When Honor Mitchell accidentally nearly has a one-night stand with the one man who’s completely off-limits, she puts it out of her mind. No harm no foul, right? She has a promise to keep—fulfilling her late best friend’s naughty wish list. The only problem is she can’t stop thinking about Bryce Bishop and his scorching-hot kiss.
Bryce knows he should stay away from the beautiful, free-spirited Honor. His trust in women is shot, not to mention she’s his ex’s best friend. But something about her makes him want to help her with crossing things off the wish list, even if it puts him in a no-win situation. Because his assistance might get Honor what she wants, but suddenly being the do-good guy puts his plans—and heart—in serious jeopardy.
Each book in the Kissed in the Sand series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Keeping Mr. Right Now
Book #2 Blame it on the Kiss
Book #3 The Best Friend Bargain
Previously released on Entangled's Bliss imprint -- June 2015
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Blame it on the Kiss
A Kisses in the Sand Novel
By Robin Bielman, Wendy Chen
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Robin Bielman
All rights reserved.
A girl knew her love life had hit a low point when adolescent kissing games got her hot and bothered.
Honor Mitchell leaned against the wall in the dark hallway closet and wondered which lucky guy would pick her location, and if his mouth-to-mouth skills would satisfy this sudden jolt of eagerness. This wasn't exactly the way she'd envisioned breaking her dry spell, but since her entire focus the past few months had been on fulfilling her best friend's wish and opening their new store; she hadn't had much time for anything else.
She took a deep breath and ran her tongue over her bottom lip. A little innocent fun was just what the Stress Fairy ordered. The last time she'd wanted to kiss a guy ... she blinked away that memory and thanked her lucky stars he hadn't arrived at Zane and Sophie's combined bachelor/bachelorette party yet.
She'd been mentally preparing herself to see him for the past week, but needed a little more time. Another thirty years would be good, but she probably had more like thirty minutes.
Come on already. Where was her "One Minute Temptation" stud? With an equal number of single guys and girls someone had to show up to her spot. She thrummed her fingers against the sides of her jean-clad thighs. Under no circumstance would she leave the closet. Not until she fulfilled her end of the game. As one of three bridesmaids, she had an obligation to follow through on all tasks, requests, and activities.
Sophie's future sister-in-law had planned the games for tonight, and Honor found it cute that she'd included ones Sophie hadn't played as a teenager. Of course Sophie and Zane had slid into the same dark room and who knew when they'd pop back out, but that only made this party game that much better for her dear friend. Sophie had the guy of her dreams and in three days she'd be his wife.
Honor closed her eyes. Wife. Something she'd never be. She'd been super excited when Sophie asked her to be a bridesmaid, though, forgetting that meant being in close proximity to Zane's best friends and groomsmen for the long weekend celebration.
One hurt-to-look-at groomsman in particular.
A few weeks ago, during a girls' night in, Honor had confessed to Sophie how she knew Bryce. Lord, her cheeks still heated just thinking about that night eight months ago. Payton, Honor's best friend since kindergarten, had passed away two months earlier and Honor had needed a distraction. She still missed Payton so much, and not a day went by that Honor didn't say a little something to her BFF.
"I'm standing in a closet, Pay, waiting for a kiss and wishing so hard you were still here."
She had a feeling she'd be celebrating Pay's bachelorette party right about now if Payton hadn't suffered from a rare lung disease that took her friend with little warning. Instead, her best friend had given Honor a list. Not a bucket list, but a Things to Do Before I Turn 25 list. And just before she died, she asked Honor for one thing: make her wishes happen.
Honor had never followed through with anything in her own life. Ever. But the request was Payton's last wish and Honor had promised her. Twice, since Payton had made her repeat her oath. The first thing on Pay's list? A one night stand.
Enter Bryce Bishop.
One of Zane's best men and the most delicious specimen of a man she'd ever laid eyes on. And Honor had laid eyes on lots of guys. But being the fun, flirty girl with a short attention span, she never let a guy stick around for very long. Her friends called her a serial dater. Not the Fruity Pebbles kind.
Bryce also happened to be Payton's secret boyfriend.
Payton had been crazy about him, tossing out the L word after only two weeks. Because of the gossip mill in their small town and Pay's previous crappy track record with guys, she'd kept Bryce to herself, the two of them spending all their time together in a bubble of happiness at his place about an hour away. A few days before Honor was supposed to meet the love of her best friend's life, Payton got her diagnosis. Pay broke up with Bryce and ended all communication.
Closing her eyes again, Honor thought back to her first ever one nightstand and how she'd thankfully figured out who he was before —
The closet door opened and shut so fast she didn't have time to catch a glimpse of her gentleman caller. All the guys were nice, though, so she could handle a minute of closed mouth kissing with any of them.
He didn't say anything, but he smelled amazing. A little spicy, a little minty, and ... her pulse sped up ... a lot familiar. She'd thought about his scent more times than she cared to admit since that night at her dad's law firm's party.
