Kingston Ale House~ Review

He’ll do anything to be her Mr. Right…🍻💚WORTH THE WAIT💚🍻 by AJ Pine-Author is #LIVE! Grab your copy now!

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WORTH THE WAIT

by AJ Pine
Kingston Ale House #4
Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Contemporary Romance

Buy Links for Worth the Wait (Kingston Ale House, #4)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2j7F4Gz
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Synopsis: I like to think of myself as a man of pleasure…I enjoy a good pint of ale, being in the arms of a beautiful woman, and living by my own rules. The only thing I try to avoid? Commitment. And I’ve got a three-year success rate to prove it.

I wasn’t planning on Grace—the beautiful, funny, totally off-limits massage therapist who keeps popping up in my life. She’s on a six-month mission to rid her life of toxins. No alcohol. No red meat. And, yeah, no men. I’m talking full-on man cleanse.

I know I should walk away, but I can’t…and the only way to keep her in my life is to live by her rules. I’ll need to prove to a woman who’s lost all trust in men that I’m worthy of her love. And do it all without so much as a single kiss.

The only problem? If I win, I’ll lose the one thing I swore I’d never give up. My heart.

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Excerpt ~

“I want it to be you, too,” she blurted, and he could hear the tremble in her voice. Because here they were, six days into their friendship, admitting it might not be enough, that there might be something more brewing beneath the surface.

She chewed her bottom lip, and then her expression broke into the biggest, most beautiful smile he’d ever seen, and Jeremy knew he was in deeper than he’d ever meant to go. Yet he had no intention of swimming back to the surface.

“I’d give my right hand to kiss you right now,” he said. He watched her neck as she swallowed and knew he was pushing the envelope, but he couldn’t help it. She wanted him, too.

“Are you right-handed?” she asked, her eyes sparkling now with a mischief he’d never seen before.

He nodded.

“Then don’t do that. Makes it harder to imagine what that hand could do to me in three months.”

Holy shit. He was hard as a rock in a millisecond. What was she doing?

“Do you have any obligation past your ten o’clock deadline?” he asked, wanting to whisk her from this place and then…what?

She shook her head. “Not really. I just have to post about my experience on the Facebook page—per the contract— then I’m free. What did you have in mind?”

Christ. He had a lot of things in mind, but he couldn’t do any of them.

“How about this?” she continued. “You go home and get comfortable. I’ll go home and do this little post thing. Then I’ll call you, and we’ll see if we can’t do something…together.”

Fuck. She was serious. He swallowed hard.

“Can you elaborate on that, please? Because if I let my imagination run with this and I’m misinterpreting you, there’s a certain vital organ of mine that will be really disappointed.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Your heart?”

He fought the urge to adjust himself right there in the chair.

“You’re not going to make this easy, are you?” he asked.

She shook her head slowly, leaning toward him over the table. “Why would I do that when it’s so fun to watch you squirm?”

And squirm in his fucking chair he did. “Do it now,” he insisted.

“What?”

“Do the post now. Then get in a cab and go home. Better yet, do the damn post in the cab. I’ll walk so it takes me a little longer to get to my place. Then call me the second you walk in the door. I mean, as soon as that door closes behind you, have my number up and ready, and then hit send.”

I can touch myself all I want.

He let her words play on repeat inside his head, not caring that his dick throbbed, that he ached like he’d never ached before. Because he was going to talk her into the biggest fucking orgasm she’d ever had. Even if it brought him to his knees.

And he knew it would.

They walked to the door together, wordlessly. He whisked Grace out the door and put
her in a cab.

“Talk soon,” she said, before he closed the door.

All he could do was nod.

Her voice and her words remained on loop as he made his way back to his apartment, though this time his limp had nothing to do with his leg.

