Sophie Bradley can always count on Wright. He's not just her brother’s best friend, he's practically part of the family. His honesty and willingness to listen are a constant comfort, and his culinary skills are a huge selling point for the inn. But when a casual moment in the kitchen turns electric, an impulsive kiss leaves her weak in the knees—a kiss Wright dismisses as “temporary insanity” and insists will never happen again.
How could he have done it? Wright feels like a big enough jerk, disappointing his parents with his career choices—plus he's secretly entertaining job offers from restaurants coast-to-coast. He's betraying everyone. . . and now he's kissed his best friend's sister. The only option is to hit the brakes, hard. But once Sophie's been kissed, she can't be unkissed, and as things start falling apart around him, Wright wonders if a momentary lapse might be the beginning of something extraordinary.
About the Author
She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Carolina Romance Writers, and she's represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.
Connect with Heather on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or her group blog. She'd love to hear to from you!
Read an Excerpt
A Taste of Temptation
By Heather McGovern
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Heather McGovern
All rights reserved.
"What's that smell? Is something on fire?"
Sophie cut her eyes at Devlin. "Do you mind? I'm mid-order here." She needed their bartender's wish list so she could place a call to the vendor tomorrow. Then at least one thing would be off her to-do list. "I don't smell anything."
She went back to leaning on the bar, writing down what Steve wanted. At the end, she added a few extras, just in case.
One could never have enough swizzle sticks.
"You seriously don't smell that?" Her brother got up from his usual spot at a nearby table.
Like her, Dev preferred doing all of his paperwork after hours, in Honeywilde's restaurant. He claimed it was the only time he could work without interruption. Yet here he was, doing a fantastic job of interrupting her.
He walked past the bar, scowling and sniffing as he went.
She and Steve shared a look.
All summer long, Dev had been slightly left of center. Dev lived left of center, but this summer, even more so. In the weeks since he'd met and fallen in love with Anna, he swung back and forth between being completely distracted by love or totally fixated on random things. To the point that nothing could derail him.
Like right now, and his insistence he smelled smoke.
"I'm telling you, something is on fire." Dev headed toward the kitchen.
He'd always had a flair for the dramatic as well, but Sophie eased off her stool to follow him anyway.
Even on her tippy-toes, she could barely see through the swinging doors' small windows into the restaurant's kitchen, but there were no flames or smoke that she could tell. Only Devlin being Devlin.
She rolled her eyes as he pushed open the double doors that led to the back. "You're imagining things. The kitchen is not — Holy shit, the kitchen is on fire!"
Sophie bolted through the doors. She pushed past her brother to find the stove engulfed in smoke and white clouds, Wright standing in the midst of it as he doused the open oven with a fire extinguisher.
Her heart jackhammered against her ribs. She opened her mouth to say his name, fear choking off any sound.
Steve rushed in and skidded to a stop beside her.
"I'm okay." Wright turned toward them, answering her unasked question. "Kitchen is okay. I saw the flames in time." He cursed and sprayed the oven with the fire extinguisher one more time, though it did appear any fire was completely out. "That damn thing catching my oven on fire is all." He jabbed his finger toward the racks of the oven.
Sophie couldn't make out what damn thing he meant because the inside of the oven was all foamy white.
Dev moved closer and glanced inside. "What is it?"
Wright took a step back and slammed the extinguisher down on the prep table. "It was a pie. Jesus. About gave me a heart attack."
Her chest aching, Sophie braced her hands on the other side of the prep table, trying to catch her breath. Her mind hadn't had time to fully comprehend the scene before her. All she knew was Wright and fire, deadly flames, thoughts of him being injured, or worse.
She'd had enough loss for one lifetime. She couldn't handle losing anyone else.
With a steadying breath, she loosened her grip on the table.
Now was not the time or the place to crack up. Wright was fine. A little kitchen mishap.
For almost two months now, they hadn't spoken more than a few words to each other, and even then, only if it was necessary for their jobs. She'd frozen him out, with good reason, but the idea of him getting hurt ...
No. Just no.
"Are you all right?" Dev grabbed Wright's shoulder, looking him over.
There was a time Sophie would've done the same. Without a trace of self-consciousness, she would've put her hands on Wright, reassuring herself he was unharmed, still there for her, unwavering and steady. Her Wright.
But those days were gone.
"I'm fine. Adrenaline kicked in, damn heart is racing and I'm pissed off, but fine."
She managed to make her way to the shelves of glassware, plucked a short tumbler from its spot and, with shaking hands, got water, straight from the tap. Mouth dry, if she spoke now, her shakiness and concern would be obvious.
Wright couldn't know how rattled she was. Their friendship embargo was her choice and her doing. Falling apart in front of him, all because she thought he was hurt, would demolish the walls she'd put up.
Those walls were there to protect her. They had to stay.
But she had to do or say something. Dev had already given her the inquisition about her and Wright not speaking. If she remained silent after a kitchen fire, he'd be all over her again, wanting to know why.
She refilled the glass again. With a nod, she placed it on the prep table, near Wright.
