Title: Waiting for You
Author: Heather Huffman
Release date: May 7, 2014
Print ISBN: 978-1-62015-396-3
epub ISBN: 978-1-62015-406-9
Blurb: For years, Karise McAlister has been running: from her family, from herself, and from her dreams. Now she’s made it, with a successful career and a promising engagement. But when she meets the compelling and creative Aidan Donnelly, his down-to-earth charm provides the wakeup call Karise badly needs. Moving across country to start over, Karise devotes herself to her work, convinced she needs to be independent. But with handsome Aidan just down the road and a mischievous group of friends determined to set her up, Karise must face her concerns about life and romance head-on.
Tagline: Sometimes a single spark is all it takes to change your life for good.
Karise was welcomed back from picking up takeout by the plaintive sound of hungry goats. Even before she got out of the car, she could tell they were not happy with her. Ignoring Zoe’s admonishment for being late for evening feed, Karise unfastened the girl from her car seat and sat her at the picnic table with her dinner.
“Go ahead and start eating, sweetie. I’ll go get the goats in and I’ll be right back to join you, okay?”
Zoe giggled, making Karise wonder if she knew something Karise didn’t. She found the written instructions pinned to a bulletin board in the barn, as promised. Feed had been pre-measured and clearly marked, making the process slightly less overwhelming. Per the instructions, Karise opened the gate to let the goats into the barn then turned to put the feed in the trough.
This isn’t so bad, she thought a split second before the first set of hooves hit her behind. They were quickly followed by several more as a dozen goats of varying sizes climbed her trying to reach the feed she now held above her head.
She cursed the goats and she cursed the day she ever thought goats were cute as she fought her way through the masse to pour feed into the trough. The sound of grain hitting plastic must have been one they recognized because the swarm left her.
She stumbled over to the gate, feeling as if she’d barely escaped with her life by the time she rested against the barn wall safely outside the stall. Karise checked the note from Aidan again to see if it held some clue as to what she’d done wrong. Unable to glean any new pearls of wisdom, Karise grabbed the second batch of feed and went to bring the last herd in for the night.
This time she poured the feed before she opened the door for them. The sound attracted them like moths to a flame. Karise couldn’t get the door open for goats flinging themselves at the barrier between them and their food. Those who didn’t fling were jostling to climb over each other and the door.
When she at last managed to get the door open, they burst through like water through a dam, knocking her on her backside. Goats clambered over her, vying for position once they reached the trough.
“You are all terrible, horrible beasts,” she informed them. The goats didn’t look up. Karise was pretty sure at least one of the “maaahs” she got was a snarky response. She didn’t care if she was covered in barn filth, she was starving. The goats were fed; it was time to feed herself.
Karise stepped forward, holding a hand out to skim the tops of the flowers as she waded into their midst. “Magical,” she whispered.
“Yeah,” he agreed, his voice taking on a huskier tone.
Karise studied the field for a moment longer before turning back to smile at Aidan. “Thank you for bringing me here.”
He took a step toward her. “You’re welcome.”
“You may never get me out of here. I just might decide to live right here, in this field.”
Aidan chuckled. “You might get cold at some point. Besides, the poppies don’t last long. This is the peak of their season. After that, it’s just a field.”
“A field with a promise worth waiting for,” she amended.
“Something like that.” There was a pause. The expression on his face made Karise wonder what he was thinking. She was pretty sure that whatever it had been, it was more than his suggestion that they pick a spot to eat, which were the next words out of his mouth.
Karise only nibbled at the food he spread out in front of them. Her mind was racing in too many different directions, and her stomach had way too many butterflies for food to be a top priority. She listened as Aidan talked about how this field had inspired many of the designs used in his marketing material. The gentle cadence of his voice was like a caress. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of him – all of the excuses she’d been hiding behind faded away a little more with each syllable that fell from his lips.
Aidan paused mid sentence to eye her warily. “Is everything okay?”
Karise nodded. “Yes, sorry. Go on.”
“Am I boring you?”
“Quite the contrary.”
“You’re killing me, Karise. What is it?”
She hesitated then took a deep breath and threw caution to the wind. It’s possible she leapt at him. She couldn’t be entirely sure. All she really knew was that she was right where she wanted to be now: in his arms. His surprise quickly gave way to eager acceptance as he met her kiss with one of his own. He was salty and sweet at once. The hint of sandpaper on his jaw grazed her soft skin. A low growl of longing rumbled deep in his throat as he pulled her more firmly on his lap.
She wrapped her legs around his waist, arching into him as his mouth pulled away from hers to roam the skin exposed by the V of her shirt. Her fingers sank greedily into his dark hair as he left a trail of fire across her flesh. Karise couldn’t tell if she was flying or falling or something in between.
She kissed his temple, then his cheek, then reclaimed his lips. He leaned into her, deepening the touch. Time melted away. Karise was aware of only two things: She’d never felt anything remotely like this before, and she wanted more of him. She shifted positions, gently pushing him back on the blanket. She ran her hands up his sides, shoving his shirt out of the way as she did. Karise had lost many nights’ sleep thinking about the very muscles she now traced with her fingers. She moved to kiss his jaw, then his throat, then met her hands at his chest. He stopped breathing when she traced a feathery trail of kisses along his abdomen.
With lightning speed, he scooped her up and flipped her onto her back, his mouth setting fire to her throat while his hands splayed her small waist before moving up to her rib cage. He shifted his weight, the friction of his jeans against her shorts nearly her undoing. It hit her like a tidal wave – she’d reached the point of no return. Either she stopped him here or they crossed a threshold in this poppy field.
Bio: Heather Huffman calls the beautiful Missouri Ozarks home. When not writing, this homesteading mother is busy raising three boys or tending the family’s myriad of animals, which includes alpacas, goats, chickens and ducks. Huffman’s optimistic and somewhat quirky view of life often finds its way into her novels.
Heather is the author of Throwaway, Ties that Bind, Jailbird, Suddenly a Spy, Ring of Fire, Tumbleweed, Devil in Disguise, Roses in Ecuador and Fool’s Game. You can find out more about her family’s adventures as they strive to live off the land, as well as her writing and charitable work on http://www.heatherhuffman.net.