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REVIEW~

WORTH THE WAIT (Kingston Ale House #4)

•Oh Boy It’s Worth It!
Although this is the 4th book of the series, it’s the 2nd book that I’ve read (so far), and although they have been the two newest I don’t feel as though I’m lost. Each of these stories are standalone novels that one way or another are connected to the Kingston Ale House. This one is another great story from A.J. Pine. The way she weaves the love story between these two charactrrs”ers is awesome. The secondary characters that show up and try to reek havoc is spectacularly added.
Jeremy wants to be a partner in the Kingston Ale House with Jamie who also happens to be getting married. However Jeremy has been afraid of commitment for the last three years. So before he’ll consider Jeremy for partnership, Jamie sent him to a brewing conference to learn more about the process. While at the conference he gets a massage, there’s something about the therapist that he’s drawn to… And she won’t even kiss him because she’s in the middle of a six month full-on man cleanse. Plus he’ll never see her again after he had back home.
Grace is a massage therapist who lives in Chicago, has a second job that she travels to on weekends as one of the hotels massage therapists in Wisconsin. Because of her ex she has to not only have this second job, but she has had to put her dreams of opening her own massage therapy store front on hold. He’s also the reason she’s trying Man Cleanse: Six Months to a Healthy, Happy You…and the Road to True Love by Suzanne Summerville(*direct book quote). Which means clean foods and clean drinks for six months, oh and no sex. She’s had clients she’s thought were attractiveness before, but Jeremy for some reason throws her off kilter, thankfully she won’t be seeing him again.
After getting back home in Chicago they both get back to work, where once again they meet again. They still feel something pulling them together but she had 3 months left on her journey. To tear how the journey progress and what happens adding the way you need to read WORTH THE WAIT… And of boy is it definitely worth it!! I voluntarily reviewed an ARC copy of this book via IndieSage through NetGalley in exchange for an honest blog tour review. Due to sexual content this novel is recommended for readers 18 and older!
Favorite Passages~
~ There seemed to be a correlation between what went on in his head and what took place in his pants. Best to leave the thinking to a minimum for the rest of the afternoon.
~ The whole point was that love wasn’t a game.

🍻 💚 🍻 💚 🍻 💚

DON’T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE KINGSTON ALE HOUSE SERIES!

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Buy Links for Three Simple Words (Kingston Ale House, #3)

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2e7j1j9
Paperback: http://amzn.to/2dF92xZ
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2e7fW2t
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eaI1Do
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2dWPc71
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Kobo: http://bit.ly/2esJgSy
iBooks: http://apple.co/2e4a4WG

Synopsis: She’s holding out for a happy ever after.

Annie
I know where to find my happily ever after—between the pages of a romance novel. It’s why I sell books, why I blog about them, and why I’ll never get disappointed by love.So what if my brother’s best friend from high school is now a bestselling author? Or that he just blew back into town on a Harley, filling out a pair of jeans like he never did before? Or that he’s agreed to do a signing at my bookstore on such short notice? Because despite all his adoring female fans, I kind of hated his book.

Wes
The last time I saw Annie Denning, she was a senior in high school, three years older than me and way out of my league.
Now I’m her last-minute date to a wedding, and what started as a night of pure fun has turned into something more real than either of us anticipated.Annie is my muse. When I’m with her, my writer’s block fades away, and the words finally flow.The only problem? She wants the fairy tale—her very own happily ever after—and anyone who’s read my book knows the truth. I just don’t believe they exist.

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Excerpt ~

She took a step closer, and he inhaled the warm scent of vanilla and, maybe, a hint of cinnamon? He’d been too caught up in the moment to notice before. But now he began to feel drunk, wondering if one glass of wine could knock him on his ass. But he knew it couldn’t have. It was this woman.

He swallowed hard, his throat suddenly dry.

“Jesus you smell good, Annie.”

She leaned closer. Because apparently she was trying to kill him.

“What would the line be—if you wrote it in your book? How would you describe my scent?”

Uh, he could describe the agony of the erection straining against his pants, but somehow he thought she wouldn’t appreciate that.

Christ. Words. She wanted words, now? After he told her he was blocked? But he had to prove his plan would work, that they could use this evening—and each other—to their advantage and neither of them be worse for the wear.

Fine. Words. The girl wanted words, so he would deliver. “He grew drunk,” Wes said. “Drunk on the nearness of her, on the warm, sweet scent of home. Because that’s what she was to him. She was home. And until he kissed her, he hadn’t known what that meant. Home wasn’t a place. It was
a state of mind. It was her, the intoxicating scent of her skin, and his lips pressed against it.”

He hadn’t realized until he spoke the last of it that his eyes were closed. Maybe hers were, too, because she wasn’t saying anything. All he heard was her sharp, shallow breaths. All he felt was his forehead pressed to hers.

