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The man was huge, with wide shoulders and bulging biceps.
I recognized him instantly, though he had a scar on his neck that wasn’t there last time I’d seen him.
“Mason Lennox?” I was so shocked, I said his name like a question, as though I expected him to answer.
More shocking was the fact he did answer. “Hello, Carlotta. It’s been a long time.”
“Wow. You actually spoke to me.”
As he came closer, he looked even bigger. Could he be Jason Momoa’s sparring partner? A bare-knuckle boxer? Or a stunt double for the Incredible Hulk?
“What are you doing in San Dante?” he asked.
“What are you doing here?” I wasn’t about to explain my career disaster, and how I’d come home to give myself time to get back on track. Not when looking at him made me feel so unbalanced.
Mason was my first. Well, to be clear, though he claimed a lot of firsts from me, the one thing he didn’t take was my virginity.
But at thirteen years old, he was my first crush.
At fifteen, my first kiss.
He was the first boy to touch my boobs.
And most importantly, the first to break my heart.
But there was nothing boyish about Mason now. He was a man mountain, made up of muscle, hard edges, and a dusting of stubble, wrapped in a thick layer of sex appeal that was only enhanced by his scars, and the whole powerful-and-dangerous look that was definitely working for him.
He wore a faded gray T-shirt that had to have steel reinforcing for the seams to still be holding together, and he wasn’t so much wearing his jeans as allowing them to hug him. Tightly.
Unfortunately, in spite of the way he’d treated me, he hadn’t developed any deformities. Instead, just looking at him made my legs weaken.
Don’t be ridiculous, I told them sternly. He’s not that good looking.
My legs didn’t bother to reply. They knew I was lying.
Mason Lennox had grown into the manliest hunk of manhood I’d ever seen. So the universe must have decided my crap sandwich wasn’t already chewy enough.
“I’m here visiting my family.” Mason leaned against the fence that separated the two back yards and I was momentarily afraid he’d take the entire thing down.
“Me too,” I said. “I’m staying with Mom.”
That’s when Mom hollered from the back step.
“Lennox!” she roared. “Stop licking your penis!”
I didn’t get embarrassed. Ever. A childhood with my mother had inoculated me against shame. Constant exposure to it had acted like the world’s strongest vaccine, which meant I could laugh in the face of humiliation. In fact, I’d made a career out of encouraging young women to be happy in their own skin. My humor was shameless, and though it meant exaggerating my own flaws and exposing the most personal parts of my life, my cheeks no longer remembered how to blush.
So when Mason’s brow furrowed, why did they feel warm?
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Talia Hunter is a bestselling author who likes to pair loveable heroines with the hunks who deserve them. Her motto is, if you aren’t laughing, you aren’t doing it right.
She’s recently moved to Australia, where she’s constantly amazed and not at all freaked out by the weird and wonderful critters. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her with a glass of wine, a good book, and a jumbo-sized can of bug spray.