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Owl Madness Day 6: Kristin Rouse

For readers at a crossroads somewhere between Colleen Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Sarah Hepola…

Ezra Mackenzie is a disaster, but at least he's a disaster in recovery. He hasn't done much he's proud of the last few years, and he's got a lot of work to do before he can look himself in the mirror and like what he sees. Let alone attempt re-entering the dating world—what kind of woman would be interested in a screw-up like him, anyway?

Then he meets Juliana Almeida—and she is more than interested.

Knowing full-well that romance ought to come second to his shaky new sobriety, Ezra tries to keep his distance. But her allure is too strong, and self-control hasn't ever been his strong suit. Juliana believes in him—or at least the him he lets her see. As he nears the one-year mark in his recovery, Ezra's demons refuse to stay buried and his desire to be the man Juliana deserves can't compete with the fix he never stops craving.


EXCERPT

I sip my still-scalding tea.  “Jules, look… I think you’re really great.”

“Good,” she says. “I think you’re pretty great, too.”

“I’m really not,” I say with a sigh. “I’m sort of a mess.”

“And I just told you—I don’t mind a mess.” She slides a little closer to me. She’s gnawing her bottom lip and the friction of her teeth scraping over the skin pinks up the flesh. My mug is still cupped between my hands when her knee bumps against mine.

“I really don’t get it,” I confess, because I don’t. What does a girl like her want with a guy like me? What could I possibly ever have to offer her?

“I don’t think there’s anything to get. I like you, Ezra. I just… wanted to see you. That’s all. I figured if you didn’t want to see me, you’d have told me to leave when I showed up.”

“Of course I wanted to see you.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“This just doesn’t seem like something friends do.”

“Yeah, well… Maybe it isn’t.”

I wonder if the half-blinking, half-winking thing she does is more of a nervous tick for her than a purposeful gesture. I could ask her if I wanted to admit just how much I’ve been studying her face since we met. I could ask her if it’d be all right to kiss her, like I so badly want to. Or, I suppose, I could put down my tea cup, put my hands on her cheeks, and do it. Before I get the chance, she leans over the small space between us on the couch, tilts my chin with the knuckles of her left hand, and brushes her lips over mine.

“Neither is that,” she says.

I must gape at her. I try and recall the last time in my adult life a woman has kissed me before I’ve kissed her. I come up with nothing. My heart won’t stop pounding in my ears, my mouth has gone dry, and probably my lips, too. All this just from her simply being near me blows how I’ve felt about other women out of the freaking water. I could probably forget about all of them with one more good kiss. She’s been inside for several minutes, but when I put my mug down and cup her face in my hands, her cheeks are still wintry cold. Maybe it’s the difference in temperature from my mug. Whatever it is, I know I don’t imagine the way she presses the side of her face deeper into my palm and lets her eyes flutter closed. Her eyelashes are dark and practically cast shadows on her cheeks. I expect her to open her eyes again, look at me and pin me with one of those gazes of hers that undoes me. But she doesn’t. I guess she must be waiting. And in truth, so have I.

I lean towards her and slant my lips over hers. Her mouth doesn’t taste like tea—it tastes like her. And I can hardly be expected to not go back for seconds (and thirds and…) once I realize how intoxicating that taste is.


After a lifetime of falling in love with all aspects of the written word, Kristin Rouse became an avid reader and, eventually, a writer of "kissing books." She believes in writing *where* she knows as opposed to strictly *what* she knows—that said, she's lived all over the world, so that doesn't exactly limit her story settings. She currently lives in Denver with her husband, and can be found on a yoga mat or a local coffee shop with her laptop in equal measure.




After a lifetime of falling in love with all aspects of the written word, Kristin Rouse became an avid reader and, eventually, a writer of "kissing books." She believes in writing *where* she knows as opposed to strictly *what* she knows—that said, she's lived all over the world, so that doesn't exactly limit her story settings. She currently lives in Denver with her husband, and can be found on a yoga mat or a local coffee shop with her laptop in equal measure.

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THE FIX is available now in eBook and paperback! 

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