"Bryce?" she whispered, grabbing a coat and pulling it in front of her, like that would somehow turn off her senses. Why hadn't she chosen a bathroom or bedroom to wait in instead of a closet with little room to move? Or make an escape?
"Honor?" His deep, amiable voice sounded just as surprised.
"When did you get here?"
"Just now. Sophie greeted me and pushed me in here. What's going on?"
That sneaky little bride-to-be. Honor never should've confessed her situation with Bryce. But after drinking one too many coffees with help from Baileys, her lips had let loose. She hated herself for having even the slightest inappropriate thought about Bryce. He'd been Payton's. Should still be. And she'd made out with him! Honor couldn't look at him without thinking about her best friend and how happy and in love she'd been with him.
"We're in the middle of a game." Honor let go of the jacket and tried to relax. Were the walls closing in? She fanned her sweater away from her stomach.
Honor's eyes adjusted to the darkness and she could just make out Bryce's broad shoulders and the outline of his head. She didn't need any light to picture his soft, tidy brown hair, dark cinnamon eyes, and the cleft in his chin that made her insides go all lovey-dovey. "Yes, you know, an activity or contest often played during a party?" Self defense and shame dictated the flippant remark rather than a simple yes.
Before he could follow up that far too appealing sound, she continued. "And since you missed out on the rules and stuff, we can just head back to the party."
"Tell me the rules, Honor." His tone rang curious. And far too rebellious for her liking.
She gulped. Ran her sweaty palms down her jeans. "I'd really rather skip it."
"Because of me?" He inched a little closer, his body heat and knock-a-girl-to-her-knees scent completely surrounding her now.
"Bryce." How could he not feel as guilty as she did about what had happened between them?
"I want to know. We're part of a wedding for the next three days and I don't want things to be awkward. You avoided me like I had some deadly disease during the film festival a few months ago, but you can't keep dodging me now. If this is about what happened —"
His hand found hers. He laced their fingers together and so much pleasure shot up her arm she had to hold back a sigh. "You don't need to be —"
"I said stop. Please." Humiliation filled her chest and the back of her throat all over again. She couldn't get past the moment when they'd finally exchanged names and she'd fled his hotel room with her dress haphazardly covering her body.
She tried to pull her hand away, but he wouldn't let go. "We need to clear the air. Walk through that night and ..." he let out a deep breath, "move past it. I've tried to leave it behind, but I'm having a hard time forgetting how good it felt to touch you. If we hadn't exchanged names ..."
Her breath caught somewhere between her lungs and her vocal chords, so it took her a minute to answer. He was right about them talking. She didn't want to feel weird about things during the wedding festivities. She didn't want to cause Sophie any concern or strain during this special time. If they discussed that night like two mature adults, she could walk out of this closet with their very brief past over and done with.
"You were supposed to be a one night stand."
He let go of her hand and shifted his stance. "Yeah? When did you decide that?" He sounded half relieved, half sheepish. Had he been after the same thing? Had he wanted to use her to forget about Payton?
"After you laughed at my lawyer joke. No, wait, after you told me you hated stuffy, everyone has stick-up-their-asses parties and you'd rather swim with sharks."
"Then you laughed," he said. "And it was the best sound I'd ever heard. I whispered I'd get a room at the hotel and asked you to sneak away with me."
Bryce liked her laugh? She sounded like a hyena on helium. They'd never talked about what they were both doing at the party, just formed an immediate kinship over feeling like they'd rather be any place else.
"And I said yes, because that's when I decided what I wanted to do." Everything about Bryce had made her insides dance and sing. He'd lit her up so much more than she'd ever been before. After only an hour together! That's when she knew she'd had to take the Pretty Woman approach. No kissing on the mouth. Lame movie move she'd never used before, but following Julia Roberts' lead had seemed like a good idea at the time.
"For the record, you would've been my first one night stand."
"Really?" she almost said. A hot guy like him never having a quick hook-up seemed improbable, but in case he wasn't feeding her a line she went with, "That's nice to know."
"Why do I get the feeling there's more to your story?"
His suspicion sent a wave of warmth through her. He'd been in tune with her that night, but she wanted him nowhere near her feelings now. She swallowed. How much should she tell him?
"My emotions were all over the place that night. And then I met you and I forgot for a little while, and ..."
"Then I remembered Payton's list and that's why I went to a room with you."
"Before she died she gave me a list of things she'd always wanted to accomplish and asked me to do them for her. I agreed without even looking at it. She'd been my very best friend for almost twenty years, and there was nothing I wouldn't do for her." Honor's heart gave that familiar hitch whenever she thought about Payton and how unfair it was that her life had been cut so short.
"A one night stand was on her list?"
Silence filled the small space. Not the good kind. Or the comfortable kind. The kind that screamed she'd said too much. She couldn't believe she'd told him. But if they were going to move past what happened between them, she had to be honest.
