Title: Search Me
Author: Katie Ashley
Twenty year old Lane Montgomery never imagined her usually boring summer in the boonies would require her to trade her toe shoes for hunting boots or her monotonous college textbooks for treasure map deciphering. Never would she have imagined after breaking her grandmother’s precious Native American statue, danger, a lost treasure of Cherokee Gold and a hostage situation would arise. Nor could she predict that the one man destined to protect her and her family was her childhood nemesis and former crush, Maddox Diaz.
Returning after three years in the Army, twenty-three year old Maddox Diaz is confronted with more than he bargained for when agreeing to help his childhood buddy and deepest regret, Lane. Suddenly he is thrust into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with armed and ruthless treasure seekers that results in car chases and gun battles all in the presence of the one girl who still manages to haunt his dreams and drive him wild with desire.
Lane is determined to deny the sizzling chemistry with the man who stole her virginity and broke her heart. She just wants to stay alive with her heart intact. Will she be able to resist the man whose body sets fire to all her senses?
This is flashback of just before Maddox left for boot camp. It’s at his going away party at Maudie’s house. Maddox and Lane have both been dancing around coming clean about their feelings for each other….
“Damn, I’m going to miss you.”
My heart went from fluttering into a full gallop. We sat in silence for a few minutes just listening to the sounds of the party, and the heave and sigh of the swing. Finally, I cleared my throat of what seemed like a mound of sawdust. “You know you’re missing your party,” I said softly.
Maddox shrugged. “It was stupid to have a party because I don’t feel much like celebrating.” After chugging the rest of his beer and tossing the bottle, he reached into the cooler beside him and got us both another one. As the sounds of the antics from inside the house grew louder, Maddox stood up and held out his free hand. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”
I extended my shaky hand to meet his. “Sure,” I murmured. I’m not sure how my trembling legs supported me, but after putting one foot in front of the other, I let him lead me off the porch and into the yard. When we’d reached the old oak tree at the far end of the yard, I guess Maddox felt we’d distanced ourselves enough from the house because he stopped.
As I ran my fingertips over the seat of the worn swing, Maddox cocked his head at me. “Want me to push you like old times?”
“I’m not sure it’s safe.”
Maddox chuckled as he motioned for me to sit down. “You’re always so cautious, Lane.”
“Fine. But I better not bust my ass in this thing,” I muttered as I eased down onto the wooden seat.
His breath hovered over my earlobe. “If you hurt your ass, I’ll kiss it and make it better for you.” When I gasped at his blatant innuendo, he laughed. “Just teasing.”
“I don’t know what I’m more shocked about—your naughty suggestion or the fact you might actually care that I got hurt. I mean, when we were kids, you always gave me hell if I cried when I got a cut or bruise.”
Maddox grimaced. “Yeah, I was a big asshole to you most of the time, wasn’t I?”
Pulling me back, he then pushed me forward in the swing. “Well, isn’t there some theory about little boys who treat little girls shitty to get their attention because deep down they’re really crushing on them?”
I twisted my fingers tighter around the swing’s rope handles while I tried to still my erratic breathing. “There’s something like that,” I murmured. Glancing over my shoulder, I caught Maddox’s intense expression. Nibbling my lip, I contemplated whether now was the right moment to come clean with him about my feelings.
Suddenly, an amused look came over his face. “Hey, remember that time we all went camping, and Maudie’s old hound dog broke into the cooler in the middle of the night and ate all of the hotdogs?”
“The one you named Lane?”
“That’s the one.”
I giggled. “Yes, I remember it.”
We then launched into an hour-long trip down memory lane. It wasn’t long before Maddox squeezed in beside me on the swing. By the time we were finished talking, I’d managed to polish off the rest of my beer. I was actually acquiring a taste for it, which for me was saying a lot. Of course, I was also starting to feel a little loopy, and the constant motion of the swing was making me woozy. I dug my toes into the dirt, stopping the swing.
Bringing my hand to my head, I replied, “I will be when the world stops spinning.”
“Uh-oh,” Maddox said. He stepped around the side of the swing. After he brought one of my arms over his neck, he used the other to scoop me up in his arms.
“Oh my God, you don’t have to carry me! I’m not that dizzy,” I protested.
“Yeah, but it gives me the chance to look strong and get to feel you close to me.” When I stared up at him, he winked. Since I liked where the conversation was going and I didn’t want the moment to end, I gave him a pleading smile.
“Will you take me down by the river?”
“You don’t want to go back to the house?”
I shook my head. “I just want to be with you. Well, I guess I should say alone with you.”
Maddox’s dark eyes drank in my face for a moment before he bobbed his head.
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Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs and one outnumbered cat. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.
She spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.
She also writes Young Adult fiction under the name Krista Ashe.
Twitter: @ katieashleyluv