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Copyright © 2014 Mari Carr and Jayne Rylon

She shook her head. “I don’t know. I’ve been feeling edgy lately. Restless. I mean, look around, Liam. Is this all there is to life? Every single day is déjà vu and not in a good way. It’s like I’m trapped in the horror movie that is my life, forced to endure the same stupid things over and over and over again.”

Liam frowned. “So what are you saying? You want to leave Compton Pass?”

“No.” Jade closed her eyes wearily. “This is my home. I don’t want to leave. My whole family is here and with Vivi’s memory getting worse…” Her words fell away as her shoulders slumped. She was in a funk. Usually life didn’t get her down, but for the past few months, she’d struggled to shirk off her constant state of unhappiness. The worst part was she didn’t really know what was bothering her. She was suffering from what Vivi called a case of the blues. And she had it bad.

Liam reached out to touch her arm. “Maybe you’re just bothered about your grandmother’s illness. Alzheimer’s can take its toll and you’ve been watching Vicky’s decline for a couple of years now.”

She shrugged. “I am worried about Vivi, but I don’t think that’s what’s wrong with me. Not really.”

“Then what?”

“I’m stuck in a rut. I work at the ranch. I tend bar here. I hang out with my cousins and you. I eat the same breakfast every day. The same damn lunch. I break up the same ridiculous redneck fights week after week. I’m coming out of my skin. It makes me want to do something crazy, wild, impulsive.”

“What else is new?”
She shot him a dirty look that he ignored.
“Fine, kiddo. Be impulsive.”

She released a quick snort. “Easier said than done. I’m Jade Compton, the sheriff’s daughter, one of the Compass Girls. Sometimes it feels like I have a thousand eyes on me—all watching out, ready to protect me the second I step one tiny toe over the line into anything that could be potentially dangerous. I’m living my life swaddled in freaking Bubble Wrap.”

Liam laughed. “I don’t know about that. It seems to me you’ve managed to do some damage. Weren’t you the girl who got pulled over by her father for going a hundred and twenty on her motorcycle?”

“Yes. And I caught holy hell for it too. Uncle Silas is still reading me the riot act for that, and it happened nearly six months ago.”

Liam leaned against Bruce’s car. Her boss always parked in the alley. “I bet he is. That is one man I’d never wanna piss off.”

Jade blew out a long breath and tugged at her T-shirt. “It doesn’t help that it’s a gazillion degrees this summer. I’m tired of being hot. It’s like I’m living in a pool of my own sweat with my clothes sticking to my skin every time I step outside.”

“Attractive image. Thanks for sharing.”

She grinned. Liam always knew how to talk her out of her anger. No matter how mad or annoyed she might be, Liam managed to calm her down. “Okay. You win. I’m finished bitching.”

“So what’s your plan for getting out of your depression?”

She lifted her shoulders. “I don’t know. I guess I’ll just have to come up with something spontaneous and reckless. Maybe I’ll jump my motorcycle over Beyer’s Creek. I can sell tickets and put on a flashy pantsuit. I can even come up with a cool stunt-girl name like Jumpin’ Jade.”

“Selling tickets hardly makes it an impulsive act.”

She could tell he wasn’t taking her seriously and her pride kicked in, his whatever attitude rubbing her the wrong way. “Then maybe I should do something even more stupid.”

“And what would that be?” His casual tone tweaked her temper and made her long to wipe the smug smile off his face. As always, she acted without thinking.

“This.” She gripped his shirt in her hands and tugged him close, kissing him roughly. She felt him stiffen with surprise, the response appeasing her enough that she released him with a superior laugh. Served him right for dragging her out of the bar and then not believing her when she threatened to do something insane. He was her friend. The least he could do was play along when she was in a mood.

His eyes narrowed, pleasing her even more. Liam was a hard person to shock, so it felt good to shake the cocky man up.

“Oh my God, you should see your face right now, Liam.”

Her laughter died when Liam grasped her cheeks in his large palms and pulled her forward.

“Apparently you need a lesson in recklessness, Jade.”

“Wha—” She didn’t have a chance to ask what the hell he was doing before Liam placed his lips on hers and kissed her. Shock held her still for a full minute as Liam took charge of her mouth. His grip was firm, directing her face this way and that as he pressed her lips apart and started exploring her mouth with his tongue.

Part of her was compelled to shove him away. She’d only meant the kiss as a joke. This was Liam, for God’s sake. For eight years, he’d been her best friend. They didn’t kiss.

But damn if he didn’t know his way around a mouth. Jade lifted her hands to his shoulders. Her initial intention had been to push back, but once her fingers found the firm muscles on his upper arms, she decided to indulge in a little exploration of her own.

Liam twisted them until she was pressed against Bruce’s car, his body leaning into hers. One of his hands left her face, caressing its way along her neck, briefly touching her breast before latching on to her waist. He used his grip to tug her lower body even closer to his.

She didn’t turn him on. Did she?



1. Winter’s Thaw

2. Hope Springs

3. Summer Fling

4. Falling Softly