He stared at her as Dev kept talking, but she was not going to make eye contact.
"What were you baking?" Steve asked.
"The goal was bourbon-soaked cherry pie."
Dev clapped him on the back. "Man, if you're soaking shit in bourbon, you might be asking for a few flames."
Before, Sophie would've given Wright hell about causing a fire too — or taken any chance to tease or pick at him, as he would with her. She'd have done so out of reflex and never thought twice.
Now she overthought every interaction, and there'd be no way she could tease him. The loss twisted the empty spot inside her into a knot.
Too much had happened; too many things said between them. Hurtful, angry words that couldn't be taken back. They couldn't return to the role of buddies who joked around, nothing heavy, no real weight, between them.
And instead of saying the sight of his kitchen, thick with smoke, filled her with fear and panic, she said nothing. Her hands on her ribs like her heart might suddenly break through, she simply stood there. Silent.
Wright lightly shoved Dev, muttering a curse. "It wasn't the bourbon. The butter dripped out of the pan and hit the coils. I made one without any issues, so I wasn't hawk-eyeing the second one."
Dev turned to the unsinged pie, cooling on the counter. "I vote you keep trying. I'm willing to be the guinea pig if you need one."
"I'll keep at it. Minus the flambé." Wright glared at the stove, his jaw tight, hands curled into fists.
He was clearly shaken and more than a little angry at himself, no matter how much he joked about flambés. He always joked more when something bothered him, and right now he was rattled.
Whether she was mad at him or not, it was her unofficial job in the family, and at Honeywilde, to soothe raw nerves. If she didn't calm the waters, no one would.
She clicked into operations manager mode. "Dev, Steve? We don't want to use the good kitchen towels to clean up once everything cools. Why don't you grab some of the housekeeping towels in storage downstairs." If she could send Steve and her brother on a task, it'd give Wright a few minutes to bounce back.
"Good idea. You sure you're okay?" Dev checked on his best friend one last time.
"Yeah, man. I'm great. Irritated, but great."
With a laugh and another pat, Dev left, with Steve right behind him.
A moment passed before Wright turned to her, yet didn't meet her gaze. "Thanks for that."
Suddenly, the privacy of the moment was unmistakable. She was alone with Wright, in the kitchen.
A million times they'd been in here, chatting or commiserating, nothing new or unnerving — except for the one time it was.
Lifting her gaze, she studied the top of Wright's bent head.
He was turning the fire extinguisher around, probably berating himself for what he believed was some great failure.
Wright took his work very seriously, and no one was a harsher critic.
"It's a pie. No one got hurt." She pointed out the facts that they both needed to hear.
Wright jerked his chin up, their gazes colliding. "I know. But they could've. I'm a better chef than that. I wasn't paying attention because ..."
Because of things like what'd happened between them in this very kitchen, over a month ago? Or things like breaking up with his girlfriend immediately after?
"So stupid. I've made dozens of pies."
She hated feeling sympathy for Wright, especially after all that'd happened, but she did.
It wasn't stupid for him to have a lot on his mind after the breakup, and toss in how much his parents probably flipped out about it ...
Holy wow, they were hard on Wright. She could imagine the hell he caught for not making things work with a girl as perfect as Katherine Hurst.
No, woman. Katherine was not a girl. She probably hadn't been a girl since she was ten years old.
Sophie didn't want to ask. Shouldn't ask, but the ugliest part of her — the dark place where she carefully hid her jealousy and resentment, any bitterness or other unattractive feelings — had to know.
"Were you thinking about her?"
"No." His answer came quickly and Wright chuffed, startling her. "I have more important things to worry about besides all that."
More important things?
Wright's breakup with Kate had come fast and hard. Not a friendly parting of ways or even a consolatory "Let's still be friends." Their relationship got nuked in one day, and it'd stunned everyone.
The consensus around town, and the inn, was Kate might be the one for Wright. Pretty, sweet, wealthy family to keep his parents happy. Then Wright straight up dumped her.
Some tiny, nonenvious part of her actually felt bad for Kate.
Wright had his flaws, and he'd been a complete asshole to Sophie last month, but her family excluded, he was still ten times better than every other guy she knew — which might not be saying much, now that she thought about it. Most of the guys in Windamere were dicks.
"Kate and I are old news." Wright jerked his gaze away before picking up the extinguisher and placing it back on the wall. "You don't need to worry about me."
"I'm not worried about you." She crossed her arms as she lied.
Of course she was worried about him. She worried about everyone under this roof, but this was Wright.
They'd known each other since the Bradleys adopted her. He was one of her closest friends, and they'd hardly spoken all summer.
But he was so aggravating. And talking to him again jumbled her nerves, tilting her off balance. The silent treatment had sucked, but not talking at all was still easier than this.
Before, they could talk about anything. Dates, guys, girls, sports, food, her brother Dev. Nothing was off-limits and nothing was uncomfortable.
Until Wright went and ruined it all.