How the hell did they get here?

“I think your writer’s block might be cured,” she whispered. “That was way more romantic than an ice
sculpture.”

Wes laughed softly. “I don’t write romance,” he said.

“Whatever,” she countered, but she was still smiling.

“How about your ex situation? That cured yet, or do we want to give them more of a show?”

She cleared her throat. “I think the jury’s still out.”

Okay. They were on the same page—so to speak. He wanted this night, whatever ended up happening, and Annie seemed on the verge of jumping off this cliff with him.

He straightened and took a step back so his eyes could find hers. She chewed her bottom lip.

“One night, Annie. Whatever you want out of this evening, I’m your guy. And when we go home tonight—”

“Tomorrow,” she said, and Wes’s brows drew together. “When we go home—tomorrow…”
REVIEW~
THREE SIMPLE WORDS (Kingston Ale House #3)
•Unexpected
What an exciting story about author Wes Hartley and Two Stories book store owner Annie Denning.
After his 1st book Down This Road hits the NY Best Sellers list Wes decides to leave NY and come home to Chicago, in hopes of breaking through his writers block. With the a wedge between him and his father, he calls his best friend Jeremy to see if he knows of a place he can crash. Jeremy does one better and not only offers him a room at his place, but offers him a part time position at the bar he works at, in exchange he asks Wes to do a book signing at his sisters book store that is having financial troubles. In high school Wes had a crush on Annie, so he’s not only happy to help, but needs to hide how excited he is about it. One draw back…..
Annie hates his book and says it’s a —no happily ever after—not-a-romance, who’s *character Ethan, has women swooning for him right and left, almost all of them saying they love him—and he never returns the sentiment (*direct book quote). *Other than some pretty sensational sex scenes Ethan, the not-a-romance hero, is the most shallow, vapid, self-serving fictional human I’ve ever read. He takes and takes and takes but claims he cannot give. (*Direct book quote).
Can Wes change Annie’s mind about his book? Can Wes get over his high school crush, or has it turned into more? You’ll have to read THREE SIMPLE WORDS to find out, but I absolutely completely enjoyed this story. I wanted to share more favorite quotes, but they’d given away too much information. So here’s just a few that won’t spoil the story! Now I want to read SIX MONTH RULE & THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC copy of this book via IndieSage through NetGalley in exchange for an honest blog tour review. Due to sexual content this novel is recommended for readers 18 and older!
FAVORITE PASSAGES ~~
– “Drunk on the nearness of her, on the warm, sweet scent of home.
– “Am I gonna be as much trouble for you as you are for me?”
– Why did it matter so much whether or not he believed that love could conquer all?
📖 📚 📖 📚 📖 📚 📖

Buy Links Six Month Rule (Kingston Ale House, #2)

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Amazon:http://amzn.to/2asrIAl
Paperback: http://amzn.to/2af6xFo
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/29TZDTY
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/29SxC1Y
B&N:http://bit.ly/29NdJoL
Kobo:http://bit.ly/2af6WHO
iBooks:http://apple.co/2a9sztH
Synopsis: She created the game, but the rules are about to change.

The second I met Will Evans in his three-piece suit with that hot as hell British accent, I wanted him.

That is…until he insulted my shoes and stole my corner office.

Now I have to work side-by-side with the surly British arsehole who just set my career back six months.

It’s fine. That accent won’t get to me, no matter how sexy it sounds when he asks permission to do things professionals shouldn’t do. On the couch. In the corner office I still wish was mine.

Maybe we can’t keep our hands off each other, but I’m sure as hell not falling for a guy who lives an ocean away. Because in six months, he’s leaving for good.

I don’t do broken hearts, but you know what they say…

There’s a first time for everything.

Each book in the Kingston Ale House series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.

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Excerpt ~

Holly’s eyes trailed from the soft, black leather of the loafer to the cuff of the slate-colored pants expertly cut to fit these legs and these legs only. Then there was the jacket and vest, same color, each buttoned snug over a lean, taut torso. Holly thanked the stars, every last constellation, for perfectly tailored suits. And vests. What was it about a man in a vest?

“Thank you.”

Holly’s head shot up to see the words directed at an older woman whose finger depressed the door-open button. The voice was deep and buttercream smooth. And was
that…an English accent?

Her ovaries might have just gone supernova, but she could hold it together for one more floor. Holly Chandler wasn’t a girl to lose it in an elevator, no matter how much those two words, spoken in that voice, with that accent, melted her insides.

This drought was going to kill her. Maybe another go with Charlie wasn’t the worst idea.

When the circle of white light lit up the number five, Holly let out a long breath. The doors opened, and she exited with all the other folk who were on their way to a caffeine
boost. As she did, she caught Mr. Ferragamo checking out her four-inch peep-toe booties, and a surge of confidence jolted her back to the Holly she knew she was.

“Like what you see?” she asked, stopping to glance down the length of her own legs to where his eyes still rested. This brought his head up with a snap, and a dark wave tumbled
onto his forehead before he finger-combed it back into place.

He cleared his throat. “You pull off last season’s design well enough, but I’d have gone for the red,” he said, and those words, despite the velvet ribbon they were tied up in, pieced her insides right back together.

Holly smoothed out a nonexistent wrinkle from her dress as she brushed past him, ovaries once again intact.

“Ass,” she muttered under her breath, and then let the promise of a hazelnut double pump patch up the tiny puncture in her bubble. Of course she could pull off last season’s design. She could rock the hell out of last season’s freaking design, because all she could afford right now were the free samples. But in less than an hour that would all change. The first thing she would buy with her new salary would be next season’s Jimmy Choos. But they sure as hell would not be red.

👔 👗 👔 👗 👔 👗

Buy Links The One That Got Away (Kingston Ale House, #1)

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Amazon: http://amzn.to/29Z6agE
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Synopsis: How far will one man go for the woman he’s loved since high school?

Jamie Kingston has been Brynn Chandler’s best friend since middle school. Only once was their friendship tested—when Brynn gave Jamie a single kiss. Since then, they’ve had an unspoken agreement never to cross that line again, and she’s ready to let go of the past and move on.

But Jamie has loved Brynn for as long as he can remember, and now that he’s ready to tell her, she has her sights set on someone else. Knowing this is his last chance, he asks Brynn to go on a two-week road trip. But their time alone brings old hurts to the surface, and Brynn has to decide if the one that got away lies at the end of the journey or if he’s been by her side all along.

