn and Nia together. In that time, there’d been several occasions where the Lawler and Chambers families had mixed. Sara hadn’t attended. Not even Christmas dinner at her sister’s house. Sara’s family didn’t make excuses on her behalf, nor did they seem upset. Instead they affectionately tossed around terms such as “free-spirited” and “nonconformist.”
Well, the free-spirited nonconformist better walk through the church doors, stat. Anybody who got in the way of his brother’s happiness, especially this weekend, would be answering to Curtis. Badge and handcuffs not required for that job.
“You didn’t bring a date for the wedding,” Conn said, interrupting Curtis’ internal threats toward a woman he’d never met.
“Nah. With the wedding all the way up here, that would’ve meant spending an entire weekend together at the various family-bonding events. An invitation like that tends to send the ‘this is serious’ message.”
Conn stretched his arms along the top of the church pew while nodding. “Gotcha.”
“Yeah.” He didn’t have to explain it further. His brother knew that Curtis didn’t have anything against commitment itself, he just didn’t have much faith in it lasting. He’d seen too many of his buddies, especially the cop ones, fall victim to the big D.
“Since you’re flying solo this weekend, I need a favor.”
“Spending tomorrow in a monkey suit isn’t favor enough? Especially after that overly friendly tailor at the tuxedo-rental place got a little too much enjoyment out of measuring my inseam?”
One of Conn’s patented grins took over his face. “Did you check the pockets yet? He might’ve slipped you his number.”
“Whatever, man.” He issued Conn a friendly shot to the ribs. “How you, the totally unavailable groom-to-be, got the hot Asian chick to measure you while I got stuck with the grabby-hands guy, I have no fucking idea.”
“Was she hot? I didn’t notice.”
Oh man, he was serious. Love had put blinders on his brother. Big time.
“Ten out of ten,” Curtis said, shaking his head. “So, what’s the favor?”
Conn’s smile thinned. “Keep an eye on Sara. Make sure she doesn’t cause any trouble.”
“Is she that bad?”
“I hope not,” Conn said as the church’s front door slammed and all heads turned toward the entryway from the vestibule.
Call him fucked-up, but one look at the dark-haired beauty who’d just strutted into the building, and Curtis kinda hoped Sara lived up to her troublemaker reputation.
There were only nine people in the church, but every eye in the place was trained on her. Which was how Sara liked it—usually. Not this time. Not when the attention resulted from her late arrival to her sister’s wedding rehearsal. Worse—the looks on her family’s faces. Relief on Nia’s. Disappointment on her parents’. Conn looked plain-old pissed off.
With her track record for stirring up trouble, nobody would believe the truth. That she’d stopped en route to help a stranded motorist whose car looked ready to combust. To hell with it, she wouldn’t even bother explaining. Let them all think the worst. They were going to anyway.
“Hey, ho, everybody.” She snapped her fingers while closing the distance to the waiting pastor, bride, groom, and the rest of their assembled family members. “Let’s do this pretend-wedding thing.”
A layer of tension hung over the small group, everybody waiting to see how Nia would react, most likely. On the surface, Sara didn’t crack. She wore her confident smile like the armor it had always been. Inwardly, she held her breath with the rest of them. After a rift that’d lasted eight shitty years, she and Nia had finally found their way back to being best friends. The last thing Sara wanted to do was fuck that up. Again.