Tyler Bonnard was Katie Rosewood
Read an Excerpt
"Sir, I'll ask you again. Are you carrying any arms or weapons?"
Tyler Bonnard pulled his gaze away from the exit. He couldn't see past it anyway, and he needed to give the man in front of him his full attention, especially if he wanted to walk through that exit any time soon. "No, I am not."
"Do you have any banned or illegal substances?"
"None." Problem was, he couldn't concentrate knowing Steve and Katie waited for him just meters away.
"Would you mind if we checked your luggage, sir?"
"Not at all." The interrogation didn't bother him. The couple waiting outside did. He'd spent the last twenty-odd hours in transit sweating over them. The Sydney customs' officer must have picked up on this apprehension and misread it.
"Can you open your cases, please."
Tyler did as he was asked. The guard looked at him a moment too long, suspicion plastered all over his face.
"You won't find anything out of order," Tyler assured him.
The man nodded easily. "Maybe not, but you seem a little tense for someone who isn't hiding something."
"You'd be tense too," Tyler said without thinking, his eyes fixed once again on the exit, "if the woman you loved waited out there ... with her fiancé."
"Bugger, mate." The man gave him a sympathetic nod. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah." Tyler grimaced. "Me too."
The officer rifled through his clothes. "Bet you're wishing you never came back, eh?"
Wrong. "I'm wishing I never left in the first place."
He opened a toiletry bag and inspected the contents. "You know the bloke?"
Tyler rubbed a hand over his mouth. Jet lag and stress were getting the better of him. "He's my best friend."
He couldn't be sure, but he thought the officer swore under his breath. "Tough break," the man said aloud as he swept some kind of scanner around the edges of the case.
"Tell me about it." Maybe he shouldn't have come back. Maybe he should have just left well enough alone.
Nope. Not an option. He'd had to come back to see if there was any hope. Any hope at all.
The customs officer checked his scanner. "It's all good here. Nothing out of order."
With his luggage, maybe. As for the rest of his life ... that was up for debate. Tyler nodded grimly. "Thank you."
"Y'awright." He helped Tyler close the case and put the bags back on the luggage trolley. "Welcome home, mate. Good luck out there."
"I think I'll need it." Tyler gave him a half smile and headed towards the doors.
Just a sign, that's all he wanted. The tiniest hint that all was not well in paradise. If he found one, he'd know his decision to return home had not been in vain.
Anticipation thrummed through his stomach. Only a couple more minutes and he'd see them: Steve Sommers and Katelyn Rosewood, his closest friends, his buddies, his confidants. The other two in their circle of three. He couldn't wait. He felt like charging out there and shoving fellow travelers aside in his haste. It'd been two years since last he'd seen them. Suddenly he was desperate. They were here: Steve, his mate since childhood, and Katie, the only woman he'd ever loved.
It would be good to be with them again. Really good and really, well, really goddamn awful.
An eternity passed before he cleared the exit and entered the massive bowels of the arrival hall. Methodically, he checked the throngs of people, searching the faces.
And there he was.
Steve's blond hair towered above the masses, a huge grin split his face and his arms waved madly in the air. Tyler couldn't suppress his answering smile. No matter what his reasons for returning, there was Steve. Sure, he'd made new friends in London, but none of them could take Steve's place. A best mate was irreplaceable.
And then his heart smashed into his ribs, and he stumbled. Katie.
She was more beautiful than he remembered, which should have been impossible, since he remembered an angel. Time stood still. Background noises faded to insignificance.
The last time he'd seen her, her midnight black hair had bounced around her shoulders, curly and out of control. Now it hung in a straight sheet down her back, the silky strands catching in the rays of sunlight filtering through the airport windows.
This was going to be harder than he'd ever imagined. Already he recalled the lustrous curtain of hair sweeping over his belly, tickling his thighs as she reached for him with her lips ...
The urge to sprint to them dissolved. His feet became leaden weights, dragging him down like anchors. Each step was a struggle. Like old times, it was his buddy who came to his rescue. Steve pushed through the crowds, efficiently sidestepping luggage and travelers to envelop Tyler in a welcoming hug.
"Welcome back." His embrace was strong and uninhibited. "We've missed you."
"So good to see you," Tyler enthused, hugging him back. It was good. It was frigging unbelievable.
"I'm glad you're home," Steve said.
"It's good to be home." Ty grinned. Their friendship was timeless. Steve knew everything about him. Everything, that was, except two small issues.
Issues that had the potential to blow their tight bond all the way to hell.
Katie took a little longer to reach him. It was all he could do to hold himself back. He craved her touch, yet was unprepared when Steve pulled away, and he finally turned to her and faced his fantasies.
She was all woman and more devastating in the flesh than she was in his mind.
