Series: Beachwood Bay #7
He’s my best friend’s brother – and the only boy I’ve ever loved. Movie star, manwhore, and totally off-limits.
I told myself it was time to move on, until one epic night changed everything. Now there’s no denying the way I feel when he touches me, or the reckless desire in his eyes.
Once we cross that line, there’s no going back. But can I risk it all for him when he’s still hiding secrets of his own?
I only have one New Year’s resolution, and it’s the same I’ve had for six years now:
Make Blake Callahan fall madly, deeply, and uncontrollably in love with me.
Every year, I write it in big block letters on the first page of my new journal, and every year, I finish out December with those some words still taunting me. But not this time. This year, I’ve decided, I’m really going to make it happen.
“Happy New Year!”
Noise floods through my thoughts. The party is in full swing around me, hundreds of people crammed into the amazing beachfront mansion. Music plays so loud I can feel it in my chest, and everywhere I look, people are flirting and laughing, getting ready for that midnight kiss.
I check my phone. Just a few minutes to midnight. My heart beats faster. If I’m going to do this, I need to do it now. I can see Blake out on the deck, looking illegally hot in a vintage white T-shirt and jeans that deserve an award for their services to womankind. I haven’t seen him in a couple of years, but clearly, he only gets more devastating with age. It’s the reason he’s tipped as the hot new Hollywood star, about to break out in his first big movie role. But to me, he’ll always be plain old Blake Callahan: my first love, my unrequited crush.
My best friend’s older brother.
I’ve always been too scared to cross that line, but tonight is different. Tonight, everything changes. I take a deep breath, slide the doors open, and step outside.
“Hello, stranger.” My voice comes, sounding flirty and bold. Good start.
Blake turns, and I swear, his jaw drops. I feel another tremor of nerves, but they melt away when I recognize the familiar look in his eyes, the one I’ve seen from plenty of guys since my transformation, but never from him.
He blinks at me in disbelief.
“Zoey?” he says, sounding uncertain. “Holy shit, what happened to you?”
Play it cool, I remind myself. Easy, breezy, like he’s been the last thing on your mind.
I arch an eyebrow. “Good to see you too.”
I sashay over and lean in to kiss him on both cheeks, the way I learned in Europe. I leave a smudge of scarlet on his skin, so I reach up and wipe it away. He looks confused. “Sorry, Paris,” I explain, kicking myself for the familiar gesture.
“Uh, hey,” Blake recovers. “Welcome back. Is it just a vacation visit?”
“It depends,” I say.
“Uh, depends on what?” Blake asks. His gaze drifts down my body, all the way to my peep-toe sandals, the ones that usually make me feel invincible. But now, I feel stripped naked under his blue eyes, my heart beating so loudly in my chest I swear he can hear it over the muffled sound of the music inside.
I bite back the truth. “You’ll see,” I answer cryptically instead. “But, yes, I’m back.”
“Tegan will be happy, I know she missed you,” Blake smiles.
“Me too.” I try to relax. This is Blake, I remind myself. Not some stranger. I know him. “I missed all of you guys,” I add, thinking of the whole Callahan family: Tegan, and their two other brothers too. “Europe is a long way from home.”
I take the spot beside him and lean out to watch the dark shadow of the ocean play along the distant shore. “So what’s your resolution?” I ask, trying to sound flirty.
“I guess… Make some great movies this year,” he smiles. “Not screw up and wind up waiting tables again to make a living.”
I laugh. “No way. We all knew you had the talent, it just took the world a little while to catch on.”
“You haven’t seen me act,” Blake retorts, teasing.
“Sure I have,” I remind him. “I remember a certain show you did one Christmas…”
“No!” Blake bursts out laughing. “God, why would you remind me about that?”
“Come on,” I tease him, “you were the hunkiest Ebenezer Scrooge that Santa Monica ever saw.” He dressed up as a surfer Scrooge and played scenes on the promenade for fifty bucks. His brothers never shut up about it; we teased him all year.
“Please tell me you don’t have photos, the tabloids would go crazy,” he groans.
“Your secret is safe with me.”
“I knew I could count on you.” Blake smiles, and I’m hit all over again with the force of him: that chiseled, handsome face, the smile, those magnetic blue eyes that always belonged on a movie screen. I feel the same flip in my stomach I felt the day we first met; time and distance have done nothing to lessen his effect on me.
I think I see something shift in his expression, a glimpse of desire, but it must be wishful thinking, because he turns away.
“You better get back inside,” he says shortly. “You’ll miss the party.”
Disappointment crashes over me.
I turn and slowly walk away, feeling like a fool. All my plans are for nothing; I tried and struck out again.
But did you really try? A small voice nudges me. Didn’t you promise to give it your best shot?
I gulp, then before I know what I’m doing, I whirl around and stride back to him. I put my hand on his arm, and pull him around to face me.
“It’s the New Year,” I say stubbornly, my heart racing.
“Not for another ten seconds.” Blake looks confused. They’re counting down inside, chanting the numbers.
Time is running out.
“Then I guess we’ll have to pass the time.” I take a deep breath, gathering all my courage, and then I reach up on my tiptoes and press my lips against his.
“Nine! Eight! Seven!…”
The voices fade away as I fall into the kiss. Blake’s mouth is warm, and I can taste the bourbon on his lips, feel the faint scrape of stubble on his jaw.
This is it. I’m finally kissing him.
But then I realize, Blake is frozen in place. He’s not kissing me back—but he hasn’t pulled away either.
I loop my arms determinedly around his neck and pull his body down against mine. As if it was the signal he was waiting for, Blake suddenly sweeps me into his arms. He spins me around, pushing me back against the railings as he kisses me hard and deep, and I come undone.
God… This is what I dreamed about, all those years of innocent fantasy. I must have played this moment a hundred times over in my mind, but nothing is as sweet as the feel of his lips claiming mine, the heat and desire blazing to life throughout my whole body.
He eases my lips apart and sinks his tongue deep into my mouth. I moan against him, arching up to press closer against his body. I can feel the taut muscle through his clothes, the gorgeous planes of his shoulders and back. His hands slide over my body, cupping my ass and molding me to him, until there’s not an inch of space between us. And all the while, his mouth is driving me crazy, teasing and demanding, his tongue sliding hotly against mine, igniting a fire in my bloodstream that spirals low between my thighs.
The sound of fireworks cuts through the haze. I pull away, breathless. Bursts of glitter and stardust light up across the bay, and there’s the sound of cheering inside. For a moment, I feel like the universe is celebrating our kiss, then I realize we kissed our way into the New Year.
Elation crashes through me. He kissed me back. I wanted a sign, and here it is: big neon letters saying “He wants you too.”
“That’s decided then,” I murmur to myself. Blake is standing there, looking shell-shocked. I smile. “Happy New Year.”
I turn on my heel, and quickly duck back into the house before I can ruin the moment. But just as quickly, my joy fades. Because now that I know there’s something between us, my feelings aren’t so safe anymore.
Loving him could destroy my friendships, my sense of family—everything that’s important to me in the world. Once we cross that line, there’s no going back.So do I take that risk?
Melody Grace is the New York Times bestselling author of the Beachwood Bay series. A small-town girl turned SoCal beach lover, after spending her life with her nose in a book, she decided it was time she wrote one herself. She loves steamy romance novels, happily-ever-afters, and lusting after fictional menfolk. She lives in LA with her two kittens, Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers.