Hunter’s Moon Excerpt
I’d been considering an excerpt to share for a while now, and finally decided on something I thought might be entertaining, particularly to those who’ve read Blue Moon and mentioned an interest in seeing Cade’s siblings getting their own stories. So here it is, the first excerpt from Hunter’s Moon, and please note: This story is a work in progress, and all excerpts are subject to change before the book’s release! (Like always lol :) ).
The moment Emily exited Blue Moon’s parking lot in her sedan, all thoughts of her brother were forgotten. Instead, her focus centered on the drive to her temporary home with a guy who was making her crazy.
For as confusing as Evan’s behavior had been that afternoon, her brother didn’t hold a candle to Caleb Hodgins, who had to be the most difficult man she’d ever tried to understand. It was easy to admit that she was liking him more with each passing day. He had a great sense of humor, and his devotion to family was extremely admirable.
But his reactions to her was the baffling part.
As it stood, there seemed to be two different Calebs, one who was attentive, and the other dismissive. Sometimes, while she was talking, he’d look at her in a way that suggested she could go on forever and he wouldn’t complain. Additionally, she felt so comfortable during their conversations that she rarely held back, and got the feeling he knew ten times as much about her life now as she did his.
But there was never any judgment, just questions and the occasional teasing.
Caleb had also taken an interest in her photography, and seemed genuinely impressed by her skills. While babysitting Taylor on Monday, Emily was sorting through the photos taken during her first day of work to decide which were the best quality, and he’d sat next to her with the baby bundled up against his chest, offering to help.
But that was the attentive Caleb. In contrast, the dismissive one usually closed up completely and walked away without a second look—and it always felt as if he couldn’t get out of her presence fast enough whenever he did.
Coincidentally, this usually happened in a moment when she thought they were getting closer, or he was showing more than just friendly interest. So yesterday, Emily did a little snooping by asking Joslyn more about his past. Of course, her best friend tried to tease her into revealing her motivation for knowing, but Emily managed to avoid the subject by promising she’d talk the moment she actually had something to talk about.
Thankfully, Joslyn relented, and then informed her of some important news; apparently, Caleb’s heart had been broken before, and Joslyn wasn’t convinced he’d gotten over it.
But she didn’t offer the details, feeling Caleb should be the one to fill in the blanks, and Emily agreed, unwilling to let her snooping go so far that it took her to a place she didn’t belong.
Still, she had to wonder if this history was affecting their current standing, or if they even had a standing whatsoever. Caleb had admitted to having a number of flings in the past few years, so maybe commitment was the problem, and he didn’t want to get hurt again, or just lead her on.
Pulling up the long drive up to his home, Emily considered the possibility, and found herself wondering for not the first time that week if she should make an actual move and see how he responded. The only reason she hadn’t yet was all of the mixed signals. Did Caleb find her interesting? Or even attractive?
She wasn’t sure, and only knew a spark had been lit on her end. So all that remained to be seen was whether it would fizzle out, or make it to the fireworks. And I definitely wouldn’t mind some fireworks, so why not take the chance?
Emily wasn’t the most straightforward woman alive, but she was comfortable enough to put herself out on a limb, and besides, she’d be going back to the duplex soon anyway. Conner and Joslyn had informed her of their decision to return the previous night, and with them around, staying in her apartment would be much safer.
This meant she and Caleb wouldn’t have to be around one another for too much longer if her advances somehow messed things up.
So, with the decision made, she parked in front of the house and looked up to realize Caleb was outside, working on his renovations again. All week long, he’d been busy building a balcony onto the second level guestroom—and today, he was working in a white racerback stained with dirt and sweat. Why is that so damned attractive?
Emily thoughtlessly stared as he carried a few short beams of lumber over his shoulder and across the yard. Her eyes trailed over his muscular arms and down to the jeans hugging his generous ass along the way. I just hope taking a chance goes well because damn, that physique alone is too good not to try.
Caleb soon dumped the wood into a pile and stood straight, his arms flexing while the sinew of his broad shoulders rolled fluidly. In the process, Emily spied a tattoo on the back of his left shoulder consisting of a wolf’s head with a full moon encompassing it, and suddenly wanted to know if he had any other designs hidden beneath his clothes.
