Now and Then (Dare to Love #3)

By: Mira Lyn Kelly

Prologue


Truth? Mistakes weren’t something Brynn Ahearne made often. But when she did, whew, she made them big.

Like six foot five of broad-shouldered, trim-hipped, not-so-wholesome-as-she’d-remembered big. Like huge hands moving over her, one flexing against her hip while the other slid into her jeans to palm her ass big.

Like they hadn’t even cleared the security door to his place because, somehow, her shoulders had found the jamb, braced there, and weren’t in any hurry to move if it meant more of that dark silk sliding through her fingers and hard-muscled thighs hitting her just exactly right. Big big.

She shouldn’t be doing this. She’d told herself she wouldn’t. Because after what happened between them the last time—even if it was ten years ago—she couldn’t risk it happening again.

Okay, her life was different now, but fundamentally nothing had changed. Nothing, except she wasn’t some kid who didn’t know any better. She knew. Which was why she needed to stop.

Brynn pulled back from a kiss so potent it was drugging her senseless, determined to do the right thing. Only the mouth that had been devastating hers just the second before was already detouring south. Drawing with the perfect suction at the tender spot beneath her jaw.

Oh God.

Licking into the hollow between her collarbones.

Her breath caught, her thoughts spiraling with the point of his tongue.

She needed to end this. Do the right thing for both of them.

Her lips parted to speak and his teeth grazed the column of her neck. Just the barest scrape, the perfect pressure, and—

“Ford,” she gasped, everything within her seizing tight enough to strangle whatever few rational thoughts she’d been trying to hold on to. “Inside. Please, take me inside.”





Chapter 1


FOUR HOURS EARLIER

It was the Ms. Pac-Man T-shirt that did it.

And not because it was one of those still sort of excellent “she swallows” versions the him of fifteen years ago would have been holding his books in front of his fly over. No, this wasn’t that kind of blatant advertising.

This was old school.

Ms. Pac-Man perched pinup style over her neon-outlined Pac-font name. Hearts surrounding her like blown kisses. A geeked-out gamer classic half hidden beneath a short olive cardigan that had Ford Meyers setting the beer that had barely made it two-thirds of the way to his mouth back on the bar untouched. His head cranking around in an attempt to follow the progress of that flash of weathered pink fabric cutting through the after-work Pint Pub crowd while he strained for details about the woman who wore it.

Her jeans were plain, dark without any kind of adornment on the pockets, and were those—? Ford looked closer, Oh hell, yes—green Converse sneakers hooked on the rung of her stool.

Hello, girl of my dreams.

He couldn’t score even a glimpse of her face but she was a redhead, with the kind of thick, dark curls spilling halfway down her back that did it for him even more than the T-shirt and kicks combined, because yeah, when it came to hair, the gingers took him back to a place no one else could. To a place where the memories were pure and sweet and dark and sexy. To a time when possibility pushed hard against his ribs with every damned breath.

To a girl.

Not the girl as it turned out, but hell, hair like that had a way of stirring up the echoes of how it had been, reminding him of the things he still wanted. Whether Ms. Pac-Man was one of them? Only one way to find out.

Ford pushed off his stool and—

Fingers snapped in front of his face, dragging his attention down to the petite brunette parked at his left, scowling.

“Cripes, Ford. I’m still talking here.”

Ava. His little sister. Apparently talking. Still.

“Right. No, sorry,” he said, reluctantly returning to his seat. “Go ahead.”

Eyes narrowing, she crossed her arms over her slim frame and then with a gust of breath rushed on.

“Anyway, so we need to get you a girl. Sam and I are married. Maggie and Three’s baby is due in less than a week,” she stated, referring to Tyler Wells, the man who had been renting out the third-floor apartment in Ford’s building before falling in love with Apartment Two, Maggie. Mostly they called him Ty or Tyler, but leave it to Ava to hold on to a moniker the guy earned while on less-than-friendly terms with his future wife. “Maybe it’s time you opened yourself up to the possibilities and found your own happily ever after?”

He started to turn toward the far side of the bar. “Actually, I was just—”

“Focus, Ford. A girl, but not your usual fare, no offense. I’m thinking someone with a shelf life longer than four weeks. A girl who’s stylish and nice and I don’t hate and has a sense of humor that extends beyond those please-kill-me-now math puns you and Mindy Sedgewick used to bore everyone with.”

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