The Rebel’s Return
by Victoria James
Red River #4
Publication Date: August 22, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Bliss, Contemporary Romance
Synopsis: Natalia Puccini has spent her entire life playing by her overbearing but well-intentioned Italian family’s rules…except the one time she took a chance on a bad boy and fell hard. She’s worked to get her life back on track so when Aiden McCann comes sauntering back into town with his heart-stopping smile, Natalia vows not to fall for him again. There’s no way she’ll let him mess with her perfectly planned life…and there’s no way she’ll let him near her heart again…Now reformed and a self-made success, Aiden is tormented by regrets and secrets. He left Red River years ago filled with anger and resentment and a promise to never come back. But when his ill father needs help, Aiden knows it’s time to face the mess he left behind, and face the one woman he never got over. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or intriguing she is, though, because he’ll never be able to give her what she needs. As soon as his father is healthy, Aiden is leaving Red River…for good.
“I hate hating people. I just dislike you intensely, Aiden. Don’t mistake my being kind to your father as kindness toward you. As for being civil, I can do that, too.”
“Great. Well, now that we’ve cleared the air… I’m glad things won’t be awkward between us while I’m here.”
God, this was going to be a long eight weeks. “Fine. So you hate me.”
She shook her head. “That’s such a negative emotion. Also, too strong of an emotion for a man I haven’t thought about in ten years.”
He crossed his arms. “You haven’t thought about me in ten years?”
“Nope. Not. At. All.”
He took a step closer to her, mostly because he couldn’t resist. “I think you’re lying.”
“And why would you think that?”
“You bring my father food every day.”
She took a step closer to him. “Because I feel bad for him, not because of you.”
“Well, you must think about me every time you walk into the house.”
She rolled her eyes. “More like a passing thought. Like if somebody puked after eating Chinese food, then every time they saw Chinese food, they made the association.” He was torn between laughing and being insulted. He glanced down at her mouth, and his stomach clenched. She still had the nicest mouth he’d ever seen. Soft, kissable lips, and he knew, remembered, exactly how she tasted. He was pleased to notice her gaze kept going from his eyes to his mouth. So maybe she thought about other things besides puking when he was around. Not that he’d let on. “When you think about me, you’re thinking about vomit?”
She nodded. “Pretty much. Welcome back to Red River, Aiden.”
And with those endearing words, the woman he’d thought he’d one day marry opened the door and walked out.
The tall figure in the distance, in perfect running form, was beginning to look horribly familiar. Tattered Blue Jays baseball cap, threadbare T-shirt hugging broad shoulders, shorts, tall, powerful…crap it was Aiden. Why was he here? This was her running space and time. Just look straight ahead. Look like you’re not about to die as you approach minute five. Maybe even smile…or trip over your own two feet and choke on your own saliva as you go head first into the river rock bed.
“Holy crap, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Are you okay, Nat?”
She was going to die. Why couldn’t she have hit the rock bed with her head first? Then at least she might have been knocked unconscious and have been spared the humiliation. She was lying on her side, fetal position, holding her knees to her chest and glaring at him. “Totally fine.”
His brow was furrowed as though he was trying to figure out what the heck she’d just done. “What the hell happened?”
She sat up and tried to regain some dignity. “Nothing. It’s so cloudy and dark still, I lost my footing because I thought you were actually a giant troll coming toward me.”
He was hunched down, trying to pry her hands off her knees. His beautiful mouth twitched at her explanation. “You find giant trolls jogging in Red River?”
She swatted his hands, and he sighed roughly then firmly grasped her hands and moved them aside. He made a noise under his breath. “Come back to my dad’s car, and I’ll clean this up for you.”
“Clean what up?” She struggled into a seated position and cringed when she saw her knees. Seriously, she was like a child who’d scraped her knees on the playground.
“I’m fine. Thanks for your help.”
He stood and held out his hand. She looked at it.
“I don’t bite.”
Actually he did at one time. Delicious little bites.
His gaze was everywhere, almost as though he were touching her. Then it lingered on her breasts for a heated second before traveling up to her eyes. His face was clenched, and had this been any other man than the one that had broken her heart, she would have jumped him, because no man had ever looked at her like that or evoked such an immediate, physical want in her. So instead she did what any self-saving, smart woman would do. She reached for Mrs. Jacobs’s purple and pineapple printed raincoat and enveloped herself in it.
“Oh God, it’s like straight out of a nightmare,” Aiden said. He even took a step back.
She breathed an inward sigh of relief. At least that problem was solved. She backed up a little bit. She noticed he still had the stubble thing going on. And he wasn’t wearing a jacket today, even though it looked like rain. He was wearing faded, worn-in jeans that seemed to be made to hug and emphasize all his good parts, which happened to be everything. Then there was the T-shirt he was wearing that emphasized how much he’d filled out in the years since he’d been gone. Except the stomach, that was flat and…her eyes snapped up to his. Stay on track. “Yes? You needed to see me about something?”
Aiden gave his head a shake. “I can’t think with that thing on you.”
She hugged it tighter and backed up another step. Before she knew it she was standing in one of the changing rooms.
“It’s not up to you to like what I wear.”
“That’s not yours.”
“You’re wearing it because you don’t like me looking at you.”
She rolled her eyes. “As if. You looking at me is as boring as…a horse on a farm glancing over at me.”
His lips twitched, and she observed a dimple appearance. The glint in his eyes unfortunately didn’t match the tone of the dimple, and he took two large steps forward so that he was now in the doorway. “You’re lying,” he said with another dimple flash.
She lifted her chin and looked him square in the eye, even though her pulse was racing and, dear God, she could smell him, and he smelled so good. Like man and Aiden and old Aiden and…
“What are you thinking about?”
She waved a hand in front of her face. “Nothing. I was thinking that I don’t know why you’re trying to prove I’m a liar.”
“I have my reasons. So back to what we were talking about.”
“I can’t remember.”
“You don’t like me looking at you.”
“You’re wrong. You looking at me is just the same as…Mrs. Jacobs looking at me.”
She had always been a bad liar. Judging by his sexy, you’re-such-a-liar smile, he thought so, too. He braced his arms on either side of the doorway. His shirt lifted, and she caught a glimpse of hard abs. Omigod, she was going to cry.
“Somehow I don’t think Mrs. Jacobs looks at you the way I do.”
DON’T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE RED RIVER SERIES!
Synopsis: Florist Claire Holbrook has always played by the rules her entire life, but breaks them to spend one night with sexy lone wolf Jake Manning, a man she’s adored since she was a teenager. Six weeks later things get complicated when she discovers they created a bond that will last a lifetime…
Jake has never played by the rules. Getting Minister Holbrook’s daughter pregnant wasn’t part of any life plan, but he won’t run from his responsibilities. He’ll step up and be the best man he can, even if he doesn’t have a clue where to begin. The more time he spends with Claire, though, the more he wants her, and the harder it is to get close because that would mean sharing the one thing he hasn’t with anyone—the truth and his heart.
ABOUT VICTORIA JAMES
Victoria James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.
In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.
Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after’s for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she’s quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.
Sign up for Victoria’s Newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases and exclusive giveaways, follow her blog for daily antics and insight into her daily life, and get to know her on twitter and Facebook. She loves hearing from readers! http://www.victoriajames.ca