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BORN WILD
by Julie Ann Walker

Genre: General Romantic Suspense, Romantic Suspense

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Her eyes devoured him as he sauntered over to a weight bench. Lowering himself, he bent to tighten the laces on his worn sneakers. Which is when she realized not only was her stomach quivering from the mere sight of him, but her hands were also shaking with fear. And, dangit, a large part of her wanted to turn tail and run. Just skedaddle right on out of the outbuilding that served as BKI’s home gymnasium and avoid any morning-after conversations. Because what if he told her that kiss meant nothing? Or worse, that it meant the end of everything…

But, no. That was the old Eve, the timid, little rabbit Eve. The new Eve? Well, the new Eve gnawed on her lip for a good two-second count before blurting, “You kissed me last night.”

Okay, and that had come out sounding more like an accusation than a question. Curses.

Billy planted his forearms on his thighs, letting his head hang between his shoulders and his big, hands dangle between his legs. He was silent for a seemingly interminable moment during which time she was afraid her pounding heart might just leap right out of her chest. Then, he lifted those lovely eyes of his to her face, and his expression was…what?

Embarrassed? Wry? Self-deprecating?

She couldn’t tell. Oh, why couldn’t she tell?

“Guess there’s no way to un-ring that bell, huh?” he muttered, lips twisting, and all the hope that’d been expanding in her chest burst. She was surprised a loud pop didn’t echo around the room.

The urge to run was more powerful than ever. But she held her ground, lifting her chin. “Would you…” She licked her lips and swallowed…her pride, perhaps? “Would you want to un-ring it?”

He made a face. “Maybe,” he said. Then, “Probably.”

Well, a girl couldn’t fault the guy for being honest.

“Oh,” she murmured, trying very hard to keep her shoulders from drooping and her lower lip from quivering.

“I went up to your room last night to attempt to give you a little comfort after your hellacious last couple of months and to tell you that I’m done holding grudges about the past. But the urge to kiss you overcame me, probably something to do with old habits or bad instincts, and I wrongly acted on it. I’m sorry about that. It won’t happen again.”

But what if she wanted it to happen again? She opened her mouth to admit as much — talk about swallowing her pride — when his expression stopped her cold. She knew a wall when she ran into it, face-first.

He might be ready to try to forgive her for the past. But from the look of things, he wasn’t ready, he’d never be ready, to start something new. There was just too much history there. Too many grievances and too much distrust…