Excerpt ~

Prologue
Senior Year
(Ten years ago)
A turtleneck would hide it. It didn’t matter that it was Memorial Day weekend and the warmest day of the year so far. Brynn was going to the party. Sure it hurt to swallow, and maybe she was running a fever, but this was it. Her last chance. All year she’d promised herself she would kiss Spencer Matthews before she graduated, and graduation for the class of 2005 was in one week. Time was running out. This was it, their last hurrah before he left for school in California. There was no way she was going to miss it.
“Oh…my God. What’s wrong with your neck? Ew, Brynn. What are those bumps?”
Leave it to her sister, Holly, to notice…and with a flair of drama only Holly was capable of. She stood in Brynn’s bedroom doorway but already looked poised to make a run for it.
“Nothing’s wrong,” Brynn insisted, but even her voice was a dead giveaway. She could barely get that second word out. It sounded more like a gurgle than a word. It didn’t matter. She would power through. Spencer was going to be at the party, and he expected her to be there, too. It would have been enough if he’d just stopped by her locker to say hi, but she played his words over and over again now.
“You’re going to be at Becket’s tomorrow night, right? Promise me I’ll see you there.” It was a simple request, and Brynn was determined to comply.
Jason Becket was her class’s notorious party thrower, and tonight’s festivities were guaranteed to be epic. So, of course, she promised Spencer she was going. He was single for the first time this year, and so was she. Still. The stars had finally aligned, and nothing was going to stop her from turning fantasy into reality. Mind over matter, right? If she didn’t admit she was sick, she wouldn’t be sick.
“And your voice!” Holly continued. “You sound like the worst Kermit the Frog impersonator I’ve ever heard.”
Holly was two years younger and a typical drama student. She performed whether she was on stage or not. Tonight was no exception. And anyway, who was she to say Brynn’s voice was the worst Kermit she’d ever heard? Cut a sick girl some slack. If she was going to sound like a frog, she was going to sound like a good frog.
But she wasn’t sick. So it didn’t matter. She needed to focus, keep her eye on the prize.
“Do you know what’s supposed to happen tonight?” she asked her sister, and Holly recoiled. Did she sound contagious? It was possible her ears were clogged. Hell, everything was clogged, and everything hurt. But this was her night, and she was not contagious because she was a healthy, seventeen-year-old girl who just couldn’t swallow without the threat of tears.
Holly took a step back toward her own room. “Ugh, Brynn. It’s so cliché to like a guy like Spencer Matthews. He’s, like, too perfect. Any girl would get an inferiority complex around someone like that. Better yet, I bet he’s so good his girlfriends don’t even get mad. They get bored. I think the best guy is the one who pisses you off every now and then. Like…like Patrick and Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You!”
Life was not some romantic comedy. Holly was full of shit. Of course Spencer was perfect. That’s why she’d crushed on him the whole year, biding her time until he was single and would maybe, hopefully, look at her the way she looked at him. Today she was sure he did—or would once they found a moment alone tonight. If being a hot, smart, football-playing-marching-band drummer was a crime, Brynn wanted to be his willing accomplice. Seriously, a guy who started pregame on the field with the band—in his formfitting football uniform—and spent the rest of the game as running back…how hot was that?
Brynn attempted a groan, which really freaking hurt, but she wouldn’t give whatever plague she was carrying the satisfaction. If anything, a twenty-four-hour bug had taken up residence in her throat, which meant she was at least a quarter of the way through it at this point. She was probably already on the mend.
“Have you ever felt fireworks?” she asked.
Holly answered her sister with a roll of her eyes and slid down the wall until she sat on the floor in the hallway, still keeping clear of Brynn’s room.
“Okay,” Holly said, waving her on. “I’m comfortable. And this feels like a safe distance from patient zero.”
Brynn wanted to groan, but she thought better of what that would feel like on her throat and instead plopped down on the foot of her bed, sweat beading at her hairline.
“Fireworks,” Brynn said again. “Falling in love—knowing you’re in love because when you kiss the guy who’s the right guy…” She closed her eyes and smiled dreamily, despite how miserable she felt.
Holly took the liberty of finishing her sentence. “Fireworks?”
Brynn nodded, then opened her eyes. “That and ‘I’m a Believer’ will start playing in my head.”
“Love doesn’t come with fireworks and soundtracks filled with songs by the Monkees, not that I’ll ever understand how Mom got you obsessed with a forty-plus-year-old boy band. I think you might be delirious with fever or something.” Holly laughed. “Hey, maybe that explains your taste in music, too!”
Brynn huffed. “Whatever. You’re only fifteen. You’ve never been in love.”
Before Holly could offer a rebuttal, the front door opened, and Brynn let out a tiny whimper of relief because if there was one thing Holly could call her on, it was Brynn never having been in love, either. God, if she could just make it to the party and kiss Spencer, she knew there’d be fireworks…plus Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones harmonizing in her head, no delirium necessary.
But with the sounds of footsteps bounding up the stairs, Brynn’s dream slipped further away. It was for sure Jamie because he never knocked. He was practically a resident in the Chandler house. Jamie would take one look at her in a turtleneck and yoga pants and put the kibosh on the whole operation.
Time to rally.
Brynn pulled her hair out of the bun sitting atop her head and finger-combed the curls. Then she swiped on some lip gloss and affixed her best smile—until she tried to swallow, and her eye betrayed her with a rogue tear.
Jamie appeared at the top of the stairs and stopped in the doorway, his too-straight, sandy hair slicked back like Leo DiCaprio in the Titanic ballroom scene. Brynn sighed. She loved Titanic. Why couldn’t Rose just move over on that piece of driftwood? There was definitely room for two.
Brynn blinked a couple of times. The fever must be rising, because she could swear Jamie looked super cute tonight, and she did not have thoughts like that about Jamie Kingston.
He ran a hand through the product in his hair, and a shock flopped down over his eyes before he pushed it back again. She did not find this adorable, either. Because that would be the weirdest, looking at her best friend like that. Besides—Spencer. Spencer was the issue at hand.
“Holy shit, B. What happened to you?”