"Hello, Ty." Her voice washed over him, like hot sun heating cold skin.
Instinctively, he looked her up and down, taking in the curves of her body and the length of her endless legs. "You look well." Understatement of the century.
"So do you." Her gaze darted to Steve and then back to him.
Their eyes caught. Hers were a perfect mix of green and brown, and they held him spellbound. The air between them hummed with the echo of words spoken long ago.
The memories were hidden in the subtlety of her actions. In the understated way her eyes narrowed and then widened. In the almost imperceptible nod she gave seconds before she spoke.
"So you going to give an old friend a hug or what?" Her voice was casual, her face amused, but her eyes contradicted her cool composure. They held an intensity that whipped the air from his lungs.
He struggled to focus on her words. Old friend? She wasn't that. Not since their first kiss, two years and one month ago. Not since they'd become lovers, ten minutes after that first kiss. She was the only woman he'd ever loved. The only woman he'd have sacrificed his happiness for.
She was also his oldest friend's future wife.
Katie's lips parted in a smile.
No matter the swirl of emotion churning through his gut, he couldn't keep his hands off her. He grabbed her by the waist and lifted her off the ground, leaving her with no choice but to wrap her arms around his shoulders and hold him.
Memories of how well their bodies fit together careened back: Katie locked in his embrace, both of them lost in the tangle of soft sheets. It was a time fate itself could not have prevented.
"Tyler," she murmured against his neck.
Fuck. He'd heard that voice before. Heard the passion infused with the restraint.
"Tyler," she murmured, as she gazed at him with smoldering eyes. She lifted her face to his, and their lips met in a kiss so hot he moved into instant meltdown.
"Hey, Katie." He didn't mean to whisper, but the blood in his body drained to his groin, making speech damn near impossible. "It's been a while."
Soft breasts squashed against his chest. The heat from her skin seeped through his shirt, messing with his head.
"Two years." She held her shoulders stiff and her neck straight. Tension hummed through her muscles, straining against his arms.
"Not long enough to forget," he said hoarsely, his voice audible only to her.
Knowing Steve's gaze followed his actions, he planted a chaste, friendly kiss on her cheek and set her feet firmly back on the ground. "Now take me home and feed me, people," he said, eyeing the alarm in Katie's expression. "I'm starving."
The sausages sizzled in the pan, and Katie gave the eggs one last scramble. There. Breakfast was almost ready. She rinsed the strawberries and sliced off their leaves, using as blunt a knife as possible to complete the task. Her nerves were frazzled. One jumpy shudder while holding a sharp blade might just see her chopping off a finger. Not a wise move for a doctor.
Voices drifted in from the dining room. Excited, male voices, punctuated by bursts of amusement. Their laughter filled the house and reverberated off the kitchen walls. Her kitchen walls, in her beautiful home. The home she'd dreamed about owning almost her whole life. So why, now that Tyler was back, did the building that had always represented such security to her suddenly not feel safe?
The laughter grew louder as they barreled into the kitchen. Steve headed for the fridge as Tyler headed for her. They'd always been close like this. It took one hello, and they bounded straight back into the old camaraderie that defined their relationship. Each thought the other was the greatest man alive.
Katie agreed with them both.
"Katie, my sweet." Tyler slung an arm around her shoulders. "Steve over here insists he won the tennis match we played the month before I left. You and I both know he didn't win a game, never mind the match. Could you please set the record straight?"
His arm sat like a branding iron around her neck. A few years back she'd have welcomed its heat, gloried in it. Now it felt awkward, sinful. Fire shot through her, singeing her skin, as flesh touched flesh.
"Tennis match?" She shouldn't be responding to him this way. Not after all this time, and not when she was engaged.
"Yeah, the one we played at the resort in Noosa. Remember?"
Her stomach lurched beneath her ribs. How could she forget? A month before Tyler left, the three of them had taken a week off work and gone away together. A farewell holiday, so to speak. A time that marked the end of her friendship with Tyler, and the beginning of a whole new relationship.
"You talking about that farce of a game you played on the court next to the two hot women in bikinis?" She coerced amusement into her tone. That match had been the turning point, and he knew it. Why bring it up now?
She'd umpired the game. Watched every ball, every rally between the two men. Watched every step Tyler had taken, every forehand and backhand he'd belted across the net. A hunger had built within, beginning as a craving for a taste of him and culminating in a burning need to make love to the man. A fierce hunger that refused to settle.
"There were half-naked women playing tennis?" Steve shut the fridge with a smile and gestured at Tyler with a carton of orange juice. "All I remember was nailing his ass to the floor with my killer serve."
"Yeah, right," Tyler scoffed. "The only thing you nailed that day was the babe in the black bikini."
"Please, mate. You should have given your game the same amount of attention as you gave the bikini. Maybe that way you would at least have scored a point."