Either way, the man had a body straight out of a dream—an unrealistic one if her ex qualified as average. Rob was slender with what she’d considered nice arms and a tight ass. But the sight of him alone had never set off any lusty feelings, or at least, not the kind she didn’t think she could resist.
Staring at Caleb, on the other hand, did things to her. Racy things. Specifically in the pants.
Emily sighed at the thought, wondering if she should let her hormones calm down before doing any flirting.
No, no, I’m not putting this off. She wanted to know what her chances were, or if a chance was even available, and gave herself a once over in the rear view. Thankfully, her curly hair wasn’t so wild it looked like she’d been in a hurricane, and her makeup was fresh despite a day’s worth of work.
So she ran a brush through her blonde locks, then took a deep breath and climbed out of her vehicle, hoping attentive Caleb was in right now.
Otherwise, she was probably about to trip over her own two feet.
One thing Caleb could say in favor of Emily’s stay at his home was that he’d gotten his renovations done much faster than he’d originally planned.
But keeping busy was paramount to keep his instincts from bowling him over considering they were all focused on his temporary roommate with a rapidly growing intensity. It’d only been a week, but he couldn’t count the number of times he’d nearly said or done something impulsive that would’ve made the situation worse.
Caleb hated to admit it, but he knew the time for hoping he’d only develop a passing interest in Emily Sterling was long past. It was getting to the point that he couldn’t stop thinking of her, always fighting with himself not to ask questions or look for ways to get closer.
But the worst part of all was knowing his fixation was already as strong as the one he had with Fiona. There was just one difference; with Fiona, as soon as he’d realized his growing attachment was strengthening, he’d asked for permission to expose the truth about what he was. With Emily, he’d neglected to even mention his interest, throwing himself into whatever chore was available to stay busy and ignore it—costing himself sleep, patience, and if this kept going, his appetite.
The fact that he could still eat with relative ease made it difficult to say if bonding was in full swing yet. But if it wasn’t now, it soon would be, and he’d even considered leaving town for a while to try avoiding it.
Still, such an act would’ve been pointless considering his troubles would only be waiting whenever he returned, so Caleb ultimately decided against it.
With the thoughts in mind, he walked outside just as the sound of Emily’s car pulling into the driveway hit his ears, and briefly glanced in that direction after dumping some excess wood into a pile in his front yard.
Seeing the human, his brows drew together in confusion. Was Emily checking herself out in the rear view? What was the point of that? She could shave her head and wear clown makeup and still be a knockout.
Grumbling at the notion, he headed for a bottle of water he’d left sitting on the picnic table nearby, and Emily soon climbed out of the car and walked over with a greeting.
“Hey, Caleb. Been busy?”
“Just got done, actually. The balcony’s safe to stand on now, it just needs some tarnish.”
As soon as she reached him, Emily looked up to survey the structure standing above his garage with an approving smile. “Nice, how’s the view from up there?”
“Trees get in the way a little, but you can see a lot of the city, especially at night,” he qualified, sitting on the surface of the picnic table with his boots against the bench seat where he uncapped his water and took a swig.
“You know, I’ve been here for a week, and still haven’t gone upstairs,” she smirked. “I’ll have to check it out when I go inside.”
“Be my guest,” Caleb remarked, fighting to stay where he was when Emily sat down next to him on the tabletop.
The close proximity made it difficult to focus on anything casual, and he had to bite his tongue to keep from impulsively complimenting her instead of asking, “So how’d things go with your brother?”
“Oh,” she drew out, her expression growing perplexed. “Actually, really weird.”
“He was nice to me,” she admitted. “Could be a fluke cause it’s been so long since we saw each other, but hey, I’ll take fake civility over intolerable asshole any day.”
Caleb grinned, qualifying, “And at least he’s gone, right?”
“Yeah, but he wants to visit again the next time he comes through. He’s also talking about keeping in touch more.” She sighed. “I wanna give him the benefit of a doubt, but … ”
“Once bitten, twice shy,” Caleb supplied, and she immediately nodded in agreement. So he added, “That’s natural. I’d be wary, too. But if push comes to shove, you can always tell Joslyn.”
