BONUS: Unedited – Tessa and Jase – The Kiss

March 16, 2020

The Kiss 


I can do this 

Standing a few feet from the guest bedroom door, I said those four words one more time to myself, hoping they’d give me the courage to knockI can do this 

Inhaling deeply, I forced the lungful of air out very slowly. My knees were knocking together and sweat dotted my palms. 

So not hot. 

I couldn’t remember the last time I was this nervous, which was freaking ridiculous. I’d been dancing in front of crowd of hundreds since I was knee high to a cricket and I didn’t get this anxious. Like I’d keel over at any given second, pass out face down in the carpet like a giant dumbass.  

But this was about Jase—Jase-Hot-as-Hell-Winstead—and if one thing was sure, when it came to him, nothing about me was expected.  

I shouldn’t want him like I did. He was older than me, my brother’s best friend, and I knew from the conversations I’d overheard—er, eavesdropped on—between him and Cam, Jase put the ‘play’ in player.  

Who would blame him though? If I was a dude and looked like him, my bedroom would be like a bus stop, but the ugly flash of jealousy told me that I wasn’t really happy with the idea of Jase being so, um… active.  

But it wasn’t just his looks. Jase… well, he was like a superhero in my eyes, the only person who’d been capable of pulling my brother out of his depression. Jase saved Cam and in a way, saved me. Because of Jase, I’d been able to let go of some of the guilt that crowded my thoughts on a daily basis.  He’d become a friend to me and somewhere over the time, he become something else.  

Jase hadn’t left the sad excuse for a poker game that was still going on downstairs that long ago, so I knew he wasn’t asleep.  

And I also knew I shouldn’t be standing outside his bedroom door. 

Especially considering what I was wearing or lack thereof.  

I glanced down at my painted toes and flushed hotly. I’d changed into sleep shorts, the kind that barely covered my ass. My shirt flashed a great deal of my belly and was pretty tight. No bra. And it was kind of chilly upstairs. If Cam or my parents caught me flouncing around dressed like this with Jase in the house, someone would get hurt. 

Probably Jase.  

This might’ve been a bad idea.  

 My attempt at seduction felt a wee bit… lame. Like a little girl playing dress up… or dress down, but I knew if I went back to my bedroom to get changed I wouldn’t leave. I’d loose my nerve. It was now or never or the next time he randomly showed up with my brother, and who knew if we’d get this chance again? 

Cam was always cock blocking like a mofo. 

I can do this. 

Taking another deep breath, I rapped my knuckles off the door and then stepped back, fighting the urge to take off running down the hall, giggling like a twelve year old. But this was such a bad idea. A totally bad idea. I needed to leave, because Jase had better things to— 

The door swung open and there Jase stood in all his glory. And boy, it was a lot of glory. Like sexy angels harking and all that jazz.  

His hair, a messy bronze color fell over his forehead in careless waves, the color of skin deep, hinting at Spanish or Mediterranean bloodlines. He was still wearing what he had own earlier—faded blue jeans that hung low on his hips and old tee shirt that stretched taut across his narrow shoulders.  

I’d had the pleasure before at seeing him shirtless once before, when he’d been visiting Cam. It had been early and he’d stumbled out the bedroom, making his way to the bathroom. All he’d worn was flannel pajama bottoms, and all I had done was started at the kind of stomach dreams were made of.  

So I knew what he was hiding under the old Nirvana shirt.  

“What’s up?” he asked. 

I almost closed my eyes and sighed. His voice… nothing compared to the deep, rolling sound. He could read dishwasher-operating instructions and I could listen forever. Before I could answer or stand there like an idiot, Jase stepped aside in silent invitation.  

Such a good guy.  

My bare feet sunk through the carpet as I stepped into the guest room. A small duffel bag sat on the armchair in the corner by the window. Other than that and the slightly rumbled pillow at the head of the bed, it didn’t even look like Jase was here.  

The door hadn’t shut all the way behind me, but only a sliver of a space remained open. Swallowing hard, I turned to face Jase. Nervous, I raised my arm and ran my fingers through my hair, brushing it back from my face.  

Jase had magnificent eyes. There weren’t really blur or gray, more like a cross between the two. Silver. Framed with heavy black lashes, those eyes were really quite striking. Right now, they weren’t focused on mine.  

His gaze drifted from my face, all the way done to the tips of paint blue toenails. His stare got a little hung up on my stomach. When I brushed my hair back, it had caused the shirt to rise up. My hands itched to pull it down, but that would’ve defeated my whole purpose of being here, right? 

I wanted Jase to not see me as a little girl—as Cam’s little sister.  

He looked up, the hollows of his cheek a deeper color than the rest of his face and then he looked way, scrubbing a hand a long his jaw.  