Tyler grinned, and his arm tightened around her shoulders. "Oh I scored that day. Just ask your fiancée."
Her jaw dropped.
"And plenty of satisfaction I got from it too," Tyler added.
A startled gasp escaped from Katie. He was joking about their sex games in front of her fiancé?
Tyler pressed his hip against her waist, sending surges of goose bumps scuttling up her side. "Didn't I, sweetness?"
With a single thrust of his hips, he buried himself inside her. Her inner walls contracted at the sheer pleasure of the tight fit, and then relaxed to take him deeper.
He growled. "If I didn't feel this insane pressure to pull out and drive into you again, I'd say this was the most satisfying experience of my life."
She gaped at him.
"Now don't look at me like that," he chastised. "You know full well I beat him fair and square. You even laughed out loud when I did my victory dance."
Laughed out loud? No, she'd groaned in mock horror as he'd strutted his stuff around the court. In true sports-hero style, he'd ripped off his shirt, fallen to his knees, held his hands up in triumph and howled as he leaned back until his head touched the ground.
Her groan had quickly changed to one of stifled desire as his chest glistened in the sunlight, his six-pack displayed in sheer male arrogance. It was all she could do not to jump him then and there.
She'd waited a couple of hours until Steve had gone to sleep.
Wait a minute ...
Katie turned to stare at her fiancé. "You nailed the babe in the black bikini?"
He shrugged. "I had to celebrate my win."
"So you slept with her?"
"Jealous, babe?" Steve flashed an innocent smile.
She chuckled. They'd been engaged for two months now. "About something that happened two years ago? Hardly. But all this time I thought you'd gone to bed early." At the time, she'd been grateful he'd turned in early. It had given her the privacy she'd craved with Tyler.
The look he shot her was devilish. "I did go to bed early. Just not to sleep."
Of course he hadn't gone to sleep. The woman in the bikini had simply been another in Steve's long line of conquests. Another attempt at celebrating the newfound freedom he'd never wanted but had been forced to accept.
A lot had changed in two years. A hell of a lot. Perhaps, now, with her, Steve was more at peace, more accepting of Penelope's decision to leave. She thought he was. He certainly seemed happier and more content.
Tyler's laughter rumbled through her. "You still haven't cleared it up, Katie. Tell the man who won."
"Obviously Steve, since he ended up with the black bikini." There. Let him chew on that for a minute.
"Yeah, but I landed up with first prize," Tyler answered.
Good God, was nothing sacred?
She lay with her head resting on his chest. His hand trailed over her back in delicious, feathery-light touches.
"Ty." She stretched languidly. "That was ... that was incredible."
"Katie, my sweet," he breathed. "I feel like I've run a marathon and won first prize."
"You won the match," she pointed out, refusing to let her squeal of indignation out. "There was no first prize."
"Sure there was," Ty cajoled, then lowered his voice a notch. "And a second and third prize."
She ran her fingers up his thigh. "If you play your cards right, you get to have the second and third prize too."
This time her cheeks flamed. He hadn't been home an hour, and already he'd zoned straight in on their past. A past Steve had never been privy to because Tyler had asked her to keep it secret. What the hell was he up to?
"Beer, Katie," Ty supplied with a smug look. "You treated the winner, loser and yourself to a beer."
So she had. Still, Tyler was playing some kind of game with all this witty banter. Would Steve see it as the innocent laughter of two friends reconnecting after time apart, or would her blazing cheeks and shaky hands belie her efforts to remain calm? Tyler's effortless teasing forced her to confront issues she believed she'd laid to rest — and she didn't like it one bit.
His arm was still around her, cocooning her in their shared knowledge. Her legs almost bowed beneath the load. The memory of their secret liaison weighed heavy on her shoulders. Their few weeks of passion. Her belly tumbled at the recalled ardor and the fire he'd lit within her. Not before, and not since, had she experienced the physical satisfaction she'd found with Ty.
Not even with Steve.
Never mind fantasies of times gone by. Whatever had transpired was over. History. She was with Steve now. She'd built a good, new life for herself. It didn't matter that Tyler was back. It only mattered that he'd left. She wouldn't let a couple of flippant comments drag her back into her past — no matter how determined Ty seemed to be to take her there.
He could barely believe he was in Sydney, in Katie's little semidetached. For almost two years he'd tried to refuse himself the luxury of thinking about her. Now he sat at her table with Steve, eating breakfast, just like old times.
Except nothing was the same.
He stared down at his plate, at the overdone eggs shriveled on the side. Well, almost nothing was the same. Evidently, Katie still couldn't cook. He took a hearty mouthful of egg.
Excerpted from "Tyler"
Copyright © 2017 Jess Dee.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.