“Why should I tell her?”
Because it’ll get back to me, and I’ll rip him apart. Caleb pushed the impulsive thought away and casually shrugged. “So she can help if you’re in trouble.”
“Oh, right.” Emily nodded in understanding. “Don’t worry, I won’t keep my mouth shut about it.”
“Good. So uh …,” he trailed, searching for something friendly to chat about, and finally settled on asking, “how was work?”
“Oh, fun,” she related with an amused grin. “I got a prank call from some kid wanting to know if we had a camera big enough to take a picture of his dick.”
Caleb almost choked on his water, sputtering, “What?”
“Yep.” She chuckled.
“Damn, that sounds like something one of the guys I know would do. What did you tell him?”
Grinning, Emily answered, “I said I wasn’t sure if I could find a camera with the zoom capability needed to get those types of macros. When he asked what a macro was, I explained the art of taking pictures of tiny objects to make them look bigger. Then I hung up.”
Caleb leaned back against the table, unable to stifle his laughter, wishing the entire while that Emily didn’t have such a kick ass sense of humor when all he wanted was to find her mundane. But not only was her wit attractive, her scent was getting to him again, making him feel the need to get some room to breathe and clear his head before he actually did something impulsive.
So, with a final huff of breath, he stood from the table to go inside, though every step taken away from Emily had his gut clenching tight with the desire to turn around and stay—or preferably get even closer.
But Emily was already following him, asking in a change of subject, “So what about your day?”
Caleb was so preoccupied with his thoughts that it took him a second to respond. “Bland and boring. Just stuck around here building.”
“Yeah? Maybe that’ll change now.”
Stopping to open the door to the porch, he looked back and asked, “Change how?”
“Well, I’m here, and you’re done with your work. So we could go out and do something fun.”
Caleb hesitated to ask what she meant, afraid she was implying more than her simple suggestion spelled out, and decided the best way to keep it casual was by asking, “Like what?”
“I don’t know,” she retorted. “Oh, wait! I pass this arcade on my way to work everyday that looks like fun. You know anything about it?”
The arcade? Emily could’ve said anything, from going out to eat, to visiting the local museum—the first place Fiona ever asked him to go—and it wouldn’t have really phased him. But instead, she had to ask about his favorite place in the city aside from the annual carnival that came through town which he never missed, and was due to return in a few weeks.
Still, the arcade was just like it. It simply possessed video games instead of booths and a miniature golf course instead of rides. Ice cream, funnel cakes, and all kinds of food-on-a-stick were a part of the menu, and Caleb never turned down a chance to go.
“Yeah, I know about it. Kind of a big hangout for kids, though.”
Just before turning to go inside, he saw Emily’s disappointed frown, which made his denial feel that much worse. Damn it, he wanted to take her out, and win her a stuffed animal or … whatever the hell she wanted. In fact, just the idea of having fun with an awesome person after so many days working or throwing himself into renovations was nearly enough to make him change his mind regardless of his fears.
“Aw, come on,” she drew out, playfully grabbing his arm and rushing onto the porch ahead of him to block his path before he could open the front door. Then, with a mischievous grin, she taunted, “I bet I’d kick your ass at any game we play.”
Her boast had the corners of Caleb’s mouth lifting in a grin despite his conscious efforts to keep this casual. “You don’t even know what games they have.”
“No, but I’m a damned good gamer, Caleb. I pick up on controls really fast.”
Smirking, he backed her toward the door, forgetting himself completely when he asked, “Is that so? Then you should know I’m no slouch, either. I know how to time things just right.”
Emily giggled, and damned if he didn’t want to hear that sound as often as possible.
As her back hit the door, she inquired, “What would you want if you won?”
Everything, starting with a kiss, he thought, leaning until she was boxed in before drawing out suggestively, “I can think of a few things.”
As their gazes held, Emily’s smile slowly faded into a look of extreme interest, and Caleb’s heart picked up it’s pace in response. She is interested! The desire to lean in and capitalize on it was too strong to ignore, her expression so damned beguiling that all he could think about was showing her exactly how it affected him.
So he leaned closer, moving slowly despite the way his instincts were clamoring within him, their lips only a breath apart …
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