Jase’s gaze dipped again, this time to my chest, before bouncing back to my face. “So what’s going on?” His voice was deeper, more gruff 

My heart pounded against my ribs as I walked around the corner of the bed, so I was back in the line of vision. His stare seemed to find mine. Our eyes locked for a brief moment and then his gaze went south one more, and this time his stare was so intense it felt like a physical caress. Certain parts of my body really, really liked that, got all tingly and noticeable. A flush crept across my cheeks when his eyes met mine. 

He drew in a deep breath.  “What are you doing, Tess?” 

My breath caught aI shifted my weight from one foot to the next. He was the only person who called me Tess. No one else did. I loved it. “I was just checking to see if you needed any extra blankets or pillows.” 

He glanced at the bed—at the mini mountain of blankets and pillows Mom or someone had obviously dropped in here—and then back at me. His brows rose.  

Damn it. 

“Well, I guess you don’t need any of that.” I bit down on my lip. “Do you need anything?” 

Jase stared at me a moment and then he moved. His long legged, fluid stride carried him to bed. He sat on the edge. “That’s very sweet of you to ask.” 

My heart was beating so fast it was like the jackhammer of hearts. “I’m a very sweet person.” 

One side of his lips tipped up. “That you are.” Eyeing me from behind thick lashes, he grinned at me. “I’m on to you.” 

Stomach dropping, my eyes went wide. “What do you mean?” Was it that obvious? Uh, hell, I was dressed like a porno was about to start filming. Yes. It was obvious. 

He patted the spot next to him. “Come on.” 

Feeling a bit spacey, I hurried over to the bed and sat beside him. Not right on him. There was a healthy distance between us.  

“So what do you want to talk about?” he asked, flipping onto his back.  

My tongue worked around words, but nothing came out. Realization set it and my muscles relaxed. Okay. It wasn’t so obvious why I was here. He thought I wanted what I always wanted when he came around. Or at least what he thought. To talk. We always talked when he visited—about school, dance, friends, everything and anything.  

Except I really didn’t want to talk.  “Um, how is school.” 

He folded his arms behind his head. His shirt inched up, exposing an expanse of hard lower abs. A fine trail of hair ran under his navel, disappearing beyond his jeans. Yum. “It’s going good.” 

I bet it was.  

“How’s school for you?” 

I had no idea what he was talking about. My gaze shifted to him. “Huh?” 

“School.” That grin of his spread. “I was asking how school was going for you.” 

“Oh. Yeah. Great.” I twisted toward him, dragging a leg up on the bed. A muscle ticked along his jaw, snagging my attention for a second. “How’s your brother?” 

“Jack’s good.” His brows lowered a fraction of an inch. “Do you always run around dressed like that?” 

Honestly? No. I shrugged a shoulder, somewhat happy that he was vocalizing that he’d noticed me. “Yeah.” 

“Cam doesn’t have a lot of friends visiting, right?”  

I thought that was an odd question. “No. I mean other than you, sometimes Ollie swings by.” 

Those brows came down even further. “And do you wear that when he’s here?”   

My lips twitched, but I fought the smile wanting to form. “I don’t know.” 

“I hope not,” he muttered. 


“Why?” Surprised colored his tone. His gaze slid down my face to my chest and lingered there until it felt like he was touching me. My body reacting swiftly, and I wasn’t sure if he noticed, because his gaze swept back to mine. “That’s why.” 

Oh my.  

A giddy feeling pooled low in my stomach. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

His eyes rolled. “You shouldn’t be dressed like that when your brothers’ friends are here, especially freaking Ollie. The boy has sperm for brains.” 

My brows shot up. “I shouldn’t be?” 


Caught between feeling offended and wanted to clap for joy, I wasn’t responsible for the stupidity that flowed from my mouth. “I’m not a little girl, Jase.” 

“Uh. I think I know that.” He paused. “Trust me.” 

An unsteady breath swelled in my lungs. “What does that mean?” 

His gaze shifted toward me. “I can see that you’re not a little girl.” 

A pleasant warmth swept through my veins “And what’s wrong with that?” 

Jase opened his mouth and then snapped it shut. He rose up on his elbows, tipping his chin down. “There’s a lot wrong with that.” 

Well, that’s not what I wanted to hear. “Care to explain?” 

“Not really,” he said, and I swore it look like he was struggling to keep his gaze on my face.  

Part of me want to tuck tail and run, but there was a part of me—the reckless side, the other half that never shied away from anything drove me forward. “I’m sure most guys wouldn’t have a problem with the way I’m dressed right now.” 

His mouth dropped open. 

“Actually, I’m pretty sure they’d enjoy it. There’re a lot of boys in—” 

“Boys. Exactly.” 

I flushed. “Boys. Men. Whatever.” 