During the planning of the Blueberry Festival, when Dev was completely consumed and distracted by all things Anna, and everyone was busy planning, she and Wright had taken a sharp left turn into terrain neither of them could navigate.
Now here they were. Wandering. Lost, and off track. And it was all Wright's fault.
Two months earlier
Sophie swung her feet, her heels bumping the cabinets under the kitchen's side counter. "Matt might win worst date ever. He didn't get my humor, I could tell he wasn't into me, but he still tried to kiss me. No."
Wright hopped up next to her, ready to run color commentary on her ill-fated love life, same as they always did. "This is your third date. He must be a little into you."
"How do you know it's our third date?"
With a pop of his eyebrows, he shrugged. "I ... I don't know. Probably because you complained about the other two as well."
And there was the tone; the judgment in Wright's voice when it came to her dating life and her awful track record.
He wasn't wrong. She had a long list of failed second dates, and a guy would have to be nuts to want to be with her, but still, Wright could've dialed it back a smidge.
"Matt isn't into me. He's into getting laid. There's a difference."
"Then screw him." Wright bumped his arm against hers. "I mean figuratively, not literally. If he's that big an asshole, you're better off finding that out now."
They sat close enough together that their arms kept bumping, even when Wright didn't do it intentionally. She could easily rest her head on his shoulder, if she considered doing such.
Which was only every other day.
With a heavy sigh, she admitted the truth. "He wanted me to be someone I'm not."
"Why would he want you to be someone else? That doesn't make sense."
She asked herself the very same question all the time, but digging for the answer would be too painful to bear.
"I don't know." She tried playing it off. "I could just tell. He wanted a certain kind of girl, and I'm not it."
"What kind of girl are you?"
The kind no one really wants.
"I don't know." She bristled at his concern. Wright had his own girl. A perfect paragon of charm and sophistication, who probably had sex with him every night without a single hang-up or ounce of neurosis.
Kate was everything she wasn't, but Sophie wasn't jealous. Their happiness gnawed at her insides, but that wasn't jealousy.
"You don't know?" His question dripped with sarcasm.
"Forget I said anything."
"I thought you wanted to talk about it."
"It's just ... I don't know. I'm burned out. I'm better off alone anyway. I have my family to worry about. That's enough to deal with."
His arm brushed her again. "You're not better off alone. Everybody needs someone."
"I wouldn't mind being alone." Now that her brothers had someones of their own, she might get a little lonely, but she'd survive.
"Hey." Wright leaned in before turning toward her. He waited quietly until she met his gaze. "You won't be alone unless you want to be. You're great. Matt is the one with the problem."
She had no response. Not only because she vehemently disagreed, but because he was so close. Looking at her like he sometimes did, soulful brown eyes, seeing something special in her. She forgot how to speak.
Her brothers loved her, but as far as romantic relationships, she was terminally solo. A few dates followed by long stretches of a singular existence. Her solitude was her choice. It had never bothered her until this year. The rest of her family was moving on, finding love and happiness.
Sometimes she wanted someone in her life. More and more, she found herself longing to be with someone. And that's what scared her.
Being with someone meant letting them in. Too often, letting them in meant losing them.
In the silence, Wright eased closer, putting his arm around her, trying to comfort. "Soph, I mean it. You aren't meant to be alone. Don't say that."
"I'm fine. Probably hormones or something. I don't know."
"Maybe because it's summertime? July fourth isn't so far away."
She turned to him. "How did you —"
"Come on." His gaze was tender, eyes soft with sympathy. "We've lived in the same small town our whole lives. I remember when the accident happened. Everyone remembers."
Her parents' car accident. Her accident. Except she was still here, and they were long gone.
"Every year about this time, you're a little off. Not really yourself. It's understandable."
Except this was herself. She was always a little off. Beneath the managerial efficiency and enthusiasm, she was uncertain and unsure. She might be able to run an inn and wrangle her family, but when it came to handling a personal life, she hadn't a clue.
"I was so little when they died." When she'd loved and lost them. "I don't know why this time of year still messes with me. It's stupid."
He tightened his arm around her, tucking her close. A comforting hold that soothed her ragged nerves. "No, it is not. They were your parents."
She pressed in close, refusing to cry. The anniversary of their death was coming up on twenty-two years. What the hell was wrong with her that this time of year still made her nuts?
Wright's warmth and closeness were both things she desperately needed but would never ask for.
With him, she didn't feel alone.
Theirs wasn't the kind of togetherness she had with her brothers. Never had been. There were times she'd dreamt of them being more than friends. When she was a teenager, again in college, then most recently before he started dating Kate.
Then reality would kick in.
They could never be more than friends. Her family would be shocked, and his family would have a conniption. Toss in that, to Wright, she was first and foremost the Bradley brat sister — romance was never going to happen.
Her consolation was Wright chose to be her friend; he didn't have to be. He chose to be with her late at night, fixing the world's problems, and she chose him. It was nice to know that somebody, somewhere liked her for her, and they could be together without fear of everything falling apart.
Excerpted from A Taste of Temptation by Heather McGovern. Copyright © 2017 Heather McGovern. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.