The Whole Man by CF Rose
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Evan O’Cleary was in college when she spent a passionate 48 hours with up-and-coming baseball star Jesse Walsh. But after he broke her heart, she vowed to never see him again. So why does her heart leap when she runs into him ten years later?
Jesse not only abandoned Evan, but also his dream of becoming a major league baseball player when his brother died in Iraq. Shattered by the loss, Jesse turns inward. He refuses to commit to more than a one-night stand, until he sets eyes on Evan again, whose body still draws him dangerously near…
Evan knows better than to trust Jesse, but when he protects her against an abusive ex-turned-stalker, one thing leads to another and she finds herself in a delicious encounter on his living room floor. Jesse may not be willing to commit just yet, but maybe Evan can break down the wall. As she gets close, though, Evan uncovers a devastating secret that could destroy their families and drive them apart forever.
JB hadn’t run into Evan in a couple of weeks. He hadn’t wanted to stoop to asking Brandon about her. Evan made it clear she didn’t want to see JB, which irked him. He wasn’t obsessed with her or anything, but he wanted closure. Or at least the chance to look at her. Maybe even to kiss her, just to see if he remembered the feel of her lips on his.
His eyes slid down her body. She wore a clingy blue tank top, and her hair hung loose under a New York Mets cap. White shorts showed off her tanned legs down to her sandals. Those legs. Long and toned and smooth. He definitely remembered how they felt wrapped around his waist.
They stopped in front of JB and Tyler, who had a smug grin on his face.
“JB, you know Katie, and this is her friend, Evan,” Riley said.
JB nodded at them, then glanced back at Tyler with raised eyebrows.
“C’mon, Katie, let’s dance,” Riley said. He practically dragged Katie onto the dance floor. Tyler started following them, but turned and said, “Don’t fuck this up,” to JB before walking away.
JB and Evan stood awkwardly. She had a full drink in her hand so he couldn’t offer to go to the bar and get her one. He didn’t understand how his brothers knew her or why they would foist her upon him. Unless somehow Evan asked them to.
But she seemed to be as uncomfortable as he was, looking everywhere but at him. He couldn’t stop staring at her. Just like he couldn’t stop thinking about her. Her shirt showed off the tops of her breasts, and JB thought about running his tongue across them.
He still remembered how she tasted.
“I had nothing to do with this,” Evan said, jolting his gaze back to her face.
He couldn’t help the corner of his mouth tilting up into a half-smile. “Is that your story?”
Evan narrowed her eyes at him. That earned her a full out grin from JB. Gorgeous and feisty. He couldn’t wait to hear her response, especially after the attitude she gave him when he saw her at lunch. Her smart mouth had attracted him to her from the moment they’d first met, and he felt relieved that hadn’t changed. Maybe she was still the same girl who’d haunted his dreams for the past decade. Maybe he’d get the chance to find out.
“Are you OK?” she asked, sounding like she was genuinely concerned.
Not quite the response he’d hoped for. “Yeah?”
“I figured you’d have to be either completely hammered or mentally deranged to think for one second I’d finagle an invite to spend time with you.” She took a sip of her drink but kept her eyes on his.
“Finagle?” Really? That she threw an SAT word around almost made him laugh. But at least she still continued the conversation, still stood in front of him providing him with an amazing view.
“Yeah. Rhymes with bagel. Means achieving something through manipulation.” Evan placed her half-full glass on the tabletop next to them and folded her arms across her chest, with the unintentional result of highlighting her cleavage.
“I’m aware of what the word means.”
“Well, good. Because I didn’t do that. I don’t even know why I’m here engaging in this conversation.”
JB leaned in so close he could smell her signature vanilla and lemon scent and said into her ear, “I think you do. And I’m glad.”
Evan lifted her chin, and her lips were so close he only needed to move a fraction of an inch and he’d be kissing her. He couldn’t believe how much he wanted to, especially when her lips parted.
“Stop it,” she snapped, her green eyes flashing sparks as she took a step back to break the tension. “Your brothers introduced themselves to me at the baseball game. Riley said he recognized me, and they invited me here. I wasn’t going to come, but Katie wanted to go, so here we are. I have no clue what’s up with your brothers.”
He knew exactly what was up with his brothers. He didn’t know how Riley would know Evan, but he’d bet they saw a beautiful woman and figured JB needed the distraction. They just had no idea what kind of distraction.
Part of him wanted to sink into her. The part above the waist wanted to run as far away as possible.
Instead, he shrugged. “Let’s go find your friend.”
Cheryl Rosenberg, writing as C.F. Rose to protect the innocent, is a sportswriter turned romance writer. When she’s away from her laptop, you can find her at the gym or serving as her kids’ personal Uber driver. She grew up on the East Coast but survives in too-sunny Southern California with her husband, their three kids and two rescued mutts. The Whole Man is her first book.