“I’m not a boy, Tess.” His eyes met mine, and the cooler was deeper, like quicksilver. “And neither is Ollie.” 

Back to Ollie? What the fuck? “I don’t dress like this when Ollie comes around.” 

His head tilted to the side as he studied me. He started to look like he was about to say something, but changed his mind. “Good.” 

We were at an impasse. How did I respond to that? My gaze drifted fell to his mouth and then down, over the long length of his body. I felt like I was in a buffet line and he was the main course and the dessert.  

“And you shouldn’t dress like that when I’m here,” he said, and his voice was deeper again. Raw.  

My lashes swept up and something had changed in him, in the way he watched me and how tense his body was. “Why?” I asked. 

Jase didn’t answer.  

I’d probably look back on the next couple of moments for the rest of my life and I’ll never know what provoked me to do what I did, but I knew I’d never regret it, even if he dropkicked me off the bed. 

I moved, drawing my other leg up on the bed, resting on my knees as I leaned forward, easing my weight on my hands. Jase froze like an animal that had scurried out into traffic and was now staring into glaring headlights.  

He didn’t move as I drew in a breath and leaned closer, coming with a scant inch of his mouth. His breath was crazy warm on my lips. My heart thumped and my pulse pounded throughout my body. My hair slipped over my shoulders, falling in the space between us. We were close, closer than we ever been.  

“Is it because you look?” I asked, my voice breathy.  

Jase didn’t answer again, but I heard him swallow.  

“I don’t mind if you do,” I told him, my fingers curling into the blanket. “In fact, I like it.” 

The breath he took was audible. His chest rose swiftly. “Tess…” 


He made a sound in the back of his throat, something that was a cross between a groan and a growl, and was completely a hundred percent man. “You have no idea what you’re doing.”
“Yes. I do.” I wetted my lips. “I thought about it. A lot. All the—” 

Jase rose up and with how close we were, the distance between us vanished. His lips brushed mine, and a riot of sensation flooded my senses. It was such a quick and soft sweeping of his lips, but I felt it zing all the way to my toes.  

He kissed me first.  

And that was all the validation I needed.  

I pressed my lips against his, silently demanding more, and that sound rose from him again. Our lips lingered together, moving slowly, tasting.  His hands landed above my hips, his fingers gently pressing against the bare skin of my waist, eliciting a series of shivers from me. His hands, they were so warm and felt so large, and I knew he was strong.  

I wanted to feel him against me, his arms around me, and my chest flush against his, our legs tangled. And I wanted the kiss to go deeper, so that I could really taste him.  

But then he tasted me.  

His tongue slid over the seam of my lips and I gasped. The kiss deepened and his hands spasmed along my sides. A gasping moan rose up.  

Then the kiss was over.  

When he lifted his mouth from mine, he hauled me forward, against his chest, into his lap and in his arms. He held me tight, squeezing me as he breathed into the hair at my neck. He said something, murmured to low for me to hear beyond the blood pounding in my ears, and then he lifted me out of his lap and stood, carefully placing me on my feet. His hands lingered on my sides for a moment or two longer and then slipped off, trailing down my hips.  

I opened my eyes, flushed and dazed and a thousand other things.  

Jase’s eyes were like molten silver, burning bright as they drifted over me and then latched onto mine. Several seconds passed before he spoke. “I think… I think you should go back to your bedroom. Now.” 

I blinked. “But—” 

“We’re talk tomorrow,” he said, coming toward me. I tensed up in the most delicious way. He placed the tips of his fingers on my cheeks and tilted my head back. “I promise. We’ll talk tomorrow.” 

“Okay.” My heart swelled so fast in my chest.  

Jase closed his eyes and then pressed a kissed to my forehead and that kiss was the sweetest thing ever. He drew back, dropping his hands. “Goodnight, Tess.” 

I hesitated a moment and then backed up toward the door. Wrapping my fingers around the knob, I stopped. Jase watched me much like a hawk, and I briefly considered closing the door completely and locking it, just to see what he would do, but I thought that might be pushing it.  

 “Goodnight,” I whispered, and then stepped out into the hallway.  

Cam’s head appeared at the top of the stairs as I slipped inside my bedroom, closing the door quietly behind me. I walked backward until the backs of my thighs connected with the bed. Sitting down, I raised my hand to my still tingling lips and closed my eyes.  

It really had just been one kiss. 

One endless, beautifully perfect kiss.  

“Oh God,” I murmured, and then I grinned. Thank baby Jesus in a manger that no one was here to witness what was most likely the goofiest grin this side of the mountain.  

But the grin didn’t fade and I knew I would never forget that kiss and I would be damned if it was going to be our last one.  

I was a Hamilton.  

And we got what we wanted, one way or another.  

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About Me

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo.

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