"Until that night I had no idea Payton had passed away. When you told me it was like being thrown against a wall of razor blades. She'd dumped me, by voicemail, with no explanation, and ignored my calls and texts ..."
"She didn't want to burden you."
"No. She didn't trust me to be there for her."
The darkness, combined with the hurt in Bryce's voice pressed down on Honor, making their cramped area feel ten times smaller.
"I'm sorry." Truthfully, Honor had no idea how Payton really felt. Her friend had refused to talk about Bryce after the break-up.
"You have no reason to be."
Several seconds passed before he said, "If we'd kept things anonymous, would you have gone through with it?"
She wanted to believe she would have. "I'm not sure. I'm not really wired for sex with a stranger." She flirted and had fun with guys all the time, but it rarely went beyond a hand on the arm or peck on the cheek. She'd dated plenty of guys over the years, sure, most of them jerks, a few of them decent, none of them like Bryce.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but by the time we went to my room I didn't feel like we were strangers. I don't confide to just any girl that I wore pull-ups until I was five."
"That's right." She couldn't help herself and let out a small giggle-sigh kind of sound, glad he'd broken some of the tension. They had gotten to know each other like it was the most natural thing in the world. Which made her wonder again ... "What about you? You didn't know what had happened to Payton, and claim you'd never had a one night stand before. Was I just a rebound?"
He didn't say anything, but she felt his eyes bore into hers.
"That's one way of putting it," he finally confessed.
"What's the other way?" His admission stung. It was bad enough they'd had their hands all over each other, but to find out he'd used her to get over Payton made her feel dirty as well as guilty.
"So what else is on Payton's list?" he asked instead of answering her.
The question, along with his unresponsiveness, raised the hairs on the back of her neck. "None of your business."
His posture changed, the air between them rippling with uncomfortable waves. "Should've guessed that. What's on yours?"
"I don't have a list." How could she when she never saw anything through to the end? She didn't need any more pressure than Payton's five wishes. A tiny part of her was pretty damn angry with her best friend for thrusting such a responsibility on her. Payton knew she didn't focus on anything for very long. A free spirit, everyone said.
Yeah, their whole small Southern California town of White Strand Cove knew all about Honor's lack of commitment.
Her high school boyfriend had made sure of it.
"We should head back to the party now." She pushed off from the wall and bumped right into his chest. When had he inched closer?
"Can't." His warm, peppermint breath fanned her face.
She took a step back — one measly step and her butt hit the wall. "When can you?"
"Are we good?"
"Yes, we're good." Sort of. She did feel better for having talked things out. She'd just ignore the way a simple look at him made her think things she absolutely should not. Could not.
"Then we're halfway there." He lifted his arms and flattened his hands on the wall on either side of her head, trapping her.
Her heart did a three-sixty. Slippery didn't begin to describe her palms. And he smelled so yummy that she wiggled her nose to stop from breathing him in. "What are you doing and what does halfway mean?"
"It means as soon as you tell me about the game we're supposed to play, we can leave the closet." His tone had taken an edge she hadn't heard from him before. Part bad boy, part bitter, like he'd detached himself from their past and their history with Payton.
"I think game time's over."
"I think the only game that comes to my mind that's played in a closet with a beautiful girl has got to do with kissing. Seven Minutes in Heaven or something like that. And since we are in the wedding party, it's our duty to follow through, right?"
He thought she was beautiful?
Tingles swept over her lips and down the backs of her arms.
"Am I right?"
She cleared her throat and told her body to ignore any more tingles, quivers, flutters, shivers, trembles, prickles, or shudders he might instigate. He belonged to her best friend, even if she wasn't here to claim him. "Yes, it's a kissing game. But the rules say one minute."
"So you planned to kiss the guy that found you in here?"
"On the mouth?" he asked, surprised.
"Yes. But no tongue."
The small space between them dissolved as he canted his head down to talk in her ear. "I think it's our obligation to play, Honor. It's just a game, so can I kiss you?"
YES! Her traitorous body shouted as his husky voice made her toes curl. Then, like he had some magic mojo, she put her arms around his neck. Her hands should not have been anywhere but at her sides, dammit. She reasoned the dark had something to do with it. Because she couldn't really see him, she could pretend he was Theo James and this was her sixty seconds of pretend boyfriend kissing.
Maybe it was his agreement. Maybe it was her earlier desire to break her dry spell, to not leave the closet until she'd gotten a kiss. Whatever it was, she found herself pushing aside her guilt and wanting to finish the game she'd agreed to play.
"Okay," she said.
God, did he have to be so careful with her? She touched her nose to his. "Yes."
"Plan on one minute in heaven, Honor." A split second later his lips were on hers.
Excerpted from Blame it on the Kiss by Robin Bielman, Wendy Chen. Copyright © 2015 Robin Bielman. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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