Jamie wasn’t sure whether to take a step into the room or back down the stairs. He always thought Brynn was beautiful, but she looked bad. Like, really bad. Her eyes were bloodshot and her cheeks flushed. And her swollen neck? Whoa.
She stared at him through the thick lenses of her glasses perched mildly askew atop her nose. Her wild brown curls were matted to her face, dampened with sweat. But this was just at the hairline. The rest was a tangled sort of nest-like display, which could only mean she’d just taken it down from a bun. Jamie was the only one Brynn let see her immediately post-bun, and he took a certain pride in this—even if he was here to take her to a party where she planned to kiss another guy.
“Sleepy Jean, I say this with love, but you look like shit.”
She flopped back on her bed and groaned. This was how he knew something was really wrong. He didn’t call her Sleepy Jean solely for her inexplicable love for the sixties TV band, the Monkees. Brynn really was a “Daydream Believer.” She saw opportunity in every situation and never took no for a final answer until she’d exhausted all other possibilities.
Jamie took a chance and moved toward the edge of the bed. Screw it. He sat down next to her, resting a hand on her leg.
“What’s with the turtleneck, Dieter?” He raised his brows.
Brynn laughed. At least he thought it was a laugh, but she also could have been trying to blow bubbles in mud. Sprockets was her favorite Saturday Night Live skit, another one of Brynn’s retro faves, this time from the nineties, and although Mike Myers wasn’t on the show anymore, Jamie had a stockpile of his parents’ VHS recordings for them to watch whenever the mood struck. He smiled to himself. Brynn was clearly sick, but he made her laugh, and that was something.
She sat up, tears pooled in her eyes. When she pulled the turtleneck down to her collarbone, Jamie sucked in a breath.
“Duuuuude. You’ve got mono.” The glands in her neck swelled on each side like she was a cartoon character who had swallowed a small branch that got stuck in her throat just below her head.
The tears came fast now, tears that tugged at his heart because he knew what they were for. He knew whom they were for: Spencer Matthews.
“My throat hurts so much, Jamie. I can’t even swallow.”
Okay, so maybe he was a selfish asshole. It’s quite possible the river of tears was for the extreme pain she was in. He knew what it felt like because he had had mono sophomore year, and it sucked.
He brushed a damp curl off her forehead and tried to tuck it behind her ear. But Brynn’s hair had a mind of its own and had no intention of obeying. Kind of like the girl herself.
Jamie bit back a smile.
“Mono?” Brynn croaked.
Holly was still in the hall, standing up now and, at the utterance of the word “mono,” she ran to her own room and slammed the door.
“Let me know when you’re on some antibiotics or something, and then I’ll come out!” she called from the other side.
He chuckled. Typical Holly.
“Where are your parents?” he asked, and Brynn flopped back down on the bed.
“Out,” she whined. “My dad has some work dinner thingy in the city, so they’re staying the night in a hotel.”
He looked at the pout on her lips, letting his mind wander for a few seconds. What would it be like to kiss those lips? What if he was the guy Brynn was willing to risk her health—and others’—to see?
She whimpered, and he drifted back to reality.
“Holly!” Jamie kept his eyes on Brynn while he called for her sister.
“What?”
His eyes grew wide. Holly sounded much closer than she should have, considering she was barricaded next door.
“The vent,” Brynn said, and Jamie couldn’t help but laugh.
“You guys still do that?” he asked, heading toward the wall Brynn’s room shared with Holly’s. He dropped to a squat and directed his request toward the metal slats of the vent in the floor.
“Holly?” he called, using his indoor voice this time.
“James?” she responded, and he had flashbacks to when he and Brynn were in middle school, sitting in her room doing homework while Holly and her friends giggled and squealed next door, some of them professing their love to him—through the vent, of course. Brynn had always laughed and rolled her eyes.
“Don’t they know you’re practically our brother?” she’d once said. Jamie hated that she still saw him like that now.
“Call your parents and ask if I can take Brynn to urgent care,” he told Holly.
“Okay, James.” He could hear her smile.
“And Holly?”
“Yes, James?”
“Stop calling me James.”
He smiled, too. Then he heard Holly speaking to her mom.
“Are you sure it’s mono?” she asked him.
“Pretty sure,” Jamie said. “I had all the same symptoms.”
He glanced back at Brynn, who had turned to her side to watch the back and forth between Jamie and Holly. He wondered if she had any clue what she did to him, if she knew how much he wanted to scoop her up in his arms and hold her until she felt better. And maybe after that, hold her a little more.
He lay down next to her and tilted her glasses up so he could swipe a thumb across her tear-streaked cheek.
“You’re burning up, B.” He let the frames fall softly back against the bridge of her nose.
“I know,” she whispered. “I took my temperature. But I thought if I didn’t admit how bad I felt that I could ignore it.”
He pressed a kiss to her forehead, her skin like fire against his lips. But he didn’t care, not if he could give her the smallest bit of comfort.
“You know I’d give my left arm to make you feel better, right?”
She pressed her lips together and nodded. “It’s not that big of a sacrifice, considering you’re a righty. If you really cared—” She cut her own joke short to attempt a swallow, and it only made her cry more.
“For you, Sleepy Jean, I’d give them both.”
Fuck. He was a goner. How he made it through this year without blurting out his feelings was a mystery, because when she looked at him like that, like he was the only one who could fix the mess that was her night, the words repeated over and over again in his head: I’m in love with you, B. But she’d made no secret of how she felt about Spencer Matthews since the school year started, which meant Jamie was well practiced in the fine art of holding it all in.
“Mom wants to know how high her fever is.”
Brynn tried to clear her throat, then moaned in pain before she said, “One hundred and two.”
Jamie repeated the response to Holly, then sighed as he looked at his miserable friend.
“Does she want them to come home?” Holly asked, and Brynn shook her head, her eyes still on Jamie.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Because this is it. Our last high school party. I don’t want you to miss it, too.”
Shit. If she only knew how many other parties he would have skipped if it meant a night alone with her instead… But all he said was, “I’m sure.”
Brynn tilted her head back in the direction of the vent.
“My night and, let’s face it, my goal for the year are out the window,” Brynn said. “Tell them Jamie will take me to the doctor, and then I’ll go to sleep. They don’t need to ruin their night.”
After Mrs. Chandler insisted she speak to Brynn, Holly chucked her phone into the room and ordered Jamie to sanitize it when Brynn was done.
And that was that. Instead of taking Brynn to the final bash of their senior year, he’d take her for a blood test, maybe top off the night with a throat culture. Man did he know how to impress the ladies.
“This was supposed to be my night, Jamie,” she said after getting off the phone. “My night. And now all I want to do is chop off my own head to end the pain.”
He laughed. He couldn’t help it. She was cute when she was a mess.
“First of all,” he said. “I think the whole beheading thing might be a little more painful and a lot less practical than, I don’t know, going to urgent care? And second, this can still be your night. Just a different kind. We’ll see a doctor, get you a nice prescription for some codeine, a pint of Cherry Garcia, and a stack of Dieter tapes—as long as you still have the VCR hooked up.”
She sniffled and sat up. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get sick?”
He shook his head. “I’d chance it to take care of you. Plus”—he gave her a knowing smile—“you’re not supposed to be able to get mono twice. I’m probably immune to your plague.” To prove it, he kissed her on the forehead, happy to show her she didn’t have to be alone tonight. But even in her state, all the kiss did was prove to him how hard it was to just be her friend.
“Okay, maybe we’ll get you a quick shower, too.” The least he could do was lighten the mood, for both of them.
She sniffled again. “Can we listen to the Monkees in the car?”
He put his arm around her, pulling her head to his shoulder.
“Anything for you, Sleepy Jean.”
And he would do anything for her, even step aside for someone else. He’d made it all the way to junior year not falling for her. It had taken him dating Stephanie Delaney to realize no other girl made him feel the way Brynn did. Though who’s to say it wasn’t always there, this thing between them? Correction—this thing between them only Jamie seemed to feel. And who was he to stand in the way of her dream? He wouldn’t be that guy, letting his feelings interfere with her happiness. They had too much history for that kind of selfishness. Brynn made her choice, and it wasn’t Jamie. But tonight the universe seemed to be on his side, postponing the torture of watching her fall for someone else. Tonight was not for Spencer Matthews. It was for Jamie and Brynn. Even if they were only friends.
♥️ 🍺 ♥️ 🍺 ♥️ 🍺

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ABOUT AJ PINE

AJ Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, her books have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes) and, of course, a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires and superheroes. And in the midst of all of this, you’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago burbs.

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